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Wrestling Champ Thunder Rosa Eager for Fresno’s Taco Battle Royale

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AEW World Women's champion Thunder Rosa will be in Fresno judging at the Taco Truck Throwdown on Saturday. (Image; AEW)
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Thunder Rosa’s recovery plan includes tacos.

The AEW Women’s World wrestling champion has been out of action since August with a back injury, the cumulation of wrestling in her hard-nosed style.

“I’m sitting on my butt right now. It’s very sore,” Thunder Rosa said in a phone interview from her San Antonio, Texas home. “I’m hoping that by January, I should be cleared. But you never know … Right now, I’m looking out the window, sitting  on my sofa like an old lady with a blanket on.”

In the meantime, Thunder Rosa is scheduled to return to the area she received her big professional break — in Fresno for the Taco Truck Throwdown.

The 11th annual event takes place Saturday at Chukchansi Park. It features music, pro wrestling from local group Lucha Xtreme, and of course, taco trucks.

Making an appearance is just one more step to getting back in the ring. She’s been through an epidural, physical therapy “and a lot of walking.”

While she won’t be wrestling Saturday, her son, under the name of Anakin Rosa, will.

The younger Rosa is a 17-year-old high school student and a rare example of a son of a female wrestler going into the family business. “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase is another example. His mom (and stepdad) were wrestlers.

Thunder Rosa said it is “cool” to be a mom of a wrestler.

“He’s just trying to find his way in the professional wrestling business and also in life. In the last six months, we’ve been doing little tours here and there. So I just want to show him how the wrestling business is, and the opportunities that he can have, too, if decides to wrestle (full-time),” Mama Rosa said.

She hopes to take him to Japan with her.

“At least we’re creating memories together,” she said.

If there is a silver lining with her injury, Rosa said it is spending more time with family.

“You have to put your family on the back burner in order to be successful. You have to sacrifice a lot. So this time around, I have decided that I’m going to make a lot more time for my son,” she said. “When you’re physically present, it is a different story.”

What Makes a Good Taco

Rosa will serve as a guest judge and may sign an autograph or two on Saturday.

What makes a good taco?

“For a street taco, I want a small taco … a small tortilla. I want the tortilla warm, sometimes a little crispy … For a carnitas asada taco, I want it to have some sort of flavor,” she said.

“I grew up with tacos in Tijuana. Guacamole was very important. A good salsa, cilantro, onions. That’s your basic favorite. For tacos al pastor, the meat has to be crunchy … a good guacamole sauce and pineapple.”

The Origin of the Facepaint

Born in Tijuana, Thunder Rosa immigrated to the United States and graduated from UC Berkeley in 2010.

“If I wasn’t born and raised in (Mexico), I wouldn’t be the person I am now. But I am also very, very proud of being an American because this country has given me everything that I dream and even more.”

It was while she was in the Bay Area that she discovered her drive to be a pro wrestler.

“My partner at the time invited me to go to a couple of shows in the Bay Area and he introduced me to wrestling and I just fell in love with the sport,” she said.

Rosa is a Lucha Xtreme alumni. She developed her trademarked “Dia de Los Muertos” facepaint at the suggestion of local promoter Lance Cardoza.

“Lance was one of the few people at the beginning of my career who really believed in what I brought to the table,” Rosa said.

Cardoza praised Rosa, recalling the night in Hanford he urged her to change up her look.

“We had to create an “it” factor because I knew (Rosa) had the drive and was going to go places,” Cardoza said.

Rosa was reluctant, but the half-face paint created a buzz among the fans, especially children. They requested photos, and Rosa kept the look since.

Thunder Rosa takes pride in her Mexican-American heritage. (Image: AEW)

Thunder Rosa and the Border

Living in San Antonio as a Mexican-American, Rosa talked about U.S. border policy with Mexico.

“It is very difficult to judge. A lot of the people come here because they want a better opportunity,” she said.

“I was blessed that my dad did it the legal way, but it took us years and a lot of money. Not everybody has that opportunity and we work very hard to do that. People need to be mindful of what they see in the media. They also have to see that there’s a lot of people that are helping out of a lot of these individuals that are coming to America.”

Rosa referenced the tragedy this summer where more than 50 migrants were found dead in the back of a truck, crossing the border.

“It is very hard and it’s heartbreaking. But when I see those stories of people that made it and they have asylum and now they’re working and they want to do something good for them and for their families, it’s a beautiful thing,” she said.

Taco Truck Throwdown is Back

More than two dozen taco trucks will line the baseball stadium, Saturday. The event starts at 5 p.m. and runs until 2 a.m.

Attendees will vote on the best taco. Tacos La Vaporera won last year’s people’s choice; Taco Pinto took home the judge’s honor.

There will also be seven Michelada vendors with their own competition.

Tickets start at $35, with a VIP package — which includes 10 taco vouchers, five drink vouchers and a shirt — at $99.

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony headlines several musical acts.

David Taub has spent most of his career in journalism behind the scenes working as a TV assignment editor and radio producer. For more than a decade, he has worked in the Fresno market with such stops at KSEE-24, KMJ and Power Talk 96.7. Taub also worked the production and support side of some of TV sports biggest events including the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and NASCAR to name a few. Taub graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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