Last February, Jordynne Grace took her first trip to the United Kingdom as an independent professional wrestler.
At the time, she thought the event could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. On an off day, Grace, now a York resident, booked an all-day tour of London that cost more than what she was being paid to wrestle in the event.
“That was before anything big happened for me,” she said. “I had no idea if I was going to be able to experience it again.”
In the last four months, however, the 22-year-old wrestler has gone to the UK at least six times as she’s gained popularity on the independent scene.
Grace gained notoriety after “All In,” a wrestling event that drew about 11,000 people to the Sears Center in Illinois and was broadcast on WGN. She believes that event led Impact Wrestling, the company she’s been with since October that broadcasts on the Pursuit Channel and online via Twitch, to reach out to her.
“The ‘All In’ event really put me on the map,” she said. “I did pretty well and seized the opportunity. Just that night alone I gained 15,000 Twitter followers.”
Grace now boasts 40,000 Twitter followers.
Grace’s start in wrestling: Grace, whose actual name is Patricia Parker, grew up in Austin, Texas, and was a wresting fan.
Her and her sister, Ashley, would reenact matches they saw on TV between WWE’s Trish Stratus and Ashely Massaro and act like they were the wrestler they shared names with.
She “got hooked,” she said, when she went to a training facility that her mom’s boyfriend at the time went to. When she decided she wanted to pursue independent wrestling at 14 years old, she spent weekends doing events in Texas and Mexico through America’s Academy of Professional Wrestlers in Austin.
At her first event, she used the name Jordynne Grace because of a computer game she played growing up.
“It was a website where you created a wrestler. I did that when I was 11 or 12 years old,” Grace said. “I picked the name Jordynne Grace for the game, and I picked it for my pro wrestling debut. It’s stuck ever since.”
Wrestling style: Grace is known for her crushing bear hug, and she said her goal is to have different styles in her repertoire.
“I like to blend the old-school and new-school styles together,” she said.
Since joining Impact, she said wrestling for television is “a different animal.”
“There’s been a learning curve,” she said. “Not only do you have to remember the match, but you have to remember camera angles, which facials to do to which cameras and the story you’re telling. It’s a whole different ballgame.”
Two-time author: Along with her wrestling career, Grace is an author of two books, titled “DM’s of a Female Indy Wrestler.”
Grace, like many on social media, have open direct messages for potential business opportunities. The downside, Grace said, is the creepy DMs that men send her.
“All women who are in the public eye get some kind of messages,” she said. “I’ve compiled all the messages I’ve gotten since I was 14, and I have them printed in books.”
She’ll get a variety of messages, ranging from pictures, to feeble flirting to disturbing comments and insults.
“It happens every single day. It’s absolutely insane the things I get,” she said. “People say they feel bad DMing me. If you’re not DMing me something perverted or weird and it’s a normal thing, it’s perfectly fine. That’s why they’re open.”
Tons of traveling: Grace said she loves being a professional wrestler, but it’s not what she thought it would be when she was growing up.
“It’s a super hard job,” she said. “It’s not as glamorous as you think it would be. It’s like 95 percent traveling and 5 percent wrestling.”
It only took a 14-year-old Grace three months to fly to her first wrestling event in Mexico. Grace, who has also wrestled at events in Japan, Canada and all across the United States, often did tours in Mexico until she was a late teenager. She even spent her 18th birthday on a bus traveling from Monterrey to Mexico City.
“It was rough,” she said. “Around that time there were a lot of stories about the cartel, so when I went over, my mom had no idea that I was going to Mexico. We would leave on the weekends pretty often, and she didn’t find out until the past few years.”
In the next year, Grace lived in St. Louis, Austin and Atlanta before choosing the East Coast with her now-fiancé Jonathan Gresham, who is a professional wrestler with Ring of Honor.
“We got out a map and pointed to a random spot on the map, and we chose York,” Grace said. “I hated it at first, but I love it now. It’s really grown on me. It’s going to suck when we are going to have to leave. The East Coast has been the best decision I’ve made for wrestling. Coming up here is really what put me on the map.”
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.