Riley Shepard The Gladiator of the Geeks on Inspiration from Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks & Training from Damian Priest of WWE NXT

Written by: Emily Mae Heller – April 16th, 2020 6:26pm pst


Riley Shepard was interviewed by Women’s Wrestling Weekly on Wednesday, April 15th, by hosts TK Trinidad, Emily Mae and Bryant Santos, where she discussed her late start in the wrestling industry, how her gymnastic background helped prepare her to train, how Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks inspired her career change, and what the Gladiator of the Geeks brand means to her. 

New to the wrestling world, Riley started training four years ago. “I didn’t actually start watching wrestling until I was around 25 years old. I actually was a 9-1-1 dispatcher and a police officer before this. And, when I was a police officer I decided it wasn’t quite the right fit and it was around the same time I was starting to watch wrestling and the Four Horsewomen on NXT, especially Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks.” 

After seeing them light up the ring, Riley decided to boldly change career paths and felt like “I need to be a part of this.” She reached out to a few local training schools and decided on Monster Factory in South Jersey with Danny Cage as the head trainer. 

“I showed up on Thursday, I had a tryout, that was May 2016, and the rest is history. You have the Gladiator of the Geeks now,” Shepard said.

Photo Caption: Riley Shepard – Twitter

Riley revealed her training regimen was intense in her first year but was incredibly lucky to work with WWE NXT’s Damian Priest,“He was great, he was always awesome about doing that, always gave me feedback.” 

One of the biggest things he ever said to her was that she needed confidence. “And that, for me, was always something I’ve always struggled with. It’s something probably from when I was young and being bullied and I’ve never really had the confidence of, ‘look, this is me’. I know I’m good at this….so him telling me, ‘you’re athletic, you know what you can do in the ring, but you need confidence’”.

Shepard continues to work hard in the wrestling ring and apply her knowledge to grow her craft. She said,“I see the confidence and I hope he does see that now.” 

Photo Caption: Riley Shepard – Twitter

Wrestling is all about characters and establishing your brand and presence. Riley had a definite vision of the character she wanted from the beginning. “I used to be into LARPing, which a lot of it has come from live-action role playing…so I took parts of that. I also play video games…so I took parts of that. My last name Shepard is actually Commander Shepard from Mass Effect,” she shared. “I’ve always been a sci-fi geek…” 

The Gladiator of the Geeks’s meaning is simple. “I stand for the silent’ because of my past bullying. For a very long time, I was silent while I was being bullied, until I finally found my voice. So now, The Gladiator of the Geeks stands for everyone who felt like an outcast, everyone who’s a geek, no matter what that geekdom is, and she will be your voice if you ever need it.” What a powerful message that we all need!

Photo Caption: Riley Shepard – Twitter

Riley Shepard previously wrestled for Ring of honor, RISE, Warriors of Wrestling Wildkat Wrestling, The Dynasty & several other promotions. Follow Riley on Twitter and Instagram to catch her next match. 

You can watch the full Women’s Wrestling Weekly interview here and all other women’s wrestling content and breaking news every week on Afterbuzz TV’s Sports & Wrestling channels. 

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About The Author:

Emily Mae Heller is an Emmy-nominated film, tv, live events, and theatre producer, born and raised in Los Angeles with a deep passion for storytelling, sports, and entertainment.

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