In less than seven months, Roxanne Perez went from being signed by WWE to becoming a focal point in WWE NXT.
The 20-year-old formerly known as Rok-C signed in February, won the first-ever NXT Women's Breakout tournament and then picked up her first taste of NXT gold when she won the Women's Tag Team titles along with Cora Jade.
I talked with Perez at the WrestleMania 39 launch party last week at Inglewood's SoFi Stadium about her rise in 2022, her tryout experience, and some key talents she got advice from.
The road to WWE
Born Carla Gonzalez, she began training at just 13, moving on to Booker T's Reality of Wrestling school and promotion at 16.
In September 2021, she signed a Ring of Honor contract and defeated Miranda Alize in a tournament final to claim the inaugural ROH Women's World title at Death Before Dishonor. She made eight title defenses of the title, including a win over Willow Nightingale at last December's Final Battle.
Then, the company went on a hiatus and released their contracted talent. Perez said that William Regal reached out to her after that announcement and invited her to a tryout.
That tryout took place in December at their Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. However, it took her longer than that to get hired.
"I did my tryout in December...a full blown tryout in Orlando at the PC and there was, like, 50 people, I didn't get chosen from that tryout, so I got invited to a three-week tryout in February and that was pretty brutal because I was at the PC from like 7, 8 AM to 8 PM every single day. We were just training and basically, they’re trying to break you down to see if you’re gonna quit or not. I was like, “I am not gonna quit. This is my dream.” It was kind of a long process but, honestly, I am so glad that I got that second tryout because I met so many great people there. I learned so much and learned so much about myself too. Now I am finally here, so it was all worth it."
Perez received advice from Bianca Belair during her extended tryout that really helped her during that period -- especially since she had been questioning herself after not getting hired after the first tryout.
"I met a couple of the girls from the main roster and they are all literally so nice. They are always open to giving advice and whatnot. I do remember that at my extended tryout, Bianca Belair was there and I asked her for some advice and honestly her advice really stuck with me. Like I said, it was the second tryout and I had some thoughts like, ‘What did I do wrong?’ and she was the one that told me, 'Don’t be embarrassed to just go out there and if you have a thought in your head and you think it’s too crazy, just do it.' She basically said just leave it all out there with no regrets and that's exactly what I did. I feel like I don't even know if she realized it, but that helped me like so so much."
Beginning in NXT
Perez made her WWE NXT TV debut quickly and also won the first-ever NXT Women's Breakout tournament and later became an NXT Women's Tag Team Champion. I asked her about how she felt about her success thus far with the promotion.
"It’s crazy. It's surreal because I am only 20 and I have done alot in my wrestling career, but it's just so surreal to me because I would have never thought....when I was younger, I always knew that I was gonna be a WWE Superstar and there were no ands, ifs or buts about it," she explained. "But I never thought I would be freaking NXT Women’s Tag team Champion within four months. It just fuels my love for WWE and this business. It just makes little 10-year-old me so, so happy because I am proud, because I never thought this would be happening so fast. I am thankful."