Pro Wrestler “The Candy Girl” Zaida Gonzalez has an upcoming match this week against Lucy Love at Underground Empire Wrestling in Long Beach, CA. But before she prepeares for her match, I recently spoken to her as we talked about her upbringing, how did she come up with her character, her favorite hobbies, a road story, and much more in this exclusive interview.
First thing I’ll let to ask you, what made you decide to come up with “The Candy Girl” character?
I feel like it’s always been a part of me. I have always had funny stories from my family. Just me going above and beyond to get a piece of candy. So when I was training, I just kinda was getting comfortable in my own skin in a different way and just kind of amplify what was always inside me as a kid and just allowing that kid to come out all the time and be a little extra. So it was, it took a little bit, I think for me to get comfortable, but once I did, it was like a no brainer and it was just letting out what had always been inside. And when I was a kid, I was dying to get like a quarter from my dad so I could go to the gum machine. I don’t know if it’s out anymore. But back when I was growing up, it was a machine and candy was less than a dollar. I think it’s a little bit more expensive now. Just those kinds of the memories is what kind of drives my character. Especially when I see little kids out in the stands, I know that they can relate and I can make them smile with that because it definitely made me smile when I was a kid.
I’ve read that you’ve trained at Brian Kendrick’s school. What was the experience like over there? And do you have any stories about Kendrick? And did you have any other ideas for any other characters before you got with this one?
I got to do a different characters at the time. like,I sometimes play a little chicken. I played a Harlem Globe Trotter. I’ve played a Ballerina Dancer. So I’ve got to experiment with a lot of characters through his show. But for me, the one that sits close to heart is The Candy Girl cause it’s a little bit of who I am inside. So for someone that has been in the business for so long, like 20 years, I’m just always amazed at his patience with people and in training. And I can’t imagine what he thought when I first came into his wrestling boot camp. I was just so nervous and shy. But he just always looked for the best in people and he is honest, which is what you really need if you want to be better. So I really don’t have anything but good things to say. Not just cause he’s my trainer, but that’s because all he’s shown me. He’s definitely one of the people if you’re in his school to try to make an effort to train with. It’s not for everyone because it’s not just getting past training is, it’s surviving in the business which itself, it’s really hard. So you definitely have to have a thick skin and not take things personally.
When you wanted to become a wrestler, how did your parents react?
My parents are the reason that I’m a fan of wrestling. I have a very vivid memory of being about like six years old. And my dad back in the day, the new technology was like the really thick TVs, like the Panasonic TVs. There was no flat screen TV. So it was really clunky, but it was like the new thing. So my dad bought it, and he was proud of it. Like most guys when they have a good TV to watch their sports with, he went to work, I don’t know what my mom was doing, so no disrespect to my mom, but somebody wasn’t watching me. I was able to get my hands on my dads tools and I got a hammer and I started to bang the back of the TV and my dad came home and he was like, “what are you doing?” And I was like, “Oh, I want to be in the TV, I want to be a wrestler. I want to get in the TV”. So I in my little child mind, thought that if I literally broke the back of the TV and went inside, that I will be alongside of my favorite wrestlers. So I think they always had a notion that it was something I wanted to do. And of course they always worry because of the risk involved with the sport. And especially after I got my injury. But they’re always very supportive cause I think that they see that when I’m training, when I’m doing those things, I feel good. I’m in my zone. So I think that’s, that’s all a parent could want their kid to have.
I seen one of the photos of you where your collarbone was shattered. How did that happen at the time and did you think your career was over when it happened?
So it was early on in my wrestling career and I honestly was in shock. It broke in three places unfortunately. But when it happened, honestly, the adrenaline kind of tricks you. So it was during a match that I heard something. I thought it was my muscle to be honest. And I was like, knew I didn’t to mess up. I just wanted to keep going. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t make myself or anybody else look bad. So I just kept going. I’m with you probably made it worse. But, um, once that adrenaline started to wear off, I could feel the dizziness and the pain, which I can’t describe. It’s just so immense, so intense. I tried to do a move, a suplex of sorts and I felt my bone shift and that’s when I knew it wasn’t just my muscle and that’s when I knew I had to get out. So by the time that the pain set in, I couldn’t even walk and I had to be carried from the ring. It was so much, I obviously was in shock. I was just thinking like, “oh my God, No” Like it can’t be broken. Maybe it’s just like, you know, something else. I don’t know. You played tricks on your mind just to kind of keep it going. I did think about my career ending, which I thought would be such a shame because it was so early on. But luckily I had really good physical therapists that had a really good coach and I was able to rehab faster than the doctor anticipated to once I saw what my body was able to do as far as recovery, I kinda just kept going in it, look back and just knew that I had to get back in the ring and that my body and matches up in my mind was, was able to do it.
Cause I think that’s, that’s the hardest part. When things like that happen one moment you’re capable, then the next moment you’re not even capable of making a living because your body just can’t handle it. So I was fortunate enough in that I had good support system around me so I felt the fire in me and I had that Firestone to come back. Cause when you’re away from wrestling, I think it makes you realize more why you love it. Cause sometimes when you’re in it, it’s really hard in it and you can lose sight. So I’m grateful for that time off cause I know no questions asked that this is why I wanted to work to, to come back.
When you did came back, what exactly did you do to change up your style from pre-Injury to post injury?
So I’m on as horrific as, it wasn’t traumatizing for me for the injury. Um, I am grateful that it happened early on cause you did make a good point of saying my style because of my size. Um, it, it lends itself to doing such high flyer, um, much more risky moves and it’s, it’s something that, that I was doing. I was following that path because of my size and that’s how I was training. But with the injury it definitely made me realize, think more of different ideas of how to use my different body parts or that I didn’t have to progress your on my, on my collarbone or on my shoulder. So it changed my style and that it made me focus more on having good footwork, uh, doing basic wrestling more, not necessarily high flying moves, which would maybe irritate my shoulder a little bit more. So definitely changed, changed my style.
A match I think would be interesting would be you versus “The Dentist” Britt Baker. Even though she’s with All Elite Wrestling now, could you see yourself going against her since the two characters called clash in a great way for great story?
You know, it’s like I don’t want to tell kids not to see the dentist because I understand for its need that in my world, you’re just kind of don’t always think about stuff like that. You’re just thinking about the simple pleasures, you know, candy. I definitely feel how she takes her character into a little bit. it could be a little bit more evil way and it could be a kid’s worst nightmare. Cause I have memories of me crying of just not wanting to go to the dentist. And I just don’t understand how kids are supposed to be comfortable with it. It’s like, someone with a white lab coat, sharp instruments, and tools. Like it’s really scary. So I would think that that would be a really fun matchup. I think it’s just too perfect. The Candy Girl versus The Dentist. I love what she is doing and I am happy that she is in AEW. It is a match I would love to have if we ever cross paths!
I’ve also wanted to ask you, what are some of your hobbies that you like enjoy doing outside of the ring?
I love hanging out with my pets and my pet family is growing. So they definitely keep me busy. I have dogs and I have a rabbit now. I like just watching the sunset. I like working out outdoors, being in the air, things like that. Things that maybe before, I would take for granted just because I was so much in my routine. I like eating. I really do. I think it’s really awesome that we get to pick and choose where we eat. And if I had to two stomachs, I would love it cause sometimes I wish I could eat more but I get flow. I would literally drive like two hours because someone was like, “this is the best sandwich” or “this is the best pizza that I’ve had and it’s worth it”. So I will like bust a mission for good food and that’s like no lie. But there’s certain shows like I see on the Food Network where they highlight the best, you know, food item in this city. So when I’m in that city I make sure that I stopped by and check it out. So I mean I’m a sucker for dessert too and the desert craze right now is crazy. Also, there’s museums for about candy. There’s like different ice cream, you know, mixes you can do. I think I saw like a croissant-donut thing, in my neighborhood. Like people are getting creative so I’m candy girl is loving trying it all.
Speaking about food, what’s the most outrageous food you’ve seen that you have tried?
The most outrageous food? Um, someone tried to do and I tried it. I don’t know why, but they tried to do sushi but with like dessert, but it had like wheat grass in it. I don’t why I was feeling that day that I tried it, but I won’t say the names of spirit, no disrespect. But I definitely thought that that was a big foul. But I mean, Kudos for them for trying, but I just don’t think Sushi is meant to be in the dessert world.
what’s the best fan interaction tou ever had?
My best fann interactions? There’s a couple that I remember that stick out the most because I’m pretty lucky and I have really awesome sweet fans that understand that I just want to make them smile and I don’t know what they’re going through. And it’s impossible for me to know what everyone is going through, but that if they see me that I will, I’m working to make them smile or forget whatever they’re going through. So I’m pretty, pretty lucky in that I can see that my fans have a sense of that. But a couple of that stick out to me the most is this. It was the first little kid to ask me for my signature. So I was like, “oh my god”. Like this was like years back and I always remembered it cause I was like, wow, this is, this is, this is the taste of what I’m hoping to achieve.
You also appeared on WWE about few months ago Part of No Way Jose’s party group. Tell me when did you get the call to be on the segment with him.
So I’m definitely really lucky to have been able to be backstage for all of that. It’s one of those things where you speak to the right people. Then comes the officie stuff, the paperwork, the emails, etc. It’s one of those things where you just show up and you don’t really know what you’re going to get asked to do. You kind of just have to come open minded, open heart and just take it all in. So it was one of those things where it was you’re going to be in the party line. And I was like, I won’t say no to that obviously and it’s gonna be fun. So I just thought that it was a fun thing and it was a big reminder of as much as there is in wrestling, at the end of the day it’s still entertainment and we’re still trying to get people to dance and have fun. So I was so down with the No Way Jose line. I of course, had to choose the silliest outfit cause I’m was like “I got to make myself stand out on TV” so I think I had a big taco hat and a Tutu or something like that.
Oh, so wait, they didn’t have outfits over there already. You had to go out and get one?
We get to choose. No Way Jose comes prepared for this crew. So he had a big pile of us to choose from. So I couldn’t find anyone with candy unfortunately. I thought that would’ve been cool to reference. But I was like, “what could be the next best thing” and the next best thing would be a taco. Everybody loves tacos.
Do you have any road stories you want to share?
Any road stories? Yes. There’s a couple and I’ll just put a funny spin on this one. One of the ones that makes me laugh cause just shows just what we’re willing to do in wrestling. Um, and it kind of makes me mad cause I was like, “god, I was such a, such a rookie”. I didn’t like think this through. But I was on a road trip with another fellow wrestler who started out just a little bit before me. So, you know, we’re pretty much in the end at this point. Similar spot. We were wrestling in the desert. So it was about maybe like a five, six hour drive. So we drove rise. There we go. Uh, you know, wrestle at a show. We think it was like a military show too. So it was like to support the navy. We had to show the next day, but sometimes you’re just so in the zone of just like on your schedule and your calendar that you forget to look ahead and plan accordingly. And we, both of us like misread the address for the showed the following day. We thought it was somewhere different for whatever reason. Some get this, we drive like six hours to the show in the desert, right? We drive back home. You know, you’re driving home at three in the morning, like really not ideal times, right? For two young girls to be driving around, we try to get the few hours of sleep so that way, we can wake up. The next one we’re like, okay, we’re going to Carpool again for the next show. I don’t know why we both misread the address. It turns out that that show was only about 30 minutes from where we wrestled the night before. So instead of us staying over there and just being close, we had to drive another six hours that hey and we’re just like, we looked like wow. But you know, sometimes we had so much on our schedule, we were doing shows together so much. I don’t know. I think we just didn’t think ahead and we just thought we knew where this place was. But there’s, you know, obviously places that have that go by the same name in certain towns. So we just looked at each other like, Dang, we must be tired or out of it or something cause we didn’t catch it. So it always sticks out to me because I look back and we got like two hours of sleep, drove six hours each way. Mind you, I’m not total and, yeah, we could’ve just had an easy night and been 30 minutes away from where we were. But no, we’ve made it hard for ourselves. But that’s the rookie lifestyle. What can you do?
Oh my final question for you. What is your upcoming schedule and your matches?
So upcoming schedule would be next week it would be at UEW. It’s taken place in Long Beach. I would be for the first time facing the Lucy love. So that’s going to be good. And then, my schedule after that, is just kind of all over the place. But that is the closest and the next one. I’m staying a little bit locally just because the family obligations at the moment. We’ll be looking forward to once the holiday pass and things like that. It’s kind of been geared more towards family. Right now I’m going out a little bit farther to, to, to just spread the sweetness out there.
Photo Credit: Justin Cotterell Photography