Jessika Heiser gets beat up by guys on a weekly basis and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
The 20-year-old Heiser proudly shows off the bruises and cuts that often cover a good portion of her body. Those injuries came following a recent session of training to become a professional wrestler.
Heiser is less than two years removed from pursuing her dream. She currently is a regular fixture with Maryland Championship Wrestling. There, she is the evil Jessie Kaye, where her job is to incite the crowd while leading her man MCW veteran Ronnie Zukko to the ring.
"I’ve been really lucky to have the experience I have had so far," Heiser said. "They found out I was good on the mike and they gave me the chance to get in front of a crowd on a regular basis."
Paying Her Dues
That experience has not come without significant sacrifice. Heiser was one of the first students to enroll in Gillberg’s Pro Wrestling Academy, a Severn-based school founded by former WWE superstar Duane Gill. There, she was trained, by among others, veteran MCW tag team The Holy Rollers.
Along with paying more than $2,000 for the tuition, Heiser also almost exclusively hones her skills against male wrestlers since she is often the only female there. Heiser also works out on a regular basis while balancing a part-time job and a full course load at Towson University, where she is a marketing major.
"There’s not a lot of down time," Heiser said. "But, the push to keep getting better and becoming the best wrestler possible really motivates me."
It was that motivation that initially pushed Heiser toward enrolling at Gillberg’s. Prior to that decision, Heiser never thought an in-ring career was ever a possibility. Three years ago, Heiser was 223 pounds and admittedly out of shape.
Since then, she has lost nearly 70 pounds, which is a source of pride with her. But, Heiser admits continuing on this path remains a constant struggle and she is often her own worst critic.
"I’ve been a wrestling fan since I was 10 and thought maybe one day I could work behind the scenes as a writer," Heiser said. "Then I started to work out and knew I needed an extra push, so I decided I wanted to pursue something in the ring. I'm not a natural athlete, which means I have to keep pushing myself everyday to keep getting better."
Not a Diva
Heiser said because of her background and her path toward wrestling, she looks to female wrestlers like WWE Divas Beth Phoenix, Natalya and Karma along with independent star Sara Del Ray. Each of those women, Heiser said, breaks the cookie-cutter model mold of most female wrestlers today.
"Those female wrestlers show you that you don’t have to look like Barbie to get over with the crowd," Heiser said.
Currently, Heiser has had just a handful of actual matches under her belt, with just one coming with MCW. But, she has started to get noticed by many of the other independent promotions in the Mid-Atlantic region and has wrestled on cards in places like Delaware and West Virginia in recent months.
Heiser said those experiences, which include marketing herself, making her own booking arrangements and travel plans have been invaluable.
"I’m obviously not doing it for the money right now since my payment doesn’t usually even cover my costs," Heiser said. "Right now, it's just important to get booked wherever I can. I'm just grateful for the opportunities given to me by people like Dan McDevitt and Duane Gill and hope to continue to get those chances in the future."
A Bright Future
Those in MCW continue to be impressed with Heiser’s development and her ability to incite a crowd, and many believe she has a bright future in the industry.
Longtime MCW wrestler Matt Bowman, known as "Wiseguy" Jimmy Cicero, said Heiser is "an up-and-coming star" and is one of the brightest new female wrestlers on the independent scene.
"It's easy to see Jessika's passion she has something that drives her to get better and you can see it in the product she puts out," Zukko said. "She is by far the hardest working female performer we have in Maryland."
Heiser said she knows that chances of one day making it to the WWE or rival national promotions like TNA or Ring of Honor is small. But right now, she is just enjoying the moment and doing her best to live out her dream.
"I'm making sure I finish college to ensure I have an education to fall back on," Heiser said. "I just love what I’m doing and grateful to all that have supported me For everyone to believe in me and believe I can make it, only makes me want to excel and prove them all right. I never want to let anyone down."