Deonna Purrazzo eyes revenge at Forbidden Door on path back to AEW Women’s Champ Toni Storm

Brad Norton
Deonna Purrazzo in AEW

AEW’s first marquee signing for the year, Deonna Purrazzo, has accomplished a great deal in just her first six months with the promotion, but she’s not about to rest on her laurels through the second half of 2024. From revenge at Forbidden Door to a rematch with Toni Storm, Dexerto spoke with The Virtuosa on her goals for the rest of the year.

While a winding path to get to AEW, Purrazzo is now a certified star on the company’s stacked roster. Putting pen to paper to kickstart 2024, the world-renowned 29-year-old grappler officially locked in AEW as her long-term home and has been cementing herself as a force in the women’s division ever since.

Yet despite her red-hot introduction to the AEW crowd, even feuding with longtime friend-turned rival, AEW Women’s Champion Toni Storm, mere weeks after her arrival, Purrazzo has her sights set on plenty more as 2024 rolls on.

From exacting her revenge on opponents that may have long forgotten their beef, to climbing the rankings back to another title shot, Dexerto sat down with The Virtuosa to learn of her ambitions for the rest of the calendar year.

“I should be AEW Women’s World Champion right now”

In just her eighth match this year, her eighth as a full-time member of AEW’s roster, Purrazzo challenged Toni Storm for the Women’s World Title at Revolution. While the submission expert did indeed force a tap at one point in the contest, technically winning the match, the typical ref distraction cost her a crowning moment before the Timeless champ eventually wound up on top.

A quick tag match with Thunder Rosa against Toni and her biggest fan Mariah May, and from there, the feud was swiftly left in the rearview mirror. “[Toni] never acknowledged the fact she tapped out,” Purrazzo stressed during our conversation. “I should be the AEW Women’s World Champion right now. Toni tapped out. I never got a rematch.”

While Toni has been busy defending her title at every turn, taking on all comers, with some pesky tactics, mind you, Purrazzo has been keeping busy, wrestling on every possible show, multiple matches a month, grinding her way to an 11-2 record for the year thus far.

“I’m a workhorse,” she said. “I can make excuses or I can put my head down. I think throughout my career, I’ve proven that when I can put my head down and do the work, I can accomplish what I want. So I might not be champion right now, but I’m here for the long haul.”

Toni Storm and Deonna Purrazzo on stage in AEW
Purrazzo and Toni Storm have a storied history, and it seems there could soon be another chapter in the works.

One possible path back to the title could come through the 2024 iteration of the Owen Hart Cup. This year’s version comes with a new stipulation: The winners of the men’s and women’s tournaments earn a shot at their respective division’s World Champ. “There’s an opportunity there,” Purrazzo teased, eyeing a second shot at Toni Storm. Beyond that, she’s eager to make a splash at AEW’s next PPV.

A chance for revenge six years in the making

Three years ago, the landscape of professional wrestling changed forever when Kenta kicked down the ‘forbidden door,’ opening the floodgates for NJPW talent to appear in AEW, and vice versa, along with a raft of talent from various other promotions. Now a full-fledged PPV in its own right, AEW opens the door each year to host dream matches pitting its roster against international superstars. For Purrazzo’s first full year with AEW, she’s hopeful for one particular matchup as Forbidden Door 2024 nears its Sunday, June 30 date.

“I hold grudges,” she said with a grin before recounting one particular loss on her record, a loss from all the way back in 2018. During a Ring of Honor tournament for the Women of Honor Title, Purrazzo faced off against Mayu Iwatani in the quarter-finals. The result didn’t go her way, and to this very day, years on and thousands of miles removed from Iwatani’s promotion, Stardom, she’s still hoping to get that one back.

“Iwatani has always been phenomenal,” Purrazzo admitted. “We got to wrestle a bit when I was in Stardom, also way back in the day she beat me in the Ring of Honor tournament to crown a women’s champion at the time. She kicked me out of the tournament back then and I hold a grudge, so that would be amazing.”

At a time where AEW is opening the door for cross-promotional matchups, so too is WWE, something lifelong wrestling fans never thought they’d witness. Just recently in the HHH era, WWE has established a working relationship with TNA, having their women’s champ Jordynne Grace appear at the 2024 Royal Rumble before challenging for the NXT title in June. As one of Purrazzo’s “closest friends,” she’s thrilled to see this partnership blossom and hopes it’s just the start of what’s to come.

“WWE working with anyone… it kind of blows everyone’s minds. I don’t think anyone had that on their bingo card. For them to cultivate this relationship with TNA, there are so many people there, my husband of course, Jordynne Grace, to see them get that opportunity is amazing. If this flourishes and there’s more opportunity for not just Jordynne Grace, but for anyone on the roster, that could be really special. It’s gonna put more eyes on the product.”

No rush for more gold in AEW’s women’s division

Speaking of something special, there’s been plenty of speculation in recent months that AEW could be gearing up for the introduction of Women’s Tag Titles. While there may be a few standout duos like Saraya and Harley Cameron, or Julia Hart and Skye Blue, Purrazzo doesn’t want AEW rushing to establish new belts just for the sake of it.

“I think Women’s Tag Titles are tricky,” she explained. “I think women easily fall into this category of ‘we’ll just put Deonna and so and so together, you guys be a team.’ If AEW was to introduce Women’s Tag Titles, it would be an amazing opportunity for us women, but I’d want to see a larger story being told.

“Let’s give women the opportunity to tell stories, make the audience understand why these two people work together.”

Recently, we saw Willow Nightingale and Kris Statlander working together, at least before the world’s biggest haters turned on the former TBS champ. In an example like that, “we understood their chemistry,” Purrazzo continued. “ We understand why they were friends, the reason they had each other’s back. If we’re going to have Tag Titles, we need multiple tag teams that have that same chemistry.

“So it’s not something I’m shooting down completely, I just think that type of division needs a lot of investment, a lot of storytelling to get there.”

Thunder Rosa, Wembley Stadium, and Submissions

In recent weeks, Purrazzo has been mixing it up with Thunder Rosa. At Double or Nothing, the two tore the house down in Las Vegas as the opening match of the pre-show garnered some of the loudest pops of the entire show. It was a special match Purrazzo had to stop herself in the middle of. “To hear [the crowd]… there were ‘women’s wrestling’ chants… I had to take a breath and take it all in.”

Clearly, the pairing leads to fireworks when they’re in the ring, and yet despite having won the contest, Purrazzo is more than open to challenging her new rival once again.

“I won the match, but I think she’ll be upset, she’ll have something to say. I think she’ll want a rematch. I love wrestling, I want to wrestle. I’ll wrestle anybody to work my way back up to the women’s title.”

Exactly when or perhaps more importantly, where, a rematch with Thunder Rosa may occur, remains to be seen for now. But if Purrazzo had her way, there are two special factors she’s got on her wishlist moving forward, and they could just align perfectly for her feud with La Mera Mera.

“We have Wembley coming up,” Purrazzo acknowledged. Last year’s debut in the United Kingdom was one of the most attended wrestling events in history, and she wants a spot on this year’s card.

“I hope I get to be there,” she said. “To be able to look out at that crowd, that stadium, know the history that’s there and the history All In created… I want a match at All In, that’s my goal for the second half of the year and I’m going to make sure I’m doing the work now to make that possible.”

When pressed on her personal favorite match types, Purrazzo, a Fujiwara Armbar specialist, giddily eyed the idea of a submission match in AEW. To date, the promotion is yet to hold a submission match on the whole, and if her Purrazzo gets her wish, the women’s division will be the first to break the mold.

“When you have someone who’s at that level and can do the same submissions, it makes for a really interesting match you don’t see often from women. So that is on the bucket list to do on a bigger platform.”

Should the stars align, perhaps a submission match against Thunder Rosa at All In 2024 could tick all the boxes in one glorious night for The Virtuosa.

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