LIGHT IT UP LIKE DYNAMITE
Will Masha Slamovich's International Gamble Pay Off?

TEXT BY: LAUREN FOUNDS 

In 2020, the world was faced with a global pandemic that sent the lives of millions into a tailspin. As COVID-19 began to wreak its havoc on North America, independent wrestler Masha Slamovich was faced with the biggest decision of her young career—one that would forever impact her trajectory in professional wrestling.

Almost seven thousand miles away from home, Slamovich has now been living and training for over a year in Chiba, Japan. What was originally intended to be her second tour of the country—and the first with the internationally acclaimed Marvelous Dojo—transformed into a much longer stay.

It all began in January of 2020, when the Moscow-born grappler embarked on a three-month journey to Japan. She was looking forward to what the year would bring. Slamovich planned to fly into Tampa on April 1 to perform at indie shows throughout WrestleMania weekend. The rest of 2020 would include a tour of the Canadian Maritimes, a return to her homeland of Russia (where she would see family), and subsequent plans to get booked all over the United States. Sadly, show after show was canceled, and she was left heartbroken.

As winter waned in New York City— which Slamovich still calls home—the threat of COVID-19 became more obvious, and government shutdowns became widespread. With international travel suspended, she had a tough decision to make. SHIMMER tag champ Delmi Exo, who was also training at the Marvelous Dojo, opted to fly home to the United States. But Slamovich chose to stay in Japan, even though her return trip would be postponed indefinitely. For the young wrestler, this decision was an easy one to make.

“Once I got the opportunity, I knew it was a once in a lifetime chance, and one I’d been waiting on for years,” said Slamovich. “I took maybe 10 minutes to consider and reached out to a mentor, who supported my desire to stay. I immediately wrote back the Marvelous office, and the deal was sealed. It wasn’t a hard choice. It was a moment I knew I stood at the crossroads to my future, and I’m happy I made the call I did.”

She continued: “I made a joke to Delmi in the moment that I might never return to America and told her, in all seriousness, that I would stay here as long as it took ... until 2021, if I had to. And, it turns out, I was just speaking premonitions of my future.”

The choice to stay demonstrated just how truly passionate and determined Slamovich is. “It takes a special kind of person to be able to stay in a country for almost a year without their close friends or family,” said Delmi Exo. “Many people say they’d love to do it. I don’t think they truly understand what that sacrifice looks like.”

But it seems Slamovich made a wise decision. The vast majority of American indie wrestlers spent the better part of 2020 unable to work or train, but, for Slamovich, training and wrestling has never stopped. Living at the Marvelous Dojo has afforded her the opportunity to hone her craft and add to her growing resume.

During her time in Japan, the 22-year-old has toured with Marvelous and wrestled all over Japan, including Osaka and Aichi. She has debuted for the prominent Sendai Girls and Ice Ribbon promotions, and was on the bill for the Joshi supercard, Assemble, in November. In August, she competed in a dream match, teaming with Meiko Satomura at Sendai Girls’ Pro Wrestling.

Since beginning her training at age 16 under the tutelage of WWE Hall-of-Famer Johnny Rodz, Slamovich has been obsessed with the world of professional wrestling, striving to emulate her heroes— most notably, the Dynamite Kid. Given her appreciation of the Stampede Wrestling style, it seems appropriate that she cut her teeth in The Great White North.

“I had always joked to my mother that I was following in the footsteps of my idols,” Slamovich said. “I’d [traveled] to Canada so frequently, it seemed I lived there in 2018-19. It wasn’t by choice, it was all just falling into place, and I joked that I’d leave to Japan for 13 years the way Dynamite had left to Canada for so long. She wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but she knew there was no stopping it. Here in Japan, it’s constant training and self-discipline, and honing the craft I love, and falling in love with it more.”

Slamovich’s nickname, “The Russian Dynamite,” pays homage to her hero. And her work ethic is truly explosive— she spends her days at the Marvelous Dojo, learning the art of puroresu under Chigusa Nagayo and Takumi Iroha. Her schedule allows her to train, work out, and enjoy the sights and scenes of the beautiful country.

Slamovich lives at the dojo with 10 other women and over a dozen cats and dogs. Pets are an important part of the dojo life. In fact, Marvelous hosts a bimonthly adoption event collaborating with local shelters and rescues. The promotion’s devoted students work at the event.

Slamovich’s time in Japan has been the most formative period in her young career. Having the chance to train and learn from some of the best joshi wrestlers has been an invaluable experience— one that, without a doubt, will influence the rest of her career. In 2021, she'll be making her long-awaited return to the U.S. And, when she does, watch out.

“I’d like to have more opportunities to show the American independent circuit what I’m capable of and what they’ve been missing out on,” she said. “Post-pandemic, I look forward to returning to places such as Limitless Wrestling, Beyond, and Battle Club Pro, and look to expand into places like PWG, Black Label Pro, Zelo Pro, United Wrestling Network, and the NWA and AEW.”

At 22 years old, most young adults are still looking to discover their passions in life and figure out where the future will lead them. Slamovich is a rarity, as she was seemingly born to do only one thing—and that is to be a successful professional wrestler. With a resume that already includes performing all over the continental United States, Japan, Canada, Puerto Rico, Russia, and the Dominican Republic, she is determined to make her pro wrestling dreams come true.

Last year, Masha Slamovich came to a fork in the road. Though many would have chosen the path of safety and returned home during an uncertain time, Slamovich chose to stay in a foreign land and hone her craft. It was a gamble, to be sure. But, if she becomes a star in the wrestling industry, she may very well owe it to the leap of faith she took last winter.

 

©Kappa Publishing Group, Inc. “Pro Wrestling Illustrated,” “PWI,” “The Wrestler,” and “Inside Wrestling” are registered trademarks of Kappa Publishing Group, Inc. Privacy policy and terms of use.