kelly klein
Photo Credit: RING OF HONOR/Corey Tatum

‘Somebody’s Gonna Get There First’: ROH’s Kelly Klein About Her Ring Style & Where She Gets That Competitive Edge

WrestleZone’s Dominic DeAngelo had an hour-plus long conversation with Ring Of Honor‘s Kelly Klein before she steps in between the ropes this Friday to challenge Women Of Honor Champion Mayu Iwatani for the WOH belt at ROH’s 17th Anniversary Show in Las Vegas.

In this first part of the interview, “The Gatekeeper” of ROH talks about where she developed her strong, hard-hitting in-ring style and where she discovered that competitive instinct.

Kelly Klein on where she developed her hard hitting in-ring style:

Yeah, I mean you’re right, they [the rest of the women’s roster] all definitely have a style, mine’s just a better style. And I don’t know if there’s anywhere I exactly got an inspiration other than just my personality. it’s a competitive environment and that’s what you do. You push harder and you hit harder…whether I was playing softball or wrestling, boxing, whatever and to me,. I don’t know why you’re in there if you’re not going to go all out, if you’re not going to go all the way. Honestly sometimes I get a little bit offended if people don’t really bring it hard because I kind of feel like they’re not giving me their best and I will be giving my best and I need them to give their best and I think that part of that is just having respect for your opponent, that you’re not going to take them lightly, but you also have to earn respect and you know, sometimes when you see me maybe go a little easy on my opponents because I’m sort of waiting, I’m going with them to see if I can bring that out so that I can push them to push me. It doesn’t always work out that way and you know, sometimes I just have to get it over with, if they’re not gonna come to play, but if you watch certain matches I think sometimes if can even hear me yelling at my opponent and telling them to just you know, “C’mon hit me harder. I know you’ve got more than that, I know you have more and I expect you to bring me your best and I’ll bring you my best.’

On where she garnered that competitive edge:

My entire family is extremely driven and competitive in everything we do. I’ve got a lot of examples throughout my life that would just really illustrate how we make everything into a competition because everything (and trust me) everything would be made into a competition. So one story is one time I was driving somewhere and I was actually the passenger and my parents were driving the same place, they were in a different car and we’re on the highway and at one point my mom texted me and she goes, “Does he know we’re racing?” I said, “Apparently not,” cause everybody else in my family would know that we’re racing. We’re not gonna be dangerous, but it’s unspoken, it’s implicit that if we’re all driving to the same place in different vehicles, somebody’s gonna get there first.

I have three siblings. There are three girls and one boy. Our brother is the oldest so that probably helped a little bit too. He’s actually nine years older than me so he was starting wrestling in high school when I was five, but that did not stop him from coming home and, “Hey! We learned this inside cradle today!” And demonstrating it on me and so I had to be scrappy and tough and really be able to stand up for myself.

How one elementary school story with her sister involving the Presidential Physical Fitness Test really shaped her:

One of the tests is push-ups, but the girls do “girl push-ups” and so there is actually no data, or at the time there was no data on the girls doing either isometric or military style push-ups. So my sisters and I didn’t want to do the girl push-ups, we didn’t want to do the modified. We wanted to compete against the boys and do the [military] or isometric push-ups so my dad and my older sister and I (she was two years older than me) every night, before bed, and my dad would do this with us, we would practice our push-ups and isometric push-ups and time them and prepare for this. And my sister ended up getting to do the isometric push-ups, but I think there was kind of a big fight about it for her to even be allowed to try it. So she would everybody’s butts in the entire school. When the chart came out showing the top 10 girls’ scores and the top 10 boys’ score, she was on neither chart because she wasn’t a boy, but she also didn’t compete in the girls. So she who worked her butt off and everyone in the school was not even listed. So it was kind of one of those, that you know “I’ll never forget that” but it was something that really molded and shaped me because, first of all having the support and the backing of our parents, our mom and our dad and our brother was really important in doing things like that together as a family, but also, it was I think kind of the first time I experienced that sort of sexism and what was really probably the most upsetting was that the physical fitness teacher was female. So that was just a really a big learning moment, but it was also a time when we still went for it and no matter what, we knew the work we had put in and we knew what had happened and what we had done and I’ll always be proud of everybody in my family that was involved in that whole situation, but yeah, we’re competitive.

Read More: Match Added To ROH 17th Anniversary Card, Juice Robinson Reveals Advice Natalya Gave Him

More transcriptions of this exclusive conversation will be coming this week, but you can listen to the entire interview below.