La Tigressa is one of the rising stars Lucha Britannia and it’s her mask makes her stand out from the crowd.
You’re probably best known for your work in Lucha Britannia, could you tell us a bit more about yourself?
Hi, my name is Anaïs, I’m 26 and you might know me as La Tigressa, my character at Lucha Britannia, for whom I’ve been working since 2013.
I’m also a performer, artist, mask maker and also teach art to little ones. (Oh and I’m French, so pardon my English..)
How did you get your start in the wrestling business, where did you train and who trained you?
I got introduced to wrestling by Jamie Lewis Hadley, a performer and organizer of the first ‘Brit Wrest Fest’ show in London. I worked on the event and I met Alex Shane there, it was also the first ever live wrestling show I’d seen.
For a couple of months after, I helped alongside wrestling shows and at the very beginning of Wrestle Talk TV. That was 4years ago and it was my first insight into this strange world I didn’t even know existed.
In September 2011, I did a wrestling introduction workshop with Jamie at the Resistance Gallery, which is the house of Lucha Britannia. Garry Vanderhorne, who runs the school alongside Greg Burridge, encouraged me to start training which I did.
Since, I’ve mainly been training at the London School of Lucha Libre with Greg and Garry. In the summer of 2012, I became valet for the character Jonathan Windsor at the Lucha Britannia shows. Finally, I was introduced as La Tigressa in 2013.
Obviously I also learnt from fellow workers and I keep learning from being part of the main show, from building matches with wrestlers that have 8-10 years experience and getting feedback from the team.
I feel that I gained a lot by following other workers to shows with other promotions as well. I’m thinking of places like IPW (and attending some of their seminars with internationals guest teachers), FPW, WrestleForce, Rev Pro and more recently, Progress.
I had to learn everything from scratch, so watching live shows as well as having workers as friends, helped me understand how matches are built, how to interact with the crowd and the business in general.
I did have a strong physical training to build on as I did ballet for about 10 years when I was younger, trained in Japanese Ju-jitsu as a teenager and had physical theatre training.
All those bases definitely helped me jump into the wrestling world, despite only discovering it at 22.
Do you remember your first pro match? If so, who was it against and what are your memories of it?
It was beginning of 2013, against Janey Britannico, who had recently turned heel as Zombie Janey.
I remember being very anxious and excited, wanting to put everything I knew in it and Janey, knowing best, having to restrain me and help me keeping it simple and safe.
It felt like it went so fast. I was quite surprised by the crowd being so loud and right in my face every time I’d look up from a bump, with our audiences being right up against the apron. It was an incredible sensation to be ‘carried through’ by them shouting my name. It took me a couple of hours to come down from the rush of adrenaline that was being in that ring.
You wear a mask as part of your gimmick, whose idea was it to wear one and who came up with the tiger theme?
Back in December 2012, I had a conversation with Garry Vanderhorne about what female versions of Lucha characters could be. I said “I know what the female Bengal Tiger would look like!” The same evening, I drew my idea of what the wrestling gear would look like and posted it on social media.
The reactions were great and everybody seemed very excited about the idea. So at the beginning of 2013, I designed my costume and La Tigressa was born.
It seemed obvious I should wear a mask, as I was to come out alongside the Bengal Tiger (RJ Singh), who had been in the show for years and wore a mask. Ross provided me with a mask from his famous gear collection, which I modified and that was it.
Lucha is the style you wrestle, with hints of the Brit and Puro styles. Have you always trained in the Lucha/Brit/Puro styles?
I never trained as a wrestler before arriving at the London School of Lucha Libre but I know my background in Japanese Ju-jitsu and performance often comes in handy and feeds my style.
Coming from theatre and martial art explains, I guess, why more technical moves like locks or submissions appeals to me as well as the high flying for its spectacle aspect.
Talents such as Paul Robinson (as Leon Britannico), Greg Burridge (as Metallico), Will Ospreay (as Dark Britannico), RJ Singh (As The Bengal Tiger) and Jimmy Havok (as Glamsexico) have all competed in the promotion. What’s the appeal of working for Lucha Britannia?
Working alongside those talented and wrestlers was and is definitely an amazing asset of Lucha Britannia. Those workers inspire us, the newer additions to the show and will keep being a drive for us to reach our best.
Lucha is a show like no one else. It turns wrestling into a sort of circus show. There are not only the workers in incredibly fun gimmicks and costumes but also a renowned ring announcer, commentators, ring girls and acts between the matches who come to complete this crazy evening.
You get to explore characters you probably wouldn’t anywhere else. (We have a lizard, a venomous frog and a monkey for example!)
It is the strangest family but a family nonetheless and I’m proud to be trusted to keep the feline character alive there.
Do you plan on branching out to other promotions to showcase your skill-set?
I did a show for Wrestle Force back in 2013 and got broke my ankle in the rumble. I was out of action and unable to work for about 2 months. After that, I wanted to limit the risks, so decided to concentrate on Lucha and its monthly shows, working close to home, with people I trust.
I did wrestle Dragonita at one of FPW school fair show last summer so, who knows, I might venture myself outside of Lucha again.
Japan is a destination that seemingly would suit your style, do you have any plans to maybe join the Stardom roster?
I enjoy the wrestling scene in Japan but I’m not really sure what’s next for me.
I’m definitely looking forward to working again with fellow wrestler and friend Dragonita. She has recently come back from Japan and I cannot wait to learn from her experience over there!
What are your plans for the remainder of the year?
I’d say to keep learning and creating while staying safe, to keep offering something different to our audience at Lucha and maybe elsewhere too. To develop even more my rather new business in mask making
And whatever is on the cards, I plan to enjoy myself along the way.
Is there anything else you’d like to say, add or plug?
Thank you for considering me for this interview.
You can follow me on Twitter @AnaisLalange or find my character profile on Facebook (as La Tigressa). Of course, get yourself down to one of our Lucha Britannia shows! They generally take place on the third Friday of every month; so be sure to check out the website- http://www.luchabritannia.com/.
And feel free to get in touch with any enquiries regarding the mask making. I take orders for bespoke designs and you can also find my readymade ones for sale on my Etsy shop MASKAL : https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MASKAL?ref=hdr_shop_menu
Thanks to Anais for taking the time to participate in this interview.