Tatevik Hunanyan not only believes she’s tough enough, she knows she’s tough enough.
And the well-spoken, passionate, Armenian-born wrestler is justified in her belief, as so too do wrestling fans.
Hunanyan, who goes by Tatevik The Gamer, a tribute to her longtime love affair with video games, was, at the time of this interview, responsible for the top video on World Wrestling Entertainment’s Tough Enough web page under the Tough Women category.
Tough Enough is the company’s reincarnated reality series that offers anyone with a dream to work in WWE the opportunity to submit a one-minute clip and convince the WWE they are tough enough to be a WWE superstar. Those cast on the show will compete to win a one-year, $250,000 contract.
Hunanyan said it was at the urging of some of those closest to her that she entered the WWE contest.
“I had people coming up to me and telling me that I needed to audition for Tough Enough,” she said over the phone from her home in Los Angeles. “I was like, ‘Well you know, I thought about it,’ but it was not something that I thought I should pursue, but three people in one day came to me and were telling me, ‘Are you going to audition? Are you going to audition?’ I’m like, ‘You know what, maybe I need to audition. What do I have to lose?’ ”
Losing is not even in Tatevik The Gamer’s vocabulary, what with her unblemished record as a member of the L.A.-based Women of Wrestling. And there’s that competitive gaming side, which was instilled in her while playing video games with her brother and his friends while growing up.
Following the WOW experience, Hunanyan also spent some time under the tutelage of the legendary Rocky Johnson, father of Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson. These days, she’s once again training with her mentor and, in many ways, hero, Benny (The Jet) Urquidez, the famed kickboxer, martial arts choreographer and actor who is considered the pioneer of full contact fighting in the United States.
To Hunanyan, he’s everything.
“I’m back in training (with Benny). Sensei, he gives me advice more than anything. He listens to me, he listens to my experience. He’ll tell me what’s OK and what’s not OK and how I should pursue things,” Hunanyan said, respect and admiration evident in her voice when she speaks of her mentor and friend.
When it came to what she would do with her one minute to shine in her Tough Enough entry, Hunanyan chose to speak about herself, rather than show off her martial arts skills or cut a wrestling-style promo.
“There’s only so much you can say and do in one minute,” she said. “I felt like my words would be a lot more powerful than kicking a punching bag or showing off my deadlifts and all of that. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I feel like with me it was important that I get across my background and training with Sensei Benny and even training with Rocky Johnson because that’s a big deal. I’m very proud of that because I can say that I’m the only person from all the thousands of people in the world who auditioned who can say that, using a name like Sensei Benny and Rocky Johnson. I think that’s worth a million curls,” she said with a with a chuckle.
It may take Hunanyun just over a minute to describe why she believes she’s tough enough, but in reality, it would take her mere seconds to show you how tough she truly is. She blends beauty with brawn and says her kickboxing skills are her bread and butter.
“Easily. My kickboxing and my strength,” she said when asked what was her greatest asset. “And when I say strength I don’t just mean my physical strength, but my mental strength, my spiritual strength. And that’s one thing that I think sets me apart.”
Hunanyun’s faith and skills might be just the perfect mix for the current WWE landscape, given the renewed focus on women’s wrestling, particularly in its NXT brand, where women are main eventing shows and rewriting history.
“I think that the time is now,” Hunanyun said when asked about the current state of women’s wrestling. “Definitely, three years ago, I wouldn’t have been ready the way that I am today. You know, everything has its time and place and I think that this is the right time and I couldn’t have picked a better time to do this.”
Ever the optimist, Hunanyun is ready for whatever the world throws her way, whether that involves a spot on Tough Enough or not.
“I’ll continue to do what I’ve been doing, and that’s training with Sensei Benny. He has a lot going on right now in terms of getting together the stunt school and opening that up; I’m going to be a part of that as well, whether or not I get into Tough Enough.
“In other words, when one door closes, there are 10 more that open.”
Or in the case of Tatevik The Gamer, when one door closes, you kick another 10 down.
Watch Tatevik’s Tough Enough entry at