TNA Knockout champion Mickie James was recently interviewed by The Swerve Magazine. Here are some highlights.
Working with Trish Stratus immediately upon debuting with WWE: “Oh, it was incredible. It was absolutely incredible. I had been wrestling close to seven years at that point. I spent close to three years in developmental. I was supposed to debut five times before (the angle with Trish Stratus) even happened.
“In fact, CM Punk and myself debuted on Sunday Night Heat and that match was pulled off of the show because when we came (backstage), they’re like ‘You guys don’t fit together. It was great, we loved it, but you guys just don’t work together.’ (That) was funny because we had worked together in TNA prior to that, but in a different capacity. It was really frustrating because I was like ‘Is this going to happen?’ or ‘When is this going to happen.’
“When it did (happen), it was a blessing because I was able to come in and work with Trish, who was the top female (wrestler) and will probably go down in history as the top female of that time. I learned so much from her and she taught me so much of all the little ins and outs. I knew the wrestling part in and out, I could do that in my sleep. Even my character, I knew pretty much in and out. I was able to work with Trish, work with the writers, and work with Stephanie (McMahon) and really develop this character and make it into something where people really just connected with it.”
Talent leaving due to TNA’s budget cuts: “That’s the thing with this business, its ever-revolving because it’s entertainment. The thing is is its such a small world and I know that I am going see these people again. I don’t know when or don’t know where. I think that there’s so many talented people out there and they are way too talented to not end up somewhere to do something fantastic. Even when I was released (by the WWE) before, I thought it was the worst thing in the world and it ended up being a blessing in disguise. Now I have been able to shine and focus on (TNA) and even focus more so on my music because they are based in Nashville and their schedule is less taxing. Instead of (wrestling) 250 days a year, I am down to 150 days a year, so it gives me a little bit of extra time.
“Hopefully, for (the people who were victims of TNA’s budget cuts), this is a blessing. If they have other aspirations to work on or paths to go somewhere else, this gives them the opportunity to do so. It also opens up the door for talent that has yet to be seen. I think we’re making a lot of incredible changes. We’re going out on the road now and our television (shows) are much more compelling than they were at Universal. At the same time, if you look at the product now and see how much more electric it is. That’s a positive thing. There’s changes in, not just within the roster, but within the organization.”
TNA pushing older stars, and if that played into the change in direction with TNA after the cuts: “Right, but here’s the deal, it’s just not a TNA thing if you look at wresting history, and any of the current products, its pretty much the same. It takes so long to get to the level to make a person to tune in and watch. They want to see this person. That type of star power doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to build a character and build stars like that. TNA is only ten years old. We have the stars that have been there from day one. We have AJ Styles, we have Samoa Joe.
“I think it’s a talent thing, too. We all have to step up and want to take that spot. You can’t just be handed it, you have to take it. If you bust your butt, it definitely shines through. I think that we’re seeing some people we really didn’t see before really start to step into a bigger spotlight. (TNA) is doing that Main Event Mafia (angle) and Magnus has stepped up, who nobody saw coming because he’s the only guy in that group that wasn’t in the main event spot. He has everything that the company is looking for in a main event star. I love what they’re doing with AJ (Styles) now. He’s had the same type of character pretty much since day one. To have that rougher side of him is unique and exciting to see. Now Chris Sabin is our world champion, which is something nobody saw coming. He’s one of the talented guys on our roster, but he’s also a smaller guy. When you think of world champion, you don’t think of one of the smaller guys. It just goes to show its exiting for us all and its a fresh change, it makes for more compelling television with all the different people he can work with and the different matches he can have. He’s so different stylistically.”
If there was resentment or backlash with Brooke Hogan joining TNA: “I think, perhaps there was some of that (feeling) at first. She’s not an active wrestler, she’s just more of a personality. In her role, with what’s she’s doing on television, she’s doing a fabulous job. I don’t expect to see her step into the ring. Its no secret that there was that bit of a catch-22 in the sense of ‘Oh, she’s just Hogan’s daughter.’ It was up to her to change their minds at the end of the day, and I feel she’s done a great job. Nobody views her as a wrestler. If she would’ve came in to try wrestle, I think it would be a different (feeling).”