Mickie debuted on RAW in October of 2005, fresh from OVW training and a stint in TNA. Straight into an angle with Trish Stratus, Mickie has gone on to become a 4-time WWE Women’s Champion, and recently crowned Diva’s Champion.
An integral part of WWE’s roster, Mickie is known for her high-energy, technically gifted wrestling style. As part of the recent RAW tour to New Zealand, Mickie took on then-Divas Champion Maryse in one of the best matches of the night.
Mickie spoke to NZPWI Editor Kirsty Quested about her training, the direction of women’s wrestling in WWE and much more… including some words of advice for the women of wrestling here in New Zealand.
Kirsty Quested: Hi Mickie, how’s it going?
Mickie James: Beautiful, and how are you?
You know what, I believe it… was, because every time before that, we just do Australia. I think that was my first time in New Zealand.
And what did you think of the New Zealand crowds?
They were amazing. They really were, they were on fire. The beautiful thing about when we travel to different countries, is that since we don’t go there very often, like once a year or something, when we go there we are so welcomed. With open arms, and they are so excited to see us. Which is good ‘cause we feed off of that, you know?
Yeah, for sure.
You spent a few months in TNA, before signing with WWE; how do you look back on that time, especially Raven’s Flock?
How do I look back? You know what, I was very grateful for that chapter in my life, definitely. With every experience and every chapter you continue to grow and to get better. I learned a lot from my experience there. And when I left, I left on good terms. Like, they knew, when I went there… obviously, if you have a genuine love for this business you know that the pinnacle is World Wrestling Entertainment. That’s where I’ve always – that’s what I grew up watching, that’s where I dreamed to be, you know? So, I had a lot of fun when I was there, and I enjoyed it, it was a good ride, and it was a good chapter in my life, and I learned tons there, and I use that moving forward in my life and continue to grow and get better, so it was good.
You went on to train in OVW; how different was the training to the TNA and independent styles you’d been in?
It was different in the aspect of… like when I was doing that, before I made it, before I got signed and sent to OVW, I had done several camps. And I trained, I had been wrestling quite a long time and I was working every weekend, I was wrestling these independent shows, and I was doing TNA, doing the TV there, and doing their pay-per-views and continuing to do my shows, so you would learn from all these like… I would always pull the legend, like I would pull them aside and ask them to watch my match. Give me pointers or whatever, whether it was Ricky Morton or you know, you’d get lucky sometimes and you’d have some really killer people on the show that you’d work with, and sometimes you’d work with a bunch of people that are all the same spot you are.
But you continue to learn and get better, and going from that, to being in OVW, waking up every morning, and training from 8 in the morning till 5 in the evening, and still going to the gym, and trying to, you know, make it… it’s weird, ‘cause you went from being on TV and having a name, to having to go and kinda disappear for a little bit of time. But I learned SO much there. Like, I can’t even explain. ‘Cause it’s like, everything I’d learned, through those 5 years of trying to make it, and then getting signed and sitting in OVW for three years, and constantly fine-tuning my craft, only bettered me. And I learned – it humbled me. Because you know, you reach that pinnacle where you’re on TV all the time, and you’re kinda doing all this stuff and you’ve made a pretty good name for yourself on the independent scene… you know, I was working Ring of Honor and I’d been top star on there, I’d been champion up and down the east coast for different federations, small-time stuff, you know.
But sometimes – that doesn’t get to your head, but it’s like I just grew a lot, I grew so much in OVW, and I’m so very grateful for my time there, I mean, Danny Davis was amazing to me. And I just learned so much from him, and so much from like – they had so many phenomenal trainers come through there, from Lance Storm, and Al Snow, and Bill DeMott, and of course Danny was there the whole time, and he was the smartest man on the planet, I think. Or at least, for me, ‘cause he taught me so much, not just in wrestling but in real life, like how to ground yourself, these little things that keep you grounded and keep you humble, and it just made me get in touch with myself, a lot, as well, and what I wanted from this business, and what… because you can’t have expectations. That’s the thing. Because if you have all these expectations, then you’ll get your heart broken, because you just never know, it’s such an ever-changing business.
So I learned an incredible amount. And I fine-tuned my craft and I became better than I ever was before. And that was really really good for me. But it was definitely quite a shift, you know? And plus, it was my first time leaving, because I’d lived near my family for so long and I had my horses, but for three years I only went home around Christmas, really. And I was away from my horses, which was such a huge part of my life, I would spend at least a few days a week there, and now I didn’t see them at all. And it was just kinda, I got homesick, and I went through like a roller-coaster of like, “oh, am I ever going to make it to TV, I’ve made it this far, I got signed, but I’m sitting here in OVW, I just don’t know what’s going to happen,” and a lot of uncertainty and everything… it just got me in touch with what’s important in life and what you want, and what you need, and it made me realise how much I truly love this business, and how much I was willing to give.
Amazing. I am so… because, I’ll tell you this: I was supposed to debut probably 5 times before that. And every time it got like axed. Like it went as far as, I actually went out there, it was going to be CM Punk and I, we were going to be like a team. And we went out there and I managed him, and everything, we had the match, and they pulled the match from the show. It got that far, so… and I pitched ideas and storylines and all this stuff, and it was frustrating, you know you’re sitting there going “oh god please please please” but everything… it worked out perfectly. Because I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Yes it took some time, and I got put out there and pulled back a few times, but that one was the perfect one for me. I think it worked, I’m very grateful for it, because I got to work such a beautiful storyline, and really pull on the people’s emotions, and really… it was really good for me, and almost as a way for… Trish kind of passed the torch to me, and I’m very honoured that I had that moment with her, because she, at the time, she was the top, her and Lita were the top, that was the best.
Well you were – sorry – you were the first Diva to win the Women’s Championship at your WrestleMania debut, you know, and that was huge. What was it like taking home the win in front of that huge crowd?
It was…. I mean, I’ve got chill-bumps just thinking about it. It was just… I cried like a baby. Because you know, after years… and you know, just so much, so many… that whole roller-coaster ride, and like doubting yourself, and then saying “no, never give up, don’t quit,” or whatever, the whole roller-coaster of emotions and stuff that I went through, I cried. As soon as I stepped back through that curtain I was just so… I thanked God, and my mom was there, and it was just amazing, and so… I couldn’t be more grateful and more thankful for the way that I came in, and the people that I’ve had a chance to work with, to grow from, to learn from, and that was just… and you know they say everything happens for a reason, so all those times that I was supposed to come up and then it was like “no OK never mind we’re not gonna do it, we’re not gonna do it,” and then finally I got this one angle, and it was the perfect angle. It was the perfect end for me. You know what I mean? And if I could go back in time I wouldn’t change a thing, because it was amazing. And being in Chicago in front of that crowd, and if you remember correctly, the crowd totally switched halfway through the show, like halfway through the match.
Absolutely, I remember it well.
The women’s division in WWE has gone through several evolutions over the years, and at the moment it seems to be evolving into a more athletic product, with a greater focus on wrestling ability; what would you say has been the major factor in bringing this about?
I think that it’s like… huh… the thing is, the worst thing in the world is to watch bad wrestling. You know? So they can be the most beautiful women in the world, but if they can’t wrestle then it means nothing. They go out there, and it’s just like… ugh. Like, it’ll turn the biggest wrestling fan away, it’ll make them change the channel. So it’s important, I think… that’s why we’ve really worked hard with the girls to be the best that they can be. You don’t have to be the best in the world, just be the best that you can be. And everybody’s stepped up their game, and everybody’s working hard and everybody’s continuously trying to get better and better. Until, you know… and that’s important, because if you truly love what you do, you would want to be the best that you can be. And I think that’s important, and I think that’s what we’re really looking for now, it’s not just the pretty face. Like, those are a dime a dozen. We can have a million pretty faces but if you don’t have a genuine love and a genuine passion for what you do, then it shows, it shines through, and the people see it, it shines through on camera, it shines through in your work and everything, so I think that that’s what’s changing. People that have come in, now, like you always know the people that truly love what they do, and people that are just there… because. I think that even the casual fan can see that on TV. And that’s what we’re trying to really get rid of, because everybody goes out there and they work and they pour their heart and soul, and there’s nothing worse than someone that doesn’t care.
You’re one of the few people on WWE’s roster not to be affected by the Draft. Have you ever thought what it would be like to be working on ECW or SmackDown or is RAW your happy home?
I am, um… like honestly, every time the Draft comes up, you know, because you never know who’s going to get drafted, you never know, it really is a gamble, and so I’m definitely… every time the Draft comes around I’m like “oh gosh, I don’t know what.” I think it would be a cool thing, because you get to work programs with different people that you haven’t worked with before, and stuff like that, but I started on RAW. I love RAW, I’m a RAW girl. I love RAW. But, you never know what God has planned, so whatever it is, I will go along with it, because it’s for a reason, right? That’s one thing I’ve learned in my life – there’s a reason for everything, so whatever it is, it’ll be. And I’ll just be the best that I can be and that’s all I can do.
We, here in New Zealand, we’ve got three wrestling promotions, and up until very recently we really didn’t have very many women, but over the last couple of years, they’re starting to come up through each of the three promotions. They’re working really hard, and they’re doing really well. What would be your advice, to the girls who, like for New Zealand, they’re the first ones to do it. What would be your advice to them to keep moving on and to bring a higher profile to women’s wrestling in New Zealand?
I would say, go out there and prove that we, as women – I mean, it is 2009. And women are starting to run the world. Women are CEO’s of companies and whatever, and there’s no reason that a woman can’t be just as powerful and important and provide just as much energy and provide just as much effort. Like, the beautiful thing to be such a role model, or whatever, as any man out there. To go out there and prove that we are women and we are powerful. Just as important, and just as good. If you can tear the house down just as good as the men’s matches, or even better some nights, than any of the guys matches out there, that’s when you know you’re doing something.
Mickie, thanks so much for your time, we really appreciate it, and all the best for the future and for the Championship.
Thank you so much, I appreciate it.