Mickie James Discusses Winning IMPACT Knockouts Title, Mercedes Moné, Jay Briscoe, Almost Quitting OVW, & More

The Last Rodeo may have come to an end, but Mickie James vows to make her latest run as Knockouts World Champion the most remarkable of her career.

On January 13th, the “Hardcore Country” legend put her career on the line against Jordynne Grace’s Knockouts Championship at IMPACT Wrestling’s Hard To Kill pay-per-view. The two battled feverishly in the main event, but ultimately, it was Mickie James who prevailed. With her win, James claimed her fifth title run in the company, becoming the brand-new Knockouts Champion.

Following her emotional victory, SEScoops correspondent Ella Jay spoke with Mickie James about her win at Hard To Kill, paying homage to her Native American roots, her thoughts on Mercedes Moné, memories of Jay Briscoe, her full-circle arch with Masha Slamovich, almost quitting in OVW, and more.

Watch Ella Jay’s full interview with Mickie James:

Here are some highlights on what Mickie James said about:

Winning The Knockouts Championship At IMPACT Hard To Kill:

“It’s not often that I’ll look back at a match and I go like, ‘okay, I was happy with that.’ It was a battle. I felt like I just started to feel normal a few days ago, and then we obviously just had [television] tapings again. But I walked in there, I was like ‘I just started feeling normal yesterday’ because we went to war.”

“I knew it had high expectations; a lot of people were excited for the match. I was excited for the match. I had never been in the ring with Jordynne before, and obviously I’ve watched her and she’s so impressive. She was a dominant champion, and I knew that this match — I wanted to give her the best of me that I had. I certainly didn’t want to disappoint her. I don’t think that she wanted to disappoint me, and it was just a lot. It was a very emotional, a very emotional night, I think, for myself and for her and for everyone.”

Paying Homage To Her Native American Roots In Her Hard To Kill Entrance:

“I’ve always wanted to be able to pay homage to my native roots and do it in a respectful way, and also just the awareness of indigenous culture. The fact that I was able to I asked the Chief if they would be willing to come down with the tribe and do the dance and that whole planning of like what song it was going to be and where he and Jody came up with pretty much the song that was a powerful kind of warrior song, but also the emotion and to pay the homage to my Mattaponi nation and my tribe especially now because they’re just doing so many monumental movements right now as far as like getting the federal recognition and this new tribal council, which my mom is a part of, and she was out there in the crowd and it was just beautiful.”

“I thought, if this is going to be my last match, then this is something I’d always wanted to do. The fact that IMPACT — and I went to Scott [D’Amore] with it — I knew it was asking a lot to be able to do something like this. IMPACT doesn’t do this a lot. They don’t do entrances like WrestleMania. You’ll get entrances like that at these big events, but IMPACT very rarely — they did the one with Samoa Joe I remember they did that with the dancers before — but it’s very rare that they’ll do something like this. So, it was a big deal. It was a big deal to get the tribe there. It was a big deal to kind of orchestrate it to where it looked, and it was presented in a very respectful way.”

“I feel like one reason why I never done a whole lot with my native culture in wrestling is because oftentimes, it’s just like in television, I just feel like it’s this false narrative of it’s a campy, comedic version of Native Americans or how we see them. We’re very much alive today in society. It’s just important to me to spread awareness and some love.”

Meeting Masha Slamovich Face-To-Face In IMPACT

Photo Credit: Do Photo Wrestling (DPW)

“This goes back to Empowerrr, when I invited her to Empowerrr …. and Masha just stood out to me so much because she was so different, and she was so impactful and crisp, and she was cool. She was cool and different. Then when I found out she’s legit. 100% Russian, speaks 100% Russian, I was like, ‘Whoa.’ Then to bring her to IMPACT Wrestling, which I didn’t expect her to get offered a contract that night [at Knockouts Knockdown], but to get brought to IMPACT Wrestling in that Pick Your Poison against Deonna, because obviously Deonna and I are — we’re ‘fight forever’ friends.”

“[I] brought her in for that to be my poison against Deonna, and she had such an impressive showing that Gail [Kim] came out and they offered her a contract right there. I was like, ‘Whoa, this is so cool.’ It was wonderful to see something — it helped validate, my eye for talent of going like, I thought she had something special. Then when it gets validated, on the spot, like right in front of you, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, this is such an amazing moment.’ It was just emotional to see that.”

“Then she’s dominated. She dominated since she walked in the door and she’s destroyed the competition, most women in that locker room. Except Jordynne Grace, because Jordynne Grace beat her. And who beat Jordynne Grace? I did. So, if Jordynne can beat Masha, I can beat Masha now.”

Almost Quitting In OVW

mickie james ovw
(via OVW)

“I always say in life, you’re going to be presented with — there’s going to be game changing moments in your life, and we don’t always recognize them, but they’re usually these real sit-down decision-making moments and what you choose then puts you down one path or the other, right? I feel like we should all be achieving our dreams and all doing the things that we love to do, and sometimes we get off path. But you feel happiest when you are doing those things, because it doesn’t feel like work.”

“A lot of times those hardships of like when you want to quit, when I wanted to quit in OVW and Tommy Dreamer is like, ‘you need to take a break. You need to go home and rethink this decision.’ He watched me from a year I had just been wrestling when I was getting those ECW tryouts and I was not good, but he had already watched me from there to then, this must have been 2004-ish.”

“It wasn’t that I wasn’t good. I was good, and I knew I was good. I think that’s why I was so upset and frustrated because I was like, ‘I know I’m good and I feel like I just want the opportunity, a chance’ I don’t understand why I’m down here training people. I know I’m better than all these people. So I just wanted an opportunity — I don’t mean like the girls on TV — I meant like the girls in developmental where we were. These are my friends and I love them, but most of them, they didn’t come from wrestling. So I was like, ‘Well, did I just come at this the wrong way? Should I have just went down a different path?’ Tried to be a model and then just kind of signed up for wrestling?

“[I thought], ‘because I love it so much or because I desire to be the best — is that the problem? Do I need to stop caring?’ It’s not in me to stop caring about it because I’ve just held myself to high standards. I think my grandma from horse training and showing did that at a young age. It was hard competing because you were competing against professionals all the time. I just wanted to be good, and I wanted to push yourself, and I think that that kind of created that foundation for everything else in life.”

“But nothing great comes without adversity. In fact, most times before you get — that’s where I say that’s what separates people, is that giving up or persevering through, which decision you make right there. Because most times that biggest test, that darkest moment happens right before the breakthrough, right? So, it’s like that last test of if overcoming this frickin’ hurdle that seems insurmountable before you get the blessing that you’ve been asking for. At least I feel like that’s been true for most parts of my life, and sometimes you don’t see it then, because you’re in it.”

How Her Mother Convinced Her Mother Not To Quit

“My mom wasn’t a wrestling fan. She liked Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat, but she wasn’t a wrestling fan. She didn’t love the fact that I was wrestling because she was terrified I was going to get hurt. I was living in Louisville. I was traveling all the time, like weekend warrior-ing it, not making any money, risking injury, no health insurance, all the things, until I got signed. But even then, I think at that point I’d been so committed, and she had asked me if I’d thought about other things, maybe I should consider other things or whatever prior to getting signed in developmental.”

“[She would ask] just more because she would see how disheartened I’d get every time I’d do a tryout and I’d get a no or they’d never call me back. She didn’t want me to feel bad or whatever. She was just being smart, think[ing] about other things. But when [Tommy] told me to go home, which was on the sly, like he didn’t tell my boss that he was letting me go home for a couple of weeks. We were going home for Christmas break anyway, so that was usually like two weeks. So, he let me go home about a week and a half, two weeks or so [early]. I ended up being home for almost a month and I was so homesick because I hadn’t been home for like, I don’t know, it was the longest had been away from my family.”

“I hadn’t been home for like two years, but it was her that as we’re sitting there and we’re talking and she was like about why I’m back early and why I’m staying so long and stuff. She’s the one who said, ‘I may not have loved your idea of it, but I see how much you love it.’ She goes, ‘I watch and I see. You shine out there and you are so good. Please don’t give up now. Don’t give up when you’re almost there because you’ll regret it the rest of your life.’”

“She goes, ‘I never went after the things that I love. A lot of us don’t even have the courage to do it, and you had the courage to go do that. Please don’t give up now. Just see it through. If they let you go, they let you go. You can do a million other things, but don’t quit. Don’t quit on it.’ And I was like, ‘okay.’ That’s really what it was, my mom.”

Mercedes Moné’s Journey To Free Agency

Mercedes Mone

“I’m excited for her. I’ve said this, the world is her oyster. She can literally do whatever she wants. I think any company would benefit from having her on their roster. She is a star. The fact that she doesn’t need to be on a roster because she could go act or she could go do a lot of things, it shows that she has a genuine passion for wrestling and she’s great.”

“I’ve never had a singles match with Sasha [Banks] and I would really, really love to have a singles match with Mercedes. We could just book it at my house [in the barn]. I’ll send her the address. I’ll set up the ring.”

“I love her. I have so much love and respect for her, I do. I think she’s incredible. I’m excited to watch her journey, I really am. I’m excited too, because I feel she has an opportunity now to do it her way, and she wanted to do a lot of things, and now she gets to go do them, and she can go test herself against whoever she wants to and show up everywhere. That’s what I hope, she shows up everywhere. Come on over to IMPACT!”

Memories With Jay Briscoe

Jay Briscoe

“I remember the Briscoes and it’s been so great to see them back, even like when they came to NWA or when they came to IMPACT and just seeing them back out in the scene. But I’ve known those guys since they were kids, since early Ring of Honor days. Obviously one of the greatest tag teams that’s ever been and them being brothers, I think really helped that because they just knew each other better than anybody else. To watch them, it was so seamless and beautiful and just perfect.”

“It was devastating [when Jay passed away]. I think it affected the whole wrestling community because you saw people from every company talking about it because this is a very full circle — wrestling is a very small circle sometimes, and we all have to go through the same places and through the climb up the same ladders together. You cross paths with a lot of people. Those friendships and those brotherhoods that you make along the way, you don’t forget those.”

“Even though we’re separated, doesn’t mean that they’re not important to us. I think that it’s sad. It’s really, really sad because he was so young and I feel like he had so much of a career left for him, but also he’s leaving his kids behind and his wife. It’s just devastating.”

“I just lost my brother, my oldest brother, not too long ago in a car accident. So, it was obviously it was a reminder about that. I called my family a lot and kind of spent the time some time home with D (her son) a little bit to reset. Who I’m feeling for is not just his wife and his kids, but his brother. They’ve been a tag team their whole lives. Not just in wrestling, their whole lives they’ve been a team. I’m sure there’s a bit of — I don’t know how he’s feeling right now and especially how he’s feeling about wrestling, but just I hope he is okay. It’s sad. It’s really sad. It’s sad, too, because I’m like, ‘God, that still felt like there’s so much more they could have done.’”

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