Taya Valkyrie was the latest guest on INSIGHT with Chris Van Vliet to discuss a variety of subjects. When asked about signing with WWE NXT after departing IMPACT Wrestling, Valkyrie compared it to when Charlie found the golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
“When I first was there, I said in an interview like that it reminded me of feeling how Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when he gets the golden ticket like that’s the way I thought about it,” Taya Valkyrie revealed. “I actually bought myself the book when I got signed to remind myself of how I felt in that moment. I still have it and sometimes have to look at it because it was such a big deal for me. I don’t come from wrestling like I said; it was just 12 years of — you know, everyone says like blood, sweat, and tears and hard work, but it seriously was. I was so poor at certain times. I didn’t have the support of a lot of people. I’ve just really had to carve my own path. And so the opportunity to go there I was like, okay, and a lot of people say, ‘Well, you should have known better wah, wah, wah,’ but it wasn’t about that it was about like, do I go and do this and at least try or do I spend my whole life wondering what if.”
Van Vliet mentioned that her husband John Morrison experienced success at different times with WWE over the years, something Valkyrie definitely agreed with.
“Of course, he’s my husband, and just like any job, there’s going to be good stuff. There’s gonna be bad stuff, whatever. I was prepared for that. I don’t know if I was prepared to the level of what happened, but I was definitely like, Okay, I’m at least going to try, and they were super good to me when I first got there. They treated me like Taya Valkyrie; they were very protective of me. I don’t know if you look back on [when] they were doing like the women’s Tag Title announcement. I’m actually on the stage there. But I was told to not look at the camera because they wanted me to be part of it, but they didn’t want me to be seen because I hadn’t been in like I hadn’t debuted yet. So that was part of it. You see like the back of my head.
“But Shawn Michaels and Triple H were super good to me. And I started working with Sara Amato and the girls in the girl’s class. Training in the weight room with Sean Hayes. Shout out, Sean Hayes. He’s the bomb. He was one of my favorite people while I was there. Things started going on and going on and WrestleMania weekend came, and Presley debuted on NXT before me. So everything was good. Like, it was hard. It was definitely a totally different kind of situation that I’ve ever had been in before.
“But if I survived all the drills and all the hours that I’ve spent in this kind of environment in other places. I’m sure I can do it here. And that’s what I did. I went to extra ring time I was training every day. I was doing promo classes. I was pitching ideas and having creative meetings, and Road Dogg and I would sit down and talk about stuff for hours. I would have all these color charts. I would have movie references. I think about this stuff so much because I just care, and I just love it so much. So things were like really good.”
Taya revealed that the shift to NXT 2.0 was like night and day compared to her time with the black and gold brand.
“You could see what happened, and as time went on, [NXT] 2.0 came about, and I feel like that is when a really big change happened,” Taya Valkyrie said. “It was like night and day. It was a very obvious change of energy, a very obvious just feeling because we were all hearing all sorts of rumors of what they were looking for compared to last week. I was very confused, like, ‘What is going on?’ This was in the summer [of 2021], [Taya noted she had only made her TV debut in February 2021]. It was just so weird. It was the most confusing experience of my entire life and having worked everywhere; I was just left [thinking] ‘What is going on?'”
Taya agreed that every day felt like walking on eggshells, then noted that she could only speak for herself, but the energy definitely shifted, and talent heard frequent rumors about layoffs that left them with a scared feeling. Taya then shared that she was training with Steve Corino’s class and the tag team class, adding that she loved learning from MSK and Imperium because it pushed her to learn new things.
“Everyone was working really, really hard, but the shift from what they wanted 2.0 to be literally changed from like one day to the next,” Taya Valkyrie admitted. “And I feel like it made everyone [anxious], holding your breath almost.”
Van Vliet then mentioned that there’s been talk about Triple H hires being phased out of the plans for NXT 2.0. Taya said no one ever said that to her personally, but it was just a really confusing time for her. She added that the situation had her angry and trying to make sense of it, but then she finally realized that you “can’t make sense of something that makes no sense.”
“All I can say is that I worked very hard,” Taya Valkyrie said. “I gave everything I could — I don’t want to cry — just like everywhere I’ve worked before, but it was very confusing, and I just didn’t know… I felt like I did something wrong. It’s… when everything went down, it was really confusing and heartbreaking because I feel like I let everyone down.”
Taya went on to explain that her husband, John Morrison, had been on the WWE UK tour when she was released, but her friend [and fellow wrestler] Heather Monroe was with her when it happened. She said it was really hard and confusing and felt like she let everybody down.
“I felt like I was representing the over-30 women that are still badasses and look good and do their job, are passionate, and can work,” Taya Valkyrie said. “I felt like I let everybody down, and I know I’m putting that on myself, but it’s been really rough, and now I’m hashing all of this out again. [laughs] Now I know I did nothing wrong. I know I didn’t do anything wrong; it just sucks. It just sucks when you meet your heroes, and you work at a place you’ve dreamed of working forever, and then it’s something that’s so out of your control.”
Taya closed by saying she doesn’t regret going to WWE, but she wished that it went a different way and that she was given a chance.
What do you make of Valkyrie’s comments? Do you think NXT 2.0 was a detriment to her WWE career? Let us know your thoughts by sounding off in the comments section below.
If you use any of the quotes above, please credit INSIGHT w/ Chris Van Vliet with a link back to this article for the transcription.