Sooner or later, Mickie James is going to have to think about life after her in-ring career is over.
James put her own career on the line by announcing she was on her “Last Rodeo” but she’s gone unbeaten since August. Now she enters Hard To Kill in another high-stakes match where she’ll challenge Jordynne Grace for the Knockouts Championship. WrestleZone recently spoke with Mickie James ahead of IMPACT Wrestling’s Hard To Kill pay-per-view about what prompted her to raise the stakes and put her career on the line now. Mickie had been on such a great run after her WWE departure, but she said it felt like the timing was right.
“I lost the championship and I went away when I lost this championship to Tasha [Steelz] and Chelsea [Green] turned on me, and there was a lot of factors that went into it. There’s a lot of factors that are still going into it. It was about not just proving that I still belong in the locker room or still belong as an active female on the roster, and that I still can hang with this new generation which is a lot of sometimes fueled a bit by comments or things that you’ll see or conversations or headlines that you might see via the Internet. Some of it is feud fueled by real life,” Mickie explained.
“I’ve been really blessed. I don’t know, I was trying to think as I was asked to maybe come back and still be part of the roster. I was thinking, ‘well, what else do I have to prove?’ I’ve done so much and I’ve been fortunate enough to perform on television with so many different locker rooms,” she noted, “from different companies, from different generations, from different expectations and perceptions of what women’s wrestling is. It’s evolved so much to this place that we’re at now where women are getting all these truly equal opportunities. I felt like sometimes — it took a lot to get here, and it’s like moments that we prayed for. Now that the tree is finally bearing all this fruit, it’s unfortunate that a lot of the women that planted those trees can’t even taste the apple.”
From her iconic rivalry with @trishstratuscom to Hardcore Country to The Last Rodeo – @MickieJames has been one of the defining women's wrestlers of a generation. But it could all come to an end in a Title vs. Career match against @JordynneGrace on January 13 at #HardToKill. pic.twitter.com/1HV1dy36gt
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) January 6, 2023
James noted that wrestlers have gone through different struggles depending on their generation. She asked herself why she would step away when things were going well now and realized it’s because she’d rather go out on top when she still has something meaningful to offer.
“I never want it to outlast my stay and stay too long — I always wanted to go out on top at the best of my game and do something remarkable on the way out, if I could. So it just kind of made sense to me of this. I didn’t want to come in and just get a title shot and say, ‘Hey, I’m Mickie James. I want to challenge whoever is the champion as the champion. That’s it. I’m coming for the title.’ Out of respect to the locker room, I wanted to prove that I was willing to work for it just as hard as every girl in that locker room, and I was willing to put my career on the line because that way it put my back against the wall,” James said. “I always perform better under pressure in the sense that I would truly prove whether I still belong or not. If at any point along this journey, if I couldn’t win and I couldn’t make it to the championship, then that was it, and so be it. I still would have been happy with my career because of everything that I’ve been able to do. But here we are, and it’s Hard to Kill. I’ve made it to the top of the mountain, and Jordynne [Grace] is the champion.”
Win or lose, James said that this feels like a bookend to her career. She said she’s not trying to think about what she’ll do if she loses, but it’s still a question that will need to be answered one day.
“I’ve been trying not to put that in my brain, but that’s like the question is like, ‘what are you going to do if you lose?’ I don’t know. I mean, I’m going to be an awesome mom for my son as I try to be every day and be an awesome wife and obviously my other businesses and stuff,” Mickie stated. “But wrestling has been my identity for a very, very long time. It’s been the thing that I’ve poured my whole soul into for over two decades to get to be able to do all of these things and make all these moments. So it’s scary. It’s scary to think life after wrestling.”
Check out our full interview with Mickie James at the top of this post. IMPACT Wrestling’s Hard To Kill pay-per-view takes place on Friday, January 13. Fans can order the event on FITE.
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