In Mickie James‘ theme song, Hardcore Country, the former WWE and TNA star sings: “Hey now listen up, I’m not the kind of girl that ever gives up.”
Those words ring loud and true, as James has just released her second album, “Somebody’s Gonna Pay”, and celebrated with a concert at the World Chicken Festival in London, Kentucky this past weekend.
“This is something I’d always wanted to do, and I’ve never held back on anything I’d been dead-set on doing in my life,” she says. “There are a ton of parallels as far as your confidence goes and your ability to be able to tell a story, both with wrestling and with music. With wrestling, you’re running on raw adrenaline. With music, your emotions are more present and your heart goes more into it.”
Having recently left TNA and now back on the independent wrestling scene, James will be a featured guest of Hammer Town Comic Con in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on October 5. She will also be appearing at Fan Fests in Bristol, Connecticut and Albuquerque, New Mexico in the coming weeks.
WrestleNewz.com caught up with Mickie James — the only wrestler in history to hold the WWE Women’s Championship, WWE Divas Championship, and TNA Knockout Championship — to shed some light on her career in wrestling and music.
WNZ: Are you happy to be back on the indies?
MJ: Oh yeah, the indie shows are tons of fun. And for the fans, having that up close and personal experience is so different to watching wrestling on television at home. Something I love about it is, you just never know who you’re going to see at an indie show who may turn out to be a massive star someday. It’s also been cool to see the fans over the years and watch the kids grow up in the audience. There’s one fan in the Philly area, and he’s followed me since I was Alexis Laree, working little shows in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. So, he’s seen me from the very beginning, when I was so bad. Well, so semi-bad (laughs).
WNZ: Is there something humbling about going back to the indies, having spent the last eight years in TNA and WWE?
MJ: It is pretty humbling, and obviously now I’m in a different position, but what I find really inspiring is you’ll see so many young wrestlers who have that same fire, that same passion, and that same hunger that I remember so well when I was first coming in. I was just so hungry for knowledge, and you can see it in these people at these indie shows. So, regardless of where you’re at in your career, it’s a good thing if you can keep that passion and that love and keep wanting to up your game and just keep getting better and better.
WNZ: When you were first breaking into the business, one of your trainers was Dory Funk Jr. What was it like to train with Dory?
MJ: He was great. You got to love Dory! He came up to Virginia and I did a week-long camp, and that was my first experience training with him. Then I went down and worked a couple of his shows, and I’ve worked some of his shows since then. He’s very old school, but he’s so sweet in the way he delivers his instructions, and he’s right there in the ring wrestling with you, and showing you how it’s done.
WNZ: The career you carved out for yourself is somewhat “old school,” you could say, working all over North America on the indie scene and for organizations in Puerto Rico and Mexico. How did you like wrestling for the World Wrestling Council and AAA?
MJ: The last time I went to Puerto Rico was two or three years ago, maybe, and it was awesome. I think we got to hit three different shows and spent a lot of time on the beach, which was amazing. Plus, working with Carly (Carlito) and Carly’s dad, Carlos Colon — you got to love them — was an experience I’ll never forget.
And AAA in Mexico was cool because it’s a whole different style and I had never really ventured into doing that luchador style. Because anytime I had gone to Mexico prior was with WWE, so that’s the only style I knew, the Americanized television wrestling style. So to be able to go to Mexico and work the lucha style with some of their top girls down there was really fun.
WNZ: Have you kept videos and DVDs of your matches throughout your career?
MJ: I have recordings of my matches when I was first coming up. What’s really nice is fans have made and given me compilation DVDs of my matches, and they’re from my early days all the way through the indies to some of my bigger matches in WWE.
WNZ: Your match against Trish Stratus in New York City in 2006 is on the recently released Best of WWE at Madison Square Garden DVD and Blu-ray.
MJ: That was a pretty incredible night as that was her last match on RAW at that time, and I was so honored to be a part of that match, as I credit Trish a lot to the success of my career. Being able to come in and be involved in such a great storyline, then to have it on DVD now is just awesome. It also just says the world about her and her capabilities. And what a thrill is was for me to be able to perform in MSG. It’s not the biggest arena in the country, obviously, but you can really feel the nostalgia and the history when you perform there, and of course the New York crowd is incredible.
WNZ: How did you feel about the “Piggy James” angle you had in WWE, where Michelle McCool and Layla bullied you?
MJ: Looking back on it now, I think it shed some light on a big issue in our school system and on the internet now, with technology at your fingertips. It’s so easy for bullies to do it now, sitting behind a keyboard because there’s no face-to-face interaction. And that storyline, I think, was an attempt to address bullying and tell a story with it. Michelle and Layla had already been playing the role of the “mean girls,” but I don’t know where exactly that storyline came from.
And honestly, I feel like it was one of the most difficult storylines to take, as I found it difficult to take my personal feelings and emotions out of it. But I can see how it may have resonated, because at some point most of us have been bullied or picked on, so most of us can relate to it in some aspect. Because you’re going to have sympathy for the character and understand where she’s coming from, impacted from the perils of bullying.
WNZ: As a female entertainer, have you always been confident in your sexuality?
MJ: Oh no. I think wrestlers, especially, we have the lowest confidence in the world, you know. And I think because we feel like we’re always being scrutinized, we look at ourselves in a similar vein. At the same time, it drives us though because it makes us strive to continue to be better and be the best that we can be. So, no, when it comes to our sexuality and physicality, I think we’re hardest on ourselves.
Having said that, I’ve always been an athlete and a performer. I showed horses all through my younger life and competed. There’s a lot of showmanship in that, so I think that’s where a lot of the confidence I do have today comes from, whether I’m in a wrestling ring or on a stage singing.
Come back tomorrow for part 2!