Prior to joining Impact Wrestling in 2017, Taya Valkyrie put together an illustrious career in Mexico. Now as the reigning Knockouts Champion, Valkyrie has achieved superstardom in America. She was recently a guest on our WINCLY podcast and spoke to Wrestling Inc. managing editor Nick Hausman about achieving her goal of winning a title in a major North American promotion.

"It's been a goal of mine for years to hold a women's championship like this in a major federation, especially an American federation. I obviously am a two-time Reina de Reinas champion in Mexico, longest-reigning with [945] days, but that was one part of my wrestling career and I really felt like this was really important to kind of cement myself in the American scene and I worked really, really hard to get to this point. A lot of people just jump to conclusions or assume that things happen to people because of who they are or whatever, but the truth is I worked my butt off, and if someone doesn't see that, I don't get it," Valkyrie said. "I am a perfect representation of hard work, dedication, sacrifice, everything that it takes to be successful within professional wrestling. I hold pride in my work, and I hope that I'm representing what a Knockout should be and is, and that I'm representing the division in the most positive and inspirational way that I can. I hope to be Knockouts Champion for a really long time and I'm prepared for anybody that feels they should have the opportunity to wrestle me for that championship. So if it's Tessa [Blanchard] running her mouth, or if it's one of the new girls that feels like they deserve a chance, then absolutely, I will be the defending champion. I'm not scared of anybody."

Valkyrie defeated Blanchard at Homecoming last month to win the title, but she had help from special guest referee Gail Kim, who retaliated when Blanchard attacked her and allowed Valkyrie to pick up the win. Valkyrie dismissed the notion of her title win being tainted, saying she simply took advantage of the opportunity that was presented to her.

"Here's the thing, I had beaten Tessa already before by submission. I've had her back against the wall on several occasions. You know, Tessa has been running her mouth, Tessa's been hitting refs and being extremely disrespectful to our management and everybody, so she can't just expect that this behavior is gonna go unnoticed or with no reaction. She hit the wrong ref and the ref hit back," she said. "This is wrestling, right? I'm gonna try and win, so obviously when the opportunity was there, I'm gonna take that opportunity and I'm gonna win. And guess what? I won and I'm the Knockouts Champion. So honestly, Tessa, whenever you want, I'm fully prepared to defend this title against you. So anyone who wants to say I don't deserve it or anything like that, this is professional wrestling. This is me trying to win a match. I'm gonna sit there and wait? No. I'm gonna take advantage of the opportunity. She hit a ref, the ref hit back, and I won. Bottom line."

Valkyrie welcomes the opportunity to face Blanchard again, but she will have to wait. Blanchard is suspended for attacking a referee, and Valkyrie couldn't resist the chance to taunt her rival.

"I'm over here waiting. Oh wait, she's suspended, that's right," she said facetiously. "She's suspended, well when she's allowed to come back, she can have her opportunity. I've never stepped down from a challenge or been scared of anybody and I'm not about to start. So Tessa's losing her mind and being all crazy and all this kind of stuff, go ahead. I've taken on women in every part of this planet and bled for what I want, and that's that Knockouts title. So whenever she's ready, I'm there."

Valkyrie also discussed what it's like to be champion while her husband Johnny Impact is also Impact World Champion. She said she is proud of how hard both of them have worked to reach this point.

"It's just really cool to be sharing in this moment with him especially since we've both worked so hard to get to this point individually through our careers and coming from different kind of parts of pro wrestling, it's just really a great way to start 2019," she said. "I'm just happy to be sharing in this moment with him."

You can listen to Taya Valkyrie's full exclusive WINCLY interview in the embedded player below. Subscribe to Wrestling Inc Audio on iTunes to get our latest podcasts as soon as they are released: