Wrestling Inc.’s Raj Giri sat down with Renee Michelle to talk about her career, and her involvement in her husband Drake Maverick’s storyline with the 24/7 Title. Michelle talked about starting her pro wrestling training at Gillberg’s school before going to train in Maryland at MCW.
“I started at Gillberg’s Wrestling Academy. I started there, and then the school shut down,” Michelle said. “I still don’t know the reasoning why, but luckily, I was able to meet a man named Dan McDevitt. He ended up opening up a school called MCW. So I am getting my actual training there at MCW. Dan, he’s like a father. He’s like a dad to me in wrestling, and I’m truly truly blessed because he didn’t have to give me a chance. He gave me a chance. He put me underneath his wing.”
Her connection with MCW led to a tryout in Japan with Joshi legend Chigusa Nagayo. Michelle said that taking Japanese in college gave her the edge over other people at the tryout since she could cut a promo in Japanese.
“I guess luckily there was a tryout over in Japan, and I was invited to go to the tryout. And luckily for me during college, I took Japanese,” Michelle revealed. “So Marvelous which is Chigusa Nagayo’s promotion, she was running a American tryout, which she never trained any American people let alone foreigners, let alone men. She’s known only to train strictly women, and while I was there, I did everything that she needed me to do, but I know there’s a lot of the people there cutting promos in English.
“So I’m like, you know, let me change it up a bit, so I cut it in Japanese, and I guess from there, I was lucky, I was golden from there. I ended up being her first student that she ever trained that’s foreign from America, and then she started bringing in more girls and more girls, which I’m very happy about.”
Michelle participated in the first Mae Young Classic in 2017 losing to Candice LeRae in the first round. Michelle praised LeRae for being a lot stronger than her stature may indicate.
“I did my tryout during that time,” Michelle recalled. “I know that they were interested in a bunch of girls, and it was like really interesting that OK, we see all of these girls from different places all over the world, why not a tryout? Let’s just weed out who are the best ones, and never have I thought in a million years I would ever wrestle Candice LeRae. She has 15-20 years of experience on me and here I am just about maybe five-six years in, but other than that, I mean Candace, she’s a lot stronger than she looks. She’s a firecracker. She’s a lot stronger than she looks.”
Michelle commented on her MYC experience talking about how different it was from working in Japan. She again praised LeRae and talked about how it inspired her to step her game up.
“It was great. It was definitely great,” Michelle expressed. “It was very much different from TV from over in Japan because I’m used to how TV works over in Japan compared to America. How the set-up and the detailing, the lights and all of that other stuff, it was wonderful, and then having to be in the ring with Candice was definitely a game-changer for me. After being in the ring with her, I definitely got to step up my game.”
Michelle’s last show she wrestled was at a wrestling show in Barbados this past February. The COVID-19 pandemic later hit forcing wrestling shows to either shut down or continue without fans. Michelle commented on the lack of crowds and stated how important the fans have been to her career.
“It’s throwing me off. It’s so strange now not having a crowd,” Michelle said. “I miss the fans. I do. If it wasn’t for the fans, I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am today. I feel like I owe them.”
Michelle also discussed her favorite wrestlers. She listed off many legendary names before commenting on the current scene. She talked about the fight women face today in trying to be taken seriously by mainstream audiences.
“Mine are a little bit old school,” Michelle admitted. “I love Sensational Sherri. She’s awesome, and then of course, there’s Mickie who I end up wrestling. Lita. Jushin Thunder Liger. HBK [Shawn Michaels] especially HBK from WrestleMania 14. That was really good, and then Chigusa Nagayo which is my senpai. I call her ‘pama’ because she’s like a mama and papa for me, but yeah, the list goes on from there.
“I know right now a lot of the women, they want to be taken more seriously, and I think a lot of women from back then were very much taken seriously. Granted, it was more on the sexier side of things, but there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with having a feminine energy, but also be able to be in the ring and be able to go just as well as the guys.”
Michelle also teased her future in wrestling. She teased that she may return to Japan at Nagayo’s Marvelous promotion.
“Oh, continue on with wrestling,” Michelle stated, when asked her future goals. “Who knows, my ‘pama’, she wants me to come back to Japan. So I might be back there. With me, you never know. You never know.”
Renee’s full interview aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it’s released Monday – Friday afternoon by clicking here.