It’s very hard to get a consensus among pro wrestling fans but what is nearly unanimous from that community is their love and appreciation for Renee Young. She was a jack-of-all-trades during her eight-year WWE run and her work as the promotion’s first full-time female commentator was universally lauded.
“I’m obviously my own worst critic, but I’m also a bit of a perfectionist. I don’t like not being great at something. When you’re doing something you’ve never done before on the biggest stage, that microscope becomes very fine. Trying to learn that and learn that on the fly – they gave you the spot and it was like, ‘go do it,’” recalled Renee.
“I would try to pick Paul Heyman’s brain. I would sit and talk to Corey Graves. I would talk to Michael Cole who was always so sweet, but he would give me tips along the way. Tom Phillips was great. He would text me during the shows. Even Jim Ross would reach out and check on me.”
Renee worked in her native Toronto as a sports broadcaster before joining WWE in 2012. She talked about one of the perks of working for WWE that helped resolve an ongoing issue she had at the time.
“WWE was very great to me in the sense that they got me a visa. I had a really hard time getting a visa before WWE. I tried to get one when I was working at The Score. I found this crook of an entertainment lawyer that was like, ‘I’ll get you a visa, no problem’. So, I paid him five grand, which I did not have at the time. He didn’t get it for me; it didn’t go through. I got flagged. I still kind of get flagged for stuff when I update my visa,” stated Renee.
“That kind of put such a damper on everything. When I got the job with WWE and they were like, ‘We’ll take care of your visa stuff. You don’t have to do it’. They did my visa. They got me my green card. They did all of that stuff.”
Renee departed WWE in August 2020 after feeling that she had accomplished everything that there was to accomplish. However, she had been thinking about leaving the company for quite some time before that as she revealed when asked when she first started thinking about life after WWE.
“A few years ago. So, I asked for my release from WWE because I was just spinning my wheels. I felt like there wasn’t much else for me to do there. I’ve been doing backstage interviews, hosting talk shows, and doing commentary,” said Renee. “I was like, ‘I’m not a wrestler here. So, I’m never going to get to do what I want to do.’ I work for a wrestling company and I’m not a wrestler. So, the things I want to do career-wise might not be able to actually achieve those here.
“So, I asked for my release and they would not give me my release, which ended up being a good thing, because it was this whole drawn-out process.”
Going back to when she first asked for her WWE release, Renee was asked how much time she had remaining on her contract.
“I think about a year. They said, ‘We have all these big plans for you.’ One of those things was the Mixed Match Challenge. Ultimately, it led me to do commentary and getting to put that feather on my cap. So, had I actually left that first time, I don’t think my career there would have been what it is now,” said Renee who was a color commentator for the second season of the Mixed Match Challenge in 2018 before joining the Raw broadcast booth in 2019.
When most people leave one job, they already have their next job lined up. But Renee admits that she wasn’t thinking of her next step when she departed WWE in August.
“I didn’t have my hand on another branch. I wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen,” said Renee. “I was willing to make that leave. It came down to betting on yourself. I betted on myself and believed in what I wanted to do. If I feel like I’m not getting to do that, then what am I doing anymore?
“I didn’t want to feel like a talking head on TV and that’s what I started feeling. I had so much more to offer than just this. So, it’s time to bet on me and I’ll figure out the rest.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chris Van Vliet with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.