It has been a life-changing year for Renee Paquette. When the world shut down in 2020, the trailblazing broadcaster ventured to Orlando for WWE tapings and continued to host Backstage remotely for FS1 until the show was cancelled. Paquette, better known in the WWE Universe as Renee Young, felt it was the perfect opportunity to spread her wings outside the company after a successful eight-year run.
“You would think quitting a job during a pandemic is maybe not the smartest move,” she said. “You see so many companies furloughing people. People getting released from contacts. It’s a really scary time for employment obviously. The way that I saw it is just seemed like a new opportunity for a blank canvas. Not necessarily to start anew. I’ve always got such a built-in and amazing fan base, which is incredible. I really wanted to take a chance on myself.
“So when the opportunity came up, things with WWE didn’t feel the same to me. I felt like I was ready to challenge myself. I was doing the same thing and not really sure what my next move was going to be in WWE. Rather than sitting around waiting for the next opportunity is going to be or role is going to be, I felt like I had done all the things I can do there. Let’s branch out a little bit and see what I can do. It has been really fun to reconnect with myself on that level and be back in the driver’s seat of my own career to a degree.”
The vehicle to do that has been her successful podcast “Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette.” Since launching in November the Canadian (and newly minted American citizen!) has sat down with some of the biggest names inside and outside of pro wrestling. For Paquette, the platform has provided a way to get her voice back.
“A bunch of people think, ‘ You’re the interviewer from WWE when I was playing an interviewer. I’m given the lines, and we have scripts we are following,” she said. “So as much as I’m asking people questions, they are not my own questions and are not my own follow ups. It just doesn’t work like that. To be able to work like this long format and have [guests] on for an hour and have a real conversation with them and hone in on my skills as an interviewer and just my genuine interest in people.
“Sitting in that role and actually getting to be an interviewer has been really fun. As the show is growing and you see the reaction to it that people are listening to it and liking it. We know in the wrestling space there is so much content and so many people with different podcasts. It’s finding a way to differentiate from everyone else and find a way to stand out. Bringing on different personalities and athlete friends that I can get on and highlight and let them tell their story.”
Paquette is inspired by the likes of Joe Rogan and Dax Shepard when it comes to bringin that conversational tone. A style she wasn’t really able to explore while doing press junkets for WWE’s digital platforms.
“You go in and have five minutes with somebody. If I was working for Extra and Access Hollywood, it can be tell me more about your movie. When you’re coming in from a WWE side, you have to keep that angle. Like, ‘Cool your movie is coming out. Awesome. Anyways, what do you know about wrestling? Do you want to work with The Rock?’ And they kind of roll their eyes a little bit because they can tell you’re trying to get your own s— in.The pressure is on. The talent has been sitting there all day going in this circle of different people coming in this revolving door. I never liked doing those interviews.
“They are great experiences. You get to meet many people and there are cool aspects to it. But I never walked away with , “Man, what a great interview that was.’ You hope you can string together something that becomes a three to five minute segment that you can air WWE.com. That’s what I love about ‘Oral Sessions.’ This is a full interview where you can highlight the person. There is no ulterior motive of trying to make some type of wrestling connection. We can just talk about whatever we want to talk about. I think that is where the comfort level kicks in.”
Paquette has already amassed an impressive guest list from AEW head Tony Khan and new signings Christian and Big Show to O’Shea Jackson Jr., Chris Cyborg and adult film star Lisa Ann. Not to mention her own husband Jon Moxley. Though there plenty more on her bucket list.
“I will always have Chelsea Handler at the tippity top because she is my absolute favorite,” Paquette said. “ I would love to get someone like Ayesha Curry. I think she would be really great. I would love to talk to her about her interactions on social media. People freak out when she tweets stuff about Stephen Curry. I want to talk about her in the food space. Her and I would get on pretty well.
“I really want to get ‘Stone Cold’ [Steve Austin] on. I really want to get Randy Orton on. Paul Heyman is someone I would love to have on and Bianca Belair. When you go into the wrestling space, there are a million people I would love to have on the show. Ricky Starks, I would love to have on. I would love to have MJF. Especially, when you look at the AEW side of things. Giving that talent that long, an hour worth, of time to get their character over and them over as personalities. I really enjoy doing that. I think there is a lot of meat at AEW who I will like have on the show.”
Listen to “Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette” anywhere you listen to podcasts. New episodes drop Tuesdays and Thursdays with video versions available on YouTube. Her “Messy in the Kitchen” cookbook is available for preorder before the May 18 release date on Amazon. You can find the full audio from Renee’s interview below: