“It’s been a whirlwind. If you know me, I’m very sarcastic in a loving way. I don’t feel, at least I hope I’m not, hateful I guess would be the word,” James described. “I had two boxes because I apparently had a lot of stuff there. I kind of, in that moment, was like, ‘Oh s**t, they still do this? That’s kind of funny.’ It was in a space of you know how when you feel you first leave, and you’re just like, ‘Oh, that kind of kind of sucks,’ but there’s always so many things.
“We are always working on, hopefully, other things and other projects. So you do have more freedom and space to be able to explore those opportunities, but at the same time, I was just kind of like, ‘Ah, I just wish for so many things,’ and I get my stuff and it’s in a trash bag. And I’m just like, ‘Oh, whatever,’ because I don’t even feel like it was something that was malicious or anything like that. It’s just kind of thoughtless and tone-deaf. That’s all.”
James and Paquette also discussed the other WWE talent that were released along with James. James revealed which release surprised her the most.
“Yes, I agree and especially, it’s like, ‘Oh, budget cuts and things seem to be doing very well,’ but at the same time, I was like, they always have that clean up after Mania. They always do it,” James noted. “It’s a traditional thing. I feel like there’s always people and maybe it was less people this year. I don’t really know. For me, I didn’t really not foresee it coming because I think I’ve been in this space for so long.
“I’ve been sitting injured just kind of hanging out and trying out these other roles. So I just felt like I was in this kind of weird space anyway. I wasn’t so shocked for myself. I was pretty shocked about Billie Kay. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s kind of weird.’ I just didn’t see that one coming. I think they’re both gonna thrive. They’re going to do amazing, and Chelsea’s already. She’s so funny. She’s great.
“It was really impactful people that were let go in this round and no disrespect to other situations that have happened like this before,” Paquette added. “But to see you be released, and Samoa Joe The IIconics, it just seemed a little mind-boggling. ‘Wait, what?’ How is there not space for these people? How is there not creative for these people? I don’t understand. I think it’s because I’ve been there before and I was in a much different space then, and that was really in the space when I thought, ‘Oh, I’m just gonna take a picture of it because it’s funny’ because myself and Chelsea’s, or Billie Kay’s case or Peyton’s shoes, I would never post that picture then because you’re always thinking, ‘Oh well, there’s a chance for me to come back, and there’s all this other stuff,'” James explained. “You don’t want to ruffle any feathers. You don’t also want to make it seem negative because we are so grateful for what we do and the opportunities and the platforms. It’s just more about like, ‘Oh, you kind of feel that going out the door. Okay, here’s your s**t kind of way.'”
James then talked about who she talked to after the trash bad incident went viral. Paquette then noted the dynamics of WWE.
“I talked to Vince [McMahon] personally, and I spoke to Johnny (John Laurinaitis) after,” James recalled. “And I got messages and just texts from people. Everyone was super apologetic, and we got the flowers. That was nice. It was just nicer to have a conversation with Vince. He was like, ‘This is not what I think of you, and I respect you as a talent.’ For me, that was the conversation, I guess, I needed to have to say, ‘Okay, that’s cool.’ It’s cool.
“It’s not like I’m out here going like, ‘Oh, F those guys or anything’ because it’s just not who I am. I would just rather be like, ”Okay,’ but it’s nice to bring awareness to it. It’s just more nice to say, ‘Hey, we can’t treat people like this. You can’t do that. That’s bulls**t, just have a little respect in that sense,’ and I don’t feel like it was an intentional disrespect, but it just more goes in line with how it goes sometimes.
“That’s sort of how it goes,” Paquette added. “As much as Hunter, and Steph and Vince aren’t aware of what’s happening, that’s the problem with such a giant machine is there’s all these different arms that are taking care of things, and people don’t realize how much stuff like that happens and how that’s going to make somebody feel, especially in a circumstance like that.”
James has been very vocal about ageism within the industry. She recalled an angle with Alexa Bliss that went nowhere.
“People go, ‘Oh, ageism isn’t a thing,’ and I don’t think it’s as much a thing for guys as it is for women,” James noted. “I think they’re going for men and women, but I’m saying for women, it is different. I was 38 when I had diapers and a walker delivered to me, which is funny, and it’s television and I did it because that is my employer. We’re doing a job, and it’s like, okay, this is the storyline we have. So you try to make everything that you have gold.
“If that’s what you’re given, you’re like, okay and [hope] it was going to pay off in the end. The thing is it never really paid off. That was the unfortunate thing or being asked, not asked to retire but to move into a different role, and I’m going, ‘Well, I’m only 38 – 39. And some of the girls are my same age, and I know I’ve been on television for 20 years or whatever it is, but I feel like that should be a good thing. I know they called me a legend and put me in that area in the sense of that or six-time Women’s Champion, they always promoted that.
“I wish there would have been a real moment of either going after the championship or this one moment that was a defining thing. That’s it, and it was cool and I had such an amazing time and being able work with Alexa and do all that stuff. Even with Foxy (Alicia Fox) and stuff like that but I just feel I was always that middle player, which is fun, and you’re in the locker room and you’re part of the whole thing. But you’re not the thing.”
Paquette and James then discussed ageism in general and how it adds so much pressure for women.
“I just don’t think men ever have to think about it the same way because I think about that for myself, talking about age,” Paquette said. “For me to leave WWE, I’m 35 now and you instantly start clocking time on yourself. ‘Oh my God, I have to do this by this time or this needs to happen by then’ because that’s just what has been projected on us since the beginning of time that once you hit your mid-30s, it’s like, time to wrap it up.
“Yeah, have babies and move on and do all that and maybe more of a homebody kind of thing,” James added. “It’s like, what? What, no. Why can’t I do all of these things?
“You want to see someone multitask ask a busy woman to do another thing, and it’s going to get done,” Paquette stated.
Paquette later asked James about what her next plans are. James noted the current landscape of women’s wrestling right now.
“I keep trying to think, what am I going to do? What should I do? What do I want to do? I don’t know,” James admitted. “I would really love to do something in that female brand perspective. If I was going to tie myself to something, that’s what I think that I would want to sink my teeth into. But from a space of just developing a cool show that’s based around women and kind of empowers and lifts them up. So that’s what I’m kind of working on and focusing on.
“If I can do something in that space and then other than that, I don’t really know if I even need that button now or if it’s the same or if it’s just like whatever and just kind of focus on my other projects and do other stuff. I think the Knockouts Division is amazing. Every promotion has an incredible locker room. That’s just it. Most of the talent is signed somewhere. They’re all signed for a reason. So that’s kudos to them because I think that every promotion a really strong foundation to do something with women in mind. So, that’s kind of cool.”
Many women’s wrestling fans and WWE talent that have been clamoring for another Evolution PPV. Paquette and James discussed that idea and their hopes of it happening soon.
“I’m excited to kind of see who’s going to jump on that first and to see the success of it because we always have the conversation of why aren’t we doing Evolution every single year,” Paquette pointed out. “Make it an annual pay-per-view for the women. It’s not for lack of talent or depth of talent, especially in WWE. S**t, there’s so many good girls there. People that don’t get that proper TV time.
“Well, even if it’s a place like the Mae Young Classic,” James stated. “You can kind of incorporate or fold it in, and Evolution could be the annual event. There’s so much young talent that are signed in NXT and NXT UK, but there’s all the talent that are still sitting and waiting until hopefully they get a spot on television but you could really take a chance to and help develop and really brand them in a different space.
“Just to have that experience is so invaluable,” Paquette noted. “I can only imagine, especially for some of the younger girls, you look at the women’s Royal Rumbles that we’ve had and even going back to Evolution and them to be able to share the ring with women that have already been generals of the ring for the past however many years, that really is so invaluable and such a great way to sort of debut new people and let them kind of wet their feet and figure all that stuff out. So hopefully, that’s not too far behind. Someone’s going to do it might.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Oral Sessions with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.