Renee Paquette wore many hats during her time with WWE. The former Renee Young worked extensively with all three brands under WWE’s banner, serving as a backstage reporter, pre-show host, and even color commentator. Even though Paquette’s move to the announce booth came suddenly, she did spend months early in her WWE tenure as a member of NXT’s commentary team.
Speaking to Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman on the Wrestling Inc. Daily, Paquette noted she looks back on her time as a member of RAW’s announce team fondly, but admits she felt the weight of being the first woman in that role significantly.
“You can feel that weight of knowing that a path was being forged,” Paquette said. “For me to be in that spot [with NXT] and then step away from it, and then go back into it on a different level and on a different scope really feeling like those doors were being busted down, that was a burden that I was more than happy to carry and more than happy to be the first woman to step in there and figure that world out. ‘What is my role on commentary? What is my voice on commentary? What are the things that I’m providing here that Michael Cole’s not doing, that Corey Graves is not doing?’”
While Paquette has admitted she did feel right in the position, she is proud knowing the doors she opened for future female announcers.
“You realize that with the growing female fanbase of wrestling, not everyone wants to put on a pair of boots,” Paquette said. “To open up that door and be like, ‘You can still work in wrestling and have opinions on wrestling and still be a personality in wrestling without having to do those things.’ For me to be a woman and be able to do that and sort of lead the charge on that for other women, a few other little girls sitting at home watching me call Monday Night RAW or seeing me on camera, that’s something I’m so proud of.”
Speaking of trailblazing moments, Paquette was the first female on a WWE televised event in the country of Saudi Arabia when she provided commentary for 2018’s Crown Jewel.
“I’ll never forget going to Saudi Arabia,” Paquette said. “Being the first woman on a broadcast with WWE and the only woman on the show, and walking out to our commentary desk and having little girls in Saudi Arabia in the crowds coming up. They knew my name, they wanted to say hi. That was something I’ll never forget. It was so cool.”
Renee revealed her husband, Jon Moxley, travelled with her for the event. At the time, the former Dean Ambrose was still contracted to WWE, but was not scheduled to work the show.
“Jon ended up coming with me, and Jon wasn’t booked on the show. He flew over there with me because you hear of all the customs of like, ‘You can’t go anywhere without a man from your family.’ I just wasn’t sure what I was walking into customs wise, and adjusting to a new country and understanding what their rules and regulations were,” Paquette said. “Even in terms of what I’m supposed to wear, how I am supposed to conduct myself. Honestly though the whole experience was incredible.
“There’s nothing better than just being able to experience another part of the world, and experience how other people live and see the way these other women are living and see how quickly things are honestly really progressing over there. As much as they’re behind us here obviously in the west, but seeing the stuff they’re able to do there [now]. The fact that women were at the shows and going out shopping and just being out in the community doing stuff.
“I feel like everyone welcomed me with open arms. Just from the second I even got to the hotel to having people greeting us and being really excited. I had so many fans in Saudi Arabia that were just waiting for the WWE crew to show up. They were so happy to have a woman there. That made me feel really really good to be there and to be received like that.”
WWE’s shows in Saudi Arabia have been publicly criticized by both former talent and prominent figures not involved with the wrestling industry. Hausman asked Paquette if she feels the WWE shows in Saudi Arabia are a good thing following her positive experience doing them.
“I mean, to a degree,” Paquette said. “For what we were able to do there, I think for us to be able to go over there and show them something different that they never get to see. I mean, when do they get shows in Saudi Arabia? They’re not used to seeing WWE there. That’s the kind of thing that can plant the seed in another little girl’s head as things are progressing in Saudi Arabia. To even a little boy’s mind to see these larger than life superstars in these gigantic shows. To be a part of something like that and be a glimmer in someone’s eye, I think is hard to look at as a negative thing, in that standpoint at least.”