This week on Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette, former WWE Superstars Cassie Lee [fka Peyton Royce] and Jessica McKay [fka Billie Kay], better known collectively as The IIconics, took a stroll down memory lane by recapping some of their favorite and not so favorite moments during their six-year careers in WWE.
Now that they’re venturing off into new territories following their same-day releases, many are wondering if these two will continue their partnership once their non-compete clauses are fulfilled. To answer that question, McKay rest assured everyone that their cohesive unit will remain intact after their 90-day non-compete clause has concluded. For right now, the only thing they’re able to do is brainstorm new names and ideas. As of last week, they have filed to trademark “The IInspiration,” which is so far a step in the right direction.
“Yes, we have been pondering, but have we settled on something? No,” Jessica McKay stated. “I just think that Cassie and Jessie work so well together, so, I don’t know. I think we want to move on with our real names.”
As the interview continued, Paquette asked how they felt when the company decided to separate their beloved duo and place them on two different brands. For Lee, she felt her singles run on Monday Night RAW was going to be cut short despite making numerous efforts to try and make her singles character just as relevant and exciting as she was during her time as an IIconic.
“I had a vision for myself if I was going to be a singles competitor. I just don’t think anybody else understood that vision or believe in me,” Cassie Lee stated on her individual run before her departure. “I knew deep in myself that I had so much to offer. I kind of realized when I wasn’t being used. I was kind of pushed through. I wasn’t happy, but I pushed through because everyone goes through this phase.
“My last match was with Asuka. After the match, well, almost three weeks before WrestleMania, I had this overwhelming feeling that I said to myself, I’m going to be ok if that was my last match. I know I wasn’t happy, but I wasn’t considering retiring or something like that. I just had this overwhelming feeling that I was going to be ok and happy if this was my last match. I’m ok with it.”
For Jessica McKay, despite feeling the same ripple effects Lee did, she admitted that she had a great time initiating her self-created skit as a frantic star looking for someone to give her a callback after giving everyone on the roster her résumé and headshot. Although the reception from fans and colleagues backstage was great, it still shocks her to this day that she was on WWE’s list of terminations in April.
“The split was rough. I didn’t know who I was. I was a singles competitor, and that was very confronting,” Jessica McKay added on her singles run on SmackDown. “Having [Cassie] not with me anymore, I remember [thinking], oh, I have to walk to the ring, and she’s not going to be on my left, so don’t look to the left or hold your hand out ’cause she isn’t going to be there. For some reason, I was like, ok, I have to be sexy. I thought I had to be something that I wasn’t. I was like, I don’t know what I’m doing, and I don’t know what to do.
“I was thankful that I got to go to SmackDown ’cause I definitely thought we needed to be on different brands, and I don’t think they realized what the domino effect would be after splitting a tag team up, especially us. So, when [I] went to SmackDown, I mentioned this before, but TJ [Tyson Kidd] helped me a lot. There was this one time [where I told him], ‘You’re my new Cassie,’ because everything I would vent to Cass [about], I was just saying it to TJ. That’s why he’s so special. He listened to me, and he supported me. I told him that I just wanted to be myself – make people laugh and smile – that’s all I wanted to do…When the headshot/résumé kind of fell into my first promo, I was like, there’s something here; I want to keep doing this. I spoke to the writers, and luckily, they were on board. I was having so much fun, I really was.
“The amount of praise that I got backstage after that, I was like ah, if I’m remembered for anything, and it’s this, I’d be happy, happy, happy. It was so much fun! I think that was why it made it more of a shock [about my release] because I was booked for a couple of weeks here and there. I was able to work with all of the girls, which a lot of people aren’t able to do. I was doing promos with [Big] E and The Street Profits; it was so much fun for me. I was really enjoying it. I was [also] so grateful to be at WrestleMania and be in that match because that was my last one. I’m trying to stay positive, but the shock and the raw emotion are still there.”
Now that Lee and Mckay are on the verge of moving on to newer and greener pastures, they can’t help but be grateful for having a tag team title reign during their six-year stay in WWE. McKay recalls the electricity that exemplified that night when she and Lee became the second women in WWE history to win the Women’s Tag Team Championship on “The Grandest Stage of Them All.”
“It was my favorite moment, like everything that we had worked for, for 15 years and, like, all the sacrifices we made, everything came down to that one match,” McKay said with cheer in her voice. “I didn’t tell anyone what was going to happen in the match. It was funny ’cause my husband gave us the idea, ‘Why don’t you guys do your IIconics before your music hits?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea!’ So, we pitched it, and they [WWE officials] were like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’
“I never told him. He was in the first couple of rows with Ronnie [Shawn Spears], actually. Before our entrance happened, we [yelled] out, ‘IIconics,’ and he was like [gasps], and we came out. I didn’t tell him that we were winning. It was such a cool experience. I have a big frame of that night with pictures and stuff. It’s definitely a special memory for us.”
You can listen to Cassie Lee & Jessica Mckay’s full interview here. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Oral Sessions w/Renée Paquette with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.