Cassie Lee (Peyton Royce) and Jessica McKay (Billie Kay) have lifted the lid on the breakup of the IIconics, and the resulting struggles they faced as singles WWE Superstars.
After signing with WWE in 2015, Lee and McKay were paired up almost right away. The duo enjoyed a fine run through NXT, later winning the Women’s Tag Team Titles on the main roster.
After The IIconics were broken up in the summer of 2020, both women struggled to gain any significant momentum before being released in April 2021.
During an appearance on the Oral Sessions podcast, both women revealed how they struggled to make their mark without their tag team partner by their side.
Reflecting on the breakup, Lee said that while she had her own vision for herself as a singles competitor, she doesn’t believe that anyone else shared that vision.
“It was when they split us. I had a vision for myself if I was going to be a singles competitor. I don’t think anybody else understood that vision or believed in me. Whereas I knew deep in myself I had so much more to offer than I can. Just because I’m not booked, I’m not on TV, and if I am it’s for 30 seconds or whatever it is. So I kind of realised when I wasn’t being used I was like just push through everyone goes through this phase. I guess that was the end of the phase. My last match was with Asuka. After the match, almost 3 weeks before WrestleMania, I was like I will be OK if this was my last match. I wasn’t happy but I wasn’t considering retiring.”
By contrast, McKay explained that she didn’t know who she was a singles wrestler. Adding that she didn’t know how to act in front of the camera without her friend by her side.
“The split was rough. I didn’t know who I was as a singles competitor. That was very confronting, having Cass not with me anymore. I had to walk to the ring and she wasn’t going to be on my left, so I’m like don’t look to your left, don’t hold your hand out, you’re going to look weird. I was like OK you have to look sexy now. I was thinking I had to be something that I wasn’t. Then I was like I don’t know what I am doing or what I want to do.”
With The IIconics coming to an end, McKay was drafted to SmackDown. The Aussie went on to reveal how she gained a “new Cassie” in the form of TJ Wilson. The Aussie star went on to discuss why she fell in the love with wrestling and how she tried to channel that into her new character.
“When we get to SmackDown, TJ helped me a lot. I said to him ‘You’re my new Cassie.’ Everything I would vent to her I would vent to him. I said ‘I just want to make people laugh and make people smile. That’s all I want to do.’ I was attracted to wrestling from the promos, The Rock and the over the top characters. So when the headshot resume kind of fell into my first promo, I was like there’s something here and I wanted to keep doing this. The writers were on board and I was able to insert myself into all these little bits. I was having so much fun. Working with The Riott Squad, we were having just the best time. I was able to work with all the girls, doing promos with Big E and the Street Profits, was so much fun.”
Elsewhere on the podcast, the duo discussed making the transition from NXT to the main roster. It’s a move that has proved difficult for numerous Superstars over the years, with the main roster demanding a slightly different skill set to the black and gold brand. Recalling making the jump, McKay described the difference between the two branches of the WWE tree as “night and day.”