The legendary Mickie James has opened up about the comments said by Triple H in response to a question about her and EmPowerrr on a WWE media call.
Speaking with Inside The Ropes‘ Lead Writer Gary Cassidy in an interview for Issue 12 of Inside The Ropes Magazine, James was asked about the confidence she has to pull off an incredible all-women’s show with no WWE talent on it after Triple H publicly shot down the possibility of WWE stars being on the show – or of WWE running another all-women’s event.
“I’m VERY confident! I’m very confident in pulling off an all-women’s show without WWE talent, and it’s unfortunate because it would have been cool to do it with them. I pitched it to them way back when. A lot of the girls have been asking for an Evolution 2, and all these things. It would have been cool to do it years ago, but when I did bring up the idea the feedback was not positive.”
James said she was “shocked” when it was brought to her attention what had been said, and suggested that The Game was unprepared for the question as he didn’t give “the best answer” when asked.
“I was more in shock that he put it over because I was like, “Oh! So clearly he got caught off guard with a question that he didn’t have his corporate answer in the bag ready to go with,” because that wasn’t the best corporate answer that you could give. But it’s fine. It’s just unfortunate, because I had conversations with him and other people very close to him about this show and how I truly believed in it. I know I wasn’t the only one to ever pitch it—and you don’t want to go on beating a dead horse—but I was willing to step out of everything and just devote my time into this. I didn’t even need to take the credit. I was happy to let someone else take it, because I really believed in our girls there.”
Triple H’s original comments, for those who may have missed them, saw The Game say the best women are in WWE.
“If you want to wrestle the best women in the world, come to the WWE. That’s where they are. If you want to go elsewhere and say that they are, that’s an opinion – and you can. But it is what it is . . . I think we do an amazing job of displaying our female athletes and is it perfect? No. Will it always be in flux? Yes, but I think we do a pretty good job. And my opinion – again, my opinion – the best female performers in the world are in WWE. And then if they’re not, they want to be.”
James’ response to those remarks was that WWE doesn’t have all the best talent in the world, and that they actually aren’t even aware of some of the best talent in the world.
“They don’t have all of the best talent in the world, they do have some of the best talent in the world. There’s still some really incredible women in NWA, Impact, AEW, in Japan, in Mexico. There’s incredible women in Australia—even though they’re kind of locked up there, they can’t seem to leave the country. There are incredible women—and men— all over the world that you just haven’t seen yet, some megastars who we’ve yet to see and tap into, and they’re going to blow it out of the water. I have faith in them, and I have faith not just in an all-women’s product, but I have faith that wrestling can survive without the WWE bubble. Because WWE really has cultivated this one
way to present wrestling. In my opinion, in some ways, storyline wise, it’s a little hard to follow and out of touch. I feel like there’s a different way to present wrestling on television and that’s one of the reasons why I like watching the NWA, because it throws back to a television style of wrestling and promos that I understand and resonate with me and make me care, because of the emotion. It’s about the soul of wrestling. I want that soul of wrestling to come back because I love the business. Obviously there’s been some monstrous strides that have been made in the last couple of years. In 2021, with this kind of culture and thinking that we have now, we are so evolved and woke in a sense. But for the longest time, there was only one female match on the card and then the other match might have been a gravy bowl match or something else.”
— Gary Cassidy (@TheGaryCassidy) August 21, 2021
Speaking on the NXT TakeOver: In Your House media call to Inside The Ropes‘ Lead Writer Gary Cassidy, Triple H, Executive Vice President of Global Talent Strategy & Development for WWE, joked “Haven’t we already done one?” before adding that he doesn’t believe an all-women’s show is equality.
“It’s a funny thing to me. I just don’t… So equality is equality. Equality is not, ‘I want my own show.’ Equality is not, ‘We have to have our own programme.’ If I told you that I was making an all-men’s program and I didn’t want women on it, it would be criticised, and I’m not saying that’s right or wrong.”
Mickie James was also asked about that particular comment.
“For a long time, it was just a men’s product. And I would also say that [a show like] 205 Live was not only a product specifically designed for men, but men of a certain eight class. So [WWE has] been able to cultivate a product that’s gone on national television on a weekly basis that was an all men’s product. And what about how many times the Saudi Arabia shows happened and women weren’t allowed to go? Millions of dollars were made from those deals. Now two women can go— and they have to have the full thing and be covered up—which is a big step for women, but there was a lot that happened with those shows where the women weren’t allowed to go. And then the next year, Evolution happened while they were going over to Saudi. It’s just unfortunate because those two shows lined up next to each other and they didn’t really put a lot of energy or focus into Evolution because they already knew that the boys were going over to Saudi Arabia and would make a lot of money for that. They just looked at it like,
‘Here’s the all girls show that you girls have been wanting.’
People say it was one of the lowest [drawing pay-per-views ever] . . . I looked that up after someone told me that and it’s a lie. It’s not true. There’s several pay-per-views that did well under the numbers Evolution did. But in reality it was promoted like a house show. It got a few segments on TV, Stephanie put it over and it was, “Oh, it’s going to be great,” but then some of the announcements and the matches and the build-up didn’t happen until like a week before. I don’t know if it was set up to fail or if it just kind of got lost in the shuffle, but it was like, ‘Here’s your token all-girl show’ and they just haven’t decided to do it again. I do honestly believe that if in their minds it wasn’t successful, it was only because no energy was truly put into it. And that didn’t come from the girls’ side, because the girls were so excited about it; we were all super stoked for this chance. The more you get there and go, ‘Okay, well, what are we going to do to build to Evolution?’ Announce a match maybe? There was nothing. That kind of thing was when it got disheartening. It was a powerful moment and we did it, but why haven’t they done it again? It’s not because the fans haven’t asked for it or because the locker room hasn’t asked for it or the girls don’t want it. I guess they’re waiting until they go back to Saudi and then they’ll do Evolution 2, I don’t know. “
Another comment Triple H made in response to Mickie James saying she wanted the best in the world regardless of contract status was that contracts exist for a reason. James also responded to that.
“As far as contract stuff . . . yeah, contracts are meant to protect you and to lock you in. I’m sure that there’s a fair amount of people who signed contracts that were probably just happy to get them. I know I’ve been there, too—you sign a contract and you’re happy to get it, then you sit there in development for years and never get used on TV or whatever, then you get let go and you never really even had a chance to shine. When I first started, I wanted to be WWE Women’s champion and I wasn’t going to
stop until I got there. And I did. And I would never take back all the love that I have for Vince and for wrestling and for WWE. But there is a lot of simple-minded mentality in
that thing that makes you feel less than what you are sometimes. But I also have really good relationships because I have been in the business a long time and because I had to do it the grassroots way. I didn’t just get plucked out of obscurity or found, my coach didn’t just say, “Hey, take a look at this girl.” It took a long time for me to get signed. With the exception of Japan—and I really want to work there, if you’re listening—I have worked pretty much everywhere. I’ve worked at Ring Of Honor—I was one of their first females before they were doing a women’s division. I’ve also had a long tenure and career at Impact and I have friends there.
“I have friends at AEW. I don’t know Tony [Khan], but I’ve had one conversation with him, via Ric Flair at the bar. Super nice guy, I hear he’s awesome, but that was my one conversation I’ve ever had with him and I was just like, “Oh, this is weird. I don’t think I’m supposed to be talking to you sir.” But I don’t think that anything is impossible. Nobody right now is actually doing an all-women’s product or an all-women’s vision or division of their product, there’s not a show specifically designed around women. I think it’s empowering that we could try to create and cultivate that, especially being that we’re trying to make such a statement. I’m not saying it’s like an “us versus them” thing, but [WWE] had an opportunity to do it and they did it, and they haven’t done it since, so why not all come together? If you truly value your women’s division and all these things, it would be really cool, even just for one night only, to all come together and stand together and say, “Actually, we really love our women and we respect our women and we see our women as valuable and as stars and as difference makers”. If we can all come on the same page and do that, if I can magically work out something like that, it would be really cool. If I can’t, it doesn’t matter, because there’s a hell of a lot of talent out there and we can make our own stars. So we’ll see.
Mickie James noted that her relationship with Vince McMahon was always respectful, and that she believes they aren’t dissimilar.
“Never say never! I haven’t called Vince yet. I do think, ‘Oh, it would be cool to see . . . ‘ Because some of those girls [released], they’re on 90 day [no competes] or whatever, but their 90 days falls just after [the show]. You never know. People say what they want about WWE, but I’ve been around, I’ve grown up in the company and I do still consider it family. When Vince McMahon called me to apologise when I got my stuff in the trash bag it was a very sincere apology. My issue was never with Vince, because Vince has always been kind to me, he’s always treated me with respect and with love, even when he was upset at me at WrestleMania for this thing (Mickie sticks two fingers up). When I look at Vince’s life and my life, I think—aside from the fact he’s a billionaire now—our beginnings are not all that different. We’re not very different people. I think I connected with Vince on a real level, on a human level, which is probably uncommon. People think that’s crazy to say because they just don’t see him like that. But I see him like that because of my conversations with him, and a genuine feeling about Vince and how I think that he feels about me.”
The NWA star added that she did hold out hope for the future, saying she isn’t someone who gives up easily.
“So my issue was never with Vince, it was just with some people underneath him that were a little simple-minded, that’s all. And it’s unfortunate—I feel like there’s a lot of stuff that happens behind the scenes that is more ego-driven and power plays due to insecurity rather than acting for the actual good of the company. It’s in every company, I don’t think it’s just there. It’s not just wrestling either, it’s in corporate America. There’s little things that happen with the people that want to be in a power position that are manipulating and pulling the strings to keep themselves there. But I never take no for an answer. I was told I’ll never get hired—they weren’t interested at least 200 times. You’re going to get told no a lot more than you get told yes. So when I ask, the worst thing they can say is no.”
Thanks so much to Mickie James for taking the time! You can read our full interview with Mickie James in this month’s Inside The Ropes Magazine.