Royal Rumble Memories by Mickie James
I hope everyone is staying safe and warm in the midst of this Blizzard. We are stuck in NY so I figured it would be a perfect time to do a little write up here. As you all know this weekend is the Royal Rumble pay-per-view for WWE in Orlando. It's always been one of my favorite PPV's of the year. From a fan growing up to actually performing on the show. The best part is always trying to guess who just might... and seeing who actually wins the match. The surprise entries are always a treat for me as well.
You can really tell unique stories in the Rumble because it happens only once a year and it's such a unique style of match. This year is especially interesting because the WWE Title is actually on the line rather than just a #1 contender. So I'm really interested to see how it goes and who's walking out with the championship. I'm going with.... AJ Styles! That would be incredible. Not just because he's my friend or because he deserves an introduction to the WWE universe of that capacity... But because it would be a history making moment that we all pray for in this business!
As I thought more about the pay-per-view, I figured it would be a good time to write my own personal commentary reflecting on my two memorable Royal Rumble matches in 2006 against Ashley Massaro and 2010 against Michelle McCool.
(Unfortunately we couldn't find a good video of this match we can post here, but you can watch it on WWE Network at any time!)
I remember the match against Ashley in 2006 very well. We had Trish Stratus there as the special guest referee. It was such an exciting moment for me because it was one of my first big PPV matches in WWE. We were still in the middle of building my character and creating these perfect moments in the story. At this stage it was obvious Ashley wasn't a fan of mine and I was still trying to be Trish's favorite. I even professed my love for her right before the match which didn't make things awkward at all. I remember being really nervous about the match for a few reasons. I adore Ashley, but it was no secret she was still very new to wrestling and I was still very new to the TV roster. I knew I was capable of carrying the match through, but you just never know what could happen if just one little thing goes wrong. Especially because there were 3 important elements to the match with Trish as our Referee. So we had to create those moments where Trish didn't play favorites and became a bit annoyed with me as I attempted to show her that I was better than Ashley in every way. Fortunately for all of us, we all made it through unscathed and put on a pretty good match all things considered. It's so funny because even still I will sit back and overanalyze saying "Why didn't I do this here? Or I should've done that there?" The finish was really cool with the Powerbomb out of the corner with the tights while Ashley was punching my face off. Then the rollup with the tights and the key thing was that Trish didn’t see either. The delayed 1…2....3 by Trish told the perfect story for where we were. It also added to that perfect bit of beef developing between Ashley & I.
My second concern which totally came to fruition was since Trish was the special guest referee, she didn't have an earpiece as most refs do for the match. So of course we ended up going over... Way over! Like minutes over. Me being a newbie I was so terrified of the heat. It wasn't like we were in a lot of trouble, but I could certainly tell people were annoyed. Especially since a few important people on the roster came to remind me that how over we went. It got to the point where it almost took that moment of "Hey I just wrestled at the Royal Rumble" from me. So I decided to go directly to Hunter and Undertaker (which was frightening in itself) after the match to personally apologize for taking time away from them. That's the way the show goes. You must hit your times because if you go over then it takes away time from the main event matches. The matches that the people came to see. They were both very sweet and understanding because they knew the circumstances although it's not ever an excuse. "It's ok just don't let it happen again" ~Taker "Yes sir" *tears later* ~ Me
My second and last Royal Rumble match was against Michelle McCool in 2010 for the "Women's Championship." I know there was a lot of questioning as to why the match was so short. After months of Michelle and Layla humiliating me week after week after week this was that payoff moment. That angle in itself was just so controversial on all fronts that it needed to be a really dominant win for me or I would've lost the faith of the fans. You can only humiliate someone so much before they get real retribution. We also had to make time for that end segment where all the divas came out to celebrate with me... And to literally put the icing on the cake! Those little fun moments make for good memories. Plus, it was the best way to get the other girls on the PPV.
This match is a bit bittersweet for me to look back on because it was my last WWE Women's Title reign and I wasn't with the company for much longer after it. When I was told recently that it was only about 20 seconds it shocked me. I guess I never even realized it was one of the shortest title matches in the history of the company. So that's something cool for the history books I guess we all should take note and be proud of.
I've been asked about this angle in every interview I've ever done (or most of them anyway!) because there were so many mixed emotions about it. I really enjoyed working with and respect the hell out of both of these ladies. Michelle is one of the greatest female athletes I've ever been in the ring with. She pushed me as hard as I hopefully pushed her. The truth is this. Before that angle they just weren't quite getting the desired reaction from the company despite how amazing Michelle was in the ring. But after... As controversial as that angle was, I believe in my heart it made Michelle and Layla as the top female heels of the company. It wasn't an easy angle for any of us to do perhaps because it just hit too close to home for all of us. My only regret about this whole angle is perhaps taking some of it too personally now and then, despite how tough I tried to be. It's all angles and we are professionals, but it doesn't make it easier. We all love this business, so we put our whole heart into it always.
It's pretty cool also to look back on that period of time and know that WWE had confidence in me to have those two matches at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. I know that during that period there were a couple years without any divas matches at the Rumble. So to have those two out of my five years there with Ashley and Michelle ain't too shabby.
So that's that. Now I'm really looking forward to seeing what Charlotte and Becky Lynch can do at the Royal Rumble this Sunday. I've been watching both of these girls for some time now at NXT and now on the main roster. It's fun to see both their characters evolve and become more beloved. Ashley's heel turn with Ric has been a lot of fun to watch. Plus, I can see how genuinely proud Ric is of her every moment he's out there. I feel it just transcends through the screen. Becky's promo recently got me hook, line & sinker because of her genuine emotion. Take note... Emotion sells... Not just tickets... But your character! If you want real fans, genuine fans who will stick with you no matter what... Make them feel! Once you make them feel something they will never stop feeling for you. They've impressed me week after week with their promos and in ring work. I know they're gonna have a great match... I just hope they steal the show!
Have a great weekend, be safe out there, and enjoy the show Gang! I'll be back to write something again soon!
MJ ~ xoxo