It’s been one week since the shocking news that Mickie James will be part of the upcoming 2022 WWE Royal Rumble. James is currently the IMPACT Knockouts World Champion and she recently retained her title against Deonna Purrazzo in a Texas Death Match at Hard to Kill.
She was released by WWE in April of 2021 and went to work with IMPACT! and NWA. What caught people by surprise the most in the announcement that Hardcore Country would be joining the rumble was that she is a current champ for IMPACT and it was acknowledged on WWE programming. Something that has never happened before.
James sat down with Ariel Helwani and discussed how this upcoming appearance had been brought about.
“It was a few weeks ago, and Scott [D’Amore] had called me first just to kind of see where I was at and if I was interested. I think immediately I was excited because I think about this historically has never happened before, for WWE to do this or to have anyone participate in the Rumble, especially to acknowledge the championship. It’s really, it’s cool. And it just shows a different amount of respect –I feel really great about it. Plus, I think, in my mind, the last thing most people bring up or talk about was on the other end of the spectrum with and so it’s just cool not to have that be the thing, or the last thing, or whatever that is. So i’m so excited, honestly.”
“I feel like Johnny [Laurinaitis] reached out to Scott, to first talk to him professionally. It’s never been done before by them. Definitely, they talked first to see if this was something (they could do). IMPACT worked together with WWE in the past for when Flair went in the Hall of Fame and Christian Cage. It wasn’t unforeseen that it could possibly happen, I think that’s why Scott first reached out to me to see what my interest was and obviously we were all able to make this happen somehow. I think it was going to be a surprise, we talked about having it a surprise, but the announcement…the response back has blown my mind. It’s incredible, different, and kind of historic and to be the person to do it is really cool.”
Mickie went on to say what her reaction was when she found out she would be returning and when she found out it was going to be announced to the world.
“I was shocked, very shocked. I know it’s not ever been done, especially for the women. All things considered, everyone from that camp, we’ve talked and there has been apologies. I still maintain a good relationship with everyone in that sense. Professionally, I think it’s something to be able to do and hopefully open the door for future possibilities of that. My knee jerk reaction was shock because it’s not unheard of and, especially for me, it was like, ‘Oh, really.’ It’s weird. It’s a weird place to be sitting.”
She continues with when she found out about the announcement, “Not until Friday. I was headed to IMPACT, I was driving around looking for a guitar when it aired on SmackDown. We had talked about it being a surprise, but I think Johnny and the camp wanted to get it out there because they were doing the announcement and the reveal that night and they wanted to put it as part of that. It worked out.
I was a little apprehensive because I knew Deonna and I were going to be the main event at Hard to Kill and IMPACT hadn’t announced it because internally, it was a conversation of ‘look at this thing we’re doing, it’s great,’ it’s more powerful that it was just going to be the main event. That was my only immediately reservation, ‘I don’t want it to step on anything going into the Deonna match.’ It actually worked out better because I think a lot of people thought I was going to lose. More people thought I wasn’t going to keep the championship because I was going into the Rumble.”
With Mickie entering into the Rumble match there are so many questions fans currently have. Everything from will this be a one-time appearance, will we see anyone else from IMPACT, and will she enter as Hardcore Country with her championship?
Her response on coming in as Hardcore Country with her Knockouts World Title, “I hope so. I intend on it. It kind of goes with me everywhere. It is my identity right now. It’s important because I stepped away from WWE and have gone back to this Hardcore Country character and it’s something who I was never able to do, for whatever reason. I think she had moments in there, but it was never Hardcore Country Mickie James in that sense. It’s cool to bring that to WWE. It’s who I am and I am the champ.”
You can view the full interview which also includes the infamous trash bag incident, if she ever had talks with AEW, and how she feels about all the WWE releases in 2021. Transcription credit to Fightful.
Check back in with Diva Dirt for all of your news heading into this year’s Royal Rumble.