Show: Interactive Wrestling Radio
Guest: Madison Rayne
Your Host: James Walsh
Madison Rayne is no stranger to championship gold as a former multi-time Knockouts champion. But, on Friday night, Rayne challenges for the Women of Homor championship at ROH Final Battle in a 4 way against champion Sumie Sakai, Kelly Klein and Karen Q. In this interview, Rayne opens up on how she knew ROH was the right place for her leaving her prior home of 9 years, Impact Wrestling. She also opens up about her WWE moments as part of the Mae Young Classic and why it was emotional for her. And, of course, we run down her opponents for Friday night and see who she has her sights set on most in that encounter.
ROH Final Battle airs LIVE from New York City on Friday, December 14 at a new start time of 8pm Eastern on traditional pay-per-view providers, free for HonorClub VIP, at a 50% discount for HonorClub Standard, and on FITE TV. Please visitROHWrestling.com or the ROH App for more information.
To listen, visit the Wrestling Epicenter at www.WrestlingEpicenter.com!
On her title match at ROH Final Battle:
“I’m actually pretty calm. I’m as prepared as I can be after the year that I’ve had. I think I’m in the best ring shape I’ve ever been in my life. I’m in a good place mentally. I will say that there are not too many times these days that I’m in the ring with someone who has been wrestling longer than I have – That is the veteran over me. Sumie Sakai, the champion, is that. I’m looking forward to that little change from the norm.”
On how crazy her 2018 has been:
“I did know that this was the first time that I was going into a new year as a quote unquote free agent. It has been a long time since I was not under contract with one company. I knew I had more freedom in terms of where I could go and what I could do but no, I couldn’t have, in my wildest dreams, have predicted that this year would be as crazy as it has been.”
On what it meant to work under the WWE banner for the Mae Young Classic:
“I think everybody, or most people, when they start chasing this dream to be a professional wrestler, we all dream of having that Wrestlemania moment. Certainly, it is something that, since I was 10 years old, that I wanted to do. But, I came to a point in my career at Impact, and I was happy at Impact – I had a great, long, successful career there. I had come to a place where I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to have that opportunity and I had made peace with it. But then, 2018 came about and I had no roots planted anywhere. Timing is everything! This is a great time for women’s wrestling paralleled with a great time for Madison Rayne. I think I was ready. My in ring work was, is, the best that it has ever been. I feel like I went into my opportunity with WWE and the Mae Young Classic at the peak of my career. I’m really happy to be able to say that.”
On if she felt the Mae Young Classic was like Impact as it was a sound stage:
“No, not really. (laughs) For me, there was so much more emotion. The last 5 years of my career have been so unpredictable. You know, I obviously took time to be a mother. And then, coming back, and I could b wrong saying this. I think I’m the first female to have a successful career on television to have a child and then come back. That was uncharted waters that I was coming into. I didn’t know what that was going to look like. Then, fast forward a couple years and kind of breaking out of that Impact bubble not knowing what was going to happen. After 13 years, for me to finally stand in the ring and look at the turnbuckles and see the WWE logo, there was a lot more emotion invested in it for me. So, I guess yeah physically, the sound stage feel was the same but it felt really big in a different way. Not to take anything away from Impact. There were moments there that felt like they were going to be my Wrestlemania moment for me. It was just different. Maybe for me it is because I spent so much time with Impact. I was there for 9 years! For me to finally do something with WWE and not just a dark match or extra work but ti be a part of something as big as the Mae Young Classic, it felt bigger to me!
On how she knew Ring of Honor was going to be her home company a year before she signed:
“It was just a gut feeling for me. I’ve always been very cautious of getting into that space where I overstay my welcome. I don’t think I overstayed my welcome at Impact. But, that fan base is very loyal. They’ve watched everything that I’ve done since 2009 and all the transitioned I made. I’m so grateful that the last few months that I was there were so different and I got to do so many awesome things like my matches with Tessa (Blanchard), Taya (Valkyrie), and the whole storyline with Su and the lead up to Slammiversary. It was so different. I’m really grateful to the creative team and to everybody who had a part in letting me do something like that which was so special and so different. But, at the same time, I felt like I had contributedas much as I could… I had done literally everything at Impact. I feel like that division is in very good hands. With Gail Kim still there as an agent and all the incredibly talented women that are there, it (the Knockouts division) is in really good hands. I can help in other places and I can grow in other places whereas I don’t know if I could continue to grow at Impact. And, Women of Honor is doing something really special. To go back to 2006 or 2007 when Ring of Honor, essentially, gave me y first big opportunity… It was really cool for me to let that come full circle. From the second that I signed my Ring of Honor contract in September, not even for a half a second have I second guessed that decision. As much as I felt Impact was home because it was, Ring of Honor feels like it is supposed to be my home now and I couldn’t be happier with the decision not only that I made but that they made to invest in me. I’m really happy!”
On the cinematic approach she was involved in with Su Young:
“I love to perform. I think anyone that knows me knows that I love to be a big character. I was in pageants when I was little, I was in drama club. Being able to be a character and be larger than life is fun for me. So when I get to do that stuff within the wrestling world, it is like I’m able to fulfill two dreams in one. (laughs) There was a long period of time that I wanted to be an actress before I got into wrestling. I was hesitant at first because I never saw myself in a horror movie (laughs), but as I had the story told to me, I was like, “OK, well, this is going to challenge me” 13 years in, for things to still challenge me, that’s what makes it fun for me and that’s what makes me keep going. If I never step into an Impact Wrestling ring again before I finally retire, I think that was a great last story to tell to go out on.”
On Ring of Honor possibly going in that more theatrical direction:
“Especially with Women of Honor still being so new, we all need to establish who we are. Let the fans see us as people, as characters, as entertainers. Once they (fans) have invested in us emotionally, that is when those opportunities can present themselves.”
On her view of the origins of the present Women’s Revolution:
“Oh man, I understand this question but I really dislike this question and here’s why. This is how I feel and maybe I’m like, “I love unicorns and rainbows”, but I just feel there were so many people along the way and so many generations of female wrestling that contributed to what it is now. So for this argument where “The Knockouts did it first, well, no, WWE did it first.” At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter (laughs) because women’s wrestling is at its highest point that it has ever been. That is the effort of so many people. It is not just a small group of women. It is the Knockouts, it is the Diva era, it was what Ring of Honor was letting its women do 10 years ago. It is this collaborative effort of all of us who banded together to make our mark in what has, historically, been a male dominated industry. And, too, to say the Knockouts or WWE started it is to take away from Mae Young. There is no Mae Young Classic without women like Mae Young. I remember being 10 years old and being captivated by a match on Monday Night RAW. It was Bull Nakano and Alundra Blayze. I don’t invest a lot of thought into where it started or try to stake my claim. I’m just really happy that A. Womens wrestling is where it is now and B. That I’m still around to be a part of it!”
On facing Sumie Sakai in the 4 Way at Final Battle:
“She might be mentally, and physically, but I think mentally, she may be my biggest challenge. Here’s why. She is this ball of sunshine! When you get to the arena and you see her, she’s always got this big smile and hugs. You almost don’t want to get into the ring with her. The more I know her, the more I wonder if that’s not part of her strategy. To play these mind games and make people just adore her as a person and make it difficult to want to stand across the ring from her. (laughs) Aside from that, she’s incredibly talented. She was a part of the first women’s match at Ring of Honor so I feel she was the perfect first champion. As much as I love her, I’ve made peace with if I have to pin her to become champion, that is what I’m going to do!”
On facing Karen Q as part of that 4 Way at Final Battle:
“I hope people aren’t sleeping on Karen Q. She’s incredibly talented. For all the longer that she’s been wrestling, she’s a force to be reckoned with. The first time that I met Karen was when she and I did a WWE tryout together at the Performance Center. I knew of her because I am very good friends with Deonna Purrazzo and they trained together. I had seen her matches and shared a locker room with her but had never gotten in the ring with her. Then, at that tryout, it didn’t take long, maybe 5 to 8 minutes for the match. Within the first 2 minutes, I was blown away by Karen. The more that I’ve gotten to know her and her work ethic and how hungry she is to be one of the best in women’s wrestling today.. It is a tribute to this women’s revolution of wrestling.”
On facing Kelly Klein as part of the 4 Way at Final Battle:
“I have a lot of respect for Kelly. A lot of people might not know that Kelly and I go way back. Way, way back! Back before my first day at Impact Wrestling. (laughs) We used to have almost weekly matches against each other in Ohio on the indy scene. She’s beaten me twice in our two encounters in my time back with Ring of Honor. I know I have my work cut out for me. If there’s anything holding me back, it is the fact that Kelly does have 2 (recent) victories over me. She’s definitely going to be the one to beat this Friday night!”
Final thoughts heading in to ROH Final Battle:
“I hope that everybody that has come along with me not only throughout my career but specifically this past year and has gone on this journey with me tunes in Friday night! It is going to be the best way to close out this chapter of my career.”