Jordynne Grace: ‘I Want to Wrestle Natalya in TNA’

“She’s a pioneer, and I want to wrestle her in TNA”

Six days before the Royal Rumble, Jordynne Grace received a phone call from former TNA President Scott D’Amore.

Grace, she learned, was going to represent TNA in WWE’s famed Royal Rumble.

As the reigning TNA Knockouts Champion, Grace takes pride in representing the company. Yet she never expected to wear that belt at a WWE event. That changed when D’Amore helped engineer a deal with WWE Head of Creative Paul “Triple H” Levesque.

“I just got home from TNA TV tapings,” said Grace. “I was trying not to think too much about it. There were so many hoops to jump through before it could happen. Every step of the way, I kept reminding myself that something could happen. So I tried to keep my normal routine.”

On January 20, Grace wrestled Savannah Evans at the TNA television taping in Kissimmee, Florida. One week later, she was back in Florida–this time in St. Petersburg for the Rumble.

D’Amore viewed Grace as a generational talent, someone distinctly unique with worldwide appeal. That belief was proven correct at the Rumble, where Grace entered fifth and left the crowd in awe. The commentary team, especially Pat McAfee, were quick to highlight Grace, who is a unique blend of power, agility, and excitement in the ring.

“It is very rare that I love everything I do,” said Grace. “I couldn’t believe everything came together the way it did. Watching it back on commentary, Pat’s reaction was really genuine, too. That was really cool.”

Jordynne Grace made a lasting impression at the Royal Rumble
Jordynne Grace made a lasting impression at the Royal Rumble / Courtesy WWE

Wrestling fans weren’t the only ones surprised by Grace’s arrival in WWE. Two days before the event, Grace arrived at the Performance Center in Orlando for the official Rumble rehearsal. People were already gathered together around the ring when she entered the building, and the reaction from her peers is a moment Grace will long remember.

“Everyone was completely shocked,” said Grace. “I know probably 80 percent of the girls, and they thought I signed with WWE and kept congratulating me. Once I told them I wasn’t signed with WWE, they were even more shocked. It was a really cool experience. I’ve been with a lot of those girls on the independent scene and in TNA, so it was a really unique experience to be with them in WWE.”

Grace defends the TNA Knockouts Championship against Steph De Lander tomorrow at the Rebellion pay-per-view. Moving forward, she would be honored to return the favor and host some of WWE’s talent in TNA.

“I’m still waiting for Natalya to come over,” said Grace. “That’s one of my dream matches. She’s someone I watched growing up, and she’s never really been outside of WWE for the past two decades. She’s a pioneer, and I want to wrestle her in TNA.”

One of TNA’s defining features is a world-class women’s division. In addition to representing the company, Grace wanted her work in the Rumble to reflect the brilliance of the women who have starred in TNA.

“The pressure was definitely on,” said Grace. “I really felt so anxious going into that. I knew I had to nail everything.”

That commitment to excellence is a hallmark of Grace’s work. Her title defense against De Lander–an underrated talent in NXT who found an entirely new confidence on the indies–has the potential to be the match of the night.

Grace’s most recent pay-per-view match for TNA took place in January at Hard To Kill when she defeated Trinity to win the title. Now she looks to craft an even more spectacular bout against DeLander. The match promises to be hard-hitting and innovative, and she intends to follow a trend where she steals the show every time she wrestles.

“We’re going to put on an amazing show,” said Grace. “Look at what else is on the card. Hammerstone and Josh [Alexander] are going to kill it, like they always do. And I’m hearing there are a few surprises, too.

“My goal is for this to be better than Hard To Kill. I want to continue my legacy of being someone who delivers every single time.”


Published
Justin Barrasso

JUSTIN BARRASSO

Justin Barrasso has been writing for Sports Illustrated since 2014. While his primary focus is pro wrestling and MMA, he has also covered MLB, NBA, and the NFL. He can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.