Mickie James is back where she belongs, helping represent the industry as champion.
James is the reigning Knockouts world champion in Impact Wrestling, having claimed the title for a fourth time last month at the Bound for Glory pay-per-view by defeating rising star Deonna Purrazzo.
“Deonna is one of the best in the world,” James says. “I’m grateful to have the chance to wrestle with her again, which we hadn’t done since before WWE. She’s one of the best Knockouts champions in Impact history. And there are so many talented women in Impact, I can’t wait to work with them as champion.”
James is also part of “Tag Me In,” an inclusive initiative that aims to facilitate a healthy dialogue about mental health and serve as a reminder that support is readily available. In less than a month, the campaign has raised more than $45,000, with all proceeds donated to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
“This is something that’s been needed for a while,” James says. “We’ve lost a lot of people in the wrestling family for a lot of reasons, with suicide being one of them. I just lost my friend Shannon [“Daffney” Spruill], who was roommate in Louisville when I first got signed by WWE. We lost Ashley [Massaro, in 2019], and that hit me hard.
“My younger sister also passed away from ovarian cancer, which was terrible. We all have those dark moments when we feel like there is no one to talk to or that can help us, but there is always someone. That’s what helps make this initiative is so powerful.”
WWE, which just cut 18 performers last week, was James’s employer until she was released in April. She has enjoyed a career renaissance ever since, fully recovering after tearing her ACL in 2019 to become one of the top performers in Impact. As an industry veteran, she has a seasoned touch between the ropes as well as the ring sense to know how to make magic in a match.
“I remember being told in WWE that I had five to seven years on TV,” James says. “That’s how long most women are there, but I wanted to build a long career. It’s been so special to have this run doing what I love.”
Since her departure from WWE, James has also played a pivotal role behind the scenes, serving as the driving force and executive producer for this past summer’s all-women EmPowerrr pay-per-view for the NWA.
“After Evolution [in 2018], I wanted to do an all-female show to help women grow and get them TV-ready,” James says. “But it all fell on deaf ears. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to happen. I’m grateful for my time there in WWE, but I’m thrilled we did EmPowerrr. It was extremely successful and trended No. 1 worldwide that night. It was a risk, but [NWA owner] Billy Corgan was willing to take that, which WWE wasn’t. And there is still so much more for us to accomplish.”
James adds a distinguished flair to the wrestling industry, with the ability to use her stature to reach beyond the genre. And she is relishing the chance to play a role with “Tag Me In” and help raise awareness for the importance of mental health.
“ ‘Tag Me In‘ transcends wrestling,” James says. “We like to think we can do it all ourselves, but we can’t. There are people out there that can help.”
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