From IMPACT Knockouts Champion, to the longest-ever reigning AAA Reina de Reinas Champion, to having the most green coloured objects involved in an in-ring wrestling wedding ever, Taya Valkyrie has achieved a lot in her relatively short wrestling career. I had the pleasure of talking to her about all she’s accomplished so far, what goals she still has, her thoughts on intergender wrestling, and so much more in this interview.
You’ve been involved in a lot of intergender wrestling in your career, most notably a very physical match against Brian Cage. Is intergender wrestling something you’d like to see more of on television?
Absolutely. I think that intergender wrestling has a place when the story is told properly and done in a certain way so it makes sense. I know the opinion is so split on the subject, but as a woman that has wrestled men, I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. I also consider myself to be a very strong woman in the ring, I don’t think that people think I’m going to be broken in half. I think I’m always portrayed as someone who can bring it against anyone so I would love to see more of it.
You say you could go against any competitor. Is there anybody from around the world you’d like to bring into IMPACT to have a match with?
There’s so many talented people right now. The independent wrestling scene worldwide is insanity. There’s so many people deserving of that opportunity and deserving to be seen, I don’t think I could name just one. Right now, I think the person I’d really like to have a one-on-one with the most would be my husband. We did it once for a charity event and had the best time. Out of anybody, I think I know him the best so I think we could do something really interesting and cool.
In 2019, there is so much wrestling out there to watch, especially now with this month marks the debut show of All Elite Wrestling. So with so many options out there, what’s the biggest reason why people should check out IMPACT Wrestling?
I think the biggest reason they should watch is because IMPACT has changed and evolved so much in the last year and a half. If you used to be a fan and stopped watching, or whatever the reason is that you aren’t, you should really take the time to watch it because it has become such a melting pot for different kinds of styles and different characters from all aspects of life. It’s very multicultural, fun, fast action craziness.
I think all of the women in the Knockouts locker room are different, nobody is the same. There is a knockout and a wrestler for every fan. There’s high-fliers, strongmen, there’s everything combining from all over the world and that is what IMPACT is. I really think if you are a wrestling fan this is what you should be watching.
You’ve spent much of your career in Mexico where you found great success. Is there anybody on the Mexico scene that you think has the potential to become a worldwide star?
The style there is so accepted there internationally that I think anyone who’s a star there could make it internationally. As far as the women are concerned, I think Lady Shani who is the reigning AAA Reina de Reinas champion is really special. Not only is she one of my best friends, but she is extremely talented and has worked very hard to get where she is now. The whole women’s roster over there is extremely talented from someone as legendary as Mari Apache to La Hiedra to Lady Shani to Chik Tormenta to Keira.
There’s just an ever-flowing amount of talent in Mexico, I just think they need to be seen and they need to be put on a bigger stage, then the world is there’s really.
You got married to Johnny Impact in 2018, congratulations on that. Now, I imagine two pro wrestlers having a wedding together must make for a very interesting guest list. Are there any funny or surreal moments that stand out from that day?
Well, the whole day was crazy. It all seems like a foggy blur because there was so much going on. We had such a beautiful wedding, every aspect of our lives came together that day. There were people that I grew up with and people that he grew up with, our extended families, his family from all over the US, my family from all over Canada, Mexico and Europe. It was everyone all in one spot and that was the coolest thing to look over this reception hall and look at all these faces of people who were supporting us at that point.
I think the speeches was one of my favourite and craziest moments. One of my best friends (shoutout to Amanda Dorenzo) decided to put a lucha mask on in the middle of her speech. Some of John’s grooms did speeches, The Miz, Ziggler and Zack Ryder, and I was sat there thinking, “Is this a wrestling promo?!” But it was so special, we had such characters in our group of friends and families so I wouldn’t expect anything less of them. I can’t believe we’re coming up to our one year anniversary, it’s been a crazy journey, and that wedding day was everything it had to be.
Can you tell us a fact about yourself that fans may be surprised by or may not know?
I feel like I’m a very honest and open book. I try to be honest and direct with my fans without sugarcoating anything. I’m very sensitive though, people might think that I’m just this strong, crazy wrestler chick, but I’m very sensitive. I love to travel, I think my friends are the most important things to me, I have a very small family so my friends are like my family. Obviously John is my number one, and I love Pomeranians. I love to cook and stay home, when you travel as much as we do a vacation is staying home and making dinner with your husband.
You’ve wrestled all over the world for several companies, but where’s the strangest place you’ve had a match?
There’s been some pretty strange places in Mexico. I remember taking a windy bus up this mountain, literally we were above the clouds. It was the most stunning scenery, it looked like something out of Jurassic Park. You’re above the clouds, driving along a windy road, and suddenly there’s this tiny town there, and there’s a wrestling ring in the centre of it.
I think the entire town came to see us wrestle, there was hundreds and hundreds of people there. I’ve had so many experiences like that where it’s just these weird, magical places that I never would have been able to see if I wasn’t wrestling.
You’ve achieved a lot in your career so far. What do you think Taya Valkyrie’s role in professional wrestling is in 2019, and what’s left to accomplish?
Everyone can say they work hard, but I think I’m an example of someone that wasn’t destined for this. When someone wrote the book for what Kira Forster turning into Taya Valkyrie was supposed to be, I don’t think professional wrestler was a part of it. I had to really fight to get where I am, I had to travel a lot, be in some really crazy situations, cry a lot, train a lot, and sacrifice a lot.
I think my role is to continue to be the successful underdog that came up, worked my butt off and got to where I am, and continue to show that you don’t have to be born into wrestling or grow up around it 24/7, but if this is what you wanna do you can accomplish it. I mean, I was a ballet dancer that loved musical theatre. My parents never watched wrestling with me, it was something I discovered on my own. I was picked on a lot as a kid, I looked up to the women wrestlers I watched on TV because I could never imagine myself being liked them, so I feel like I am an example of someone that can come from nothing and still be successful in this business, and continue to prove that, as corny as this sounds, anything is possible.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I’ve been wrestling for eight years, but it seems like twenty-five because of all of the things I’ve gotten to do. I just wanna continue to strive to get better, and be an example for everybody that this business can be crazy and change your life. It really has done that for me, and I couldn’t be more happy.
How do you think your background in ballet has helped you in pro wrestling?
I think that any form of athletics or dance really helps in professional wrestling. I believe that it definitely helps with my presentation, charisma, sense of being so comfortable in front of the crowd, and the fact I’m really obsessed with wrestling gear and creating these visuals that are different to everyone else. Also, the fact that being athletic my whole life made me more body awareness and be better with choreography and creative body movements.
What’s more difficult: watching your husband being stranded on a desert island or being in the presence of Austin Aries?
Oh, that’s a hard one!
We won’t talk about Austin Aries because we’ve talked about him enough, but watching John on Survivor was painstakingly difficult. The worst part wasn’t watching on TV because he was already home by then, it was the entire eight or nine weeks of him being away leading up to our wedding, that was awful.
People don’t realise that when they’re on the show, you can’t communicate with them. You have no idea if they’re alive, dead, sleeping, awake – nothing. All you get is a few phone calls from the producers, and the first was three or four weeks in so I really had no clue what was going on, that was definitely the hardest part.
What do you love most about professional wrestling?
I just love to perform. I love that we get to be in front of different people every week, and really be creative over and over again. You’re not having the same match every night, you’re always trying to creative something different, whether that’s emotion or movements or the way you speak in a promo. I just think it’s an incredible feeling to constantly have to be creative, always be in front of people, playing with emotions and having to create something special week in and week out.
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