A few weeks ago, the wrestling world was shocked by the WWE release of a number of in-ring talents including Samoa Joe, The IIconics, Chelsea Green, and more. However, perhaps the most surprising was that of Mickie James, a former Women’s Champion and a bonafide pro wrestling legend.
Equally shocking to the releases themselves was the treatment of many of the talents following their departures. On April 22nd, James tweeted a tongue-in-cheek photo of the unceremonious manner in which her belongings were returned. The photo took to social media like wildfire, with WWE names past and present both apologizing and vouching for the legitimacy of the situation at hand.
In chatting with NWA World’s Champion Nick Aldis, I asked him about his feelings on the matter given his marriage to James.
“You touched on it earlier, and I don’t want to pry too much on it,” I commented to the Real World’s Champion. “But, just everything that did happen with Mickie over the last couple of weeks as far as the release with WWE, and then – I literally have the word hogwash here, because I can’t describe it any better as far as everything that went down afterwards.”
“Trashgate,” Aldis responded jokingly.
“Yeah, right,” I affirmed. “I don’t want to dig on it too much, and I know she spoke for herself on it on GAW TV yesterday, but maybe just your thoughts, or if there’s anything you’d like to share on that end of things.”
“Well, I hope this doesn’t destroy anyone’s delusion of it,” Aldis laughed to begin. “But, you know, the craziest thing about all that for us was that she really – it wasn’t like she was super offended. It wasn’t like she was really upset. She was kind of laughing at the symbolism. It wasn’t like this thing where she went ‘ah, I’m devastated, I’m heartbroken, how would they do this to me,’ and I’ve seen some people sort of refer to it like that, as if that was the sort of tone. If you go back and look at her post with the video and stuff, she was very tongue-in-cheek about it. She was very kind of, ‘well, that’s about fucking right!’ In other words, they chew you up and spit you out, and that’s just the way the business is.
“And, look,” Aldis continued, “she’s been through a hell of a lot worse. The reality is, is that symbolism and sort of tone-deaf gesture, I guess, is the best way to describe it, it’s not even in the top-10 of the most cold, heartless things that have happened to her or me in this business. So, it’s kind of like, hey, man, we’ve got thick skins. She just thought it was enlightening, I guess, to sort of share with the world like, ‘Hey, you think it’s all special and glamorous? It’s sometimes not so much.’ I was very amazed at the level of traction it got.
“And,” Aldis was sure to note, “I was amazed at the level of response on the corporate level from those guys. From Triple H, and Stephanie [to] Vince, they all – and, hey, I will say that Vince McMahon went out of his way to express to Mickie his respect for her and her contributions. That’s at least some consolation to take from it. Although, I would politely suggest that maybe a little more respect could have been shown to her while she was there.”
“I wouldn’t disagree with you there at all, my friend, but the nice thing – and it’s not as though it really needed to be reinforced – is she’s a damn legend in this business. And, it’s really, really nice to see that be the thing that takes up the Twitter feed.”
“Within minutes the phone was lighting up, both of our phones [were] lighting up. She, again, very tongue in cheek. Very – wrestling fans have a hard time with humor, you know, especially self-deprecating humor is like they want to turn everything into this big drama show. But, she sort of, again, kind of lightheartedly used the phrase ‘golden handcuffs,’ because – and I promise, this is not me trying to sort of polish a turd. Right away, my mind didn’t go to like, ‘oh, man, that’s, you know, that’s so devastating.’ Obviously, I consoled her and said, like, ‘how do you feel? Are you’re okay? I’m sorry, babe.’ But, right away, my mind started going to, ‘well, hey, at least all of those massive contractual restrictions are off now. At least you have the freedom now to go after this, or to go after that, and talk to this person, and promote this, and endorse that.’ Again, I’m not criticizing the contracts. Hey, you sign it. I never understood – hey, my whole thing with this is yeah, maybe the contracts in wrestling, in general, are somewhat…”
“Shitty?” I interjected half-jokingly.
The Real World’s Champion grinned. “You said that, not me.”
“I’ll take it!” I laughed before Aldis finished his thought.
“The fact still remains that once you sign it, you agreed, and I live by that. I don’t have a contract like that. So it’s kind of like I’ve always sort of had that understanding. I’ve always been, you know, the people who have mentored me in the business have always said to me ‘once you sign it, you keep your word you honor it.’ You cannot expect, and you can’t get caught up in what someone else has got. You have to be happy with what you’ve got, and you have to look it over and you have to agree to it or not agree to it, and you have to be – but once you agree, you can’t then complain about it and keep sort of [going]. So again, when it comes to those restrictions, it was kind of like, okay, there’s a pro and a con to this. Obviously, the con is yes, she’s no longer with the WWE, and her last run didn’t work out the way she’d hoped. And, that guaranteed income is no longer part of our revenue streams. But, we have plenty of revenue streams.”
“The good news is, okay, now, the pro is that there are now a bunch of other potential revenue streams that were previously unavailable based on that contract. So, hey, it swings around about.”
Please credit Spencer Love/Love Wrestling with any of the above quotes & transcriptions.