Ever since she made her debut with Impact Wrestling, Taya Valkyrie has made it clear she was there to make a statement. For more than 2 years now, she has brought to the Impact Zone a craft and a repertoire she has perfected in Canada, Mexico, and the USA. The former ballerina turned wrestler didn’t choose the usual and easiest path, crafting her art in Canada and then in Mexico with the best Lucha Libre wrestlers, but that mix of blood, sweat, tears, and passion have brought her to the top of Impact.
Taya Valkyrie wanted to rebuild the Knockouts division. She just revolutionized it. When Gail Kim is in Impact Wrestling’s history book as the first-ever Knockouts Champion, and also a record-setting seven-time Knockouts Champion, Taya Valkyrie joined her this year in the same book when she became the longest-reigning Knockouts Champion ever. Like Kim, she has had no problem putting her body on the line to defend the belt, in gruelling matches like a Street Fight, or the infamous Monsters Ball. She has wrestled every Knockout and defeated them all.
SteelChair Magazine had the chance to have a one-on-one conversation with Taya Valkyrie last week as she was in the UK to wrestle. We talked to her about her path with Impact Wrestling, being the longest-ever reigning Knockouts Champion, wrestling in the UK, her 2020 goals, and what the future holds for her on Impact Wrestling.
When did you start to come to wrestle in the UK?
Yes, my first trip here was actually in November 2019 for Ironfist Wrestling. I am actually their current Women’s Champion. I decided to come back, and hopefully, I will have more trips after the New Year as well. This weekend, I’m working for British Empire Wrestling and Rev Pro on the same night, and then Rev Pro the night after. It will be a great opportunity for people to come and see me. I’m doing meet and greet at British Empire prior to the show and at Rev Pro after the show, and then on Sunday as well. Definitely, I want to invite everybody to come out and check it out. The shows are going to be great. I have some great rivalries happening. I will wrestle Gisele Shaw one more time, which should be fun.
Who are the British wrestlers, male or female, you’re interested in competing against?
I haven’t really got the chance to go super into it because a lot of the girls I have known, or I wrestled in the past from the UK are now signed to NXT UK. I had some matches with Viper, I absolutely adore her, she’s so talented and just the sweetest. I’ve always wanted to wrestle Kay Lee Ray, which, unfortunately, at this time won’t be happening. There is a new pool of up and comers I probably don’t know about yet. The popularity of women wrestling, and wrestling as a whole, throughout Great Britain has just been growing immensely. I’m excited to meet people that I haven’t, that I don’t know anything about. I’m excited to be inspired by wrestlers that I’ve never seen before. I’m sure this weekend, I’ll take more notes on who I think is just super talented, and hopefully, over the next year, I’ll be able to come over more and see some of the new and up-and-coming talents that you guys have out here in the UK.
What are the differences that you are stating when you wrestle in Mexico, when you wrestle in the United States or when you’re in the UK?
The styles can be different, but I feel like also nowadays I can be combining influences in professional wrestling from all over the world and I kind of pride myself on that I’m having little aspects to all these places I’ve wrestled within a match, may that be Mexico, USA, Canada, Japan because I did wrestle for Stardom, and also in the UK. It’s really great to see this evolution as a style kind of happening. I’ve always said that the Mexican wrestling fans are the loudest people I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Obviously, pro-wrestling Lucha Libre is part of their culture, they have so much passion for it, and it’s a part of their livelihood and their lives.
Wrestling is the second most popular sport to soccer or football, as you would call it within the country itself. In the US, the fans have always been super passionate, and crazy and they’re very smart about everything. They sometimes know a little bit too much about what’s going on (laughs), but they are extremely passionate about their wrestling, and you see different types of fans when you’re wrestling on the Indies and all across the country too. Things like, for example, there are more Lucha Libre influences on certain parts of the country as opposed to others. But I feel like the fans here are nuts and they try to support the wrestler that they love the most and they’re very vocal about it, as well as the companies that they support the most.
In the UK, obviously, I just had my first opportunity to wrestle in front of fans here. I felt like they were just so kind and passionate and excited to meet me, just as I was excited to meet them. I’m looking forward to interacting more with them. I see them all on social media being so passionate about Impact, really knowing what’s going on and being respectful as well, which I think speaks volumes for the type of fans here in the UK. I am just really looking forward to hanging out with them and getting to know them more.
We were saying this about Austin Aries a few years ago, but you are starting to become a Belt Collector because you have three titles in three different continents.
That is true! I’m not only the Impact Knockouts Champion, but the current and 3-time AAA Reina de Reinas as well as their Lucha Capital Champion in 2018, and I’m the IronFist Women’s Champion here in the UK. I’m looking to add some more countries to my belt collection. I wrestled in Australia for the first time last year, and John (Morrison) and I had a great time. I’m open to wrestling in any country. Hopefully, I’ll be able to go to Germany in the summer, there’s also a possibility for me to go to South Africa as well. I’ve always loved travelling. When I can come to visit these places, especially internationally, I really try to make an effort to be there for at least a few days to try to experience this city, see what it’s about because we’re coming that far. These places are just so beautiful, and I just love learning about different cultures, seeing how people live, tasting all the food and stuff. Hopefully, I’ll be travelling a little bit more internationally over the next few months.
You are in Impact Wrestling’s history book as the longest-ever reigning Knockouts Champions. How do you feel about that?
I’m extremely blessed and also feel extremely proud of myself. Nobody else understands how much work I put into this than myself, the ups, the downs, the heartaches, the heartbreaks, the successes, everything. For me, to get to this point, you know I don’t come from a wrestling family, I don’t come from a wrestling name. I just did this because I wanted to, and I did it my own way. I did it unconventionally, I chose a different path than most people would and a path that some people might be scared to follow. I’m very proud of myself that it is now manifested itself as the longest-reigning Knockouts Champion. To have my face and my name in the Impact Wrestling’s history books with that title is just unreal.
And you are also 2019 Knockout of the year…
Obviously! Who else could it be, but me! (laughs)
What have been the best moments and maybe the saddest moment of these 370+ days as Champion?
My proudest moment was winning the title at Homecoming against Tessa Blanchard because I just felt like 2018 was pretty hard for me so, to finally get to that point was just like I took a finally let go of my breath. It was definitely a huge moment for me, and then continuing to be successful in my defences at every single pay-per-view through 2019 was just incredible. To know that Impact Wrestling believe in me and believe in what I’m doing just made me that much more motivated to continue to push the envelope personally and professionally, in my character work and in the ring. As far as the hardest moment, it was probably when John left and stormed out of the building (laughs). It was the closing of one chapter, but also the reopening of another. I think that I have held my own and proven that I am a performer in my own right more than anyone could have ever imagined, and maybe more than I could have imagined myself. I’m extremely proud of myself, and he’s extremely proud of me, how much I’ve evolved beyond the story of being Johnny Impact’s wife, carrying the women’s division for the last year and really being a representation of an international level of styles, languages, culture and pro wrestling as a whole. So I’m very proud of myself, and I know that I’ll continue to do that through this next year.
Before I met John, I was already very successful in Mexico. I had already been on television in front of millions of people for many years. Some people have selective memory. But I am so lucky that pro wrestling brought me to him. We are both very successful in our own lives, in our careers and the fact we are sharing success together is very, very special. No matter where we work, we support each other’s careers 100%. I don’t care what company someone works for. He is my husband and my best friend. I will continue to be supportive of his career’s choices and his decisions because I know that they’re coming from a place of love, not only me, our life, our future, and our family. It’s crazy that people have to try to be negative or find negative points in the fact that we work for separate companies. This is just our job, nobody works in the same company. If both you and your husband are teachers, you don’t both have to teach at the same school. You can be successful on your own. I know that he’s my number one fan, and I will continue to be his, and we’re just doing what’s best for our family and for our souls as performers. It’s exciting to think about what will come next. I don’t know what that is, but we’re both very happy where we are now, and I will continue to support him as he does for me.
You have done it all, hardcore, intergender, you took part in an all-female Monsters Ball this year. Do you have any limits on that and does the fact that we have a woman as world champion for you is something that can be interesting?
I don’t ever put limitations on myself. I will push myself as far as I can, physically, mentally, creatively. What I do is really me, who I have been my whole entire life, from dancing to sports to theatre, now to fitness and wrestling. I don’t limit myself, I don’t see the top of the ladder, and the ladder keeps going. If you visually see the ladder going into the clouds, it just keeps going and going. I never see the top. I never feel satisfied. Any time I accomplish one thing, I’m always looking to what is next, and right now, I just feel like possibilities for me to keep going up that ladder are there because Impact Wrestling is at the forefront of women’s equality within the ring and everything like that. I am so proud to work for a company that is giving us this opportunity.
On Tessa Blanchard, I’ve beaten her over and over again on many, many occasions. I beat her for the Knockouts Championship. I defended my Knockouts Championship in a Street Fight in Mexico City against her and was successful. I then continued to carry the women’s division for an entire year. I then beat her at Madison Square Garden for the AAA Reina de Reinas championship. If anybody has the number one contender spot, it’s me, and I know that in 2020, you will see the revival of the Taya versus Tessa Blanchard rivalry and it is going to get pretty messy because both of us are extremely passionate, hard-working, dedicated, mentally and physically strong. We both want to create waves, and when given the opportunity, we will do that. Tessa Blanchard should be very prepared because she has no idea what Taya has been doing this year since she’s been off playing with the boys. I’ve been carrying an entire women’s division. I’ve been creating ways within women’s wrestling, I’m the longest reigning knockouts champion, so she should be very scared of what I’m able to do.
What are your goals for 2020 on Impact? Which wrestlers do you want to fight against because you pretty much wrestled all the Knockouts?
I want to continue to be the force that I am within the women’s division and, even if I have to wrestle the entire Knockouts division over and over again, I know I will continue to be successful. If everyone continues to second guess me, I’m going to take them all out at once. I’m not scared. I am not worried, I’m the most confident than I’ve ever been in my ability in my career right now that I will hold no prisoner. As far as everybody else, I have no problem stepping up to any man in our locker room. If it’s Moose, Eddie Edwards, oVe, and the entire faction at once, I don’t care. I will take on Tessa Blanchard whenever she grows the balls to. Whenever she feels that she is ready, I’m waiting, I’m waiting behind her, standing at her, looking at her, studying her. I’ve been doing that this entire year. And when she is ready, I am there because I’m the #1 contender for the World title, and I know I will get that opportunity. I would love to be in a tag team and take on The North. The opportunities are endless now because Impact has given us the opportunity of equality within the spectrum of the Championship. So I know this year will be another record-breaking year for me. I will be the one who will be making even more history and even more noise in 2020.
Follow Taya Valkyrie on Twitter @TheTayaValkyrie.
IMPACT Wrestling is airing on Tuesday at 8/7c on AXS TV in the USA. The show is available to view in the UK from 2 am Wednesdays on the IMPACT Plus app and airs at 9 pm Wednesdays on Fight Network UK (Sky 192/Freesat 161), (circa) 11 pm Fridays on 5Star and repeated on Fight Network UK at 9 pm on Sundays.
All pics, screenshots, and videos courtesy of Impact Wrestling, AXS TV and Basil Mahmud.
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