The first thing many people noticed when Rachael Ellering appeared on IMPACT a few weeks ago is the way she shines. She may be a second-generation wrestler and many other things, but she shines through a smile and a “joie de vivre” that is contagious. The nickname “Queen of Strong Smile” that was given to her by other media is so appropriate. As strong and powerful she can be, there’s something in herself and her wrestling repertoire that is so fresh and exciting.
Rachael Ellering is finally back on IMPACT after some enhancement matches a few years ago. Supported by Jazz, she aligned herself with Jordynne Grace and they became the IMPACT Knockouts Tag Team Champions at Rebellion. All of this in a matter of three weeks or so. Very, very few Knockouts in the history of TNA/Impact Wrestling have done what Rachael Ellering did. And this is just a beginning as she will defend this Saturday the Tag Team belts at Under Siege against Fire ‘N Flava in a rematch of Rebellion.
SteelChair Wrestling Magazine had the chance to talk to Rachael Ellering earlier this week. She told us about coming back to IMPACT, teaming up with Jordynne Grace, becoming Knockouts Tag Team Champion just a few days after her comeback, and what the future may hold for her.
Here you are, back on IMPACT. Jazz introduced you as Jordynne Grace’s tag team partner, you both have very similar styles, and you won the IMPACT Knockouts Tag Team Championships at ‘Rebellion’. It really looks like a fairy tale story. How would you describe the last few weeks in your own words?
“A fairy tale is really a good way to describe the whole situation. I had done two matches previous to this current time with Impact (in early 2017) but I was an extra talent, I was just there to have these two quick matches, nothing more. So, now for me to choose to come to Impact and dedicate my time and this next phase of my career with them, I’m just overjoyed about it. I could not have ever imagined being involved with Jazz in my very first thing, it’s just a pleasure and an honour, she’s a true legend, that word gets thrown around a lot, but she truly is a legend. I had a very positive experience with her a year into my career and she was so kind to me when she did not even need to be and so that has always stuck with me and something I carry with me, in my regular life as well. So, to come in and have her be there for such a monumental night, one of the biggest nights of my entire career forever will be, just made it that much sweeter.”
“Then, like you said, Jordynne and I are very similar in a lot of ways but we’re also different in a lot of ways but it’s very complementary and I think it’s a vibe you can kind of feel when you’re watching the show here on AXS tv over there or on Impact Plus, I feel like you can watch it. I feel like you can just feel the love that we have for each other. I respect Jordynne so much, obviously, she’s an incredible performer but she truly is a great person who’s very smart and creative, it’s an honour to share the ring with her and team with her and be the Knockouts Tag Team Champions together.”
“I knew Impact was going to be a great fit, I thought it would be a good fit but then hearing about the energy there and how you get to be creative and the people there are very passionate, the fans are passionate. I was a fan of the girls in the locker room, what a great division not just now but a great division the last how many years, consistently great, and that’s something I wanted to be a part of so I kind of fell in love with that idea and, thankfully, my gut feeling was absolutely right and I fit like a glove here in Impact and I couldn’t be more thrilled for the future. I think I’ve found my new home.”
When Jordynne teamed up with Jazz, I talked about a passing of the torch. Then, you arrived and I couldn’t help of think of Jazz surrounded by her two spiritual daughters because you have the same physique, strength and body of work. What you and Jordynne are is everything Jazz has always been. How close do you feel to that feeling?
“Absolutely, a hundred percent. The first time I saw Jazz, I was probably 15 or 16 years old and she just captivated me because she looked different from a lot of the women from that era. She had muscles, she wasn’t afraid to be physical, she had this aggression and passion that you could feel just by watching her. I think that those are definitely things that you can see in myself and Jordynne, we embrace being not the typical girl, we both are very proud of our powerlifting background, prior to wrestling, that was my passion and what I really committed myself to. We both love the gym. Jazz, look at her, she still looks as great as ever and I hope, at the end of my career, I am as exceptional as she is. We should all cross our fingers for that but she’s absolutely someone that me and Jordynne looked up to and admire and hope to have many of the traits that she had in ourselves.”
Were you expecting to win the Knockouts Tag Team belts so fast after your comeback and on PPV?
“Yes and no. I did not expect to debut on, like you said, one of the biggest shows of the entire year but I have a trust in my ability and so I just know whenever I’m put in any situation that I will be able to deliver. I think kind of working on myself and growing so much over these last two years has really cemented that belief in myself because I know who I am, I know what I have to offer, I know that, right now, I am the best Rachael I can possibly be and I just wanted to show Impact fans that. I think the reason I could kind of show myself while being in the team, that’s a testament to Jordynne and me working so well together, we can each be ourselves and true to ourselves and show that, but also be successful as a team and be on the same page with each other and deliver together uh while also delivering individually. I think Jordynne and I, as a team, is just the start of something very, very special and I am so, so excited for the future here with Impact and what comes next and I know whatever it is that comes next, I will be ready for it.”
What’s next is on Saturday, Rebellion’s rematch at Under Siege. What are you expecting from the match and from Tasha and Kiera? You worked with both of them in the indies before.
“On Saturday, at Under Siege, I am expecting to get both Tasha and Kiera’s absolute best because it’s one thing to kind of have a match sprung on you, like our first one at Rebellion was, it’s not like they had weeks and weeks and weeks to kind of mull over plans for that, but this one they’ve had a little more time to prepare and I think they’re going to be coming with a vengeance, coming with some fire, for lack of a better term. I think we’ll see the best versions of Tasha and Kiera. I think they’re two very special talents, they have characters that just light up the room the second they get on camera, the second they walk in the room. I think that they both have grown so much in the last couple of years, the last year together especially since the Knockouts Tag Team tournament, they’ve grown so much and evolved. I give them a lot of credit for that but there is nothing I have more belief in than Jordynne and myself delivering. So I think when people tune in and watch Under Siege this Saturday, you will see Jordynne Grace and I deliver.”
What are your goals on IMPACT in the long term? Have you and Jordynne decided in some ways you can be Tag Team Champions and one or the other go for the singles title, without breaking the team?
“If the chance was presented to me, of course. I will never turn down an opportunity, I’ll never turn down a challenge. If that was presented to me, absolutely and I think the great thing is that Jordynne would back me in that endeavour. My first priority is obviously this Saturday and then moving forward with Jordynne, continually defending those titles and just raising them and raising that bar for the Knockouts Tag Team division, I think that we’re two great people for that, we love challenges. Whether they want to finally let the women through that forbidden door, we would welcome that together or individually.”
“The wonderful thing about Impact, that’s one of the many reasons I chose to commit to them, is that there are so many chances for me to thrive here and they have kind of given me the ball and said, “hey run with it, let’s see what you can do, let’s see if you can deliver,” and so far I have, I think I will continue to do that. In the long term, of course, I’d love to win the Knockouts Championship and keep the tag belts at the same time, but the number one long-term goal is to be one of the best Knockouts of all time.”
Is it true that your father, WWE Hall of Famer Paul Ellering, didn’t want you and your siblings to watch wrestling, especially what he was doing?
“That is absolutely true, my dad did not let us watch wrestling. He kept his work life and his home life completely separate. So it really wasn’t until I was you know 15 or 16 years old and kind of rediscovered it if you will on my own and fell in love with that on my own that I knew this was what I was born to do, I am meant to be a professional wrestler and a great one at that. I had to kind of find that on my own. My dad, even when I told him that that’s what I wanted to do, did not love that idea, he told me to accept one of the scholarship offers, I had to go to college, get my education and figure it out from there and I did that. I went to college, I had my Bachelor’s degree and I’m a professional wrestler so it ended up working out for both of us. It took a little while to get him on board with me doing this but I think now he knows that, above all else, I truly love professional wrestling more than anything, it’s the greatest thing in the world. When someone feels that way about something, you got to let them do it.”
Is he someone that is pretty influential for you even right now, someone that you can come to and talk to about your career?
“I think he’s proud. I will speak for him but I think that, as a parent, he’s proud. It’s a different situation with me and my dad than most, we don’t talk wrestling, I don’t seek him out for a ton of advice. Sometimes, things naturally come up in conversation and I’ll get his side of things but, for the most part, ever since I moved to Calgary to train with Lance Storm, I have just wanted to kind of do this on my own and earn everything that I have because of my skill. I’ve tried to just learn as much as I can and pick people’s brains when the chance comes. I was trained very well and I truly love it, so it’s a never-ending journey.”
“I think he’s proud that I’ve kind of taken that route where I never wanted to just be Paul Ellering’s daughter, I wanted just first and foremost like, that’s Rachael and she’s really good at what she does. I still stand by that now five years into my career and I probably forever will. I don’t feel any pressure to live up to anything and I just want to be the best. I know that I’m working towards that and I can sleep well knowing that. My Mum is my best friend, she’s my number one fan, she’s just the best person in the world and everything I do I know she’ll be watching and I just always want to make my Mum proud and so that’s really the big thing for me.”
Of all the women currently in the roster, and you wrestled a few in the indies, which one or which ones would you like to wrestle?
“Like you said, I have wrestled a lot of the girls on the roster prior to coming, in the indies and other places, so that was very exciting for me to come work with girls that I knew, I respected, I had fun being around, that just put out good energy. If I had to choose, I’ll choose two. My first pick would be Havok, I would love to step in the ring with her. I wrestled her a couple of times before. She is one of the best and a fantastic woman, someone that has been around for so long now. People forget how experienced she is and, through it all, somehow is such a good person still and has such a passion and joy about her and I adore being in her presence. Like you said, I wrestled her a few times and those are some of my favourite matches, we work very well together so there is nothing more that I would like than to step into the ring with Havok on IMPACT TV, I would adore that.
“My second pick would be Deonna Purrazzo. I think that every girl in the division would answer that. I love to challenge myself, I love to stand toe to toe with whoever is the best at the moment and see how I stack up and so that would be a treat for me to stand in the ring with her. Deonna and I have had eerily similar paths, our entire careers very mirror each other, so I think that it would be fun to show the Impact fans how skilled both of us are and see who would come out on top.”
You have had a lot of ups and downs since your debut. You worked on the indies, you went to Japan and worked with Stardom, which is an honour, then the injuries and being released by WWE. And now, the wrestler I have in front of me is a woman who seems so happy. Do you feel like you have to go through all of this to become the Rachael you are today?
“I think that’s one hundred percent spot-on, specifically the last two years that were the hardest of my entire life. I went through some really, really tough times where I just felt lost and I had to do a lot of work on myself and self-reflection and growth within myself to get back to this point right now. It was not easy and I know a lot of people, especially over the last year, have kind of gone through a lot of ups and downs with the pandemic and, whether that’s being away from family or job situations, it’s tough. For me, like you mentioned, being fired from NXT during their cuts right at the start of COVID really rocked me because that was my dream job. My whole adult life, that’s what I had worked for so long and so to kind of lose that, I lost a bit of myself at that time but then it worked out exactly how it was supposed to because not that I’m glad I was one of those cuts but I can sit here now and know that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”
“I’m a good person and I’ve grown so much and I’ve got some people in my life that really, really love me and care about me and have helped me through a lot of tough stuff in the last year or two. You just learned that ‘hey, empathy goes a long way and caring for others goes a long way’ and that’s the kind of people I want to be surrounded with. So I learned what I want out of my career, what I want out of people I spend my time with. I learned so much about myself and I truly feel that I’m the best version of Rachael that I’ve ever been right now and in the absolute best possible place that has embraced me and loves what I do and cares about me as a person as well as a performer. That’s hard to come by in professional wrestling but I have found that with Impact, even in just the short time I’ve been here. I’ve found that here.”
Follow Rachael Ellering on Twitter @RachaelEllering.
Under Siege will air live on Impact Plus and Fite TV this Saturday night at 8 PM EST (1 AM GMT). IMPACT Wrestling is airing on Tuesday at 8/7c on AXS TV in the USA and Twitch worldwide.
In the UK and Ireland, IMPACT is available to fans for free within hours of the American broadcast on IMPACT Plus, with an encore presentation on 5Star on Fridays late nights. PPVs can be watched through the FITE app and website or a Virgin Media box.
All pics, screencaps, and videos courtesy of Impact Wrestling, AXS TV, Erratic TJ, Fite TV, and Fight Network