Taylor Wilde had been away from the ring for 3,808 days. Ten long years. The former TNA Knockouts and 2-time Knockouts Tag Team Champion had been an icon, one of the Knockouts who helped shape the revolution that would later change the way women’s wrestling was seen. Things may have changed but Taylor Wilde is definitely the same.
Earlier this year, rumours started to spread Wilde was on her way back to the rings. All her fans, all the TNA fans, waited patiently. And at Rebellion, last April, after a series of vignettes teasing her comeback to Impact Wrestling, she saved Tenille Dashwood from a beatdown from Deonna Purrazzo and her friends, sending a strong signal to the current Knockouts Champion.
Her first match against Kimber Lee a few days struck everyone because even after 10 years away from the ring, Wilde was still looking good, athletic. She was still the Taylor Wilde we loved to see in a ring. At 35, she hasn’t lost her passion for wrestling and has everything to be a cornerstone for the Knockouts Division by offering her knowledge to the young talents in and, why not, out of the Impact Zone.
SteelChair Mag had the chance to talk to Taylor Wilde last week. She told us about signing a new contract with IMPACT 10 years after retiring, her motivations for this Chapter Two of her career, the TNA Knockouts vs the IMPACT Knockouts, becoming Knockouts and Knockouts Tag Team Champion again, and what the future may hold for her.
What made you come back, after all that time?
“It’s really crazy, it was simply a matter of all the stars aligning and women’s wrestling started to become really attractive to me again. When I left wrestling, I was really burnt out, I wanted a different job, I needed a new passion, I wanted to start a family and wrestling wasn’t catering to any of those needs anymore. In that span of 10 years, I have my beautiful son, I am a full-time fire-fighter in Toronto and I’ve been doing that for over 6 years. I really grew up into this person I wanted to be but, at the same time, I’ve watched all my friends grow in wrestling over the years and a part of me really missed that whole world. I feel like I had unfinished business and I’ve been lucky because I’ve always had a very good relationship with Impact Wrestling, formerly TNA, and I just had that fire burning again and they were in need, so again all the stars aligned and I think it’s worked out really well. I’m having more fun now and I feel better in the ring and physically and mentally than I did when I was in my prime in my 20s, so I think it was all meant to happen.”
I’ve said many times to wrestlers I talked to 40 is the new 20. They’re at their best reaching 40 years old and now that’s more or less the same for women because we see more mature wrestlers really at their best working with this mix of young talents. Do you feel like, with time and with the craft and all that, you are obviously a better wrestler now than you could have been when you were 20 or 25?
“Absolutely, I think you can’t dispute the fact that you get to know yourself better with every year and with every big challenge and life hurdle you go through. I think becoming a mother changed me completely and I’m so much more confident and happy in my skin now. Watching myself now on IMPACT feels like I’m watching who I was always meant to be whereas in my 20s. I totally didn’t know who I was as a person, I definitely didn’t know who I was as a wrestler and I hated watching myself so, as you said, it’s all come full circle, I believe.”
Women wrestlers of that generation, like Mickie James, you or Madison Rayne are mothers. Being a mother and a wrestler is not taboo anymore. How do you look at this complete change in the way women can have a career and a family?
“I think where we’ve come as a whole society, really not just as a wrestling society, as a woman you don’t have to choose between career or family, you can do both, which is an incredible feat because if we’re being honest, men don’t carry the children, they don’t breastfeed so their lives aren’t physically put on hold for their careers whereas women are physically out of commission for months. It just really shows how mentally strong and how physically strong women have become. They’ve always been this way but to be able to do it in such a public manner is incredible and I think, not to toot my own horn, that women who are older and who are mothers in wrestling look amazing.”
So you’re back in the Impact Zone. When you came back at “Rebellion”, everybody was thinking you were targeting Deonna Purrazzo and the Knockouts title. Is it your ultimate goal, both winning the title and wrestling Deonna?
“When I started my career in TNA, within the first month I became TNA Knockouts Champion. At that time, I became the youngest Knockout in history to ever hold the TNA Knockouts title and then I was one-half of the first-ever TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champions. Coming back to this second chapter of my career, that is definitely a benchmark I would like to reach. I think I am a very good competitor for Deonna Purrazzo, but I’m not in a rush. She’s a really incredible wrestler, she’s an incredible champ, she’s held the title for some time. It’s also a massive responsibility but it is something I would like to accomplish in the second chapter of my career.”
Is it the only goal on this second chapter of your career or are you also targeting the Knockouts Tag Team Championship?
“Absolutely, at the end of the day, I’m a competitive person so I don’t know how long the second chapter is going to last but I definitely want to come back and say I was Champion again.”
How were you welcomed by the current Knockouts roster, these young ladies are absolutely fantastic. People like Rosemary is so like Roxxy Laveaux or Daffney that you wrestled before. How would you compare that roster to Chapter One’s roster?
“I would say it was different because the first chapter I had come up on the independent wrestling scene with everybody, so all the Knockouts had already all worked together for years on the independents, so we knew each other very well as both people and as wrestlers. Then, I took my 10 years off, this whole new roster, aside from Rosemary and Madison Rayne, is all-new competitors for me but because of my podcast, Wilde On, I actually interviewed every single one of them. Speaking to them for an hour and having these really personal intimate interviews about who they are as people, not so much who they are as wrestlers, I came into the locker room really feeling like I knew everybody and they definitely welcomed me with open arms. I have always said that Impact Wrestling is very much like a family atmosphere, we all want to work together to make a better product, we all want to push each other to be better performers, better wrestlers, so it always feels like I’m coming home it really does. The weirdest part about coming home after 10 years is feeling like I haven’t been gone for 10 years.
Who are you interested to work with during Chapter Two of your career?
“Everyone. I’ve been gone for 10 years so this is a whole new crop to me. These are all new Knockouts and I want a piece of everybody. I want to get to know everybody. I want to be a better wrestler and the only way to get better is to work with as many people as you can, so I want to knock everybody off that list.”
Currently, you are dealing with someone you know pretty well, which is Madison Rayne, who made a comeback that was as unexpected as yours, and Tenille Dashwood. I couldn’t help to compare the Influence to the Beautiful People that you had to deal with before. How was it to reconnect with her 10 years after and reloading the feud?
“Madison Rayne and I have been really good friends for my entire career spanning back to 2007/2008, so we know each other really well on a personal level as well as on a professional level. She’s a really dangerous competitor. While I was out doing my own thing for 10 years, she stayed true to her game. Even though we’ve been close for a long time, I can’t rely on our history, she’s a very dangerous competitor so I’m looking at it like we’re starting again from the beginning.”
Something that is pretty striking is you came back but you came back to Impact Wrestling. You’re a member of this family even if I’m sure you had some offers from other companies during that time off, but you come back to Impact Wrestling and nowhere else, which says a lot about what this company has that the others don’t.
“I always say the same thing because it’s the truth. I worked for WWE first and my loyalties have always been to Impact Wrestling or TNA. There are major companies out there that you can make a lot of money but you will not have the same creative freedom as you do with Impact Wrestling. There are different levels of stress that come with working for other companies and, for me, where I am in my career, wrestling is a passion, it is an art and it is more important to me to be able to have the flexibility and to have creative input than making a ton of money in wrestling.”
Do you also feel like you’re now in a position where you can help, offer guidance to the younger wrestlers in any kind of way?
“That’s something I’m extremely cognizant of. I’ve come back in this position where, although I’ve had 10 years off, I did have a relatively long career. I think a lot of the girls are incredibly amazing but they are young and a lot of them are pretty new, so I think that’s what makes it an interesting product too is you have the ability to watch women that are more veterans be in the ring with younger girls who are learning and it’s a really great position for myself to be in. I love teaching and I also love learning from the younger generations because it’s a give-and-take. I don’t know more than they do but through experience there just might be a few little things that they can pick up from me and vice versa.”
Would you also be interested in producing some matches or being involved in some backstage things alongside Gail Kim because she is one of the backstage producers for the women’s matches?
“Absolutely and that’s something that’s really changed in the past 10-15 years, women having careers outside of being professional wrestlers. Ten or 15 years ago, there were no female agents, there were no female producers, there weren’t any females sitting on the Creative team, that’s just something that’s coming into fruition now, so that is absolutely something that I want to spread my wings with. I love wrestling, I love being back in wrestling but there’s no way my career as a professional wrestler can be as long as it was in my first chapter because I am 35. I started wrestling when I was 18, I did it full time until I was 25 and it really takes years off of your life because it is so hard on the body. I think I still have some gas in the tank but I would like to elongate my career and learn other trades of the industry because I think there need to be more women in a managerial role or in a creative role to help elevate women’s wrestling because it can’t all be done in the ring.”
What do you want people to retain from this second chapter?
“I just want them to see that women can have multiple eras of their career like we’ve watched men do it for always, but we haven’t watched females do it in the same way. I just want to bring to them the Taylor Wilde that they didn’t get to know the first time, that I didn’t actually know was entirely there myself, so this is just getting to know the real me.”
Victory Road will air live on Impact Plus on Saturday, September 18 at 8 PM EST, and on Fite TV. Bound For Glory PPV is taking place on Saturday, October 23, at 10 PM EST on Fite TV. IMPACT Wrestling is airing on Tuesday at 8/7c on AXS TV in the USA and around the world on IMPACT Wrestling’s new YouTube membership Impact Insiders.
All pics, screencaps and videos courtesy of Impact Wrestling, AXS TV, Fight Network, Fite TV, Dan The JOBR, ErraticTJ and Basil Mahmud