Following a release from WWE, where she wrestled in NXT as Franky Monet, in November of last year, Valkyrie ended 2021 on a high note with a return to AAA in Mexico at Triplemania Regia II and followed that up with a successful 2022 in multiple promotions, including Major League Wrestling (MLW), Xtreme Pro Wrestling (XPW) and World Series Wrestling.
Her return to Impact Wrestling, which came April 1 during Multiverse of Matches as part of WrestleCon in Dallas certainly was a highlight, though, and like a homecoming.
“I’ve always felt such a connection to that company and just the people that are there… are really like a family there,” Valkyrie told SlamWrestling.net. “I know that word gets used a lot, but everyone really watches out for each other, everyone wants to create the best product that we can and it’s just mixing of minds of people that have been working very hard to find their spot in this business, in this world, in this life. I just think that’s really fun.”
Valkyrie left Impact in 2021 to sign a WWE contract following a lengthy stint that included her becoming the longest reigning Knockouts champion for a single run at 377 days. Her departure didn’t hamper her relationships within the company. She kept in touch with fellow Knockouts and the support system she previously established, including others within the company, came through when she need it the most.
“Scott D’Amore was one of the first people that called me after my (WWE) release and I was just crying on the phone,” Valkyrie remarked, able to laugh about it now. “He was just always there for me. Gail (Kim) also texted me and was just like, ‘You are going to be okay, this is okay, it’s going to be fine,’ in moments when I didn’t feel like everything was going to be okay. So going back and making my return at the giant WrestleCon show was really fun.”
When her music hit and she walked through the curtain, Valkyrie knew instantly everything would be okay.
Her love for professional wrestling goes back to her youth, growing up in Canada. Victoria, British Columbia, to be exact. When her best friend’s older brother babysat them, you could count on wrestling being on the television.
“I just remember being absolutely petrified of Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts as a kid,” Valkyrie recalled. “When I was in high school was when I really started watching and watching when The Rock was doing his thing and getting into Trish Stratus, our Canadian icon, and Gail Kim and everybody else that was in that generation just kind of made me go, ‘Oh my gosh, this is magic, this is everything that I love.’ I love being physical and athletic and I come from dance and performance and musical theater. This was just this blend of all these things that I really love and I knew I had to get involved. I didn’t know how, obviously there was not a book about that back in the day, but I was living in Calgary and I actually got a tryout with WWE which led me to find Lance Storm and the rest is history.”
Valkyrie is reunited with Storm now at Impact Wrestling as the latter has returned to the company as a producer. Thinking back to her start in wrestling, Valkyrie said she couldn’t have asked for a better coach. He provided her the foundation of wrestling fundamentals that she always drew upon, even when she had different coaches later on, including in Mexico.
In training, nothing really fazed her. She was happy to be there with an optimistic outlook. There was no telling what would happen, but wrestling has tell led Valkyrie on a “crazy journey.” She wants to write a book about it one day.
“I didn’t know very much about what I was getting myself into, to be completely honest, but I quickly found my place and trained really, really hard and was just trying to make it work,” Valkyrie said. “Now having him at Impact – I get to see Lance every two weeks now – it’s great. He’s my wrestling dad and I adore having him as an agent because I also know when he doesn’t like an idea that I have because I know him so well. I just really love coming up with ideas together and being creative together now that we’re at this totally different place in our careers.”
Valkyrie is excited by the current Knockouts division, which includes her role as a member of The Death Dollz with Rosemary and Jessicka. Valkyrie is now a two-time Impact Knockouts World Tag Team champion after capturing the titles with Jessicka at Bound for Glory in October. Jessicka is also a two-time champ now while Rosemary, also recognized as champion under the Freebird rule, is in her record-tying third reign.
“I’m having so much fun right now being part of The Death Dollz… I just think we play so well off each other in our physicality and also in our creativity and our looks are so different. It’s really fun to be exploring this different phase in Taya’s evolution,” Valkyrie said.
“I just love how the Knockouts are all very, very different. You know you’re not going to see the same look on one person a hundred times. You have different types of looks, different types of women, different types of people from all different countries and backgrounds and cultures and I think that is so important and I think that’s what sets us apart. We’re all just trying to work hard and work and play with each other and make something special. I think that shows in our matches, I think it shows in our backstage segments. I think that our chemistry with one another is just very apparent and that sets us apart.”
Valkyrie will take on Savannah during this Thursday’s Impact, which airs at 8 p.m. on Fight Network in Canada and in the US on AXS TV.
Then it’s off to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the next set of television tapings, Winter Warfare, this Friday and Saturday. The Death Dollz will be there representing as the Knockouts tag champions and will be ready to defend the titles if challenged.
“We are ready for all things and obviously in January we have Hard to Kill on Friday the 13th in Atlanta, Georgia, followed up by the 14th at television tapings,” Valkyrie said. “You guys don’t want to miss all these great opportunities to watch Impact Wrestling.”
Pay-per-views are always special, she added, noting Hard to Kill will have some extra meaning for her.
“We’re returning to Atlanta, Georgia, where last time we were there the fans were phenomenal and I’m just excited to make my return to Hard to Kill – the last pay-per-view I did before I left was Hard to Kill so it’s going to be a special one for sure.”
This spring, Impact will return to Canada as the Sacrifice pay-per-view will be broadcast from St. Clair College in Windsor on Friday, March 24, with television tapings to be held the following day at the same venue.
“Windsor has always been super good to us. I just love any opportunity to obviously get to wrestle and perform in Canada,” Valkyrie said. “So many good wrestlers come from Canada, let’s be real here. My mom, who’s new to wrestling, so to speak, is always like, ‘There’s so many really good wrestlers from Canada.’ I’m like, ‘Yes, because we have to work very hard to get noticed,’ and that’s just the truth. We can’t just go to the States and start doing the indies. We have to find other outlets, if it’s going to Mexico like I did or Japan or the U.K. or wherever to get noticed, to get those TV deals, to get seen.”
That’s exactly what Valkyrie did and now she’s living it up on screen, embracing whatever role comes her way whether that’s as serious world champion or showcasing her comedic side as well.
“I like blending both. I think that there’s a time to be fun and there’s a time to be serious. When I’m in that ring, I don’t care if I’m in a clown suit, I’m going to take you out,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of fun being able to stretch my acting and comedic abilities doing different things backstage and even ringside, but when it comes down to actually getting in there and winning championships, I do what I say I’m there to do which is win. I’ve proven that time and time again this year winning championships everywhere across Impact, MLW, AAA, World Series Wrestling, XPW and now two-time tag team champion. I do what I say I’m going to do and that’s win championships.”
Don’t forget defending the Knockouts championship for more than a year after winning the title in January of 2019.
“I just love to be even in that conversation with some of the top Knockouts champions of all time,” she said. “I’m honored, it’s a privilege and I just hope to capture that Knockouts championship one more time, don’t you think?”
Valkyrie has also been keeping an eye on Mickie James‘ Last Rodeo and confirmed the two have never locked up in the squared circle.
“We’ve never wrestled before, ever,” she said. “She had come to AAA a few times I believe, in Mexico, but we never crossed paths so this is the first time we’ve really shared a locker room together which has been great. She’s an absolute icon in this business and I would love to square up with her. Let’s go. Last Rodeo, okay, I’ll take you out.”
There’s lots to be excited about at Impact Wrestling and Valkyrie loves that the company embraces intergender matches as she loves participating in them.
“Obviously coming from Lucha Libre in AAA, intergender is very normal. That’s what I did for years – all the mixed tag matches. I had hundreds of intergender matches. My debut was against Brian Cage in (Lucha Underground) season two,” Valkyrie said. “I am very accustomed to doing them, I know what is required of them and I would love to do more, especially at Impact. There’s so many amazingly talented guys over there, why not have The Major Players versus The Death Dollz? Why not have Taya Valkyrie versus Trey Miguel or Chris Bey? All these things could happen within that universe and that’s what’s really exciting because you’re going to see these match-ups that have never been seen before.”
To keep up-to-date with Impact Wrestling’s schedule or to buy tickets, check out impactwrestling.com.
TOP PHOTO: Taya Valkyrie at Impact Rebellion in April 2022. Photo by George Tahinos, georgetahinos.smugmug.com