Originally published at Mia Yim reflects on joining WWE in 2018, talks Mae Young Classic, Shelton Benjamin
If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.
** Mia Yim is recapping her experience in WWE through ‘chapters’ on her YouTube channel. Part one focused on the 2018 Mae Young Classic tournament. Mia recalled being offered a WWE deal and said when she was initially told to meet up with Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque, she thought worst-case-scenario, being that she was either in trouble or was not going to be invited back to WWE. When she talked to Canyon Ceman about the specifics of the contract, he said that WWE always wanted to sign her.
So after that moment happened ’ chant to helping a friend because she gets hurt to being worried about never coming back to WWE again to being offered a job and it was just such a crazy experience that I blacked out at that moment. I remember being emotional and crying but, I… it was like a decade worth of work has finally paid off. I’ve always wanted to be a part of WWE, that’s why I started wrestling was because I wanted to be a part of WWE and after that, Canyon pulled me aside to talk about the specifics of the deal and things like that and he was like, ‘We have been wanting to sign you. It’s just, it was never the right time or the right moment but this was the perfect time and moment for you so congratulations.’
She touched on her friendship with Jessamyn Duke. When Duke received her WWE contract, Yim was working a day job on top of wrestling. When Yim brought the mail to Duke, Duke stated that the contract should have been for Mia.
Me and Jess are very similar with our mindset, we’re very similar with how we react and how we think of things so we had really gotten close and I remember Jess got signed about two or three months earlier before I did and I was working my nine-to-five job at the time and I remember I came home and I brought in the mail and she had her contract in the mail. So she opens it up and I’m congratulating her and telling her she deserves it and the first thing she says was, ‘This should’ve been yours. I don’t deserve this because this contract should have been yours’ and that showed me what kind of person she was… like I said, Jess is one in a billion. That was — I will never forget Jess saying that because in such a happy moment, she just kind of sat back and just said that this was mine and it was like, ‘No! You deserve this too.’ It was cool, it was just — it just showed what kind of person she was.
Following Mia’s match against Toni Storm in the Mae Young Classic, the crowd began to chant ‘please sign Mia’. Yim said she always knew her ‘role’ which she described as a ‘good hand,’ but in that moment, she felt seen.
I love working Toni ’ chant started, I felt like I was finally seen. It was me in the ring and I was finally seen. Now I know I had friends; I had friends from New York and the DMV area to watch the Mae Young live so I know I had friends out in the crowd but it was just such a — I will — I keep saying this but it’s a feeling I will never forget that even in loss, in loss of this match, I felt like I won and it was just, ah… it was crazy but I didn’t think too much of it. I was very happy for that moment.
In the opening round of that year’s Mae Young Classic tourney, Mia took on Allysin Kay. Yim shared that after the match was over, cameras cut to Shelton Benjamin, who jokingly put on a face of disgust in reaction to Yim winning. Mia said the moment did not make the show’s final cut but made everyone laugh in the backstage area.
Me and A.K. and he has a look of disgust and disappointment and unhappiness and just popped everybody in the back. It was hilarious but, they didn’t keep it unfortunately. I thought it would’ve been cool but yeah, it was just really, really cool to just have everyone I love there.
** Wrestle Inn has an interview on their YouTube channel with New Japan Pro-Wrestling talent Clark Connors. When asked to list talents on the AEW roster who he’d like to work with, Clark expressed that he feels there are talents there who are paid more than they are worth.
Yeah, there’s a ton of talent on that roster dojo guys and just other people in this business who are good and we look at that sometimes and we think, wow, sh*t, you know? Would really like to go in there and A, beat the hell out of someone but also have them leave the match and think, ‘Oh, oh, okay. That’s wrestling’ type of thing. So, that being said, I’m not saying this to any one person in particular. I don’t think that’s my place to say…
Connors would like to share the ring with Bryan Danielson and thinks he’s on the same level as Bryan in-ring wise.
Daniel Bryan, okay, yeah, duh or Bryan Danielson. Whatever the hell his name was. Yeah, I think that’s a matchup that’s made in heaven. Obviously, he’s great. I think I’m on his level honestly. I know I’m on his level actually. It’s just I haven’t had the opportunity to show it yet is kind of, part of my biggest thing so stuff like that, just people that I can match up with.
Starting Sunday, May 15th, the Best of the Super Juniors tournament will begin and Connors is part of the field of talents. He said he’s known for a little bit that he would be in the tourney.
Well you know, for me, I think it’s — I’ve known for a little bit now that I’m gonna be in the tournament and I’ve always kind of had a sneaking suspicion that my return to Japan would be in the tournament so I’ve always just kind of treated it as such, just knowing that how the borders have been so, when last year’s tournament opened up — well, I guess it was pushed back, right? I was getting ready for it and gearing up for it because I didn’t know whether the borders would be opened up yet, so basically for three times now, this is the third Super Juniors that I’ve been gearing up and getting ready to go do, so this time, it actually feels a little surreal but I’m really excited to get over there and I really just wanna see the Japanese fans again, hear them at least clap for me. Hopefully, maybe we’ll hear a couple ‘Clark-oos’ yelling out in the stadiums but we’ll see.
** In a recent media appearance, Athena f.k.a. Ember Moon said members of NXT 2.0’s women’s division were told to dress more ‘sexy’. Steph De Lander (Persia Pirotta), who was released from WWE in late April, told NBC Sports’ ‘Ten Count’ podcast that she was never told that individually, but had no issue with those circumstances because it was not new to her.
I mean, individually, I wasn’t told anything like that but for me, before I came to WWE, you know, I would do bikini photoshoots. That kind of content, I would post on social media. I was very comfortable with all of those things. I obviously can’t speak on behalf of anyone else but, for my own personal situation, I mean when you watch the TV show, you can see there has been a slight shift in ring gear and those kind of — you know what I mean? Like all that kind of stuff, you can see that. I wasn’t told anything directly, but I just kind of saw the change and put myself in the way to kind of move with that change and yeah, as I said, none of that personally made me feel uncomfortable because that’s, as I said, that’s nothing new to me. That’s stuff that I’ve been doing when I was on the indies in Australia and also, all of the female wrestlers that I look up to are that same kind of vibe so I can see how some people would feel uncomfortable with the change in content on the TV show, but for me, I was very comfortable with what I was doing.
At points during her time with WWE, De Lander said the thought of being let go did cross her mind on occasion because WWE was her dream job and she relied on them for her visa to stay in the USA.
Obviously I can’t speak on behalf of everyone . I know some people do. I know for me, it was a big stress and that was something that I kind of struggled to let go of, that feeling and it’s so easy to say like, oh, just don’t worry about it but you know, if that’s kind of your personality and you’re inclined to — and to be fair, that’s my dream job and that’s also my visa to stay in the country so, that’s a lot of stress packed into one thing so to have that feeling of that getting ripped away from you at any moment obviously is gonna create worry for anyone.
** Back in July of 2021, the group formerly known as ‘Hit Row’ (Swerve Strickland, Briana Brandy, A.J. Francis & Tehuti Miles) performed their cypher at NXT Great American Bash. Brandy guest appeared on The Jobber Tears Podcast and detailed how that come together. Initially, she and her groupmates were looking to pre-record the cypher and air it on TV, but the powers that be in NXT were locked in on it being live.
Well they and how it would work as far as how the mics would go and things like that and then they want us to perform our song right after that. So then we were like, okay, we’ll just — we wanted to pre-record some of it and then do the song after and come out on stage and do the song after but they’re like, ‘No, we want it all live,’ and it turned out really awesome so we kind of felt like, okay, this might be a test. They wanna see if we really can do this so like, ‘All right, whatever. Let’s do it live, let’s knock it out.’ So we literally got — we got the beats, we got what we were gonna do and literally at night, ended up having to go and do it that following day so I think we got everything Sunday night, Monday-ish and then Tuesday, we had to be ready to go with that and the performance. So, and you guys know, when you’re live, if anybody messes up, if anybody would have messed up at all, if anybody would have skipped anything, any part on the cypher or the performance, the whole thing would have been shot. That moment was such an important moment for us because that was the moment that we really had to kill. If we didn’t kill that moment, all of Hit Row and everything that we had done up in that moment would have been — it would have been killed, everything. So yeah, it was just a huge moment for us to go out there and kill everything and of course we tore the house down with it but yeah, it was the first thing of its kind and then I was so excited we were able to bring that to NXT but yeah, they really didn’t know what it really was.
Their original idea for the cypher was to have each Hit Row member come up to the main camera and perform one by one while there were people behind them dressed in all black Hit Row merchandise.
If you would’ve had us do it how we wanted to do it, like look, we can go to this garage, we can bring the fog machines, make it all cool. You know, us come out, we can be in all black and whatever. We wanted to have a bunch of people behind us in all Hit Row merchandise, like in all the Hit Row shirts and with hoodies on, all blacked out and then us come out in our bright colors or whatever and just come out rapping and stepping up to the camera as each person raps. That’s what our original idea was, like a cypher.
As the conversation rolled on, Brandy spoke about how Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque stressed to Hit Row that Briana should be treated like the ‘queen’ of the group. He was adamant that she be positioned as the centerpiece.
And even my role in the group , Triple H was like, ‘Hey, this is y’all queen. You need to treat her like that.’ He did. I’m telling you, shout out to Triple H. I’m telling you, he was like, ‘Bri is y’all queen. She is it. Y’all need to treat her like that.’ Whenever we had those poses, remember the one pose when the boys got down on their knees and I sat on their knees? That was Triple H’s idea. He wanted us to come up with a bunch of different poses like that-that can create iconic looking photos and that can portray me being the queen and the centerpiece of the whole thing. He knew that. The boys were doing all the wrestling and all that stuff but he knew that my piece was very, very important and he wanted the boys to know that.
Brandy continued discussing the assistance that Levesque and Shawn Michaels gave to Hit Row. When it came to her, they would often use the late Joan ‘Chyna’ Laurer as a reference point, stating that when it came to Brandy, this is what they would have done with Chyna in certain segments and so on and so forth. Chyna was one of Briana’s favorite wrestlers.
The thing that blew my mind too when I would work with Triple H and Shawn Michaels down there is they would say that. They were like, ‘Yeah, this is what we would do with Chyna. This is what we did with Chyna,’ or, ‘This is how we would do with Chyna, like that.’ I’m like, that was — it was so crazy to see all the connections just come together in life and just — I used to watch — it used to be like 15 of us on the sun porch in my grandfather’s house and me, I’m the only one, only girl and it’s all my uncles out there and their friends and the TV was like this big and we’re all trying to watch and I see Chyna on there with the guys so like, just to be the only girl in the room that became a wrestler out of all these boys who were fans and now I’m actually in a group to where Triple H and Shawn Michaels are standing here telling me that this is what they did with Chyna or this is how they treated Chyna, ‘Yeah, I remember we did this with Chyna,’ that just used to blow my mind when they would say stuff like that to me and she was my favorite so, R.I.P. to her.
** Hockey was the topic of conversation during Jim Varsallone and Eric Young’s chat. Young is a year removed from undergoing ACL surgery and while comparing his injury to NHL player Aaron Ekblad’s injury, Young says his leg still does not feel right and he often second-guesses it.
The Ekblad thing, it’s really cool to see him back. He’s one of my favorite players to watch. The year before destroying his leg, as a guy, I’m about a year removed from an ACL surgery. The fact that he had such a good season coming back this year, it’s amazing. It’s absolutely amazing. There’s no way his leg feels right. My leg, you know, I’m a little removed from a year of having ACL surgery and it still doesn’t feel right. It’s, you know — I still second-guess it and I can feel it and it doesn’t respond and for him to be in the NHL playing some of his best hockey of his career…
** Episode nine of Josh Martinez’s ‘Superstar Crossover’ podcast featured Wardlow. The AEW talent mentioned that Cody Rhodes is the reason why he’s been keeping up with some of WWE’s TV product.
I mean, I’ll be honest, you know, I mentioned Cody has been the reason I’ve kind of, you know, watched a little bit, because I got into the business late. I really don’t have that many friends. I don’t have many friends in general, by choice. But I really don’t know that many people over in WWE, so I don’t — there’s nobody I watch on WWE that I’d know personally other than Cody. So him going back has caused me to watch a few things just to see what he’s doing over there.
** While speaking with Renée Paquette on ‘The Sessions’ podcast, Dustin Rhodes spoke candidly about his past addiction issues and recounted one occasion when Vince McMahon walked in on him taking a pill.
So, years and years ago, I had an injury to my knee, first time with Shawn Michaels, right? And this was like ‘96 I think and I started taking — asking for a couple Vicodin’s, some opioids, right? And those took the edge off and I just kept working. You tape it up and you go because back then, we didn’t have the doctors on call like we do now, right? And Vince one night, he saw me in the bathroom popping a pill and it was just me and him in the bathroom and I was painting my face. We had a conversation for about 30 minutes on why I should not do what I’m doing and get addicted to the things because he’s seen it before and he’s watched ‘em come and go and die from ‘em. He was really talking to me like a father-figure and I’m listening to him, I’m painting my face and I’m trying to respect what he’s saying and all that but I was gonna do what I was gonna do. So then that two led to four, ten, 20, 50 and then you have like six stints with WWE because you’re — there’s no accountability. I can work hard, give my best in the ring, right? And then all the other stuff that’s going on in my life, it just takes over and the depression, the drugs and that’s all I want is to find my next fix, my next drink, my next eight ball of cocaine and then there’s that downward spiral. Then you lose sight of you have a daughter that is ten years old and you’re doing this so you’re not in her life for a few years which when I talk about this and my daughter, it always, always breaks me up and it’s really tough to know that you’re so encompassed into taking drugs and alcohol and stealing from your parents just to find your drugs, right? I had three doctors, I had two pill ladies, I had a house paid for, acreage, I lost it all. I pawned everything that I had and at the very, very end in like 2008, I lived in a connected garage, one stop garage to somebody’s house that I was renting out for $100 bucks a month. Had a little bitty Honda Civic car, still trying to find things to pawn, still trying to sell things and try to, you know, steal from my dad. ‘Hey, I need this for a bill’ or whatever. That’s what I mean by ‘stealing’. They would send me some money, and that would go straight to the pills or straight to alcohol or straight to cocaine.
Rhodes is synonymous with the ‘Goldust’ character that he portrayed in WWE. He feels that the character would not work in today’s landscape because when it was first brought to television, it was ahead of its time but now, the character would be shielded from some of the negativity.
It absolutely would not work possibly do it. Stepping over that line and today, trying to do something like that, no. It’s very accepted to do this right now so if I did that today, they would protect me like crazy. I feel there would be a few conservative people out there that just, you know, look down on sh*t like that and it’s like, they’re never gonna change, it’s no progression at all in their lives. They’re stuck in the stone age and it’s like, no, it’s 2022, it would not work today.
On top of running his ‘Rhodes Wrestling Academy’ and training members of AEW’s women’s division, Dustin shared that he’s also been working with Powerhouse Hobbs. He described Hobbs as talented, respectful and coachable.
The guys too , like Will Hobbs, I’ve really been working with, and Will is really good and he respects everything that I say and listens, you know? And he’s very coachable. A lot of them are coachable and a lot of them are not coachable, right? It’s who wants it and they come up to me, I talk to them and that’s what I was saying earlier about me feeling respected here. It’s a good feeling, it’s great, I love it. That’s the payoff for me.
** DS Shin of Ring The Belle pushed out his interview with Bianca Belair. At WrestleMania 38, Belair became Raw Women’s Champion by defeating Becky Lynch. She shared her thoughts about herself and Lynch not headlining this year’s WrestleMania:
Well, for me, we are the only two women that have won the main event of WrestleMania so automatically, you know, for us, that was a huge match. But what I’ll say is every match on the card was deserving to be on WrestleMania. But I’ll say it was hard to follow that and so when you put on a match where it’s hard for anybody to follow, that means nobody is supposed to follow it.
At the conclusion of the two-night WrestleMania, Belair, Sasha Banks and Naomi all left the event as champions. Belair touched on her friendship with both Banks and Naomi and watching them become the first Black WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions.
I love Sasha and you know, be able to celebrate together, I’m for any time history can be made, especially for women so them being the first Black women’s tag team to win a title, for me to be there and be able to celebrate with them with my title as well, that’s what it’s all about.
** NXT Champion Bron Breakker told Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp that he’s enjoying the ‘trial by fire’ challenge that he’s taken on. Breakker said he’s being thrown in the mix and the best way to learn is sink or swim.
You know, I think it’s been really cool, obviously, and been a great experience for me. I accept it as a challenge; they just throw me out in the mix and just say, ‘Go.’ I think that’s, in my opinion, the best way to learn is just be thrown into the fire and sink or swim. I’m loving the experience, man. I’m enjoying the process. It’s been so much fun.
** While chatting with Dave LaGreca and Bully Ray on Busted Open Radio, Adam Cole expressed that he enjoyed the crowds when he was a part of NXT on a week-to-week basis, but when it comes to AEW, Cole said it feels like a TakeOver show every week.
Professionally, for sure too, I would say, again, the NXT crowds were amazing when I worked there for nearly five years. But, in many ways, it feels like an NXT TakeOver every week at AEW where we would work towards that huge show once every three-to-four months whereas at AEW, it feels like once a week, there’s just this crazy, rowdy crowd, ready to have a good time so professionally, that part has been very exciting because at the end of the day, we are performers and we love that thrill and the rush of the crowd and I get that every single week with AEW.
Cole spoke highly of the producers and agents in AEW. He specifically mentioned the likes of Jerry Lynn, Dustin Rhodes and Dean Malenko who have been helpful to him.
Jerry Lynn has been a massive help to me. I remember I went to a Jerry Lynn seminar when I was like a year-and-a-half into wrestling and that three-hour seminar, I learned so much up until that point where I couldn’t even mentally process it all because it was so much information at one time and he gave me the classic, ‘You’ll understand this later’ and I totally know what he means. But, yeah, Jerry has such a great understanding of maybe this new school mentality… that old school mentality of what really, really makes stuff work and work well so yeah, Jerry’s been one who’s been incredibly helpful. Dustin Rhodes is another one who’s been super, super helpful and like you said, there’s a list of tons of guys; Dean Malenko has been very helpful so yeah, I could go on and on. We have a really, really good crew of agents and producers there.
** Ahead of AEW returning to UBS Arena, WrestlePurists caught up with Dark Order’s John Silver. At AEW’s UBS Arena event in December 2021, Silver wrestled Bryan Danielson. He said he has never experienced nerves to that degree and shared what he was able to pick up from Bryan in-ring wise.
Yeah, that was my first time wrestling him (Bryan Danielson). I think I was on one other show with him ever on the indies before he came to AEW. That was a big thing, I was nervous, I don’t really get as much anxiety, or I don’t get nervous as… I do was a really big, awesome moment for the first wrestling for AEW in Long Island, in the main event against one of the best wrestlers in the world, it was awesome.
** On the latest edition of Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore podcast, Dreamer told the story of when he was scheduled to wrestle Brooklyn Brawler in a dark match for WWE, but the remaining dark matches were cancelled by Vince McMahon because Tony Halme (Ludvig Borga) gassed out during his match.
I had my first was so pissed and they’re yelling at him and all this stuff is happening while I’m in the Gorilla position and I don’t know — this is also, it was such a different time and then Vince gets up and was just like, ‘Cancel all the matches right now’ and he storms out of Gorilla and I’m like, ‘Wait, what?’ And Ludvig Borga just comes back through the curtain and I’m like, ‘He just cost me another way for these guys to look at me’ and then they yelled at him. Vince didn’t even yell — Vince yelled but then all the agents had to yell at him and then he looked at me and he was like, ‘I blew up’ and I was like, ‘I hate you right now Ludvig Borga. You got my match canceled.’ In Gorilla, my match is canceled and I don’t get a match.
** During Ella Jay’s conversation with Alex Gracia on ‘A Wrestling Gal’ podcast, Gracia commented on her significant other, Scorpio Sky’s first TNT Title win in March and how his career journey inspires her.
Yes, that was so amazing and I am just so proud of him and he’s someone that really helps me keep my eye on the path and keep tunnel vision because he’s been wrestling a lot longer than I have and has had the experience and has gone through all these ups and downs that I’ve gone through as well and just confirms to me that, okay, even when I’m feeling down, I feel like nothing’s happening, when my moment comes, someone will see me as a champion as long as I believe that I am a champion and I am capable and so, it was much deserved. He has worked so hard and it’s just really exciting seeing his career as well and getting to see that first hand is just so motivating to me.
** Chris Jericho applied to trademark ‘The Wizard’ and WWE applied to trademark ‘Rip Fowler’.
** Gerald Brisco and John Bradshaw Layfield watched Andre The Giant’s match with boxer Chuck Wepner.
** The press in Japan had the chance to speak with El Desperado and he told them that he was hoping that talents from other promotions and companies in Japan would be a part of Best of the Super Juniors.
** WWE’s Sheamus has been announced for IrelandWeek in Los Angeles, California.
** Alyssa Marino welcomed Jake Atlas onto her ‘Let’s Get Cereal’ show.
** May 10th birthdays: William Regal.
If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.