Mickie James‘ run in TNA has seen a resurgence, especially since April. After a stop-start 2012 which saw storylines stopped in their tracks and medical worries hindering her momentum, the 33-year old has been given an angle to get her teeth into, prospects for the future and is also engaging in other projects outside of the ring. While a lot of the early months of 2013 were spent putting together and then promoting her latest studio album, we’re focussing on her wrestling career…
James started the year embroiled in a Knockouts Championship feud with titleholder Tara, with her losing two challenges at the end of the year and looking for another shot. Her chance came at Genesis, where she was entered into a Gauntlet Match to determine a new number one contender, though she was left disappointed when she was eliminated by Gail Kim. She also had a heck of a gripe, considering Kim held her tights and Mickie’s hands were on the ropes when referee Taryn Terrell counted the fall.
From there, she was taken off TV for three months – though did wrestle at two of the Knockouts Knockdown and World X-Cup One Night Only PPV tapings and a solitary episode of Impact Wrestling – which led to James going public with her frustrations at being underused and overlooked by the company.
She told Running The Ropes Radio that:
“I know I’ve seemed a little bit frustrated as of late in some of my promos and stuff, but I honestly feel that for the past year I’ve probably been on less than 10 shows. I’ve barely done anything. It’s awesome to be able to come back and win the number one contendership and go for the title, but I’m sick and tired of feeling like I’m sitting at home and watching all these other people. I did get injured and I was sick, but I was already off TV when I got hurt. It’s so frustrating when you know that you’re one of the best in the world, and you’re sitting at home. I love going out there and making magic and telling a story, but I don’t love pretending that I’m okay sitting at home when I’m not. I’m just being real and being honest about it. It’s not me trying to be this awful person. I’m the one who has to look at myself in the mirror and if I’m not happy with what I’m doing or not doing, then I’m the one who has to face that. So that’s kind of where I’m at. I know people question that like ‘Oh are you turning heel?’ And I’m like ‘No, not really. I’m just being honest.”
At the time, speculation was rife over whether these were her legitimate feelings as part of a ploy to get released, or as part of a storyline with her comments being made with TNA’s permission. It may have been a mixture of both – it is likely that she was upset at being left off TV, and this helped to work into a possible heel turn, with her talk about being honest possibly being a mixture of half-truths and bluffing. Either way, people were talking – and to TNA’s credit, something was done with it.
Last June, a storyline started bubbling with James being upset at Velvet Sky being given a crack at the Knockouts Championship against then-titleholder Brooke Tessmacher, but was unsuccessful in her challenge. The angle was dropped when Sky left the company, and Mickie reverted back to being the safe (yet slightly vanilla) babyface when she had been since arriving in TNA in 2010. However, with Sky back in the company and in possession of the solo strap, the wheels were once again put in motion to pick up where they had left off close to a year earlier.
In late April, James earned a shot at Velvet’s title but was beaten – afterwards she mused that if she had more of a ruthless streak, she may have won the title from an injured champion, but showed compassion rather than going in for the kill. A month later, that change in attitude started to emerge, as Mickie clipped Velvet’s injured leg during her second challenge to the belt to win her third Knockouts Championship. However, the tale doesn’t end there, as James was still officially a babyface. That would change.
Eager to regain the title, Sky called for rematches at every point, but the new champion elected to evade the challenges by saying that Velvet would get her chance when she was back to full fitness, and not helping when the former titleholder was attacked by Gail Kim, allowing Terrell to make the save instead. By the time June 13’s Impact episode rolled around, the heel turn was made official during an in-ring segment where James attacked Sky and had to be restrained by officials. On last week’s Impact, the pair finally clashed with the champ retaining the gold by once again going after Velvet’s leg.
Mickie’s position in TNA is the strongest that it has been in years. Now a fully-fledged heel, she has a wealth of new options for opponents and storylines, and can really develop this this new side to her character. It’s different to her overly-obsessed fan gimmick which saw her garner great success in WWE and can test her as a performer. Expect James to hold onto the the title for a while as the new persona beds in, and enjoy it while it happens. We discussed how Mickie seems to have a new lease of life with an angle that she can really work with, so keep an eye on its development. It should be pretty fun.
– Lee Burton
– Photos by TNA