Interview With Taylor Wilde, Former TNA Knockouts Champion
Updated: Aug 20, 2020
Welcome back wrestling fans for another fantastic interview here at Pro Wrestling Slam! and I had the immense pleasure to speak with former TNA Knockouts Champion Taylor Wilde. At an early age under the tutelage of former WCW Star Bill DeMott (Hugh Morris), Taylor made her mark in women's professional wrestling, where she wrestled in parts of Mexico and South Africa, honing her craft and studying the style of Lucha Libre Wrestling. After wrestling for the prestigious women's promotion SHIMMER, Taylor headed for the WWE, where she wrestled for its then Developmental Territory Deep South Wrestling and that's where she laid the groundwork for her future career in professional wrestling.
In 2008 Taylor signed with TNA Wrestling and her career in the promotion was nothing short of impressive. In the short time she was with TNA, she became Knockouts Champion and she's feuded with TNA's top female talents like Awesome Kong, Madison Rayne and former WCW Star Daffney. In 2011 she announced that she was stepping away from the squared circle, but that hasn't hindered her success in her transition to civilian life. Taylor became a full time Firefighter in 2015 and received her Bachelor of Arts Degree, at the prestigious York University, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. So being away from the ring hasn't stopped Taylor from fulfilling her dreams and being an important part of her community.
I spoke with Taylor on various topics, including if she thought she was getting a fair deal in TNA financial wise, her brief time with the WWE and its developmental territories, making PWI's Top 50 Female Wrestlers List numerous years in a row and so much more.
Richard: The past few months the world has literally been put on a stand still with the COVID-19 Pandemic, how have you dealt with it thus far?
Taylor: I'm a full-time firefighter in the city of Toronto and if anything we've been much busier. So I haven't had any downtime in that capacity. I'm more or less a homebody. I like being home, I've got a two-year-old son, I've got a 10-year-old stepson to keep me busy pretty much full time. But with any downtime I have had, I have started a podcast called 'Wilde On' and it focuses on the intimate side of female professional wrestlers. It's just kind of a neat way of me being able to reminisce with a lot of my girlfriends. At the same time, telling my autobiographical story in an audio format should check it out. It's on anchor.fm/wildeon. And from there, it will direct you to many other podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, wherever popular podcast platforms are you can find Wilde on'.
Richard: In a 2013 Interview we did with Kid Kash, he commented that he was paid twice as much in ECW than his stint in TNA and it's well documented that TNA had it's issues with paying it's talent on time and undervaluing its talent salary wise. In regard to TNA and your time with the company, have you ever had any issues with the front office in terms of your salary.
Taylor: In regards to my pay with TNA No, I never had a problem with the amount I was making. I signed a contract agreeing to the amount that was a negotiated term. If you're asking was I making a monumental amount of money? No, I wasn't. And nobody was at that time. But, TNA Impact Wrestling is a very different company and making a large amount of money isn't everything, peace of mind is everything and quality of life. So if you can have a career doing something you love within an atmosphere that is positive and collaborative and free thinking, then that's important. You could be making a lot more money working for a bigger company and being miserable and suffer in quality of life.
Richard: You wrestled for less than a decade and in that time, you've had tremendous success in pro wrestling. What made you decide to hang up your boots for the last time, when your career was at its apex?
Taylor: I think that's very complementary. I do not believe that when I retired my career was at its Pinnacle to me I felt like I was very much on a down-slide. The company had changed management in 2011, the focus was no longer on the knockouts. My story-lines were seemingly diluted and lacking substance. I've been on the road consistently at that point since I was 19 years old. I was now 25, that's, you know, a long career for your formative years, and I just felt like something was missing like I had more to offer. I needed more out of my career I felt like my career was stunted and, unfortunately. At that time with management, I didn't have a lot of push, I didn't have a lot of options changed my position. So, quitting that and retiring was my best option. And truthfully, it was the best decision I ever made. I am so happy that I took the time when I was young enough to do so. Become settled and established in new career firefighting, I was able to meet my now husband who is my soulmate and life partner and start a beautiful family.
Richard: Staying on the topic of your time in TNA, you've wrestled in some excellent matches with Madison Rayne on several occasions. How did you enjoy working with her in the ring?
Taylor: Madison Rayne is an incredible opponent, and wrestling aside she's one of my best friends in the business. She's probably the person I've remained closest to after all these years. We've had a lot to share a side of the business. Marriage, children, divorce, finding ourselves, starting new careers and finding our place in this ever-growing business as we age, so did I enjoy my matches with Madison Rayne? Absolutely. Would I love to step back in the ring with her? Absolutely. But our friendship has spanned over a decade and anything else from here on out, is just icing on the cake.
Richard: Going back to your brief time with the WWE and in Florida Championship Wrestling, do you think the company could have better utilized your overall talent, or was just a simple case of bad luck when you were released?
Taylor: Of course, I think WWE underutilized me, but they are a massive machine and when you are a developmental talent, you are a very very small piece of a cog on a major wheel. I was also very young and I wasn't the person I am today. I'm much mentally stronger, physically stronger. I know who I am and I know my capabilities are. At that time, I was like I said I was 19, I was just trying to fit in, stay under the radar, people please hope that my work ethic and my talent would shine through and that's just not the way that this works you have to be your own advocate. I'm definitely not alone, I think developmental is not necessarily a place of growth, it's a place of testing one's mental capacity as, you know, you might not have the opportunities to be who you are because they have something else for you. So I don't think you have the creative control that you would with other companies so whether you fail or succeed, it actually has very little with you and it has to do with the chain of command and the big machine that is WWE.
Richard: In 2008, 2009 & 2010 you were in the top 20 of Pro Wrestling Illustrated's 'Top 50 Females' list. How did you feel when you were recognized for your talents in the ring, by a prestigious and historic magazine such as PWI?
Taylor: Any recognition in any form in this business is very humbling, there's a lot of talent out there, at that time there was a lot of female talent. PWI and their Top 50 Female List was something I had followed since I started the independent scene, so making that list of course was absolute honor and, you know, it's just a small nod to what you've done in the business so far and it's an accolade and like I said I'm thankful for any recognition that I've ever had.
Richard: You held the TNA Knockouts Championship for an impressive 121 Days, what were your thoughts when you defeated Awesome Kong to capture the title?
Taylor: Defeating Awesome Kong was the biggest, most monumental part of my career, it started creating the character that is Taylor Wilde. It was a classic tale of big versus strong, good versus evil. It was basically the pinnacle of my career working with Awesome Kong every match was varied our story-line was very strong we had a huge focus from both TNA and the audience and I'm very thankful for that story-line.
Richard: Back to the topic of COVID-19 and how it's changed the world, do you think the professional wrestling world will permanently be impacted with new regulations, protocols, testing, etc.?
Taylor: As far as COVID pertains to changing professional wrestling, it's much bigger than that of course. COVID is affecting our day to day life, the whole world is changing, life as we know it is changed. I think we have to adapt as a society, and sport included it means that we have to change professional wrestling for a short amount of time. Then, I think, if anything professional wrestlers are adaptable. If we have to change the business for the long term to help it survive. Then, I think, as a community, we will band together and do whatever we have to do to continue our craft. And to do so safely. You know, we only get one life. And we've had to roll with the punches.
Richard: Who was your inspiration (male or female) in professional wrestling, that inspired you to pursue a career in the industry?
Taylor: My initial inspirations in this business were Trish Stratus, Gail Kim, Chris Benoit and Rey Mysterio.
Richard: On June 21st, you officially confirmed that you'll be returning to professional wrestling after a nine year hiatus. Once the COVID-19 Pandemic has subsided, do you have any specific promotions you have your sights set on to wrestle for?
Taylor: Unfortunately, I can't answer that question confidently because I have a lot of elements working against me. Not only is there a closure on the borders between U.S. and Canada. But as a professional firefighter and working with vulnerable populations, I would have to quarantine for two weeks every time I would return from America, all major promotions are based there. So I don't necessarily have my eye set on any one company. I was going to return to IMPACT but because of COVID that has obviously changed. I don't know when travel bans are going to lift and I don't know when protocols are going to change, for my career as a firefighter. And I also have to consider my family, that has to do with what's safe and what's best for us as a whole so I am just rolling with the punches. This podcast focusing on female professional wrestling has been the most fulfilling creative outlet I did not know I needed. And right now, I'm thankful that I have this platform. I've been at it for just over a month and I've already had over 2000 listens. I have a great team of like-minded, strong professional women working on this podcast with me, and I'm just enjoying telling the story of Taylor Wilde, and all my very successful female professional wrestling girlfriends.
Richard: How do you feel about the way promotions like the WWE, IMPACT (TNA) & AEW promote women's wrestling as a whole in the past few years?
Taylor: I've talked about the state of female professional wrestling at length in many interviews, as well as in my podcasts as of recently and it's one of the reasons, I'd love to get into the wrestling business. Again, professional wrestling historically has ebbs and flows and there are high seasons and low seasons, and what the focus is forever changing. Again, we are in a high season for female professional wrestling, there are so many talented women out there who are strong, beautiful characters. And I think all the major promotions are letting women shine in their wrestling, they are female wrestlers they are not mud wrestlers, they are not eye candy, they are being marketed as larger than life characters just like the men. And it's a really exciting time to be a woman in professional wrestling.
Richard: As a firefighter, a career that literally holds your life in its hands every time you go on a call, have you ever had any second thoughts about walking away from the profession?
Taylor: Absolutely Not. When I signed up for the fire service, I knew exactly what I was getting into. I think you have to, I don't think it's a subconscious decision, you know every call could potentially be your last. I signed up to serve my community and is the most fulfilling job I've ever had. And it's very much ingrained into who I am. So no, I've never had a second thought of changing my profession.
I want to thank Taylor Wilde for taking the time to speak with me here on Pro Wrestling Slam!
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