I wouldn’t use the phrase “shocked the world” necessarily, but TNA’s Madison Rayne definitely turned more than a few heads last month at the Lockdown Pay Per View when she captured the TNA Knockouts Championship. After all, we were used to the former “pledging member” of the mean girl clique, The Beautiful People, getting “fed” to other Knockouts like Awesome Kong and Angelina Love in order to protect the ostensible leader of Beautiful People 2.0, Velvet Sky. With Rayne nabbing the Knockouts Title it seems as though she and her Beautiful People cohorts were right when they said that there was no true leader of the gang. That they were all truly equal.
Rayne is set to defend her title at TNA’s Sacrifice this Sunday, May 16th, against the former champion, Tara – with Tara’s career being on the line as well. The card also boasts TNA World Champion Rob Van Dam defending his belt against A.J. Styles, Jeff Jarrett vs. Sting and Jeff Hardy vs. Mr. Anderson. IGN TV had a chance to talk to Rayne about what it feels like to rule the Knockouts roost, going head to head with one of her idols and the glory of being a “button masher.”
IGN TV: How does it feel to have the Knockouts Title?
Madison Rayne: It feels awesome! I haven’t been in TNA very long, so to work my way up to the top of the Knockouts division in not even a year and a half is pretty amazing.
IGN: Now, I just wanted some clarification on this… are you still one of the Tag Team Champions as well, or have the belts shifted over to Velvet and Lacey?
Rayne: Well, when we won the Tag Titles they won under the “Freebird” rules, which means that since there were three of us any two of us could defend the titles. But now since I’ve got the Knockouts Title, I’m going to focus mostly on that for now and for the time being it’s going to be Lacey and Velvet defending the Tag Titles.
IGN: In this new incarnation of The Beautiful People you guys have stated that there is no leader. But now that you actualy have the Knockouts Belt, do you feel like you need to step into more of a leadership position?
Rayne: No, not at all. We’ve all got titles. We’ve all got gold. And whether it’s won as a Tag Team or as a singles wrestler I think we’ve all proven ourselves. When Angelina left and it was just Velvet and I, a lot of people said that The Beautiful People were going to dissolve and go our separate ways. People were convinced that we weren’t going to last without the leader. Then we brought in Lacey and people seemed to doubt us even more and they didn’t think that we could keep things going strong. But no, I still feel like all three of us bring something unique and different to the table and that’s why we’re in the positions that we’re in.
IGN: TNA, as of last week, moved Impact back to Thursday nights. Are you disappointed not be on Mondays anymore or are you happy to return to Thursdays? Or is it the same energy either way?
Rayne: As long as we’re still getting our spot on national TV I think everyone in the company’s got something to be proud of. But personally I think it’s a good move to go back to Thursdays. I don’t feel like we jumped back to Thursdays because we were “running scared” like a lot people have been saying. Or because we couldn’t keep up with the competitor. I don’t think it was that at all. Dixie Carter and the office at TNA talked to the fans and reached out to the people who were important and helped, over seven years, put us where we are. For the most part, wrestling fans are wrestling fans, so TNA being on Monday night was going to hurt both companies. Whereas if there’s a night for the other product – a separate night where TNA can shine – the wrestling fans are going to be happy because they’re going to get to see wrestling almost every night of the week now. I think it’s a good move.
IGN: How did you get into the business? Were you a wrestling fan growing up?
Rayne: Well, I have two older brothers. So when I was younger, when I was growing up, I had no choice but to watch wrestling. Right away I had to learn to love it. And it didn’t take long. And if there was something that my brothers saw on TV that they thought was a cool move I was the one that they automatically got to practice on. I think I learned how to bump and train a little even before I knew what I was doing. It was just something that I was interested in, even from a young age. I’ve always said this, and it’s the truth, that when other girls were getting their first pair of high heels or their first makeup kit, I was getting wrestling replica belts and tickets to shows and t-shirts. And then even more so, as I got a bit older and into sports myself, I started seeing the women’s wrestling and the Molly Hollys and Trish Stratuses and even Victoria, who’s now Tara in TNA. And I just admired the sport and I admired them and in the back of my mind I knew it was something I wanted to do. But I came from a really small town and so nobody really expected the small town girl to end up making it. But right out of high school I went to training facility there in my one-horse town and started training. And five years later here I am, Knockouts Champion.
IGN: Who were some of your wrestling idols growing up?
Rayne: Growing up I always always watched and loved and idolized Shawn Michaels. And even more so, I think, the more I got to know his back-story and how he was constantly told he was too small or how he was too “this” or “that” and would never make it. Well I’ve been told the same things and I think even a bit more extreme too because not only was I small, I was female. And I was always told “maybe you should just stay in school,” because I was in college with a 4.0 and I decided to put that on hold for wrestling. But I always looked to him and his energy and how you cared for him even if you were booing him. He just captivated every audience that he was ever in front of. And then the older I got and the more I got into wrestling and thought that it could be something I could do I really looked up to Trish Stratus and Tara because they both kind of started out in the fitness industry – which is kind of what I was doing right before I graduated high school. I was training to do some fitness competitions. I never wound up doing that because I went straight into wrestling but to see them go from fitness competitor to getting in the ring and learning and training was inspiring. Trish Stratus went from zero in-ring knowledge to being one of the greatest woman’s wrestlers of all time. So I loved those two, and when they would actually wrestle each other it was just like Christmas for me.
IGN: What it been like for you to work with Tara now, seeing as how she was your idol?
Rayne: When she first came to TNA I was actually her first match and I thought that was awesome. I had still only been in TNA for three or four months and here came one of my idols that I looked up to for years and it was a really cool experience. And over the last year I’ve learned a lot from her. She’s a true wrestling veteran. Sometimes when you meet people that you idolized growing up you’re never really sure if you’re going to get the person that you think they are or if you’re going to get kind of a jaded version of that person because they’ve been through so much in the business. But she’s just got a heart of gold and she’ll always lend a helping hand to anybody if they need it.
IGN: There have been several injuries in the Knockouts division lately, and Tara’s career is on the line in your match at Sacrifice? What’s will the state of the Knockouts division be if Tara winds up leaving TNA? Are they looking to bring in more new faces?
Rayne: I think they’re always looking and searching. And if the right person comes along and catches their eye they’ll bring them in. I know the independent scene and the girls who are out there and I know that even if there’s a shift of people coming in and going out, and maybe the fans will have to get used to seeing new faces, we’ll be okay. The Knockouts division started in 2007 and it skyrocketed and proved to people that women really could be look at as wrestlers and not just eye candy. I personally don’t think that’s changed. I know a lot of faces have changed over the past few years but I have a 110% faith in the girls who are here now and in the company and their ability to bring in the best names out there.
IGN: A lot of the guys in the TNA locker room are avid gamers. Do you play?
Rayne: Yeah, actually I do occasionally. Velvet, though, is a gamer nerd right up there with a lot of the guys. And I think that’s awesome and it’s one of the things that I love about her. That she so laid back and loves to play video games and watch war movies and yet she’s also one of the hottest women ever in life. I play. I’m not good necessarily at a lot, but I’m really good at games that have Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario in them. I think I’m good at the Mortal Kombat-type games and the Street Fighters, but no one likes to play with me because they call me a “button masher.” I don’t necessarily know all the combinations of the right buttons but I know that when my fingers start going I push the right ones and I usually win.
IGN: Finally, I have to ask. Will we ever see the Madison/Velvet kiss or will that always be a tease?
Rayne: [laughs] You’re going to have to stay tuned weekly for that one.