It can be amazing the careers that people choose. Take for example Ashley Simmons, growing up in West Lafayette, Ohio, who was a varsity cheerleader and Homecoming Queen. Some people might think modeling or some other type of professional career.
Now, she's known as Madison Rayne and is the current Knockouts Champion in TNA Wrestling.
That is the route she chose, a dream to make it into the wrestling world and one she continues to live out. At the age of 24, Rayne is sitting on top of the wrestling world as the three-time champion, a spot she says she has no plans of giving up anytime soon.
This Sunday night at the TNA "Genesis" pay-per-view (8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT) she will put her title on the line against Mickie James. FanHouse recently spoke with Rayne about how she got into the wrestling business, being the bad girl, staying at the top and much more.
Brian Fritz: How does a Homecoming Queen become a pro wrestler?
Madison Rayne: (laughs) She has two older brothers! When I was younger watching wrestling with my brothers was kind of my way of fitting in and trying to be cool because I used to watch with my dad. So when I got older, I wanted to be cool and sit and watch with them. Growing up, I went through a lot of phases. I wanted to be a doctor, I wanted to be Miss America and then somehow, in all of that, I ended up deciding on pro wrestler. (sarcastic) My mom was really proud.
I'm sure. What was it like growing up with two brothers in a household that is interested in wrestling? Was it physical or was it take care of little sis?
(laughs) Um, a little bit of both. At times it would be either be watch and learn and defend yourself or they watch and they see something cool on TV that they want to do and because I was the baby and I was the little one I would always be the practice dummy. A lot of times it was those two would be beating up on each other and I would wake up on Saturday mornings and have to pick a team so if I went with the smaller of the two older brothers I would run down the stairs on a Saturday morning with a plastic coat hanger in my hand and hoping I could help out somehow.
What meant more to you at the time: when you became Homecoming Queen or the first time you became the TNA Knockouts Champion?
I'm not sure that there's much that I've done thus far in my life that has topped the first time that I became Knockouts Champion. Winning Homecoming Queen was cool. Don't get me wrong, at the time I thought that was the coolest thing in the world, but I don't think there has been much that has topped the first time I won the Knockouts title.
"Winning Homecoming Queen was cool. Don't get me wrong, at the time I thought that was the coolest thing in the world, but I don't think there has been much that has topped the first time I won the Knockouts title."
-- Madison Rayne What is life like when you're becoming a pro wrestler, you're in the business and going through all the ups and downs of being on the independent scene before you finally get that call to go to a bigger group like TNA?
It's nerve-wracking and it's stressful but I think nerves and stress go along with the job and even more so with any dream you are chasing. Is there a time where I got discouraged and I wondered if maybe going back to college would have been the smarter thing to do? But I always had that feeling that I needed to keep going and keep trying. There were times when I think that different family members at different times would politely try to convince me to go the normal route and finish school and try to have a normal life but I wanted to chase my dream and I did. I'm proud of myself and they're all proud of me too.
How many times did you have the discussion with mom where she would say "you know, it's never too late to go back to college?"
I still have that conversation with her but now it's more me on the mom, I am going to go back to school, I am going to have a plan 'B' so if and when this ride I'm on slows down or stops I'll have something to fall back on. She's like "oh no honey, you just live in the moment. You're doing everything right right now. You're having the time of your life." I'm like oh, my how things have changed in just a couple of years.
So explain how this happens, how someone who is notoriously nice as you are becomes so snooty and such a heel on TV.
(laughs) Every girl has her moments I think. I try my best to be nice in day-to-day circumstances but when there's the lady who cuts me off and takes my parking place at the grocery store or there is somebody who jumps in front of me in line for the treadmill at the gym I remember that and I channel all that negativity when it's time to go to work.
Do you ever catch yourself being in character and reacting that way in real-life situations?
With the shrill, annoying, screaming voice? No, I try to censor that. There are times though like with a brother or a boyfriend where I get a little carried away. My brother kindly reminds me that if there aren't any lights or cameras that I don't have to scream at them like I do. But for the most part I try to keep my cool.
People always talk about seeing you in the ring and seeing all the potential. Now, you are really living up to that and getting opportunities in TNA. You've already been Knockouts Champion on a few occasions. What are your goals going forward, especially since you are so young in your career?
I am still young in it. I've been given a lot of good opportunities in a short amount of time. But I think a lot of people fail to realize that once you make it where you want to be, when you climb the ladder and get to the top that it doesn't stop there. If anything, it becomes more of a challenge to stay there because now you're in the top spot and not only are you competing with everybody else who wants to be in that top spot but you're competing with yourself to continue to get better, to continue to find ways to stay at the top and stay in the spotlight and continue to be number one. When you're at the top, there's only one way to go and that's down so you have to think of ways and figure out ways to stay at the top for as long as you can. For me right now, I'm trying to just take it all in and appreciate it all but at the same time continue to work my butt off and stay where I am.
TNA Genesis - PPV Preview What are your thoughts about where the Knockouts division is right now? Going back to a few years ago it was extremely successful and then it seemed to go through a bit of a lull. Now, it's really getting back on track and there is a lot of emphasis on the division.
Yeah, there's been some ups and downs with the changing faces in the division but I never saw what other people did when they said it was lacking and that there was a shortage of talent or whatever it was they were using to describe the time there when we had a couple of people leaving and a couple new people coming in. I've always thought that the Knockouts division had a lot of potential and a lot of incredible talent more so now than ever I think. There's a lot of new faces and a lot of people that the fans are familiar with but haven't necessarily seen interact with other girls. So, wrestling fans are getting faces and new storylines to follow and new people to see in the ring together. It's exciting for all of us and I think it's equally exciting for everyone watching.
How good is it to know that on a consistent basis that the segments on "Impact" that feature the Knockouts division traditionally do the highest ratings for the show?
It feels good because I know how hard we all work and that we bust our butts and we all put 100 percent into every week, every match, every segment, everything we do. So, it's good to know that all our hard work pays off every week.
What's it like having Mickie James and Tara in the division?
Personally, I think it's really good for the Knockouts division. Those are two faces that the fans are familiar with and the fans are excited to see. I know a lot of us are excited to get the opportunity to work with Tara, to work with Mickie. They can only do things that are good for the division.
Cage match: Tara vs. Mickie James There was some talk among some people wondering why you are putting Mickie and Tara together, that came from the WWE, and not having them face others in TNA before they feud again.
To me, that doesn't make any sense because there's always going to be changing storylines all the time. Two different girls are always going to be fighting and feuding and anybody who's a wrestling fan knows that Mickie's an awesome competitor, Tara is an awesome competitor, so where they were before, I don't think that matters. I think there's always going to be a little bit of negativity in the wrestling world and people are always going to look for something to point the finger at. But I think the ratings and the matches that those two have had together in the last few months have spoken for themselves.
Awesome Kong was a big part of the TNA Knockouts division but she's gone and reportedly signed with WWE. What are your thoughts about her leaving TNA and going to the competition?
I think she deserves any and every good opportunity that comes her way. So, whether it be here or with another company or doing something that's not even affiliated with wrestling at all. I think whatever makes Kong happy, I'm happy for because she is a good person, got a big heart and she deserves any opportunity that she gets.
You're a bit of a fitness guru and I believe you've done some powerlifting in the past. How much can you bench?
(laughs) Well, when I was in high school, when I was on the powerlifting team and I was 95 pounds soaking wet I could bench press 95 pounds. I wouldn't know at this point because I don't really do much bench pressing any more.
So it's not like guys who brag "oh, I can bench press like 320 pounds!"
No, I don't think girls take quite as much pride in how much they can bench press as the guys do.
What do women take the most pride in when it comes to what they can do physically?
I'm sure each girl has her own goals. I work out at a lot of, especially back home, a lot of Rocky Balboa type of gyms that are like cement walls. So, my goals are just to keep up with the guys because it's usually me and a bunch of guys in the gym. If I'm able to keep up and I'm not in anyone's way, I'm doing something right in my mind.
But you're not drinking raw eggs and punching a slab of meat are you?
No, absolutely not! I'll poach the eggs and eat them and I might throw some bacon in there every now and then but I'm not drinking raw eggs.
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