Taya Valkyrie knows a little something about success. She’s the current IMPACT Wrestling Knockouts Champion, and is in a loving marriage with World Champion Johnny Impact. In an exclusive interview with Still Real To Us, Valkyrie discusses her successful relationship with her husband, and being on top of the world as the leader of the Knockouts division.
The champ’s transition into professional wrestling was an easy one. Valkyrie trained as a ballet dancer when she was younger, and believes that it built a solid foundation for her dazzling in-ring style. Studying at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Valkyrie picked up a couple of useful tips that would help her later on in her career.
“When you’re growing up, it’s important to be involved with arts and sports,” Valkyrie tells Still Real To Us. “[Ballet] gave me an incredible foundation to progress in professional wrestling. When you factor in things like body movement, space, flexibility, endurance, and creating characters; you’re performing live as a ballet dancer. It’s very similar to professional wrestling. It’s an art form, like I consider professional wrestling to be. I feel that there are influences in my style that comes from my dance background.”
Valkyrie is no stranger when it comes to handling attention. By performing ballet in front of crowds when she was a child, the preparation paid off in a big way. Valkyrie made international headlines last year when a former IMPACT Wrestling champion went after her. The controversial Austin Aries stirred up the pot with his mouth, causing outlets outside of the traditional wrestling media to take notice. Taking aim at Valkyrie and her husband, Aries’ derogatory comments led TMZ to cover Impact’s feud with Aries heading into IMPACT Wresting’s biggest show of 2018. The current IMPACT Wrestling Knockouts Champion didn’t sweat the extra eyeballs on the product.
“I think nowadays, in general, professional wrestling and all sorts of entertainment are covered throughout the Internet,” Valkyrie says. “There’s so much more coverage of wrestling now. Yeah, [TMZ] was different. I had some people come up to me and say, ‘Oh my gosh! Taya is on TMZ!’ It was kind of funny. You’re going to get criticism that comes from every kind of angle, even if it’s not from a mainstream source.”
TMZ was one thing, but the aftermath of Johnny Impact’s title win at Bound For Glory was another. After Impact won the company’s title, Aries walked out on IMPACT Wrestling, creating a hectic scene for the wrestlers, and viewers at home. Valkyrie makes it clear that she carries herself as a professional, and others should take notes.
“I think we dealt with it properly. We tried to address the problem, without making a huge deal about it. As we all know, Austin [Aries] did what he did at the end of that match. It is what it is. I don’t really like talking about it that much because I feel like he doesn’t deserve the attention.”
Focusing on current competitors, Valkyrie had a lot to say about her ongoing feud with Tessa Blanchard. Her rival is a standout on the wrestling circuit. Taking notes from her legendary father, WWE Hall of Famer Tully Blanchard, Tessa is crisp in the ring and on the mic. Valkyrie tells Still Real To Us that it was a delight to topple her nemesis to finally win the Knockouts Championship.
“This feud developed since Bound For Glory. There was so much blood, sweat, and tears that went into me being victorious [at Homecoming.] This is not over. As soon as you win a championship, there is a target on your back,” states Valkyrie. “I’m fully aware of that. It was such a great moment. However, what comes up, must come down.”
The current champion doesn’t plan on tumbling that easy any time soon. Valkyrie knows that Blanchard is waiting in the wings for another shot at her title. The Knockouts Champion awaits her rival’s return to the squared circle, and will meet her head on when the time calls for it.
“[Blanchard] likes to run her mouth and attack people. I’ve said it once, and I’ve said it again–whenever she wants a piece of me, and whenever she’s allowed to come back to the IMPACT Zone after her suspension, I’ll be more than happy to prove why I am the champion.”
Blanchard isn’t the only wrestler who wants to be Knockouts Champion. There is a roster of women who want to be the alpha female of the division. Valkyrie tells Still Real To Us that IMPACT Wrestling has an “interesting locker room right now,” with a diverse talent pool to go up against. She has a laundry list of competitors that she wants to tangle within the near future.
“Someone like Jordynne Grace would be cool. I’ve never wrestled her before. She’s undefeated right now, during her time at IMPACT,” says Valkyrie. “I think we would have a very different kind of match, just based on our styles.”
Grace provides a unique match for Valkyrie. Wrestling fans are always craving something new. There is always room for nostalgia, though. Valkyrie didn’t forget about her heated rivalry with Rosemary, who is a favorite among spectators of the company. When Valkyrie debuted on the September 7, 2017 episode of IMPACT Wrestling, she immediately went after Rosemary. Their matches were praised by critics, and Valkyrie wants to recapture the magic that they created. The rivals made an effort to make their matches different every single time they were given that opportunity to be seen on television.
“I think Rosemary coming back on to the scene was a total wildcard. I think me and her are completely different than we were 12 months ago. I feel if we revisited that, it would be very interesting,” Valkyrie states. “I’m not sure what direction it would go, but there’s something special there. Of course, there’s Dark Allie–and she’s completely different. I believe the last time I wrestled her was at the WrestleCon show last year. There’s so many different options, dream matches, and storylines that can happen, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
When Valkyrie isn’t getting ready for potential opponents, she enjoys spending time with her husband. Successful wrestling marriages are hard to come by. The sport takes its toll on couples. Constantly on the grind, there’s always a challenge when hitting the road to get to the next town. Valkyrie tells fans there’s a reason why her marriage with Johnny Impact works.
“I think relationships are hard, no matter what,” Valkyrie states. “Being married isn’t easy. Being boyfriend and girlfriend isn’t easy. When you really care about someone, and want the best for them and they want the best for you, it really is a partnership. That’s when it works.”
Together, Valkyrie and Impact make a great pair. Their chemistry translates whenever the cameras are pointed in their direction. Their love for each other comes naturally because they hear each other out when a situation might come up.
“Johnny supports me, and I support him. We’re not perfect. When we have arguments…we never fight. We always listen to each other. We are two passionate people that love each other. We share this great connection that is professional wrestling,” confirms Valkyrie. “I think it’s great that we get to work together. I look forward to being able to do more with him. I feel like he brings out the best in me, and I do that with him, too. He really pushes me, performance wise. He makes me think about things when it comes to putting my matches together, and my character work.”
Wrestling isn’t the only thing holding the couple together. They both have interests that extend outside of their chosen profession. It wouldn’t be surprising if the happy pair penned a book together giving relationship advice to those who are seeking a fulfilling marriage.
“We’re also supportive of each other when it comes to projects outside of professional wresting. I think that’s important, too. We don’t just talk about wrestling. We have other interests,” gushes Valkyrie. “We have a great little family with our dog. We just are in a really great place right now. It’s not without work. You just have to be patient. I know everyone says this but it’s true: don’t go to bed upset. I’m a firm believer in talking it out, no matter what.”
With IMPACT Wresting doing a round of television tapings in Las Vegas next month, the champion is encouraging fans to check out the latest action from the promotion. She thinks the company’s partnership with the Pursuit Channel and Twitch will benefit fans in the long run.
“Come on down and watch the shows. The crowd in Vegas is always great. It’s Las Vegas…you can’t not have fun,” she laughs. “I feel this is the best time for IMPACT because it’s impossible to not see it. If you have the Internet, you have IMPACT. For me, I just want to continue to grow and evolve as a performer. I want to strive to create matches that people talk about. I want to make people think. I want to make people surprised.”
The grappler will continue to surround herself with her supportive fanbase as IMPACT Wrestling grows in a new direction. She also wants to go to Europe, and face competition that’s based across the pond. Valkyrie speculates that she has her eyes on a couple of titles that go beyond the Knockouts division.
“What’s to say that I can’t go after the X Division title? Just look at the craziness in professional wrestling right now. What about me and John going after the Tag Team Championships? It can happen,” Valkyrie hints to Still Real To Us. “It’s an exciting time, and I think a lot of great things are going to happen in IMPACT, and the wrestling world.”
It’s 2019. Why not?
IMPACT Wrestling airs its weekly two-hour Impact! flagship television show on Fridays at 10 PM ET on the Pursuit Channel across the United States, and also on IMPACT Wrestling’s official Twitch channel. IMPACT Wrestling returns to Las Vegas on February 15-17 for three consecutive nights. Wrestling fans can still purchase VIP packages to see Taya Valkyrie, Eli Drake, and all of the other stars of IMPACT Wrestling.
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