Next week, the WWE will hold one of their marquee events, the Royal Rumble. For the uninitiated, the Royal Rumble is an extended gauntlet match, where 30 wrestlers enter the ring – each one at a five-minute interval entrance – and the last one to survive is the champion and wins a major prize – usually a title shot at Wrestlemania (or, in some cases, a championship itself, which Ric Flair did when the Royal Rumble was held in Albany in 1992).
A few years ago, the WWE offered both a women’s Royal Rumble match, which was just as exciting and as competitive as the men’s Royal Rumble match. And truth be told, if you could get past the usual “returning legends and guest stars” who fill out the 30-person lineup, you can pretty much figure out who’s going to win the Royal Rumble, both on the men’s and the women’s sides.
And this year, due to a severely depleted women’s roster, the WWE made an offer to former WWE star and current Impact Wrestling Knockouts Women’s Champion Mickie James to appear at the show. And she agreed. This is a rare event, considering that WWE rarely ever mentions wrestlers in other companies.
Well, word has it that WWE reached out to two other former superstars from their lineup.
Yep. They asked the former IIconics to come back for an appearance at the Royal Rumble.
The IIconics were released in April 2021 as part of WWE’s blistering “budget cuts,” and eventually Cassie Lee and Jessica McKay found new life as the tag team champions in the Impact promotion. So good on them.
And I say good for them.
Let’s rewind a bit.
WWE treated Cassie Lee and Jessica McKay like shit. They split up the iconic duo, then sent the girls to different brands (Lee to Raw, McKay to Smackdown). They stuck Lee in another tag team, this time with Lacey Evans, a wrestler who was (and still is) green as grass. And when Lacey got pregnant, the whole tag push ended. Meanwhile, McKay took her minimal amount of screen time and turned it into a positive, creating the “head shot and resume” gimmick that at times was one of the funniest parts of the Smackdown broadcast.
But then both girls were released from WWE. Discarded. Future Endeavored. So the duo kept afloat as much as they could – since they were both Australians, they had to get new working visas to stay in America – and eventually the team signed with Impact Wrestling, claimed the tag gold, and still hold it today.
And now the WWE wants them to to return for a Royal Rumble appearance … why? Because they don’t have enough competitors to fill out a 30-entry lineup? Because they cut over 100 different male and female wrestlers in 2020 and 2021, claiming the pandemic destroyed their budget line (despite making record profits by taking blood money for Saudi Arabian pay-per-view shows).
And even if Lee and McKay did enter the Royal Rumble, do you think they would have legitimately won the event? No. They would have been allowed to eliminate one, maybe two people, before Charlotte Flair hulks up and tosses them out of the ring. The Royal Rumble only goes off-script if someone gets thrown over the top rope accidentally, or if someone gets injured in the middle of the match. You know, storms the ring and actually tears both quadriceps muscles as they climb in the squared circle.
Oh, and remember when I mentioned that Mickie James was asked to participate in the Rumble, and accepted? She was released during those pandemic budget cuts, and all her gear that she stored at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando – costumes, boots, whatnot – was packed in a trash bag and shipped to her after she was released. Packed in a trash bag.
The IInspiration have a new career and a new life. They don’t need the WWE any more. Impact is one of the few wrestling companies with a fully-defined woman’s wrestling stable that isn’t just glorified cheesecake in spandex. And if they ever did want to walk through the “forbidden door” to other companies, Impact has a working relationship with WWE’s biggest rival All Elite Wrestling (and Lee is married to one of their stars, Shawn Spears), so maybe a future IInspiration match against Tay Conti / Anna Jay, or maybe against Kris Statlander / Red Velvet could happen.
But yeah, the WWE treated Cassie Lee and Jessica McKay like dirt. And asking them to return as glorified spot-fillers in the Royal Rumble is a complete insult. In other words, maybe – just maybe – WWE should never have cut them loose. Or at least never thought that the IInspiration would just run back to the WWE at the first dangle of a pay-per-view paycheck.
Just sayin’ is all. If you were in a relationship with someone, and they treated you like dirt, and kicked you out of their life … only to ask you to come back a year later for a single appearance somewhere, hopefully to show “no hard feelings” over getting tossed away…
Yeah, I’d side with the IInspiration. They don’t need the WWE. It’s their time to shine on their own.