Taya Valkyrie: “I’m Just a Warrior in a Ring Wanting to Face the Best People, Men or Women” (Interview)

Lucha Royalty made her first steps to the Impact Zone slowly, like a fairy Evil Queen ready to fight for her Kingdom. Taya Valkyrie embraced the royalty from the title she earned in Mexico and used it to build a unique character for Impact. From AAA in Mexico to Lucha Underground to Impact, Taya has built herself the reputation of being afraid of nothing. She can fight a woman like a man. She can be extreme or hardcore. She can bring absolutely anything on the table if you want to square off with her. On a recent Impact media call, Taya Valkyrie opened up about her unique path to Lucha Royalty.

Queen of Queens

The Lucha Royalty Taya Valkyrie character was born in Mexico. “I was the longest reigning Reina de Reinas champion in AAA, which means Queen of Queens. In my storyline, like a year and a half ago, I left Perros del Mal to join Johnny Mundo and basically that changed my character into this crazy Mad Queen and that’s the character I brought to Impact.”

The Lance Storm alumni moved to Mexico right after WWE turned its back on her. “I was absolutely mortified that I had this dream that was given to me and then it was taken away. So when the Mexico thing came up, I was really just on pure guts and gumption and crazy vibes of just wanting to accomplish my dream. I went for it and I really didn’t think about it. I’m lucky enough that I met the right people who took care of me, protected me and led me on the right track. But I did what I had to do, I trained, I wrestled, I sacrificed.”

“There’s always going to be a moment where you have to make that decision to it pick one path or the other, and I picked the crazy curvy bumpy road which was going to Mexico but in the end, it was the right decision. I just think that all those challenges that I had made me who I am and I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am if those things didn’t happen to me and I didn’t have to face those crazy obstacles that were living in Mexico that were breaking into a Lucha Libre as a Canadian blonde chick that was no Spanish. Those things just created Taya Valkyrie and Taya that you see today on Lucha Underground.”

She may have studied American wrestling style, Taya is definitely a Lucha Libre woman. “I’ve been wrestling Lucha Libre style 3 times longer than I’ve been wrestling American style. A lot of my coaches in Mexico were Lucha Libre legends, like El Apache, Silver King, El Hijo del Perro Aguayo, Konnan. The training was so mental, so intense. It was such a learning curve for me but I just drowned myself in it and it was all I did for so long just to get that spot. When I first went to Mexico, I was trying to get that opportunity and Konnan would tell me all the time ‘you got to learn the Lucha Libre style’ and I just did what I had to do to be training and watching as many matches that I could. I would really go out of my way to root and understand because it is so completely different.”

But like many other wrestlers, she decided to mix the two to create a hybrid style. “It makes me really excited to see people get pumped up about Lucha Libre shows. Lucha Libre isn’t just a fancy arm drag or a pass by. It’s the costumes, it’s the characters. I hope that it keeps growing, people like Angelico, Jack Evans and a lot of the Lucha Underground roster has created a hybrid style. Think about Johnny Impact, he brought a lot of the hybrid style to Impact itself and I also try to incorporate all my Lucha Libre touches within my matches even though the style might be different but that’s what makes it cool and makes things have layers. It isn’t just a normal thing that people would expect from an American style match.”

Rosemary, her Impact better enemy

As soon as she stepped into the Impact Zone, Taya Valkyrie focused on Rosemary. And she’s enjoyed every second of it. “From the first second I got to wrestle Rosemary, I was looking forward to it. I had wanted to work with her for so long that when we finally faced each other, it really was great. So from Canadian to Canadian, we have such an understanding of ourselves, like of each other.”

Their storyline was moving forward but, unfortunately, Taya wasn’t allowed to go back to Canada and wrestle the Red Wedding match at Bound for Glory last November. If she was bitter at first, Taya is now appreciating this time she was given. “When you really want something and it’s so close and you can’t have it, it really makes that tension grow. That’s why I think the intensity that you’re going to see from me and her over the course of the next few weeks is going to be so much greater than it was in the fall. Because we just wanted to have that blow off so bad.”

Their rivalry reloaded less than 3 weeks ago. Would Taya love to work a long-term rivalry with Rosemary? “The last really long-time rival I’d had for many years was against Faby Apache in AAA in Mexico, we had some pretty crazy memorable moments. I think that would be great. I’m absolutely opened to that idea. With the long rivalry, you’re writing a book and you’re just creating these special moments chapter by chapter so I would absolutely love to have something like that with Rosemary.”

A Women’s Revolution on her own

Taya Valkyrie is not a part of the Women’s (R)Evolution. She is a (R)Evolution herself. She’s not afraid to fight both men and women like she’s used to doing in Lucha Underground or on the indy scene. “I’m an advocate for intergender wrestling because it’s been such a predominant part of my wrestling history, especially because of Lucha Libre in Mexico where everyone has been doing matches men vs. women in these Mixed Atomicos matches since the beginning of time. So for me, it was just natural for me to get to Lucha and be wrestling guys and stuff.”

“It’s been really different for me getting to Impact where I only do get to face women, even if I called out the X-Division a few times. I would face anybody, I am a strong competitor, I have trained with men & women, wrestled any types of matches, extreme, tables or ladder matches. I’m just a warrior in a ring wanting to face the best people and I don’t like women to be viewed as the weaker gender. I will take on absolutely any man who has the guts to face me because I am ready for anything and I think I’m probably more prepared in that intergender combat than any man on the Impact roster could be because they just probably wouldn’t expect what I would bring to the table.”

Lucha Underground opened the gates for intergender matches. Taya faced Brian Cage in Season 2, Joey Ryan and Jeremiah Crane (Sami Callihan) in Season 3, and the matches were good. “My match in Season 3 versus Jeremiah Crane was just about two people who just wanted to win and had nothing else but that in their sight. What people have to really realize is that we’re 2 warriors and I think that’s what Lucha Underground has really done for intergender wrestling. They are putting us in a position to just be those two characters and fight. It’s not a man beating up a woman or a woman beating up a man, it’s two people fighting to win. When Catwoman fought Batman, no one cared.”

When I asked her about the current Women’s Evolution, Taya thinks TNA pathed the way for the current generation. “The women revolution, evolution, whatever you want to call it, has been going on forever. I don’t think it necessarily started over the last few years. When you think of people like Madusa and Lita and Trish, they were fighting. TNA and the Impact Knockouts have been leading this revolution for years before the WWE acknowledged it. I remember watching the Knockouts years ago and being like ‘wow like these girls are really putting on a crazy match and being given the time to do it’, think about Gail Kim and Awesome Kong and all that generation of Knockouts that really stepped it up and brought it.”

“The Knockouts division right now is full of such different characters, it’s just only the tip of the iceberg as what we can do and I hope that this year really brings so many more great moments for all of us so that the world can really see that we’re leading this revolution. It’s been getting more media attention over the last few years. Women on the indie scene are getting bigger opportunities to showcase their talents, there are so many talented women out there that are just fighting tooth and nail to get the recognition they deserve. The TV outlets are really supporting this new generation and the idea that women can wrestle, that we are strong, that we can put on a show, that people want to see us battle and that we can main event, that we are worthy of that spot and of having more than one match on a show. That just makes my heart burst because I think that women since forever have been fighting for that recognition within this sport.”

Rebuilding is not a word Taya is relating to Impact, but she confirmed to me the Knockouts division could change the game. “I don’t think we’re trying to rebuild anything. I think we’re just trying to grow. I feel like Impact has been doing an amazing job for many years and really trying to stand out. We have hundreds of thousands of fans and there’s always going to be people throwing shade or hating on what we’re doing and I and I feel like with all the compliments comes criticism. Of course, the Knockouts are going to be a huge part in growing our company and making it the best that it could be and I’m just looking forward to keep moving forward with that over the next few months or years that I will be in Impact.”

Whether you like it or not, whether you like her character and style or not, Taya Valkyrie is decided not to follow a common path when it comes to making Impact her Kingdom of Heaven.