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Renee Young talks WWE & COVID, future work with AEW, more

Renee Paquette’s Instagram

It wasn’t quite the “tell all” bombshell we’re used to when wrestlers leave WWE. But the recently departed Renee Paquette (formerly Young) did have a few things to say in her first interview as someone who used to work for Vince McMahon.

Here’s some choice cuts from her conversation with Jimmy Traina on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast, which you find in full here.

On the rumor she got heat for publicizing her COVID diagnosis in June:

“I generally just like to be transparent about everything. I like to just be honest. There’s no shame in having got it. Again we don’t know what’s going on with anything. We’re all trying to figure it out. So when I tweeted that I had it, I wasn’t doing it as, like, “I GOT COVID.” That was not my MO when I tweeted. It was mostly, ‘Hey, I have it.’ Also, in case there were people that could’ve been around me and maybe seen that I had it, I felt a responsibility to make sure people knew that I was sick. But, yeah, it was NOT well received.

“They weren’t even even like ‘You shouldn’t have posted it.’ But it was like, ‘We wish you gave us a heads up.’ It was bad for PR and whatnot. But again, I wouldn’t have even thought to be like, “Hey guys, I’m gonna tweet that I have Covid, ha, ha. Like, that was just not what I was thinking about when I posted it.”

On if that played a role in her decision to leave:

“I’m at home, I get my diagnosis, that same day I found out that Backstage gets cancelled. But it was really with Backstage being cancelled that I was like, ‘What am I doing? I’m not really doing anything anymore and my skillset of being a host … there’s just nowhere for me to do it anymore. Even with Talking Smack coming back, I had heard the rumblings that Talking Smack was making its way back, I was planning on perhaps doing that. But I was like, ‘You know what? I feel like I’m taking steps backward. I’m sorta spinning my wheels to go back and do a show. To not be doing it with Daniel Bryan. To not be doing it with [former WWE producer and VP of Television Production] Mike Mansury, who also is no longer with WWE. But that was sort of the magic of what that show was to me.”

On how WWE handled her illness, and their approach to the pandemic in general:

“Listen, anything I say on this is gonna end up seeming like controversial or like I’m shitting on it or whatever, but, yeah, did I feel a little slighted? I didn’t really feel like anyone was all that concerned that I got sick. That bothered me for sure.

“But, you know, it’s hard to say. Again, it’s like, shit, the show goes on and now they’re working at the Amway Center and they’re essentially doing the best that they can NOW. Now doing the proper tests. I think that was something that should’ve been implemented from the beginning. Since everything that’s gone down and however many people ended up getting sick, now it feels like a much safer environment. Even when I was there for SummerSlam, I was definitely less concerned about it knowing that everyone in the building has been properly tested with the nose swab and whatnot.

“It [the company’s decision to keep producing shows in March and April] was shocking. It really shocking to see that this was deemed essential business. That made it seem like, hold on a second here.

“I was not traveling for a while. I was doing stuff from home. I was like, ‘I just don’t need to be there.’ Especially when you look at what I was going on the shows at that time. ... For me to fly from Las Vegas to Orlando when you have Kayla Braxton local in Orlando, you have Sarah Schreiber local in Orlando, Charley Caruso was spending most of her time in Florida, there were hands on deck that didn’t have to travel, so for me to feel like I had to actually still had to get on a plane and go do it was like, “Oh my God. For what? What are we doing here? It felt insane to me.”

On how WWE expected her to handle husband Jon Moxley being at AEW:

“One of the things that I did find a little bit difficult in the past year or so was not working with Jon. To be in different places, and not even the fact of not working together, it was the almost pretending he didn’t exist. That’s hard. I found that be a little bit like, ‘Oh my god. I can’t even tweet about him?’

“Where it’s like, ‘What are we doing?!’ I don’t know. Whatever. At a certain point it just gets a little bit too nit-picky with stuff. Where you’ve gotta take a bit of a step back.”

On her future, and if AEW is in it:

“There has been no talks [with AEW]. Literally, the second anybody leaves WWE it’s ‘they’re going to AEW.’ Obviously, I knew it was going to come up. What I found interesting is, as much as I assumed that’s what everyone was going to say, more people were like, ‘She’s going to work for FOX or ESPN.’ A lot of people saw me leaving the wrestling world, which I was surprised by...

“I do have a non-compete that is for quite a while. If anyone is waiting for me to show up in 90 days, they’re going to be waiting a little longer than that. I think everything that they’re doing there is great. I think that there could be a ton of spots that I could step in and work and do some stuff there.”

Paquette is in Jacksonville this week, but won’t appear officially - she’s just there to support Moxley. She’s still working for Fox Sports (saying “I’ll still be doing things for FOX as we’re trying to figure out what that looks like with WWE, so that’s cool”), and talked about wanting to take over the podcasting game to become a “female Joe Rogan” who can talk to different people about topics that interest her.

Again, you can listen to the entire chat on the SI Media Podcast here. Renee joins at the 44 minute mark.

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