As we said when sharing Mickie James’s rejected pitch for an all-female WWE show yesterday (April 28), there was a lot more to the talk she had with her Grown Ass Women co-hosts about her release - and what James, SoCal Val, and Lisa Marie Varon call “Trash Gate”.
In talking about the picture she posted to Twitter last Thursday, and the wild day that followed online and at WWE as a result, Mickie says she was mostly joking when she tweeted at Vince McMahon about receiving her ring gear in a Hefty bag. But even though she’d experienced the same thing after her first release, it still felt emblematic of her relationship with the company:
“All I can do is laugh about it... It’s not even about the trash bag, at the end of the day it was never about the trash bag for me. I was astonished about how it took off. I almost deleted the post because I’m gong like, I feel this comes off as too nasty or bitter or whatever. I’m being sarcastic obviously, and just trying to laugh at myself and the situation. Because to be quite honest, I got my stuff the exact same way ten years ago. The difference is, at that point in my life, I honestly believed it and I took it very much to heart in the sense of like, ‘This is what the company thinks about me’...
“It’s good now because I’m in a good space and I’m freed up in the sense that I can now truly say this or express myself in a real fashion without holding back, or being in an ugly space about it... I was just so like ‘Wow, they still do this, and this is bullshit.’ But it’s also kind of comical when you think about all of this because it’s literally how I felt that they thought about me for the last three years whenever I would pitch anything or talk about anything.”
Discussing WWE management’s response, and why she tagged McMahon in the tweet, James dives deeper into the agism issues she touched on in the first part of the GAW episode recorded before “Trash Gate” - and that she brought up prior to her release:
“I know it wasn’t a direct thing, like ‘Hey, this is what we think of you.’ And this isn’t even like a Mark Carrano - I empathize with Mark and feel bad he’s taken the full brunt of all this, it sucks, but I can guarantee you that even his pension package is probably more than what I got paid in my last run in WWE. So, I don’t feel that bad for Mark. He was not happy in that situation... I was pissed, I’m pissed, but I’m angry in a - I don’t want to come across as just angry, but it is a direct reflection of everything that I’ve experienced in coming back.
“I was happy to take a backseat and take a trainer role. All I asked for was a curtsy out the door. It was never about ‘one last run’ or ‘I want to still be a wrestler for the next five years’ or anything. All I wanted was just a little respect so then I... wouldn’t feel like this unfinished business...
“I felt like I put up with a lot of crap - even through coming back this last time and always being booked in like a lackey position, or never quite getting that moment for myself, or if I did, it came at a cost of diapers and a walker, or the whole finish to the Asuka fiasco, or all these weird things that I sometimes felt were specifically, purposefully because I was asking for this one thing, it was going to come with a price kind of things.
“I’m not saying that that is a directive from Vince, because Vince has always been respectful to me - Vince called me on the phone to apologize for this instant [the trash bag] and for me know that this is not what he thought of me. I honestly tagged Vince in that because I want him - he needs to know.
“Because there’s a lot of stuff that happens underneath his nose that he’s completely oblivious to because he’s running a multi-billion dollar corporation that is publicly traded and I think this small-minded mentality or this thoughtless behavior is systematically - especially for me, to be constantly presented as old, or made to feel like you’re old when I’m 41 years old, and every single male champion that has been or come back or anything has always been my same age or even older than me and have been champions or been glorified for those reasons. As they should be, as they absolutely should be - they’re fucking amazing. But why is it different for women or for me? Ageism is a real thing and it’s bullshit...
“I am truly grateful for the strides we have made to be seen as more equal, but it’s not true for every single person, and sometimes that’s really really unfortunate. I just don’t know why I was made to feel like I didn’t deserve it. Because I feel like I did everything in my power to be a company girl.”
The six-time WWE Women’s champ’s desire to be something other than a “lackey” doesn’t seem like an unreasonable ask, and it’s something a lot of fans wanted, too. WWE’s unwillingness to give Mickie a send-off befitting a future Hall of Famer, and their treatment of women over the age of 35 in general, is probably directly related to the response she was given about an all-women’s show. But even knowing their business rationale, it would be hard not to take their handling of her personally.
Val and Victoria don’t specifically ask Mickie if she thinks anything will change as a result of her experiences, “Trash Gate”, or anything she’s saying now. But this answer feels telling:
“I will say this... the person who’s responsible for me feeling like shit, and that I feel like completely tried to sabotage or devalue me or make me feel less than is still very much employed, and that’s fucking - you know what I mean?”
Fans will play guessing games about who James is talking about. From the interview, the only person I’d probably rule out is Triple H, if only because Mickie talks about feeling energized by her work at TakeOver: Stand & Deliver just before her WrestleMania weekend experience signaled to her that it was “time to go”.
It probably doesn’t matter, though. It’s almost certainly bigger than one person. As James says, these things are system-wide.
Let us know what you think, and give the entire episode of GAW a listen here.