Word got out in the hours before the show, but whether you found out in advance or when she was announced as the fifth entrant in WWE’s 2024 Women’s Royal Rumble, TNA Knockouts champion Jordynne Grace’s appearance on Saturday night (Jan. 27) in St. Peterburg, Florida was one heck of a surprise.
It also created quite a bit of excitement about whether it could lead to more TNA/WWE crossovers.
TNA has their Women’s titleholder doing a ton of interviews this week to capitalize on all the interest Grace’s 19 minutes and 10 seconds in the Rumble generated, and she’s explaining how her appearance came together — and offering her own thoughts on the future.
She told Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp that she didn’t believe it when she first heard about the idea from TNA President Scott D’Amore:
“First of all, Scott doesn’t really ever call me. When I saw the call, my immediate instinct was to not answer it because I thought I might be in trouble about something, who knows what. When I answered it and he told me that, I didn’t really know what to think... Honestly, when he said it, I was like, ‘Maybe this is just an idea that they have and it’s not for real. Maybe they are testing the waters a little bit.’ Honestly, I did not think it was going to happen until I got my actual flight to Orlando to go to the PC. That’s when everything started to feel real.”
Leading up the Rumble last week, Grace had to get a physical as part of getting “the medical stuff done”. Most of the details were handled by D’Amore. She went to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando on Thursday as the match was being laid out, and prior to that hadn’t mentioned her appearance to anyone other than her husband (former Ring of Honor World champ Jonathan Gresham). The secrecy led to a funny moment at the PC with her friend, and the wrestler she just won the Knockouts belt from at Hard to Kill earlier this month, Trinity/Naomi:
“I thought it was better that I keep that secret until I saw her at the Performance Center, just because it was funny. You know how you see someone out of context and you don’t recognize them? That’s exactly how her reaction was. She was just confused. ‘What are you doing here?’ Before the excitement took over. She was so confused about why I was there.”
It also a pissed off Chelsea Green. Green is another of the surprising number of familiar faces Grace encountered at WWE (“I think that’s one of the reasons why I got so comfortable so fast is because I know a lot of people there”), and when they crossed paths Chelsea wasn’t happy her friend had worked her too:
“I saw Chelsea Green, who was really mad that I didn’t tell her. She came up and she hit me. ‘Someone just texted me and said you were here and I didn’t believe them, but here you are.’ She was really upset that I didn’t tell her.”
Grace was a little bummed that her appearance was reported online Saturday afternoon. In her attempt to pull off the rare completely unexpected pro wrestling moment, she drove from Orlando to Tampa/St. Pete, stayed at the "surprise hotel" away from WWE-contracted talent, and even posting pre-recorded videos of herself at home with her dog on social media Saturday afternoon. It wasn't a total success, but Jordynne was pleased they were able to keep it as much of a surprise as they did.
Then she wasn’t sure if the Royal Rumble crowd would know who she was, or get the significance of her initial moment sharing the ring with Naomi:
“It’s crazy. I don’t know how many actual WWE fans watch TNA. I don’t know what the exact crossover is, but it felt so good to get that reaction when we had the stand off and the hug. That was awesome. I’m so glad everybody kind of knew what was going on between us.”
She’s still processing the fact she got a “TNA” chant at a WWE stadium show:
”I don’t know that there is a word to describe that feeling. To put it into perspective for you, I made my WWE debut, officially, at the Royal Rumble, wearing the OG TNA Knockouts Championship. Those words together don’t even feel real to say.”
In another interview, Grace told Denise Salcedo her main focus was on not screwing up Saturday night at Tropicana Field. She’s a little tough on herself, but acknowledges it went well:
“Don’t fuck anything up. To be realistic, that was the main thing. You know what’s funny is one of the things I was most worried about was the entrance because, obviously, that’s the first time that people are going to see me just on WWE in general. So, I wanted to look good. And actually, I did fuck it up. I went out and I didn’t even do my pose when I went out. I was so overwhelmed I just stood there and I was smiling and I looked around and was like, ‘Alright, let me just get to the ring now.’ So, I did fuck it up but I didn’t mess up anything in the ring, thank God, so that’s all I can ask for. “
And based on what she told Sapp, she’s definitely proud of how the night went for her home promotion:
“People liked it, so that’s all you can hope for in the end. I just wanted to represent TNA to the absolute best of my ability. TNA is an amazing company and there are amazing wrestlers there. I was kind of a walking advertisement for TNA. Thank God, a lot of people I saw were saying they were going to tune into TNA after seeing me wrestle. That’s all I could have ever hoped for.”
So... now what? Grace doesn’t have any inside information (that she’s willing to share, anyway), but tells WrestlingNews.co’s Steve Fall that...
“Now I think anything’s possible. I didn’t think that they’d — Mickie [James, who competed in the 2022 Rumble while Knockouts champ] is one thing, because she has been to WWE, she has a rapport there. But I’ve never wrestled at WWE. I’ve never been on NXT, never been on Raw, never been on SmackDown. I was never in the PC until last Thursday. So I honestly think anything could happen.”
Even the match with the wrestler who eliminated her from the Rumble, Bianca Belair? Grace teased as much on X after her appearance, and she was even more clear about it while talking to Fall:
“Of course [I’m challenging Belair to one-on-one match in TNA]. Any time she wants to come over and challenge for the belt, I would love to wrestle her.”
Who’s ready to see The EST step through the [“stupid and silly” term redacted]?