As a five time WWE Women’s Champion, one time WWE Diva’s Champion, three time TNA Knockout’s Champion and ranked number one in the 2009 PWI Female 50 Mickie Laree James has certainly had a lot of accolades in her wrestling career.
Born in Montpelier, Virginia in 1979, James was a fan of professional wrestling from an early age. She made her debut in 1999 for KYDA Pro Wrestling under the name Alexis Laree as a valet/manager, most notably managing Tommy Dreamer as he won that company’s Pro Heavyweight Title. Her first match came in March 2000, an intergender tag team match, but James was focused on improving her talents. She attended numerous training camps including Dory Funk’s Funking Conservatory, the ECW Dojo and Maryland Championship Wrestling camp s run by Bobby Eaton and Ricky Morton.
By 2002 she was making appearances for Ring Of Honor and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling Although she preformed on the second ever TNA weekly pay-per-view (in a lingerie battle royale) it would be a year or so before she became a regular. She aided The Amazing Red in his feud with Kid Kash and Trinity before joining Raven’s stable The Gathering. Highlights of her run there included wrestling in two Clockwork Orange House of Fun matches and feuding with Father James Mitchell’s Disciples of the New Church stable, including an angle where Mitchell attacked her with a fireball.
James’ dream was to work for the WWE though and she finally got her development contract in 2003. It took her two years to “graduate” to the main roster; in that time she won a Halloween Costume Contest and feuded with the likes of Jillian Hall, Beth Phoenix and Shelley Martinez . It was during this time that she first used her real name of Mickie James in the ring.
In October 2005 Mickie finally graduated to the full-time roster and immediately was thrown into a programme with Trish Stratus. Mickie debuted as Trish’s “number one fan” and although the two initially teamed up in tag team matches, James soon became over-obsessed with her hero. A loss to Stratus at 2006’s New Year’s Revolution ppv only fuelled the feud, as James became even more obsessed, and James finally turned on Stratus setting up their WrestleMania 22 clash. James won in a match where she received more cheers than boos, largely because the male audience approved of the “lesbian” angle to her character’s chase of Stratus.
The prolonged feud with Stratus was cut short when the former champion suffered an injury in their Backlash rematch, and James held the title until August 2006 when she was defeated by Lita. Trish returned and then retired which left the belt vacant. James got to the finals of the tournament but lost to Lita at Cyber Sunday. The subsequent feud saw James turn babyface and eventually defeat Lita at Survivor Series to win the belt.
From there James feuded with Melina as they traded the belt (including a house show reign for James that lasted minutes before she dropped the belt back) and subsequently feuded with Beth Phoenix, including James’ fourth reign as WWE Women’s Champion. James moved onto challenging for the Diva’s title, defeating Maryse at Night Of the Champions 2009 and defending against the likes of Gail Kim, Beth Phoenix and Alicia Fox before dropping the belt to Jillian Hall and being drafted to Smackdown. She had a controversial feud with Michelle McCool, whose “Piggy James” jibes were thought to be a thinly veiled (and completely unnecessary) corporate attack on James’ weight, although James did get her revenge at Royal Rumble 2010 when she defeated McCool to win her fifth Women’s Title. After dropping the belt back the following month it was the beginning of the end in WWE for James, who was released in April of that year. Some have speculated it was partly due to her wish to release a country music album away from the auspices of the WWE.
After working some independent dates, Mickie returned to TNA in October 2010. She feuded with the likes of Madison Rayne, Tara and Angelina Love, finally winning the Knockout’s Title at 2011’s Lockdown show, where she defeated Madison Rayne in less than a minute, a truncated match due to a legitimate James injury. Title defences against the likes of Rayne, Love and Miss Tessmacher followed, before she traded the belt with Winter on a couple of occasions. The highlight of James’ 2011 though might well have been meeting yours truly after she’d preformed a concert at Nashville’s Hard Rock Café as part of the annual Country Music Fan Fest.
When Gail Kim won the belt, James feuded extensively with her but could never win the belt. Indeed James seemed to lose a lot of bouts in TNA in 2012, failing to win the belt in matches with Miss Tessmacher and Tara as well. It was May 2013 before she won the belt, defeating Velvet Sky to win her third Knockout’s title. James slowly turned heel and arguably gave the best promo’s of her career, especially on the July 4th show, but she failed to agree a new contract with the group and thus dropped the belt to ODB in September in her final TNA Match.
James has been interviewed by WWE.com and has trained at the new Performance Centre with the NXT divas, so despite those rumours about her departure from the company back in 2010, it seems there might be a chance she will return to the WWE rings.
A reliable performer for eight years in the WWE and TNA, James could usually be relied up on to make the best of whatever situation she found herself in. Indeed, if anything she got even better at the end, exuding confidence and character. It makes you hope there indeed might be one last run in the WWE on the horizon.
MAJOR TITLES HELD: WWE Women’s Championship (x 5), WWE Diva’s Champion, TNA Women’s Knockout Champion (x 3), PWI Woman Of The Year 2009 and 2011, Ranked number 1 in the PWI Female 50 in 2009.
RECOMMENDED MATCHES: Vs Trish Stratus (WrestleMania 22), Vs Tara (Steel Cage, Impact )
– By Matthew Roberts