Taryn Terrell has made a remarkable transition from upstart WWE diva to the reigning champion of the TNA Knockouts Division.
The latest milestone for the blond bombshell comes when she defends the gold against an intimidating force known as Kong in the main event of Impact Wrestling 8 p.m. EST Friday, April 24 on Destination America. This title bout headlines “TKO Night of Knockouts,” a themed show dedicated to spotlighting TNA’s impressive female talent.
“It’s insane because you’re not just representing the knockouts, but woman’s wrestling,” Terrell said. “I’m in the main event. It’s mind-blowing. It’s so crazy. It’s going to be a great opportunity. There are so many amazing girls. The fact we get to showcase our talent and wrestling ability is really awesome. Speaking of awesome, I get to wrestle Kong, and I’m going to do everything I can to keep the title. I feel like I deserve it. I’ve earned it. It’s time to beat Kong and keep it.”
The driven performer is grateful to those who helped early on in her career. Her journey into pro wrestling began as a contestant on the 2007 WWE Diva Search. Although she didn’t win, the experience was a foot in the door.
As Tiffany, the diva honed her skills in the company’s developmental system, Florida Championship Wrestling. A shot on the main roster led to a prominent position as an onscreen authority figure on the ECW brand. The New Orleans native’s stint as general manager gave her a large amount of microphone time.
“When I first started in WWE, I was in the ring a lot with Natalya,” Terrell said. “She taught me a ton in the beginning. Fit Finlay was there. Those were people who were very instrumental with my training, along with Dr. Tom Prichard. There are definitely people I look up to. Tommy Dreamer is one of those people. He has kind of been there the entire time of my wrestling career. He is very honest and someone I trust.
“…I remember spending time in Ohio Valley Wrestling when I started with TNA. Al Snow was there and Pat Kenney has helped me too. There are so many people who have gone out of their way to really help me shape who I am as a wrestler.”
From WWE to TNA, Terrell feels her improvement in the ring comes from having more matches under her belt. She also credits being more comfortable mentally and physically every time she laces up the boots. For the knockout, it comes down to believing in one’s self. Terrell turned heads and really became perceived as a serious women’s wrestler through her matches with Gail Kim.
“There is one word to describe the matches with Gail Kim: Magic,” she said. “Gail is an incredible wrestler. She is good. You get in the ring with her and you have the ability to not just have a good match, but to create something that is memorable and magical. I could never imagine have imagined that was going to happen. When we were out there and wrestling, you could feel it. You could feel the energy of the match was different. The Slammiversary match and the ladder match, I think there is a lot of trust out there. We just threw everything out there.
“We are the type of girls that don’t hold back. We give it everything we can, and it paid off. I honestly could have retired form wrestling, right then and there, after those matches. I would have been very happy and satisfied that I could have experienced such magical moments. It’s an addiction for me, so I’m not even thinking about retirement right now. I want to be able to create magic again. My goal is to hang on to the title, but I want to create magic and memorable matches. I’m blessed that I’ve had the opportunity to do it.”
After her run with WWE ended, Terrell began to pursue acting. She got her Screen Actors Guild card for her role in “The Campaign” with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. Along with film and television credits, the star has built a resume for her stunt work as well. She recently spent time on sets such as “Get Hard,” “Daddy’s Home” and even “Jurassic World.” Terrell believes stunts and pro wrestling can go hand-in-hand.
“A lot of people ask me what is harder, stunts or wrestling, and it just depends,” she said. “Wrestling, we don’t really wear pads. We are in tiny clothing, and there is nothing to protect you when you are going into stairs or to protect you when you are going into a table. There are things that make wrestling harder, but there are times when you are doing stunts and getting slammed into a wall. Then you have to do it 46 times, so it doesn’t matter if you have a protective pad on. Doing that 46 times, there is no way you are not going to be miserable after that. At the same time, wrestling and fighting for film are two different things. If anything, it’s hard to adjust when I’m on a film. I have to remember I’m not really hitting someone.”
Terrell took a break from both businesses to have her child Emerson a little over a year ago. Within four or five weeks, she found herself on the stunt job for “Get Hard.” The TNA grappler returned to the ring not long after that.
“I knew that I wanted to continue wrestling,” she said. “I wasn’t done. I wanted to become a champion. This was my dream and my passion. I can’t imagine being done with it just because I was a mother. I think as a mother I want my daughter to know you should go for your dreams. The amazing thing with TNA is I have the availability to be a mom at home the majority of the time and be with her. I travel and take her on the road with me.
“It’s great. The travel schedule is pretty light. That has been a wonderful thing. I’m blessed that I have this opportunity because I don’t think that many people get the chance to live their dream and it doesn’t take away from being a mom.
Moving forward standing atop the knockout mountain, she hopes one day have another run-in with a familiar face from her past.
“Now where I’ve progressed in my career, I would love to work a match with someone like Natalya,” Terrell said. “She is someone who I wrestled when I was a baby in this industry. I think it would be amazing at some point for us to work together again in our careers now that I am much more experienced than I was seven years ago. She is someone I truly respect as a woman’s wrestler. Even if we go to the Hart Dungeon, I would like to have a match with her.”
- “TKO Night of Knockouts” is headlined by Taryn Terrell defending the knockouts championship against Kong 8 p.m. EST Friday, April 24 on Destination America. The sole men’s match on the special edition of Impact Wrestling features TNA champion Kurt Angle taking on Eric Young.
Visit www.ImpactWrestling.Com for details on everything TNA, including their upcoming free Impact Wrestling tapings May 8-11 at Universal Studios Orlando.
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