It was Valentine’s Day when the life of Mickie James changed forever.
The former TNA Impact Wrestling Knockout and WWE Diva learned she was pregnant.
The accomplished entertainer was in Texas on the road with Nick Aldis, who wrestles as Magnus. She wasn’t feeling herself. Not sick, but tired and low on energy. The 35-year-old decided to take a pregnancy test to ease her mind.
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“[Aldis] was at a show that day,” James remembered. “I went back to the hotel to take a nap because I was tired…I kind of sent him the news right before he was about to go out. He was like, ‘Thanks a lot!’ It was a picture. He didn’t believe me at first. He thought I was lying and trying to rib him because we had been joking around all day about silly things. I said, ‘I wouldn’t joke about this.’ We had a romantic dinner that night and talked about everything. It was pretty awesome actually.”
James believes it will serve as a fun story for her son, Donovan Patrick Aldis, who was born on Sept. 25. Becoming a mother wasn’t really on the performer’s mind.
“I was working on so many things at the time,” she said. “I was already working on a bunch of different projects like a reality show. I was back in the [music] studio, and I wanted to talk to WWE about going back there or taking a position as a trainer. All these thoughts were there. Initially we thought, ‘What are we going to do?’ It was a blessing in disguise. This is a great thing because I was at a point where I wasn’t nailed down to anything at that moment to where I had to say, ‘I have work to do and this and that.’ It was the perfect opportunity for me.
“It was one of those things I’m certain that if I had to sit there and wait for this perfect moment, it would never happen because I’m so career-driven. I always focus on what is next in my career. I wanted to start a family, but it wasn’t something that I was going to take a break to do. At the time I would be ready to do it, it may have been too late.”
It took the wrestling couple a little time to agree on a name.
“It was weird because every time we would agree on a name, you would all of a sudden hear that name a thousand times. We would be like, ‘We haven’t heard any kid’s named Isaiah or whatever?’ Then all of a sudden, you’ve heard it. It was one of those things. Patrick is after Nick’s father.
“Donovan was one of those things where it was, ‘What about Donovan?’ We both agreed on it and loved it. We had a handful. Probably, about five names we narrowed it down to. Donovan was our favorite, but you kind of have to see him first and meet him to see if he is a Donovan. You have to see if that name fits him and suits him. I thought it did.”
For the majority of the former multi-time champion’s life, she had focused on herself. Needless to say, this mentality has changed.
“It was always what move do I do that would be best for me and my career? All those decisions that I’ve made regarding the good, the bad and the ugly have all been of my own. This business, as well as any in the entertainment industry, is very selfish in a sense of you have to think about you. Every decision I make now is not about what I think or need or want. It’s about providing the best life for my son, and how it would affect him.”
The wrestler, model, singer, actress and everything in between has always put 100 percent in everything she does. James aspires to not only be the best mom to Donovan, but at the same time isn’t ready to hang up the boots.
“Other people have done it, working full-time schedules,” James said. “They have gone back to their full-time jobs, whether its business or entertainment or singing or acting. So if they’re capable of doing it, I’m capable of doing it. I don’t feel like this is going to hinder me in any way of doing that.”
The Virginian booked her first match back in the ring on Nov. 30 at the Queens of Combat indie wrestling show in Winston-Salem, N.C. She is set to face the up-and-coming Tessa Blanchard, daughter of WWE Hall of Famer Tully Blanchard and granddaughter of the late Joe Blanchard.
“I had a pretty intense delivery,” James said. “I expected to already be back in the gym to at least start the road to getting fit. I was just cleared a few days ago to return to the gym, and even then, it’s in the sense of taking it easy and easing my way into it. I’m a little apprehensive and nervous about actually physically ready to return. I have made that commitment now, so I don’t want to back out of it.
“It really only gives me less than four weeks to get back into a reasonable amount of shape and hopefully be ready. I’m going to take it as a learning thing. It’s the first time I would be in the ring since February. I was still wrestling before I found out. I was one-and-a-half or two months pregnant when I found out. I had no idea. I was pretty much in the best shape I had been in since I would say when I first debuted in WWE. I was training pretty hard at that point because I was trying to get back in to it.”
James has gotten advice from fellow mom and businesswomen Trish Stratus.
“She has been awesome, called and given me advice. I had talked to her when I had a signing and had to wrestle, but ended up refereeing because I knew at that point. It was a show I had taken in Toronto. So I saw her that day and talked to her about it. I was terrified. What do you do? This is going to change my whole life. I thought, ‘Am I not going to be able to do anything else or what I want to do? Am I going to be a good mom?’
“She was really helpful in that sense. We talk back-and-forth on the phone. She is awesome to give advice. Since she has been at it a year, I have been able to pick her brain. She has been there and has been able to give me advice from her recent experience with it.”
A year ago the WWE alum was invited to the company’s Performance Center to serve as guest trainer. She spent a week in Orlando working with the female talent in developmental.
“I really enjoyed it,” James said. “I enjoyed the whole process. I wasn’t sure it was something I would be remotely good at. You can be a really great performer and be a horrible trainer. I didn’t know if I would have anything to share or offer these people. It seemed to go really well. I enjoyed my time there.
“It’s so crazy the difference when I was in developmental and the system they have now. It really is like an Olympic performance center. If you go into that system as a performer and don’t come out a better performer for whatever reason, then it’s your own fault. You have every tool at your fingertips to be pretty awesome.
“I’m not saying that everyone to come out there is going to be amazing because it can be the case where perhaps it’s not the right shoe for them. I hope that everyone there maintains a little bit of individuality and doesn’t fall into some cookie-cutter mold. It’s a fine line of wanting to learn the system and the business and the game and that WWE mold. At the same time, you want to still have what makes you money and a star, and that’s being your own individual and daring to be different.
“You don’t want to fall into the typical mold of this is what a superstar is because that’s not how it works. Hopefully, in me being there, that is what I shared with them. Just be different. Be yourself. Don’t be scared to be who you are because that’s what got you there in the first place.”
There were a number of divas in training who impressed Coach James.
“Paige was one who stood out to me at that point,” she said. “Paige wasn’t on TV then. Sasha Banks stood out. She had tons of personality. I thought she was really good in a sense I liked her sass and personality. That’s what really gets me is your facials and personality. You can teach anybody wrestling moves, hopefully if they have an athletic bone in their body. However, the ones that are going to make money and be different are the ones with personality.
“Alexa Bliss, I don’t think she was wrestling coming in. That was shocking to me because it stands against everything I believe in is to get a job as a non-wrestler and learn to wrestle in developmental. To me, it’s so backwards. For her, I guess because she was an athlete and she picked it up quickly. Her personality shined through. She has such a vibrant and alive personality. She really grew on me. Maybe it’s because she was little and reminded me of myself.
“Bayley was really good. I heard about her before I got there from shows I had done in California. I kind of had an idea of who she was, but that was kind of the first time I had seen a lot of her. Obviously, Emma and the girls they are bringing along now I had heard a bunch about. The two that stood out to me the most were Paige and Sasha. I would say Alexa, too. I’d say she has a whole lot to learn before [she is called up]. Eva Marie was there working out. Ashley Fliehr [Charlotte] unfortunately was injured at the time I went down there, so I didn’t get to see her work at all. It was a shame because I really wanted to see her, but I’ve seen her since then. She is awesome.”
James enjoyed her coaching experience at the Performance Center, and she hasn’t ruled out another run in WWE.
“It’s something I’m really interested in,” James said. “I’d have to revisit that whole thing…Things have changed since then. I think, ‘I’m better than 90 percent of the talent on TV now. Why am I going to step to the side to just train the future?’ I’m not ready to do that, and I’m not trying to be arrogant and self-absorbed. I can see how it can come off that way, but it’s the truth.
“You look at least 75 percent or at least 80 percent on TV now. I know in my heart of hearts that I can draw more money than them and that I am better than them. I can put more asses in the seats than them. Why would I want to step aside? This is an ego thing, obviously. It’s about knowing your worth and your talent as well.
“Why would I step aside to allow them to continue to be on top when you know you not only deserve to be there, but you deserve to be the best or one of the best. That is where my mind was over a year ago when I was first considering this whole thing. I was real intense about it. Obviously, now I have more than myself to think about. My position on it has changed in a sense that it’s not about just me anymore.”
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