Jordynne Grace Explains How WWE Royal Rumble Appearance Came Together, Spot With Naomi, And More

Jordynne Grace was one of the biggest surprise entrants in the WWE Royal Rumble, coming in at number five and representing TNA Wrestling by wearing the TNA Knockouts Championship to the ring.

In a video put out by TNA Wrestling, Grace said she was surprise by the call and Scott D'Amore joked that she would be jumping the barricade to enter the Rumble.

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Speaking to Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful, Grace was asked if she did think it was a publicity stunt at first.

"I don't really know what I thought. 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. I didn't think it was a publicity stunt that was being pitched. 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," she said.

Asked how the week went leading up to the event, Grace said, "I had to get the physical, the medical stuff done. It was a lot of waiting for everything to be approved. A lot of the stuff went through Scott just because I'm with TNA, and I don't know the legal logistics and everything. It had to go through Scott. I ended up getting my flight information, my hotel. They put me at a different hotel than all the main wrestlers. I guess that's the 'surprise hotel.' On Thursday, I flew out to the PC [WWE Performance Center] in Orlando and from there I drove to Tampa that night. They asked me if I wanted to go home on Friday and I was like, 'No, I just need a day to mentally prepare myself for this.' I ended up, that day, going to the gym and trying to be as normal as possible. Spray tan and all that normal stuff. Saturday was the day."

It was noted that wrestlers were surprised that Grace was at Rumble rehearsal, which took place on Thursday. Grace said she wanted to keep things a surprise as best she could.

"I didn't tell anybody, besides my husband [Jonathan Gresham]. I didn't tell any wrestlers because I was so scared of anything getting out, which of course, it did anyway, but it could have gotten out (sooner). Ruining surprises, you can't have surprises in wrestling anymore. People were shocked. I saw so many people that I've known for years. They all thought this was my official debut. No, I'm TNA Knockouts Champion and I'm here representing TNA. That was even more shocking to them. 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. 'It's better that I'm here as a surprise.' I also didn't tell Trinity, which was the funniest thing. All week, I'm texting her, 'I'm really excited to see you in the Rumble.' What she didn't know is I was going to be standing across the ring seeing her," said Grace.

Coming in the Rumble at number five, Grace was quickly greeted by Trinity (Naomi in WWE), who entered the Rumble at number two. Grace defeated Trinity to win the TNA Knockouts Championship at TNA Hard to Kill, which was Trinity's last TNA PPV bout before returning to WWE.

"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," Grace said of her interaction with Trinity in the Rumble.

Grace confirmed she could hear the "TNA" chants from the crowd and said, "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."

Grace's time in TNA and her history with Trinity was referenced by Michael Cole on commentary.

When asked for her and Trinity's reaction to learning of their spot in the Rumble, Grace replied, "She cries a lot. She was almost in tears about it. My reaction to everything leading up to this was disassociation, kind of, just because I was in complete disbelief of everything. It was an amazing positive experience."

It was reported at the beginning of January that Trinity would be finishing up with TNA and was expected to return to WWE. Speculation quickly began that she would return at the Royal Rumble.

Asked about keeping her appearance a surprise from Trinity, while knowing Trinity would be in the match, Grace said, "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."

Though Grace was at rehearsals on Thursday, news of her appearing in the Rumble match didn't come out until Saturday.

"It was almost the day. It hadn't been leaked yet. I really thought it was going to get out when I showed up at the PC and there were so many people there, but nothing happened Thursday and nothing happened Friday. Fingers crossed. You [Sean] sent me the eyeball emoji, I saw it, and ignored it. 'There it is,'" she recalled.

Grace lasted just under 20 minutes in the match before Bianca Belair eliminated her.

Asked how she felt about her performance, Grace replied, "I thought I did pretty well. 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."

Representing TNA meant more than just performing in the match as Grace was trusted with potentially building a relationship with WWE.

"It is an insane amount of pressure. There is nothing I can really say about it besides that. It's so much pressure, not just to perform well in the ring, but to establish relationships backstage, positive relationships. Sometimes, a lot of times, that it much harder than actually going out there and wrestling. I feel extremely blessed that they trusted me enough to go on and do that. Hopefully, I just made TNA proud," she said.

Asked if she had heard anything about WWE and TNA possibly working together in the future, Grace replied, "I have no personal insight or anything, but I have a very good gut feeling. I feel like it's a win-win for everybody. There is nothing bad that can come from a relationship between TNA and WWE. TNA gets exposure and ability to represent their brand. WWE gets to do something awesome for the wrestling community."

TNA and WWE had worked together in the past with Mickie James representing the company in the 2022 Royal Rumble.

Finally, Grace was asked if she saw any familiar faces backstage.

"I saw CM Punk. When I saw him, he was filming something, a documentary maybe. He recognized me from TNA, so we had a conversation. A lot of those people, because of social media, social media has made the community even more tight-knit. I got to meet Rhea for the first time. She's so sweet and nice in person, I absolutely love her. All the girls. Mia [Mia Yim aka Michin] was there. Aja [Referee Aja Smith], we actually used to wrestle like ten years ago on the Georgia indies. To see her there and for us to be there together was kind of a full circle thing. That was awesome. Shotzi. Most of the girls that I've wrestled with on the indies and have been backstage with at TNA. I didn't realize how many people I was actually going to know. I think that's one of the reasons why I got so comfortable so fast is because I know a lot of people there," she said.

Grace is still under contract to TNA Wrestling.

Fans can find results from WWE Royal Rumble by clicking here. Check out the post-show podcast for a full review of the show by clicking here.

Fightful has coverage of TNA iMPACT! every Thursday beginning at 8 p.m. ET followed by a post-show podcast on our YouTube channel.

Check out the full interview with Jordynne in the video above.

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