Peyton Royce and Billie Kay open up about the shock they felt when they first received their WWE releases.
Peyton Royce and Billie Kay, the former WWE Women's Tag Team Champions, were released by WWE on Thursday, April 15, 2021. For the majority of their WWE career, they were a package duo but following a loss to The Riott Squad in autumn 2020, they would spend their final months in WWE as separate entities.
Speaking about their release on the latest episode of Busted Open Radio, both women described the surprise that they felt when receiving the phone call that they were let go. In the case of Billie Kay, she had competed at WrestleMania earlier that week alongside Carmella in a number one contender’s tag team match.
“I wish I knew, to be honest. When I say it was a total shock, I had no idea,” said Kay. “When I got the phone call, I thought it was in regards to something else. When I heard those words, 'we're going to release you,' my heart dropped. I was shocked and heartbroken. I didn't have answers and I don't think I'm going to get answers. At the moment, I'm trying to have peace with that.”
Peyton Royce added, “It was a shock. Obviously, they do the budget cuts once a year but they hadn't done it in a while and I thought last year was purely because of the pandemic. I didn't see it coming and maybe I should have because I was doing nothing since they split us. I was laying in the middle of a massage, my husband told me to check my phone, I checked it and was like, 'Yup, I'm done.' Jumped off the bed and I realized what was going down. Complete shock and I feel like I'm still going through waves where one day I'll feel free and excited for the opportunities and other days I wonder like, 'I just don't understand.' I don't think there's much of a reason other than cuts had to be made.”
Peyton continued, “I feel like creative never understood us. When we first came in, Vince really loved our first promo and was like, 'Give them a microphone every week.' Thank the lord because not many people get that opportunity and it's such a good way for the audience to get to know you and understand who you are. I know Vince enjoyed it but I don't think creative understood it and they wanted to send us in a direction that was fine, but I'm not sure they understood what we see for ourselves. When they split us, it was like, 'we understand us less.'
Billie Kay then opened up about struggles that she had trying to Rediscover her identity after they split up the Australian duo.
“When they split us, I think they thought they knew what they were doing, but I don't think they understood it. We are different, individually. After they split us, we were struggling and I had no idea who I was. I had this image like I had to be like 'come at me' and be sexy or (do like) moonsaults and that's just not me. It wasn't until I got drafted to SmackDown, which really helped me because I would talk to TJ a lot and be like, 'This is what I want to do and who I am and what I think is relatable.' He was like, 'Go for it.' I was able to show for a while who I was and I thought it was getting received well. I was having a blast at TV and having fun and doing what I wanted to do and feeling fulfilled.”
Peyton Royce, who had garnered some positive feedback from a promo that she cut on Raw Talk about wanting to step up to the plate and challenge Asuka for the WWE Raw Women's Championship said she had a strange feeling that the match she would end up having with Asuka on Raw would be her last and she later found out cut the only reason she ever got the match at all is that somebody had COVID.
“The match I had with Asuka was strange because I felt happy and fulfilled, but I had a strange feeling overcome me that it was going to be my last wrestling match. Then I found out after that I only got that match because someone had COVID. It wasn't like my Raw Talk promo got me the opportunity. Every time I spoke to creative, I couldn't get past them. I couldn't get ideas pitched and I was struggling. I had a strange feeling that was my last match.”
For Billie Kay, who was thriving with her comedic gimmick where she would hand other wrestlers her headshot and resume, she explained that she had a blast with the gimmick and her final match at WrestleMania and was under the impression that she would continue working with Carmella moving forward.
“With the headshot and resume, it was my first promo that I ever did on SmackDown and I thought it was cool as they reintroduced me as a singles competitor and once we did it, I was like, 'I want to keep doing this.' I felt like it was something I could do because I love to interact with everyone. I said to the writers, 'I'm going to do this every week. If you have a 30-second segment to fill, any spot you need to fill time, let me give [the resume] to someone and see what happens.' Thankfully, I got that opportunity. I was feeling good and WrestleMania comes around and I'm in the tag team gauntlet. I was super excited to work with her and before we went out, I wanted to have fun with my entrance. I was told that Carmella and I were doing stuff after.”
Ultimately, both women are looking to stick together in the next phase of their wrestling journey and have also started a new podcast where they are able to open up and show more of their true personalities.
On the first episode of the Off Her Chops podcast, The IIconics opened up about anxiety that they experienced while traveling for WWE. Learn more about that here.
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