On April 15, Mickie James was part of a handful of releases made by WWE.
Mickie had been with WWE since returning to the company in 2016, but had not been featured regularly on television since September 2020.
Speaking on her Grown Ass Women podcast, Mickie detailed how she felt during her run and the events leading up to her release.
"Over the last two years with getting switched to SmackDown and not getting used. I never debuted on TV, I tore my ACL. I kept feeling these things of 'we want you to retire. We want you to be an agent.' It was what they wanted for me. It wasn't that I wasn't grateful for those opportunities, but at the same time, I see the agents and what they have to go through. They don't get any of the praise or thanks that they deserve. They deal with a lot of crap. I don't know if I could personally handle that. I'm too much of a creative person. Ideas that I had, they fell on deaf ears. If I fight for something, it's what I genuinely believe. I have tons of ideas, not all of them are great, but if I think it's great, I'll promote it," she said.
Some ideas Mickie had included pitching stuff for the WWE Network, including a GAW-type show with various women in WWE.
"Two or three years ago, I pitched a show similar to [GAW] with two or three girls on a panel and similar concept. 'Who are you wearing? what are you drinking? what's going on in pop culture?' [I pitched it] for the Network and I might as well have been talking to [my dog]. [I pitched] a game show idea. I wasn't even the star. If I'm going to be working behind the scenes, this is how my brain operates," she said.
Mickie had a big conversation at WrestleMania 37 weekend that didn't go the way she had hoped, leading to her having doubts about her position in the company.
"Anything I've pitched, they weren't into it. I wanted to find a balance in between. There was this moment where I said, 'What if we do an all-female brand?' If I could help lead up that and have an awesome team of women....we have the talent, tools, and facilities. It would really help all the girls who are not getting television time. This one person says to me, 'They're never going to do it. Ever. Women's wrestling doesn't make money. WWE Evolution was the lowest-rated PPV ever in WWE. I get what you're trying to do, but I don't understand why you're fighting so hard for it. You should play the cards you're dealt and see if there's a way to incorporate that within a show rather than fight for it to be its own show.' I just realized that every decision they do, a lot of it is business and how it falls in line with business. I'm just disappointed as a whole with being made to feel old with Depends and a walker and the whole ageism thing. I think we missed out on a lot of moments, whether it was me tying Trish's record and Charlotte tied that and beat me or the Chelsea Green angle (working on Twitter). I originally pitched (that angle) for Liv (Morgan in 2019) because I love Liv. There have been several moments we could have done and should've done that we missed the boat on," she said.
Chelsea Green recently told Fightful that she and Mickie taped a WWE match that never aired.
On top of pitching ideas, Mickie said she was scheduled to go to the Performance Center for two weeks after WrestleMania to help with training.
Mickie noted that she always talked to WWE about ideas she did outside the company, including DressleMania, which took place over WrestleMania week. She made sure to get approval by WWE for a charity of their choice to get women in the company involved.
GAW co-host Victoria recalled that when they were hanging out during Royal Rumble weekend, Mickie was getting messages about pulling down certain tweets.
Mickie thought things were fine after she was at both nights of NXT TakeOver, but the energy felt off when she left WrestleMania and she prayed on what she should do next, leaving it in God's hands.
Following her release, Mickie is now excited about the new opportunities.
"We are so passionate about this sport. It's equivalent to loving someone who is incapable of loving you the right way back," she said. "You sacrifice and give so much. You give blood, sweat, and tears, which you can never get back and completely invest yourself into being exactly what you're needed to be. When it's over and when the string is cut, they can still make you feel like, yes it's a blessing to have this job and get paid but are you quite worthy of holding that position? You're constantly trying to prove to yourself or someone else that you are worthy. That kind of mentality can keep you stuck."
But that wasn't the end of it.
On April 22, Mickie posted a photo of a trash bag with her name on it, thanking WWE for her "care package" following her release. In response to the incident, WWE took action and make office changes within the company, including firing longtime employee Mark Carrano, who was the "point of blame" for sending trash bags to released talent over the years.
Speaking about the incident, Mickie said, "All I can do is laugh about it. It's not even about the trash bag. I was astonished at how it took off. I almost deleted the post because I felt like it came off as too nasty or bitter. I was being sarcastic and laugh at myself and the situation. I got my stuff the exact same way ten years ago. The difference is, at that point, I honestly believed it and took it to heart and thought 'this is what the company thinks about me.' I know I made bad decisions, but at the same time, it didn't spark there. Between the Piggy James stuff and even in the last run, it's just how I felt positioned in the last three years. It's okay. I'm good now because I'm in a good space and can express myself in a real fashion. I was like 'Wow, they still do this. This is bullshit.' It's also kind of comical because it's literally how I felt that they thought about me for the last three years whenever I'd pitch anything or talk about anything."
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon issued social media statement about the incident, leading to a front office shake up in WWE. Vince McMahon also personally called Mickie to apologize.
"I know it wasn't a direct thing. I empathize with Mark and feel bad he's taking the full brunt, it sucks, but I guarantee his pension package is more than what I got paid in my last run. So, I don't feel that bad. He was not happy in that situation. I'm pissed and don't want to come across as angry, but it is a direct reflection of everything I've experienced in coming back. I was happy to take a backseat and take a trainer role. All I asked for was a curtsy out the door. It was never 'I want one last run' or 'I want to wrestle for the next five years.' All I wanted was a little respect so it wouldn't feel like unfinished business. I felt because I was asking for this one thing, it was going to come with a price. I'm not saying that's from Vince because he's always been respectful to me. He called me on the phone to apologize for this incident and to let me know that this isn't what he thought of me. I tagged Vince because he needs to know. There's a lot of stuff that happens under his nose that he is oblivious to because he's running a multi-billion dollar company. The small-minded mentality sometimes leads to thoughtless behavior. Especially for me, to constantly be presented as old, when I'm 41 years old and every single male champion has always been my same age or older and has been glorified for those reasons. As they should be, they're amazing. Why is it different for women or for me? Ageism is a real thing and it's bullshit. I'm grateful for the strides we've made to be seen as equal, but it's not true for every person and it's unfortunate. I don't know why I was made to feel like I didn't deserve it. I did everything in my power to be a company girl," she said.
The reigning WWE Champion, Bobby Lashley, is 44 years old.
Of all the releases made on April 15, Mickie said she was most surprised by Billie Kay's.
"For [Billie Kay & Peyton Royce], I could feel how they were probably feeling in that moment because I remember the first time when it happened to me, you do think there's a chance to come back or one more run and you don't want to burn that bridge and you need to be diplomatic and respectful so you don't piss anybody off and it takes away that opportunity. For me, if they think that 41 is old, there's no way I'm coming back for one more run now, and knowing what I know now, would I want to?" she wondered.
Victoria said Mickie would come back if given the opportunity because of the fans. It was the fans who helped Heftygate take on a larger life with the hashtag #MickieDeservesBetter trending. And despite WWE releasing Mark Carrano, the person who made Mickie feel the way she did is still there.
"The fans were way more offended than I was. The person who is responsible for me feeling like shit and trying to devalue me or sabotage me or make me feel less than is still very much employed," she stated.
Mickie did not name the person in question.
Mickie currently has a 90-day non-compete clause that is set to expire in July.
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