Ahead of their high-stakes debut this Saturday night at Bound for Glory, former tag team champions Cassie Lee & Jessie McKay, The IInspiration, stopped by IMPACT Wrestling’s weekly Press Pass series to answer questions from journalists all over the world, including from us here at Hooked On Wrestling.
Hosted by Gail Kim, the three icons discuss the heritage of the Knockouts division, The IInspiration’s IMPACT plans, their bond & the chip on their respective shoulders. Catch The IInspiration in action at Bound for Glory, where they challenge Rosemary & Havok for the IMPACT Wrestling Knockouts Tag Team Championships! The show will air worldwide via FITE.
On a mainstream level, women’s wrestling & tag team wrestling have seen a resurgence over the past few years. As a women’s tag team coming into a landscape with a much thicker division in this area, I was interested in whether Lee & McKay felt a chip on their shoulder whilst representing two one-time struggling divisions at once.
(Lee) Absolutely there’s a chip on our shoulder. For the longest time, we have been fighting to show everyone what we can do, not just as individuals but as a tag team. I’ve said it a million times before & I’ll say it everyday for the rest of my life; the goal is to elevate the tag division.
When we first started, we came in with a goal but we knew there was something missing, and that was a women’s tag team division.
Our goal was to help pioneer that. It’s fulfilling now, to be able to really have the platform to show the world exactly what we’ve been working on. It’s been 17 years in the making and it all comes down to this Saturday at Sam’s Town Live.
The IInspiration continued to be just that, as questions continued to come in from elsewhere.
Q: With your debut less than a week away, can you talk to us about what led you to decide on IMPACT Wrestling as the next step in your careers?
(Lee) We’re so excited to be a part of the Knockouts division. Jess & I had a big decision ahead of us about where we wanted to land [sign] and what it really came down to was the fact that the Knockouts division is just on top right now. It has so much talent, especially the tag division, which is Jess & I’s speciality. IMPACT seemed like the best opportunity to show the world what The IInspiration is, and everything we’ve been working on these past five months.
(McKay) The division is just top tier, and that’s where we want to be; competing with the best women from across the world. There are so many women we want to enter the world with & that’s what’s so exciting about IMPACT, the possibilities are just endless.
Q: Whilst growing up & training to become pro wrestlers, who inspired the IInspiration?
(McKay); I grew up watching TNA/ IMPACT. Back then, I had to watch it all on YouTube because that was the only way I could see it! And I was taken away with how incredible Gail is of course, I was such a fan of Gail. Awesome Kong was another one, she is just such a badass woman.
IMPACT has always had such incredible women, and that’s one of the things I think is so special about it. You can trace it all the way back to the start of the company, and there’s never been a time where the women were not featured, and in these incredible storylines.
(Lee); I wanna point out The Beautiful People. For Jess & I, they were an inspiration. We looked up to them because they had two very distinct sides to them; they had their femininity and they could go in the ring. There was a time where if you were ‘only’ beautiful then you were said to not be able to go in the ring, and if you were good in the ring you were depicted as not being beautiful too.
They encapsulated both sides of that, and we feel so strongly about them doing that. Everybody is multidimensional; we all have so many sides & layers to us, and I’m so excited to be in the industry now thanks to all these women who paved the way for us.
Q: We’re so happy to see you guys stick together coming into IMPACT. Was the idea to always stay together as a tag team, and how do you feel going up against Decay?
(McKay) Our focus is being completely in the tag team division; we want to be Knockouts Tag Team champions. That’s where all our focus is going, and been the past few months. We’re always going to support each other no matter what we do, but the tag titles are definitely where our heads are, and thankfully so because this Saturday at Bound for Glory against Decay, is going to be one of the biggest matches of our careers.
(Lee) You look at Decay and you think ‘wow, they’re physically dominating’, and they work well together as a team, which is something we can respect. But, Jess & I are gonna do whatever it takes to become champions. It’s a tall order, we have a lot to prove, but we’re up for the challenge and we’re going to INSPIRE IMPACT along the way.
Q: What are your thoughts on intergender wrestling, and do you think there should be more or less of it?
(Lee) I think everything has its place in wrestling. If intergender wrestling is your piece of cake, then eat your piece of cake. Jess & I both came up training with men, and I feel like we both learned so much that way. I love getting in the ring with the guys, when training we’re always having matches against Spears & Breeze-y. There is a place for everything, but is it something I’m looking to do? No, because Jess & I are a team, and we’re gonna stick with that as our focus.
Q: What made the both of you land on ‘The IInspiration’ as your collective name, and were there any others you considered before jumping back into the wrestling circuit?
(McKay) There were many names thrown around; some great… some horrible… A lot of it was just bouncing stuff off the wall and seeing what stuck. I’ll give props to Cassie, she was the one who came up with The IInspiration, from ‘Bring It On’ [film by Peyton Reed released in 2000] which is a classic film that we’ve all seen a million times. In the film, they call themselves the ‘Inspiration Leaders’, and Cassie loved it, told me about it and I thought it was amazing. It felt like us.
Q: Going through so many ups and downs in your careers, how have you grown & developed since the beginning in comparison to now?
(McKay) I know we’ve both learned so much. The two biggest things I’ve learned from the ‘biz, is to stand up for yourself and to have thick skin. They are the two things in particular I would want somebody else to learn very quickly. Luckily, I was blessed to have Cassie by my side; having a support system is important. Having that person you can rely on, and they have your back, that makes all the difference. Wrestling as a business is always going to be ups and downs, that’s just life. You just gotta learn that it’s about riding the wave, because there’s always something new happening.
(Lee) I agree with all of that, and that’s something I found really hard to learn. When Jess & I came into the industry, I had very thin skin actually, I don’t think you learn to thicken it up until you get in the field and you’re working, practicing. I’m so glad that’s something we’ve been able to support each other through and like you said ‘grow’, it’s all about growth.
If using any of this transcription, please give a h/t to Dane Nielsen and Hooked On Wrestling.