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TNA Knockout Mickie James celebrates her birthday back home with wrestling, concert

Mickie James will celebrate her 33 birthday tonight, Aug. 31, by doing two of the things she loves most -- wrestling and singing -- and she gets to do it in front of her friends and family.

The TNA Impact Wrestling Knockout will face Gail Kim in a match tonight in her hometown of Richmond, Va., (and again Saturday at the TNA BaseBrawl event at Prince George's Stadium in Bowie), then celebrate with a birthday party and concert later that night at Kingdom in Richmond.

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During a TV and radio blitz Thursday in her hometown, Mickie was kind enough to take a few minutes to speak with the Carroll County Times about this weekend's events and update fans on her music and wrestling careers since she last spoke to Chair Shots in July 2010.

First of all, thanks for taking a couple minutes to talk to me today. First of all, you guys are going to be in your hometown of Richmond this Friday, and then Saturday in Maryland for a BaseBrawl event. Are you excited to be wrestling close to home again?

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Yeah! Hometown Throwdown, that's what I've been calling it. Absolutely, for me it's very exciting to be able to come back to the places that I started, Virginia and the Maryland area being in MCW for so long, to be able to come back full circle from the humble beginnings of wrestling in front of a hundred people to now in front of thousands. It's always refreshing and exciting plus you get to perform in front of your friends and family and people who have followed you from Day One. So it's a good experience for me and I love it. I love it! Plus I get to sleep in my own bed!

And I see its on your birthday too -- that's a happy coincidence isn't it?

It is. Well, yeah, and I'm peforming at the Kingdom? live with my band after the TNA show, we're doing an afterparty in Richmond, on my birthday, no stress.

Do you know who you are going to be wrestling at these two shows?

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Gail, I'll be wrestling Gail Kim. I didn't get a chance really to work with Gail until she came back to TNA. And it's something I've always wanted to do because incredibly talent, just a great athlete, a great wrestler. And we have great chemistry together, you know.

You spent a lot of time in WWE -- what's the biggest difference between how TNA treats their Knockouts versus how WWE treats the Divas?

I don't really compare the two, honestly. When I was with WWE they treated me very well and my character was very much based around my wrestling because I am a wrestler. But now to come to TNA and be their top female star, or one of the top female stars, within the organization, within the industry itself, they've taken very good care of me and the Knockouts, we get primetime on TV because there's no doubt we draw some of the best ratings and we'll go out there and we deliver and we'll get a 10-minute match on TV which, perhaps, wouldn't have happen within WWE. I think they are two seperate entities and two seperate products in itself whereas TNA isn't so PG and its more based around the wrestling fans involvement and less characters and stuff like that. It's unique.

That's what I was getting at, the difference in the way you are highlighted. For example, you main evented Impact earlier this year. Can you talk about that?

It's cool to be able to main event in a steel cage match on live TV. Any time you are given the main event spotlight is a cool thing. And usually that is saved for the heavyweight championship and the top guys in the industry, so to be a woman and to be given that spot, even for just one show, is a great honor.

You mention the cage match, I guess back in 2010, when you first got to TNA you and Tara had -- what is to the best of my knowledge -- the first women's wrestling steel cage match for a major promotion. What were some of the challenges to that match and were you two concerned heading into that whether the fans would be receptive?

It wasn't the first, I think it was like the third, but it was one of the first times and it was my first steel cage match. You want to be able to compete at the same level, and if you are given that particular spot in the show to be able to compete and make sure that you're gaining just as much up as the guys are. Which I have no doubt that it is, because we're amazing. (Laughs.)

You were in TNA in the early days -- what do you remember most about your first go-round there and what do you think of the company then versus now?

Oh wow, I mean, it's changed so much. To watch it grow from the baby company that it was when I first started, taping pay-per-views at the Nashville Fairgrounds to now a global company that's very successful all over the world, it's pretty cool. And to see the starts that have come through, I think it's all added to the development of the company and to be seen in the bigger picture and I can't wait for 5 years from now, 10 years from now as it continues to grow and become its own identity and really hone in on the Impact Wrestling fanbase and what they want and provide something different. Because there is nothing better in the world than competition, it makes everyone step up their game.

What are your thoughts on Brooke Hogan and her role with the company right now?

Well, I think it's a cool thing. I know she had some pretty big shoes to fill when she came in and I'm sure that's an intimidating thing. I mean, that's a tough position to be in, to be the daughter of such a legendary icon in this industry and to be put on that same kind of judging table, it's definitely one of those things. But I think she's done a great job, but, you know, the past two months I've only been on a handful of those TVs, so it's tough to say.

How are things going with the music career? Are you planning to release another album soon?

I am. We just wrapped up in the studio last month, finishing up the album and we're talking about releasing the single in the latter part of October, early November; doing a music video for it. And then the whole album should be out in January after the holidays and stuff.

What's the biggest thing you learned from doing the first album?

The first album I completely did on my own, and I did learn a lot. I tried to go out there and promote the album or whatever, but it's one of those things where, when you're coming from one industry -- and granted they're both the entertainment industry -- but I want to be taken seriously as an artist and want people to genuinely like my music. I think my wrestling fans and the fans of Mickie James as a person, I love them because they are going to love me no matter what I do, but to be able to capture a new audience, people who don't know me from the wrestling world who only know me for my music, or just heard a song or whatever. It's cool when you get that positive response back where they're like, man, she's really, really rockin'. And this new stuff, is slammin'. It's awesome; I'm really excited.

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I actually just did an interview with Chris Jericho about his band Fozzy the other day, and we were talking about how pro wrestling kind of prepared him for being on stage as an entertainer. How much did that help being comfortable in front of the cameras and the live crowd when you went on tour doing your music the first time?

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I think that is a blessing in diguise, going out and wrestling in front of 90,000 people, so to be able to do that, it does take the nerves off a little bit when you're performing on stage with just you and your band. The only thing that makes it different is, when I'm out in that ring, I'm portraying a character, Mickie James the wrestler. I'm out there performing with my opponent and I'm only as good as my opponent is, whereas, at the end of the day, when I'm on stage with my band -- my band backs me up and they're amazing -- but if I mess up, you're so vunerable. It's just you and your microphone with a band behind you.

Your wrestling career now has spanned over a decade -- is there one match or one opponent who really sticks out in your mind as a favorite?

That's a tough one, because I've wrestled the best of the best you know? I've had some great matches. One of my favorite matches was in Alaska against Beth Phoenix, it was never televised, it was a 15-minute match, we just tore the house down and got a standing ovation when we came back through the curtain. It was one of those feelings were you were just 'wow.' It was just a good night really. We all have our good nights and our bad nights, you know? I've been blessed to have a tredmendous career and I've got a lot of credibility from the females I've been able to step in the ring with, across the board, all over the country.

Is there any one female wrestler you've never gotten a chance to work with that you would like to?

Sara Del Ray. I would've liked to have worked with her. And I would've loved to have done a program with Serena, just because I've known her since she first started. I remember when she first walked into wrestling school at OVW and I was there under developmental at the time, I just saw so much passion, I just saw myself in her so much, that I had always wanted to work a program with her, but it never took place. I also was scheduled to wrestle Sara Del Ray, but unfortunately seperated my shoulder like a week or two before the match so they ended up replacing me. I had been so excited because I've heard wonderful things about her and I've met her and she's such a great girl and is incredibly talent. You never know, maybe further down the road.

Del Ray obviously just cracked the PWI 500, and that's a big deal, do you think you'd ever do some of the things she was like getting in the ring with male competitors?

Well, I have wrestled guys before on TV and not televised. But I mean, I don't know. I'm always up for anything. When it comes to being in the ring, I'm over-prepared, honey.

You've captured pretty much every major women's title there is to have in professional wrestling -- what goals does Mickie James have left in the ring?

Well, I have gotten the KnockOut Tag Team Titles yet, but my thing is I can't stay friends with anybody in the ring too long to capture them. I think that's my problem because everyone is competition you know what I mean? (Laughs.) No, but I have tons of aspirations. I think anyone who steps in the ring they aspire to go down as one of the greatest and that will always be my ultimate goal. Whether that happens or not, we'll see. We can hope right?

What about life after wrestling, have you given that much thought, or you just going to keep doing this until you can't do it anymore?

No, I sure hope not. I mean, I love wrestling but I don't foresee myself doing it for the rest of my life. I think it'll always be part of my life in some aspect whether I'm an ambassador or perhaps, you never know, commentating, or whatever, an agent, a teacher or something. But I'm also working really hard on my music career, so hopefully being able to do that and still being involved in wrestling in some aspect would be wonderful. Maybe when I retire when I'm 55 or 60 years old I'll be on my horse farm just hanging out.

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