TNA Knockout Taryn Terrell talks setting herself on fire, getting hit by cars, making it as a female wrestler and her dream of winning championship gold…
Professional wrestling might traditionally be a man’s game, but the TNA Knockouts division has regularly proved in recent years why women can offer much more to the sport than a hot body and a storyline twist.
In the second-half of 2014, there is none more prominent in the TNA Knockouts division than Taryn Terrell: back with the company after taking a year out to become a mother for the first time.
The 28-year-old, who began her career in the WWE Diva Search back in 2007, came to the fore last summer when she became locked in a feud with Gail Kim, and matched one of the most successful female wrestlers of all time blow for blow.
Despite only joining the Knockouts roster in March, having started her TNA career as a referee, Terrell and Kim were locked in a fierce feud by June, when the latter emerged victorious in an astonishing Last Knockout Standing match at Slammiversary XI.
The rivalry continued with a ladder match the following week on Impact Wrestling, with Kim this time the victor. Gail’s win established her as the number one contender to the Knockouts title, held at the time by Mickie James, while for Taryn, this marked the end of her first spell with the company.
Gail Kim vs Taryn Terrell – Last Knockout Standing, Slammiversary XI:
Terrell admitted that the chance to be involved in such amazing matches, so early in her career with the company, had come as a surprise, but expressed her delight at how things had so quickly developed after years of frustration with WWE: “It did [come as a surprise], but it was almost as if it was happening without us even realising it.
“I came in as a referee, and I didn’t want to be a referee or a general manager, I wanted to be a wrestler. So every time I’ve been put in a position where I’m not wrestling I’m doing everything I can to say: ‘please let me wrestle, that’s what I want to do, that’s where my passion is at.’
“My focus was so much on doing everything I could to prove to them that I was a wrestler. Then all of a sudden, without even being aware of what was happening, I was feuding with Gail Kim who, let’s face it, is the Knockouts Division, she’s the reason that we exist.”
Kim, 37, certainly has an impressive resume, and is widely regarded as the best female singles wrestler in the world. A four-time TNA champion, as well as a one-time champion with WWE, she was the inaugural winner of the Knockouts title back in 2007.
Despite their on-screen battles Terrell has nothing but respect for the woman who is still, statistically, the most successful in company history. Speaking about their rivalry, she said: “I think you get in that ring and there are people you just have matches with, and there are people with who magic is made, and Gail is one of those people.
“Gail is an incredible wrestler, no matter who she is working with she has incredible matches, and I was blessed with the opportunity to be able to have that with her.
“I think there are things about Gail and I that are very similar – we do whatever, we’re not scared, we’re going to take risks, and we were able to do that together. I’m forever grateful to her for giving me the best matches of my career. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
So in the summer of 2013, Terrell’s career was at an all-time high: she was being looked upon as one of the most promising up and coming female stars in the business, and then suddenly, she was taking a year out – giving birth to her daughter, Emerson.
“Of course [there were some mixed feelings], every day I’m working towards being a better wrestler. I’m never satisfied; I’m always striving to be better. And then I have to take this time off.
“It’s scary coming back – thinking is my body going to be able to handle this, am I mentally going to able to handle being back out on the road – because my mind is on my baby all the time, she’s my world.”
But far from letting the setback of a year out hold her back, Terrell is determined to turn it to her advantage: “Now I have that motivation, every time I get into that ring, she is in the back of my mind; my baby girl is in the back of my mind. And I know what I’m doing in there is for her.
“I do what I do in there – I like to take risks – that’s who I am, and as a mother of course I don’t want to get hurt. But I want her to grow up knowing that you should do what your heart desires, you should do what you’re passionate about.
“Every time I step up into the ring, that’s what I’m doing, I’m being a role model for her. Showing her that you should do what you love, that you don’t give up on it and you work hard.”
Terrell returned to the ring in May of this year, competing in the tapings for the Knockouts Knockdown 2 pay-per-view. She returned to Impact in June, where she was welcomed by her former rival Kim, and began a feud with the Beautiful People – Angelina Love and Velvet Sky.
By the following month, Terrell had already earned a shot at Kim’s Knockouts title, and the opportunity to resume the rivalry came as a huge bonus to the New Orleans native: “To come back and be able to revive that rivalry is so cool. I have so much respect for her, so anytime I get to wrestle her I feel like it’s just such an amazing opportunity.
“Don’t get me wrong there is ring rust there of course, I’m not 100% yet. It takes a bit of time to get accustomed to it all again. But I feel like I’ve got such amazing support from TNA, and to be able to come back and do what I’m passionate about is an amazing opportunity.
“I feel very excited about what the future holds, I’ve never been Knockouts champions, and that’s something that is a humongous goal for me. And I feel that every day I get to work in the ring I’m working towards that goal.”
Terrell is certainly near the head of a list of potential challengers for current title holder Kim, along with newcomer Havok and six-time winner Love, in what is an extremely competitive division.
After being asked how highly the championship ranked in her list of ambitions, Terrell was quick to explain why winning it would be such an honour: “I think that there are certain things in life and any career that you want to attain. And for me, the pinnacle is to be able to say: ‘I am Knockouts Champions, I represent the Knockouts Division, and I represent TNA.’
“Just to have that – wow – what an incredible experience that would be. I’m working towards it, and I’ll do whatever I can to get it… except for cheat and lie and steal, I’m not that type of person [she laughs], but I will work my butt off to get there!”
Taryn Terrell – Returns To Impact Wrestling, June 2014:
Not only is Terrell one of the top female wrestling talents in the business, she also has an envious list of talents and pursuits that keep her very busy, including work as a stuntwoman, a model, and a film career.
Terrell has worked as a stunt double on major films such as ‘Now You See Me’ and ‘This Is the End’, while she has also taken on starring roles in HBO’s ‘Treme’, as well as the movie ‘The Campaign’ and television shows ‘Common Law’ and ‘K-Ville’.
She explained just how the opportunities came about: “During my time between WWE and TNA I ended up being in the right place at the right time. I just wanted to be in stunts: that was something I really felt like I was going to be good at, and something I thought I was going to enjoy.
“I really wanted to work with TNA and it wasn’t happening yet, so I decided to start a film career. Somehow my agent started getting me auditions, I started landing acting roles, and I’ve met the right people.
It was an extraordinary transformation for someone who never envisaged herself becoming involved with a career in the entertainment industry: “All of it just sort of happened. I started out modelling, and I don’t even consider myself a model, I think it’s silly and it’s just not my passion.
“But I fell into it and it was my first real job within the entertainment industry. And so through modelling I became friends with someone who was a huge wrestling fan, he brought me to a show, a pay-per-view, and I sat there just not knowing what I wanted to do with my life at that point.
“I’d gone through University and gotten a marketing degree, and so I kind of figured that was where my life was going to go – somewhere in sports marketing. And I sat there at this show, watching this match in the front row, and I realised that was what I wanted to do.
She proceeded to explain how wrestling continued to open doors for her career, even after she was turned away by WWE: “Wrestling was my focus, and it was my focus until I was released by WWE. Then I wanted to go with TNA and they didn’t have a place for me at the time, so I went to do stunts.
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed this but I like to beat myself up a little bit. I like to be rough, and do crazy stuff and set myself on fire, get hit by cars – that for me is fun. So that was my goal and acting just kind of happened alongside it.”
Terrell revealed that while she has endured a lifetime of proving herself to people, she doesn’t consider it to be a disadvantage. On the contrary, she has enjoyed proving herself to those who have doubted her, including fans and fellow professionals.
“I think when you’re out there as a female you have even more to prove, especially a female that came in through the Diva Search and didn’t come in through the Indy scene, but at the same time it’s great because you don’t come in with ridiculously high expectations.
“I want people to look at me and say: ‘give us a reason to like you, give me a reason’. I don’t want people just to like me, I want people to believe in me and see me start from where I did: from the bottom, as nothing.
“People are like: ‘oh, she’s a model’, when that’s the last thing I consider myself. When you come in you do have to earn the boys respect, anybody that steps foot in this business has to do so. I don’t think it would be fun if you just walked in and were respected, and to have done that means so much more to me than if it had just happened.”
UK audiences can see Terrell in action when TNA comes to Glasgow, Manchester and London in January 2015, and the Knockout star closed by telling me just how excited she is about performing in front of a British audience again.
“I’m so excited; I’m counting down the days to the UK tour. I’m excited to create magic with anybody, to wrestle, and just be able to be there. The UK has the most incredible fans, there’s so much energy.
When you’re in that ring and you’re surrounded by that energy, there’s nothing you can do to be able to ignore it. I can’t wait to be able to get there, to get in that ring and have a match – whether it’s with Gail, or whoever else it might be. I just want to get in there and have the fans as part of it with me.”
SEE MORE: Buy Tickets For TNA UK Tour 2015