Australia's Jessica McKay ready to make waves in NXT
Australia may not be thought of as a booming wrestling scene, but the land Down Under has produced a number of high-level grapplers in recent years. Melbourne native Emma made her mark in NXT before heading to the main roster, while Murphy made waves earlier this year by capturing the NXT Tag Team Championship with Blake.
Now, the latest class of NXT recruits features not one, but two Aussies. Jessica McKay, a standout women’s wrestler from the independent circuit, is the first to sit down with WWE.com to talk about her road from Oz to the WWE Performance Center, and representing her country on the biggest stage in sports-entertainment.
WWE.COM: First of all, congratulations on signing with WWE.
McKAY: Thank you very much!
WWE.COM: How has it been adjusting to life in America and life at the WWE Performance Center?
McKAY: It’s been very exciting, also very nervous at the same time. I arrived in Orlando with literally two suitcases. I packed up my life into those suitcases, but it’s been amazing. I’ve adjusted to the lifestyle well. The Performance Center is amazing. The facilities are incredible, I’m training with the best coaches in the world, we have a world-class gym. I’m loving every minute of it.
WWE.COM: What’s been your favorite part so far?
McKAY: I would say meeting the coaches, because their knowledge is amazing. I’m fascinated by picking people’s brains. I love finding out new things and learning. I’m lucky to have all these people around me.
WWE.COM: What made you first want to become a wrestler? Where did you first break in?
McKAY: I first started watching when I was 10 years old. My brother and his friends were obsessed with it. They used to pack into our lounge for the pay-per-views. There were always people over watching, screaming and shouting. I remember watching it once, because my brother forced me to sit down and watch it with him, and I fell in love with it. There was something energetic about it and it captivated me. I became a massive WWE fan.
When I turned 17, I found a training school run by one of my brother’s friends, Pro Wrestling Alliance in Sydney. I started training with them as soon as they opened. Three months later, I had my first match and won, which was nice.
WWE.COM: Since then, you’ve wrestled all over the world. How have you seen women’s wrestling grow?
McKAY: It’s amazing. I think it’s the fans, they want to see more women’s wrestling, whether it’s on the independents or in the mainstream. It’s great that we’re being given opportunities to perform. When I first started wrestling, there was maybe one women’s match on a show. Now, you can go to independent shows, and there are two or three matches or segments where women are involved. I think the fans have shown interest in women wrestlers, and I’m really happy to be a part of that. I think now is the best time to be a female in wrestling, including WWE and NXT.
WWE.COM: The Women’s division in NXT has been getting a lot of buzz over the past year, as well. Why do you think that is?
McKAY: I think it’s the coaching here. Sara Amato being the head coach is incredible. She changed women’s wrestling and everyone’s following her. The female athletes here, like Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Bayley are incredible. They inspire me. I want to become like them one day. I think it’s about having a good base to follow. NXT has become massive over the past year, and I’m really excited to see what else it can do.
WWE.COM: Speaking of Sara Amato/Sara Del Rey, you’ve wrestled her in the past. What’s it like being in the ring competing against her as opposed to learning from her at the PC?
McKAY: It’s very similar, actually. I wrestled her two or three times about five, six years ago. I hadn’t seen her in a long time, but I kept up with her career, because she’s incredible as a wrestler and a trainer. It’s been really good. She has a certain way of teaching that I really enjoy. I love training, and she’s a fountain of knowledge. It’s relatable because she’s a female.
WWE.COM: You and fellow Australian Cassie McIntosh both signed at the same time, joining Emma and Murphy on the WWE roster. Is there something about Australian wrestlers that make them more attractive to WWE?
McKAY: I don’t think there’s something about Australians. I think the four of us are very passionate and have dreamed of this for so long. Australians in general are hardworking people, and I think WWE can see that. Cassie and I have been friends for years. We went to high school together, we went to the same tryout and now, we got signed together. We never thought that would happen. The fact that there are four Australians signed to WWE, three being females, we’re very surprised and excited. WWE’s becoming more culturally diverse. I’m proud to be Australian and represent my country.
WWE.COM: What was the tryout process like?
McKAY: WWE came here last August for the Australian tour. The tryout was in Melbourne for two days. There were 40 of us, with 10 or 12 females. The first day was all in-ring and drills. The second was split up between interviews and in-ring. It was very nerve-wracking, but very rewarding.
WWE.COM: When you got the call with the contract offer, what was your reaction?
McKAY: I couldn’t believe it, to be honest. I remember it was 5:30 in the morning. I heard that I got an email, so I woke up and checked it. I remember reading it and I started crying and screaming at the same time. I was so overwhelmed with every possible emotion. WWE has such a high standard, I feel honored and privileged that they wanted to bring me in. It was very emotional, but a great day.
WWE.COM: Now that you’re here, is there anyone you really want to wrestle?
McKAY: Honestly, every single female. Bayley’s incredible. I really enjoy watching her. Sasha Banks and Charlotte are amazing. They’re setting the standard here. I would be honored to step in the ring with them. Becky Lynch is so aggressive and passionate. There’s Alexa Bliss and Dana Brooke, too. There are so many that I’m looking forward to getting in the ring with.
WWE.COM: What can the WWE Universe expect from Jessica McKay?
McKAY: I’ve dreamed of this my entire life. Now that I’m here, I’m not going to let it slip through my fingers. I really want to build a legacy and career here in WWE. Having this amazing facility and incredible people supporting me, I won’t let anybody down. I’m really excited for what the future holds. I assure you, you can expect big things from Jessica McKay.