As a fan of ‘Smiley’ Kylie Rae, I was shocked to hear the news of her retirement earlier this week. Not because of how young she is, but because I’ve been reporting Impact Wrestling results and have enjoyed her progress. It never came across to me like she was in a bad place, although I’m aware of the reasons behind her leaving AEW after being plugged as the women’s division’s poster girl in the early days.
Kylie Rae never got the chance to cement her place in AEW because her depression took its toll and she could not handle the pressure. Here is what she told us in an Instagram post in January:
“?Long post alert! This is a tough one: Here’s a non-edited picture of myself, no make-up, non-showered ?. But hey, I’m down 7 pounds!
Aye let’s get vulnerable for a sec ? Mental illness is no joke y’all. On a real note, it’s been a rough time. Starving, then binging, gaining 15 pounds, excessive workouts, major depression, panic attacks, etc. I’ll spare all the details but one thing I’ve learned throughout this whole thing is: it’s okay to talk about it. Being able to open up with others and listen to stories, hearing, sharing knowledge, and learning how much others go through, as well as myself, along with different remedies on how to cope and overcome is one of my favorite parts about this life and has definitely helped me open up.
Thank you to anyone and everyone who has helped along the way, and hopefully this can even help someone else in need. ?
Not where I used to be, but better than I was. Feel free to drop different therapeutic remedies and self care techniques below. #StrivingForProgress #NotPerfection #MoreSelfLove”
Kylie Rae signed with Impact Wrestling because it was less pressure and there weren’t as many eyes on her. She could go about making a living with a company who has respected women’s wrestling since forming the Knockouts Division over twelve years ago.She may also have been upset about some fans harassing her (for getting in shape?), along with feeling insulted for being labelled a cheap knockoff of “Bayley”, but this is unconfirmed rumour.
She found a partner in ‘Susie’ (alter ego of current Knockouts Champion Su Yung), and they had a lot of fun working together. This piece looks at 5 of Kylie Rae’s career defining moments, as a tribute to her, but also ihoping one day she can return and enjoy what she excels at. Her fans will sorely miss her bright personality and hard work in the ring.
Before we begin, Kylie was trained by Booker T and debuted in 2016. Upon her debut, she won the Reality Of Wrestling Diamonds Championship. This tells me Booker T felt her training had gone so well and her personality was so infectious that she could carry ROW’s women’s division from the offset. Before wrestling, she was a stunt woman, performing stunts for the film Divergent and TV series Shameless.
vs. Tessa Blanchard (Zelo Pro Arrival)
To get an idea of much she improved in a couple of years, here’s a match of Kylie Rae defending the Zelo Pro Women’s Championship against Tessa Blanchard. Her attitude mirrors Tessa’s, as the daughter of Tully Blanchard is deadly serious in her pursuit of any title. While Kylie is often positive, she has proven that when push comes to shove, she’ll defend herself by cranking it up a notch. This is a hell of a match which could main event anywhere.
Kylie Rae introduced herself to the broader wrestling world at Starrcast II, where many wrestling fans showed up to appreciate legends and the upcoming AEW Double or Nothing PPV. She would go in to her first AEW match as a relative unknown, but came out the other side as a fan favourite.
In this short video, you can see her possibly feeling overwhelmed by the support. As we know, she did not last for long in AEW, wrestling only the one match. She was scheduled to wrestle Leva Bates at Fyter Fest, but was amicably granted her release.
Impact Wrestling Debut
At Bound For Glory 2019, Kylie Rae made her return to wrestling as an Impact Knockout in the Call Your Shot Gauntlet. The pop is tremendous when the fans realize who it is. This began a year long relationship, in which I’m sure Kylie enjoyed.
The next gauntlet she competed in was at Slammiversary 2020 to become the #1 contender for the Knockouts Championship. This was in July amid the coronavirus pandemic, so it wasn’t clear when the winner would get their shot at the champion.
Kylie Rae starts the match with Kiera Hogan, and includes John E. Bravo, Alisha Edwards, Havok, Katie Forbes, Kiera Hogan, Kimber Lee, Nevaeh, Madison Rayne, Rosemary, Susie, and Tasha Steelz. This is the biggest win of Kylie’s Impact career. From here, she would be #1 contender for several months, and left unbeknownst to when she would get her shot.
Wrestle House (vs. Taya Valkyrie)
In an outlandish ‘reality’ Wrestle House show, Kylie Rae was sucked in to Rosemary’s playhouse along with many others. Her friendship with Susie blossomed further, and she repeatedly and politely asked Rosemary & Taya Valkyrie when they could get back to the Impact zone; so she could finally have her match for the Knockouts Championship. They got a little annoyed with Kylie wanting out of the house, so Tommy Dreamer set up a match between them. In a part serious, part comedy encounter in August, Kylie & Taya wrestled to see if she really deserved to be #1 contender.
It wasn’t long after this that they were finally teleported (Rosemary’s powers) back to the Impact zone. Having been away a while, Deonna Purrazzo was the Knockout’s Champion and Bound For Glory was on the horizon. A program between Purrazzo & Rae saw the champion target and injure her friend, and the plan was for Kylie to go to Bound For Glory and get revenge on their behalf. This didn’t happen though, as Kylie no-showed the event. The Undead Bridesmaid Su Yung replaced her and won the Knockout’s Championship.
Get Well Soon Kylie
Mental health issues are still not taken as seriously as they should be sometimes. Every year people suffer and are too ashamed, or fear opening up about their feelings, because they might be perceived as weak or be brushed off. It’s not straightforward to get through, otherwise anyone suffering with severe depression and/or other conditions wouldn’t struggle and could handle it themselves.
In the middle of a pandemic, the world isn’t only suffering with over a million deaths to COVID, but with people struggling to see the point of life. All I can say is there is light at the end of the tunnel, and the key thing is to find positive people who can back you up in hard times. Sharing is caring, and anyone who would brush you off after telling them how you feel probably shouldn’t be considered a friend. Even if you were to talk to someone online, or a stranger over a phone, never let yourself get to the point of hopelessness. There is help out there for everyone.
With that said, I wish Kylie Rae the best and hope to see her again someday. Not because I selfishly want her to amuse me for a few minutes each week, but because it’s clear that wrestling brings her some joy or she wouldn’t be doing it. Otherwise, if wrestling is the key contributor to her anxiety, then I wish her all the best and hope she can find another line of work which is more fulfilling and less stressful. Thank you for reading everyone, please take care of yourselves and loved ones.
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