On the December 15 episode of WWE Main Event, Kylie Rae made her WWE television debut, taking on Dana Brooke. Rae performed under the name Briana Ray. Coming into her WWE Main Event appearance, Rae had a tryout with the company at the WWE Performance Center.
Rae is an independent veteran who has also competed in AEW, IMPACT Wrestling, NWA, and more.
Speaking on the Going Broadway podcast, Kylie reflected on her WWE experience.
“They were coming to Chicago, and from my understanding, Freelance is my home, and from what I understand, they were asking people from our school to reach out to WWE. I don’t know if people know this. It’s Gabe Sapolsky. He’s one of the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I can’t express enough how much he’s helped me throughout this entire process. That’s who we were reaching out to for extra work and what not,” she said. “I was not contracted with NWA anymore, so I was able to throw my name in the hat for extra work. ‘If y’all need any women, I’m more than happy to be considered for this opportunity, please let me know. If not, I completely understand.’ Let’s be honest, for the ones who know, I come with baggage, a couple extra checked bags.”
Rae has been open regarding her mental health struggles and path to sobriety. She previously left AEW, asking for her release, and IMPACT Wrestling, no showing a Knockouts Title match at Bound For Glory 2020, despite being a featured female talent.
She continued, “I just assumed that any type of opportunity going forward was going to be few and far between, if any. I was okay with that. I talked to Gabe, and from what I understood, he was surprised I was even reaching out for extra work. Essentially, it was, ‘I think we can get you a tryout if you’re able to.’ One thing I appreciated was, we had a conversation of where my mental health is, the sobriety came up, we were able to talk about that, and he wasn’t focusing on the past, just more of, ‘what do you have in place right now that’s going to keep you on the route that you’re currently on?’ God forbid I do start to go off course, what will keep me on the this good road? It was a good conversation. He was like, ‘I want to make sure you’re in a good place. Please be honest with me, if you’re not ready for this, I don’t want to go down this road until you are ready.’ I was like, ‘I can’t predict the future, but I feel as good as I’ve ever felt.'”
Rae said she was preparing as if she had a WWE tryout, but didn’t get confirmation until four days before. She noted that she was “kind of” advised to not wrestle before the tryout because they don’t want people risking injury, but she didn’t want to cancel bookings.
“Out of all people, I really can’t do that. Now, we can joke about it, but it wasn’t funny at the time, not being at Bound For Glory, I’m still trying to build up my credibility. I’m not going to be like, ‘Sorry, I can’t make it.’ I’m at a place now where, if I commit to something, I’m going. It’s going to take something very extreme for me to not go because I’m not the type of person to normally go back on my word, so I don’t take that lightly, and I can’t tell them what the reason would be. So it was just, ‘don’t get hurt,'” she said.
Kylie said, that like many things in wrestling, she wasn’t sure the tryout was happening until everything was official and that she was grateful for the opportunity, and for the opportunities she’s continued to get at Freelance.
She said that they have practice matches at the tryouts and got to wrestle contracted talent. They also did promos and worked with Fit Finlay, Matt Bloom, Shawn Michaels, and attended NXT tapings.
“I went in there thinking, ‘I’m not going to get signed, so let me just enjoy this and make the most of it and enjoy being there and learn everything I can learn.’ That was my mindset. ‘The opportunity I’m being afford is going to this tryout. I don’t think anything will come after.’ That probably helped because it took some pressure off. ‘Let me do everything perfectly, let me impress the right people.’ It’s very intimidating being there, but I was genuinely having fun,” she said.
She went on to say that it became a challenge when she would look at social media and saw people being negative that she was getting a tryout. She said she was unsure how it got out that she was having a tryout. She did note there were positive messages as well and she eventually turned off social media.
She said a conversation with her dad helped her get through things.
“Promos, they are a struggle, but it was wonderful. I got to talk about my ADHD, which is genuine, clearly, if you haven’t noticed. It was awesome. It felt real and authentic. I got to have two practice matches, one was with Thea Hail, she’s such a sweetheart. She knew how nervous I was and helped me so much. The other one was Fallon Henley. I met her years ago at RISE. She was a dream match of mine years ago. To have the first match we ever have in a WWE ring in front of Shawn Michaels, it’s insane,” she said.
Switching to her experience on WWE Main Event, Kylie praised Dana Brooke as talent and a person.
On using the name Briana Ray, Kylie said, “The name, I genuinely don’t know the reason, but I just assumed that you’re not allowed to keep your name. It wasn’t (my decision). I would have picked Kylie Rae if I could. I don’t have another name that I go with besides my real name. Earlier they asked, ‘Do you know what name you’re going to go by? It just says Kylie Rae on the board.’ ‘I don’t know. I only wrestle under the name Kylie Rae.’ ‘Okay, we’ll get back to you.’ Ten minutes before I went out, ‘You can’t use the name Kylie Rae.’ Totally understand, not a big deal. I didn’t even ask why, that’s their business. ‘Do you have another name that you go by?’ ‘No, do you have any recommendations.’ I spoke with one of the producers, they said it was not his decision, it was a higher up.”
They asked for her real name, which she said was Briana Rae, and they decided to change Rae to Ray.
She praised Drake Maverick for being helpful with extra talent and that it was him who asked her two hours before the show if she wanted to wrestle on Main Event.
Asked about her potential future in WWE, Kylie said, “Never say never, to my knowledge, not in the Rumble. As far as something long-term, at this point, I got the, ‘not right now’ deal, which is okay. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. If it’s meant to be, it would have happened. It’s more so, they’re having us still come back for extra work, I was there this past Friday and the Friday before. From what it felt like, I can’t speak on their behalf because I don’t know, but from what it felt like, after the match, they were, maybe I’m naive, but they seemed very happy with it. It feels good being there. The environment, it feels very positive and genuine and people are happy. Maybe I’m naive. I’m not signed, I’m not contracted, I don’t have to be there every week. I don’t know anybody else’s experience, but from my experience, it’s been wonderful. I loved it there. The fact that I keep getting contacted to do extra work is probably a good sign.”
Kylie reiterated that she is not under contract to WWE or any promotion.
Speaking about WWE being helpful and mindful when it comes to her mental health, she said, “They are the biggest company, so they have the tools and resources and they’ve also been around for so long that they’ve probably been through it all. They’ve seen somebody who struggles with mental health on top of many other things. They’ve seen it all so they have certain support systems because they’ve gone through that. The newer companies, for example AEW or IMPACT, which is a small scale, while they would help tremendously because everyone there is wonderful, they might only be able to do so much.”
She said Road Dogg, who has been open regarding his own struggles with sobriety, was very supportive.
She continued, recalling a conversation she had with someone after the last day, “After the last day of the tryout, I don’t want to say who, but they pulled me aside and were like, ‘Do you have time to talk?’ It was like a half-hour conversation of, ‘where is your head space? Walk me through how you’re feeling and what’s going on in your life. I want to get to know you and see where you’re at.’ It was a good conversation.’ They’re obviously aware of some of the stuff I’ve gone through and they made it clear that they take mental health seriously where, they might have a schedule of ‘You have to be here for these dates, but if you’re not feeling well today, not just a physical sickness, but if you need a mental health day, you take the mental healthy day.’ That was so refreshing to hear.”
Since her WWE tryout and appearance on Main Event, Kylie has continued to take independent bookings. She most recently wrestled at Warrior Wrestling 27. Fans can check out results from the show by clicking here.
Fightful will keep you updates on Kylie’s WWE status when more is known.
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