— Having very recently left WWE, Renee Paquette (aka Renee Young) wrote a column titled “A Letter to My WWE Family” that was published on The Player’s Tribune where she went in depth thanking everyone who had a hand in her success over the years in WWE. Here are some excerpts:
Thank you to Vince.
A lot of ink has been spilled about the legend of Vince McMahon over the years, and I doubt that I can top any of it, so I won’t even try. But what I’ll add is this — probably one of the best things you can say about a CEO: You always want his approval. I mean…… always, always, always. It’s like a miracle drug, getting Vince’s approval. You can be having the crummiest night; but then if you’re back in Gorilla after some segment you finished, and Vince gives you a laugh? Or a smile and a “good job”? Or (the classic) a handshake and a NOD OF APPROVAL?! Man, right then, it’s like nothing else in the entire world matters. You’re king for a day.
Thank you to Stephanie and Hunter.
In many ways, WWE is still just a family business at heart — and if Vince is the grandfather, then Stephanie and Hunter are definitely the parents in charge.
You couldn’t ask for a better set.
Stephanie….. I mean, she is “women in WWE,” you know? But it goes so far beyond that. She’s just a boss, period. And I hate to use the term “boss lady” with Stephanie, because she’s a boss by any gender, but you really can’t say enough about the job she’s done in this male-dominated business. She’s so warm and friendly and inviting, but at the same time, you always know she’s taking care of her shit. And for one of the busiest people you’ll ever meet, one thing about Steph is that if you pass her in the hallway, and you’re like, “Hey, can I talk to you about something?” You’ve got her undivided attention. I can’t stress that enough. And that’s always meant a lot to me, as someone who’s gone to her for advice on many occasions. Stephanie is that rare kind of person who just cares too much to ever go through the motions.
Hunter, to me — he represents this idea of progress in WWE. He’s always pushing talent in the direction of opportunity, and in the direction of something new. You see it first and foremost in his work with NXT, and just the way he’s built that brand into one of the most exciting things in wrestling right now. And then I also got to experience that energy on a more direct level — when Hunter pulled me aside before TV one night and said, “Alright, so in two weeks? Coach won’t be available for Raw. And we want you to fill in for him.” I was like….. SORRY, WHAT?!? It wasn’t something we’d talked about, wasn’t something I’d pitched anyone on. It was completely out of left field. And that just said everything to me. It told me that, first of all, this is a company that’s trying things. But it was something deeper, too. I think it was also just this feeling of, like, Wow, people here genuinely want me — me, as a person — to succeed. I’ll always be grateful for that.
Thank you to everyone I’ve worked with on the announcing side.
No matter where I go or what I do from here on out, I already know that Michael Cole is the best boss I’ll ever have. You really have to understand what I’ve been through with Michael. That first episode of Raw I called, it was just……. I mean, it’s hard to even describe. There’s so much going on. It’s three hours. You’ve got these stacks of notes. You want to be quippy but you also want to get out of your own way. And you also want to stay in your lane. For me, as a non-wrestler, that meant not focusing so much on analyzing moves. I was there to talk about the characters and the stories and whatnot. So you’re keeping track of all of those things. Plus all of these segments are flying by, every which way — promos, matches, promos into matches, matches into promos, who knows.
And I just need to say this: No matter how prepared you are…… no matter how good you are, no matter how knowledgeable or charismatic or quick witted or born-to-do-it you may be…… When you’re doing Raw — when you’re doing three hours of LIVE WWE — for the first time?? You really only have one chance of survival.
And that’s to take your broadcast partner by the hand, hold onto it tight, and hope they won’t let go.
With Michael Cole, I didn’t even have to hope.
Graves….. dude. Nothing to say about Corey Graves other than he’s been my best friend. Not only have we shared the screen together for so many moments, but it’s the time offscreen that I think has really cemented us as a duo. Traveling between towns, hanging out in hotel bars, always scrounging around looking for the final beer or bottle of wine we can snag to sit down and just chat about life. My signature Graves Memory™ is probably from Manchester: We’d just gotten off the longest plane ride, and then a boozy bus ride — and as soon as we’re at our destination, man, it’s a wrap. I’m in bed. Of course this doesn’t stop Graves from calling me in the middle of the night, like it’s super important, with a highly urgent request: Can I…. cab 20 minutes to his hotel from mine so that he can [wait for it….] get his portable speaker back??? DJ Graves: “You have it from the bus ride I think. But I need it now to keep the party going.” (Yes, for the record, I brought him his speaker. True friendship.)
Thank you to Daniel Bryan and everyone involved with Talking Smack. Out of everything I did in WWE, that’s probably the single thing that I enjoyed the most. I think I felt like it was the most me, if that makes sense. Like I finally got a chance to do something approaching “my thing.” I could be fun, I could be sassy, I could be a little messy and a little rough around the edges and real — and that’s just always been my M.O. I think it worked, too: talent got to be themselves on Talking Smack: there was sort of this IDGAF attitude, but at the same time you were seeing work. Like, some of the character work that guys did on our show was just unreal. And PEOPLE GOT OVER!! People got over, in a really unique way….. that to me is just a fact. From working with the Miz and Bryan, to Owens and Jericho, to the Usos, to AJ, to Naomi, to Sami, to even some of the greener talent who got to use our show to go out there and flap their creative wings a bit — honestly I’m just so impressed with what we built there, so glad they’re bringing it back, and I hope it lasts a million seasons.
— You can read the whole thing HERE.
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