Cassie Lee (f/k/a Peyton Royce) on being released by WWE, says she wanted to become a singles wrestler during her WWE run, blames “dirt sheets” for a misunderstanding of why she was released, discusses mental health struggles and how Rhea Ripley helped her

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

Insight With Chris Van Vliet with guest Cassie Lee (f/k/a Peyton Royce)
Host: Chris Van Vliet
Podcast available via Podcasts.Apple.com
Video available at Chris Van Vliet’s YouTube Page

On why Cassie Lee and Jessica McKay started a podcast: “I had been wanting to try a podcast for a few years, but just with our schedule and rules that came in we weren’t allowed to do it. So as soon as we got the call, I texted Jess [McKay] and said ‘Look I know you want time to grieve this. But I just to let you know that I really want to start this podcast with you.’ She was like ‘Screw it! Let’s do it!’ And we just got to work.”

On the meaning of the show’s title “Off Her Chops”: “Off Her Chops has multiple meanings. If you are in Australia and you are off your chops it could mean you are drunk. Or it could mean you’re off your chops like you’re crazy. But in a positive way. Not like a you’re crazy, you need help. It’s more like the fun one in the group.”

On mental health struggles: “Yeah, I would say it has been a rough couple of months. Since the draft and since they split Jess and I up I would say. But I am doing well, every day I am feeling happier. I’m just excited for the future and these opportunities I can chase. I have my moments where I get sad that everything didn’t work out, but I truly believe everything happens for a reason and there is something bigger out there for me.”

Being released by WWE “broke her heart”: “Being let go really broke my heart, and for a long while it kind of took my love. It stole my love of wrestling. And I would love to get that back and not move on with my life with this bitter feeling about wrestling. I still get emotional about it. But I know one day I will get over those circumstances and not let it affect me like it does now.”

On her goals now: “I don’t feel like I am done with wrestling. I have dreams that I especially wanted to grasp between me and Jess getting split up and me being let go. Although I still want to chase that, but my big dream now is I want to be a movie star. I feel that is a natural way that wrestlers want to go. So I have been taking acting lessons for going on two years now. I just love it, I love the process of learning a new industry. And I can’t wait to feel like I know the industry inside out like I do with wrestling.”

Why The IIconics split up: “So I have never told anyone this and I hope Jess isn’t upset with me for saying this, but I wanted to go singles. There was just things I wanted to tick off of my bucket list as a singles competitor. I vocalized that to Jess in January last year. I didn’t do anything about it, I just told her where I was at, I didn’t try and get us broken up or something like that. It was during the PC era and Jess was out for a week, I had this random singles match, I don’t even remember who it was against. Vince [McMahon] loved it, he said to me ‘You’re so good, what are we doing?’ I just said to him ‘Look. If it is possible in future plans, I’m not saying right now, but in the future I would like to see what I can do on my own.’ I am so comfortable with Jess, we can conquer the world together. But I wanted to see what I can do for myself. So many people were like ‘Why did they break you up? It was so stupid.’ I’m like I feel like it’s my fault, because I wanted to push myself and see what I was capable of. But that might have been the worst decision that I made, because nothing ever happened.”

What really happened during her creative meeting with Vince McMahon: “The freaking dirt sheets! ‘Peyton lost her job because she didn’t know what to say to Vince… blah blah blah.’ That’s not the case, dummies! I just went in there with what I wanted to present, and we just moved on from it so quickly. In my head I was thinking how can I steer this conversation back to that? I really thought something was there and I hadn’t explained it properly. I sat in that room with him and Bruce [Prichard] for 45 minutes tossing up ideas. At one point we had come up with the idea that I was going to be a motivational person, a motivational speaker. Vince loved how much I had sacrificed to be there. I didn’t want anything else in my life other than to work for him. He loved that and was so thankful for what I had sacrificed, my family, everything in Australia, my whole life. So that’s what we had come up with and obviously nothing ever came of it. But that conversation wasn’t a complete dud. From my perspective it was this is what I want to present and move forward with.”

On Rhea Ripley helping her through tough times: “I really struggled when Brodie [Lee] passed. I struggled with the big picture and putting things into perspective. I was really unhappy at work, really unhappy. A few times I thought to myself I can’t do this anymore and I am going to ask for my release. A few times I was in the locker room, some sort of creative would change and it would just… I would be juts so upset. Rhea [Ripley] of all people had to talk me off the ledge, because I was about to walk into talent relations and say ‘I’m out. I don’t want to do this anymore.’ I was so unhappy. So the release was a blessing in disguise. I was so close to asking for my release but I never actually pulled the trigger.”

Powell’s POV: I normally don’t comment on interview recaps, but I must point out what Lee said regarding her meeting with Vince McMahon on her own podcast (recap via CagesideSeats.com).

“I decided to put on my big girl panties and go talk to Vince,” Lee said. “Like, I had in my head what I knew I wanted to say, but he brushed it off very quickly, and then I was like, ‘Oh crap, I got nothing else’. This was my idea that I wanted to present, and he wanted to discuss other ideas. But I didn’t have other ideas.

“This was the one I wanted to talk about that I put my time and effort into. And he says to me like, “What do you do for fun?” Me being me, the introvert, the homebody that I am, I had to let him know that I just like to sit on the couch with my dogs and watch TV. And he just stared at me. And so in my head I’m like, ‘Just make something up, make something up.’

“Couldn’t make anything up, nothing was coming out. ‘Cause I’m not a liar. So I didn’t want to lie to the man. I feel like he probably could have seen right through that. And I basically said to him like, ‘I’m really sorry, I’m boring. I like to just be at home on my off days.’ But yeah, I didn’t contribute any more to that conversation unfortunately. That’s probably why I lost the job.”

While the tone she used is important and other relevant things she said during the podcast could have been be left out of an interview recap, that last line is clearly the reason why the “dirt sheets” ran with the story that she’s now taking issue with. I don’t even recall if we ran a recap of that podcast, but I felt it was worth pointing out where the confusion started.


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