“I’m betting on myself, and I’m so grateful that people are rooting for me.”
The future is just getting started for Renee Paquette.
Well known as Renee Young in WWE, she served as an integral piece of the broadcast team as both a backstage interviewer and commentator on Monday Night Raw before departing the company in August for new opportunities. And though her eight-year run in WWE was so well-received that she will always be tied to wrestling, the next step of her career offers the potential to showcase the totality of her brilliance as an interviewer.
“I’m ready to step into a new role, I know what I can offer and I’m really excited to see this next step,” Paquette says. “WWE was great to me. I got to do a ton of amazing things. I was afforded so many opportunities to be successful and forge my own path, but I felt I’d reached a point where I did all I could do. This is the time to explore some new options.”
Paquette has not stood still in her time away from WWE. She hosted WWE Backstage on FS1 even after she exited the company, which included playing an important role in highlighting CM Punk’s surprising return to a wrestling show. Despite the pandemic, she also has several active projects, including her Oral Sessions podcast and a new cookbook, Messy in the Kitchen.
The cookbook doubles as a memoir, sharing anecdotes and memories about each item, and it subtly infuses Paquette’s taste in music throughout its pages. Similar to her smooth broadcasting style, there is a whimsical, familiar nature to her cookbook that makes the reader, even without culinary experience, feel as though success in the kitchen is attainable.
Paquette’s career in pro wrestling strengthened her passion for cooking. After endless stretches on the road, with the repetitive airport-to-rental-car-service-to-hotel refrain, a home-cooked meal served as a haven for Paquette. That joy was heightened even further when she cooked for others, including her boyfriend (and now husband) Jon Moxley or family and friends. All of that is visible throughout the pages of Messy in the Kitchen, where she shares her recipes—and stories—surrounding her favorites appetizers, meals and cocktails.
“I wanted to do this project for so long, then I found out I had three months to write it, and at first I was like, ‘Oh s—,’” Paquette says. “I am not a seasoned writer and I am not a seasoned chef, but these are two things I love so much. When I’m in the kitchen, it’s my Zen place. I was in the kitchen nonstop, sending my husband to the grocery store nonstop, trying different recipes and checking in with so many people.
“This book is me. There is still some wrestling in the book, and my husband wrote an excerpt about how to enjoy Cincinnati chili, but this book is for anyone and everyone that likes to eat. It’s a project I created and I’m immensely proud of it.”
As a first-time author, Paquette’s versatility is on display, showing that she has the veritable writing chops in addition to her interviewing skills. And a funny thing happened when she left WWE. Given the opportunity to transition from Renee Young to Renee Paquette has allowed her to share even more of her personality with listeners, readers and viewers, adding another dimension to her work.
“I get to be myself, and I get to swear more,” Paquette says with a laugh. “I want my work to match that high standard people expect and deserve, so I’m putting my entire being into everything I do.”
Paquette is pregnant and eagerly anticipating the arrival of her and Moxley’s first child. She is exhibiting the same relentless work ethic while carrying a child that has become a staple of her work, and her Oral Sessions podcast continues to reach new levels of achievement. A key part of every episode is the chemistry she shares with her guests, a byproduct of a trusting relationship.
“I’ll never take advantage of a guest to make myself look good,” Paquette says. “Initially, before the pandemic, a podcast wasn’t even an option for me. But my brain won’t let me deal with downtime, and I was driving my husband bonkers at home. And the more I thought about it, I liked the idea for a podcast. I really wanted to give people a platform to share their story.
“So much has happened. To me, it felt like within two weeks of leaving WWE, I was pregnant. I always pictured that happening in WWE, being as gigantic as I am right now, interviewing people as this proud pregnant woman on WWE TV. So I still wanted to keep my foot on the gas pedal, and I started the podcast. Six episodes in, Colin Cowherd’s podcast network, The Volume, wanted me to join.”
Paquette’s podcast has become a premier destination for wrestlers changing brands to share their stories, as well as a forum to highlight the work of an assortment of talented individuals, such as reporter Taylor Rooks, UFC backstage correspondent Megan Olivi and former UFC heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic.
“It’s been amazing, and it’s so different from what I did in WWE,” Paquette says. “This is my show, it’s my personality and it’s the conversations I want to have. I trust my work, and this has had success right off the bat, which means so much to me.”
While fondly reminiscing over what she built in WWE, Paquette is hungry to add to her résumé. She should have no shortage of opportunities in sports media. Given her extensive knowledge of hockey, she would be a particularly strong fit in NHL coverage. And while she would instantly add to WWE’s or AEW’s programming if she were to return to wrestling, Paquette is ready to show there is even more to her skill set.
“I can be a versatile player on a big show,” Paquette says. “That’s something I want, and I’m trying to break that barrier. I come with years of TV experience and equity and a fan base. If I get put in a position to do so, I’m going to knock it out of the park.
“I feel like there are people who sometimes shoehorn you or typecast you as only one thing, but coming from the world of wrestling, it’s sports and entertainment all in one. The world outside sports is one I feel I can really flourish in, interviewing actors and performers, similar to what Kelly Ripa does. When I think about how I would like my career to look, that is the end goal for me, ending up on a show in that capacity.”
With a book that became a best seller on Amazon and a podcast that continues to seize people’s attention, Paquette knows her value to the broadcasting realm. She holds dreams of the highest ambition for her career, and she takes pride in knowing that the next platform to hire her will receive an abundance of talent, heart and determination, not to mention a vastly loyal following.
“Without sounding too cheesy, it warms my heart that people care so much about me,” Paquette says. “I’m betting on myself, and I’m so grateful that people are rooting for me.”
More Wrestling Coverage:
- Traina: Renee Paquette on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast
- Barrasso: Paul Heyman Extolls the Virtues of Roman Reigns
- Barrasso: Former NFL Player A.J. Francis Tries to Make His Mark on WWE
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.