Renee Young Talks WWE Departure, Reaction to COVID Announcement and AEW

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Renee Young spoke with Sports Illustrated this week about her WWE departure, how her bosses reacted when she made her COVID results public, AEW and more.

Young aka Renee Paquette was asked on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina if anything specific caused her to leave.

The former WWE broadcaster said there wasn’t one definitive moment, but WWE Backstage being cancelled and testing positive for COVID-19 at the same time did factor into her decision. 

“I’m at home, I get my diagnosis, that same day I found out that Backstage gets cancelled. But it was really with Backstage being cancelled that I was like, ‘What am I doing? I’m not really doing anything anymore and my skillset of being a host … there’s just nowhere for me to do it anymore,'” she explained. “Even with Talking Smack coming back, I had heard the rumblings that Talking Smack was making its way back, I was planning on perhaps doing that. But I was like, ‘You know what? I feel like I’m taking steps backward. I’m sorta spinning my wheels to go back and do a show. To not be doing it with Daniel Bryan. To not be doing it with Mike Mansury, who also is no longer with WWE. But that was sort of the magic of what that show was to me.”

Renee also said stepping away from commentary had left a bad taste in her mouth, so she was happy to get something new to do at FOX when Backstage came up.

Once she decided to leave after the cancelation, Young informed Michael Cole of the decision and said no one really tried to talk her out of it because they had seen her frustrations build over the years.

Paquette also felt like going back to SmackDown to do backstage interviews again felt like a step back and noted that she made several pitches for how to be used as a special correspondent for the brand after being named as such last year.

This included being used like UFC’s Megan Olivi or becoming the “host” of SmackDown every week.

Renee talked about testing positive for COVID-19 as well and the reaction from WWE management when she made the results public on social media.

Here’s how this portion of the conversation went:

RENEE: When I tweeted that I had it, I wasn’t doing it as a like, ::angry tone:: ‘I GOT COVID, and dah dah dah!’ That was not my M.O. when I tweeted it. It was mostly just like, ‘Hey. I have it. Also, in case there could’ve been people that could’ve been around me, and maybe seen that I had it, I felt a responsibility to make sure people knew that I was sick. But yeah, it was … not well-received.

TRAINA: How soon after your tweet did you hear from someone?

RENEE: Well I tweeted it in the evening west coast time. So by the time I woke up was like a couple texts. You shouldn’t … not even that like you shouldn’t have posted it, but it was like, ‘We really wish that you gave us a heads up that you were gonna post it.’ It was, you know, bad for PR and whatnot. But again, I just like, I wouldn’t have even thought to be like, ‘Hey guys, I’m gonna tweet that I have COVID!’ That was just not what I was thinking about when I posted about it. 

Renee confirmed during the interview that there have been no talks between she and AEW, as she has a lengthy non-compete clause that extends past 90-days and is still working with FOX at the moment.

Another part of the conversation regarding AEW went like this:

RENEE: I think everything that they’re doing there is great. I think that there could be a ton of spots that I could step in and work and do some stuff there. One of the things that I did find a little bit difficult in the past year or so was not working with Jon. To be in different places, and not even the fact of not working together, it was the almost pretending he didn’t exist. That’s hard. I found that be a little bit like, ‘Oh my god. I can’t even tweet about him?’

TRAINA: Is that true? They wouldn’t let you tweet about him?

RENEE: … Yeah. 

TRAINA: Oh my god. That’s a little much.

RENEE: Where it’s like, ‘What are we doing?!’ I don’t know. Whatever. At a certain point it just gets a little bit too nit-picky with stuff. Where you’ve gotta take a bit of a step back. 

Lastly, on what she plans to do with her future, Paquette said she’d like to become the female Joe Rogan in the podcasting space and be able to talk about tons of different topics whenever she wants.  

Listen to the full interview below.