We were fortunate enough to talk to TNA Wrestling Knockout Mickie James when she was in the UK promoting the Maximum Impact Tour for 2012.

It'll be the second time Mickie's joined the company on their annual UK live tour, and she couldn't be more excited.

"Last year was really amazing. It was definitely exciting, so I'm looking forward to coming back."

For any wrestling fan who hasn't been to a TNA live show, it promises to be an incredible live experience, and Micky promises it will give fans a different insight into the shows.

"It definitely is a different show. It's more in-your-face and you get a little more personal, one-on-one time with some of the wrestlers," she explains.

She adds that whilst it's important to give fans this extra insight into the "real-life" world of wrestling, there's a balance to be struck.

"You don't want to lose the nostalgia of being a superstar," she admits. "You don't want to give away too much, because then it takes away from the magic of it all."

She hopes that this kind of experience could discredit some of the rumours and preconceptions around the wrestling industry. Mickie says:

"If you get a little window into our world, perhaps you gain a little more respect, or you feel like you're more a part of it because you understand it a bit more.

"You come backstage, you see that it's not all glitz and glamour, stars on the doors, whatever. It's a bit more in your face, you get to see that side of it."

Unfortunately, the industry does have it's detractors, both in the wrestling press and with sceptics.

On the subject of the poor end of the wrestling press (referred to as "dirt sheets"), Mickie has a less-than-favourable opinion.

She points out that "nobody reads those things", adding: "I feel like, nine times out of ten, it's somebody who thinks they know, but really they don't."

The industry also faces criticism from those who disregard what these athletes do as fake, something Mickie has an interesting stance on.

"We'll never try to pull the wool over anybody's eyes and say there's not a certain artwork to it," she admits, before explaining: "I guarantee you, 9 out of 10 people in the world wouldn't step in the ring and do what I do, nor could they. I think we have one of the hardest jobs in the world."

Even outside the ring, the travelling (Mickie is on the road around 200 days a year, between her wrestling and recent music career) also takes it's toll.

From Meet and Greets, going to the gym, trying to find healthy food options and the actual shows, there's a lot more to the life of a wrestler than some people realise.

Mickie says: "You get to the next town with a lack of sleep, you have to get up and do the same the next day."

Over her career, Mickie has been a star in both TNA and its competitor WWE, and she recently became the first woman to hold the Diva's, Women's and Knockout titles.

Despite the pre-determined nature of the quasi-sport, Mickie noted that it's still a big thing being trusted with a championship.

"To be put in that mix, and be the first woman to hold all three...I think it's a great honour."

She continues: "It's always a big thing when you get to hold the championship because it shows that, not only are you capable, but that the company as a whole has faith in you."

Mickie did spend a long time with WWE, where she debuted in a stalker storyline with Trish Stratus, at that point the face of the "Diva's Division".

The storyline put a real focus on women's wrestling, and was an angle Mickie came up with herself.

After spending months in Ohio Valley Wrestling, at that point WWE's development company, Mickie had pitched the idea to work with Lita, who she knew very well.

Despite many false starts, she eventually made her debut and started the storyline.

"I ended up doing it with Trish," she explains. "Me and Trish bouncing off each other had great chemistry, then the writers, Vince and Stephanie - everybody tweaked and played with it, and made it into this massive story."

"It was phenomenal," Mickie adds, admitting: "I was really blessed and fortunate."

Mickie was released from her WWE contract, and admitted it was as big a shock for her as it was for all the fans, and did upset her.

"I think it angered a lot of people," she says, continuing: "It would be one thing if I was doing a poor job, and I didn't capture the fans every time I went out there, or if I wasn't so good at what I did."

As it was, Mickie was at the top of her game, and it drained her of her passion for wrestling, until one show in a high school gym

After performing in front of millions of fans around the world at that year's Wrestlemania, Mickie struggled to come to terms with this new surrounding, although it was just what she needed to re-ignite her fire.

"I looked around the locker room, looking in these peoples' eyes. There were people who had never been anywhere, never wrestled anywhere except here. You could see that fire in their eyes, that desire and that wanting to make it. I thought...s***, what happened to that?"

Mickie adds: "It was one of those wonderful eye-opening things. I do this because I love it, I love entertaining the fans. I love what I do out there, and I'm amazing at it."

This lead to a move back to TNA, whose debut show Mickie had been a part of. The first thing she noticed was how much the company had grown.

"Back then, it was still very much a baby company," she remembers.

Everyone had a sense of being part of something big. "By the time I'd come back, it had grown so much, and it was some of the same people from when I was there that helped build it."

Mickie thinks this grassroots journey has helped develop the loyal fan-base TNA have around the world. She said: "The fans feel like they've been a part of the company growing as well. They've seen it from the ground up."

Over the years, Mickie believes it's the talent of the roster that's shining through.

"Everyone from the main event down to even the females, everyone is very credible. We can go out there and really do a fantastic job," she says.

"Every show has its pros and cons, but our strength is our talent."

Whilst the show sometimes comes under criticism as it's homegrown talent sometimes gets moved aside in favour of ex-WWE talent like Mr. Anderson or Kurt Angle, Mickie thinks it's still important to keep it fresh.

"You can't do the same things over and over again. We have so much talent, there are ways to keep it fresh," she explains, before pointing out that the likes of AJ Styles and Samoa Joe are still featured regularly on TV.

Asked how TNA can push itself to the next level, Mickie believes it's hard to say.

"The most significant thing is to always stay true to yourself. What brought you to where you are, will continue to separate you. The thing is to be different."

She notes that if people wanted to watch the same thing over and over again, they would tune into WWE.

It seems to be about standing out: "TNA really started to make a name for themselves with the X Division, stuff like that, because it was different, nobody else was doing it," she says.

For Mickie personally, another challenge is balancing her music and wrestling careers.

Currently in the studio recording her second album, she admits that it can be hard having both on-going projects.

Back to wrestling, Mickie pointed out that there's more to the art of the sport that people realise.

"We're throwing ourselves and our bodies against this wooden canvassed mat. We're trusting the person that's in there with us," she explains.

Wrestling has been compared to films a lot, a comparison Mickie doesn't discredit: "We're the same thing, except we do it in front of you, live. It's an escapism, you're getting lost in the story. We're putting our bodies and lives on the line for it."

Mickie hopes that her career can inspire people to follow their dreams: "If I can do that, just for one or two people, then I've done something with my life. I hope I would inspire them to go out and go after whatever they want."

She finishes by offering this advice to her fans: "Go after it wholeheartedly, and [don't] let anyone tell them any different. If you listen to people like that, they can just bring you done. If I'd listened to half those people, I would never have gone anywhere."

Female First - Alistair McGeorge

We were fortunate enough to talk to TNA Wrestling Knockout Mickie James when she was in the UK promoting the Maximum Impact Tour for 2012.

It'll be the second time Mickie's joined the company on their annual UK live tour, and she couldn't be more excited.

"Last year was really amazing. It was definitely exciting, so I'm looking forward to coming back."

For any wrestling fan who hasn't been to a TNA live show, it promises to be an incredible live experience, and Micky promises it will give fans a different insight into the shows.

"It definitely is a different show. It's more in-your-face and you get a little more personal, one-on-one time with some of the wrestlers," she explains.

She adds that whilst it's important to give fans this extra insight into the "real-life" world of wrestling, there's a balance to be struck.

"You don't want to lose the nostalgia of being a superstar," she admits. "You don't want to give away too much, because then it takes away from the magic of it all."

She hopes that this kind of experience could discredit some of the rumours and preconceptions around the wrestling industry. Mickie says:

"If you get a little window into our world, perhaps you gain a little more respect, or you feel like you're more a part of it because you understand it a bit more.

"You come backstage, you see that it's not all glitz and glamour, stars on the doors, whatever. It's a bit more in your face, you get to see that side of it."

Unfortunately, the industry does have it's detractors, both in the wrestling press and with sceptics.

On the subject of the poor end of the wrestling press (referred to as "dirt sheets"), Mickie has a less-than-favourable opinion.

She points out that "nobody reads those things", adding: "I feel like, nine times out of ten, it's somebody who thinks they know, but really they don't."

The industry also faces criticism from those who disregard what these athletes do as fake, something Mickie has an interesting stance on.

"We'll never try to pull the wool over anybody's eyes and say there's not a certain artwork to it," she admits, before explaining: "I guarantee you, 9 out of 10 people in the world wouldn't step in the ring and do what I do, nor could they. I think we have one of the hardest jobs in the world."

Even outside the ring, the travelling (Mickie is on the road around 200 days a year, between her wrestling and recent music career) also takes it's toll.

From Meet and Greets, going to the gym, trying to find healthy food options and the actual shows, there's a lot more to the life of a wrestler than some people realise.

Mickie says: "You get to the next town with a lack of sleep, you have to get up and do the same the next day."

Over her career, Mickie has been a star in both TNA and its competitor WWE, and she recently became the first woman to hold the Diva's, Women's and Knockout titles.

Despite the pre-determined nature of the quasi-sport, Mickie noted that it's still a big thing being trusted with a championship.

"To be put in that mix, and be the first woman to hold all three...I think it's a great honour."

She continues: "It's always a big thing when you get to hold the championship because it shows that, not only are you capable, but that the company as a whole has faith in you."

Mickie did spend a long time with WWE, where she debuted in a stalker storyline with Trish Stratus, at that point the face of the "Diva's Division".