All wrestlers have to start somewhere on the path to making their dreams a reality, whether it be a wrestling school, church basement, bingo hall, etc. From there, those wrestlers work their way up to the pinnacle of their dreams. For many, that’s a career in WWE or more recently AEW, IMPACT! Wrestling or even NJPW. But sometimes the journey is just as important as the destination. In LWOPW’s newest feature, “Before They Were Famous,” we take a look at the pre-WWE careers of some of the company’s top current stars, following along on their road to superstardom. In this edition, we look at the journey to the WWE of two former Australian and US indie stars, Peyton Royce & Billie Kay of The Iiconics.
The Iiconics made their debut as a tandem in NXT on the NXT Live Events circuit in 2015, finally debuting on NXT television in October of 2016. The trash-talking duo would irritate their way under fans and wrestlers skins with ease, becoming two of the top heels on the Yellow-and-Gold brand before being drafted to SmackDown in April of 2018. Since then they’ve captured the WWE Women’s Tag Team titles, holding them for 120-days (the second-longest reign behind the Kabuki Warriors reign of 180-days), but their use was sporadic and often underutilized until their most recent run upon their return this past May.
The Iiconics: Billie Kay
Trained by legendary Australian indie superstar Madison Eagles, Billie Kay made her debut in the Aussie indie scene in June of 2007, debuting with Pro Wrestling Australia (PWA) on her 18th birthday. Competing as Jessie McKay, the following year she would capture the PWWA Championship (the top women’s title in PWA), defeating another Aussie indie legend in Kellie Skater.
In only her second year, she traveled to the US to begin work in the US indie scene, making her debut with SHIMMER at SHIMMER 21 in October of 2008, as part of the tag team The Pink Ladies alongside her mentor, Madison Eagles. Prior to joining SHIMMER, she debuted with Ring of Honor, in matches against Daizee Haize and Sara Del Rey, as well as competing in intergender matches in Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW).
Jessie McKay would emerge as one of PWA’s top starts, winning the PWWA Championship a second time when she defeated her future tag team partner Peyton Royce (then known as KC Cassidy) for the vacant title in March of 2010. It would prove to be her longest title reign, holding the crown for 270-days. Jessie McKay’s presence would continue to grow in SHIMMER as well, with big matches against the likes of Cheerleader Melissa, Nicole Matthews, Sara Del Rey, Ayako Hamda, and Hiroyo Matsumoto, as well as future WWE workmates Kana (Asuka), Britani Knight (Paige), Athena (Ember Moon), Mercedes Martinez, and Mia Yim (she even tagged with another Aussie indie star in Tenille Tayla, best known as WWE Superstar Emma and now Tenille Dashwood in IMPACT Wrestling). She would go on to make her debut with Shine Wrestling in 2013 at Shine 9, in tag team action with fellow Aussies Shazza McKenzie & Kellie Skater. She would also work for other US indies like CHIKARA and AAW Pro.
In August of 2014, she had a tryout with the WWE in Australia, which lead to her signing with NXT as part of the Class of April 2015 at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. She made her NXT debut in a dark match against Bayley before hitting the NXT Live Events circuit as a singles wrestler, but it wasn’t long before she was paired with another Aussie recruit in PWA rival KC Cassidy.
The Iiconics: Peyton Royce
It was two years after Billie Kay made her debut in pro wrestling that a young KC Cassidy began training with Madison Eagles in PWA, making her debut in early 2009. She would continue to shine in PWA in her early years, and in 2011 would switch to Melbourne City Wrestling (MCW) as her primary promotion in Australia.
While her partner headed to the US indies to further her career, in 2012 KC Cassidy moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada where she trained under former WWE Superstar Lance Storm at his Storm Wrestling Academy. She trained for three months under Storm, working for the Prairie Wrestling Alliance (PWA). Back at home, she continued to work for MCW as well as Riot City Wrestling (RCW), WrestleClash, and still appearing for PWA.
She finally made her debut in the US indies in 2014, first with Shine Wrestling at Shine 22 against Irish indie star Rhia O’Reilly and then on to SHIMMER the next week at SHIMMER 67. During her brief stint in SHIMMER, she competed in a tag team with Canadian indie wrestler Bambi Hall.
KC Cassidy also attended the 2014 WWE Tryout in Australia and joined NXT as part of the same April 2015 Class of PC recruits, where she was reunited with Jessie McKay, both personally and professionally. She made her NXT debut on TV against Sasha Banks, before being renamed Peyton Royce and paired back up with Billie Kay.
And the rest of the story, as they say, is simply Iiconic.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.