by Craig Hermit
Celebrating it’s one year anniversary since its debut in January 2016, ignite Wrestling is certainly as Wrestling Promotion to watch out for. Based in Florida, they have played host to exciting matches, highflying action and a fun atmosphere.
At the center of this promotion is Kim Artkip, Ignite Wrestling’s Owner and Promoter, this momth Vulture Hound’s Craig Hermit caught up with her to discuss, being one of four women wrestling promoters in USA, her highlights in Wrestling and what’s next for Ignite.
CH – So got to ask the basic question of how did you get into wrestling because you were previously working for over a decade as a Special Needs Advocate for the Disabled Community and then were part of Wrestle Talk Radio Show.
Kim – Yeah we had a talk radio show that was live streamed for about a year we’ve done merchandising I’ve always been a fan back in the 80’s and 90’s i actually worked for a company that did security for the old WWF events. I’ve been going to shows one way or another since the early 1970’s.
Yeah I got to see some of the great wrestlers from back then, I got to see Bruno Samantino when I was 5 years old. My favourite wrestler was Stan Hansen, the guy who broke Bruno Samantino’s neck in 1976. I always liked the bad guys, they always had more fun. They got away with more, you would have some tremendous heels, Dan Hanson and Ivan Putski and then you had Bob Backlund who was about cookies and milk (laughs) and up until Hogan nobody seemed to have fun as a face. It was too good to be true I mean you need a little spice, I like Bob Backlund but give me a guy who will hit people with a chair.
CH – You are one in four women promoters among 300 male promoters, how does that feel?
Kim – A lot of people were confused about it, you know not just being a promoter but being an owner as well, for the longest time people didn’t realise I wore both hats. It’s a big of responsibility and it shows that women can do anything. A phrase I always go with, I’m a One Woman Army, I think that we are going to see a lot of changes in the sport and thanks to Stephanie McMacMahon it’s a little more acceptable to be a woman and a promoter now.
CH – Now that fans are starting to see exactly what women can do as wrestlers and promoters, would you see yourself as inspirational to young women?
Kim – I think it shows to women that you can be more, sometimes your either a wrestler or a valet, or even part of the hoe train (laughs). There are plenty more roles for women out there, I think that women are so strong in business now, I don’t see why we can’t be controlling sports entertainment companies as well.
CH – One thing I have to ask, have you ever received any hesitations from wrestlers or challenges doing this because your a woman?
Kim – I’ve had a few other promoters and bookers that have offered to come in and do my shows because they thought guys wouldn’t want to work for me. I haven’t had any wrestlers that haven’t wanted to work for me. They think it’s kinda cool, we have a lot of fun in the back, It’s a fun atmosphere. I’ve had a couple people you know that have thought that they could do better and more power to them. I’ve had guys that have tried to pull me aside during a show and try to tell me what was wrong with the show and what the wrestlers did wrong, now I’m not a wrestler, I won’t critic the wrestlers much, there are veterans behind the scenes and they work with the wrestlers, it’s their responsibility.
CH – Ignite Wrestling has raised funds for charities within relation to the US Army, it’s safe to ay that the Army is within your family is that right?
Kim – I have both side of my family in the Army, my husband Jeff is former Navy, my father-in-law is a former Marine, an uncle was a lieutenant commander in the Navy and briefed President Carter. My dad served in the army and a sister-in-law is retired Air Force. So the Army is something very near and dear to us and we are very supportive of their efforts especially the Wounded Warrior Project, as they do a lot more than people realise. Every little bit helps.
CH – Ignite has done a lot for charity, the clean up at Florida Beach for example, how deep is Ignite Wrestling invested in charity work?
Kim – We are very much involved in giving back to the community, as they give so much back to us. Your gonna see shortly in 2017 there is gonna be a lot of changes with us and we are gonna be focusing a lot more on giving back. I mean we have done a little bit and brought attention to several causes. We couldn’t do as much as we would have liked too. There was a wonderful little girl called Maddie Denvers who was battling Cancer and we have brought of a lot attention to her cause as well as the environment and many different aspects. In the future you will see a change in how we do it and every show will be focused on different ways on how we can pay the community back.
CH – Ignite Wrestling debuted in 2016 within Florida, what made you chose there for your debut show?
Kim -I live in Florida. (laughs) We are local, we focused on the Treasure Coast of Florida because we are not quite Miami, we are not quite Orlando, we are in-between and there is not a lot of professional live sports in this area, so we have focused on these areas that don’t get as much exposure to sports and wrestling, except for an occasional NXT show. They have to travel hours to get to see any live wrestling we knew there was a fan base within these areas, we knew that from NXT.
CH – And for fans that aren’t able to make it you’ve partnered with FiteTV is that right?
Kim – We partner with FifeTV and affiliated with Pivotshare and we started our first show right from the get go on Roku, off our Roku channel, we wanted to make sure that for the people that couldn’t make it to our shows they can still see us. At the time Fite Tv was just coming out, and it seemed like a really good fit with us at the time.
CH – A main focus to the fans of Ignite Wrestling has been your Womens Division, is that something your focusing on?
Kim – We didn’t bring women in till our third show. Our goal is that we will continue to bring women in, we want women that are phenomenal wrestlers, we don’t look at them as eye candy, I’ll be honest about that. I have some incredible girls that are coming in via the fantastic Team 3D Academy, Trish Adora, Lacey Lane Kennadi Brink and I’m sure at some point Santana Garrett will be back, we are looking at bringing in another seven women in and now every show features women. But we are yet to do a Women’s Tag Team match. and looking ahead we want to bring in a Women’s Tag Team Division as well.
CH – Back in November Ignite held there first Intergender match at Okeechobee KOA in Okeechobee, how did that come about?
Kim – I was very hesitant to do an inter gender match because I believe it looks like domestic abuse, but have Angel and Johann are good friends and trained together but never done a faced each other believe it or not they are within 10 pounds of each other. They wrestle the same style and it was one of the best highflying lucha style match. It was an amazing match, we were blown away by it. I told them do what you want, don’t be afraid and have some fun and those guys just went for it.
CH – The Ignite Wrestling website has had something of a revamp recently, with photos, news, and a lot more detail put into the site, is that now becoming a main focus for Ignite?
Kim – It’s actually myself that runs the site, and I just didn’t want to have a static website, you haven’t seen a third of what’s coming, there is a lot more coming. Getting the graphics and the roster set, it’s coming in stages, we want to make the website an interactive experience, we really want to make the website one of those things you really need to keep looking at it because you never know what we are going to put up.
CH – I noticed that recently, even today you added new features on the site including the Podcast, is that something you will focus on in the future as well?
Kim – Yeah, the podcast is coming back, it was on hiatus, while we were moving, you will notice Eric Child and myself do a lot, he is our Social Media Director, he used to life close to me but now we are further apart we will be using a lot more technology to do the Podcasts in the future. We have a lot more coming in 2017, a lot more behind the scenes, we have started the after the bell segment, we kinda want to invest in the fans but also the wrestler, one of my goals is for wrestlers to want to work with us because we want to build them as a brand, help build the wrestlers themselves.
CH – Fans have been talking about Ignite Trading Cards, is there plans on more being released?
Kim – There is another 24 coming out, they will be available at the March show. I can’t say who they are but I can say that they have been designed. The marks and everything is done, some have been upgraded with more recent images of wrestlers who may have shaved their heads or changed their gimmicks. We have some new people making their debut, we always have new wrestlers debuting, that’s one of the usual things about us we don’t always keep the same set roster. We have a set core but on some shows we have say up to 5 or 6 people debuting.
CH – Speaking of debuting, how important was it to have someone like Martin Stone make his debut for Ignite Wrestling, a man with his experience and how did it come about?
Kim – Martin is phenomenal. He’s one of my favourite people. I love his accent, I’m a sucker for an English Accent (laughs) Martin was a close friend of Arron Epic, Eric is one of my favourite heel wrestlers in the state of Florida, hugely underrated. They travel together and they wanted to do a match together and I said sure. The next thing I know, Dezmond Xavier asked if he could come back and he said hey by the way Arron and Dave would like to have a match and I said I’ll book it. That is how we brought Ethan Case in, he and Martin were having a conversation on a wall and said who would like to book us in a match we’ve never had wrestled and I popped up on the thread and said I’ll book ya. Martin Stone is wonderful, I’m a little sad he won’t be on our March show as he was already booked in another event. Martin will be back, he is one of our favourites. For a strong style wrestler he’s hysterical in the ring, he does some funny heel things to some of the other guys in the ring and I always have to stop and watch because I never know what he’s going to do next.
CH – Moving on to Ignite Wrestling itself, it has been your first year what has been your highlights?
Kim – Dave Crist and Epics match was one of the highlights of the year for me, and having the Entire Lucha World Order and Lince Dorado’s final match. I cried like a baby during that match, it kinda worked out really sweet that night because their opponents weren’t able to make because of a traffic jam so the match chance from Mr 450 and Lince Dorado to being Lince, Mr 450, Jay Rios, and Jon Cruz in a Lucha Rules tag match, and that was his last time the four of them appeared on the indies together in one show. It was really sweet, I mean everybody was crying, they were crying in the back, they were crying in the ring. It really was one of the coolest nights for me, even though I was really sad. I think he did one more weekend after that show but to have the four of them in one ring it was perfect for us. They helped put us on the map and we love Lince.
CH – Speaking of Lince Dorado, what are your thoughts on his rise in WWE?
Kim – I never had a doubt that he was going to make it to be honest, when he first mentioned that he was being considered, this is a guy that had such focus, such determination. In the gym, with his diet, with everything. I mean he is so determined to get there, I didn’t have a doubt that he was going to get there and make an impression. We were so proud of him. You know a lot of times I say these guys are my boys because you know I’m older than them and Lince is younger than my son. To see him get to that point its like a proud parent moment I’m just so proud of that guy, he such a wonderful person.
CH – Looking towards next year for Ignite Wrestling, your first event in March, what can fans look forward to?
Kim – In March we are going to finally crowd our first Champion, the belts are already in design, we are going to have an elimination tournament that night, 8 man elimination Tournament, the final four will battle it out to become our first Ignite Champion.
CH – That’s excellent to hear, I know many fans reading this would want to know is there any plans on crowning a Women’s Champion?
Kim – There will be a Women’s Championship by Summer early Fall, the second Championship to be crowned will be the Tag Team Division. We are going to go Tag Team and then go Women’s, we would like to bring in several more Women into the Division before we actually do the Tournament so we can give fans a chance to get to know them. That part of the reason we didn’t do that right off the bat, that’s a pet peeve of mine. When a promotion starts and on their first show they crown a Champion because we are new to the area not everybody knew who Martin Stone was, they didn’t who JB Cool was, they really didn’t know a lot of the guys we brought in. We wanted to the wrestlers to gain a following first to let people know who to cheer for and who to boo. I wanted to try and do that, I don’t do heavy story lines, we will get into story lines but not super intricate ones.
CH – It sounds like your looking at going forward from a fan’s perspective which is great to hear, that your more invested in building the wrestlers before crowning the champions, that is something you want to focus on at Ignite?
Kim – Yeah, I mean it wasn’t always about us or getting someone to hold a belt, we wanted the wrestlers to have a chance to show what they can do. To me one night doesn’t prove that you are a Champion, I think that if you are going to be in a promotion and your going to be there consistently you are going to need to show what you can do for more than one match.
CH – Many fans have been inquiring about Ignite Wrestling Merchandise, is their plans for that in the making?
Kim – We talked about running a Wrestling Tee store for some of the wrestlers, but I don’t know if that is going to happen right away. We are kinda focusing more on the website, right now we have a poll going talking about our first year, It’s actually getting quite competitive I was surprised. We definitely want to get our name out there, better known outside the state of Florida, we have brought in a lot of guys from out of state, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio and Maryland. I like to get our reputation built. Actually if you look on our Instagram you will see I have a bucket list wrestler I like to bring in.
CH – Who would you love to have in Ignite Wrestling, if you had your pick, bucket list an all?
Kim – Of course Ray Horus, I would love to have Rey Mysterio, wonderful to have him. Also a couple of UK wrestlers that people have been mentioning to me, I’d love to have Uk and Australian Wrestlers come across into Ignite. Martin Stone is just the tip of the iceberg of wrestlers from the UK. We are hoping to have more wrestlers from Japan we had Kota Sekifuda wrestling for us. We have cross promoted with FIP Wrestling, they do allow us to have Martin defend their title at our events, we are hoping to work with other promotions and have them defend their Championships at Ignite.
CH – Do you still believe that air horns sold be used to drown out Nick Nero?
Kim – (Laughs) I have to say that Air horns have their place but 36 in one show will not have their place. We gave them to a lot of the children for maddies fight they were drowning out the poor guys on the mic’s. Everytime, we call him “The Voice” Justin Michaels take to the mic and normally he’s very loud, but not that night. (laughs)
Images by Speedy Productions
Ignite Wrestling’s next show is on March 18th in Florida.