Gail Kim and The State of The Knockouts Division: An Impact Legacy

A few hours before Impact Wrestling’s ‘Rebellion’, and a new interview with Gail Kim, this time exclusive and one-on-one, we share with you this piece that was originally featured in VultureHound’s wrestling magazine SteelChair Mag, available:

In print: http://steelchairmag.bigcartel.com
Online: https://issuu.com/steelchair/docs/steelchair-24

The Greatest Knockouts of All Time. When you think about Gail Kim, these words are the first any wrestling fan will say. The 7-time Knockouts Champion cemented her legacy in being a trailblazer of the Knockouts Division when way before other companies did, TNA/Impact Wrestling decided to treat her female wrestlers as the true fighters they were. Gail Kim retired last year the same way she made her career, on her own terms. With a huge smile on her face, fully aware of the chance she had been given. But Impact was not ready to let her go as Gail Kim is now the producer of the current Knockouts Division, the same baby she was one of the originators of.

SteelChair Mag had the chance to chat with the TNA/Impact Wrestling Hall of Famer about the wrestler she was, the producer she has become, and the fighter she will always be. What she did with a huge smile on her face, as always.

On being dubbed The Greatest Knockouts of All Time 

“I’m just truly grateful that I got the closure to my wrestling active career that I wanted. I think that a lot of wrestlers don’t get to achieve that. They don’t get to maybe go out the way they wanted. Or maybe sometimes people have careers where it’s ended abruptly by an injury. Or some other reason. So, I’ll always be appreciative that I got to end my career just on a great note. And with feeling calm and satisfied. I really hope for all the wrestlers out there that they can have the same. I hate when people—in the male category, let’s take Christian—we never saw him get a proper send-off. I just want to see those people that gave so much to the business get that proper exit out so that they can have closure and be content. I was very fortunate to have that in my career.

On transitioning from wrestler to producer

“Becoming a producer was a natural progression for me. I was always concerned about how I was going to feel after I retired. Whether I was going to be depressed, was I going to miss it? I think in the last couple of years of me being active, I kind of started helping the other girls and I guess it was a natural progression. I think because of my physical being and feeling like my back was hurting me, it was a kind of a reminder all the time of why I retired, so I don’t miss it as much as I thought I would. I think also being a producer agent helps me. I’m so fortunate to be able to stay in the business so I don’t have to miss it. I think also going from being a wrestler to an agent was a big change because I felt very confident as a wrestler, not that I don’t feel confident as a producer but it’s actually a learning process for me. Yes, I know wrestling but now, I got to learn a whole new role, so I think that was challenging but pretty much they threw me into it from day one and I think that’s the best way to learn.

On being a female agent and producer 

“I will say that I am one of the few women in these meetings or the collaborations of the show, that’s mostly a lot of the guys. Then I come in on TV days and do my part, but I will say, as a woman and I think no matter how, because the leadership that we have right now is so great and the product that we’re turning out right now is so great and positive, that it’s less of a challenge. I will say it’s just really enjoyable but truthfully I think because of just wrestling, in general, being more a male-dominated business, I’ve always felt this from Day one.

“From the moment I got into the business, it was always a fighting challenge to fight for the women and I will say it’s definitely gotten better throughout the years, especially currently the guys are so open to hearing our thoughts and this whole women’s revolution that’s been happening in the past couple of years has definitely helped but I think as a company like Impact/TNA, even from back then, had always respected the women. I think the challenge for us was always just fighting to be the best, so it’s a challenge within ourselves, not necessarily with the company. They’ve always been very open-minded, supportive, and they’ve always made us an important part of the company. I have a very vested interest in the Women division, I feel like it’s my little baby that I want to nurture and make the Knockouts division the best in the world.

On the State of the Knockouts Division

“This generation of Knockouts are currently starting to just come together nicely because we all went through a transition period when I retired. I feel like we’ve found our flow and the girls all have something very different to offer. It reminds me of the first generation of Knockouts when it was myself, ODB, Awesome Kong, Traci Brooks. There was a different flavour for each fan, someone that they can maybe perhaps relate to or just admire. Everyone had a different character and I loved it. I love how we now have a variety of characters, wrestlers, and sexiness too. I truly believe that there’s a place in wrestling for a little bit of everything. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and I just love playing up to different aspects of all of them.

“I feel like we’ve gone through some different phases, I feel like the Knockouts Division has always been consistent from the day that Impact/TNA created this division. Having a various amount of girls or sort of various types of girls and characters, they’ve never strayed from that, they’ve never tried to go. They’ve stayed really consistent in making wrestling the priority, keeping the characters true to who they are and I feel like that’s the winning formula for us. Rosemary is the most popular Knockout and she’d been injured for a long time, but people just absolutely love her. She’s not that typical Knockout or Diva or whatever you would see years ago and I love this evolution of wrestling, that you can relate to or connect with different people or gorgeous characters.

On what the Division is made of

“Even before she was with the company, we were talking about Kiera Hogan. I just absolutely adore her and see so much potential in her. I truly do connect with her and feel her when she’s doing interviews and cutting promos. In terms of her wrestling, I feel like she’s at this point where she’s starting to improve and I think she’s only going to get better.

“Jordynne Grace obviously made a mark. I think a lot of people who didn’t know Jordynne saw her at All In. I had seen her at a seminar before that and I knew that she was very, very passionate about wrestling. She was the one that stuck out to me as being the most passionate because she just had this incredible knowledge of wrestling and wanted to just badly get to that spot of being on TV. I had no idea she had been working for eight years. She is a polished individual. Until the day that I retired, I always tried to learn and get better and see the best and I think that’s what we’re going to see from her.

“Taya Valkyrie has been wrestling for a long time. She has paid her dues. She was trained by Lance Storm. She went down to Mexico and lived there for five years. I mean she is fluent in Spanish. She’s just come so far and she was kind of far away from us this past year because of some issues with travel and immigration. But when she came back, I have to tell you that she came back as a new woman. I was really excited to see her and she has blown us all away. I mean the fact that she has become the Knockouts Champion in such a short time since her return says a lot on her.

On the Knockouts Division being featured more prominently on TV

“I’m so proud because we’ve gone through ups and downs. I feel like the Knockouts have kind of always been that consistent for Impact Wrestling/TNA back then. They’ve always done really well and we’re always in. The company has just done an amazing job of knowing that, including them and really wanting them to be a part of that show very frequently. The Knockouts are very special and, in a male-dominated world,  it’s always the females who are always going to kind of stand on. The girls have been doing an amazing job, especially lately.

On what the Division could become

I want the girls to have the best match, I want them to steal the show, and I always felt that way as an active wrestler. Truth be told, maybe some women can prove me wrong, but I think an Ultimate-X match is a lot of upper body strength and I’m not sure how many girls can execute it to that degree, and I feel like we would be compared to the X Division. Maybe if we come up with something similar, but not the same, I think that would be more realistic. For me, if I had a magical match that I was so proud of, and I had to work the same person after that again, it was always about topping that last thing and being the best. If I didn’t feel like I could, I wouldn’t want to disappoint or be less than. In that Ultimate X match, I don’t know if we would be able to surpass those division guys because they are so super athletic. 

“I think that the sky is the limit. I would like a different style much so that they don’t get compared to the guys because I always want the best and I want them to blow everyone away. I think as long as the girls feel comfortable and feel that they can exceed everyone’s expectations, I don’t see them turning down any type of match or challenge, so I hope that we get to see it. I would say, in my years with TNA/Impact, I had Steel cage matches, Last Knockout Standing, Ladder matches, Street fights, no DQ. I mean we’ve had it all for years so I don’t see why we wouldn’t continue, maybe with Iron Women matches or Intergender ones. 

On making the Tag Team Knockouts division back

“I think Impact has been really great at making most of the girls, if not all of the girls, a part of the show, and so we have two storylines going over to fuse going on at once so that’s great to see. At the moment, with the state of the Knockouts, I feel like they don’t necessarily need the tag team titles right now because the story is interesting enough. I think that, if we add some more girls, that could maybe be a discussion that could come up.

On wrestling one more match

“That’s a hard question to answer. I guess I would say it depends on the circumstances and how far I’m pushed. Also, I think it goes, honestly, by how my body feels at that moment because still to this day, since I retired last February, my back has given me a lot of problems, on and off. I pretty much look normal in day-to-day life, but that doesn’t mean I can have a wrestling match. If I did feel good and the circumstances did arise, I wouldn’t object to it. There are a lot of factors that play into it, I  want to see how bad the fans want to see it because that’s what it really comes down to, do the fans want to see it.

On Impact Wrestling being her legacy

“I think a lot of people know that Impact/TNA gave me my opportunity and, without them, I wouldn’t have had the career that I had. So, of course, I have a vested interest and I’ve always said TNA and Impact, whether ten years ago to today, has always been a family, truly a family effort and it’s almost a better feeling to be part of some group that is fighting together to be the best and you
just have more of a satisfying feeling. I’ve always been very loyal and I’ve always enjoyed my time here. I’ve been the happiest here, so all I want to do is contribute and give back to this company and help it come to the next level that it needs to get to.

Pics courtesy of Impact Wrestling

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