IMPACT Wrestling legend Gail Kim has heaped praise on the Knockouts division as five women prepare to make history at Slammiversary.
While a number of wrestling fans will remember Gail Kim for her two stints in WWE, it was with IMPACT Wrestling/TNA that she really made her mark.
By the time the star hung up her boots in April 2019, she had held the Knockouts Title a record seven times, including being crowned the first-ever champion back in 2007. Kim was also the first woman to be inducted into the IMPACT Wrestling Hall of Fame.
As the star wound down her in-ring career she transitioned into a role as a producer, before moving into Talent Relations alongside D’Lo Brown. Speaking in a new interview with Denise Salcedo, Gail Kim said that assuming a role backstage came naturally as she brought her in-ring career to an end.
“It was a natural progression for me because, I would say in my last couple of years of being a talent, you become this veteran in the locker room. The girls really value your opinion. We always had producers and agents that guided us along the way. In the last couple years, the girls would ask the producer for their feedback and then they would ask me my feedback as well, so it just happened naturally. I love creativity in the ring. That’s where my heart is in terms of matches and putting together these interesting compelling matches, storylines and getting the fans’ emotions.”
“And now I am also in Talent Relations with D’Lo Brown. We’re like work husband/work wife (laughs), so we’re there for talent predominantly. It’s great.”
Since her retirement, Kim has continued to be a strong advocate for the Knockouts division. Something she said gives her a similar level of fulfilment to competing in the ring.
“I am just so invested because I’ve been part of this division from day one. Now I am like a proud mom. These girls are literally my heart, in a sense, because when they accomplish things and they kill it, I am having that high that I got as a talent for weeks on end. It’s a great feeling because it gives me that fulfilment that I don’t get anymore from being in the ring.”
Throughout history, backstage roles within wrestling have traditionally been male dominated spaces. However, that’s currently not the case with IMPACT. Aside from Gail Kim herself, Christy Hemme and Madison Rayne are also involved behind the curtain.
“Scott D’Amore right now is pretty much at the head of running things. Without the men who believe in the women and who give us the opportunities, we wouldn’t be able to grow and progress in that way. He has given that opportunity. Now Christy Hemme is back and Madison Rayne is producing. As more women are coming in, I feel supported.”
At Slammiversary on June 19th, the Knockouts division will make history once again as Deonna Purrazzo, Chelsea Green, Mia Yim and Jordynne Grace take on Champion Tasha Steelz in the first-ever Queen of the Mountain Match. Mickie James will also serve as a special enforcer.
Looking ahead to the match, the former Knockouts Champion said that she’s tipping the women to steal the show.
“I look at that graphic and I get goose-bumps. These girls are all so fierce, so competitive and so talented. I’ve already put pressure on them to steal the show (laughs), but I have no doubt that they can. I am just so looking forward to it.”
As for her own future, Kim remains determined to climb the ladder as far as she can, and create more opportunities for others to flourish.
“Just keep on climbing that ladder and create more opportunities for more people. Think outside the box more in terms of changing wrestling as a whole along with the team I work with. Create more opportunities for those people that have the same dreams as me. Give the the opportunity to create the success that I’ve been lucky to have. I have zero regrets whether I had ups or down in the business, I am so proud of everything I’ve done and what I continue to do and I just hope it flourishes in the future.”
Slammiversary 2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the event and is set to be headlined by the World Title bout between Josh Alexander and Eric Young.
H/t to FigureFourOnline for the transcription.