Jeff Jarrett Points To TNA Duo As Beginning Of Serious Women's Wrestling

Kurt Angle recently said that the TNA Knockouts division was at the forefront of the women's revolution in pro wrestling. During an appearance on his "My World" podcast, current AEW on-screen talent and co-founder of IMPACT! Wrestling Jeff Jarrett spoke about Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (now IMPACT!) developing the successful Knockouts division with Gail Kim and Awesome Kong's feud in the late 2000s.

"Gail [Kim] was with me and America's Most Wanted when there was no Knockouts division," Jarrett said. "And so her personal journey, because she was with WWE and basically given nothing. Maybe you'll call it the Divas era, the bra and panties [era]. There just wasn't any kind of wrestling. And when I look back now, I am super grateful and appreciative, but I really look at the context of what was put together in the era of cable television. TNA was the first.

"The Knockouts division, 8 [to] 10 ladies that all had different personalities and put together. And it was new, and by design, less is more. The stories were simplistic. The characters were easy to understand. We started, and this is something that I think is — I wouldn't say a lost art — no matter how you slice and dice it, we all kind of get so caught up in eight stories on one show and six stories on another and all this. We really started with one story: Gail and [Awesome] Kong. Now, we added talent to build the division out, but the main story was Gail and Kong. And yes, Gail being the babyface. It was so easy to understand."

'We were never going to outbid WWE'

Jarrett went on to say that Kim was the dragonslayer in her feud with Kong. The WWE Hall of Famer said that the promotion added more talent to the story as it progressed, which ultimately resulted in a "hot" division and "great ratings," with "show stealers" on television and pay-per-view. With Kim ultimately rising to the top of the Knockouts division, Jarrett mentioned that he had different conversations with Bob Carter, the former owner of Panda Energy, which previously owned the Nashville, Tennessee-based promotion, about Kim possibly leaving to rejoin WWE.

"'Bob [Carter], If they want a talent, there's no chance,'" Jarrett said. "'Unless you really want to go into that pocket more.' And he didn't, and I got it — we were never going to outbid WWE. Never. Ever. Today it's a different set of circumstances, and women's wrestling now, to me, has been around in this type [of] format [for] 15 years. So the bloom is off. It's different."

'The AJ Styles of the Knockouts division'

"I've heard of late; I think Becky [Lynch] made some comments, and others have made comments about the time that women get or not get, and the style of matches, and all this," Jarrett continued. "We're 15 years into the women having their own division. So I just think times have changed. Some for the better, some for the worse. But in this day and age, Gail being as you [Conrad Thompson, 'My World' podcast co-host] phrased her, the AJ Styles of the Knockouts division. There's no doubt. We created value collectively, Gail and the TNA team."

Kim, who currently works as a backstage producer for IMPACT! Wrestling, initially joined TNA in September 2005 after being released by WWE. The TNA Hall of Famer would eventually return to the Stamford, Connecticut-based promotion in 2008 after a successful run in TNA. However, with opportunities becoming limited, Kim re-signed with TNA in 2011. Kim recently returned to the ring for the first time since 2019 at "IMPACT! 1000" last month, where she, Kong (who returned to action for the first time since appearing for AEW in 2020), Jordynne Grace, Mickie James, and Trinity defeated Angelina Love, Deonna Purrazzo, Gisele Shaw, Savannah Evans, and Tasha Steelz.

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit "My World with Jeff Jarrett" with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.