It was around this time last year that Gail Kim ended her 18-year in-ring career and retired in order to become a producer and road agent for Impact Wrestling. Well, Kim is stepping through the ropes again this Sunday at Impact Homecoming but it's as a referee in the Tessa Blanchard vs. Taya Valkyrie match.
Kim joined our WINCLY podcast this week where she revealed what's bringing her back to the ring and while she was the one chosen to officiate the match.
"I am an agent behind the scenes for the company so I am in charge of the Knockouts Division," said Kim. "The storyline is that Tessa's been having some problems with authority, so that's why I'm stepping in…
"The girls respect me in that role so I'm the only one that's going to be able to call this match fair and square."
Blanchard has been with Impact for less than a year but she's already made quite the...impact. She is the current Knockouts Champion and Kim believes the daughter of Tully Blanchard can be one of the all-time greats.
Kim never saw her before but heard good things about Blanchard from others.
"She came in [to Impact] and I kinda caught that itch and was thinking, 'Wow, I would like to wrestle her,'" stated Kim who never saw Blanchard wrestle before joining Impact. "I saw the same commonalities within us – we both want to be the best in the world and have the best matches…
"She's the total package. She looks great. She's great on the mic and she can go in the ring. I think she's going to be the best female wrestler in the world one day."
The other combatant in the match, Taya Valkyrie, was involved in a contentious feud alongside her husband Johnny Impact against Austin Aries last year. Kim talked about what she thinks of Valkyrie as well as the controversial feud which culminated at Bound for Glory.
"She's a fellow Canadian, No. 1," Kim said of Valkyrie. "She came out of Lance Storm's academy which is another bonus… I just love her and I think 2019 is going to be her year."
Kim then talked a bit about Valkyrie's frustrations last year with her immigration situation and when she came back she came back a new woman with a new entrance and a new attitude. She then talked about the feud between Johnny Impact and Aries that spilled over onto social media.
"I was seeing all of these tweets going back and forth and I was thinking, 'What's happening here?'... The way [the storyline] played out just worked. It worked in her favor as well with the change from heel to babyface and I loved it. I thought it was great."
Valkyrie and Blanchard are part of the newer crop of women's wrestlers in Impact and Kim admitted to feeling like an outsider when all of these young, new faces started showing up.
"Once I started to retire, I was telling all of the girls in my generation, 'Wow I feel like an outsider in this locker room because this whole new generation of women has stepped in,' and that was one of the signs where I said maybe it's time to retire," Kim said while laughing.
She retired from the ring, but not from the industry and she relayed what her goal is as the agent of the Knockouts Division.
"I've seen so many girls come and go and what I really want is to make them the best. Just like in my career I wanted to be the best wrestler, I see that hunger in all the girls," stated Kim.
Wrestling Inc managing editor Nick Hausman will be sitting front row for Homecoming and the Impact TV tapings the following night. He will also be attending all Homecoming VIP events, including a special Wrestling Inc Impact 2018 Awards presentation Monday before the TV tapings. Stay tuned to the site and to our Twitter account (@WrestlingInc) for all of Hausman's on-site Homecoming coverage.
In Gail's full interview on Wrestling Inc's WINCLY podcast she also discusses her role backstage as an agent for Impact Wrestling, working with the new management team, Impact's move to Pursuit and more. Subscribe to Wrestling Inc Audio on iTunes to get the latest episodes of the WINCLY as soon as they are released. You can listen to the WINCLY episode featuring Gail, as well as Crowbar and Brian Cage, in the embedded player below: