Impact Wrestling’s Gail Kim is one of the most respected and decorated performers in the business. The trailblazing Hall of Famer helped lay the foundation for the Knockouts division and women’s wrestling we see today. Proud of what she accomplished during her in-ring career, Kim stepped away from the camera and transitioned into a behind the scene role. Though the last few months Tessa Blanchard pushed the buttons of the veteran.
So much in fact Kim is coming out of retirement for one more match. The two will collide at Impact Wrestling’s Rebellion, available on FITE TV and Pay-Per-View April 28 at 8 p.m. ET. Before the big test, Kim sat down with Wrestling Inc. for a candid Q&A.
What was it like for you when that announcement was made about your return to the ring?
I will say it was a decision that wasn’t taken lightly. That’s for sure. I think a lot of people fan-wise, and I’ve had this comment a lot on social media. “Oh, she is coming out of retirement for the millionth time.” I’ve actually never come out of retirement yet. This is actually my first time coming out of retirement. It would have to be for a very good reason. I will say I think Tessa Blanchard in herself is making a big splash in the women’s wrestling scene right now.
She is probably one of the best, if not the best in terms of outside WWE and throughout the independent circle and other promotions. That was another factor. Her attitude has always been her biggest enemy I feel like. For me, looking back on my career, I see so many similarities between her and I. The good and the bad. The good I would say we are both so passionate about wrestling. We both want to be the best. For me, wanted to be the best. And still in terms of this match I want to prove to the fans I can still go with a woman who is almost half my age. Those are the main reasons for me to come out of retirement. Yes, people my first time.
How have you been mentally and physically preparing for this match? You mention someone who is younger than you, you want to prove to everyone age is just a number. I’ve always thought you’ve stayed in great shape and maintain a high level of performance, which we’ve always expected from you. I’m sure you’ve put a lot of pressure on yourself in giving the best performance knowing this could be the last match you have.
You pretty much hit the nail on the head there. Throughout my career, especially the second half of my career, I was always nerdy or anal when it came to how I prepared for my matches. I won’t lie, it’s pretty much consumed my thoughts the last couple of weeks and getting into physical shape. I can stay in shape, and you can look fit from the outside, but stepping into that ring and having a match with one of the best athletes in the business right now.
That’s another thing. I will say I got in the ring a couple of weeks ago, and I literally felt everything. Back when you are young and Tessa’s age, we all feel invincible. I plan to put it all out there that night. I will say the preparation has been quite different I’d say from five, ten years ago. I’ll say that. If anything, my nerdiness when it come to preparation has gone up ten-fold. I’ve always had a lot of pressure on myself, but I’m not going to lie, I feel a lot of pressure to give the fans everything they expect plus more.
This match is taking place in Toronto, Canada. Somewhere near and dear to your heart. What does it mean to have this match there?
I didn’t even know when this match would happen. I had agreed to do it with Impact management. They are the ones decided it would be at Rebellion in Toronto, which gives me that little bit of home-field advantage. That’s exciting because I will have my family there. They weren’t there for my last match last year. It will be special in that regard. Of course, having that confidence of having the fans behind you in your hometown is always special.
Is there anyone you’ve been working with within the Impact Wrestling roster to help you get ready with your workouts? Is there any tape you’ve been studying specifically?
Not specific, I’ve been watching all kinds of wrestling. I’ve been going back to old school wrestling and back before my time with Shawn [Michaels] and Bret [Hart]. Even the psychology of Hunter [Triple H] and Shawn as well. I watch different people for different reasons. I’ll watch certain people for psychology and certain people for match creativeness. In terms of preparation, I’ve just really been working on my cardio a lot because people don’t realize even if you run on a treadmill and then you do a match, it’s not the same.
I went into Jay Lethal’s school a couple of times in the ring. I’m going to hit the ring a couple of times this week. I’m in San Antonio for a show right now, and I’m not scheduled to wrestle. But you never know what you might see. That’s about it. More of it is mental than anything.
What does the husband think of you returning to the ring?
He is just like don’t get hurt. Don’t get hurt. He has always been so supportive and one of my biggest fans. He just always has belief in me. He is like, “You’re going to kill it.” I’m the difficult wife saying, “But no. You don’t understand. It’s not the same.” He says the same thing. “You’re fit. You’re fine.” I’m like, “It’s not the same when you’re in a match with one of the best athletes now.” I have to step up to that level again.
One of the things I appreciate about you is you’re very vocal on social media with your opinions and stand by them no matter what reaction you get. Even when you get, “Stay in your lane.” The mentality is I can say what I want. It’s my platform. Just because I’m a public figure doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion. Was there ever a point for you where you wanted to walk away from social media?
There are days where I’m over social media. Obviously, for us as wrestlers, it’s a way to promote ourselves. I’ve never had the thought that I wanted to shut it down at all. But there are days where I’m just going to step away from it. I do find Twitter to be more negative than Instagram. Instagram is not so bad. I think it’s because of the pictures and see a face where on Twitter people forget we are human beings. They have anonymity as well, so it makes it an easier place to be negative. If I find there are days where people are especially negative, I’ll just turn it off.
But of course, everyone who follows me knows I’m going to fight back. Depends on who it is. Depends on my mood. Depends what it is. I just said it today that the majority of fans who do troll are when I talk politics, it’s a Trump follower. If I get specific about the office in WWE and the truth of how they treat the talent because I don’t have an idea how they treat the office. I’m always going to tell the truth. I always tell people this business is essentially a monopoly. So, whether you work for WWE or don’t’ work for WWE, you still are almost afraid to speak up because you never want to close that bridge or lose that relationship to be hired. Some people want to get Hall of Fame or be re-hired. They just don’t want to burn that bridge. For me, I worked there twice and know it was the worst experiences of my life. Not just my career. It was very toxic for me. I know I don’t have a desire to work there, so I can speak the truth and one of the few who can or feel comfortable enough too.
The full interview with Kim will be available on Tuesday’s episode of our WINCLY podcast. You can check out past episodes of the WINCLY here. Subscribe to Wrestling Inc. Audio on iTunes or Google Play. Listen to the show via Spotify here or through TuneIn here.