Just hours before Impact Wrestling’s Hard to Kill, several female wrestlers on social media called out Tessa Blanchard and accused her of bullying, harassment and making racial slurs in the past.
Impact had planned on making Blanchard the first-ever female Impact World Champion and they followed through with those plans. Gail Kim, who is a producer with Impact, discussed the backstage environment at Hard to Kill and her reaction to the accusations against Blanchard.
“It was pretty stressful in the sense I didn’t like the angst of all these women fighting, or I don’t know what the term is, but it weighed heavily on my heart in a way. When that happened, we went to a pay-per-view and it wasn’t even 24 hours,” Kim told PWInsider. “I went to speak to Tessa. Those details are private between her and I and are no one’s business. I based my decision of support at the pay-per-view and showing that support based on her time in the company. In the three years that she started with Impact wrestling, I’ve never seen any signs of any of that, of the undertones of bullying or racism. That’s where I made my decision of what I did and what I showed.”
Kim hit back at people on social media who said she was a hypocrite for disparaging WWE in the past. She added that the difference is that she talked to Blanchard face-to-face while WWE never gave her the time of day.
“Any wrestler would tell you this, if someone was so crappy and such a terrible attitude and terrible person, do you think we would support that person? We would probably let that person bury themselves. She has the support of the locker room for a reason,” stated Kim. “Now, I wasn’t there at the incident. I don’t know who was there at the incident. I can’t make my decision based on hearsay. Yes, there were many women that came forward. ? I had to believe and give a chance to the person who displayed the behavior that I saw working with her in that environment.”
Blanchard defeated Kim in her retirement match at last year’s Rebellion. The two worked together for months leading up to that and Kim was asked if she witnessed any of the attitude problems that others have brought up in regards to Blanchard.
“I didn’t see any attitude problems, that’s the thing. I don’t know what that reasoning is. I’ve never even heard anybody say in the locker room in the last three years that she had an attitude problem,” said Kim. “For me, that’s the reason that I came out of retirement. I was like, ‘Wow, that girl is talented, I didn’t really have the retirement that I envisioned, let me come back and try to do it the right way and that I could close the door peacefully.’ I never had any issues. It was like working with anybody else who is professional and talented and well rounded. I never had any issues.”
In 2018 Kim called WWE racist on Twitter and recently called them out again for their use of Asian wrestlers. Then with her publicly supporting Blanchard, who was accused of a racist act, Kim has been criticized of supporting a perceived racist. Kim responded to that notion.
“First off, it did bother me that people were demanding answers. If something happens in your life and you have barely 24 hours to digest it, are you going to go share it with strangers on social media and the details of what conversations you had? People don’t know what happened. People don’t know the conversations that occurred. I’m a nearly 43-year-old woman who talked to someone, made decisions based on that conversation and other conversations and based on the last three years working with someone in the company. That’s the part people don’t understand,” said Kim.
“They want to go to the negative space right away. There’s more to that and more to that happening and then a reaction. It takes conversations with many people sometimes. There’s many people involved and people don’t get that. It’s really none of their business. Because I’m so outspoken about racism, I want everyone to know, I truly still have my same morals. I still have my same stance. Nothing has changed. Like I said, the conversation between her and I and others are private and that’s what I made my decisions on. For the past three years that I have seen, there have been no underlying notions of bullying or racism that I have noticed or seen or felt or heard at all.”
Blanchard issued a single statement on Twitter refuting the claims made by others about her. Kim was asked how she thinks Blanchard has handled this controversy over the past few weeks.
“I didn’t see her all of her responses. I did see her statement on social media. The statement that was coming from her and I can’t tell her what to say or what to think. She did deny it, like you said. Like I said, the last three years I’ve never seen any underlying racist language or behavior. It should be discussed between the people that it occurred with,” said Blanchard. “In this day and age, I feel like people don’t want to confront each other. I’m very direct and I like it when people are direct with me. Not necessarily a confrontation of a fighting or aggressive nature, but I like when people will tell me directly what they think and we can work it out and resolve the issue.
“Someone else also said whether she did have that reputation three years ago and some people have said that [she did]. But there are a lot of people in wrestling who had bad reputations years ago and we’ve given them second chances. If they screw that up, that’s on them. But based on from the time she’s started in this company to now, I haven’t seen anything bad and that’s what I’ve based my my judgment on now.”
You can read the full interview at PWInsider by clicking here.