Gail Kim reflects on Awesome Kong’s groundbreaking career ahead of IMPACT Hall of Fame induction

Before WWE saw a female revolution that led to the rise of Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Bianca Belair and others, IMPACT Wrestling gave women an important platform to display their talent in the Knockouts division. . Rather than being treated like sex objects, the women at IMPACT showed their talent to match their male contemporaries.

Perhaps no women’s feud in North America has embodied the brilliance of women’s professional wrestling than the fantastic rivalry between Gail Kim and Awesome Kong.

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And at the IMPACT Wrestling Bound for Glory pay per view in Las Vegas, recently retired Kong will be celebrated for her contributions to professional wrestling and inducted into the IMPACT Hall of Fame by none other than Kim.

“She was the right person when wrestling – especially women’s wrestling – needed her,” Kim told Sporting News ahead of Kong’s induction which will take place on the pre-show “Countdown to Glory “(9:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. PT via “Fans in the United States, certainly, had never seen a strong-styled woman before – and I don’t think there were a lot of men doing what she was doing back then, which made her even more special. She was a dominant force, absolutely, she had that intimidating look but she also had the talent once the bell rang. And we all saw what kind of an actress she is – she can do anything. ”

Kong – real name Kia Stevens – has done it all. She is a two-time Knockout champion and was ranked number one on PWI’s Top 100 Women Wrestlers list in 2008. Known for her size and power, Kong broke barriers and shattered stereotypes during her remarkable feud with Kim who lasted from 2007 to 2008.. It was a series of matches in which each showdown raised the physical level to impressive heights.

“Kong was perfect as a monster in the Knockouts division,” Kim says. “Simple scripts work – and Kong and I had a David and Goliath script that we took our time with and it was really an overnight success.”

Following his tenure at IMPACT, Kong made a short stint in WWE from 2010-2012 as a Kharma and eventually returned to IMPACT while also working in Japan. From 2017 to 2019, Stevens made her acting debut in Netflix’s well-received comedy-drama on the 1980s women’s pro wrestling circuit “GLOW” as Tamme “The Welfare Queen” Dawson. The show ran for three seasons but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic which halted production.

She resurfaced one last time in All Elite Wrestling in 2019 and announced her retirement on August 28, 2021, ending a remarkable 20-year career.

But for two decades, the feud she will remember most was with Kim, who herself was inducted into the IMPACT Hall of Fame in 2016. Kong will be the eighth professional wrestler to enter the Hall of Fame, joining Sting, Ken Shamrock, Kurt Angle and Jeff Jarrett.

For Kim, what we saw on TV between her and Kong was far from the person she knows.

“If you meet the real Kia Stevens, he’s the cutest person,” Kim continues. “She has the biggest heart. She’s the type to make you feel like you’ve been friends for years. I think she was telling me about the new Harry Potter book that she would read within five minutes of her presentation. is very friendly, nothing to do with who she is in the ring. “

What also made the Kong-Kim rivalry unique was that it broke stereotypes. At a time when women of color were not in the spotlight in professional wrestling, the fact that an Asian woman and a black woman were involved in one of the biggest feuds in the history of the women’s professional wrestling says a lot about how these two women have broken down doors. down for minorities in professional wrestling.

“I have known racism in wrestling,” Kim says. “And the fact that a company – when women’s wrestling was supposed to be dead – had two women of color meant so much. I don’t think they even considered it two women of color at the time, or that ‘They were trying their luck, but looking back, it was huge.

“Being able to have a partner to influence change like Kia… that meant everything. It was a special partnership we had. I’m so lucky to have had it. Everyone in the fight is lucky to have had it. “

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