Exclusive: Gail Kim talks "Rebellion," Tessa Blanchard & the Toronto Blue Jays
One of the most decorated female wrestlers of all time, Gail Kim returns to her native Toronto to compete at the IMPACT Wrestling's Rebellion pay-per-view this Sunday, April 28th at the Rebel Entertainment Complex in Toronto. Kim will be facing third-generation wrestler Tessa Blanchard in one of the most anticipated matches at Rebellion.
The Rebellion will also see reigning World Champion Johnny Impact defending the title against Brian Cage. Other matches confirmed for Rebellion include Rich Swann defending the X-Division Championship against Sami Callihan, and The Lucha Brothers (Pentagon Jr. and Fenix) defending IMPACT's World Tag Team Championship against former champions LAX (Santana and Ortiz).
One day after Rebellion, Gail Kim also will be at the IMPACT Wrestling show on Monday, April 29th in Toronto, as the same venue plays host to television tapings for the company’s flagship weekly TV show, IMPACT! The first and only female inductee into the IMPACT Wrestling Hall of Fame, Kim also holds the distinction of having seven title reigns as IMPACT Wrestling Knockouts Champion for a total of 711 days.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Gail Kim -- who was featured in the recently-released Good Advice From Professional Wrestling book -- by phone just days before Rebellion and highlights from that interview are below. The full audio of the interview will be broadcast on a future edition of the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz podcast.
I'm sure you hear every single day that you are one of the greatest female wrestlers of all-time if not the greatest. So how does it feel to be regarded so highly yet also be a modest grounded person?
Gail Kim: Well thank you for saying that. I hope that I'm modest... I never wanted to get too big for my britches, and always strive to be my best and try to be humble. I think it's really just a combination of, I try to be compassionate and humble and then also be the hardest working person in the room. So I don't know, it's a hard question to answer.
Well looking at your career accomplishments, of course being a multi-time world champion, being the first female inductee into the IMPACT Hall Of Fame, etc., is there anything still left to accomplish professionally?
Gail Kim: No, you know it's part of the reason why I retired. I mean, my back started deteriorating and I knew I couldn't walk after some matches. So I never wanted the fans to ever remember me like that... I just thought to myself, "I've accomplished everything I really wanted to accomplish." I didn't know what my next goal was...
I started transitioning into helping the [IMPACT] girls and just kind of passing on what I had knowledge of at that point and because I learn every day to this day. And I loved that role. And I just knew this time, in my 40s... Then Tessa came along and I'm taking her on Sunday and everyone's asking, "Why'd she bring you out of retirement?" It took a lot, I will say. But she is the best right now, she is the future. She is a third-generation wrestler. I see a lot of myself in the desire to be the best.
I guess you could say I have a little challenge on me to show that I can probably still hang now... I want to make a memorable moment for us and for the wrestling fans out there.
In terms of coaching, did you study education when you were in college? If not, when did you have the inkling that you could actually reach people as a guiding force?
Gail Kim: I did. I mean, in school I didn't really think about it in terms of coaching or anything like that so young. But at the end of my career, we had an agent for the [IMPACT] girls matches too. He would always joke around with me and be like, "Here Gail, maybe I inserted too much... Do you want to be the agent?" as a joke. We had this running joke between us and then the girls just started kind of coming to me and asking me, "What did you think about my match? What kind of feedback could we get to get better?"
It just started just kind of naturally happening and I really embraced it and I love it to this day. I love helping the next generation of girls. I love all of these girls that are coming out there and that I get to meet and see the passion and I feel like they're all like my little sisters or my little babies.
When you got into wrestling did you know that it was going to be a life-long career?
Gail Kim: Oh yeah. I just finished talking about this... I wish there was a great exit line for every wrestler. You don't think about the end when you came in. All you think about is, "I want to make it." That's all I was thinking about. And so I didn't think about the length of the career, you just hope for the best. It's not something that was discussed a lot when I entered wrestling school; I was striving to make my dreams come true
Then you know once you start feeling something coming, and you see people leave or their careers end, it becomes reality and you've got to start thinking. I've been so fortunate to be able to stay in this business behind the scenes and be a part of that because that's part of the reason why I don't miss it in the ring. I still contribute in a different way without hurting my body, so it's good. I'm really really happy.
Also on the sports end I've read that you're a big fan of the Toronto Blue Jays. I'm assuming that has to do with you know growing up around there. When was the last time that you got to go to a Blue Jays game?
Gail Kim: Oh boy, it's been a while. I was a huge massive fan, up until when I started wrestling, so I'll say since then I haven't followed it. But that's all I watched. I went to the games as a kid, almost all the games, and now I'm throwing the first pitch of the game tonight. And apparently Vladimir Guerrero Jr. just got called up and it's all over the news today. I was like, "This is a huge game. You've got the first pitch, you do well." I'm nervous about that. I'm really nervous about that...
Well I know that you are multi-sport athlete in college, was softball one of them? You're great at throwing, I would assume?
Gail Kim: I was, but I haven't thrown a baseball since then, really. So the other day I grabbed a baseball and I practiced probably a good 20 pitches and I had a lot of insight from people who've done this before. And a lot of people said, "Don't go for speed, just go for accuracy. You have to lob it to the catcher." So I went to practice... And so I said, "Okay, well it's either going to go really bad or it's going to go really good."
Well the worst first pitch of all time is probably 50 Cent or Gary Della'Abate from the Howard Stern Show, so you would not be number one under any circumstance.
Gail Kim: I watched Mariah Carey, so she made me feel good as well.
So in closing, Gail, any last words for the kids?
Gail Kim: Just tune in to Rebellion on Sunday... I'm really looking forward to it. I think it's going to be an awesome card and you can find me on social media. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram.