By Ryan K Boman, Editor in Chief
That night, Kim served as the special referee in Tessa’s title defense against Taya Valkyrie. After continually being disrespected by Blanchard, Kim became physically involved, which ended up costing the The Undeniable One the Knockouts Championship.
That’s what provided the fire for this feud – one that will culminate tomorrow night at The Rebel Entertainment Complex.
However, in an exclusive interview with TheGorillaPosition.com, Kim says it’s not the impetus for a full-time return to the ring. She’s back for one more ride through The Golden Horseshoe this weekend, but it’s only to teach the young star a lesson.
“This is most definitely a one-and-done,” Kim said, as she was preparing for the match. “I had to go get clearance from two different doctors, to make sure that taking this match wouldn’t cause me any long-term problems. And, I’ve had to bust my butt harder than I ever have before to get ready for it.”
“I never want the fans to remember me for anything less than when they saw me in my prime. So, that’s my goal at the pay-per-view… to be able to live up to those expectations. That’s what I want to accomplish.”
“I’m 42, and Tessa is 23, and she’s obviously an amazing athlete. Anyone who has seen her in the ring can’t deny that. So for me, this was so much more of a personal challenge, to be able to show everyone from my generation that I can hang with this girl.”
After a career that spanned nearly 20 years, Kim said goodbye in late 2017, and became the first female inductee to Impact’s highest honor. Since then, she’s been involved in a creative role backstage, and as an ambassador for the promotion. However, since the situation with Blanchard arose, Kim has been working off the ring rust in anticipation of their ultimate encounter.
“I definitely feel the difference from when I was (wrestling) full time. Because, you almost become ‘calloused’ when you’re taking all those falls and strikes. And after taking a year off, your body starts to heal. You’re so much more used to it when you’re in there – taking all the bumps and bruises all the time.”
“There’s a big difference from being in shape, and being in ring shape. That’s my only concern. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s a big deal. I’ve been putting in as much time as I can, and I’ve seen how my cardio has improved. So, I know I’ll be ready.”
Aside from Sunday’s showdown, there isn’t much else left for the veteran grappler to prove. She’s literally done it all, winning multiple world titles in both Impact and WWE. This week she was greeted to a hero’s welcome in Toronto, and given the honor of throwing out the first pitch at the Blue Jays game on Friday.
“A lot of people – including my Mom – were more excited about the pitch than everything else, ” Kim laughed, admitting she was a little nervous in the days leading up to her trip to the mound.
“Because of the way my mind works in terms of my wrestling career, this match has consumed my thoughts. So, luckily, the pitch wasn’t the main thing on my mind.”
As game day grew closer, however, she had a small case of the nerves.
“People were sending me videos of people throwing out the first pitch who had done very bad, and some who had done very good. So I thought, whoa… now the pressure’s really on.”
Kim says she had calmed down by game time. After firing off a fastball, she walked off the field with yet another accomplishment under her belt.
“It was so much fun for me, because I watched the Blue Jays going back to my childhood. It brought back a lot of memories, and they are such a great, professional organization to deal with. It was awesome.”
While she acknowledges her place in wrestling history, she says she doesn’t want to lend a lot of description to her long list of accolades. Instead, she points out the team effort that helped get her here.
“I always listen to what the fans say, because that’s who’s watching and who you are doing it for,” she explained. “I feel like they really appreciate the hard work and fight that has gone in to our women’s division, and I’m proud to be a part of that. Once Impact started this womens division, they never stopped with it. They never stopped from pushing the girls in a positive light.”
“My career has been a collaborative effort – between myself, the company, and all the women that I got the opportunity to work with. And, most of all the fans. Because if they didn’t want to see it… then how would we be doing it?”
At Rebellion, it will be a battle of the Knockout Division’s standard bearer against its silver spoon. And although Kim has grown frustrated when Blanchard’s ‘spoiled brat’ attitude, she’s also quick to praise her young opponent’s ring skills.
“No matter what issues I have with Tessa’s immaturity, you can’t deny her talent. You can’t deny her presence. Not only is she a third-generation wrestler, she’s a third-generation wrestler who has succeeded. People can say whatever they want about her last name. But, when you have a name, you have to live up to that name. And, Tessa has done a superb job of doing that. So, I take nothing away from her.”
She also said that despite Blanchard’s boorish behavior, the fans see the massive potential in her, as well.
“Toronto has always been an amazing crowd, and they’ve always been so supportive of me,” Kim said. “But, at the same time, they respect work ethic. And Tessa, despite the fact that she has a little bit of attitude, has that in the ring. So there may even be a bit of a split. Even though it’s my hometown, I think she might have some supporters out there.”
“It’s sort of like when I wrestled Awesome Kong, and the crowd had respect for her. So, they chanted for both us during some of our matches. I could see some of that maybe happening during my match with Tessa, because the Toronto crowd respects talent. And Tessa is one of the most talented wrestlers in the world.”
“We could see a little bit of a 50/50 split at times, and I understand that. But no matter what, I’m just staying focused on the match.”
Win or lose, her place in history is safe. Even if she ends up ‘passing the torch’ to her young antagonist, Kim has already gone down as a female figure who bridged the gap from entertainment to sport.
“I hope when people look back at me and my career, that they remember that I never wavered from what I stood for. I hope they know that I will never change, no matter what. And, that I always tried to be an example of someone who worked hard for women’s wrestling.”
Watch: Gail Kim Comes Out of Retirement to Face Tessa Blanchard! | IMPACT! Highlights Mar 29, 2019
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