Women’s wrestling: The next big thing? (Part 2)

 

jvarsallone@miamiherald.com

Any aspiring female wrestler can learn from Gail Kim wrestling Awesome Kong at TNA Wrestling’s Turning Point PPV on Dec. 2, 2007. More recently Kim battling Taryn Terrell in that Last Knockout Standing match during TNA’s Slammiversary XI PPV on June 2 and then a ladder match on the July 11 episode of TNA Impact Wrestling are valuable lessons, too.

Let’s get physical.

“Before these matches [with Taryn Terrell], a lot of people were very skeptical about Taryn Terrell,” Kim said. “I worked a little bit with her in WWE. She was just starting to get on a roll, and then she got released shortly there after, and I left the company as well. She took a couple years break, and when she came back, TNA eased her into a role as a referee.

“We really didn’t know if she could go in the ring, and the only thing I knew prior to having the stipulation matches against her [in TNA], she does a little bit of stunt work on the side. When you have stipulation matches, it’s all out there, and you can do whatever you want to do. I’ve always been in favor of those types of matches. I’m a little bit nuts, and I’m always willing to push the envelope.”

A stunt woman has greater upside than a model learning to wrestler. You want proof?

“In my 14 years of wrestling, I never met a girl who wanted to step it up to that level with me,” Kim said. “I’ve been in the ring with many, many talented girls, whether they were skilled technically, strong, experienced, and I still never met a girl who wanted to get to that level of craziness.

“With Taryn, I just knew, and she really stepped it up when it came to that Last Knockout Standing match. We both really wanted to bring it that day. I don’t think anyone had any expectations for that match. The feud was really built up, but the stipulation hadn’t been built up. So I think people were like, ‘OK, it’s a match between Gail and Taryn,’ but we surprised everyone.

“I wasn’t that surprised at how far she would go. I think everyone else was surprised about it. Out of all the years in my career, that match was definitely one of my highlights. This past year, those two matches I had with her, the Last Knockout Standing and the ladder match, were definitely highlights for girls to get that kind of reaction. It’s very rare to be a professional wrestler and to get that type of crowd reaction. It’s one of those moments you don’t want to go by too quickly. You want to relish that moment. I only had those magical moments in the past with Kong, and that was a very different kind of feud. It was a David and Goliath thing. With Taryn, a model looking girl that no one expected this from, I’m just happy that nobody had those expectations, because we just knocked it out of the ballpark that day.

“With the ladder match, we didn’t know what to expect with that either. We just knew we had this pressure to almost top the other match. We didn’t know if we could, and it ended up being just as magical.”

It almost didn’t happen.

“I heard rumors it was going to be another Last Knockout Standing match,” she said. “When you have a magical match your first time like that, you don’t want to repeat it with the same kind of match. So I was really happy we got to do the ladder match because it was something different, and it turned out to be amazing.

“If you have too many stipulation matches, people won’t appreciate those matches as much. I’m always willing to take on a stipulation match as long as it’s the right time and the right place.”

Women creating magic like that in WWE a little harder.

“They are two very different companies,” said Kim, 36, “I’ve worked for both companies twice now, and for everyone it’s a different experience.

“My first run with WWE with Trish, Victoria and Jazz and Ivory and Molly, they did give us a lot of time and had the storylines and cared about the work in the ring, and then it kind of faded away once the first diva search happened. That’s when I came to TNA. I had a small role. I was managing, and then we went on to create this great Knockouts division. We have a president, Dixie Carter, who is a female who’s always supported the girls and she’s always cared about us having the respect in the ring to be sexy but also athletic and show our talents in the ring.

“I think that’s the biggest difference, if you watch the two products. The Knockouts will have great matches consistently, and we’re more about athleticism in the ring, having that whole total package of being sexy and athletic and being able to put on these great matches.

“One of the biggest differences is this past year with Taryn I had a ladder match and a Last Knockout Standing match. You never say never, but what I’ve seen and what it’s been like the last couple of years, I don’t think you’ll see that in WWE. TNA Impact Wrestling is willing to bring it to the next level with the girls and have faith that we can put on a match that can entertain the fans just as much as the guys can.”

• This is the second installment on a series on women’s wrestling. More to follow.

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