Before WWE had a women’s revolution that led to the rise of Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Bianca Belair and others, IMPACT Wrestling gave women a meaningful platform to showcase their talents in the Knockouts Division. Rather than being treated like sex objects, the women of IMPACT displayed a talent that was on a par with their male contemporaries.
Perhaps no women’s fight in North America epitomized the brilliance of female 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, the recently retired Kong will be celebrated for his contributions to professional wrestling and will be inducted into the IMPACT Hall of Fame by none other than Kim.
“She was the right person at the time when wrestling, especially women’s wrestling, needed her,” Kim tells The Sporting News ahead of Kong’s induction to take place on the pre-show for “Countdown to Glory “(9:30 pm ET / 6:30 pm Pacific Time via FITE.tv). “Fans in the United States certainly hadn’t seen a strong-styled woman before, and I don’t think there were many men doing what she did at the time, which made her even more special. She was a dominating force, She absolutely had that intimidating look, but she also had the talent once the bell rang. And we’ve all seen what kind of actress she is, she can do it all. ”
Kong, whose real name is Kia Stevens, has done it all. She is a two-time Knockouts champion and was ranked number one on PWI’s “100 Greatest Female Wrestlers” list in 2008. Renowned for her size and power, Kong broke barriers and stereotypes during her notable feud with Kim who lasted from 2007 to 2008.. It was a series of matches in which each confrontation increased physicality to impressive heights.
“Kong was perfect as the monster from the Knockouts division,” says Kim. “Simple stories work, and Kong and I had a David and Goliath story that we took our time with and it really was an overnight hit.”
Following his tenure at IMPACT, Kong had a brief stint with WWE from 2010 to 2012 as Kharma and eventually returned to IMPACT while also working in Japan. From 2017 to 2019, Stevens made her acting debut in the well-received Netflix comedy-drama about the 1980s syndicated professional wrestling circuit “GLOW” as Tamme “The Welfare Queen” Dawson. The show ran for three seasons, but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down production.
He last resurfaced in All Elite Wrestling in 2019 and announced his retirement on August 28, 2021, thus ending a remarkable 20-year career.
But over two decades, the fight that most will remember her was with Kim, who was inducted into the IMPACT Hall of Fame in 2016. Kong will be the eighth professional wrestler to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining people like Sting, Ken. Shamrock, Kurt Angle, and Jeff Jarrett.
For Kim, what we saw on television between her and Kong was very far from the person she knows.
“If you know the real Kia Stevens, she is the sweetest person,” continues Kim. “He has the biggest heart. She is the type that makes you feel like you’ve been friends for years. I think he was telling me all about the new Harry Potter book that he would be reading within five minutes of it being introduced. She is very friendly, she is nothing like what she is in the ring. “
What also made the Kong-Kim rivalry unique was that it broke stereotypes. During a time when women of color were not the center of attention in professional wrestling, the fact that an Asian woman and a black woman were involved in one of the most important fights in the history of female professional wrestling speaks largely of how these two women broke doors. towards minorities in professional wrestling.
“I have experienced racism in wrestling,” says Kim. “And the fact that a company, when the women’s struggle was supposed to be dead, left with two women of color meant a lot. I don’t think they even saw it as two women of color at the time, or taking a chance, but looking back, that was great.
“To be able to have a partner to affect change like Kia … it just meant everything. It was a special partnership that we had. I’m so lucky to have had it. Everyone in wrestling is lucky to have had it.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.