It’s been a while since we’ve seen Awesome Kong out there at a national level, dominating the Knockouts and Divas that make up TNA and WWE. But that doesn’t mean that she hasn’t been wrestling. In fact, Toronto has been warned — Kong is coming on Sunday for Smash Wrestling. But there are not any guarantees about how many more times she’ll be in the ring.
“Whomever’s in the neighbourhood should come out, because you never know how many more of these I’m going to do. I’m not a big announcer of, ‘Hey, I’m going to retire.’ I think I’ll say, ‘Okay, that was my last match,'” Awesome Kong told SLAM! Wrestling on Wednesday, with her infectious laugh. “You never know when you’re going to see the last of Kong, so you should get it while you can!”
And Kia Stevens, the woman who turns into Awesome Kong, has been thinking about the end of her run more than one might think.
“I’ve done a lot in wrestling. If I were to retire tomorrow, I wouldn’t have any regrets about something that was missing from my career. I’ve got a Royal Rumble under my belt — not many women can say that! Oh yeah, two others,” she laughed, referring to Chyna and Beth Phoenix. “There’s not much that I am regretful about or saying, ‘My career isn’t complete because I didn’t do this.’ I’ve done a lot in my career. Is there room for more? Yes. There’s definitely room for more. It’s a double-edged sword for women. Sometimes we don’t get the opportunity to wrestle for as long, for as many years, as men do, because once you are of a certain age, people tend to say, ‘Okay, you’re no spring chicken any more.’ But what’s awesome about Kong is she’s timeless.”
Compared to her WWE (where she was known as Kharma) and TNA, it’s a pretty relaxed wrestling schedule, maybe a handful of matches in a month.
“It’s just about, do I feel like that’s worth me getting out of bed?” she confessed. “Wrestling, once it’s in your blood, it stays there. If you’re not done with it, then you tend to do it every now and again. Plus, people still pay me to do it!”
A new non-wrestling-related project is very close to fruition, but can’t revealed quite yet.
“Right now, it’s all about what’s next, what I’m going to do outside the arena, what’s next in my career. I have a very exciting project — I was hoping to have it ready by the time we talked, but details, details,” she said. “It’s not, but hopefully by the time we get up to Canada, I can announce it then. It’s a very exciting project and I plan to start a Kickstarter for it. I know the wrestling fans will give me great support on this awesome idea.”
Kong is pretty current on the WWE storylines, but nothing of TNA. It’s a good time in WWE, she believes.
“It’s really exciting, and with the success of Total Divas, it’s really exciting for women in wrestling, period. More face-time is more face-time, right?”
Kharma’s abrupt departure from WWE in May 2011 — she was pregnant, but ultimately lost the child — meant that her domination of the Divas never really came to fruition. Recently, fans had mentioned her as a good way to end the Bella versus Bella saga, returning (like she did for her surprise Royal Rumble 2012 bout) and leaving both lying in the ring.
“I think people are looking for some sort of closure, so they are looking for that storyline — which was an exciting storyline,” admitted Stevens, with the added consideration of “what would have been.”
For the most part, Awesome Kong works in women’s wrestling promotions, like SHIMMER, Shine, WSU and Femmes Fatales. She loves the atmosphere at those shows, in the ring, with the fans, and behind the scenes.
“There’s a hunger in the locker room, a hunger,” said Kong. “Every show is about keeping women’s wrestling alive, not just propelling one individual’s career, but doing something, a movement, as a whole and having pride in what we do, and putting our craft first.”
She believes there could be a women’s only promotion on a national scale.
“I think there’s definitely a bigger platform for it,” she said. “People respect and they get excited about women’s wrestling that is hard-hitting and very earnest. You’re out there and you’re putting the craft before the flounce and people respect that.”
First-hand, Kong has knowledge of the passion that many fans have for women’s wrestling, often saving up for months to travel across the ocean to see, say, SHIMMER live. “Then they tell their friends, and get their friends excited, and then their friends get into it and respect our business. They are the ones — of course, our hard work too, but we do our share, and you, best be damned sure, they do theirs.”
Sunday’s show for Smash Wrestling, at The CanLan Sportsplex in Mississauga, is billed as the 2014 CANUSA Classic, pitting the best Canadian female wrestlers against their American counterparts. The American captain is Awesome Kong, and the others on her team are Allysin Kay, Cherry Bomb, Kimber Lee, Veda Scott, Taeler Hendrix, and Heidi Lovelace.
The Canadian captain is LuFisto, and Team Canada includes Vanessa Kraven, Courtney Rush, Xandra Bale, Jewells Malone, Leah Von Dutch, and Angie Skye.
The captains are facing off, and Awesome Kong and LuFisto go way back to Tokyo” said Kong
“Size is not an issue where she’s concerned,” said Kong, switching into hype mode. “She is not one to be taken for granted. She’s definitely formidable. … I’ve got to come up with a strategy for this one because she’s, I dare say, damn near indestructible. She takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’.”
There are similarities between LuFisto and Kong in the locker room, as booth are seen as leaders.
“She’s been one to look up to. She’s done it all in wrestling,” Kong raved about LuFisto. “She’s been through many trials and tribulations as far as her health and physical health. It’s just been amazing what she’s been through and has triumphed.”
The same can be said about Awesome Kong, who, after 12 years, is seen as a veteran in the locker room as well.
“People have been asking advice from me for ages, but yeah, I think with the retirement of a lot of other female wrestlers, my face is one that is familiar and they do respect,” she concluded. “People do come up and ask me what I thought about their match or advice, and I feel eager to give it. If I’m asked, I’m going to shoot it right to you.”
AWESOME KONG STORIES
- Aug. 13, 2013: Kong amazingly avoids saying anything controversial
- May 3, 2010: Awesome Kong believes in herself
Greg Oliver was in trouble with Awesome Kong when he revealed that he couldn’t make it to the Smash Wrestling show on Sunday; when he explained his reason — the Word on the Street book festival is on in Toronto, and he has to be at his publisher’s booth in the afternoon — she forgave him. Phew. Greg can be emailed at [email protected], and you can follow him on Twitter @gregmep.