Almost a month ago, TNA/ Impact Wrestling Hall of Famer Gail Kim teased a major announcement coming. On Facebook Live, accompanied by her best friend and wrestler Christy Hemme, they announced the return of Knockouts Knockdown, the All-Woman TNA event that took place from 2013 to 2017. Hemme was set to have a major role in this iPPV.
We all know that Christy Hemme is retired from the ring due to a serious neck injury, but she has never stopped being involved in the industry, as an interviewer, valet, ring announcer, referee, but also a creative and producer backstage. Her love for wrestling and her contagious smile has never faded, she has always been there for the fans and the industry, despite other projects and a big family to take care of.
SteelChair Mag had the absolute pleasure to talk to Christy Hemme this Wednesday. She told us about Knockouts Knockdown, her involvement in the show, her different roles in the business, the TNA times, the current Knockouts roster, and what the future may hold for her.
What a pleasure to see you back on Impact for such an event that ‘Knockouts Knockdown’ is, it was just amazing, just the announcement to see you with Gail Kim announcing that incredible event. How did you get involved in the process of making this event happen?
“They originally called me and wanted me to make an appearance on the show. Gail and I work a lot behind the scenes in multiple different things and ventures. She and I got to talking about different ideas, specifically for the show, and so we started talking to them about all these ideas, and they got really excited, and we just jumped in two feet and started helping pull the show together and add to some of the elements that already existed with their Knockouts Knockdown. Now there’s so much history with Knockouts Knockdown, I was part of it back in the day and helping develop the, at-that-time pay-per-view, and I just love that brand itself, so we got really passionate about doing more behind the scenes with it, as well as being on camera for it.”
We know that Veda Scott and Mickie James will be at the announcer’s table, that Melissa Santos is the ring announcer. What is exactly your role on that night?
“There are some surprises, and I have to actually leave it at that because I can’t talk about these amazing surprises that truly elevate the show in a way that you’re just gonna be like “yes,” like things that you want to see happen, and excitement that is going to bring a lot to Impact Wrestling and the industry and so I’m excited for you to see that. Then also, I was just there to help actually develop the show itself, but as far as on camera, I can’t exactly tell you what it was.
“The other piece that I was very involved with and why initially Gail and I got really passionate about talking more about the show and what we could do with the show was that Daffney’s death hit us pretty hard, it hit us really hard, it was a heavy one to take. We all wanted to make sure that her legacy, the tribute, the way that she was positioned on the show and the love that she received from Impact Wrestling, and the fans and us girls were really known and present in the show.”
At the very beginning, was it Impact Wrestling desire to bring ‘Knockouts Knockdown’ back or was it an idea of you and Gail?
“That was actually Impact Wrestling. They wanted to do that, they’ve been planning it for quite a while doing it. It was just more once they had those pieces in place and knowing that they wanted to do it that Gail and I jumped it in and wanting to flesh that out with more ideas.”
Were you involved in the choice of the wrestlers who are taking part in the show?
“I definitely cannot take credit for that, a lot of that was in place already. Gail is very involved in developing and really scouting the industry for fresh talent, and this show is particularly stacked with talent. I can’t say there was one talent on there that I wasn’t excited to see what they can do in the ring and the growth that they’ve had. I loved talking to Deonna Purrazzo because, back in the day when she first started, and she was trying to get to Impact (Deonna took part in Knockouts Knockdown 2016), we talked a lot about her character and where she was going. She was just so green, so fresh, so young, and so to see her develop into this amazing talent, a really multi-faceted talent I was blown away. She’s incredible, but really that’s par for the course with this entire card.”
This tournament combines the Knockouts roster with wrestlers that had a match before, like Lady Frost or Renee Michelle, but also Jamie Senegal who has never wrestled on IMPACT. That’s a wonderful array of ladies…
“Then, also getting to see Mercedes Martinez. She is an in-ring veteran and has been well developed, and I don’t think that we’ve gotten to see the height of her career. I personally would like to see her just do great big things and be held up on an amazing platform. I think she deserves it, she’s really worked hard for a very long time.”
Deep down inside you, have you wanted to come back to Impact, one way or another, one day or another, like you’re doing right now?
“I have so much love for Impact Wrestling, I always will. They gave me a career in professional wrestling to really love and cherish. On camera, I don’t see a lot of future for me because I love working behind the camera so much but, in development or when it comes to the ladies and all that kind of stuff, I definitely see me being involved in some capacity. But I am definitely not going to be wrestling in the ring (laughs).”
‘Knockouts Knockdown’ is not a new concept of a show, the first edition took place in 2013. Recently, NWA did ‘Empowerrr’, an All-Women PPV, other companies did some too before…
“Let’s talk about history for just a second. TNA/Impact Wrestling was doing a lot of these things a long time ago, the development of that roster way back in the day was the most eclectic, passionate, hard-hitting, ring-developed like any other roster that you’d ever seen. I love that they’ve always been that way, and they’ve always held down a certain standard as to what comes into the ring, passion-wise and character-wise, and there’s a lot of factors that created that platform for us. The management back then really supported it, Jeff Jarrett, Dutch Mantel, Scott D’Amore, there was a lot of people that really supported women. That company has always been that way, so Knockouts Knockdown is not new because they’d been doing that for a long time, like years ago. That’s a part of my love for the company, it has always shown its support to women. So it always felt good to be not only in the ring, but it felt good to be backstage.”
Some people feel like the women’s revolution is something really recent but in fact, TNA/ Impact wrestling was at the forefront of it…
“I disagree with that, and I’ll tell you why. The women’s revolution is when fans got on board and everybody started doing something, so Impact Wrestling was ahead of its time truly, women’s revolution wasn’t happening back then because they didn’t have the support truly from the entire industry, and it’s almost like they caught the vision for what women could be in the sport and on-screen and they were doing it, and then they had to patiently wait until the revolution happened to be like, “See, we’ve been doing this for a long time, just waiting for you guys all to jump on board.”
What is your opinion on the current Knockouts roster?
“I am so incredibly impressed by them. I love watching like, for example, Havok, who back in the day has a character not only in the ring but backstage. She’s someone that I have watched really come into her confidence, and I’m so impressed with how she’s developed. I love watching character development and where they not only are working hard in the ring but they’re working on the human that they are, then you can see who they are in the ring. Havok is one of those characters that I’m really impressed with. Rosemary, I’ve been a fan since the beginning, I’m a fan to the end, and she’s just an incredible talent. There’s just so many. Impact Wrestling really knows how to spot talent, then nurture them along and develop them in a way that gives them a certain type of freedom that they can really show up in the ring.
“I do want to credit just a little something here because being able to be a talent in the ring that has those kinds of freedom, it’s not just about letting them just be free and do whatever they want, it’s about leadership being able to spot when to give them those free moments. And I will say that’s another thing with Impact Wrestling, the leadership there right now is so strong, that team is assembled in the way that they develop the roster and the characters. They really manage it well and give them freedom. That is like such a fine line to walk, and they do it beautifully.”
You were also a pioneer on your own because you were behind the scenes very early, during the TNA times, something that was not very developed at that time. Now, Mickie James is NWA executive producer, Gail Kim is working backstage at IMPACT, both are involved in the women’s division. When you were a TNA Creative, what were you envisioning for the women at that time? Also are you happy to see your best friend Gail Kim now being at the helm of the women’s division?
“I love it. Back then, I remember I was living in Florida with my husband. We had a beautiful house that he had built right when we had met, and I got a vision for working behind the scenes and really helping develop the women. We sold the house, moved to Nashville, got an apartment there, and I literally would show up to the TNA production offices and just ask for things to do like, “Hey, can I help? Can I help?” (laughs) Then, finally, after a while from me just showing up often enough they decided to give me a little job here and there, and it just kept developing from there. I just had this feeling and this urge, the thing that I love most is to put talent on platforms and let them really shine and showcase who they are as a human. So, for me, it’s just been a beautiful evolution. I love this stage of my career, way more than I ever did being in front of the camera.”
You were a wrestler, an interviewer, a ring announcer, a referee, a Creative, a producer. What was the role that was the most rewarding for you?
“Producing, for sure. Just producing means having a vision for something, whether it was an element of the show or an element of the character and fleshing that out with that person, taking whatever that idea was, whether it was theirs or mine, and bringing it to life where it’s a concept in your mind, then pulling all those parts together and bringing it to life. This means you have to then connect it to the show and connect it to their socials and connect it to PR and connect it to the voices that are talking about them. There are so many elements involved with taking an idea in your head and blasting it to the planet. So, producing is my favourite thing to do ever.”
Does ‘Knockouts Knockdown’ make you want to be more involved with Impact Wrestling? Will wrestling always be a huge part of your life, despite all your projects and your big family?
“It will be. Wrestling is in my heart. I think once you fall in love with it, it doesn’t ever leave you, and the door is always open there, so I think it was nice to get in for us, but there’s a whole new team there, so it was totally different. It was a totally different experience from when I was there 5 or 6 years ago. The door is open, and I think that the possibilities are always endless.”
Follow Christy Hemme on @hemmepowered
Knockouts Knockdown will air live on Impact Plus this Saturday at 8 PM EST (1 AM BST), YouTube for IMPACT Ultimate Insiders, and Fite TV. IMPACT Wrestling is airing on Thursday at 8/7c on AXS TV in the USA and around the world on IMPACT Wrestling’s new YouTube membership Impact Insiders.
All pics and screencaps courtesy of Impact Wrestling, Fight Network and AXS TV