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WWE, TNA Femme Fatale #2

Jun 4, 2008
When a masked female wrestler burst onto the Canadian wrestling scene in 2001, hardly anyone in that Toronto crowd knew that they'd be watching a future TNA Knockout in action, as well as the only wrestler to have held the Women's Title in both WWE and TNA.

Yet, on hindsight, who is really surprised? Gail Kim is, after all, a femme fatale.

Hello again, and welcome to the second edition of Femme Fatale, a column that appreciates the finer side of the wrestling world - the women. We covered WWE Women's Champion Mickie James last week, so this time around, we'll look at TNA's best and also by popular demand - Gail Kim. But first, let's see how Gail fits our two important Femme Fatale standards.

The Criteria

Gail is without a doubt, one of the most attractive women in the North American wrestling industry today. Her exotic Korean appearance is a rare find in a wrestling ring, and she is absolutely comfortable and believable in both face and heel roles. In the past three years in TNA, she's aligned herself with some of the most powerful men on the roster, like Jeff Jarrett and America's Most Wanted. Gail even managed to be inspiring enough to refocus Eric Young's mind from the wiles of Ms. Brooks, during his feud with Robert Roode. In this columnist's mind, therefore, Gail meets the "Femme" criterion.

But Gail Kim is more than a pretty face. As a rookie wrestler, Gail hid her beauty under a simple dark mask and called herself "The Queen of Cats" La Felina. Without her good looks to distract the audience, La Felina showed off her high-flying moves and simultaneously demonstrated her prowess in mat wrestling. As a heel, her gimmick was one of a dominatrix and she brutalised her opponents. Years later, in the WWE as Gail Kim, she would continue that mean streak of hers as she teamed with Molly Holly to become one of the most dominant female tag teams of the new millennium. Yes, Gail definitely fits the "Fatale" definition.

But Gail hasn't always had it easy in her road towards becoming one of the most well-known female wrestlers today. Despite her in-ring ability and stunning good looks, the journey towards championship gold was still long and difficult. Throughout her career, she's suffered from bad business decisions and major injuries. But let's look at how she overcame all that in her storied life.

The Beginning...

Gail Kim was born February 20th, 1976 and began her professional wrestling career after obtaining her degree in nutrition at the age of 24. With months of wrestling training under renown men like Ron Hutchinson and Rob "El Fuego" Etchevarria, Gail exploded onto the Canadian independent scene at the end of 2000 as the masked La Felina. In the months that followed, La Felina became an established member of the Apocalypse Wrestling Federation roster, alongside professional rival (and real life friend) Tracy Brooks. It was against Tracy Brooks, in a hair vs. mask match that La Felina was finally revealed as a gorgeous woman of Korean descent. In later interviews, Gail Kim would reveal that the mask was never her idea and that although she hated it, she recognised that it was part of her rookie training. As I mentioned earlier, such a decision would allow the AWF fans to focus on her in-ring skills, rather than on her looks alone. When she was unmasked, her popularity surged even more and she was even voted Diva of the Year - a sure sign of things to come.

Yet, it would be more than a year before Gail hit the big time. Like any passionate wrestler, she sought out one of her favourite WWE Superstars, Molly Holly, at a Fan Axxess festival in Toronto and gave her a recording of several wrestling clips. In a rare show of good faith, Molly Holly would pass Gail's tape on to the WWE officials, but it would be months before she was contacted.

Finally, in October 2002, Gail signed that all-important contract with the WWE. She had arrived. Excited at the thought of seeing an Asian female face in a WWE ring for the first time since Bull Nakano, I immediately got off my ass and wrote my first fan email to Gail, congratulating her on her signing. In less than a week, I got my reply from a very appreciative Gail. It was just a simple, short note of thanks, but the fact that she bothered to respond to it really said volumes about her character.

But Gail Kim was not to appear on international television for yet another year. For several months after her contract was signed, all she did was to participate in bra and panties matches with the likes of Dawn Marie and Shaniqua at WWE house shows. On hindsight, this may have been a decision because Trish Stratus was in the midst of two year-long feuds with Victoria then Jazz. It would have been too easy for Gail to get lost in the roster, with all attention focused on her fellow Canadian.

However, when Jazz was injured and had to drop the belt to someone new, WWE officials had just the person in mind.


June 9th 2003 saw the first vignettes for the debuting Gail Kim. With 2003 being the year of the hotly anticipated sequels to the science-fiction blockbuster, The Matrix, it seemed like a good idea to give the newcomer a Matrix gimmick. The stage was set for a high-flying, gravity-defying Diva who would make Lita look like a flightless bird in comparison.

And so it was that a Divas Battle Royal match was booked for the June 30th episode of RAW, featuring Ivory, Jacqueline, Trish Stratus, Victoria, Molly Holly, Jazz and Gail Kim. Appearing in a leather trenchcoat, shades and little else, Gail was a visual hit to all, and the announcers kept focusing on that. In the ring, Gail was naturally allowed to showcase her much-advertised high-flying moves, including modified hurracanranas and sunset flips.

However, it would also be memorable for a much bigger reason. For the first time in history, a wrestler would win the Women's Championship on her debut, and in just five minutes! Victoria and Gail were the last two left in the ring and Gail executed a slightly messy headscissors to throw Victoria over the top rope for the win.

Gail Kim was the new WWE Women's Champion!

In an unaired interview with WWE.com, Gail's excitement about this amazing achievement caused her to be lost for words. Nonetheless, she managed to spurt out one word, which definitely showed what the Title meant to her - "orgasmic".

Back to reality...

The unfortunate truth of the matter was that this was simply a really bad booking decision by the writers of RAW. News and gossip that followed Gail's win suggested that it was planned all along, in order to make her debut that more special. However, because the battle royal was not advertised, nor was it mentioned that the title would be on the line, Gail's win was actually short-changed. It would have been much more meaningful if there had been a significant amount of build-up to the match, with sufficient hype for each competitor (all who were excellent wrestlers in their own right).

Furthermore, there were many who felt that such a win not only cheapened the debuting Gail Kim, but made the other competitors in the battle royal (including veterans Ivory and Jacqueline) look weak in comparison. One reviewer felt that such a booking decision practically undermined the whole Women's division.

For her part, Gail's reign was short-lived, barely a month after winning the title, she lost it to Molly Holly in their second match together. One week later, things got even worse as Gail came out to the ring to save Trish Stratus from a double-team attack by Victoria and Molly Holly, only to turn on Trish and knock her out with a spinebuster.

Yes, only a month after her debut, Gail Kim not only lost her Title, she also turned heel. As painful to admit as it was, Gail's inexperience in front of a worldwide audience caused her to be sloppy in the ring, making her much-hyped "Matrix" gimmick backfire on her. In addition, despite being an attractive woman, Gail had difficulty connecting with the audience the way Trish had.

Fortunately, the heel turn and the pairing with Molly Holly had a positive effect on Gail, who enjoyed a meaningful feud against Trish and the likes of Ivory, Jacqueline and Lita. Gail's in-ring form slowly began to return but just as she was beginning to make a significant impact, she broke her collarbone in a match against Trish in November.

Despite starting her year with a bang, Gail Kim ended it with some time out and many lessons learnt. It would be another five months before she returned to the ring.

A grounded Gail Kim

It was at this time that the Gail Kim we are now familiar with began to emerge. Foregoing the high-flying style that she was once famous for, Gail began to slowly win fans over with her mat-based submission style. Debuting her "Christo" finisher - a headscissors armbar - in a May 2004 match on RAW, Gail began calling herself "wrestling's submission specialist", and this time, she lived up to the hype.

With this new submission finisher, Gail Kim worked her way up the roster to become #1 contender for Victoria's Women's Championship, but though she chalked up several wins against the champion, and came close to at Bad Blood that year, she never won the title again.

Having exhausted all their options, the WWE began to leave Gail in little more than a "sidekick" position to Trish Stratus and Molly Holly, before ultimately releasing her in November. Unlike the detractors who spoke out against her debut, this time, the internet wrestling community were shocked and unhappy about Gail's release. In the relatively short time she had spent in the WWE, they had seen her grow into a formidable opponent and a dangerous heel.

Total Nonstop Action

But the WWE's loss was TNA's gain as Gail Kim became one of the first big names to be signed from the WWE in 2005. She would be the pioneer of a long list of stars (including Christy Hemme, Christian Cage and of course, Kurt Angle) who would take the first steps to raise the profile of the company beyond the shores of North America.

In aligning herself with three of the biggest names in TNA then, Jeff Jarrett and America's Most Wanted, Gail proved to be a most ambitious manager and valet. But greater things were in store for her and for the fledgling Knockout division.

In TNA, Gail Kim once again met her old rival and friend, Traci Brooks, as well as Jacqueline Moore, whom she had fought a couple of times in the WWE. In addition, Gail proved herself in the ring against the larger Sirelda. The Knockout division was slowly beginning to form, and Gail Kim was in the middle of it.

In October 2007, TNA recognised Gail's significant contribution to the division by booking her to win a 10 Knockout Gauntlet match at Bound for Glory. This was followed by an even greater honour - that of Knockout of the Year - an indication that Gail Kim had also won the fans over.

Can Gail Kim follow in the footsteps of fellow Canadian Trish Stratus? Or will she blaze a new path in a women's division that is far superior than anything the WWE has ever put together in recent memory? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, however - Gail Kim is undoubtedly a femme fatale.

Last but not least...

Femme Fatale also would like to wish Tracy Brookshaw aka Traci Brooks a happy 28th birthday! Tracy was born 22nd May 1980. This has been another edition of: Femme Fatale.
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