Check out Part One of our exclusive chat with Kharma/Amazing Kong – she talks reality TV, signing for WWE, and thoughts of retirement.
One of the quotes I really like from you was a very gracious and interesting one – you don’t think the Divas get enough credit. Did you mean from WWE or the fans or both?
I dare say both, actually. And I actually used to be one of those people. Before I got to WWE, I was very dismissive of their Diva division. Once I got there, especially the night I debuted, Michelle McCool and Layla had a match, and they left it all out there, and I respected that. The attitudes and the work ethic that I witnessed there from all the girls was extremely admirable and one that rivalled the work ethic I experienced with the Knockouts.
It’s just a shame that the Divas have to overcome such a pigeonholed reputation from the past – they’re fighting against that right now, and it’s a shame. With the Knockouts, we came out there, we did what we do, it was fresh, and it was the product and it was great, and it is great. The Divas, it’s different because they had that lapse where it was more t-and-a than TNA ever was! They’re struggling against that current, and it’s unfortunate and it’s a handicap.
What do you think of the talent coming through? From NXT there are people like Bayley and Paige with years of experience in wrestling. Will that change the Divas division?
I think that there is a delicate balance and sometimes an imbalance, because you do have to have that sex appeal there. You couldn’t pull off getting a lot of viewers if you had a roster full of Kharmas. It wouldn’t mean anything. My character works because there is that contrast there. People like Paige add to that, and they respect her background, her following and her brand – that brings legitimacy to the division, and it needs it. Right now Sara Del Rey is over there, training people, and that is awesome. For the average viewer, they might not know her; as die-hard fans, we know that the new generation coming out is trained by a legitimate bad-ass and that’s to be respected.
The Del Rey dojo!
Now THAT is awesome!
I understand you had quite a lot of creative control over your vignettes before your WWE debut.
We shot it in one night! They had the concept of the dolls ready to go. I sat there from 7 o’clock until three or four in the morning on Wrestlemania weekend, and it was the very first thing I’d done for WWE, and it was exciting – they were very receptive for my ideas and everyone’s ideas, actually. There were 12 adults playing at re-dressing dolls and trying everything! One of my suggestions was that I wanted to pluck the doll’s head. Being as it was my first day, I was a bit reluctant and didn’t want to step on any toes, but I was like, “Please. Please! Can I just get ONE plucking the doll?” And they used it and it was awesome and I was so happy and felt so validated!
They were fantastic vignettes, though; even watching now I remember how exciting it was to anticipate your arrival! Do you think fondly of your time in WWE?
Oh yes! It was extremely magical. I got there and it was like a honeymoon. I was there and gone before I knew it, so every day there was wonderful and everything I thought being there would be. Before you get signed to WWE, you don’t know it but you’re living in black-and-white. Devon said this to me once. You get to WWE and it’s like somebody turned on Technicolor, like in The Wizard of Oz. This is living. This is what it’s supposed to be like. I didn’t know I was living without colour. I didn’t know I was living in Pleasantville.
And your return at the Royal Rumble is still one of my favourite things that’s happened in wrestling in the last 25 years. I remember actually screaming in my living room and scaring my neighbours because I was so excited!
Thank you! And me too! I was totally screaming and geeking out on the inside, especially because it was a secret! I kept it from my fiancé for aeons. He had no idea. He just thought I was talking to the office about coming back, and then I popped up on the screen.
That’s a brilliant secret, though – there was no whisper about it! Usually you get rumours, but there was nothing! How did you manage it?
They put me, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Khali in a separate hotel!
You, Hacksaw and Khali – that sounds like a set-up for a sitcom!
It was a riot! We stayed in our separate hotel and had separate transportation, and even in the building they kept us separate from everyone else so it wouldn’t get leaked. When I’d arrived at the airport, instead of going to arrivals, where my luggage was, I asked someone from the airline to get my bags because there was a problem with fans, and I went upstairs and waited for the shuttle to pick me up from departures.
I suppose you’re quite hard to disguise so it would have to be quite a complex plan.
Yes! I was unprepared. Everyone was there already. I was there extremely late, but there were still people at the airport looking for wrestlers, and I needed an exit plan.
What are your immediate plans coming up?
I launched a Kickstarter for a project very dear to my heart – it’s a good deed tracker. A lot of people do nice things and ask people to pay it forward – and you wonder if someone did. Now you can log on to the site and put in what you did to pay it forward and give a thank you to the person who brightened up your day. I want to be the Johnny Appleseed of good deeds – living by the karma rule is a motto of mine.
Finally, what about the UK scene? I saw you talking to Kay Lee Ray on Twitter …
Isn’t she a bad-ass? Wouldn’t she be an awesome Knockout? I keep telling her to move to Florida, we would take care of her and she would rock the US wrestling world. She is a ruffian. I love it.
And can we expect to see you over here?
I think so! I always like to get me a UK visit every 18 months – so hopefully soon!