On Monday evening, three veterans of the wrestling business in Amy Dumas (Lita), Gail Kim, and Christy Hemme announced a new project, Kayfabe.
Set to be a female-based, led and female-centric wrestling show, a Kickstarter was opened in order to help fund the series. Shortly after the announcement, the three spoke with us for an exclusive interview to talk about the direction.
You can view or donate to the Kickstarter at this link.
Fightful: Why don’t you all individually tell our viewers a little bit about the Kayfabe Project
Gail Kim: "Okay, well, Kayfabed was this little dream that became something two years later now. A women’s wrestling show with real wrestling, real stories and real wrestlers. We really wanted to do something that was through the lens of a woman’s voice because women’s wrestling has really taken a lot of steps forward, but never through the voice of a woman or through the lens of a woman. It’s always been through a man.”
Christy Hemme: "We wanted to tell some of the stories that have never been told before, we want to go racy. We don’t want this to be a PG show. It’s going to be wrestling, lots of in-ring action, but then we’re also going to be telling these juicy stories.”
Lita: "We know from being in wrestling, you’re shooting a lot of these storyline pre-tapes that you’ve seen traditionally in wrestling in between entrances. Like, day of you’re shooting ‘em an hour before you’re live and you get what you get and it happens and you move it forward. But, we want to take the time and we’re going to have a set, we’re going to take you into bars, and their apartments and really feel that you’re in the roster’s life. But, with a scripted story just like the other wrestling shows you see, but through our content, through our eyes, our vision, our lens and we really want our roster to be involved in their characters.”
Fightful: How much input did you have and are you looking to call upon that experience here as well?
Christy Hemme: "When I was in IMPACT! Wrestling I was very involved, bottom line for the division and I did a lot there. Then, when I left I got recruited to do another wrestling show; they wanted to this female wrestling show. It ended up falling apart, and then I ended up moving to L.A. and I entered into a two year writing program. My heart, my passion has always been in wrestling, so I created probably like four different female wrestling writing scripts. Eventually this idea really came to fruition and that has been where we’ve put all of our time and direction into. As far as how much involvement I have in the creative—a lot. We’re very involved in the creative and we have some really talented partners that are also in the creative team.”
Fightful: Are all of your roles in wrestling from writing, to training, to backstage with IMPACT! necessarily going to be implemented? Are you going to be training people, or is it going to be just a creative thing? How will that work?
Gail Kim: "Well, we all want to oversee everything, that’s for sure.”
Christy Hemme: "We are overseeing the whole thing.”
Gail Kim: "We’re taking the lead.”
Christy Hemme: "As far as what departments we’re going to be in, we’re looking at the whole thing. We have our hands and a pulse on the entire thing.”
Gail Kim: "Of course, we have our departments that we’re drawn to. Like, for me, I’m very drawn to the in-the-ring action and I want to have my hands all over that for sure. Because that’s what I love doing to this day is working with those women and creating the magic that I did in the ring myself. I just want to make people better and I truly am always invested and I want to have the best women’s matches, and the best women’s division going on in wrestling today.”
Lita: "You mentioned Tough Enough, which kind of started my production journey. So, I did just get sign on to do the show to be a trainer, but we only shot a couple days a week and it was shot in Florida, I was living in San Francisco, and so I had an apartment in Florida and didn’t go back and forth every week. That lead me to just hanging out in the editing bays, hanging out with the producers, hanging out in the production meetings, and just really getting into the nuts and bolts of how you put everything together and take it apart and fining a lot of stimulation in that. Then I got in with the production meetings and really got with Kevin Dunn and he taught me so much, which then lead me to producing RAW and Smackdown, so I really was excited to join up with these women to be on the production end and creating end because I’ve found so much stimulation. I had so many opportunities in my career in front of the camera when I got to help people to become their best self in front of the camera it was really stimulating to me, and so that feels [like] a really good spot to be in here.”
Christy Hemme: "The whole time she was doing that—“
Lita: "I was talking to you.”
Christy Hemme: "Yeah, and I was doing it over at IMPACT! with Gail. So, we would meet up for dinner and just talk, just synergistically between the three of us. This is our passion. We want to create and we want to give to the women. We want to give to the industry. It’s been a really rewarding process doing it together and having the team that we do have surrounding us for this.”
Fightful: Will this affect any of your work with IMPACT!, Gail?
Gail Kim: "Yeah, I’m there for the TVs and we tape like three days a month. We have other [producers], Jimmy Jacobs is part of the team, and David Sahadi?. They’re well aware of that, we’re going to make that work.”
Christy Hemme: "Well, her schedule is light enough that we can organize around any of that stuff.”
Gail Kim: "‘Cause this is a seasonal show. It’s not going to be a weekly show. So, we don’t have to be there every week or even how IMPACT! does it, weeks at a time. We’re gonna do the season.”
Lita: "We’ll have some pre-production and everything, but we’ll block out a time, make it work around everybody’s schedule and shoot it self-contained. We’ll have a night where the fans can come and watch the matches and everything, and then we’ll edit it all down and tell our story.”
Fightful: Have you gotten any feedback from IMPACT! on this or have you let them know?
Gail Kim: "Yeah. So, it’s gone very positively and they’re in the know. That’s pretty much it.”
Christy Hemme: "I mean, really we’re looking to add to the industry.”
Gail Kim: "We’re not looking to compete. If you look at our product, it’s not competition. It’s something that stands on its own.”
Lita: "It’s totally different.”
Gail Kim: "Totally different, hasn’t been done before. I feel like the last time was, I guess WOW was the last all women’s thing. But, I feel like this is completely different from WOW.”
Fightful: How do you feel this compares to previous all women’s wrestling shows like Women of Wrestling or GLOW? Do you envision this as being more based in reality?
Gail Kim: "Yes.”
Christy Hemme: "GLOW is a time piece in the 80’s and it’s with actresses. This is current, modern and with wrestlers. It’s completely different products.”
Gail Kim: "GLOW is a scripted show.”
Lita: "But, their match parts are scripted, too. Their match parts are driving the show, but we’ll have matches, like matches you see on wrestling shows.”
Gail Kim: "It’s based on that promotion that happened in the past, and WOW, for example, is a revamp of the same thing, and that is through a man’s lens. This is now truly, you’ve never really heard a woman’s point of view for women’s wrestling, and it’s coming from a lot of inspired, real stories.”
Lita: "We want to tackle some tough issues that have been since not brought up in our industry. We’ve been having these conversations in society as a whole for the past couple of years, and it’s time to start bringing these stories into wrestling as well. The industry’s not immune to these same things happening that we’ve been hearing outside in society as well. So, we want to bring them to light, tackle them and progress the conversation for real change.”
Christy Hemme: "Right now in every other wrestling show is very family friendly. This is not family friendly. This is meant to be a racy type of a show that I’m not going to have my children watch.”
Gail Kim: "But, it’s going to be fun.”
Fightful: Other shows have elements of ‘the invisible camera,’ where you’re performing in front of the camera, but the camera’s not really there. Will your show have elements of that?
Christy Hemme: "Absolutely. That’s the whole point. We want the cameras to go home with the talent. What’s happening at home? What got them to this place? Why are they so hungry to be in this business? Why are they willing to go on the rollercoaster and, it’s not easy to travel the world and put yourself time and time again in these shoes. So, why do they want to do that? What’s happening in their life?”
Gail Kim: "For example, people love reading the dirt sheets and all the websites, and they love the personal information, but they don’t really know. They might hear a gloss over of what’s happening and they don’t know if it’s true or not, but now we can tell the actual stories that are inspired from us. Not just us, but many, many women.”
Fightful: Where did this idea come from? Did someone have it and bring it to you, and respectively, how did each of you get involved?
Christy Hemme: "I think that this idea has evolved over many different ideas. From me, at least, I had this vision of a women’s wrestling show in 2013. Then it kept evolving and kept changing and then we all got talked about various things, but our life and the way we’re looking at the show never lined up until two years ago. That’s when we wanted to take it to a new level and show something different, and we just had the vision for it. It really felt like something that we were peeling the onion back of, it was already something we could see, something that was created we just had to put the pieces together and make it.”
Gail Kim: "It was literally, Christy thinking about her own kind of thing and even though we’re friends, and me thinking of a totally different wrestling project and then it was just all came together. Then Amy was available as well and she has the same passion and alignment and thought process, and the hunger for making this women’s wrestling better truly. It just all gelled together and we were like why weren’t we all making our own women’s wrestling product? We literally took the action to do it.”
Fightful: A lot of really creative minds are involved in this project, how did you go about courting these people to join?
Gail Kim: "We just want to say one thing, we really did want a lot more women on board as well, and there are other women on board that we talk to as well in the production side, but to be honest a lot of women have not had opportunities to get that experience in our business. We’re all have been the first of—I mean, I’m the first female producer in IMPACT!, [Christy] was the first creative in IMPACT!, and [Amy] was the first RAW and Smackdown producer. So, there’s not many women to choose from if you want to bring together the best project possible.”
Lita: "So, that’s what we thought of. How do we make the best project possible, and who’s in alignment? Who do we know? I work with Tom, he was writing for the females when I was producing, so we worked together. Then he was no longer working for them, so I was like, “We gotta get Tom. He lines up with us, and then Jimmy Jacobs, I’ve worked with him as well, and he works with [Gail]. So, it’s people we worked with first hand—we just wanted the best people, but also people we knew we’d get along with because we’ve had not just the one, but everyone together, like good vibe overload of all these creative people all together where it’s like I want it to be like this every time I go to work. I want to love seeing everyone.”
Christy Hemme: "Everyone could see the vision of it and it was very clear and it was just a synergistic team. Everybody that we called said—“
Lita: "Said, “Hell yes.””
Christy Hemme: "“Yes” the first time. We hand selected the best. It’s really—the team that you see is the team that we called.”
Lita: "These aren’t our back up people. These were all our first picks.”
Fightful: Have you had anyone in the industry hitting you up and saying, “Hey, I’d like to get involved in this?”
Christy Hemme: "Oh, my gosh. Well, right now, we’ve been on with you, and doing Instagram Live since hitting the launch button was hilarious. I was sweating, shaking. We were all standing there like, “Push the button, push the button!” I don’t even know if we know yet who all has reached out to us. But, we’re so open. We want to work with creative, passionate people and anybody that’s in alignment with seeing a vision like this come to life that’s a fit for us.
Gail Kim: "As you know, wrestling is so fast changing—people are signing contracts.”
Lita: "Or are no longer available or become available.”
Gail Kim: "Sometimes if we have someone in mind, then they end up getting signed. You just never know. It’s very unpredictable. So, right now we have such a great, good, core team and we just want to build from there. Make it better.”
Fightful: Will the roster be exclusively women, or will there be some men mixed in? How will that work?
Gail Kim: "We’ll have male characters.”
Christy Hemme: "It’s female centric. It’s female led. It will be primarily female, however, we will definitely have men in there. I always say that everything should be story driven and called for. So, if the story is calling for a man, which we need.”
Gail Kim: "I mean, in real life we all date men or are married to men.”
Christy Hemme: "Having men in the ring, I don’t see that not being a part of the show.”
Lita: "So, yeah, if a male calls somebody out and it calls for an intergender match, then that’s what’ll take place. So, we’ll see all different combinations in there. They will all be storyline driven.”
Fightful: What was the tipping point in all of this coming together?
Christy Hemme: "There was a very clear tipping point for me. So, I got pregnant with quadruplets. I was in the hospital, I was on bed rest at seven weeks and I was in the hospital at 21 weeks until 32 weeks. I did not know if I was ever going to work again. So, when I got home from being in the hospital and Gail came to visit me, she started talking about this other wrestling project that she was talking to other people about. We just start talking about our own vision, what we saw and we were like, “Yeah, we’ll write it.” Literally by morning time I had a pitch deck put together on what this project would look like, and that was definitely the tipping point of “Okay, we’re going in this direction.”
Fightful: What about you, Lita?
Christy Hemme: "So, Amy and I have talked a lot over the years about what we were saying earlier, just about product and about wrestling and our paths never lined up. Once [Gail and I] had this vision, it felt very clear to us that [Amy] was very much in alignment with us, she was the next call as far as pulling this team together. She very much saw it and then it became a whole other thing, just push the envelope even further on what it was going to be.”
Fightful: Could you explain a little bit about the Kickstarter and what you’re looking to do exactly?
Christy Hemme: "36 days started today, the end will be after WrestleMania. For the next 36 days we have a lot of dates we’re hitting. We’re going to—“
Gail Kim: "New York, L.A., Chicago, Atlanta, back to Tampa. So, we really planned this out P.R. wise, appearance wise to really spread the word.”
Lita: "While trying to keep a secret along the way, until 6:30 today.”
Gail Kim: "To keep a secret in the wrestling business for this long, I can’t even tell you. We’re was so proud of ourselves.”
Fightful: I look up and down the list of people involved and I’m like, “How did I not hear a peep about this?”
Christy Hemme: "That’s a testament to the belief because if you have that many people that believe in something they want to protect it. That’s what ended up happening.”
Gail Kim: "We couldn’t tell our closest friends in the business. People we’re sisters with. We didn’t know how they were going to feel. But, it was that type of project we just had to keep a secret.”
Lita: "We’re so close to this projectm we protect it with everything and it means so much to us. Which is why we thought it was really appropriate to do this whole tour. Where we are having autograph sessions, interacting directly with, like looking directly in the eyes of the people we want to make this show for. Just really grassroots style, spread the word, that’s everybody retweeting us and letting this project be known is what’s going to contribute to… It’s not going to contribute to the success, that’s going to be the success of the show and us realizing our dream to do this. So, that’s what we thought was best to get to look in the eyes of people that we want to make this for.”
Christy Hemme: "Kickstarter is not an easy platform. It’s a lot of work. Putting it together has been a lot of work.”
Gail Kim: "It’s risky.”
Christy Hemme: "It’s risky. It’s putting ourselves out there without knowing what the outcome is gonnato be, however, it instantly shows people what it is that we want to do, it shows people our vision, and it gives fans the opportunity to contribute and be a part of it, and be partners with us on this mission. So, for us, that feels like a professional wrestling thing for, [Amy] talks about it, she wasn’t supposed to get over and fans really cemented her.”
Lita: "The reason I got off Jakked is because people chanted Lita. I wasn’t supposed to be who I became. So, it just felt like the right thing. There’s transparency, also, with a Kickstarter. We think that’s really important because the name is Kayfabed, which is to keep something secret, but our whole thing is we’re not keeping things secret. We want you to know how much our budget is, how much it takes—“
Christy Hemme: "Who’s involved.”
Lita: "—we want you to see all of that stuff. We know our goal of 400,000 seems like so much money, I know it seems like a lot to us, but we just want to be transparent about how that’s all spent and to make the quality of show that we want to make.”
Gail Kim: "Especially the authenticity of it. Especially since it’s coming from the female voice, if someone else gave us the money they’d have a say in how it was gonna get made. We just wanted to do it the right way.”
Christy Hemme: "At least this way it’ll be what it is that we want to create. Who knows where it goes from there.”
Lita: "I think that we put in so much work, it was literally two years, that I think we all feel confident. Of course we want it to succeed with everything we have, but I feel very honest with what’s out there, if that doesn’t align, then it wasn’t meant to happen that way. Because, I’m happy to fall on my face with our Kickstarter representing [us]. That’s accurate. That’s what we want to do. So, it just means everything, the support that we’ve been getting from the fans.”
Fightful: There’s always a chance with any pilot that once it’s shot a production company comes along to pick it up. Is that something that you’ve discussed?
Christy Hemme: "We’re not opposed to having someone get involved. We’re so open to how this plays out. We have a presentation now. You can now see what it is and you can now see the road that we’re going down. So that, to us, felt important.”
Fightful: Tell the people where they can find this on social media and how they can help.
Gail Kim: "For Kickstarter just put in the search engine Kayfabe.”
Lita: "Or you can go to any of our socials and that’s all you’re going to see.”
Gail Kim: "Links in the bio and they all go to the Kickstarter.”