Christy Hemme has opened up on the emotional tribute being paid to Daffney Unger on tonight’s Knockouts Knockdown show.
The IMPACT Wrestling star, who has been involved behind the scenes in putting this weekend’s special all-women’s event together, revealed how it’s been ‘bittersweet’ for everyone involved as they prepare to honour their late friend weeks after her tragic death.
She exclusively told VELOXNEWS.co.uk: ‘It was very important to all of us to pay homage and to have a tribute to her.
‘It was also important to have her family and close friends involved and close to the product, and make sure that they were happy with everything and on the same page.
‘The whole experience, it was bittersweet because it was a sad thing but it was also a really happy thing to just honour her, and show love to an amazing career.’
The show will feature a Shannon ‘Daffney’ Spruill Memorial Monster’s Ball match as Alisha Edwards, Jordynne Grace, Kimber Lee and Savannah Evans step into a brutal environment.
‘She had opened doors to women doing Monster’s Ball matches because she was one of the first to ever do it,’ Christy added, noting her own involvement alongside long-time friend and co-worker Gail Kim came shortly after Daffney’s death.
‘They’ve had things planned for quite a while, and they knew a lot of the talent they wanted to have involved. We started talking about it right when we had lost Daffney, and I knew that they were thinking about doing something for her.
‘That’s where Gail and I started talking a lot about some elements that we could add to the show to elevate the stories, and give to Daffney, and just create some excitement in the industry and make it a show to remember!’
For the show itself, Gail and Christy – who helped elevate the Knockouts division back from the TNA Wrestling days and beyond – have once again worked together to create something special.
‘Gail and I have always had a very natural working partnership. It is truly one of my favourite relationships in my life,’ she added. ‘I love Gail’s mentality on elevating the division together and not it just being a one woman show.
‘It’s truly all women coming together to fight for the same thing and that’s what happened here, I believe.’
After Christy was released by WWE at the end of 2005, she moved to TNA – which became IMPACT Wrestling – the following year, and eventually made her dream move behind the scenes as part of the creative team.
Being back in that world for Knockouts Knockdown, she isn’t ruling out more work with the company – now led by Scott D’Amore – in the future.
‘I think the door is open, but this is a whole new – it was a very different backstage environment as far as the people in charge, the people that are writing this show,’ she said of this weekend’s event.
‘Of course, there are familiar faces that I’ve known and worked with but also a new team, and it was a very refreshing team. I loved it so much! So the door’s definitely open, and we’ll see what happens!’
Regardless of what happens in the future, one thing for certain is the emotional power of this weekend’s show at a time when the wrestling world is openly talking about mental health in a positive way.
‘I think that Daffney has really been a tipping point into people talking about it in an even bigger way. And so it is a very important subject, and it’s near and dear to my heart personally, as well,’ Christy said, describing it as an ‘urgent’ situation.
‘If, in all these ways, we normalise this conversation, then everyone can see that even a wrestler who’s famous and on TV, they’re also human. That makes it so that someone who is looking to that person, they’re than able to accept their own mental health challenges. It is a human issue.’
The show will also be a celebration of Daffney’s life and legacy, and Christy recalled her favourite memory of the late pioneer as she admitted she looked up to her in more ways than one.
‘We were in an indie show, and I remember walking into the locker room, it was when we had first met. She was so welcoming and kind,’ she smiled.
‘I just remember being in the locker room and watching her from afar and being like, “Wow, She’s not only” – she was a leader in the locker room and made it inviting, but she was so damn cool.
‘I just remember thinking, “I wish I could be cool like that!” She had this air about her where she was just a comfortable human and you gravitated towards her.’
*Watch IMPACT Wrestling: Knockouts Knockdown tonight (October 9) at 1am via IMPACT Plus, IMPACT Ultimate Insiders on YouTube, or Fite TV.
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