Awesome Kong was released by AEW in 2021 to the shock of fans who wanted to see more of the TNA Hall of Famer. But what happened to her and why was she released by AEW?
Why Did AEW Release Awesome Kong?
AEW released Awesome Kong due to her contract expiring on June 1st, 2021 after failing to agree a new deal with the star. The former TNA Knockout’s champion only had a handful of matches in AEW and failed to the lofty expectations fans had of her, especially at her age and with the level of injuries she suffered from.
The former TNA Knockouts Champion noted issues with creative in AEW prior to her release. She said she felt unheard backstage and had little say in her own storylines and felt she “wasn’t in control”.
In an interview with Chris Van Vilet, Kong said; “We were trying to give you something you hadn’t seen, you know? But I feel — for me, I felt unheard, you know, I wasn’t in control.”
She did very little in AEW despite the huge fan reaction to her debut. The work she did in TNA was what the fans had in mind when they first saw Awesome Kong walk out onto the stage and while her first matches were fun to watch, they did not showcase the old Kong that they knew and love.
Her AEW Debut Had Fans Excited For A Dream Match
Awesome Kong’s AEW debut came at AEW Double or Nothing 2019, the first ever AEW show. She was a surprise addition to a match involving Britt Baker, Nyla Rose, and Kylie Rae, and the fans went crazy seeing the former TNA legend step into an AEW ring for the first time.
The former TNA and WWE star lost her AEW debut, with Britt Baker picking up the victory in both women’s first AEW match. Kong looked slower than when fans last saw her, with age and injuries catching up to her. While she was not the same in-ring talent she once was, she was still a huge star and a force to be reckoned with.
After her debut, a dream match was teased in AEW. Months later at Fight for the Fallen, she was confronted by legendary Japanese wrestler Aja Kong. Aja Kong is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time and an inspiration for Awesome Kong, so a match between the two had AEW fans absolutely frantic.
Sadly due to both women’s age, the match never took place and it remained a dream match that AEW wished they could have seen at All Out 2019.
The Nightmare Collective Ruined All Hype For Her In AEW
Awesome Kong was brought into AEW by Brandi Rhodes, who introduced her during her debut at Double or Nothing 2019. This partnership continued throughout AEW, with the pair being official made partners during AEW Full Gear 2019.
Kong and Rhodes made their way to the ring after Bea Priestly was defeated by Britt Baker. They assaulted Priestley and cut off a lock of her hair with a karambit, tying it to her belt which already contained the hair of assumed-previous victims of Awesome Kong.
The pair went on to form The Nightmare Collection, a heel collaboration between Rhodes and Kong. They were an occult group who dressed in black and attacked the good guys in the division. They were later joined by Dr Luther and Mel, but the group was poorly received and considered one of the worst teams in AEW history.
The low point of their short-lived team was when they interrupted the AEW Women’s Championship match between Kris Statlander and Riho, on a January episode of AEW Dynamite. The match had been one of the best matches in the division’s short history, but was soon ruined by Awesome Kong attacking both women just as fans were getting into the match.
The group disbanded soon after, due to poor fan reaction. AEW noticed how much fans did not want to see the group anymore, seeing both Rhodes and Kong as faces they wanted to cheer, not cringey heels that they simply did not want to watch.
She left AEW later that year to film the hit Netflix series GLOW, and never appeared in AEW again. She was released by AEW in 2021 after not appearing for over a year and was one of the first AEW original’s released by the company.
Where Is Awesome Kong Now?
Awesome Kong left AEW in 2020 to film the TV show Glow, but it was sadly cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She then announced her retirement from the ring on NWA EmPowerrr, ending a legendary 20 year career inside the ring which inspired thousands of female wrestlers and revolutionised women’s wrestling in America.
She was also announced to be inducted into the Impact Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2021. She joined top stars such as Sting, Team 3D, Kurt Angle, Jeff Jarrett and Abyss in the prestigious Hall of Fame, being on the second female entrant.
Awesome Kong was inducted into the Impact Wrestling Hall of Fame at Bound for Glory on October 23. Gail Kim inducted Kong into the Impact Hall of Fame, with Kim being the first woman inducted into the Hall of Fame and enjoying a legendary feud with the former Kharma in the heyday of TNA.
She is undoubtable one of the greatest women’s wrestlers in the history of the United States. She was originally not hired by WWE for being “too big”, but was apologies too by Jim Ross the next time he saw what a huge star she had become.
You’re too big to ever make it in wrestling. You would never make it’, and I was like, ‘What?’ And he was like, ‘You would never make it in WWE, you’re too big’.”
When she signed for WWE in 2010, it came off the back of many other women signed to the company. When they were scouting for the WWE Divas division, she noted that all of the women’s best matches came against Awesome Kong, something she noted once signed for the company.
While her WWE run did not go as planned and she only wrestled one match for the company, her legacy in TNA is comparable to any former women’s wrestler in WWE history. It’s a shame her time in WWE and AEW soiled a legacy of one of the best women’s wrestlers of all time.
Is Awesome Kong the greatest women’s wrestler in American history?
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.