Referee Yali Sapphire recalls Awesome Kong’s retirement at NWA EmPowerrr, whether she considered wrestling, having Billy Corgan request her return for a TV taping, being part of Impact Knockouts Knockdown and honoring the late Shannon “Daffney” Spruill

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

“Andrew Thompson Interviews” with guest Yali Sapphire
Host: Andrew Thompson
Full interview available at YouTube.com and PostWrestling.com

Yali recalls not knowing Awesome Kong would be at NWA EmPowerrr, the emotional scene backstage when Kong announced her retirement: Okay, so first of all, I remember sitting in the locker room and just seeing somebody come in with a towel on their head and I had no idea what was going on, so I was like, ‘Okay, that’s weird.’ But you know, you see somebody for so long, you’re like, ‘Okay, I think that’s that person’ and then you see them and it’s like, oh my God. Of course you introduce yourself and it’s an exciting moment. But fast forward to the actual moment before she announced her retirement, I remember sitting in the locker room watching on the monitor, the whole thing go down and after the announcement, there was just so much emotion backstage. People were crying, I got teary-eyed. It was just — you never wanna see the wrestlers that you saw as a kid retire, but like you said, she had such a long and a great career. It was just — I don’t know. It was just a magical moment, it was just an emotional moment, but I’m glad I got to be there to witness it and I also got the opportunity to kind of just sit and chat with her after the show was over. Just kind of like talking about everything from like her wrestling career to GLOW and just everything. She’s an awesome person to work with. Wonderful human being.”

Yali was not originally supposed to work post-NWA 73 TV tapings, she was specifically requested by Billy Corgan to come back: “Well, first of all, that was unexpected [Yali being asked to work the post-NWA 73 weekend television tapings]. That wasn’t really supposed to happen. I was just supposed to do the pay-per-view [EmPowerrr] and then go home. So like, I got home I wanna say that Sunday afternoon and then I got a phone call saying, ‘Hey, Billy wants you to come back on Tuesday. Can you make it?’ I was like, ‘Ahh! I’m sorry.’ I was like, ‘Uh, yeah, I can make it.’ So I had to get my mind back into that mindset, like, oh my God, Billy specifically asked for me. This is crazy, and I also felt a little nauseous, not gonna lie. It was just so exciting to be there and I worked with JTG in one of his matches and of course that’s another person that I watched kind of growing up so, it was… I can’t even say the words right now. It was just an awesome moment.”

Being a part of Impact Knockouts Knockdown, honoring the late Shannon ‘Daffney’ Spruill: “I mean, I think it meant the world to a lot of the women who had the opportunity to not only work with her [Shannon ‘Daffney’ Spruill] but were trained by her. So it was a very heavy, emotional moment that I think it was beautiful to be able to do that tribute for her and to have so many people that loved her, her mom was also there in attendance [Impact Knockouts Knockdown]. But you know, to kind of lift up her memory and to do something great for her in her honor.”

Yali on if she has ever considered wrestling: “I mean there are moments where like, I’ve gotten to hit a Stunner on somebody, I’ve gotten to slap or push somebody. So those are always fun but at the same time, it’s like, okay, I gotta go to work tomorrow, I’m not trying to be in pain. Y’all can have that. Y’all are good at it, I’m good at reffing. I’ll stay in my lane, it’s a good lane, I know where the lane turns [Sapphire laughed].”


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