All posts by A.V. Christensen

Fan Edition | JH Roberts

Name: JH Roberts @jh_roberts

Age: 31

Location: Athens, GA

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Describe your ringside style: T shirts of bands, wrestlers or other pop culture thing, skinny pants, jean jacket with Cesaro or X Files patch on the back, and flats.

How did you become a wrestling fan?

After living in Alabama during the Attitude Era, I had a lot of negative associations with wrestling, mostly based on the fans I knew and how they treated teen-female-bodied-punk-rock me. Even after meeting a collection of male feminists who like wrestling, including my current partner, I still had a mental block against it. Fast forward to 28, through a period where I studied ballet and restoration comedies: partner and I are sitting around unemployed after moving, and he binge watches CM Punk matches. I start to recognize how wrestling functions and see that it’s not all offensive, just mostly. What really sold me was going to a Chikara show in AL, and meeting people partner had stayed with touring with his band, and re-meeting people I knew from punk shows in Montgomery. I then realized there was a space in wrestling for me and my friends. I settled into that space and then branched out from there.

Fave wrestler:

Mayumi Ozaki

Fave Promotion:

DDT

Fave Move:

Surfboard

Fave Match:

Dream Tag Team:

Cesaro and Sami Zayn

If you had to choose your entrance theme, what would it be?

For my imagined vampire-Euro trash-incestuous mixed tag team at Monstrosity Championship Wrestling:

 


For my imagined New Orleans spooky lady gimmick, Rosie LeFanu: 

 

For my imagined veg-anarcha-feminist gimmick

 

Don’t go there, Billy Corgan

Tonight, tonight I ponder what Twilight Zone universe I’ve entered. Billy Corgan, of Smashing Pumpkins fame was announced as the Senior Producer of Creative Talent and Development over at TNA Impact Wrestling a week ago, and it’s taken some time to sink in. He did an interview for Variety in which he mentioned wanting to explore racial and transgender issues. Normally, I’d jump for joy knowing someone in a position of power was willing to subvert wrestling tropes and add greater depths and representation to the characters that are portrayed, but it comes at a hefty cost when the person in charge is a noted transphobe.

Attached is a screenshot from Billy Corgan's Livejournal: http://billycorgan.livejournal.com/11224.html
Attached is a screenshot from Billy Corgan’s Livejournal: http://billycorgan.livejournal.com/11224.html

The words above, and the article linked, are just some of the problems that I fear we have to face coming from Corgan. It seems that everyone is focused on whether or not he has enough of a love for wrestling to do the job, but his knowledge and understanding of wrestling isn’t the problem considering he was the Creative Director for Resistance Pro Wrestling. It’s really trendy to centre storylines in media around trans issues, sexuality and gender politics, but the stories are being told by cisgender heterosexual people and they are making a quick buck off it. This reads as an advertising tactic or something used to draw in viewers for shock value, and shock isn’t the type of representation needed. As Billy states “Those social and cultural issues that are sort of a ‘don’t go there’ subject will result in themes that will feel more meaningful to current audiences”, I think this should be a don’t go there subject for him and he should stick to what he knows best: writing shitty angsty music that tell no one’s stories but his own.

There are opportunities abound for better representation, but a poorly researched exploitative approach is only going to worsen any positive momentum we have and send the big guns running back to what they are most familiar with. It won’t gain new audience members, but the lowest common denominator is the least frightening option at times.

Fan Edition | Hard Femme Fashion

The wonderful Courtney from Wrestling With Makeup sent in a submission, check out her fierce fashions.

Name: Courtney Rose @ChicagoCRose

Age: 27

Location: Chicago

Describe your ringside style:

Hard Femme. I am nothing without baby doll dresses, leggings, docs and red lipstick. I started Wrestling With Makeup simply because I needed more ways to involve wrestling into my wardrobe aside from shirts. Even if no one else knows what I’m doing, I feel a little more badass inside.

How did you become a wrestling fan?

I was about 7 or 8 years old when I first remember watching WCW. My sister and I would stay with our uncle & grandmother after school until my parents could get off work, and my uncle loved wrestling. We would stay there Monday nights to watch Nitro, then he’d tape Raw for us to watch the next day or vice versa. We still have our first pieces of Wrestling memorabilia: mine was a DDP brawling buddy and my sister had a NWO Macho Man.

It’s nice that wrestling is a family thing in our house. Our uncle got us into it and remains a huge fan, my mom watches it semi-regularly and has hilarious opinions as a casual viewer and my dad used to dress up as wrestlers for Halloween to amuse us. My sister and I have a really great bond, we’re best friends, and a lot of that connection was built on our mutual love of performance, traveling, and watching men beat each other up at our feet.

Fave Wrestler:

Kenny Omega & Chris Hero

Fave Promotion: 

It changes often, but right now I’m hugely into PWG and New Japan on repeat.

Fave Move:

Omega Driver, Cattle Mutilation, & One Winged Angel.

Fave Match: 

Impossible question. I have a YouTube playlist of matches I watch because they’re amazing, and one of guilty pleasure matches that make my insides fill with glee. Here are some:

Dream Tag Team:

  • Height of career Goldust and Kenny Omega
  • Chris Jericho & Chuck Taylor
  • William Regal & Chris Hero
  • Nakamura & Daniel Bryan (I know everyone wants to see this match, but I can dream of a tag team first right?)
  • Lita & Candice Le Rae
  • Luna Vachon & Jessicka Havok
  • Sensational Sherri & Sasha Banks
  • Heidi Lovelace & Paige

    Like I said, trouble making decisions. 

If you had to choose your entrance theme, what would it be?

If I had my way, Pony by Ginuwine would play every time I enter a room.

Also I have a life goal of creating a stable that enters the ring to “Ruff Ryders Anthem” by DMX, entirely dressed as Teddy Roosevelt.

But if we’re serious: 

 

Doglegs: A film that wrestled with my emotions

Doglegs is an underground pro wrestling league in Tokyo that pits disabled wrestlers against the able-bodied. the renegade wrestler of Doglegs risk everything to smash stereotypes and kick ass.

I had the pleasure to experience this documentary, filmed over the past five years by HeathCozens, at the Hot Docs film festival in Toronto. I say experience, as opposed to watch, because there were so many emotions that are associated with what I just sat through. I attended with two other members of the League of Lady Wrestlers, and we were very excited yet skeptical about what we were about to endure. A film about handicappedpuro in Japan… That’s quite the topic. Is it an exposé? Is it exploitative? Is the gaze meant to be humorous? It definitely set out what it’s meant to and it makes you think and be introspective in how you perceive differently abled folk and their credibility when it comes to wrestling. We got to stick around afterwards for a Q and A with the director and it was even brought up by another audience member on how this is related to misogyny and how women aren’t seen as believable wrestlers. This hit close to home but also shed a light onto a subject in the world of wrestling that is oft overlooked.

Director Heath Cozens stated “When I first sawDoglegs I didn’t know what to think of it either. I also went into it feeling that I might have to make some kind of exposé of abuse, or something like that. I went to a match and started feeling all these strange feelings then realized that they were mixing it up like that, and that making me feel shock, horror, joy, sympathy, amusement and guilt simultaneously was there by design. My goal with the film was to replicate that experience that I went through.” He definitely achieved that experience, at least that’s how I felt on the spectator end of the film.

Credit: Alfie Goodrich
Credit: Alfie Goodrich

The documentary follows the stories of three different members of the Doglegs club: Sambo Shintaro, L’amant, and Yuki Nakajima. We actually had the pleasure of meeting Nakajima after the film and he was delighted to hear we are also wrestlers.

 

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Overall it was about more than just the wrestling with spotlights on invisible disabilities such as depression and how Nakajima is seen within the league as an outsider; Shintaro, his love of wrestling and need to defeat his able bodied mentor; and L’amant who struggles with cerebral palsy, alcoholism and wrestles his wife in the ring.

There was so much volatility from the characters and we got to go along their journey with them. Nakajima and Shintaro both spoke to how some very embarrassing personal moments had made it into the film, but came to terms with them and accepted that it was part of the story that needed to be told.

I don’t feel that there is an easy conclusion to be derived from the film or the concept of Doglegs itself, and it’s meant to sit with you. The goal of the league is definitely to make you think and over the years they may have lost that shock and awe they are looking to stir in their audience, but they still have events twenty years later with two hundred spectators made up of a mix of friends, family and other members of the disabled community.

My overall take from this film is that it needs to be watched to be understood, and it’s definitely worth going to see if you have the opportunity. There will be two more screenings at Hot Docs this week in Toronto.

 

TNA Presented A Night of… Wrestlers

I’m at a crossroads with how TNA handled their programming on Friday night’s Impact Wrestling. They made a big deal leading up that it would be a night of Knockouts and what we got was a night of wrestling programming.

There were plenty of women on the show, yes, but if you’re going to tout that it’s a show centring your women and there are an equal amount of men’s matches as their are women’s then it’s not quite a night of knockouts.

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The show opened with promos between Eric Young and Kurt Angle, followed by a fairly short women’s fatal four way, a separate men’s match than the one advertised. The format that they thought highlighted their women best seemed to be men’s promo, women’s match, men’s match, men’s promo, men’s promo, women’s match, and so on.

That being said, focusing entirely on their women’s programming I think they did a great job overall in terms of story and matches. TNA has a knack for taking a different twist on our perceptions as to what gimmicks to anticipate.

My favourite of the evening being the introduction of the creepy new faction Dollhouse. This duo, so far, comprised of Marti Belle and Jade was a sickeningly sweet trip into a 90’s nightmare that the crowd was all in a kerfuffle over. Starting off their match by screeching at ring announcer Christy for introducing them incorrectly, and ending the match with interference by taking out the ref and the announcer and then shoving a jawbreaker into her mouth, they hit every heelish note perfectly and I can’t wait to see more. This was a great way to team up against Laura Dennis, aka Cherry Bomb, who the crowd was going to be behind no matter what. That being said, I was a little bit confused since Laura was wearing her Cherry Bomb gear but the commentary team and all on screen graphics referred to her as Laura. Name semantics be damned, she always puts on a great match.

Dollhouse got even more interesting later in the evening when they interfered in the main event between Awesome Kong and Taryn Terrell by aiding Terrell in putting Kong through a table. Taryn then revealed that she was part of, and possibly the head honcho, of this new stable.

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Mickie James also showed up to make an announcement, one of her retiring from wrestling forever to be a mom full time. Something fishy is going on here, and it was obviously concocted to start a feud between Magnus and James Storm. It was extremely heartwarming to hear the rally of support from the crowd and respect that they have towards Mickie James, who is a fierce fighter and can stand up to almost any one else in the company right now and give them a run for their money.

Let’s sincerely hope that the lesson TNA takes away from Friday night’s show was that intergender programming can be enjoyed and maybe creative will start booking more of their shows in this format. We’ve known for a while that it doesn’t need to be a one sided battle in terms of how you  lay out your card, and that a fanbase will react positively to change and diversity. Quit stifling your women or using them as a one off to get some ratings and realize we comprise some of the best talent on your rosters.

Naomi vs Nikki: WWE Extreme Rules 2015

Tomorrow is the PPV and we’ll see how extreme they allow the Divas match to get.  I think between the ferocity of Naomi and Nikki’s progress we have a chance to see a really good match if the girls are given enough time to work.

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a fairly steady push for Naomi again, working out of the valet role and back into where she should be in the WWE. In her promo after the unnecessary Battle Royal she pointed out that it makes no sense that she’s kind of been shelved while everyone else gets their run. I think it’s high time Naomi gets a chance to really flourish, and creative would be daft to stifle her at this time.

We’ve also seen Nikki Bella grow and shift into one of the strongest wrestlers the division currently has. Maybe an angle or storyline I don’t personally buy into, but it works for her. Let’s ditch this jealous catty bitches angle and let these girls rip each other to shreds. I’m hoping for a full on hardcore match that we haven’t seen since Lita’s days, but I’ll take what they’ve got to give us tomorrow.

Who do you think is going to take home the belt?

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Someone out there is listening to us. WWE hasn’t quite gotten the picture, but it seems TNA is ready to be on the ball. Tonight at 9pm EST TNA will be broadcasting “A Night of Knockouts” featuring different members from their women’s division.

Normally, I don’t tune in to TNA but I will be tonight. You know everyone is going to be checking their ratings and their social media, so speak up. They are, in their eyes, taking a gamble and doing something that no other major promotions are currently tackling: featuring women front and centre. Now, this has been done before on a PPV, but not as part of their regular broadcast. Tonight, the men are getting the treatment that the women normally do and are subject to one match somewhere in the middle of the card.

We’re going to be seeing a great mix tonight and I have faith that the storylines will be interesting and the fighting will be top notch. The match ups are not your typical fare, and I don’t think we could ask for anything more to start off:

  • Main event between Knockouts Champ Tayrn Terrell against my personal favourite Awesome Kong
  • A fatal fourway between Gail Kim, Madison Rayne, Brooke Adams and Angelina Love! The winner of this match will take on the champ from the main event going forward. Let’s see how this stacks up to the NXT Rival Fatal Four Way from a few months back
  • They are debuting a new faction called the Dollhouse
  • Cherry Bomb and Mickie James will each be making an appearance as well

That sounds pretty great to me. Now, if only the men’s match would be just as much focused on eye candy as the women’s matches usually are, then they would have a recipe for success. That’s how this works, right? The oppression has to be shifted someplace!

Jokes aside, let’s hope that this leads to a huge step forward for women’s wrestling across the board and a larger representation of our talents and for female fans who tune in and want to see themselves on screen.

 

Lana Stands Up For Women, Wrestling Fans Are Outraged

Lately, a lot of women within the WWE have been taking to social media their grievances towards gender inequality. This morning, Lana has joined those ranks. This came as a slight shock to me since she is a woman who puts on a heavy Russian accent and is part of an outdated and fairly racist gimmick.

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She also tweeted about equal pay and the wage gap. What didn’t surprise me about this whole scenario was the atrocious response that she received on twitter, largely from male fans. From stating that women in the porn industry make more money than men, to the wage gap being a myth, to the divas asking for too much; it’s hard to ignore how butthurt some men are when you question their privilege.

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A large majority of the complaints are that despite her heelish character, her being a woman who stands up for herself and the rights of other women is just not fair. How could she betray you? Are you telling me that she isn’t really Russian and the Undertaker isn’t really undead and that Naomi doesn’t really hail from Planet Funk? You’re right, we’re all just here to look pretty in the ring and for you to jerk off to.

Wrong.

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This is an issue that doesn’t just exist in the realm of wrestling, but everywhere. Misogyny is around every bend and if you dare stand up for women you will be bombarded with the tears of many a wrestling fan. A woman standing up for herself and acting as anything other than a sex object should not be what garners her the most heat inside the ring or out.

Knowing that I’m going to encounter a wave of aggression and mansplaining every time I stand up for what I believe in isn’t going to shut me up. Although it would be nice to not have to fear for my safety just for ensuring that I’m treated with dignity and respect. Just because you haven’t personally experienced it, doesn’t mean someone else’s lived experiences aren’t true.

Maybe these fans are right though. Lana does make more than they do as a television personality than they do sitting on their couch at home. Gender inequality and the wage gap is a load of hooey.

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Fan Edition | I Ain’t Afraid Of No Mark

Name: Marissa @yunatron

Age: 30

Location: Chicago

Describe your ringside style: 

Band shirt, leggings and Adidas Superstars since Chuck Taylors and Docs have already been used…

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How did you become a wrestling fan?

Watched syndicated WWE programming during the 90s. I liked the over the top personalities and crazy moves. Was one of the millions of The Rock’s fans during The Attitude Era.

Fave Wrestler: Macho Man Randy Savage

Fave Promotion: 

I rotate various promotions. Right now I’m into Lucha Underground and Shimmer.

Fave Move: Brainbuster

Fave Match: Backlash ‘99, The Rock vs Stone Cold

Dream Tag Team:

Best and The Beard (CM Punk and Daniel Bryan)

If you had to choose your entrance theme, what would it be?

If you want to be featured please email us some photos and fill out our questionnaire!

FIGHT! Round 1

Coming from a film background, Jenn Woodall dropped that to move towards her passion of illustration and tough women. She has been working in illustration for quite some time and her newest project is something we here at Femmezuigiri are big fans of. There are just over 24 hours left on her Kickstarter campaign to get Fight! Zine released.

Fight! is a zine project which invites artists to create their own original female fighting game character. Each artist draws their character either facing left/right, and these fighters are paired up throughout the book using spreads to create versus match illustration which mimic fighting games.

I’m, as many of you know, a huge fan of tough women and it’s great to see so many artists getting to shine in highlighting brawlin’ babes. On top of her kickstarter, Jenn will also be hosting a launch party at DMG Toronto on May 6th.

I got to take a sneak peak at the zine and there’s at least one wrestler character featured, maybe more. Make sure you order and support her to find out!

Fan Edition | Buttons and Hats

Name: Ami Moregore (@happypeep)

Age: 33

Location: NJ and travelling about 1.5 hours in all directions for good wrestling as my budget allows.

Describe your ringside style:

I’d like to think it’s nothing too unusual. Simple shirt, tights and skirt. Sensible closed toes shoes or boots (since I’m frequently front row and never know when I’ll need to run due to falling humans) and a DSLR around my neck. Something happened during the late winter of 2014 and I began wearing these adorable hats made by Athena’s Wink. I’ve now seen my hats on DVDs I bought and feel equal parts mortified and amused that these are on a permanent record. My purse also gets in on the act. I’m quicker to buy buttons over shirts since my dresser is over capacity and I get to support multiple wrestlers rather than just one.

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How did you become a wrestling fan?

I’m old enough that I remember Hogan’s Rock and Wrestling on the air, but I don’t think that made me a wrestling fan (except to Roddy Piper). It’s such a blur but I’d have to blame older kids in my neighbourhood for enthusiastically talking non stop with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the Texas Tornado or the Ultimate Warrior.

Fave Wrestler: 

Ugh, there’s so many. Currently active faves will always include LuFisto. In addition to the sheer artistry she brings to wrestling and the genuine emotion she can evoke, she inspires me. She’s my age, which is by no means old, has accomplished so much, and yet she’s still hungry. That and she’s just such a sweet human. I’ve also noticed that any wrestler I talk to long enough will admit their appreciation of her.

Fave Promotion: 

I’m so spoiled by the amount of great promotions near me. I’ve been consistently happy with the quality of matches I’m catching from WSU/CZW, and I don’t even like death matches! It’s hard to separate the two companies. In addition to their product, the staff has been most kind to me. But seriously, there are so many great ones near me that I am spoiled and feel guilty.

Fave Move:

Arm bar choke hold. It’s a move that has multiple ways to apply, even if the end result is the same and it’s a legitimate painful move if done right. I’ve used it to take down people three times my size!

Fave Match:

For now? Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi vs Danshoku and Yoshihiko in DDT where, SPOILER ALERT, Taka ‘kills’ Yoshiko. Favourite live match I saw may be reDRagon defeating the Young Bucks at ROH War of the Worlds 2014.

Dream Tag Team? 

Danny Hodge and Lou Thesz in their primes. I can imagine wrestlers well versed in history collectively needing a change of underpants at that thought.

Dream Entrance Theme?

Amanda LePre’s The Gift. Though if I ever get married I should totally come out to Muta Concerto instead of Here Comes the Bride.

Thanks for taking part, Ami! If you want to be featured please contact us via email or on twitter!

Lita

Arguably one of the most popular wrestlers in the women’s division during the attitude era, we’d be daft to overlook Lita.

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Lita was fairly contentious to say the least since her storyline was heavily sexual in nature. You might remember her from such on screen flings with Matt Hardy, Christian, Dean Malenko, Kane and a “live sex celebration” in the ring on Raw with Edge, when you should be remembering her for her multiple title reigns, fantastic in ring work rate and being the only woman to take part in a TLC match within the WWE.

Her biggest push was part of Team Xtreme alongside the Hardy Boyz, one of which she had an off screen relationship with ‐ Matt Hardy. That relationship was ended to pursue one with Edge and WWE creative hopped on that and made it into an on screen storyline. Utilizing a woman’s sexual prowess to aid their heel turn is tricky business and one that I generally wouldn’t advise. It’s really tough to see someone you admire and respect being portrayed as evil for pursuing her desires and regarded as manipulative and pitting friends against one another. That push tends to be taken from a different angle when it comes to men, HBK for example, who is praised as a ladies man and it’s entirely okay. This wasn’t always used in a negative light, and in her feud with Trish Stratus they used Christian and Jericho’s bet on who could bed their woman first to spur a Battle of the Sexes match since the men were such pigs.

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Lita was a four time women’s champion and held that title for a consecutive 73 days. Lita retained said title in a hardcore match against Jacqueline; and I wish more women would take part in hardcore matches. She is also one of EIGHT women in the WWE Hall of Fame.

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Here are two really great matches of hers you should watch (including said hardcore match):

 

On Being a Fat Wrestler | Ravishly

Today, we’re sending you over to Ravishly to read up on a piece that AV Christensen has written about her personal in ring and training experience and how being fat, queer and a woman effects the perception in regards to her ability and skill.

“My in-ring experience was written off because it wasn’t “real wrestling.” It seems their deciding factor on whether or not it was real was the lack of men involved, since it was done in a professional ring and with the same moves they were using.”

Lip Sync Battle

Two things I simultaneously love and despise, despite how problematic they are, have permeated main stream pop culture in a way that we haven’t seen since the 90′s: Wrestling and Drag Queens. The best part about this is no one quite wants to admit either of them are things they actually enjoy, so they just pull aspects and turn it on their head slightly enough that they can call it something else.

Cue: Lip Sync Battle, Spike’s new reality show where celebrities challenge one another in a series of lip syncs to songs we all know and love… but they aren’t drag queens. I wonder if their audience is aware of this, but I’m willing to ruin it for all of you now.

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The show is only a few episodes in so far, and it’s entertaining for sure, but this comes from someone who likes lip syncing and watching celebrities make fools of themselves. The first episode featured our very own wrestling superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson giving his very best Taylor Swift impersonation. Most of the episodes are centred around friends challenging one another so there is already that rivalry going on. It’s hosted by LL Cool J, probably because LL Cool J is no longer relevant and therefore affordable and available to host a reality show on Spike. We also get Chrissy Teigan on colour commentary, because this is the musical equivalent of a wrestling match. Too bad that she doesn’t give any commentary and is there purely to be distracting and out of place eye candy off to the side dancing to the songs.

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What are you playing for? The coveted Lip Sync Battle belt. It’s pretty impressive, but I don’t understand the choice except for the fact that wrestling belts are cool. If I could have my own custom wrestling belt, I’d be all for it.

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This show goes for the cheap pop for sure. I love the concept, and even ran a local party similar to this layout in Toronto, but it is not worthy of a 22 minute slot on TV. Each artist does two songs and it feels like unnecessary filler. It worked better as a surprise short segment on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. If this lasts longer than a season or two then colour me surprised.

We’re Just Your Eye Candy

Don’t believe women wrestlers are treated and viewed as glorified lingerie models? Try and conduct a Google Image search of one and find a shot of one in the ring fighting, I’ll wait…

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Welcome back. Maybe I wasn’t specific enough? Let’s try searching for Lita and add the word “wrestler” to the end of it.

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Hmm, still a lot of the same. This probably doesn’t come as a shock to any of you, we know this problem exists yet we choose not to acknowledge it. People cling to the status quo, almost desperately as if it was life or death, often without even meaning to. They accept what is, because it is what is. Which, ironically, is how often in wrestling, it’s still very possible to surprise the hell out of everyone. The bigger issue at hand is that if you were to search for most professional male wrestlers you’ll get the following results:

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If you’re even more specific and search “Lita + Wrestling + Moonsault” then you’ll end up getting photos of her executing a moonsault, but it shouldn’t need to be that on the nose to get a photo of a professional wrestler doing what she does for a living‐ wrestle. But it’s been drilled into my head time and time again, the women of professional wrestling are utilized for a bathroom break, eye candy at best. There are exceptions to this google image search experiment regarding women, and of course it’s when you search a less conventionally attractive fighter, someone they don’t believe can be passed off as a sex symbol:

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There are added layers of complexity to this that aren’t solely in the realm of the internet. When you look up anything to do with AJ Lee, a three time Diva’s champion and has the longest reign in the title’s history, all the content that comes up is regarding CM Punk and their relationship. These women are lessened to a sex object, either available for public consumption or via their attachment to the superior male wrestler.

When you attend a live show you hear chants like “C M Punk” for AJ Lee, “John Cena” for Nikki Bella”, “US‐O” for Naomi, and “Yes! Yes! Yes!” for Brie Bella, which is her husband’s catchphrase. It’s commonplace for fans to chant the name of a wrestler who is not in the match if they are bored with what is going on, but this time the message is loud and clear, we are less important; we are only a perceivable physical threat if we are large and ugly. Last year, I decided to try to turn this trend on it’s head. At a WWE Live house show at the Ricoh Coliseum there was an NXT Division match between Sami Zayn and Tyson Kidd. Tyson Kidd happens to be the husband of Natayla Neidhart, of the famous Hart family. Normally, this wouldn’t be an important tidbit but I had hit my wits end and started yelling:

“Nattie’s husband!” *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap* *clap*

A few people around me chuckled, I stood up and started to yell louder. My friends joined in and soon thereafter I had an entire section of the venue chanting along with me. Several of these people went to the live taping of RAW the following week in Brooklyn and began that chant again, it caught on like wildfire. The next day there were posts on social media, made by WWE themselves, asking what we thought of #NattiesHusband last night. They’ve carried this storyline through to their massively scripted ‘reality’ show E! Total Divas, where on a recent episode Tyson through the temper tantrum of a toddler about how he isn’t respected and that he is uncomfortable being overshadowed by Nattie. Nattie used this opportunity to boost her husband’s confidence by introducing him to the world she knows best‐ modelling. To make sure to not further crush his ego, Natalya is back in her place as Tyson’s valet and ringside cheerleader where she rightfully belongs. I’m all for dissent, I encourage heckling and fighting against what is presented to you, but maybe it’s time we dissent towards this status quo where the women are mere arm candy.

Fan Edition | Shelly Deathlock

In today’s “Who’s That Girl?” we focus on another fan of pro graps and their awesome fashion sense. This time it’s our very own Shelly Deathlock!

Name: Shelly Deathlock

Age: Play Button (see that’s what WWE made the 31 in “Wrestlemania 31” into because 31 sounds like it’s too old HEY WAIT A DAMN MINUTE.)

Location: Connecticut

Describe your ringside style: Early to mid 90’s heavy metal.

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How did you become a wrestling fan?

I turned on Raw one night in 1993. Yokozuna was delivering several Banzai drops to Crush and Tatanka wasn’t coming out to help him. I was AMAZED. Slippery slope from there, and I began watching all the time. It’s totally a prototypical scene for my wrestling fandom: Good guy is getting murdered by bad guy; good guys friend… isn’t helping? How good can good guys be, then? Good guys aren’t very good. So, murdered good guy joins bad guys, gets to hang out with Mr. Fuji and beat the shit out of Randy Savage. Life lessons.

Fave Wrestler: Shinsuke Nakamura, King of Strong Style and saviour of professional wrestling.

Fave Promotion: NJPW

Fave Move: The… @indiandeathlock. 😉

Fave Match: This isn’t even difficult. Nakamura vs. Ibushi at Wrestle Kingdom 9 this year made most other matches I’ve seen look like they weren’t pro wrestling at all, but some sad shadowy version of it. That match was amazing.

Before that, it was probably Bret vs. Owen at WM X & also their Summerslam ‘94 cage match. I was super invested in those as a baby Owen Hart fan.

Dream Tag Team: Sasha Banks & Kazuchika Okada. $$$$$$$

If you had to choose your own entrance theme, what would it be? 

But then I’d have to also literally bleed black somehow to keep it kayfabe. I’m working on it.

Regular Show “Really Real Wrestling”

One thing I love in life more than wrestling is a perfectly executed groan worthy pun, bonus points if it’s a cheesy plan on a pop culture reference. Regular Show has always hit the spot when it comes to the over the top schlocky eighties nostalgia, and they knock it out of the park with “Really Real Wrestling”.

The episode starts with a crime show on TV where the detective removes his sunglasses and says “The cream always rises… to the COP!” Sold. Make a reference to my favourite Macho Man Randy Savage promo of all time and I’m 3/4 of the way there. Not only are they doing an episode based entirely around pro wrestling, they’re also peppering in little gold nuggets for die hard fans to mark out over. It’s time for a commercial break, so why not have it be an ad for a local sold out wrestling show: RRW Wrassle Frassle 7.

Mordecai and Rigby didn’t get tickets, but that’s not going to stop them from having fun and slacking off on the job. Enter: Mysterious Mister R and Mad Man Mordo and a series of chair shots and chops in homemade wrestling outfits. A persona with an excellent name and flashy costume are two of the more important things in the realm of wrestling.

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Pops shows up and gets really excited revealing to the guys that he used to be a wrestler. He joins in and hurts Rigby’s arm. Rigby and Mordecai get all circle jerky over the fact that wrestling is FAKE and you’re not actually supposed to hurt anyone.

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There are a lot of things that you should, and have every right to, criticize pro wrestling for:

  • Sexism
  • Racism
  • Misogyny
  • Homophobia
  • Transphobia
  • Labour Exploitation
  • Tax Evasion
  • Huge and often unnecessarily bodily risk
  • Brain Trauma
  • Loopholes to aid it’s avoidance in being labelled a sport

Invalid reason to criticize pro wrestling:

  • It’s fake

Get off your high horse and let us enjoy our entertainment. It’s the era of reality in wrestling, there isn’t much of an attempt to fully maintain kayfabe anymore, but that doesn’t mean you need to shit on the fans who are trying to enjoy it. Most every other show and media that you consume is fake or scripted or pre determined in some way, wrestling is no different, so stop pointing out the obvious and let me have my fun.

But back to our regularly scheduled programming, Mad Man Mordo and Mysterious Mister R go over the top and injure Pops. Cue Benson showing up to threaten to fire the guys. Instead, he forbids them all from going to the show. In true television caper fashion, Mordecai and Rigby sneak out of the house, and Pops has left a stuffed animal in his bed to deceive the others into thinking he was still sleeping.

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Back row seats at RRW Wrassle Frassle VII, so close to the action. And honestly, from having attended many a house show in my time, the seats at the back aren’t that bad and you can still enjoy the show. I’d say 3/4 of the enjoyment comes from the atmosphere of just attending. Sadly, 3/4 of the irritation also comes from your surroundings since I normally have to deal with sexist smarks on all sides. Mordecai and Rigby arrive at the show just in time for the main event: the ladder match. Complete with punny wrestlers: Four Armageddon, Hissyfit (the snake), and the Fire Marshall. They’re set to fight Huge Head, who is making his debut.

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In Regular Show fashion, Pops’ car flies out of the sky and lands on Huge Head outside the venue. But Pops, having a huge head himself, is mistaken for said wrestler and is carried into the venue for his grand entrance. Mordecai and Rigby recognize Pops and rush down to save him and we hear that phrase again “wrestling is fake”. This upsets the wrestlers, as it should, and they vow to prove that it’s really REAL wrestling. Executing a series of excellent headscissors, suplexes, body slams, and even a moonsault, a brawl ensues where the only way out is in a body bag or with the title. Pops comes to and shows them how it’s done before climbing the ladder and taking the title for himself.

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I, like Benson, felt the heart and hard work rate the guys put in and couldn’t bear to fire them. Instead, I’ll let them keep their ladder match title and live to work another day. Hopefully, we’ll see another wrestling episode from them soon.

AJ Lee Finally Parts Ways With The WWE

WWE has just issued a “statement’ via twitter that AJ has decided to retire from in ring competition with the company. They felt this so important that I received a push notification from the network on my ipad. I wish I was more surprised that this was happening, and I’m curious as to what this means for the future of her fellow Divas.

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AJ Lee has played a very important role during her time in the Divas division. She is a three time Divas championship title holder and has held that title for the longest reign in the division’s history. AJ also had a short stint as General Manager and did some commentary alongside Lawler, having no problem calling him out for his sexist pig like nature.

The character AJ portrays has a very different feel than more of their roster as of late, and has been helping to push the Divas in a more positive direction, one where the women are seen and respected as fighters. Those in charge, however, definitely had different plans for her and kept trying to pigeon hole her into the typical love interest storylines. AJ was the catalyst for Daniel Bryan’s heel turn when their relationship blew up and he could be painted as the bad guy. A faux relationship with Cena is what ended her position as RAW GM. This pattern continues.

Recently, AJ has spent a lot of time calling out the WWE for their treatment of women, and I admire her greatly for using her platform to do so. In response to #GiveDivasAChance trending on twitter, AJ addressed Stephanie McMahon stating “Your female wrestlers have record selling merchandise & have starred in the highest rated segment of the show several times, And yet they receive a fraction of the wages & screen time of the majority of the male roster. #UseYourVoice.” She’s also expressed that it was her decision not to take part in the reality show E! Total Divas because she couldn’t handle not maintaining her privacy. This is contrary to many rumours that state she isn’t welcome based on her marriage to ex WWE superstar CM Punk.

It is entirely possible that they have known of her impending departure for a while and it may have been the deciding factor on why there was no title match at Wrestlemania. It’s odd, however, having her win a match at Mania and that be her final hoorah inside Vince’s squared circle.

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I sincerely hope this retirement isn’t goodbye forever from AJ. I’d love to see her pop up in another company and continue to help bring light to the fact that WWE isn’t the end all and be all for professional wrestling. And if they were as skilled at running their women’s division as they seem to be at making the women turn tail and run away, then we’d probably see some of the strongest women’s wrestling there is to be had.

Bull Nakano

Here we have a woman who was as stylish in the ring as she was tough. With hair that stands almost as tall as I am, that also barely moves, and the most electifying shade of blue lipstick that would make David Bowie proud, she brought a unique and terrifying brand of beauty to women’s pro wrestling. Bull Nakano started wrestling in AJW at the age of 15, and over time has competed in multiple promotions including CMLL, WWF and WCW. Winning her first title Bull was a trailblazer of sorts, and was CMLL’s first ever World Women’s Champion. Her strongest matches were primarily tag matches alongside Dump Matsumoto, and she has held the WWWA World Tag Team Championship on three separate occassions.

This isn’t to say that she’s not a raging monster in the ring when she’s by herself. When she regained the WWWA World Heavyweight Championship title in a Japan Grand Prix tournament, she remained the title holder for just shy of three consecutive years before dropping the belt to Aja Kong.

Bull is my ideal type of wrestler: she’s slow, strong, throws her weight around and doesn’t give two shits about you or how hard you’re going to go down to that mat. No stranger to technique, she uses a lot of brute force moves to exert dominance over her opponent. My personal favourites are when she utilizes the Moolah Whip landing her opponent flat on their face across the ring, or the ever so arrogant standing on someone’s chest when they’re down for a pin. What’s even more impressive is Bull’s ability to be perceived as a tough, unbreakable monster even when she loses a match.

If she hasn’t scorpion crosslocked her way into your heart just yet, then check out this Joshi match on a SUBWAY TRAIN between her and Yumi Fukawa:

As for a suggestion on what else to watch? I’ve yet to be let down by any match of hers, so internet search to your heart’s content. (But don’t just stick to the WWE).

Mt. Fiji

Just as she would rap in her intro, with us on her side she’ll never lose; and she never did. Throughout her stint with GLOW: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling Mt. Fiji never lost a match, and it would be a big deal if someone were to knock this gentle giant off her feet.

Fiji is one of the greatest babyfaces that women’s pro wrestling has ever seen. Normally, the larger you are, the more likely you are to be billed as a monster among women, but she was beloved by all without having to sacrifice her brute and vicious strength. Her fellow GLOW Good Girls respected and adored her and her opposing GLOW Bad Girls feared her and sought out the challenge to be the one to knock her down.  One of her signature moves is an avalanche which involves crushing her opponent in the corner right up against the turnbuckle. Relying on that, body slams, clotheslines and other maneuvers where she didn’t need to move much, it was extremely difficult to take her out. As mentioned before, Fiji never lost a match, but has eliminated herself in Battle Royals to tend to injured friends.

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As a promotion, GLOW was no stranger to being extremely politically incorrect and relied heavily on racist and sexist tropes in order to push the envelope. Bearing that in mind, Fiji’s character remained genuine and never truly seemed to cross that line. I can’t, however, take into account anything the announcer would spout, and am basing this solely off how she presents herself in ring and in sketches. Fiji is a Samoan American and very obviously proud of her heritage, she would flaunt this in character and that was never presented as the butt of the joke.

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Unfortunately, her luck in being able to thwart racism in her career did not translate to life outside the GLOW house. Nearing the end of the show’s run, Fiji and her family were involved in an incident of extreme police brutality which was seen to be racist in nature that took place at a bridal shower. In response to a noise complaint, the LA Country Sheriff’s department descended upon their home in full riot gear and proceeded to beat members of the family with billy clubs. Fiji stood strong in effort to protect others who were there and prevent them from being on the receiving end of such treatment.

Wrestling quickly became Fiji’s passion and it could be seen throughout the entire run of GLOW. Fiji did have some wrestling related appearances on TV and in film near the end of the show, her final appearance being in Pauly Shore’s Son In Law. Sadly, after GLOW ended Fiji had to stop wrestling. Currently she resides in a nursing home due to illnesses and knee issues, but is still keepin’ on.

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Back to Mt. Fiji’s wrestling prowess, a really interesting fact is that she was often billed in handicap matches where it would be two against one.