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!

10 Ways Chyna Winning the Royal Rumble Could Change Wrestling: Part 2

By god, a second wind! Last week, we dreamed up a new genealogy of women’s wrestling–how would wrestling be different if Chyna had won the ‘99 Royal Rumble, thus earning the right to challenge for the World Title at WrestleMania.

You can read the first fall of the future Slammy nominee for “Most Indulgent Thinkpiece” here.

6. So I Guess We Have To Talk About “The Hand”

Wrestling has a rigid margin of sustainability for retiring performers, even by the standards of sports. There aren’t a lot of “I’ve been there, let me give you my perspective” analyst jobs for a sport that’s not real. If you can even think straight. If a year round schedule of ladder drops and botched facebusters, rinse and repeated, multiplied by X, hasn’t made your mind a hash of static hiss.

We can’t get jobs with college degrees and years of experience in the field–how are professional athletes supposed to “start over”?

For many retired wrestlers, it’s the slaughterhouse of “real life” or the petting zoo of self-parody.

Ron Simmons was the first black world heavyweight champion in wrestling’s history. He ended his career wandering backstage with a single word printed on his shirt that many watching the show weren’t allowed to say in school.

In the Attitude Era, Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young were featured in a number of gross-out comedy segments. Veritable architects of women’s wrestling competed in swimsuit competitions and complained of the declining virility in American men from under chest-high motel comforters.

Mae Young got knocked up by Mark Henry and then gave birth to a plastic hand. I don’t know how to obfuscate the horror of this in floral verbiage. It is perhaps one of the more egregious excesses of the Attitude Era.

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I’m not suggesting WWE would have hit a mental block with new ways to humiliate the women in their employ–or that Fabulous Moolah’s reign of backstage politics that quashed the careers of many younger wrestlers didn’t deserve at least some consequence.

The best women’s wrestler in WWE at the time was wrestling men. The rest were tripping over their high heels in stripteases masked in the trappings of competition. I cannot help but interpret this as a looming assertion, a warning to current and future women’s talent: your body, whether it sexually excite or sexually revulse our audience, is all we will ever make use of.

I like to think Chyna competing for the World Title would, in addition to imploring a new wave of indie women’s wrestlers into WWE, give Moolah and Mae Young something else to do with themselves. Young and Moolah as the bickering grandmas giving Chyna old-timer advice and encouragement in a vain attempt to vicariously recapture their glory might not have “put butts in the seats” but think of how well that would have aged, say, 15 years later, where women are creating hashtags to convey to you the potential of your own roster.

7. Intercontinental Entitled

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The WWE IC Championship is a good idea. Titles tell stories. It gives wrestlers, and therefore the audience, something to invest in. If a feud fails to find its chemistry, it can always orbit around the mutually exclusive desire to hold a title.

Cometh the caveat: it’s now completely useless. There are no differing restrictions or regulations between the World Title, the IC Title, and US Title.

The current holder is a former World Champion. In the last 10 IC title reigns, the title was held by a former World Champion 6 times. It is no longer the “up and comer, not ready for main event” championship. It and the US Title are just a holding pattern for a bloated main event roster.

Where’s Jim Ross when someone is actually exposing the business?

Losing the main event at WrestleMania (per my “Triple Threat” scenario in part 1), Chyna slips back down to the card and wins the IC Title. She wasn’t ready for permanent main event status; she’s coming into her own in due time.

Chyna was billed as the “9th Wonder of the World”. In an earlier era, she’d be escorted to the ring by a prancing Jimmy Hart, heralding her unfortunate victim’s poor luck like a crazed carnival barker. As an IC Champion, and one who proved she could work the main event at the biggest show of them all, Chyna cements the true purpose of the IC Title–it’s anything goes. WWE’s first ladder match and first triple threat match were contested for the IC Title. It would blossom, under the reign of Chyna, into an anarchic inversion of the World Title. No contract signings, no “beat these three men and you can have a chance to beat another man” storylines. Just get in the ring.

And this could, in time, lead to women competing against other women for traditionally “men’s” belts. Like the Number 2 headband of Afro Samurai, the IC Title is an open invitation for mayhem.

There is no use for a hierarchy of titles in a sport that does not meaningfully recognize weight classes.

8. Where In The World Is Eddie Guerrero?

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I’m not so radical as to, even facetiously, posit myself contrary to the reality that Latino Heat was one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. If this were a strictly “general wrestling” site, I would gladly take up a whole article just to discuss how his blend of strong style and lucha libre helped pave a demand for cruiserweight wrestlers in the United States.

Before he came to the WWE, Eddie G was well-respected, but not well written. The greatest hits of his WCW heel run included not being a very effective coach for his nephew Chavo and making his former friend Rey Mysterio Jr wear an oversized shirt as a stipulation of beating him. He formed an analog to the nWo, stocked with luchadores–it, like the actual nWo, came to encompass almost everyone in the division. Far from the direst indignities Vince Russo would force Mexican talent to endure, having a band of Mexicans form a blatant, intentional knock-off of a stable of white Americans is in pretty bad taste.

WWE signed The Radicalz as a pot shot on a staggering opponent. They took WCW’s core of technical wrestlers, gave them their turn on the catwalk helping big bad Triple H in his various schemes , then deftly ushered them to the mid-card. Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn fizzled out after being given bad relationship gimmicks, Malenko the serial adulterer and Saturn romantically involved with a mop. Romance angles are the death knell of the midcarder.

When Eddie Guerrero returned to the WWE in 2001, having missed the tail end of the Attitude Era and the WCW Invasion due to complications of his alcoholism, his career was on a very wet precipice. He’d been off TV for a while, and both of his previous American employers were now bought out by his current boss. There wouldn’t be much for him left in the US if he couldn’t get over.

His relationship with Chyna is probably one of the best romantic storylines in the sport. Eddie had an earnest charm–and good comedic awareness. You could almost overlook his creepiness and obvious intent to betray Chyna the moment it suited him; you believed that they could work. Eddie was smaller than Chyna, and that made his professions of love seem summoned from a place of reverence. He worshipped her, like a god. Most romance angles involve a wrestler dating a diva maybe 1/3 of his size. When Eddie won the IC Title from Chyna in a triple threat with Kurt Angle, he pretended to have “fallen while checking up on her” because he knew she could throw him around if they went toe to toe.

His admiration of his own private Amazonian, and numerous betrayals of her, laid the groundwork for his “Lie, Cheat, Steal” gimmick, which would transcend the face/heel dichotomy and give him an appeal irrelevant of his current booking.

Teaming with Chyna helped Eddie Guerrero prove his capacity to do it “WWE style”–with character.

So what if Chyna’s not in the picture? If she’s wrestling Triple H at WrestleMania in a non-singles match, that feud has a few more months of shelf life. Even if Chyna works the IC Division, even if Triple H has already dropped the belt, they’re having a singles program. It’s just due diligence in booking. A main event “former lovers, now enemies” angle isn’t a load you blow on Judgment Day or Bad Blood. That’s a “Big Four” match. She’s not entertaining midcard suitors anytime soon. Even if she and Eddie are booked together, the focus will be entirely on her and her forward motion.

As Part 1 played out: not all of the changes would be “for the better”. It’s possible, if Chyna was pushed to the main event, Eddie Guerrero might not have had his break in the WWE. Women are not interchangeable props. Think of them more as actors–when you realize their opinions of your script effect how well it’s performed and how readily the fans accept it, you might start to write them better!

9. Valet in the Shadow of Death

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It is a time of revolt. After Essa Rios is found flirting with The Godfather’s cadre of sex workers, a jealous Lita challenges him for the Light Heavyweight Title. Test and Albert pass worried glances to Trish Stratus at ringside, knowing if she deems either of them to be the weak link, she’ll just replace them with herself–it’s a marketable acronym any way you spell it. Chyna has shown the way. Turn on your male masters. Take their titles.

In a nameless room backstage, the devil slicks his balding ponytail and quivers his lips, as if savoring the anticipation of his own words.

Vince McMahon clenches–everywhere. Triple H should’ve just stayed down at WrestleMania. Give him federal prosecutors, give him IRS hounds.

“You have a procedural, and frankly a financial imperative, to give my client, Chyna, the proper world title shot she was granted by winning the Royal Rumble. It’s the 21st Century. You can’t deny women equal opportunities in the office. It’s the law. Trust me. I know the law. I’ve been sued more times than the National Enquirer.”

Anything but Paul Heyman.

10. Ring The Damn Bellas

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In January 2014, the Bella Twins pushed for a Divas Tag Title. It seems superfluous to have a Divas singles title when any match of any worth will be immediately modified to be a tag team match.

Tag team wrestling is important. It helps tell more complex stories, allows for more complicated spots (or body counts, at the least), helps young wrestlers learn the trade and helps old wrestlers go down swinging. For women to be fully integrated into wrestling, they must have meaningful tag team competition.

Still: confining the Bellas to a single gender tag division might be wondrously under-utilizing them.

They are the perfection of the twin gimmick realized. The Harris Brothers, The Bashams–all heel twinsies strove to have the charm and heat of The Bella twins.

They have personalities, mic and camera presence–and they fight all the time. They look alike but they don’t think alike!

SEE THAT? THAT’S SHIT. THAT’S NOT EVEN 101. THAT COMES IN THE SYLLABUS THAT YOU GET BEFORE YOU EVEN TAKE THE 101 CLASS.

IT IS STILL A BETTER NARRATIVE THAN ANY OTHER TWINSIES GIMMICK IN THE WHOLE FUCKING HISTORY OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING.

With women regularly in the main event, they’d probably already be 2 time champions by now. You’re gonna tell me that even the most ardent of discerning misogynists in pro wrestling couldn’t buy The Bellas legitimately beating The Ascension? Or The Miz & Mizdow?

You’re telling me that The Bellas vs The Usos couldn’t get at least a three star rating, if the Bellas got some actual training?

Just think: more twin magic than David Copperfield trying to make his reflections penis disappear. It’s the storytelling we deserve.

Maybe you’re right.

Teams of smaller, scrappy

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wrestlers who sometimes cheat

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or have trouble getting along

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never go far in this business.

Good thing Jim Cornette didn’t waste his career manag–

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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.

Varied Ways of Feeling about Boy Wrestlers: A Confessional

Babygrrls, today I want to tell you about something that bothers me a lot. As a heterosexual woman and a wrestling fan, many people assume I’m attracted to the boy wrestlers. (For the purposes of this article, we’ll set aside the weird creeps who think women like wrestling only because of the attractive boy wrestlers.)

I’m attracted to men and some wrestlers are men — assuming I’m attracted to some wrestlers is reasonable. What bothers me is that this assumption implies that I feel the same kind of attraction to every kind of boy wrestler. This is flatly insulting because frankly, I’m a very introspective person and I’ve spent the better part of a decade parsing all my varied and delicate feelings about so many wrestlers in so many circumstances.

I feel differently about every wrestler I’ve ever had feelings about, and all of those feelings are important and valid and contribute to my enjoyment of and engagement with the whole sport. This is serious and nuanced, people! The world will be better when we articulate and embrace the complex ways that all kinds of people (cis people, trans people, men people, women people, nonbinary people, kids, grandmas, etc etc) deal with their wrestler feels. I want to hear yours, too, so let this serve as the start of a discussion.

So here are some ways I as an individual human person feel about some of the wrestlers that so many fangirls like to do the fangirling over lately (fangirling is also a serious and valid feeling, yes):

Shinsuke Nakamura

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Let’s just get this out of the way: Shinsuke Nakamura is the most beautiful human ever to set foot in a wrestling ring. His physical beauty is actually distracting during his matches and this has never happened to me before ever with anyone else and kind of makes me angry honestly Shinsuke PLEASE. Why and how does he carry himself so? How can I learn to have such swag? Like the Toshiro Mifune of pro wrestling, he communicates more with a facial expression that some wrestlers do in an entire match. Why does it seem like he has sunlight trapped just under his skin? Does he know that his hair is always perfectly placed to make someone wanna reach over and push it away from his face a little? I mean goddamn. I bet he knows. I’d join a religion if he started one. I cannot even.

Shinsuke Nakamura is also the best wrestler I’ve ever seen and the fact that in my world the Venn diagram of most beautiful wrestler and best wrestler is a circle is just amazing, 10/10 five million stars A+ thank you strong style gods. That said, I’d never want to carry on a personal relationship with him. I’m sure he’s a great friend. Just, no thanks, I’m busy absolutely worshiping him, you know? Let’s leave that there where it belongs. But all the warmth and sensuality he shares as a performer — oh, I will take it so gratefully and for as long as he will give it, from a respectful distance.

Minoru Suzuki

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If I weren’t already happily married I’d be actively trying to marry Minoru Suzuki. I mean, probably to no avail, of course, but I think you have to try for the things you want in life. These feelings stand in stark contrast to my feelings about Shinsuke Nakamura. I respect and love and worship Shinsuke from afar, but theoretical-target-of-my-affection-Minoru-Suzuki would probably have to be like “Hey lady, it’s great that you pay money and come to all my shows, but could you like not stare at me so creepily, maybe?” I don’t even know. I don’t understand these feelings myself but it probably has to do with fishing and One Piece and maybe even a good amount of mind control. I spend my days trying not to capslock shout at him on Twitter about how much I love him. It’s pretty terrible but my husband is kind of okay with it and I know lots of people (or at least two other people okay whatever) share these feelings and they help me deal with my life. Maybe it’ll pass? God I hope it passes, this is exhausting.

Kazuchika Okada

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I don’t actually know what happens to my brain when Beautiful Actual Angel Kazuchika Okada is on my television but it’s just incessant high pitched squealing. I wanna hug him so hard he can’t breathe. He’s like the human version of the cutest puppy. If I were gonna write fanfiction about us (and dude I MIGHT) he’d be my little brother and I’d buy him ice cream all the time and we’d play video games and I’d probably paint his nails and I’d finally get to hear him sing the Gatchaman theme karaoke. Actually, I wonder if his parents would adopt me. I would call him Kazu-kun and bite Tanahashi’s face off for making him cry at Wrestle Kingdom 9. I’d be the best big sister, you guys.

Dean Ambrose

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My feelings about Dean Ambrose make sense to me, but it’s hard to articulate them. I’m not attracted to him. I have eyes and a brain, I know that he’s an attractive young man. His physique is like a young, leaner Tully Blanchard. It’s amazing. He’s beautiful. He’s charismatic. But. Nope. All my feelings about Dean Ambrose lie so squarely in the workratecompartment of my brain with a few bonus feels sprinkled in the goddamn how can I get a waistline that good? compartment. I love his wrestlery charisma and his silly promos. I love his technical-brawler style. I love that his character is what would happen if the Hollywood Blondes were fused together in a transporter accident and then tried to grow into their later personas simultaneously. I LOVE it, I love him. But it’s all pure prowres love, and hope, and enthusiasm, amen.

Kota Ibushi

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I have no feelings about Kota Ibushi. I like to watch him wrestle sometimes. He’s really good. He was in my favorite match ever. But I don’t need to see every match he’s in. I don’t even think about him at all unless I’m watching a match. His physique is obviously remarkable but the extent of the fucks I’ve ever given about that is “His trunks are great, they really highlight the unique angle of his thighs in relation to his hips.”

Hiroshi Tanahashi

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This one is difficult. I don’t want to hate him, but I do. I feel like things might be a little backwards either in my head or in his, but he’s an incredible heel. His tactics infuriate me. His air guitar infuriates me. As a person, I recognize his amazing skill and incredible devotion and the fact that he deserves every last shred of my respect for helping to revitalize New Japan Pro Wrestling when everyone else was kind of sucking. But as a wrestling fan, oh my god, I hate Hiroshi Tanahashi and I LOVE hating Hiroshi Tanahashi and I pray that I never stop hating Hiroshi Tanahashi because hating a wrestler for the right reasons is a deeply satisfying feeling that has been missing from my life ever since Bret Hart retired. In other feels: holy shit, that haircut. Amazing.

So that’s a brief-ish summary of where I’ve been for the past couple years, rummaging around in my brain and trying to articulate the discrete and potentially unique feelings I feel for the performers I admire so much in so many ways. There’s more to dig up from childhood, to be sure (I was a wrestling fan before I knew I was a heterosexual woman, so that’s pretty interesting!), and I didn’t even discuss women at all this time! Watch this space for more things-that-women-feel-about-wrestlers.

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.

10 Ways Chyna Winning the Royal Rumble Could Change Wrestling: Part 1

In 1999, Chyna became the first woman to compete in the Royal Rumble. By the fingers-crossed fictional logic of the contest, we had a 1/30 chance of an intergender main event for the World Title. Now, even the most part time fan recognizes the Rumble as the long con. Feuds are lined up. Pushes that otherwise take weeks are condensed into twenty minutes of plowing through fading glories. Like a building demolished, the Royal Rumble is a chaos so meticulous it is passed off as a surrender to entropy.

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There is upset at the Royal Rumble, but there are no upsets. Batista and Reigns’ wins were decried, derided on Vines and viral photoshops–fans canceled the Network en masse in disgust and frustration. That is the behavior of people who feel betrayed, not bewildered. From the moment Daniel Bryan was dumped to the floor you knew Reigns was going to win. If DDP had won, the #CancelTheNetwork hashtag might have never caught steam.

But “Which one of these three or four superstars will go through the fanservice guest appearance and half of the tag team we keep forgetting to book to make it to WrestleMania?!” does not a compelling buyrate make.

To trot the paces of a thought experiment, and indulge the hollow promises of the pay per view’s booking: let’s imagine Chyna won the 1999 Royal Rumble. Maybe Creative wrote themselves into every corner of the room and thought “fuck it, let’s go crazy”. Maybe she flipped the script and eliminated Vince McMahon and Steve Austin–what are you going to do, have security escort her out to an elimination because she wouldn’t lose?

Let’s lose ourselves to the somnolence of “what if”. What if a woman main evented WrestleMania?

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But first, two points of order:

Chyna could have probably been a decent wrestler if people gave her fucking time. Every wrestling podcast co-host callously laments Chyna’s choppy ring work. When wrestlers come in from WCW or Mexico, they get a grace period–oh they just haven’t learned that WWF/E style of wrestling yet. But when a woman primarily used as a manager, who occasionally wrestles former models and weightlifters in the eye candy division, has trouble keeping pace with Road Dogg or Jeff Jarrett, oh how they bemoan!

Chyna is a fucking babe. Her first Playboy appearance is the best-selling WWE women’s performer feature of all time, and one of the top five best-selling issues in the magazine’s history. That’s not “oh, I just have a subscription”, or “hey huh huh huh isn’t this weird”? That’s a lot of people, in their rooms, jerking off to Chyna’s naked body. The frailty of straight masculinity requires most men to rebuff her sex appeal–if you like a woman with muscles, you might like men, too!–but the money doesn’t lie.

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My hands are bereft of stones: Chyna’s Playboy magazine was the first one I ever bought, despite being four years too young to do so legally.

There. My bias is out of the way. Onward to Imagination Station! Choo Choo!

Continue reading 10 Ways Chyna Winning the Royal Rumble Could Change Wrestling: Part 1

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).

Faby Apache vs Sexy Star | Hair vs Mask

Art by Isz Janeway

We begin with a mantra of late 00’s message boards: In Canada it’s a tradition, in Mexico it’s a religion, in Japan it’s a sport. This sussing of sour grapes plants the evidence of wrestling’s murder on Mr. McMahon (“In America, it’s a joke). He was working alone that night, on the grassy Illuminati bunker, ruining wrestling. The homophobia, the sexism, the greed of the old guard–all these red herrings will make a damn fine fish fry when all this is over.

To label lucha libre as “mexican professional wrestling” might be unconscionably obtuse–it’s an indelible inclination of Mexican culture. Out of the ring, luchadores appear, as themselves, in comic books and monster movies. They advocate for nature conservation and human rights. They are living mythos. The masks that have epitomized the culture, domestically and abroad, safeguard the sanctity of a people’s wonder.

To be unmasked is to be jarred back into mortality, like the clipping of angel wings. El Santo revealed only part of his face to the public, once–he died a week later.

This guardianship remains today, long after the fall of kayfabe. It is less rigid in its discipline–everyone has a phone now, and google is eager to autocomplete any search for a luchador/a with “sin mascara”. It is custom for an unmasked wrestler to reveal their real name, hometown, and how long they’ve been wrestling; Wikipedia gives you all of this with a click of a “Random Article”.

Since her match with Faby Apache, Sexy Star has been willingly photographed without her mask–goddesses can assume mortal form at no cost to them. It’s the act of having that form made manifest through defeat that maroons them with mortals.

Since Samson’s slumber, mortals have removed each other’s hair as a tool of shame, revenge, and assertion of worthlessness. The shaving of an Army recruit’s head strips them of their personhood–they are now slaves of the State. After liberation, the women of Nazi-occupied towns and villages who had “corroborated” would be marched into public view and have their heads shaved.

So much of ourselves is codified in our hair. When MRAs jerk their circles over women with colored hair, they are decrying an abundance of personality they cannot confine to their expectations and pleasures.

Hair vs Mask

The first Lucha de Apuestas–”a match with wagers”–was in 1940. The masked Murciélago insisted, to counter somewhat the unfairness of wrestling someone much larger than him, that the challenger for his championship, the unmasked Octavio Gaona, put his hair on the line.

To quote Shawn Michaels (and hate myself for it), the challenger of a title has, traditionally nothing to lose and everything to gain. While it’s not uncommon for a de-crowned champion to take time off from television, a contender who fails to secure the championship rarely faces any serious immediate consequence. Roman Reigns won’t be wrestling on the pre-show–not right away, at least.

The original apuesta provided a consequence for failure in the main event; it has come in time to be a means of putting rivalries to bed.

First, Sexy Star took Faby Apache’s husband. Then, her AAA Reina de Reinas championship.

In 2009, at Guerra de Titanes, she would claim that final vestige of Faby’s status: her hair.

Family vs Fame

Faby Apache does not merely come from a wrestling family; her career and identity are defined by her struggles to exist within the confines of good daughter and loyal sister. The Apache family have stretched the ol’ “my dad doesn’t like the father of my child” routine out for years of storyline.

To not dismiss the issue of race: the Apache family are dark-skinned indigenous descendants. Sexy Star and the other women of La Legion Extranjera (“The Foreign Legion”, a rotating roster of hired invaders who make trouble for AAA) are either white or light-skinned Mexican. They twirl at ringside, petting the chin of the referee with fishnet gloves, as Faby, clad to honor her indigenous heritage, suffers potshots and slow counts to a chorus of blonde giggles.

In the year following this match, Sexy Star, the only Mexican luchadora in LLE, would claim the Apaches were nothing but maids, proudly mirroring the ugly prejudice and systemic violence sustained against women like Faby, at home and abroad.

It’s likely Sexy is mayhaps motivated not only out of smugness, but from a genuine conviction that Faby and the Apache family are lesser people.

The title would not be enough for this match.

Emotion vs Skill

When the first “Legends of Wrestling” video game came out, critics in the know lamented that you couldn’t quantify what made the slower, brawly style of the 70’s and 80’s into compelling gameplay. Older wrestling relied on tension, banking on the raw emotion of wrestlers to evoke enticement from the audience.

From a technical standpoint, Hulk Hogan vs Andre The Giant at WrestleMania 3 is a no-selling prima donna running circles around a disabled veteran nearing the end of his life. You could get better fundamentals having Jim Cornette try to put his own tennis racket in a spinebuster. It cinched the (however dubious) honor of being the lynchpin of WWF’s rise to the mainstream for the psychology and narrative; the unstoppable force overcomes the immovable object.

This match wouldn’t wile its any into either wrestler’s highlight reels. It’s a largely kick, choke, pull the hair affair. The narrative in place doesn’t require a flourish of skill. This isn’t about who’s the best–Sexy Star has already taken everything else from Faby, and needs not the affirmation of her skill.

This is about kicking Faby while she’s down, and hard enough that the referee has to check Faby isn’t concussed on more than one occasion.

Sometimes it’s about working smarter, not harder: the close-ups of Faby’s clearly dazed, fatigued face suffices where others would think to put some goofy fucking weapon up on a pole or some such bullshit.

The crowd percolates steadily–there are no “spots”. There is no heat. They clatter and erupt at Billy Boy grabbing Faby’s hair from the outside, at Sexy choking her in the ropes, at the arrival of Jennifer Blade and Rain to Sexy’s corner mid-match.

The math: Sexy has the belt. She’s joined La Legion. Billy Boy’s marriage to Faby and the resulting turmoil with the Apache family has, to date, landed him in a mental institution, kicked out of his own stable, and cost him his hair after he was pinned by Faby in a lucha de apuestas, following a heel turn spurned by Faby slapping him because she was upset she lost a match. Faby Apache has, despite her earnest character, done a lot of damage to someone she once claimed to love, the payment of which has been overly delayed.

She has no chance in winning the match. The audience bristles not at Sexy’s fortunes but at her underhandedness.

Faby vs The World

This match followed Vince McMahon’s playbook down an alley and ran off with its wallet.

Faby fends off flurries of kicks to the face from the woman who took her title and her husband, who himself keeps jumping into the ring to attack her.

La Legion is at ringside–what has she even done to piss off all these people? Is it because she’s an Apache? Is it what she represents? Do they just hate goodness? Why are all these women out to get her?

And then oh fuck: she bumps the ref.

The arrival of El Hijo del Tirantes, AAA’s rudo referee, puts the lingering doubt out of its misery.

From here it’s all cocktease. El Hijo del Tirantes flirts with Jennifer and Rain to excuse himself from counting Faby’s cover on Sexy. Faby’s punch drunk frustration becomes searing desperation, fermenting into anger. This match is a nail that traces the collarbone before going in for the stranglehold. It’s a drawn out parade of shame, population: 1.

The audience seems to gradually accept this fate–American audiences make camp on the edges of their seats because they’ve become spoiled by brutally contrived solutions to the esoteric and unsolvable. Steve Austin just knocks out the stooge referee, counts his own three with the limp hand, and then beats up the timekeeper until he rings the bell to acknowledge his win.

El Hijo del Tirantes watches Rain run in to push Sexy out of Faby’s hanging vertical suplex, and then fast counts Sexy’s roll-up into a three.

Even the crowd has turned on Faby Apache, popping for Sexy’s win–from the beginning, really, they were promised a head-shaving. And here comes the sun.

Or so they thought.

Fairness vs Honor

Faby doesn’t lose her hair. Gran Apache comes out, pushes Billy Boy around–because I guess he can’t turn rudo on your family for the same reason twice–and clips a couple of locks from her admittedly gorgeous earth-tone mane before she hulks out and, breaks free from the bounds of honor and charges at Sexy Star.

The crowd’s upheaval at this is as loud as it is ambiguous–are they cheering because Faby got her heat back, or because they’ve been denied the opportunity to see a woman ritualistically stripped of her beauty and dignity? Have even the crowd turned rudo/ruda on Faby Apache, or are they outraged at besmirched tradition?

Randy Savage loses a retirement match against Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 7–he’s the fucking World Champion by WrestleMania 8. Ric Flair loses a career match against Shawn Michaels and just goes to another company. Nobody cares. Most modern American fans don’t even know what a tag rope is or what it does.

Faby does not return to the ring to have her head shaved. Nor does she visit a barber. And the internet will not ever, ever let you forget this. Every article about this match, every wiki notation, and like 1 out of every 2 or 3 YouTube comments makes mention of Faby skipping out on the stipulation. Some writers have even gone as far as to accuse her of fraud. Not AAA. Not Gran Apache, who didn’t even try to finish the haircut, but Faby specifically.

The misogyny and classism/racism that might be perpetuating this anger aside: American wrestling fans never stop to consider that maybe American wrestling is a joke because they are so tolerant of non-committal booking.

Faby Apache’s appeal was so agreed upon that after she won the Reina de Reinas annual tournament, they just made it into a title for her to defend. Then they cheered for her to lose her hair and complained, loudly, when it wasn’t delivered.

This begs the question: who are the participants of these rituals beholden to? The legacy of all the men and women who came before and sacrificed their cultural immortality and aesthetic individuality for the sake of “making it real”? The wrestling community at large? The audience?

If Faby Apache says she’ll cut her hair if she loses, and AAA doesn’t hold her to it, what claim do we as the consumers have to compel her to be shorn?

Once we’re finished discussing how ridiculous Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt in broad daylight was, can we move onto this?

Another inquiry I beseech: Jesus Christ, what the fuck with all this racism? A year later, Mari Apache is forced to serve as a maid for La Legion Extranjera after she, Faby Apache, and Cintia Morena lose a “winners get a personal slave” trios match against Sexy Star, Jennifer Blade, and Rain. And yes, they make her clean up their locker room, on TV, right after the match.

It’s not just me, right? First, Sexy Star says “the Apaches were meant to be maids” at Rey de Reyes,  and then you have a match at TripleMania, three months later , that forces one of the Apaches has to serve as a maid. Doesn’t that sound like a societal fantasy fulfillment to anyone else?

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.

Vivian Vachon

One might see the (American) wrestling industry’s tip-toeing around the word “wrestler” when discussing women as indication that the Bellas are pioneers, that women grapplers are just a bit green of a concept, and that WWE and TNA are working their way up to calling them wrestlers, much like you or I might work up to calling mom’s new husband “Dad” once he’s proven himself not a chump.

Before Ric Flair ever strutted his way to a main event melee, Mildred Burke wrestled men at carnivals and held a world title for almost twenty years. 12 years before the first King of the Ring, there was already a wrestling queen: Vivian Vachon.

There’s one (or more) in every family–Mike von Erich, Reid Flair, LA Smooth–wrestling has relied on family dynasties to fluff their numbers and normalize the hazard-riddled lifestyle that comes with the job. But wrestling is not known for it’s ability to 1) care for their own or 2) encourage people to share when playing. A lot of potential succumbs to the crucible of ego, politics, and addiction that comes with your dinner in a wrestling house.

Vivian is the Marilyn Munster of her family of sideshow personalities. A Mad Dog and Butcher for brothers, Luna for a niece–it’s not a lack of talent that keeps her quarried to shadow, or a lack of menace. When the golden-haired muscle muse disrobed her rainbow ring robe, she would stomp your head in with the tell-tale glib sadism that is her family’s trademark.

Wrestling in the 70’s was rougher around the edges–technical pizazz took second chair to just making it look real, and like it hurt. Today a standing leglock is recognized as a rest hold, but before “sports entertainment” gave the wink on whether or not wrestling was staged, a standing leglock could end matches, and kicking someone in the face to break out of one was more than a leadup to another “spot”.

Hair pulling was practically ingrained in the training of women’s wrestlers. Wanna know who Fabulous Moolah trained? See how often they go for the hair.

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Accomplished singer (yes, it still counts if it’s in French) and former model–it’s not stretch to suggest Vivian Vachon could have had a film career beyond the documentary. She had the effervescent girl next door elan that Americans make themselves sick on. We could have had the female response to Hulk Hogan a decade before anyone gave a fuck who that guy was.

Actually: she’d won the AWA’s Women’s Championship a full decade before Hogan would flounce out of AWA over their unwillingness to take the belt of Bockwinkel and put it on him. Had Hogan stayed to “tough it out” in AWA, HulkaMania may have never happened. Who knows if there’d have been another wrestler to take his place in leading the charge of wrestling into pop culture.

In an alternate universe, Vivian Vachon became a movie star and Hulk Hogan tried to no-sell Bruiser Brody and got hit with the whole bag of potatoes, simmering his star before it ever launched.

When WWE and TNA dance around the word “wrestler”, they discredit the decades of work men and women put to lay foundation for their mainstream appeal.

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They do a great disservice to their queen.

Rousey + Rock: Represent + Repulse

It seems that the WWE is on the path to try to win the “put the most oppressive people on a pedestal in the shortest period of time” award, and for some reason the mass market doesn’t seem to notice or care. Right now I’m going to be touting a seemingly unpopular opinion, and normally I wouldn’t mind, but this is a huge issue: Ronda Rousey’s cameo was by far the worst part of Wrestlemania 31. “But Rousey’s a tough woman who knows how to fight!”, I can hear you all screeching at me. Don’t you worry your pretty little heads, you’ll come to understand soon.

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Let’s rundown what happened on this weekend’s PPV, okay? We learned that it was the night of the irrelevant celebrity, and even made a little bit of a drinking game out of it for our Burning Brawls segment, so cue The Rock showing up even though he isn’t on the card. I can smell his personal brand of home cooked bullshit from a mile away, but against my better judgement I leaned in and listened to what he had to hear. In what was surely turning into Staring Contest: The Match between Steph McMahon, HHH and The Rock, we got glimmering moments in which someone would speak and maybe even fight. Except, to no one’s surprise, we got a whole boat load of misogyny from The Rock himself. Steph’s entire legacy is built on that of Mr. McMahon’s johnson, an image that we all definitely needed planted in front of us. This won’t make Steph back down, she can cut through you with a glare, and that’s a talent that I admire. The Rock reminds all of us that he can’t hit a girl, I think it’s because he’s afraid of Steph, but it’s more likely that he’s a misogynist and believes he has an unfair advantage due to his being assigned male at birth. So, bye bye, Rock.

Wow, what a pointless promo that lasted twice of what the Divas division got for an entire tag match. But wait, there’s a very angry looking woman glaring at him from the front row. I get momentarily excited until I realize it’s fellow transphobe Ronda Rousey. If you don’t remember, earlier this week I weighed in on The Rock’s casual use of transphobic slurs, so I’ll just skip over that bit and focus on the current issue at hand. Ronda is invited to the ring, at his side, to join in the stare down to end all stare downs, before she puts Steph into a pretty nasty looking arm bar and then takes down HHH.

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Here’s where it gets difficult to remain impartial. I get it, I’m genuinely impressed that the WWE no doubt attempted to do something right in the name of entertainment. Someone at some level is obviously up to speed in what’s what and who’s who in popular culture and they managed to book someone who is currently relevant in the world of sports entertainment. This is following them having let #DadFight take the stage and show us what old broken down wrestlers who no longer have that it factor look like for more than 30 seconds. They also convinced the WWE to let a woman who isn’t a valet, or related to someone important within the company, step into the ring and have lengthy airtime. And lastly, HHH agreed to take a bump from a woman. (Yes, I’m fully aware he took one from Brie last year.) These are all extremely impressive and I’ll give them their props… but I’m taking them away since they massively fucked it up. Intention isn’t magic, and I know you tried but trying doesn’t always give you a passing grade. And, Ronda Rousey, I’m here to tell you that neither does being a cis white woman.

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This tough little number who just took down HHH is the same woman who won’t pipe down about how it’s unfair for fellow MMA fighter, Fallon Fox, to fight in the women’s division. Her reasoning is because Fallon has made the choice to be a trans woman. You read that correctly. In the expert scientific opinion of Ronda (I hope you can smell my sarcasm), Fallon has made the decision to be trans and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to fight women who have had the fortune of being assigned female at birth. This does not apply, however, to intersex folk because they don’t have control over how they went through puberty. Ronda, among other medical experts such as Joe Rogan, tout statements such as “She can try hormones, chop her pecker off, but it’s still the same bone structure a man has”  as their main talking point in the advantage that Fallon has over the cis women within the UFC. All of this, but she has no issue judo throwing HHH. Because, even if it isn’t about her ability to fight Fallon, it would give the wrong social message.

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WWE, you’re continuing to give me the wrong social message as a queer “fan”, and I use that term loosely. It’s obvious that despite your campaigns and your pleas that we’re not welcome here. The internet’s been all a twitter about the idea of Ronda making yet another appearance on your show, which you entertained on last night’s RAW commentary, and the only acceptable appearance she should make is one where her and Brock Lesnar have a match to the death, and the other one implodes after their success of destroying on of their own kind. My universe, and that of the WWE, will be a much happier place once this comes to fruition. Until you’re ready to reach that point, keep Brock on his kayfabe suspension, and the only garbage people I want to see on screen from this point forward are the following:

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Fan Edition | Shield Devotee

In this week’s fan edition of “Who’s That Girl” we are speaking with this lovely cat from Nashville that I, AV Christensen, met during a trip I took down there in the winter. She was my Lyft driver and got really excited when she saw my profile photo was me executing a flawless Boston Cream finisher and asked if I was truly “a bad ass lady wrestler”.

Let’s check in with Audrey and her obvious obsession with a certain faction within the dubya dubya eeee.

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Name: Audrey Killawatts (a.k.a Khaos Reigns)

Age: 21

Location: Nashville, TN

Describe your ringside style: Chaotic Neutral

How did you become a wrestling fan? My best friend introduced me.

Fave Wrestler: A toss up between Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler.

Fave Promo Cut: That’s a tough one, I really loved Dean’s “Ice Bucket Challenge” on Rollins.

Fave Move: Scorpion Crosslock

Fave Match: Um, dude, I have no idea, there are seriously too many. But Rollins v Ambrose early on in the break up of the shield. Ambrose looked so torn over having to take out Rollins. Brilliant.

Dream Tag Team: I miss the Shield…

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

Huge thanks to Audrey for taking part! Can’t follow her on social media since she’s not a twitter gal. But if you’re ever in Nashville she’ll cut your hair, or maybe drive you around if you order something on Lyft!

Women Naturally Hate Each Other, and WWE is Naturally Wrong

Guest post by: D. O’Brien of The Stretch Plum


Last night, like about a billion other people, I tuned in to watch WrestleMania 31, which was a much better show than I was expecting if I’m going to be honest, but one thing really bugged me – and no, it’s not the fact that Lana threw her shoe for apparently zero reason, though those ARE expensive shoes, so girl, what are you thinking?

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No, the thing that sticks in my craw about last night was the commentary team stating on live television before a match involving four women that “women naturally hate each other”, so obviously, they’re going to wrestle about it, right?

WWE is doing themselves a huge disservice perpetuating this bullshit and it’s not just because WWE is a company supporting a costly anti-bullying initiative, which is in and of itself a problem since they’re doing a bang-up job having one sister tell another she wishes she had died in the womb, or having those same sisters steal another woman’s clothes, or having their main female babyface tell other women they don’t look like “real women”; WWE also wants us to Give Divas A Chance and ran a Fight Like A Girl ad, and yet here’s a table full of men saying women naturally hate each other – but does the company even realize they made liars of themselves just as recently as the Hall of Fame induction ceremony for 2015?

Alundra Blayze was inducted by Natalya Neidhart-Kidd, and far from any hatred there everything I saw of the two ladies on-screen and off indicated a great mutual respect and even love for one another. Is that natural hate? Nattie and Naomi took part in the four-way tag match at WrestleMania, albeit in more managerial roles, and yes, they did fight one another at one point but NOT out of any outward obvious hate, but more as competitors watching their respective teams’ backs.

Looking at NXT, which is part of WWE no matter how weird that seems at times, you have more than a handful of beautiful, capable women whose competitiveness is not driven by hate, but sheerly by that: they are, first and foremost, competitors who happen to be women. This isn’t high school and no one, in the year of our lord 2015, should be handing a bunch of little girls the outdated notion that all women are our enemy and we should be doing our best to hate them.

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AJ and Paige, the ever-so-cutely (barf) named “Frenemies” (because I can’t be your friend unless I secretly want to destroy you, right ladies?), won their match last night against the Bellas and left the arena as a team, which kinda downplays the idea that women naturally hate each other – I’m not going to team with you if I hate you. That defies the very nature of the word. Please stop being difficult, WWE. Put women on commentary if you can’t figure out how a decent female dynamic is supposed to work.

WWE is really shooting themselves in the foot if they’re going to have tag teams of women based solely on blood or general dislike for other women. Because let’s think about this: you could have AJ and Paige teaming NOT because they dislike the Bellas, but because they’re both damn fine wrestlers in their own right and they want to wrestle other women who are. Like Nattie and Naomi, who could make a tag team work because WWE insists on overshadowing their gender because their husbands are on popular tag teams. Or have Lana stop being Rusev’s interpreter/morality chain and let HER have some singles matches. WWE has the resources, they just need to quit undervaluing them.

I know no one from upper management at a billion-dollar wrestling company is going to care what a woman says, but WWE, please. Come on. More than ever, women need to see positivity in every field. Your product reaches all over the world, including countries where women are abused and killed simply for being women. Why can’t you opt out of the convenient rhetoric and misconceptions about women and just give us a good healthy dose of solidarity and support?

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Is it really so hard to manage that in this day and age? Because as of right now, the only thing I can say I “naturally hate” is the fact that you insist on marketing women as eternal enemies.

A kick to wrestling's head