It’s National Pro Wrestling Day, folks, and what better a time to show your love for women in wrestling than now! There is so much happening, including Willow Nightingale making her Chikara debut as part of the Young Lions tournament! Also, the League of Lady Wrestlers, Toronto chapter, have released a set of valentine’s day cards that you can purchase to give to your loved ones, or hoard for yourself just like I’m doing!
Season 2 of Lucha Underground just kicked off this past week, and El Rey is already proving it’s willing to go above and beyond all other currently televised pro-wrestling in multiple aspects, but specially with regards to their female workers.
Their take on intergender wrestling isn’t sudden and has been part of its product thus far, but they’re really showing that they’re the leading charge of how to have interesting storylines that really showcase the talent of the women. The most interesting part of this equation is how small of a roster they have, and the ratio of men to women, yet how much of a spotlight is shone on the girls.
In the premiere alone, we see Catrina as the new proprietor at the Temple, and she has a thirst for power that she is willing to manipulate however she sees fit. But the real star of this past episode is Ivelisse, to no one’s surprise, having had not one, but two back to back matches in one night. It’s such a rush to hear a crowd so vehemently behind her as a worker. Being tossed against her partners, Son of Havoc and Angelico, to determine who will be the #1 contender against Mil Muertes for the title- Ivelisse came out victorious before being immediately pitted against Mil. Having had the Gift of the Gods title already switch hands from Fenix to King Cuerno in this episode, it’d be a shock to see the Lucha Underground Championship belt holder to change as well. That being said, Ivelisse vs Muertes made for one heck of a David and Goliath match with enough of a nearfall in her favour, that one can’t help but be excited to see where these threads will take us.
Lucha Underground is doing a tremendous job showing the utmost respect for their workers, male and female, and we’re seeing as the new gold standard for pro wrestling.
Lucha Underground is less than a day away from returning and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Wednesday nights have become prime wrestling viewing for fans all around, and it’s wonderful to have the combination of excellent storyline and beautiful technical work back for our weekly consumption.
Just before the return, which will see the introduction of Rey Mysterio since we lost Alberto back to the WWE, the folks at El Rey have composed a great recap video to either remind us of what happened, or as a little intro for those of you who may not have given the entire first season a sit down just yet.
And to add to the excitement, El Rey Network has released the first of four original comic books for free download! The debut issue, scripted by Fabian Rangel Jr. with art by A.C. Osorio, follows the international wrestling legend Rey Mysterio Jr.’s voyage to the “Lucha Underground” temple. Next three comics will be released bi-weekly and will help bridge story lines in between seasons and offer new information into the lives of Vampiro, Catrina, Mil Muertes, and notorious owner and promoter Dario Cueto among others, and we’ll make sure to update you with them as they are released.
This expansion on the Lucha Underground universe is helping fill the hunger all of us at Femmezuigiri have for great content with a lot of diversity and entertainment, and we’re going to continue working with them to bring you some exclusive interviews with the workers in the near future. Keep your eyes peeled, and get ready to watch with us tomorrow night!
Wrestling fandom is at times a arms race of disenchantment. If you went to a magic show and spoke over the act’s climactic reveal with running commentary to your date about magnets and trap doors, you’d expect people to be upset with you, or even ask you to leave. Not even the most libertarian-leaning of cinema guests would tolerate a screening of Inside Out punctuated with the scoop on Amy Poehler’s rate of pay.
Smart marks and the wrestling press at times seem bereft of boundaries in sharing space with kayfabe. There is a sort of posturing at play, a competition where your love of wrestling is demonstrated not through your appreciation of it despite it’s fakeness, but by saturating all discourse with self-aware commentary on how it’s fake and you have an intimacy and fluency in that fakeness far exceeding anyone else in the room. It manifests in aggressive chants at the indie show, drowning out performer bumps with enlightened irreverence. I was able to come to the realization of wrestling’s fakeness in my own time as a matter of development; kids who go to CHIKARA events risk being seated next to the smug live tweeter who’s happy to tell everyone around him the only reasonable outcome of the match based on who’s moving on to what promotion after the show.
We don’t, as many might lament, know too much for wrestling to be fun and exciting anymore. We know too little in regards of when it’s appropriate to share what we know and how to gauge the benefit of its dissemination.
Sharing a leaked WWE memo advising commentators not to use the words “title belt” or “hospital” has a finite community advantage: it allows the press and fans to hold a major corporation accountable. WWE twists and pinches language to squeeze out any semblance of sport or athleticism from their identity, setting forward an industry standard in how it treats their talent. The forced march of the infirm, where wrestlers struggle to walk in their 40’s, will continue unwavered in the wake of WWE’s unchecked apathy for the business they’re actually in.
Revealing the identity of a masked wrestler—one who wrestles under that mask for a promotion aimed at children—does not carry a finite benefit to the fandom. The worth of this information is not shareable. Voices of Wrestling proves itself a little wiser, a little less in love with the business; everyone else forfeits, whether it’s Silver Ant and his privacy or the child fan violently jarred from the dream.
The scoop is defined by its context. Doxing the closeted KKK members in your neighborhood is not the same as doxing a woman who critiqued a video game or a show in a way you didn’t like and has the palpable fear of violent reprisal from a stranger. A leak is not justified just because it proves something. What does what it proves mean to us? How does knowing it allow us to make smarter decisions? How does it better our community?
Knowledge is not, in this sense, morally or intellectually inert. Freedom of the press is a responsibility; it is up to you, the courier of information, to determine the weight of an item of information and decide if the discomfort or even damage that weight can do if dropped is vindicated by it’s contributions to the community.
No matter how great the demand for a wrestler’s real name or the address of their house or how they like their eggs, that information cannot be conveyed into discourse. A young or new fan being able to sit through an indy show without smart marks inciting chants of in-jokes and telling you how the dish was made before you’ve even tasted will prove a greater yield to the fandom than the page views and controversy you can drum up by telling me whether Hania The Huntress shaved her legs today and whether that means she’s going to Ring of Honor.
It isn’t the promotions that suffer from this compulsive need to chew on the curtain. It’s funny to do a Braden Walker chant during Chris Harris’ matches. But it was WWE that signed off on that name and produced the segment with his terrible catchphrase—and it’s TNA that is able to prove it’s “realer” by acknowledging Harris’ failure to make it in WWE. But these chants don’t get in WWE or TNA’s heads, challenging their concentration and daring them to fuck up on TV.
Promotions are practiced enough in shitting on their talent. They don’t need help unbuttoning their pants. What power, if any, our “inside knowledge” afforded us has already been ceded to WWE, who have used The Network to overwhelm us with “behind the scenes” access where everyone casually references each other’s real names and forego the inconvenience of even a little acknowledgement of current on-screen feuds and relationships. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain: you can learn more about the birthmark on his ass and how his father left him when he was a child on the new Network special coming up right after RAW.
You are not an alternative if you corroborate, or replicate. Wrestlers are already treated like living IP by promotions; we only compound that forfeiture of identity by tripping over ourselves to throw their real names back in their faces every chance we get. WWE and TNA have made camp in spoiler territory. If we want to resist an oligopoly of mediocrity, we need to start setting boundaries for where Kayfabe can be conserved, if only so young talent and young fans can participate in the sport without being heckled out of the room with our overbearing, overeducated hot takes on overness.
Wrestling took our money by insisting it was real, and now it takes the next generations’s money by cashing on our self-aware participation. If the major promotions wanna stake a claim by saying wrestling is fake, then resistance is to say “only wrestling is real”.
When wrestling tries to sell out, buy in. Preserve the magic where you can, and practice mindfulness when passing on “shoot knowledge” and who it benefits.
It’s this presence of mind and cognizance of consumption that sets us apart from those damn dirty marks.
Chikara has always been a promotion that’s interested, but eluded me. I’m not sure exactly why I held off getting into it for so long. Perhaps I was intimidated by its history, the longevity of it, and the incredible span of characters/performers to follow. I honestly never knew where to start with Chikara, especially with it being so different from other promotions. Like anything else, so many people sung it’s praises to me that I started to feel guilty for not getting it. Thus, when I read that Chikara was returning to Chicago I immediately realized this was my chance to finally understand what so many of my friends have told me about, and see why it was so popular, yet in a way, still unknown to so many.
Had I heard of Chikara before buying my ticket to the show? Absolutely. Many of my favorite wrestlers had stints in Chikara years ago, so I had seen clips and matches here and there. A few others (Chuck Taylor, Drew Gulak, etc.) are currently on the roster, so when something involving them would pop up, I’d take a look. I think many of us have stumbled upon ‘funny Chikara moment’ videos in our related list on Youtube. For the most part however I knew of Chikara, not about Chikara.
Where do I begin? I received almost instantaneous answers. People who weren’t even following me were stepping forward with suggestions. Chikara fans were retweeting me, sending me matches to check out, specific people, and entire playlists of things on YouTube. It has to be said that the Chikara fanbase is one of the kindest I’ve come across, and also the one that wants so much to help new fans. I started watching what I could when I had the time, letting my friends fill in the blanks on the history as I go along. The internet is such a phenomenal resource in terms of wrestling history, and a quick poke around brought me to the backstories of those I was most interested in. It’s hard for me to sit and enjoy a show without knowing the basics first. Who’s the top guy around here? Why does this group hate that one? What do we cheer for certain people? What’s the payoff to this person winning? Having that small basis helps to understand the current situation, and really helps build the excitement for any event. After watched a few shows and things here and there, I finally felt that I was at least well versed enough to navigate myself through a live show.
This weekend I got to partake in my first ever “game jam” with DMG Toronto. A game jam is where you have an finite period of time in which to create a video game, and this was my first time ever setting foot near video games. The theme was “GYM JAM” so Femmezuigiri through our hat in and decided to collaborate with some fellow members of Dames Making Games and create a wrestling game.
The game is still in the beginning development stages but will be playable on Femmezuigiri once it’s complete.
Skin Tight Bitch Fight is a visual novel in which you take over for the league booker who has come down with a nasty case of Hulkamania — the most serious of ailments. Navigating through a sea of pun laden wrestling promos you select your fighter match ups and a few of their moves cooperatively with a partner in an effort to please the crowd. But be careful, if the crowd isn’t happy then they won’t buy tickets to your next show and the promotion will go under. Support the fighters and do your best job booking and agenting these matches so the women can afford to continue on with their wrestling careers.
I’ve decided to give you a sneak peek and introduction to the ladies who make up the roster of Skin Tight Bitch Fight.
NXT has been a force to be reckoned with for quite a while in the WWE, and nothing truly displays its staying power than a block of shows outside of Florida. Last week, the WWE began its first round of touring NXT to cities other than its usual home at Full Sail University, and it was a rousing success. Three shows were planned for the initial tour, two taking place in Philadelphia and the third in Albany, New York. I flew into Philadelphia for the Ring of Honor/New Japan Pro Wrestling show, and thus stayed an extra day in order to catch the first NXT show. Initially there was only one show planned, but the original Thursday date sold out so quickly another show was added for the next evening.
Never having been to Philadelphia or an NXT show before, I was unaware of what to expect, and what I ended up experiencing completely shattered my expectations. We arrived approximately a half hour before the show was scheduled to begin, and the line to the entrance was roughly 3 blocks long at this point. That’s when I first realized this was going to be far more intense than I thought. The show was held in an old theatre and there was exponentially more seating than there looks to be at the weekly shows at Full Sail. I believe the show ended up being sold out, or very close to that, and according to the theatre’s website, it seats roughly 3,000 people.
Our seats were quite good, not close to the ring but in a great spot to see the action, and the NXT crowd is very different from many crowds I’m usually a part. The general age range seemed to be mid-twenties and there were far fewer children and families than one normally sees at a WWE show. My group were also the only women seated in our area, and from discussions with those around us, we collectively had been fans and had seen more shows than the rest. The man sitting directly in front of me confessed he had only been watching wrestling for a little over a year but he is now hooked, and the NXT show was his first live event.
I knew early on I was going to enjoy the evening because the crowd was brought to its feet immediately but the lovely, sinister chords of William Regal’s theme. Regal has been one of my favorite wrestlers since I was a child, so to stand up and bow to the man was a dream. He spoke favorably of NXT and the talent, as well as thanking the crowd for attending. Immediately following Regal was the introduction of Enzo Amore and Big Cass. Honestly, I believe the duo got the loudest pop of the night. In the other matches that followed there were some heavy cheering for favorites (Finn Balor and Sasha Banks being the loudest), but it seemed as though no one in the room sat through Enzo and Cass’s entrance. They of course faced Blake and Murphy and put on a very entertaining match, with tons of “SAWFT” and “HOW YOU DOIN?” chants throughout.
Following that was a fun women’s tag match that pitted the team of Alexa Bliss and Bayley vs Becky Lynch and Dana Brooke. Bayley was a hit with the crowd and everyone was on their feet for her entrance. The match was good and really showed off how great Bayley is at interacting with the crowd and keeping them invested in the match.
The next match was one I had been hoping to see, a triple threat for the title between Kevin Owens, Tyler Breeze and Finn Balor. The three are so incredibly well liked by the NXT Universe, and it was less of a “cheer for your favorite” match as it was a “cheer for absolutely everything” type of match. I particularly enjoyed the entire crowd participating in Balor’s entrance and throwing their hands in the air with him with every crescendo of his music. Owens began the match by leaving the ring and taking a seat ringside, which prompted “SIT OWENS SIT” and “CHILL OWENS CHILL” chants. The three of them worked very well together and most of us were surprised it was not the main event (at least until we realized what the main event would be).
After the conclusion of the triple threat, there was a solid intermission. The show started back up with a bang bang (see what I did there?!) and Mick Foley surprised everyone by arriving and giving a small speech about the amazing amount of talent at NXT. Baron Corbin vs Rhyno was next, and naturally, Rhyno received immense “ECW” chants. Corbin was absolutely playing heel in this match and the crowd was steadily against him, going so far as to alter the “New Day Sucks” chant and clap to a “Cor-Bin Sucks” one. People quickly became bored of the match and it devolved into obnoxious chants for a while, including a chant for The Young Bucks and other Ring of Honor stars, which was predictable seeing as half the crowd attended the Ring of Honor/NJPW shows the nights previous. He seemed to perform well in the heel role though, and after successfully pinning Rhyno follow the End of Days, called out Joey Styles at ringside and ordered him to bring more ECW alums to the show the following day for him to take care of.
One of my personal highlights of the night came next, when NXT papa himself, Triple H, made an appearance. The crowd collectively lost its mind, and even I, who have seen Triple H in person many, many times now, found myself jumping up and down and rocking out. The entire crowd joined in singing his theme, which was one of the weird, but oddly beautiful wrestling moments I’ve experienced. There’s something strangely heartwarming about looking at the person next to you and belting out “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GAME AND HOW YOU PLAY IT” as you jump up and down together like 10 year olds. Triple H walked around the ring and took video and selfies with nearly everyone at ringside, including Mick Foley and Joey Styles. He proceeded to enter the ring and say some words about his passion for NXT and for the talent. He then began to announce the main event, Sasha Banks vs Charlotte, which most of us assumed would headline after the triple threat being pre-intermission.
The crowd for the most part was impressive all night with a few snafu’s, the main one being someone trying to start a “No more divas” chant at this point. Thankfully, not only did the crowd boo and shut the person up, Triple H said something along the lines of ‘sorry man, these women are badass and they’re your main event.’ Unfortunately my camera died during this segment of the show so I have no amazing photos of these two phenomenal women, but it was really a blessing in disguise as I was able to concentrate all my attention on the absolute clinic these two women displayed. Both came out to equally loud cheers, and I’m happy to report that the minute the gross and stale “Sasha’s ratchet!” chants began, they were shot down with the loudest “NO SHE’S NOT” chant I’ve ever heard.
The match between Charlotte and Sasha was brilliant, full of great submission and chain wrestling and a few fun bits thrown in. Charlotte at one point broke out her father’s patented face plant and Sasha responded by Ric Flair strutting over her prone body. There were tons of near falls, outside of the ring attacks, and the final submission to give Sasha the win was beautiful. Both women left the theatre to a standing ovation and plenty of “This is Awesome” chants.
Other matches that took place involved Bull Dempsey vs Jason Jordan and Solomon Crowe vs Tye Dillinger. The only things to really note in those matches were the push they seem to be giving Dillinger, as he now has a ‘perfect 10’ gimmick, complete with a 10 scorecard he carries to the ring and raises when he’s done something relatively impressive. I’m not sold on him yet, but he quickly turned the fans on his side and let’s face it, wrestling fans love an easy thing to get hooked on chanting so “10” is a perfect fit.
All in all, the show was a brilliant success and an incredibly fun time. Even leaving the show was pleasant, and I was stopped twice between the exit doors and my train platform by people who wanted to discuss my Chuck Taylor shirt. Our ride back involved an entire train car of people talking about the show we had just seen, and it seemed as though at least half of the attendees of NXT had also gone to Ring of Honor/NJPW shows earlier in the week. It was a great experience and I would gladly throw down money to go again and again, especially if there’s another women’s match on the card that would even come close to the performance Sasha and Charlotte bestowed on we peasants.
Shelly and Alex were on hand live this week for the New Japan Pro Wrestling & Ring of Honor joint shows in Philadelphia and Toronto to represent Femmezuigiri. What did the gals think?
I, Shelly Deathlock, attended both nights of War of the Worlds. Here is a quick recap of the experience!
War of the Worlds Night 1, May 12, 2015, Philadelphia, PA
I arrived too late for the meet & greet with the wrestlers but I got to meet a lot of great internet friends. My seats were not great for this show because I bought them last minute and I could still see pretty well. Kazuchika Okada & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. the Briscoes was match of the night for me, followed by KUSHIDA vs. Roderick Strong. Roddy Strong had quite the showing at these events this week and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of him in high profile matches against great wrestlers.
War of the Worlds Night 2, May 12, 2015, Philadelphia, PA
I had front row seats for Night 2, and also attended the meet & greet! I talked to The Kingdom’s Maria Kanellis about her role in New Japan Pro Wrestling going forward, and she said her goal is to do more wrestling and have women make more of an impact in the company. This is great news. I also congratulated her on winning the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship and she agrees the titles are hers. So there’s that cleared up for anyone who was wondering.
I waited in line for like thirty seconds for the women’s restroom. The men’s line was wrapped around the lobby, but it was a delight to be at a wrestling show and have to wait in line during intermission. It’s never happened to me before. So many women! Here’s to wrapping the bathroom line around the lobby someday!
The show was awesome, and I think Naito and Kyle O’Reilly stole it. Philadelphia ended the match with a “Thank you Naito!” chant and warmed my heart.
Shinsuke Nakamura was, as ever, a godking of strong style and charisma, and the cheers for him erupting every five minutes both nights were deafening. Nakamura is easily the Japanese wrestler that American fans have taken to the most. It’s not surprising, as his flamboyance, technicality, and brutality fit right in with all our familiar favorites like Ric Flair, Randy Savage, and Eddie Guerrero. We’d keep him here forever if we could. It felt really wonderful to be part of a crowd that appreciated his greatness and showed it.
On behalf of the right-minded wrestling fans of the GTA I, Alex Martino, would like to apologize for the excessive enthusiasm many had towards Bullet Club at Global Wars this weekend.
This weekend felt like MY CHANCE to see my favourite wrestlers in the flesh and not on a 5am livestream. It was also my chance to blow some money getting signed 8 x 10’s and pictures with my faves which I will soon frame and showcase along with lesser accomplishments like diplomas.
On the first night I decided to meet one of the wrestlers only, who I hadn’t decided yet. I’d first accompany a friend to meet Shinsuke Nakamura, my absolute number one favourite in all of the entire world right now, and take their picture with him. When time came for them to meet him I couldn’t help myself from becoming a human earthquake, hands shaking like crazy trying to take a good picture. I didn’t even notice Nakamura shaking his hand asking if I was okay. I was of course, just allowing the overabundant amount of feels of being feet away from some of the top stars in NJPW to come through.
I decided on getting a picture with Okada night one specifically because he was wearing loafers with rhinestones on them, which I complimented him on, and he chuckled while thanking me. Pro tip: always try and make Okada laugh or giggle or something. If it means carrying a picture of YOSHI-HASHI or Tomohiro Ishii sleeping with you, do it.
With all that excitement out of the way you know I was ready for some wrestling. The iPPV was the card I was most looking forward to because of three of the best match ups of the night, and the fact that the Bullet Club were all in the main event, so I only had to deal with them once all night. 🙂
What you guys all missed by being at home watching the streams was the most enthusiastically watched dark match I have ever witnessed: Donovan Dijak against Dalton Castle. The crowd was amped up for Castle, who won the match. I’ll take this time now to point out that however quiet the crowd sounded was not at all how it was in the arena. Granted, my end of the arena was quiet for stuff like Tanahashi/Elgin, and they weren’t too hyped about Naito/Lethal, the latter likely due to not seeing all the action, at least from my view.
Night two I wasn’t sure what to expect, turned out it was a TV taping. This was my chance to go back and get that precious photo with Shinsuke. Nakamura remembered me from the day before and said “nice to see you again”. This photo was the most overjoyed I’ve been since the Canada won gold in women’s hockey.
I had a little difficulty with seats but being up in the general admission stands behind the boards gets you the most ideal visibility as well as it’s cheaper. If ROH does a show at the Ted Reeve Community Center again, just go for GA, you can wander, you can stand in a nice spot where you’ll be on camera, you can get great photos of wrestlers posing on the ropes, it’s the ideal experience in every way except for your lower back. If you weren’t there, don’t fret as everything taped will be on ROH TV over the next few weeks and some matches are definitely worth watching.
Overall, it looks like everyone had fun at Global Wars. DoubleCakes and AV stayed in on the wrasslin’ action by taking in WWE Payback, some wrestling podcasts and the WCW Uncensored ’96 8-on-2 handicap match.