Category Archives: Off The Ropes

Fashion of Wrestlemania

Wrestlemania: The Super Bowl meets the Oscars. Wrestling’s biggest night, the second being the RAW after Wrestlemania. While some watch for the legacy, the drama, and the competition, I watch because everyone has their flashiest gear on. Forget the Hall of Fame ceremony the night before –  everyone just wears tuxedos and dresses that look like they came from the Macy’s formal sale rack. The real red carpet is that long ramp down to the ring on Sunday night. Join me for a snarky fashion break down of the WWE’s grandest stage.
THE PRE-SHOW
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The announcers
Renee Young kicked off the pre-show in a plunging white tuxedo jacket. She may not have been wearing pants – who knows. With a bold fuscia lip and a silver lariat necklace, Renee looks like pure class. She is later joined by Lita, who is gorgeous in a black lace jumpsuit. The women get the best dressed award as Booker T is just wearing a tuxedo. Cory Graves is as usual trying too hard in a thousand shiny patterns. Seriously, he is rocking a black polka dotted jacket with white lapels, offset by the Regis “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” black shirt black bow tie combo. Thankfully, he eases the over effort with an attitude of indifference. The regular announce teams are just in tuxedos as well, with the notable exception of Byron Saxton  who has given his only indication of a personality with a textured tuxedo coat.image2
Winner: Lita, possibly best dressed of the evening
Loser: Byron Saxton, always.
image310-Diva Tag Team Match
Both team Total Divas and Team BAD and Blonde went with the dominatrix route, but the Divas were the red and dominatrix team and the B&Bs were the purple and dominatrix. The Divas were per their usual, including Eva Marie who made her main roster debut in a typical cross front red lace two piece but with the special addition of a white cape that would have made Gwennie Paltrow jealous. Natalya carried their side in n exquisitely studded variation of her jumpsuit. On the other side, the B&B owned. Emma entered with Mad Max inspired shoulder pads that added to her new villain persona. Lana debuted in a purple halter leotard with a rhinestone embellishment that I want to wear to prom. The cut of the leg was a bit too high for daily wear, though Lana thoughtfully compensated for this with high boots and 0% body fat. Everyone’s extensions were on point, Naomi’s green and purple hair stole the show.
Winner: Brie Bella may have won the match, but Lana won the red carpet.
Loser: all of us who don’t get any Brie Bella after tonight. We’ll miss her being the only reasonable one on “Total Divas.”
The Dudleys vs. The Usos
The Usos took a detour from their usual very very brights and wore classic black – with some very very bright embellishments. Unfortunately, black pleather trunks look like garbage bags. The trunks were in tribute to the Usos’s uncle Umaga. I feel bad about saying they look like garbage bags now, but stand by it. They look like garbage bags with tributes to Umaga on them. Their entrance included leis, which sadly just fell apart. The Dudleys wore the black and grey camo pattern that my college boyfriend’s fraternity adopted as their colors. I was not impressed.
Winner: the tables the Dudleys brought out after their loss
Loser: the tables the Usos broke under the Usos
THE SHOW
image4Fifth Harmony sings “America the Beautiful”
They got five dresses the same exact shade of red. Incredible. It’s as if Stephanie told them, “I don’t care what bridesmaid dress you wear as long as it’s red,” and then they went above and beyond to buy from the same dye lot. And then got the same strappy  black shoes. Fifth Harmony are the best bridesmaids ever.
Intercontinental Championship Match
I didn’t have high hopes for the fashion in this match. Everyone wore kind of what they usually wear, except Zack Ryder who had a robe that looked like something out of a Marvel villain’s closet. The Miz made his entrance in a gold plated King Tut robe. This boxy robe had little give and did not flatter. Sin Cara, on the other hand, was cloaked all in smooth white and looked positively like an angel in a horned luchador mask. Dolph Ziggler rocked some half-ass Bo Derek braids. Sami Zayn looked really great for what he went through only 48 hours prior with Nakamura. Seriously, he was incredibly spry after that ass kicking.
Winner: Stardust, who wore yellow polka dots for Dusty.
Loser: eh, they all just look normal.
image5Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles
Y2J enters first in his Light Bright jacket, a choice that does not read well in a match during daylight. Chris Jericho is also wearing blue and pink glittery panties that say “G.O.A.T.” across the bum, which: same. AJ Styles comes to his first Wrestlemania in white tights with black and red embellishments and red gloves. The white gives AJ Styles a really gorgeous pop, particularly since er’rybody’s spray tan game is on point.
Winner: G.O.A.T. Panties
Loser: everything else about Jericho
image1 (1)Maria Menounous interviews Zac Ryder
That’s a bad look, Maria.
image2 (1)The New Day vs. League of Nations in a tag team match with no stakes
THE NEW DAY CAME OUT OF A BOX OF BOOTY-Os DRESSED AS DRAGONBALL Z. You cannot beat that. The New Day is known to take big risks with gear and hair AND bits and they pretty consistently pay off – DRAGONBALL Z is no exception. Last year, Rusev entered in a tank. This year, he and the League of Nations had to walk around Booty-Os. They are all wearing their shiniest panties though. The LoN manage to win but then right as BNB is bragging OH BAH GAW. IS THAT SHAWN MICHAELS’S MUSIC? It is, and he is in gear, despite it being hunting camouflage instead of sweet hot pink. And he’s not alone! He’s got Mick Foley and Stone Cold with him. They save the New Day  with their signature moves and Stone Cold even dances with the New Day – till he stuns them.
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Winner: Socko, who hasn’t aged a day
Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose in a No Holds Barred Street Match
This is a chance for two guys who always wear the same thing to change it up from black trunks (sponsored by Jimmy Johns) and a black t-shirt and jeans – oh. Nope. They both went with their old tried and tries.
In a hilarious twist though, Dean Ambrose is wearing a black Suplex City shirt with DA over it. I am considering doing that to my own Suplex City shirt now. This match wasn’t as great as I want it to be either, even with the chainsaw and barbed wire bat teases. Sure, there were 13 suplexes but there were 0    Surprises.
Winner: Brock Lesnar’s sword/brass knuckles tattoo.
Loser: Kendo sticks
Women’s Championship Triple Threat
This was the most highly anticipated match for fashion (possibly tied with Triple H’s entrance). There was also so much potential for terrible costumes, between Becky’s hit or miss steampunk and Charlotte’s tendency towards Victorian Secret looks. Becky Lynch cosplayed as a gilded sea captain. Her purple and gold corset and steam punk shorts are actually gorgeous. Sasha Banks got her cousin Snoop Dogg (née Lion) to perform entrance, though the gal who sings the hook was singing off key along with a very obvious backing vocal track. Her gear was inspired by Eddie Guerrero. Single tear. Miss Flair makes an equally grand entrance with the help of her father. Charlotte wears a robe made from pieces of the Nature Boy’s robe. Her gear is obviously made to match in ode to her father. All three women look amazing. The match is also the best of the night, without question – three extremely capable athletes getting out there and doing good work.
Winner: womankind, who officially get a Women’s Championship after slumming as “Divas” for years.
Loser: malfeasance by Ric Flair
image4Hell in a Cell: Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker
Shane O’Mac got his own personal Jordan’s from Nike just for Wrestlemania. They are pretty fly. He’s also wearing a run of the mill jersey emblazoned with number 32 crossed to look like dollar signs. It is a very comfortable, functional look, but I would really rather he took his shirt off. He enters with his children for maximum sympathy. Kids, do you want to come watch Daddy almost die? You have to wear the same outfit as Daddy. Undertaker is wearing his usual deep cut black tank, hat and duster. This is the classic Undertaker, the Little Black Tank Top and Leather Pants of the wrestling world, though he probably got the studding done special for the day. The Undertaker has a smart mom bob now, and honestly looks great. It draws focus nicely to his neck tattoo. It’s much better than Taylor Swift’s bob, in my humble, though he could benefit from some waves.  He completes his look by flipping his eyes back into his skull.
Let’s face it: the Undertaker’s entrance is the best part of this match. It got very painful to watch very quickly. Yes, Shane jumped off the cage – but for no reason and to no effect.
Winner: ugh
Loser: justice.
The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Yeah, yeah, everyone looks normal. This match was where I was mostly checked out – until DDP came in. His yoga program is great! And then…SHAQ?! In TAPOUT gear?! Thank you for the palate cleanser.
Winner: Baron Corbin? Wha?
Loser: Fandango has lost his sparkle since he lost his dance routine.
BAH GAWD, THE ROCK HAS A FLAME THROWER
Pretty cool that the Wyatt Family comes out to interrupt his attendance record lies. Bray Wyatt is wearing a butcher’s apron that looks like the Necronomicon and his best acid washed jeans. But then – surprise Rock match! He isn’t supposed to really wrestle because of his movie insurance, so he takes 6 seconds to win. Having angered the Wyatts, he needs back up – which immediately comes in the form of John Cena! John Cena! He is wearing his formal cargo shorts and his meh Tampa orange t-shirt. Orange is a hard color to pull off, especially since John Cena seems to be more of a spring. He looks better in the cool pastel dress shirts he wears for dates with Nikki. But new t-shirt colors may have spoiled his return. Regardless, he looks very healthy and a lot leaner.
Winner: Rock’s bull panties
Loser: the child who got John Cena’s meh orange t-shirt.
The Main Event: Triple H vs. Roman Reigns
Fact: only two people in the entire world can pull off leather bodysuits, and they are Beyoncé and Stephanie McMahon. She looks ah-may-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-zing. Leather body suit with studding, leather top coat, thigh high boots, and a spiked hairband holding back an incredible wavy weave. I believe I can pull this off for work tomorrow. She delivers an incredible speech that orders us to bow before her husband and  raises the question of how soon she will get nodes from an elevated throne. Her husband, Triple H, enters through lines of skull-masked NXT wrestlers. He is just wearing his regular black panties. He has surpassed spray-tan and is now spray-mahogany wood stain.  Roman Reigns enters to…less fanfare (they kicked off the sound, yo) in a gold embellished RR vest and cargo pants. Why do they wear cargo pants and shorts? Are they keeping their wallet and a compass in the side pockets? Steph’s eye makeup continues to be incredible even after she is speared by Roman Reigns. Roman ends up with a new belt to spice up his boring black outfit and the boos are once again turned down.
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Winner: Steph, kween of this Mad Max dystopian future
Loser: all of us who watched 5 hours for an ultimately dull main event

From ‘Flaming Fag’ to Lesbian Stalkers: Wrestling’s sordid affair with Queer Identities

Last night, WWE aired the first episode of its new season of reality TV show Tough Enough – in which contestants who aren’t professional wrestlers compete for the chance to win a $250,000 contract from the company and join developmental. Prior to this episode, they aired a ‘competition special’ to introduce the audience to potential competitors- one of which was Daria Berenato. Daria is an MMA fighter and, seemingly unplanned, came out as a lesbian on WWE programming. It’s an interesting turn of events when they are handed someone who is gay, and they are aware of it prior to hiring them. This is obviously not the only determining factor on whether or not Daria lands a career with the WWE, but it’s definitely something to watch for.

There is a storied history of how professional wrestling views the LGBTQ+ community, and there has been a push as of late to turn over a new page, so to say. It’s a rough gamble when there are these crossed wires. Currently, the NXT superstars are tweeting in support of GLAAD in a campaign called #WWEqual, while simultaneously housing storylines in which Diva Paige uses transphobic jokes to gain crowd support, and a whole other slew of homophobic bigotry in the past few years. As of the 2015 Money in the Bank PPV, WWE now has its first openly gay male tag team champion in Darren Young. Yet, on commentary from RAW they can be heard saying “…and Darren Young, we know his story, he’s a tremendous role model as well.” He’s gay. His story is that he’s gay. Say this were an injury, or anything else pertinent to the viewer, there wouldn’t be a moment in which the broadcast team would gleam over the finer details. But this isn’t the first time they’ve skirted around mentioning anything with regards to non heteronormative sexual identities on broadcast- in the original broadcast of the ’96 IC Feud between Goldust and Razor Ramon the moment when Lawler asked if Goldust was ‘queer’ was bleeped out. At the same time, there was no issue in the King using slurs in a directed manner during a promo.

These are not the only instances of gay wrestlers in the main stream, although a lot of them haven’t been out during the height of their careers: for instance Pat Patterson and Chris Kanyon- who claimed one of the reasons for his WWE release was his homosexuality (the statement was later revealed to be a publicity stunt, but his fears of homophobia were well founded and rooted in truth), and Sandy Parker from AJW.

For the fraction of sports entertainment that is heavily focused on the theatrical mockery of masculinity, it’s curious to see such blowback against legitimately queer performers yet support for gay panic gimmicks. There have been a multitude of straight performers playing gay dating as far back as the original Gorgeous George- an act that was an allusion as it was never uttered aloud on broadcast. Adrian Street, regarded as the spiritual successor to George, sported makeup and a garish wardrobe in order to elicit heat from the crowd and make fun of this over aggressive machismo. Heck, even Macho Man Randy Savage was billed as this savage manly man… yet came out in glittery robes to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance.

Turn it to the women, and lesbian story lines are utilized to elicit titillation from the male audience and fear from the women. One of the more notable moments being with Mickie James’ ‘obsession’ with Trish Stratus. Not only does this venture into the territory of poking fun at those with any mental illness, but feeds into our good old friend Gay Panic.

In the world of Lucha Libre, there is the tradition of Exoticos- men who wrestle in drag. Unlike in mainstream American pro wrestling where these men in a dress matches are used as a form of humiliation, Exoticos- although often viewed as rudos and not tecnicos – are well respected. It’s not common for exoticos to be gay, but Cassandro is one, and his career has been a fruitful and open one.

The indies aren’t too far off from mainstream pro wrestling when it comes to this lack of representation. There are a lot of homosexual advances in the ring utilized in order to gain cheap heat or a pop from the crowd, and the bullying that makes its way into the locker rooms. Thankfully, despite this permeating culture there are openly queer positive performers and leagues that come out from behind all of this such as the League of Lady Wrestlers or Go Deep! Lube Wrestling put on by Red Hot Burlesque in Oakland, California.

There is absolutely room for multiple openly gay performers in all facets of pro wrestling. So, seeing how Daria fares on Tough Enough may open doors for more people to been seen and represented on TV. Wrestling needs to continue to make strides towards being and open and inclusive safe space for all involved: from those shown in the ring to the fan sitting in the front row whose story isn’t known. This needs to come at the cost of men fretting over how they’ll be received in “kiss me arse” matches and punches to the face if someone is alluded to be queer in a promo. We’re not your insult, we’re not your punchline, but we are people who would love wrestling even more if you eased off the slurs and just got to the bodyslams already.

Be A Star, #WWEqual, #GotYourBack and wrestling’s viral equality facade

Pride week is upon us as summer begins and it’s that time of year when corporations come out in droves supporting the “LGBT” community, never mind the Q, I, 2S, A, and so on. Do they really? Sports has always been an iffy field when it comes to equality and I’m going to put wrestling, as an industry, pretty damn low on the list of those who actually make an effort.

That being said, WWE likes to make the appearance that they are all about equality, but there is transparent hypocrisy right down to the very core. Today, #WWEqual is a hashtag that’s popped up in conjunction with wrestlers tweeting about GLAAD’s #GotYourBack campaign. Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 4.57.23 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 4.58.02 PMThis has caught our attention and I’m coloured quite curious right now as to what’s stirring this, other than an opportune moment to get attention. Now, I truly believe the ‘superstars’ who are tweeting as part of this campaign do have the best of intentions; but it’s hard to take anything seriously from a company that has an openly homophobic main eventer, hires transphobic fighters to appear on PPVs and just plain has little respect for women.

This isn’t the first time we’re seeing GLAAD and WWE pairing up, they’ve partnered with Darren Young shortly after TMZ outed him, they’ve reached out to talk to them when John Cena made disparaging remarks in regards to trans people, and there is no shortage of damage control in regards to maintaining their image. It’s an odd image to try and maintain though, since despite these efforts we’re left feeling unsafe and unwelcome in the wrestling community.

Combat sports as a whole, however, are taking huge steps forward with regards to inclusion. We have Fallon Fox fighting with UFC and our first ever openly gay Tag Team Champion in the WWE with the Prime Time Players (Darren Young).

So, how can these efforts to better themselves coexist alongside storylines in which Paige calls Tamina a man and mentions that she’s in the wrong division? Sooner or later these campaigns against bullying need to be effective internally as well as just what they’re spouting out to their fans.

Personally, I really hope that our voices are finally getting through to the big wigs and efforts are being made, but I’ve been burned before. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this hashtag to see if there’s any legitimate partnership or if this is just another bandwagon hop.

TNA is pending cancellation… again?

Rumour has been running wild tonight on twitter on the status of TNA Total Impact Wrestling. According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer, it seems as though Destination America has cancelled TNA. Spike dropped them like a hot potato a while back and it was only time before it came around again.

This comes hot off the heels of their announcement to move to a new Wednesday night slot. Now, if this is some sort of spin to try and pull viewers from NXT and Lucha Underground then we’ll see our mid week get a lot more interesting.

There are some mixed feelings here since losing any major wrestling promotion is always a little sad, it would be nice to see a shift in the direction since they had recently taken on Billy Corgan to tackle some storylines he’s not equipped to handle. But they were also willing to at least promote they were going to do a women’s only show, even if that wasn’t the case.

As of this moment neither Destination America nor Total Impact Wrestling have confirmed nor denied these allegations, so it’s just a matter of sitting back and watching. Maybe you can take this moment to watch a WOW PPV or tonight’s fantastic women’s matches for NXT Takeover complete with excellence such as this:

takeovergirlsfinishslide

Update: Womens’ Wrestling at NJPW Dontaku 2015

Last week, I speculated on the nature of Wrestling Dontaku’s six-person tag featuring Maria Kanellis and Amber Gallows alongside their respective husbands and their husbands’ tag team partners. Now that the event has come and gone, let’s look at it.

The backstory is silly, and very pro wrestling: Karl Anderson was obsessed with Maria, and his obsession had led to the loss of the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship for him & Gallows. As a result, Gallows brought in his wrestler wife Amber to try and keep Maria under control in the grudge match. It’s funny that Maria, a professional temptress, gets into so much trouble when she does her job well. Maybe she should tone down her siren song or something.

Let’s take a minute here to examine the dynamic of Maria Kanellis in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Her boys are the champs. Maria has her own t-shirt. Her tag champs don’t. This is in the pre-match video package:

matchintro - Imgur

This is Amber’s entrance:

amberintro

This is Maria’s entrance:

mariaintro - Imgur

This is Shinsuke Nakamura’s entrance, just as a point of comparison:

shinsuke1 - Imgur

 

shinsuke2 - Imgur

The depictions of Maria & Amber are nearly night and day, though they’re both beautiful women. To be fair, they zoomed in on Amber’s chest a bit as she walked to the ring, but her ring-announced in-ring intro was flashy and athletic. I’m not sure whether Japanese wrestling fans and/or NJPW are so obsessed with Maria that they’d legitimately prefer to film the whole show with a picture-in-picture of her ass, or if the gimmick of Maria-in-Japan has reached some apex of self-parody that they’re just pushing every time they get her on TV. In any case, Maria’s depiction in NJPW doesn’t make me uncomfortable as a female fan — I think it’s hilarious, if a little much. The ass zooming shots went on for a minute or more, when thirty seconds would have been more than sufficient for both lusty and parody purposes.

The match itself was fairly standard. The rules were mixed-tag — when Maria was tagged in, Amber had to be tagged in. The highlight of the entire situation was Karl Anderson daydreaming so hard about Maria that he forgot to do his signature machine gun taunt in his entrance. I was actually shocked, and so were Amber & Doc. So was referee Tiger Hattori.

karlwhat

The wrestling match was a wrestling match sprinkled with shenanigans. The women hit some nice moves on each other and it looked like Amber wanted to murder Maria. The culmination, as you might have anticipated, was Maria hitting a low blow on Karl Anderson to get the advantage for her team, and then rolling up Amber for a surprise win. Amber went into full-Wicked-Witch-of-the-West meltdown mode, which was another highlight.

amberscream

Post-match, Doc and Amber still want to murder Maria, but Karl Anderson protects her. That is, until he SURPRISE turns on Maria, and he and Doc hit the Magickiller on her.

Some points:

  • This wasn’t an intergender match, so Maria was not competing against the men — they’re bad men who just assaulted her post-match (at Amber’s urging) outside the bounds of competition because they were mad that she got the win.
  • It’s reasonable that a bad girl like Amber would sic her men on Maria when she herself couldn’t get the job done.
  • It’s oddly refreshing in entertainment when bad guys are beating up a woman because they’re mad at the woman rather than using the woman to get at the woman’s husband/boyfriend/otherwise associated man.
  • I’m not even sure Gallows & Anderson care about Taven & Bennett at all. Maria’s match, Maria’s belts, Maria’s feud, Maria’s win, Maria’s post-match consequences.
  • I don’t know where this leaves the feud. Reasonably, Amber could want to get her win back. Taven & Bennett could want to beat up Anderson & Gallows for beating up Maria. Or it could just be over for now.

For it being the first time women are featured as wrestlers in NJPW in thirteen years, we’re off to a decent start. Let’s hope this opens up the door for future storylines with women and even more talent.

 

Don’t go there, Billy Corgan

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

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

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

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

TNA Presented A Night of… Wrestlers

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

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

tna-poster-altertion

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 9.54.27 PM

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

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

NJPW will feature women wrestlers at Wrestling Dontaku 2015

For the first time in 13 years, women are going to compete in a NJPW ring.  Maria Kanellis, Matt Taven, and Mike Bennett (the Kingdom) have been booked to wrestle Amber O’Neal Gallows, Doc Gallows, and Karl Anderson (the Bullet Club) at Wrestling Dontaku 2015 on May 3. This comes after the Bullet Club suffered the devastating loss of their IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships to the Kingdom, due in part to Karl Anderson’s obsession with Maria (same, Karl, same) and also Maria’s excellent distraction skills.

The last time a woman was featured in NJPW matches was in 2002, when Chyna competed against much of the roster in tag and singles matches.

Sunday’s match is described as a “six person tag team match” but I don’t know whether it’s mixed-tag (the women can only fight each other and a man must tag out to his woman partner if the opposing woman is tagged in) or intergender (men and women can fight each other) rules. We’ll find out for sure come Sunday, but as everyone saw at War of the Worlds last year, even NJPW’s good guy heartthrob ace once in a century talent and most decorated IWGP champion in history  Hiroshi Tanahashi doesn’t hesitate to engage Maria in combat if she enters the ring. 

maria_tanahashi

This match could either be pretty good and a step toward getting women featured on NJPW programming in a capacity that is more than “look at all the beautiful parts of this very beautiful woman please” or it could be a bunch of Bullet Club shenanigans. I’ll check back in afterward and let you know!  But I have to say, after all the talk about how the Kingdom’s accolades in NJPW are really due to Maria, it’s nice to see her getting a chance to compete for some herself.

maria_tanahashi_strike

Maria Kanellis and Amber Gallows now have profiles up on the NJPW roster page.

Naomi vs Nikki: WWE Extreme Rules 2015

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

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

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

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

Lana Stands Up For Women, Wrestling Fans Are Outraged

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

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

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

Wrong.

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

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

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

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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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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

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.

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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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.

Boys Will Be Bigots

“He hurt my feelings.” “Oh well, boys will be boys.” I truly wonder how many times Vince McMahon, and the majority of the talent within the WWE, have heard this excuse used towards their actions over the years. I’m of the mindset that once is too many, but here we are continuing to wrestle with homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, you name it.

So, here we have a company that totes it’s anti bullying campaign, Be A Star, and does everything in their power to go against what they claim to stand for. Hot off the heels of hugely problematic trainer and alleged sexual harasser, Bill DeMott, stepping down from his position within the company, you’d think they’d want to push away from this troubling pattern they’ve been stuck in for so long. Instead, they pay big money to resign Brock Lesnar as one of their mainstays. This is more than just my personal feeling about his wrestling prowess, or lack there of, but solely aimed at what message they are sending by promoting a vocal homophobe and unrepentant stalker. He has, on the record, stated “I don’t like gays. Write that down in your little notebook. I. Don’t. Like. Gays.” Not only is he still signed with the WWE, but he is their champion and the face that they continue to push. They also spent a lot of money to keep him around, and if that isn’t a glowing endorsement of his behaviour, I don’t know what is.

People are going to argue that one person doesn’t constitute a problem, or point out that them keeping queer talent on the roster shows that they are trying to change. I wish I could believe that was the case, but when Darren Young came out the transparency surrounding their statement and maintaining his career to save face was strong. You had a man who you were trying to push fairly hard, only to bury him in your midcard moments after he came out. Pat Patterson has had his sexuality ‘known’ by the public for quite some time, but he only came out officially on WWE Legends’ House. There has also been some allusion from wrestlers, such as Roddy Piper, towards treatment along the lines of sexual harassment from Patterson in the locker room when they were first starting out.

Let me run down a list of other horrific examples of this problem, past and present, that drive this point home.

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Billy and Chuck

Billy and Chuck became a tag team duo that’s sole purpose was to incite gay panic. How quaint. They would have extremely homoerotic workout routines and eventually were engaged to be wed live on television. Fast forward to their ceremony, they are about to be pronounced husband and husband and there is a freak out where it’s revealed that it was all a huge publicity stunt and they weren’t really gay.

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Mark Henry

Mark’s entire gimmick is based around him being a lady’s man. Upon attempting to woo Chyna, who was having none of it, Chyna’s friend Sammy was sent back to take care of Mark. Here’s where I point out to you that Sammy is a cis man dressed as a woman, his purpose is to trick Mark into having sex with him. In wonderful attitude era fashion, we see footage of Sammy going down on Mark Henry backstage. Mark starts to feel up Sammy and then proclaims “Sweet Jesus! You got a penis!” Sammy rips off his wig to reveal he’s actually a man and Mark Henry runs to the washroom to throw up.

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John Cena

It hasn’t been long since John Cena was still rap battling his opponents before a match, most of which were peppered with slurs and wholly oppressive in nature. It didn’t take long before GLAAD actually stepped in to address this issue and steer them away from this continuing to happen. This is yet another man who the WWE has at the helm of their company, and is supposed to be a role model to children, or at least that is how he’s marketed.

This list can go on and on, and that is really disheartening. There are lesbian panic storylines surrounding Rosa on E! Total Divas, the countless times that Lawler has called someone a fag on commentary, the time that the Godfather called Regal a fag in effort to entice a fight, The Rock saying John Cena’s wristbands make him look like a bloated transvestite Wonder Woman ready to fight crime, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Cheap pops aren’t worth it, and there’s no way you can look me dead in the eye and tell me “But he makes us money” when you’re spending ungodly amounts to keep them signed and have my believe you and condone your actions. Once again though, I’m none too convinced that your real slogan isn’t “WWE: You like what we tell you to like.”

Divas Do Double Duty

Monday Night RAW starts and it’s my weekly internal debate of “Do I sit through three hours of poorly booked wrestling or do I follow my twitter feed and live off the recaps from my followers?” I decided to give it a shot to see if Vince was actually going to follow through with his vague promises.

#GiveDivasAChance started trending on twitter 2 weeks ago and it still shows no sign of going away. The WWE tries really hard to be on the ball in terms of staying current, so every week Michael Cole will address anything related to the promotion that is trending on twitter. It popped up during RAW as a result to the Divas match clocking in at less than a minute; that’s right, we have male “Superstars” who have longer entrance sequences on the show than the women were allotted to fight a complete match. Despite all this, the announcers stayed mum. Fast forward to the next day and we see good ol’ Mr. McMahon tweeting the following:

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Does Vince hear us? Is he actually going to take a chance to let us influence the narrative of his product or are we going to see a small glimmer of hope and just slide back into the way it’s been. Their current motto is “WWE: Then. Now. Forever.”; if that doesn’t show a resistance to change, I don’t know what does. Take a skip ahead to last Monday, Michael Cole was given the go ahead to address the hashtag which was trending yet again. He addressed it on air by mentioning that it was trending, but nothing further than that. It seemed your typical RAW with drawn out matches and in ring babbling and added in celebrity appearance since Wrestlemania is just around the corner. This week’s celebrity was Wiz Khalifa who got EIGHT minutes of airtime. The Divas got five minutes total. A five minute match isn’t that atrocious, it’s at least four minutes more than they got the week prior… except this was combined between two matches.

Vince McMahon heard our cry, we kept watching and he “Gave the Divas A Chance” by letting the women have more than one match one the show… but they needed to combine both matches to be shorter than an adequate men’s match. To put some icing on this bittersweet cake, partway through the second match featuring Naomi and Natalya, their husbands (Tyson Kidd & Jimmy Uso) started brawling at ringside and the cameras followed the men. What you’re telling us, Vince, is you hear us but you don’t care.

Who knows if this is a tipping point for WWE in how they treat women, but we need to remember that the buck doesn’t stop with them and they aren’t the end all be all of wrestling. This problem has trickled down to indie level promotions as well. Unless a promotion is all women, such as SHIMMER, League of Lady Wrestlers and Valkyrie, or it’s a women’s event as an exception, it’s extremely commonplace for there to be one women’s match on a card… if any are included at all. Bonus points if your sole women’s match is intergender! There are more than enough talented wrestlers who aren’t cis men that can be booked on your show; what’s the harm in mixing things up?

Women’s wrestling is moving up from what is seen as the mid card “bathroom break” and I will continue to bitch and moan until people like Vince are sick of hearing me and actually make an effort to change. Let’s see if this trend continues and whether or not it’s a genuine effort, or if they’re just pandering to keep us quiet.