Tag Archives: av christensen

Doglegs: A film that wrestled with my emotions

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

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

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

Credit: Alfie Goodrich
Credit: Alfie Goodrich

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

TNA Presented A Night of… Wrestlers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lana Stands Up For Women, Wrestling Fans Are Outraged

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

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

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

Wrong.

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

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

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

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Fan Edition | I Ain’t Afraid Of No Mark

Name: Marissa @yunatron

Age: 30

Location: Chicago

Describe your ringside style: 

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

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How did you become a wrestling fan?

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

Fave Wrestler: Macho Man Randy Savage

Fave Promotion: 

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

Fave Move: Brainbuster

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

Dream Tag Team:

Best and The Beard (CM Punk and Daniel Bryan)

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

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

FIGHT! Round 1

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

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

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

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

Lita

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

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

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

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

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

 

On Being a Fat Wrestler | Ravishly

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

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

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.

Regular Show “Really Real Wrestling”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Invalid reason to criticize pro wrestling:

  • It’s fake

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

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

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

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

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

Bull Nakano

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

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

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

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

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

Mt. Fiji

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Steven Universe “Tiger Millionaire”

If I were to tell you that one of my passions was watching television, especially kids’ shows, you’d probably be none too surprised. Most of us have been introduced to the wonderful world of wrestling through watching it on TV at home. My first wrestling match was a PPV that I watched with my dad while eating off brand chicken nuggets and barbecue sauce in his basement apartment. It doesn’t quite compare to seeing it live, but it still has it’s own unique magic to it that many other sporting events can’t compare to over a television broadcast. Another layer of the wrestling world that I love is that which is portrayed within the confines or non sports entertainment related programming. From cartoons that have the characters portraying their own crafted wrestling personas, to in ring wrestler cameos on beloved sitcoms, reality competitions with a pro graps themed challenge, I’m going to be reviewing episodes and determining whether or not they’re title worthy or if they’re no selling jobbers.

Cartoon Network show Steven Universe has been getting a lot of attention and love lately for all the right reasons, and I’m going to continue that love by highlighting one of it’s earliest episodes: Tiger Millionaire. Having returned from a mission in which Steven gets covered in blood polyps due to Amethyst’s recklessness, the gems all get into an argument and Steven ends up falling asleep encrusted by the polyps in the kitchen alone. Amethyst sneaks out of her room to sneak off into the middle of the night and Steven follows hot on her trail.

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Secret Wrestlers

Cut to the Beach City Underground wrestling promotion, The Purple Puma is introduced as the single most hated wrestler in the promotin’s history. Proving to be a force to be reckoned with in ring, Puma defeats the Lochness Blogster with ease. Amethyst leaves the event extra charged and excited when Steven sneaks up behind her and she gives him a snapmare down to the ground. Steven asks if Amethyst is a secret wrestler with the same expression of joy I receive in response to whenever I reveal to anyone I meet that I’m part of a queer women’s wrestling league. If only we could all be secret wrestlers. Amythest’s explanation as to why she’s a wrestler accurately captures part of the beauty of the art: “In the ring, nobody can tell me what to do, and if they try I hit ‘em in the face with a chair!” Maybe I identify well with this storyline because she plays a vicious heel, and well, but it’s even expressed that: “They love it, well, they hate it but it’s all part of the fun, you know. Everyone here gets that.” Feeling babied by Pearl and Garnet is an excellent excuse to give her this outlet to express herself, and Steven, feeling stifled himself, asks to be a wrestler too. Since Amythest has yet to win the tag team belt, the most superior belt of them all, she obliges his request.

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Introducing: Tiger Millionaire!

Steven heads off to prepare for one of the most important parts of pro wrestling: developing your character and choosing your costume. What good is fighting in front of a crowd if you can’t look awesome doing it? He pulls out a dress shirt, some suspenders and ponders over a tiger mask and a little tiny tiger nose before choosing the nose. To get that sleaze factor that all wrestlers need, Steven slicks his hair down with margarine before rushing over to a sleeping Amethyst to show off his new kicks. His back story is meticulously thought out:

Rich feline industrialist from Jungle Island. Once the single child of the wealthy Tiger family, he clawed out his own destiny making money in the coconut mines.

The Purple Puma’s backstory, however, is solely: Pumas are cool.

Back at Beach City Underground we meet the first tag team of the evening: Concrete Heat and Chunk Truck! The crowd meets, and boos, Tiger Millionaire and we see Lars and Sadie speculating on whether or not Tiger Millionaire is Steven and if it’s going to get creamed or not. Before Steven can climb in the ring, Amethyst stops him to alert him that she’s only using Steven to obtain the belt and she’ll do all the fighting. His biggest concern is whether or not he still gets to wear the costume. Puma knocks out Chunk Truck with ease, but Concrete Heat comes in from behind and slams a pylon on his head. Steven expresses with great upset that “That’s not fair!” and the announcer assures him that “It may not seem fair, but hey, anything goes in wrestling.”

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The Heel Turn

Being the sweet kid he is, no one expected to see Steven play a heel, but he takes this opportunity to bribe Chunk Truck into throwing the match in exchange for a million jungle bucks. What an offer! Excitedly ready to take the offer, he rushes over and Tiger Millionaire opens the briefcase in his face knocking him back. Lars jumps up excitedly, and it looks like our contender has his first fan. Puma knocks out Chunk Truck and lifts Tiger up in celebration for having won the match.

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What would a wrestling show be without your obligatory 80s montage? This features cuts of Tiger Millionaire’s most gruesome feats interspliced with shots of Steven and Amethyst trying to keep their wrestling careers a secret from Garnet and Pearl. Ignoring a match while talking on an a cellphone larger than he is, serving coconuts into an opponent’s jaw with a tennis racket, tossing pages of the Wall Street Jungle down on the mat making the opposition slip and fall are among some of Steven’s most menacing moves. But nothing compares to when record breaking heat comes down on the auditorium and Tiger Millionaire buys out the entire soda stand, and instead of sharing it with his thirsty fans he throws all the soda down on the ground and stomps in the puddle with galoshes. Wanting to maintain kayfabe, when approached by Lars to sign his soda cup, Tiger swats it out of the way onto the ground shouting “you couldn’t afford it!” Lars tosses his Tiger Millionaire tie on the ground and sulks away, because Tiger truly is the cruelest creature on the planet.

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Can’t we just wrestle?

Steven has a hard time separating his wrestling persona from real life and how he is perceived. Puma and Tiger are paired up against a gorgeous, hyper masculine tag team duo. The crowd has turned completely against Tiger, including prior fan Lars toting a “Tiger is a jerk!” sign. Garnet and Pearl show up to stop the match, upset that Steven and Amethyst have been sneaking off to this circus of violence. It’s the final straw when Garnet tells them to go home, Amythest pushes her and they have a violent brawl utilizing their powers. Steven attempts to calm things down and make a genuine face turn for the betterment of everyone involved. He picks up the mic to tell us Purple Puma’s backstory:

He was the wildest cat in the jungle, so wild the other cats couldn’t take it. So she, I mean he, went to look for somewhere he fit in, somewhere with other people who felt misunderstood. That’s why we’re all here: to be wild and free, and bodyslam each other, and wear cool costumes, and make up nicknames!

The most important question levied by Tiger is “Can’t we just have this? Can’t we just wrestle?” Taking that sweet, sweet heel spot Garnet steps in to reveal she is part of the Notorious Order of Wrestling Haters and they can’t allow that. This gets the crowd on the side of the Jungle Duo, including the sour Lars. But wait, The Good Looking Gang show up with the ladder, are they going to steal the belts? No! They help the Jungle Duo up and help save wrestling.

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On a list of shows that portray wrasslin’, this one is definitely of main event quality. Heck, they could do an entire spin off series about Tiger Millionaire and The Purple Puma and I’d buy it.

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.”

Who’s That Girl? Madusa (Alundra Blayze)

It’s not so often that you get blacklisted by a company for 20 years only to be honoured and inducted into their Hall of Fame afterwards. But, then again, it’s not so often that we come across wrestlers that are the calibre of Madusa.

Madusa, short for Made in the USA, has held 6 separate titles around the world, including the WWF Women’s Championship on three separate occasions. That title is the one that Madusa would later trash live on WCW Monday Nitro stating that this is what she thinks of the WWF Women’s Championship belt. This was an extra huge deal considering that she was brought in to the WWF to help revive the women’s division since that title had been vacant for the three years leading up to her debut. She debuted under the name Alundra Blayze, however, because she had trademarked the name Madusa, which Mr. McMahon didn’t want to pay the license fees for. In other milestones, Madusa also fought Leilani Kai for the title at Wrestlemania X, marking the first women’s match at Wrestlemania since the first one ever.

In addition to all these titles held around the world, Madusa was the first woman ever to be awarded with Pro Wrestling Insider’s “Rookie of the Year” title and was the first foreign wrestler to sign a contract with All Japan Pro Wrestling. Ultimately, Madusa retired from pro wrestling around the time that it was rumoured WCW was going to be bought out by the WWF. The other reason was that she didn’t like the direction that women’s wrestling was headed in being less about actual wrestling and more geared towards strip matches.

One of the strongest matches Madusa ever held was a series of matches in her feud against Bull Nakano. These matches took place in both the USA and Japan, and she actually lost the WWF Women’s Championship Belt to Bull Nakano while in Japan. Her ability to fluidly move from heel to baby face has always impressed me; a lot of what factored in the response to Madusa herself was where the match was taking place in the world. Her style was very fast paced and using finishers that required great agility such as a bridging German suplex or a hurricanarana.

Outside of the ring, Madusa also acted as a manager to several great wrestlers including, my personal favourite, The Macho Man Randy Savage. Here’s to hoping that her induction into the WWE Hall of Fame will help light the fire under their asses they need to build up the women’s division once more. Sadly, they haven’t learned their lesson yet and we aren’t slated to see a title match at Wrestlemania XXXI on Sunday.

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.