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Women's Wrestling: A Critique


Mr. Seven

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Apologies in advance for the essay beneath this sentence. TL; DR, etc.

 

So I've been reading a bit of Ringbelles lately, the site run by the UKFF's very own freaky and $tew. I've been a bit critical of it, but I'd like to feel my criticism has been constructive. While I'm sure some people will dismiss this thread as trolling, I'd like to clarify in advance that I am genuinely fascinated by, what I believe is, the cult that embraces women's wrestling as if it's some oppressed art form. With that in mind, I'd really like the input and debate from freaky and $tew in this thread, and from noted hardcore fans SBA, AJS69 and others.

 

Why? Because like I said, I'm genuinely fascinated. I found myself reading Ringbelles last night and that was the inspiration for this thread. I feel that the UKFF hasn't really had a good back and forth about the exclusive genre that is women's wrestling. Now whether that's my fault or the fault of SBA losing his mind and turning into a child in the Mickie James thread, so be it. Without further rambling, I'd like to take issue with this piece I read on Ringbelles.

 

Let's skip past the highly awkward crack pipe analogy and move onto the meat of the subject, which would appear to be a complaint that the TNA Knockouts division is suffering as a result of too much attention. Later in the same article, there's a complaint that WWE booked a 14-woman tag match on Raw and gave it only a minute. So despite TNA giving their division a bit of prominence, there's still problems, and of course, the problems are not the fault of the girls, right?

 

While TNA's booking is undeniably terrible, I fail to see how no blame lies with the wrestlers, as the article implies.

 

Sacrifice, Victory Road, Slammiversary
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A well-argued post. I think this thread could do well.

 

One thing: I think it's not comparing like for like when discussing the parallels of wrestling with music. Despite not being a sport, wrestling, like a lot of sports, has a long history of emphasising the male side of it, with the result that 1) its audiences have been conditioned to not really give a crap about the female side, and 2) the talent pool is much smaller. Music, however, doesn't have such a problem; given that, on the mainstream side of things, there are and have been for decades music superstars of both genders, it therefore doesn't need the "drive" to promote females in music.

 

It's difficult to tell if wrestling, left to its own devices, might naturally and eventually see women's wrestling receive its rightful recognition, but the traditional logic of the large part of minority rights movements, whether they be ethnic, gender, sexual orientation or religious, has been to actively and aggressively promote, rather than to let things "just play out". Some might consider it patronising and therefore deleterious to the cause, others might see it as a necessary evil to sustain for now as part of an effective method to ensure equality for the future.

 

One thing I will say, on the subject of female wrestling outside WWE, and I'm aware this may piss a few people off: I honestly believe that a lot of female wrestlers, both on the US and European indies, are given way too much praise - from what I've seen, many of them are mediocre, and yet they're lauded to the skies. I also believe that this stems from a genuine desire to see the women's side of wrestling do well, but that there's a certain amount of "desperation" in this that ends up seeing the praise piled on disproportionately, unrealistically, and, worst of all, willing to overlook faults that would not be overlooked in male workers. This, ironically in my opinion, does women's wrestling a disservice rather than helping it, because you end up with a bunch of people who end up feeling less of an urge to improve; we see this all the time with the male workers, it happens just the same with the females.

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One thing I will say, on the subject of female wrestling outside WWE, and I'm aware this may piss a few people of: I honestly believe that a lot of female wrestlers, both on the US and European indies, are given way too much praise - from what I've seen, many of them are mediocre, and yet they're lauded to the skies. I also believe that this stems from a genuine desire to see the women's side of wrestling do well, but that there's a certain amount of "desperation" in this that ends up seeing the praise piled on disproportionately, unrealistically, and, worst of all, willing to overlook faults that would not be overlooked in male workers. This, ironically in my opinion, does women's wrestling a disservice rather than helping it, because you end up with a bunch of people who end up feeling less of an urge to improve; we see this all the time with the male workers, it happens just the same with the females.

Couldnt agree more if I'd wrote it myself. I was actually going to write something similar actually. Dont think I'm giving any spoilers away, but if you want evidence of what you wrote, switch Challenge TV on and just see the performance of Mickie James. Its quite bad.

 

To add to what Carbomb has written, the criticism of certain females is so hypocritical. Its a genre where you pick and choose your favourites and protect them from criticism even though they are far worse offenders. I mean Gail Kim and Mickie James? This pair have consistently put on some of the worst matches in the history of the business. For me, if you want to get respected as a performer, dont wear less clothes than Norman Smiley in 1998 and dont look weak as piss in your ring work. I dont even dislike womens wrestling before anyone has a go. I actually paid 15 quid for those VHS tapes of the famous AJW Supercards from the 90s and really enjoyed what I saw. I used to love Alundra Blaze and Bull Nakano in the feud they had in 1994. Blaze was as sympathetic as any babyface you will see anywhere and Bull was more fearsome than anyone on the SummerSlam 94 card. So if its presented correctly and the wrestlers are good enough in their roles, they can survive and even thrive with the man. What I've seen of Shimmer or any of that type of crowd is mental. I remember Madison Rayne used to get raves reading some reviews of her online. But apart from wank material, she's useless as fuck. Most of them have the personality of a cat flap and their outfits are pure filth, which is an obvious selling point. Wrestling is 80% about image. If you put them all in woolly jumpers and took their fake tan off, you'd probably have 3 hits on the Ring Belles website and those would probably be typos for RingBellers.com. Another thing, the Job Seeker Adviser types who look out for these women's job security. The way people bitch and moan about storylines where they are playing a role is laughable. "Mickie is being victimised in that bullying storyline" or "Lita got an embarrasing sendoff". These women are actors! They are probably just happy they aren't working in Tescos. Or when Daffney got the sack and it was treated like the time Benoit killed his kid. They dont seem to give a shite when Michael Tarver gets the chop.

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I'm a fan of women's wrestling... but I'm a fan of it as an addition to men's wrestling. not so much as a product in and of itself. Women can play characters that men simply cannot, and what I love in wrestling is a variety of characters. The sheer element of being female adds a fresh layer to even the most generic wrestling gimmick, and I dig that. I also just like seeing women punch each other in the face.

 

I wish there was a little women's wrestling going on around my local indies... but I understand that some folks aren't so thrilled with the notion. There is a general drop in quality when compared to the men. Wrestling is a physical endeavor, and women aren't quite as predisposed to it. I see top women competing on the SHIMMER dvds from time to time, and although I dig it from a character perspective, from a workrate perspective it's nothing overly amazing.

 

I wouldn't say that Women's Wrestling is a brilliant gem being unfairly squandered, but it does seem kinda swept under the rug by any wrestling site that isn't specifically tailored to the girls. The Observer will talk about DGUSA and PWG and Japan... but no SHIMMER. The only women they talk about are the Divas and the Knockouts, who aren't exactly setting the world on fire.

 

Not sure what my point is. Just saying stuff. I like women's wrestling, but given the choice between it and a nice PWG main event... I know what I'm choosing.

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There's no doubt that the majority of opinion thrown around about women is simply based on gender.

 

You get so many "wow, that was shit BECAUSE IT WAS A WOMAN" or "wow, that was pretty awesome FOR A WOMAN" comments that you can't really take either end of the spectrum seriously. You don't get that with the lads' wrestling matches, so I don't see why anything should come across like that for the female rosters either.

 

But of course it does, and it always will. Why? Because it's predominantly a male industry, which means we're used to seeing matches and moves done in a certain way, and to a far higher standard than what the majority of women are capable of doing. That's just the way things are.

 

The fact is that a "great" women's match performed by men wouldn't even get on Superstars half the time. The shit that many WWE and TNA females throw out on a weekly basis is quite frankly embarassing and shouldn't be allowed on television. And the women suffer from the same crap on the Indy circuit that the males do in that the spacko fanbase jizzes all over anything that represents WORKRATE~! and whatever else, even though it's clearly lacking in any psychology, or any remote entertainment.

 

I've tried watching Shimmer, which fills its cards to the brim with absolutely fucking awful talent most of the time, struggling to perform moves properly and yet getting cheered on simply BECAUSE THEY'RE FEMALE. It's bullshit to me, and the fanbase is clearly just a bunch of four eyed geeks who have never been fucked, and end up wanking over matches that are 'decent' because they have women in them. GO AND WATCH PORNOGRAPHY OR HIRE A FUCKING HOOKER.

 

There's no need to be encouraging the majority of these women to keep demeaning themselves and the business by allowing them to perform sub-standardly.

 

It's like cheering on a special needs kid who has clearly no ability whatsoever, and yet you want to be encouraging to build up his confidence. Well I'm sorry, but I'm assuming most of the female talent on any wrestling roster aren't actually mentally disabled, and so we shouldn't be treating them with a soft touch .. "oh there there, at least you tried!" .. well no, actually you're shit and if you can't do any decent matches then just fuck off and get a job somewhere else.

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For me personally I'm embarrassed to ever watch female wrestling.

 

1. If you can't hit the ropes, don't hit the ropes. It looks fucking awful.

 

2. If you can't throw punches/elbows/forearms, don't throw punches/elbows/forearms. It looks fucking awful.

 

3. Why can women only sell the lower back? Does it all stem from 'Beyond The Mat' and Russo leaning in and chatting to Sable?

 

Personally, in any of it's forms, I find it dull, bland and just woefully poor.

 

The only time in the last five years I have watched womens wrestling without distain filling my soul are the following:

 

To see an awesome discus lariat by Nattie Neidhart

 

To see Kong, the only breath of fresh air really since Chyna, destroy the ratty little bints that flood wrestling and make me want to never watch it again.

 

Oh and Rebecca Knox was half decent at one point.

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It's just lack of character for me. I fast-forward pretty much all women's wrestling on WWE and TNA because there's nothing that separates most of them except that some are babyfaces and some are heels.

 

With that said, over the past few years there have been instances where I've purposely watched a certain woman whenever she's on screen, but it's rare. A few examples are Kharma's recent stuff in WWE and Beth Phoenix's stuff with Santino a few years ago. They both stood out and each had a good purpose which was entertaining.

 

I would compare most women wrestling to what a lot of people on here say about indy wrestling. They're just a bunch of lifeless people going through the motions, and not very well either.

 

By the way, I've never watched Shimmer or anything like that so I'm just basing this on WWE and TNA.

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The female wrestling on mainstream has long since stopped being about the actual wrestling and more about either hot chicks making the shows seem like a less gay thing to watch or hot chicks being an unrealistic inspiration to bunch of misfit teenage girls to have a "you can be anything you want to be" attitude. Not that this is an excuse for it being awful (the stuff on TV at least).

 

I definitely think that women are held to a lower standard than the guys. I don't know that this has always been the case but today, a not-totally-shit match between two poor women wrestlers seems to be held in higher regard than an average match between two average male wrestlers.

 

I don't think this is a phenomenon that is unique to wrestling. A female being adequate at any male-dominated activity is usually heralded as some sort of miracle. My mate went to the ladies FA Cup final a while back and he thought it was rotten but there were plenty of guys there lapping it up.

 

On the other side of the coin, I think it totally goes against the grain and probably instinct for a good looking woman to get involved in something like wrestling. I mean most blokes do a fair bit of jostling on a daily basis and have a fair few moronic habits/instincts that translate well into wrestling like hitting people and rolling about the place and stuff. I think the novelty is a lot in the fact that it's not a girly thing to do.

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To disagree with you a bit there, RepoMan, I'd say that what the problem with a lot of women's wrestling these days is the emphasis on them being wank material. I'm not saying they shouldn't be if that's the business model, but what I do think is that, barring a few exceptions, female wrestlers have to make a choice when it comes to their physical sides, because that's the key factor in making the match side of things work. It really is one or the other.

 

The fact is, like it or not, women are not naturally endowed with muscle in general, and the kind of strength and muscle memory required to make wrestling moves look plausible and impressive is not an option for them if they also want to be the model-like Divas in WWE - what's considered attractive and "Diva-esque" actually precludes the building up of such muscle. Most female wrestlers who looked plausible are largely from one of two groups: 1) the "old" generation, back when women wrestlers were just that and nothing more, and 2) sports models like Victoria, Molly Holly, Trish Stratus and so on. Chyna was an obvious exception.

 

But take girls like Kelly Kelly, who was a glamour model (I think), Candice Michelle, also a glamour model, and the majority of Divas - their arms and legs are slim and toned, and clearly not developed enough to pull off the stuff they attempt. Layla's an exception, because she's an ex-dancer - most dancers are pretty muscular, so it's not surprising she's competent.

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Rebecca Knox is the fucking queen! I doubt I would ever watch one of her matches, but she's gorgeous. I bestow regal praise and riches on anyone who can supply me with her shoot interview/lingerie video.

 

Met her at one of the shows I "worked" on back in the day. A lot of wrestlers "tune up" by working out with those long rubber things that have replaced chest expanders; she started working out with one, and her back look ripped, toned, lean and, add her tan to it, bloody sexy.

 

She's a fine-looking lass, no doubt about it.

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Layla does an awesome Diamond Dust, so there's 10 points right there. She's also a pretty great wrestler who has graduated from being just a model into a hell of a talent (see also Candice Michelle for a brief period) and while there are plenty of people who rate her, you'd have to think if she was in SHIMMER, the level of praise would be completely ostentatious.

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I generally dislike women's wrestling on both TNA & WWE. TNA Knockouts action was quite bearable a few years ago but on the few occasions recently that I have watched Impact there definitely seems to have been a downturn in quality. WWE womens/Divas action is worse though, and is awful on a regular basis.

 

I did some "research" at the end of 2009 and established that less than a handful of women's matches on Raw that year went more than 3:30. There was one women's match on almost every show, with several of the matches being tag or multi-person tag matches. A 7 vs 7 match given only a minute or so is always going to be a waste of time, but it's something WWE book quite often. Two examples from 2009 are below:

 

WWE Women's Champion Melina, Maria, Gail Kim, Eve, Alicia Fox, Brie Bella, Tiffany, Kelly Kelly, & Mickie James defeated WWE Divas Champion Maryse, Jillian Hall, Layla, Nikki Bella, Katie Lea, Natalya Neidhart, Beth Phoenix, & Rosa Mendez at 1:41 when Tiffany pinned Katie Lea with an inside cradle

 

WWE Divas Champion Melina, Mickie James, Maria, Kelly Kelly, Gail Kim, Brie & Nikki Bella defeated WWE Women's Champion Michelle McCool, Rosa Mendes, Maryse, Beth Phoenix, Natalya Neidhart, Alicia Fox, & Layla at 1:16 when Mickie pinned Rosa with the DDT

 

I'm sure they get paid less than many of their male counterparts, and most of them look great so from that perspective I can understand why they are employed. However, hardly any of them can wrestle, very few stand out from one another and i doubt they have any positive effect on TV ratings or PPV buyrates. Therefore, I'd get rid of almost all of the divas in WWE and use the small amount of TV time they currently take up on something more worthwhile.

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