So I’ve been thinking a lot about where I stand on intergender matches. Here are my thoughts from 3 different perspectives: a wrestling fan, a gentleman, and a dad.
1. Wrestling fan-First of all, as a wrestling fan, I want to see the best wrestlers facing the best wrestlers possible. I’m a huge Allysin Kay fan. She is my very favorite female wrestler to watch in the ring. If there’s an opportunity for her to wrestle a really good wrestler, should it matter that her opponent could have lady parts or gentleman parts? One of her matches in Beyond Wrestling was against a Jefferson Saint. I have not seen it, but I know that Allysin Kay would be able to hold her own. And when I asked by Twitter followers about Allysin Kay matches, they named that as one of the best intergender matches of the year. I’ve seen some pretty decent intergender matches in my day, even going back to Chyna. Watching Hailey Hatred vs. John Thorne in AIW, nobody would ever question Hatred’s ability to stay competitive in an intergender scenario. LuFisto was a singles champion in CZW and nobody ever doubted her place there.
There are a few wrestling companies where inside their world, they have taken away the gender differences. Chikara has anybody wrestle anybody, male or female. There is an epic match I have heard about between Sara del Rey & a pre-WWE Antonio Cesaro. I’ve also seen the Joshimania DVD’s where it didn’t matter who was wrestling who. Also, Anarchy Championship Wrestling in Austin blurs the line quite a lot. Plus the local indy I attend (Metroplex Wrestling in Bedford, TX) is beginning to do more intergender matches. The more I get into indy wrestling, the more I realize that with this topic, there are no black and white areas. There are only varying shades of gray.
When I watch an indy company, I know that for as long as I’m watching this, I am stepping into their universe they are creating. The thing is, you need to be consistent with how you portray women. You can’t expect the same woman to be strong enough to beat a legitimate wrestler and expect me to feel sorry for her because she’s a woman when a heel attacks her. Earlier this year, when the WWE roster tried to give HHH a vote of “No confidence,” Beth Phoenix, by far the biggest and most impressive of the wrestlers on the WWE roster, took the mic and said, “But Hunter, we’re girls.” At that point, any credibility she had went away. You can either book women to be strong or weak. That is your choice. But you can’t do both.
2. Gentleman-Then there’s my thoughts as a gentleman. Anybody knows me knows that I loved the old ECW. I loved (and still love) Tommy Dreamer, Sandman, all the old guys. But there was something I hated: the violence towards women. I understood the Bill Alphonso-Beulah feud. But when Tommy Dreamer would piledrive a Francine or a Chastity, that was violence against women, plain and simple. The same thing for Bubba & D-Von doing the 3D on Beulah or Rhino piledriving Lori Fullington through a table. And it’s not just the old ECW. I hated Trish Stratus being humiliated and being made to bark like a dog. I hated the Chuck Palumbo storyline where he beat on Michelle McCool. I hated Hogan making Miss Elizabeth watch Macho Man get beat up in the nWo days.
I was taught not to hit a girl. If anybody ever threatened to hit my daughter, nieces or one of my sisters-in-law, they’d be dealing with me. And by me, I mean my fist. I get the door for a woman, even ones I don’t know. My mother raised me to cherish the opposite sex and that you never lay hands on a woman. So if I see a wrestler try to do that to a woman, it repulses me. Not in a “I hate this guy; I want to see him get beat.”My thought is “I hate this guy; this is not my entertainment. I’m giving my money to another promotion.”
However, if you are a competitor, if you make the conscious choice to step into that ring, is it violence against women? If the heel commissioner/GM/authority figure decides to throw somebody like a valet or a ring announcer in a match, I have a problem with that. (Like Vince did with Stephanie against Brock Lesnar) But if it’s part of the universe where women and men are equal, it’s an athletic competition, not domestic violence. This is where it goes back to the gray. How do I know when I see violence against women? “I know it when I see it.”
3. Dad-Finally, there are my thoughts as a dad. I don’t ever want my child to believe that violence against women is acceptable. So I’m very careful about watching wrestling with her, and she pretty much never watches it without me. However, my daughter is 3 and cares more about Boots the Monkey than Boots to Asses. She knows the word SHIMMER. She once saw Rain bulldog Jessicka Havok and told her stop it. Then there was another time she saw Kellie Skater give KC Spinelli a DDT and said, “Uh-oh. You ok?” She can say, “Woo woo woo,” and likes it when I say, “Ohhhhhhhhh what a rush,” a la Road Warrior Hawk. That’s about the extent of all her total wrestling knowledge. She really doesn’t sit and watch wrestling. She’d rather be watching Dinosaur Train than Ice Train. But when she’s in the room and sees it going on, I explain that it’s ok as long as it goes on in that ring. And as any 3-year-old would do, she asks to watch “Super Why!”
But here’s what matters to me. I want my daughter to grow up in a world where she is equal, where gender only matters in bathroom selection. I’d like her to believe that she is strong and powerful enough to overcome any obstacle put in front of her. And while I’d like her to look up to a Gabby Douglas, Kyla Ross, Kerri Walsh Jennings or Misty May-Treanor, why can’t she have a bad-a** hero she can look up to like a Miesha Tate or Gina Carano? Why can’t I take her to my local indy and let her watch an Athena or Su Yung? Why can’t I put in a DVD and show her Cherry Bomb or Hailey Hatred or Marti Belle or Allysin Kay or Mia Yim? I want my daughter to learn that Mia Yim can beat Greg Excellent, Hailey Hatred can beat John Thorne, LuFisto can win a CZW title & Sara del Rey can beat anybody in Chikara. I want my daughter to feel she achieve anything she wants and defeat whoever she wants.
I’m coming around. Part of me will always believe a woman should be held in the highest regard. And that part will never change. But things are changing to where in these universes created by bookers, I’m willing to open my mind a little bit more.