Over the past 24 hours a discussion has been circulating on Twitter concerning the fact that Pro-Wrestling: Eve has been accused of being sexist and bad for the wrestling business. Pro-Wrestling: Eve is a new, all-female, UK based wrestling promotion. Their first show (the DVD of which Andrew will be reviewing soon) took place in May and the next takes place on the 16th of this month at The Delphi Club, Sudbury, Suffolk. It has been intriguing to watch it start-up and we’re looking forward to seeing how it evolves.
Why Pro-Wrestling: Eve has been singled out, I don’t know. The wrestling industry is often unfathomable. If Pro-Wrestling: Eve is discriminatory, why isn’t Shimmer, for example? The comments bring up issues that are more wide-reaching than just one single promotion. Is a women-only promotion sexist? Well, it kind of depends on your definition of the term. If you believe that anything excluding the opposite sex as a matter of course is sexist, then yes, I suppose it is. It’s tricky though, isn’t it? Nothing is ever quite that black and white. If someone launched a wrestling franchise that was advertised as exclusively for male competitors, there would be an outrage. It would seem unfair and unjust.
So what’s the difference? The difference is that, to claim that an all-women’s promotion is sexist, it suggests that male and female competitors within the wrestling industry are all working on a level playing field. If you think they are, you’re dreaming. When was the last time you watched a WWE pay-per-view, or even a WWE weekly show, where women were involved in the main event? And when I say ‘involved’ I mean competing. I do not mean draped over the arm of one of the male competitors. As an aside, I’m discussing WWE because it is generally considered the ultimate goal for any wrestler. Love it or hate it, wanting to be gainfully employed by the biggest wrestling company on the planet is a perfectly reasonable aspiration.
To be honest, I’m just pleased when a Divas match gets booked for a WWE PPV. I then spend the actual match gripping the arms of my recliner repeating pleasebegoodpleasebegoodpleasebegood in my head until it ends. This has nothing to do with the talent of the women on the roster. It’s more about the way they’re presented and the pitiful amount of time they’re given to build feuds and tell stories in the ring. I’ve mentioned my frustration that women within the WWE are treated like second-class citizens and have to fight for airtime on several occasions. Having recently watch Maria Kanellis’ shoot interview on Highspots.TV, my suspicion that the Divas themselves are even more frustrated than the viewers was confirmed.
I almost wish WWE hadn’t made the third and supposedly final series of NXT all-female. Call me a cynic, but they knew all too well that NXT was being cancelled by SyFy. They knew they’d have less time to play with. With Michael Cole trashing it every week they’re all but admitting they know it’s terrible and they don’t care. What it does do is give WWE a tentative excuse if anyone suggests that they don’t give the Divas enough TV time. It’ll be a case of ‘Hey, we gave them a chance to have their own show and it was terrible. Nobody watched it. So we’ll assume nobody wants to watch women’s wrestling.’ But that argument will only be valid if WWE had made the best possible show they could have. Making a deliberately awful programme does not win your argument.
Even on this week’s Smackdown, which was an opportunity for WWE to showcase its talent to a new audience on a new American TV network, the Divas action was short and interfered with by Hornswoggle. Only knowing that Beth Phoenix is almost healthy, the fact Natalya has a much-deserved title shot at Hell in a Cell and the brilliant comedy timing of LayCool excites me at the moment.
A few months ago I wrote a post about the lack of intergender matches in mainstream wrestling and I mentioned the issues surrounding the conflict between kayfabe and reality. I won’t repeat the whole piece, but it’s worth mentioning again the fact that televised wrestling really struggles with placing men and women on the same physical level. If wrestling is an alternate universe where absolutely anything can happen (and it does), there should be no argument that men and women fighting each other is a thumbs up for violence against women, yet it’s used as an excuse keep men and women apart all the time.
Without independent wrestling promotions, and especially those showcasing women as the main product, how on earth will women get an opportunity to truly wrestle? Surely if there are more opportunities for women to perform, everyone wins. The competitors improve their skills and the audience is even better entertained. Who could possibly complain about seeing a great show? I’ve watched hours upon hours of all-female wrestling over the past few months and I’m regularly blown away by their athleticism and wrestling ability. In fact, the more I see, the more it frustrates me that so few people get to see it and enjoy it as I have.
The truth is, if women in wrestling had exactly the same opportunities as men, nobody would mind if all-female promotions (or all-male ones, for that matter) existed. I’m genuinely pleased and even excited that Pro-Wrestling: Eve is in business, promoting women and giving them a platform they’d struggle to find within mixed promotions. How something that allows women to progress within wrestling can be damaging to the business is beyond me. If you don’t want it to succeed, I would suggest you don’t want women to succeed in wrestling at all.