all-female wrestling: a woman’s view

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.


5 thoughts on “all-female wrestling: a woman’s view

  1. As a woman involved in indy wrestling, I totally love and support any promotions that feature good womens wrestling.

    And at the moment, the best place to watch women who wrestle just as well as the men and are showcased as actually talented wrestlers are EVE and shimmer.

    I fully support them in their endeavours, and will admit that their existence gives us something to aim for in wrestling.

    Thank you for writing this post ray, its nice to see womens wrestling supported.

  2. This was an interesting blog.
    Of course Pro-Wrestling Eve isn’t sexist. Even if it is so what? Of course sexism and descrimination is wrong but in this case does it really matter?
    The sexist claim is IMO an part of an bigger problem within British Wrestling and that is the jealous, back-stabbing and general nasty side of the business.
    Part of this sexism nonsense was an accusation that “Women’s wrestling is bad for the wrestling business.”
    That is an interesting claim when you look at the ratio of women’s matches and mens matches worldwide. If you were to keep this just within WWE how many matches fature men compared to women? Do you think that WWE or the WWE male wrestlers see the women as an threat or damaging the business?
    A few years ago I was having an conversation with a friend about midget wrestling. He hated it, which is fair enough. He didn’t hate it because he thought it was degrading to the litte people (how is calling them that any less patronising than saying midget or dwarf?) but because it was an insult and damaging to the business.
    I can’t say I’m a fan of it myself mainly because the matches are done and used for comic effect. However, I don’t see them as an insult or damaging the wrestling business because the number of matches per year is so minimal they have no effect. If the British wrestling business is in such an poor state that the number of midget matches per year which I would guess would be less than 20 per year is seriously damaging it then there is something seriously wrong with the business .

    What has this to do with Women’s wrestling and Pro-Wrestling Eve? Well it’s the same thing. How many shows do Pro-Wrestling Eve do per year? Two. How can these two shows in a place in Suffolk that the vast majority of the country have never heard of really damage the wrestling business?
    Will people stop going to XWA shows in Morecambe because of these shows? No. How about IPW:UK? Are they in danger of folding because of these two shows? Of course they aren’t.

    This claim of sexism is in my opinion an pop at Dann Read. It’s interesting this claim hasn’t been thrown at Sweet Saraya and her WAWW promotion which has been going years. It wasn’t even thrown at Pro-Wrestling Eve when they put on their debut show. It suddenly materialises after the stunning success of the first DVD of that show which was an total sell out twice, or was it three times? The British wrestling scene is notorious for being nasty, bitchy and back-stabbing and in my opinion this is the root of this ridiculous accusation. If it is, then British wrestling which has been on life support for at least 25 years needs to think about having the machine turned off and letting it die. Why? Because it’s struggling to cope with twolife threatening shows featuring women taking place twice a year.

  3. I don’t know if I can handle these “serious” articles concerning women’s wrestling. What ever happened to crotch watch? Now there’s a take on women’s wrestling I can get behind! JK. Interesting stuff Ray. Although I do miss the fun.

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