Men vs. Women

March 15, 2015

There seems to be a trend in wrestling of late of doing Man vs. Woman matches, which I think is a terrible idea. Lucha Underground does a lot of inter-gender matches, and I've heard there are even groups that put on whole shows featuring guy vs. girl matches. Opponents are presented as equals and no real account of difference in size, strength, or gender is made. While there are those that will argue that it's just a show so it doesn't matter, but I think that is very narrow minded and potentially dangerous thinking.

At the very least I think it's contributing to the deterioration of our industry. Pro-wrestling at its core is about storytelling but in many cases now (and I'm not just talking male vs. female matches) wrestlers just do their spots and their moves. No account seems to be taken for size, style, or even gender. It doesn't matter if you aren't actually big and strong or if your opponent is bigger than you; if your "Move set" consists of choke slams and power bombs, those are your moves and you do them in all of your matches. Conversely we constantly see huge guys doing dives and ranas, and other traditionally "Cruiser weight" moves.

Seldom does it seem that any thought is given to realism or storytelling, and while realism may not be what many fans think they want, it's the heart of our business, and is what keeps matches interesting. There is an expression often used in MMA, which I think applies here perfectly; "Styles make fights". The idea is that if you see a fighter take down all of their opponents and submit them, a fight against someone who they seemingly can't take down becomes more interesting. Conversely when you have a great stand up fighter who KOs all of their opponents, seeing them face a world class wrestler that should be able to take them down becomes more intriguing.

This too should be applied in wrestling, as it used to be. It forces wrestlers to alter their game and makes matches both more realistic and more interesting. When you do men vs. women matches and ignore the very clear differences in size, strength and style between the two, you completely destroy the realism of a match and contribute to the deterioration of the art form of wrestling by further numb fans to everything except the pop of a move. We just pay to see this guy do his kicks, and this girl do her flips, and this other person do his moves. Matches become the same and the only way to keep people coming back is by doing more kicks, more flips, or more moves. I think this is one of the reasons why these matches are being done in the first place. By not altering matches and styles to properly tell stories, we are getting into a situation where we've seen all the guys do all of their moves to every other guy, so what is left for us to see? What is the attraction that will draw fans back to see the same guys do the same moves, in what end up being the same matches? seems the answer is to put them in matches with women. Now we get the same people doing the same moves just now with women, and when you don't tell the story of what a match between a larger man and a smaller woman would be, the matches not only aren't realistic but will soon lose their novelty and just be the same people doing the same moves, and we are back to wrestlers just doing their trade mark moves in the same spots over and over again.

While that in itself is bad, really bad in fact, there is a far bigger down side to consider. In addition to making us numb to the storytelling of pro-wrestling, I fear it makes us numb to man on women violence. Wrestling has been fighting the "Don't try this at home" battle forever. Kids start thinking wrestling moves are fake and thus doing them on their friends is perfectly fine. This then leads to serious injuries and even deaths; and the finger of blame often gets pointed at pro-wrestling. At a time where other pro sports (most notably the NFL) are plagued with domestic abuse charges and countless cases of male athletes beating the hell out of their wives or girls friends, is it wise to be normalizing male on female violence? Don't answer that, it was rhetorical.

Even if a company like Lucha Underground manages to make it look like an athletic contest and keeps the violent feel out of it, it opens the door to others who aren't smart enough to be as careful. There was a clip from an Indy show making the rounds online recently of a guy beating the holy hell out of a woman. I couldn't watch the whole clip, but in the first few seconds a very large guy nailed a tiny woman with a brutal chair shot over the head (she did get one arm up to partially protect herself) followed by a very dangerously executed Border Toss style power bomb. I turned it off before she landed, but I've talked to people who saw the whole clip and she landed terribly and the finish was quite brutal and the whole thing was very abusive feeling in nature.

I'm told the woman was a willing participant but that doesn't change the fact that they were conditioning a crowd of people to accept and tolerate very abuse treatment of a woman by a man. You see treatment like this on an "entertainment" show enough times and it eventually loses its shock value and it becomes more acceptable. Shortly after I saw this video another one popped up, this time it was a "Guy hits WWE finishing moves on his girlfriend". I didn't click on the video, and from the link it appeared he was doing it with a big smile on his face into a swimming pool, but regardless of how safe or unsafe it was, it contributes to the belief that all of these, very potentially dangerous wrestling moves, are all fake and safe, and that physically manhandling and throwing around your girlfriend is somehow acceptable.

As with boys playing wrestling as kids, eventually leads to real injuries and in some cases deaths, guys beating up and throwing around women in the name of pro-wrestling, will no doubt do the same. Men traditionally have a thicker heavier bone structure as well as being stronger and more heavily muscled. Doing these bigger more dangerous moves on women, especially girlfriends who are not highly trained athletes becomes even more dangerous.

As tragic as a guy accidentally injuring his girlfriend while imitating what they see on TV will be, how long before an abusive boyfriend throws his girlfriend down seriously injuring her, uses the defence, we were just imitating what they saw in a wrestling match? "It was just an accident, we were playing wrestling". It has been used in court with kids, and it will be used in court with domestic violence.

The more silly and light hearted we make the "violence" and competition in pro wrestling feel, the more acceptable it feels to do it to others at home or on the play ground. If we do the same with male on female "violence" I think we are making an even bigger mistake. Men beating up women is not an acceptable form of entertainment. Yes it has been done before, quite a bit as a matter of fact in the Attitude era, but past mistakes don't make current ones any more acceptable. We are supposed to learn from our mistakes, not use them to justify continually making those same mistakes.

Let the men fight the men and the women fight the women. If you can't put on a compelling show, under those extreme limitations, you either aren't trying hard enough or you're in the wrong profession.

Be safe everyone,
Lance Storm

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