Great Women's Wrestling: FS Reprint
April 18, 2011
I wrote the following for my ďStorm FrontĒ article for ďFighting SpiritĒ Magazine, back in November 2010, and it is being reproduced with permission from Uncooked Media Ltd.
I am inspired this month by an episode of WWE Vintage Collection that I just happen to catch by accident this past week matching television. WWE Vintage is a show primarily produced for over seas markets so Iím pretty sure it airs in the UK. I have to write this article several weeks before it hitís news stands so the episodes of this show that inspired me aired perhaps 3 to 4 weeks ago. I hope at least some of you had the opportunity to catch it.
The episode Iím talking about was the episode featuring a womenís tag match from New York City on November 24th 1987. The match was for the WWF Womenís Tag Team Titles and saw The Glamour Girls, Judy Martin and Leilani Kai (managed by Jimmy Hart) defend their tag team gold against Japanese sensations The Jumping Bomb Angels, Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki. If you werenít lucky enough to catch this match when it aired go search YouTube, I know there are a couple matches between these two teams up there, and it will give you a better perspective reading this article.
I remember this feud very fondly from back when I was just a wrestling fan in high school and this match more than lived up to my memories. This was by far the best womenís match Iíve seen in years, perhaps decades, both in pure execution, and crowd reaction. This match had great moves, good ring psychology, and consequentially amazing crowd heat. I enjoyed this match more than I have anything Iíve seen on TV in quite some time and the crowd reaction it generated would rival most if not all PPV main events headlining today. That is not to say that these four women are better workers than the guys main eventing today but it does say a lot about the state of pro-wrestling then and now.
People genuinely cared about this match and they were completely behind the Jumping Bomb Angels. After watching this match I immediately texted one of my females students to ask her if she saw the match. Thankfully she was watching the program and she just raved about the match. As we discussed the match we were both saddened by the fact that a match of this caliber, at least in womenís wrestling, is likely a thing of the past. I donít believe a match like this can exist in the current state of womenís wrestling and that is a real shame.
Now before the defenders of womenís wrestling jump all over me, and point out all the great women workers out there today, hear me out. As great as many of the women workers are today, especially on the Indy scene in places like Shimmer, in order to generate anywhere near the amount the crowd reaction and emotion this match had, you have to be working in front of a huge crowd, and the only place women are going to get to work in a building like Madison Square Garden and wrestle in front of 20,000 people, is WWE, and I donít see a WWE Divaís match rivaling this one anytime soon.
Again that is not to say that there arenít women out there today that canít perhaps rival or at least hold their own with the Glamour Girls or The Jumping Bomb Angels as workers, but even if these 4 exact women were to exist in their prime today, I doubt there is any chance they would be hired or pushed by the WWE.
The problem, if you can call it that is that the focus of womenís wrestling has changed. Today the focus is on beauty, sex appeal, and character first, with skill and in ring ability second. Iím not saying that this is good or bad, Iím just saying that this is where the focus is currently. When you place so much emphasis on beauty, you are never going to have room on your roster for women like the Glamour Girls, who really helped carry this match and make it as great as it was; or even the Jumping Bomb Angels, who were really super over great workers.
Letís first look at the Glamour Girls, who I think would be the tougher sell in WWE today. Iím not saying Judy Martin and Leilani Kai were unattractive, but they werenít exactly the rock hard fitness models, girls are expected to be today. That doesnít even cover the fact that these girls had 21 years of pro-wrestling experience between them, at the time of this match. A level of experience almost impossible to achieve today because by the time you have more than 10 years of experience you are likely too old to still look the part, not to mention the fact that more than Ĺ of that experience is probably in dance offs and bikini contests. For girls today to get the kind of in ring experience Martin and Kai had at the time of this match they would need to be in the wrestling business for 15 to 20 years, which would put them in at least in their late 30s early 40ís, and itís pretty hard to live up to todayís fitness model standards at that age. I think this business could use a few experienced veteran women workers that arenít necessarily so hot I want to cheer for them.
The Bomb Angels would likely have no less trouble surviving in the modern world of womenís pro-wrestling. While they were younger and in better physical shape than the Glamour Girls, they too would fall short by todayís standards of beauty and would no doubt be passed over as potential baby faces because of their lack of English promo skills. If they were given any chance at all they would no doubt be miscast as foreign heels and relegated to comedy skits based around them not understanding English and mispronouncing the letters L and R.
I think what really made this match jump out at me was that I saw it mere days after catching the debut episode of NXT Season 3. This season is the all Divaís season and while NXT certainly features some very attractive women, and at least one fantastic athlete in Naomi, the combined wrestling experience of all 6 of these girls is likely less than 1/3rd of that possessed by Leilani Kai when she had this match.
I canít help but think the business is missing something here and there has to be a place for both sexy, smart, and powerful Divaís and some talented experienced female workers? I think fans could and would appreciate both; they sure did back in 1987. Hell to a large extend they did back in 2007 and 2008 in TNA when Gail Kim feuded with Awesome Kong. That was a great serious womanís wrestling feud that got over and meant something. Now granted Gail Kim is pretty hot and easily fits the sexy Divas bill, but I donít think that was even half the reason fans were cheering for her. Fans cheered for Gail because she was a great baby face they respected and Kong was an awesome heel they hated.