Friday, December 28, 2012

What I Want to See in 2013: Just Wrestling, No Modifiers

This match would be just as good if these wrestlers didn't have boobs, and had a penis instead of a vagina
Photo Credit: Gregory Davis/Dirty Dirty Sheets
There is no such thing as women's wrestling.

Okay, let's walk that back a little bit. The very existence of SHIMMER Women Athletes, SHINE Wrestling, Women's Superstars Uncensored, the Absolute Intense Wrestling Girls Night Out brand, nCw: Femmes Fatale, and countless joshi promotions in Japan among others exist to pit the best females in the world against each other. They've all gotten quite good at it too over their respective time frames. Obviously, joshi has been around for longer than American wrestling has been fully national, so it's disingenuous to say that its rise is nascent compared to a company like even SHIMMER, that has roots going back only to the middle of the last decade.

However, if one might watch a masterpiece between Ayako Hamada and Kana, Mercedes Martinez and LuFisto, Sara del Rey and Hailey Hatred; or Rachel Summerlyn and Portia Perez, what would be the difference between them and any counterparts in the male-wrestling world? It's funny to read those two words together. Male. Wrestling. They're implied to go together, right? But companies don't have titles that are set aside "just for men." There are no male only divisions. Summerlyn's dream of a "Dudes with Dicks" Championship is just that, a dream. But I digress.

The answer is that there's no difference, at least stylistically between Hamada/Kana and Tanahashi/Gooto. No major thing separating Martinez/Lufi from Kingston/Donst. No barriers keeping del Rey/Hatred from being analogous to Punk/Bryan. Scant little difference between Summerlyn/Perez and ACH/Plisken. If you replaced the wrestlers in the ring with wire frames or androgynous polygon-based cyborgs, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

So why is it that we need to keep the women in one box and the men in the other? Oh, that's right, it's realism. Your precious fucking realism. Bullshit. Where's your realism when Undertaker sits up after a Pedigree onto a chair? That's not scoffed at at all. That's lauded as being part of two straight "awesome" Mania matches. Where's your realism when Davey Richards and Kyle O'Reilly go kick spam on each other as a repressive sexual metaphor without tiring or even the slightest feint of injury? Fuck, where's your goddamn realism when the Irish whip is the basis of at least a quarter if not more of a matches offensive foundation?

Professional wrestling realism is an oxymoron. It's selectively applied at different levels. Some of the selectiveness is understandable. Other times, it's representative of maybe some different feelings that aren't as popular to express. I'm not sure I want to accuse everyone who hates the concept of respecting women who wrestle, be it against each other or more "egregiously" (you can't see how hard I'm making the wanking motion right now BUT I AM), when men and women go against each other, of being chauvinistic misogynists.

So if we can suspend realism for multiple kickouts, surviving fatal impacts, contrived moves, and even DEMON MAGIC, why can't we do it for the classification of wrestling along gender lines? There are two companies in Texas along I-35 who get it. There's a company based in the Lehigh Valley that is going to be coast to coast next year who gets it. There's a promotion on Lake Erie that gets it. Most importantly, there are thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands of fans who get it. Why can't the rest of you?

Art is at its best when there are as few restraints as possible. It's true the constraints can reign in a good medium and thus enhance it, but then again, aren't those restraints contained in the rules, the same boundaries that theoretically keep guys from whipping out knives or guns during no disqualification matches? Why do we need to add more? Furthermore, why do we need overcompartmentalization? I don't need a cruiserweight division or a hardcore division in my wrestling. I don't need titles to define those. A good match is just as likely to happen between Rey Mysterio and Tyson Kidd as it is between Mysterio and Antonio Cesaro. Stipulations are transient.

And genders don't matter the way you think they do. Maybe they change around areas of vulnerability. Chest shots on a woman hurt more than on a man, and groin shots may not affect a woman in the same way. But that's not really any reason to segregate, right? Those aren't any grander differences than a fat guy's weight, Brian Cage's well-defined musculature, or a theoretical Sideshow Bob character's comically oversized feet.

We all know that this compartmentalization, especially along gender lines, is a way to marginalize large groups of wrestlers anyway. To me, that's fucked up. People who say they hate women's wrestling have probably never seen a Sara del Rey match. Fuck, they may not have seen Mickie James vs. Beth Phoenix during that one shining time in 2009 when WWE treated female wrestlers with a modicum of decency let alone legitimacy. That's ignorance. And to me, that's what the constant insistence that we keep women and men separate in 2012 is.

There's no such thing as women's wrestling.

There's no such thing as intergender wrestling.

Wrestling is wrestling. It knows no boundaries, no lines, no walls, no dividers. It's about time we started treating it that way so that maybe, the next evolution of it can happen and drag the rest of us into the future where we belong.

1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent artcile, but I actually disagree a bit. There are very significant stylistic differences between Hamada/Kana and Tanahashi/Gotoh, because stylistic difference is incredibly prevelant and important in the Japanese wrestling scene. The women don`t wrestle like the men, the New Japan guys don`t wrestle like the All Japan guys don`t wrestle like the NOAH guys. It's an important, and fascinating aspect in Puroresu. So important, in the Fire Pro game story modes you have to use different styles wrestling in order to get high match ratings from different companies.

    However, this is not to say the Joshi style is inferior (I, and many others, think it's quite superior), and the the reasoning behind the stylistic differences seem to have little inherint connection to gender i.e. many guys can and do wrestle Joshi style and Kana is an example of a women who uses lots of elements of the mostly male domain of shootstyle.

    American non-corporate wrestling is a hodge podge of all these different Japanese styles, with Mexican styles and European styles and classic American styles thrown on, so the wire frame analogy is spot on if we were talking Martinez/Lufi or Kingston/Donst.

    I'm an advocate of relevant realism in wrestling. Gender is entirely irrelevant, even when the styles are different.

    ReplyDelete