Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Jessicka Havok's Theoretical Entrance into PWG: An Exercise in Breaking Down Straw Men

No cage can keep her fury contained; what is PWG so afraid of?
Photo Credit: Leslie Lee III/DDS
So yeah, as it turns out, people don't like it when you call out a promotion they like. That's okay, it's reflexive to have an answer in defense something that you hold dear when it's criticized. That being said, there are logical defenses and then there are half-truths, ignorant platitudes, and straw men.

The most insidious straw man of them all is the one that posits that I and everyone else who'd like to see Pro Wrestling Guerrilla put in a quota on women by force and ram them down everyone's throats into the main event. This is the most classic diversionary reaction, and it's the one that's meant to scare the living bejesus out of people who are comfortable with the status quo into thinking that people want to shake things up for no reason. There's a perfectly good reason to want to see Jessicka Havok and her peers enter PWG though.

The company offers itself up as a "dream match" promotion. That's a fine business model, and it's one that I personally dig because of how well they pull if off (another potential straw man, one that I haven't seen built as a diversion, is that I dislike PWG as it is... you can dislike parts of a company and still enjoy its overall oeuvre). However, I'm not sure anyone can deny nowadays that intergender matches are the holy grail in this department. On an individual level, sure, Kevin Steen vs. Havok might not be a "dream match" for every single wrestling fan (but then again, what potential matchup would get 100% approval?), but I bet if polled, that would get a groundswell of support as one. Besides, if PWG's thing is doing dream matches, then what defense is there for them eschewing fresh matches featuring Havok against the wide variety of main event men on an eventual basis and promoting Sami Callihan vs. Drake Younger as a main event? How is that a dream match when we've seen it four times in Combat Zone Wrestling in 2012 alone? CZW is not a podunk little promotion. Of course, we don't know the overlap between PWG fans and CZW fans, so it's pretty dumb to state declaratively either way. That being said, I'd say logic is on my side here.

But getting back to the "shaking things up for no reason." People who have read this blog for a long time should know me well enough to understand that I hate things happening in wrestling for no good reason. Throwing Havok into a main event against Steen without any build up wouldn't be the best idea, even though I'm not sure the folks in the Reseda crowd (the same people who supported Candice LaRae pretty vocally when she feuded with Joey Ryan) would reject it otherwise. Then again, isn't debuting Callihan in PWG in DDT4 with Roderick Strong as a partner shaking things up for no reason? The same with some of the other heralded debuts PWG has had in its history, they kinda just throw things into the mix without any rhyme or reason other than "I think this would be a good match." The straw man built is obliterated by its own logic and patterns of the company in question.

But therein lies the rub, doesn't it? The people in charge have to think that it would be a good idea, and apparently, Super Dragon isn't keen on "most women" from his experience, which again, has been pretty small. I count four women who've wrestled for him since I started following the company: ODB, Christina von Eerie, LeRae, and Portia Perez. All four have their strengths and weaknesses, and I tend to think the last three names on that list are pretty damn good wrestlers, regardless of any trappings.

But it's true. The promoter books who the promoter wants in the promotion. If Super Dragon doesn't want to book women, it's well within his right, but what is conveniently forgotten is that I also have the right to question the reasoning why he thinks the way he thinks, right? It works both ways. I point out that the best wrestling promotions in the country are booking either woman vs. woman matches or intergender contests to great effect. Anarchy Championship Wrestling routinely sells out notable venues in two Texas metropolises with no gender barrier. Chikara has gained a reputation for progressivism not by stocking a roster with women but with giving the ball to one special performer, Sara del Rey. They let her run with it, and well what do you know, a crowd of 600-700 people at the ECW Arena cheered their asses off for her when she wrestled and defeated Claudio Castagnoli decisively and cleanly.

I claim that Havok has a similar buzz to Callihan, which might be a bit of an overestimation. But PWG also has made Younger a regular and is bringing in Samuray del Sol. Both are talented, but I'd argue that Havok trumps both of them in recognition. And before anyone says Dragon Gate USA/EVOLVE is a better brand than any company Havok (or other top women like Cheerleader Melissa or Mercedes Martinez) work for, remember that an employee publicly complained to me that "fans like me" weren't supporting them enough, and that their parent iPPV company couldn't wait to add SHINE to their roster because of how lucrative it'd be.

It boggles my mind as to how many hoops people will jump through to discount the integration of wrestling upon gender lines, especially given the massive amounts of evidence that indie wrestling fans are not only ready to accept women in the major cycle, but are demanding it. There is no reason why Super Dragon can't fly in Havok or Melissa or Mia Yim or Athena or Rachel Summerlyn to help broaden their horizons and expand the number of dream matches they can offer. I can't change people's minds, but that doesn't mean the mindsets people have about this kind of thing in 2013 don't seem not only backwards but incredibly foolish from an economic/buzz standpoint either.