|A wounded warrior, but a warrior no less|
Photo Credit: Wrestlin' Wally
In a moment, it reminded me of the ovation Sara del Rey got eighteen months prior at the ECW Arena for her match against Claudio Castagnoli. Of course, del Rey got in more offense than Lovelace did on Saturday. She even won the match, not the first or last that she'd take against a male opponent. Every time she set out in the ring against an opponent, male or female, she was not defined by societal stereotypical norms about gender roles. She was a wrestler. Not a female wrestler, an intergender wrestler, or a special attraction wrestler. She was a wrestler.
So was Lovelace on Saturday. It's all in the presentation.
And so it was presentation that ruined the Resistance Pro tag match. It felt like it was a minor upset whenever either one of the women in the match was able to inflict any damage on either of the men. Yes, Darcy Dixon was able to power bomb Robert Anthony at one point in the match, but it was such a struggle. Do you think any man would have had that much problem lifting Anthony up? Even the smallest cruiserweights on the indie scene do moves like that on wrestlers Anthony's size. There was one moment in the match where the intentions of the wrestlers within it were known, even more than how feebly the women were portrayed within the context of the match. When Anthony had Dixon up in the scoop slam position and shouted "DOMESTIC VIOLENCE!" it was clear the match was nothing more than a cathartic exercise for he and Jay Bradley to act out misogynistic urges to attack women.
Obviously, some will argue that the most horrific unintended circumstance from any intergender wrestling match is that it's going to foster an atmosphere that attracts the creeps and cretins who want nothing more than to have the right to hit women who annoy them, but only live vicariously through the wrestlers who pretend to do it in the context of a staged athletic competition. Those people exist, sure. They were the ones yelling back at Brandon Stroud and Danielle Matheson chastising them by going "It's just wrestling!" I don't think you're ever going to get rid of it, but I also think that it as a pervasive problem in all wrestling crowds is way overblown.
I've seen the sheer goodwill by wrestling crowds shown towards women wrestling against men, and deflation when those women lost to men who played up the violence against women quotient. Hardly anyone in the Palmer Center in Easton wanted to see the Sendai Girls get hit with further violence after losing their match. Even though I've seen them react positively to some of the baser aspects of humanity, there's also a genuine feeling of respect towards the American Joshis in Anarchy Championship Wrestling. The biggest example in the last two years has been del Rey. Of course, the admiration and applause for Lovelace was palpable and felt genuine, which made it all the more baffling why some of the same people clapping for Lovelace wanted to see Bradley decapitate Dixon after the match with his lariat as "payback" for Dixon losing the match (which was a goddamn weak strain of storytelling to get out of what was displayed in that ring).
The point is that those cues will only come out if wrestlers play to them. The good people will reject those cues and the ones who still have a ways to go in treating people decently will be the ones to eat them up and continue to make me embarrassed to be in the same crowd as them. Sometimes, those cues are Pavlovian, but when called out on them, if your answer is "It's just wrestling," then it's perfectly valid to ask you why being treated as a human being is conditional on gender. That's the attitude you project. It's a bad attitude, and you should feel bad.
Who shouldn't feel bad are the people who actually put on wrestling without gender barriers with good intentions behind them. People like Mike Quackenbush shouldn't face shit because of unintended consequences, because of the actions of a few who infiltrate their audiences who don't get it. The people who should face shit are the ones with caveman attitudes, the ones who refuse to get with the times and leave the attitude that women are second class citizens back where it belongs, in the past.
So if I were going to take away anything from this weekend, it's that Billy Roc's school and the promotion attached to it, Wrestling Is Heart, deserve my money and attention. Resistance Pro? They can rot for all I care unless something in their SOP changes. And Jay Bradley can rot in Impact Wrestling for all I care. I hope they feed him Robbie T week in and out until he quits the business out of spite.
The future is now, but the problem is that treating people like human beings shouldn't be a space-age concept, especially along the lines of gender. Heidi Lovelace and Darcy Dixon both got their asses kicked at National Pro Wrestling Day. However, only one got hers kicked as a wrestler and not as a worthless female. The former promotion is the one that's going to get my dollars.
And if you were a decent person, it should be the case for you too.