Tuesday, March 3, 2015

On Chris Dickinson and Kimber Lee

She's a wrestler, and she deserves protection from her opponent
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Another week has elapsed on the calendar, and another incident of a wrestler making things too real for another one has surfaced. Granted, Chris Dickinson probably didn't mean to hurt Kimber Lee intentionally like Yoshiko did to Act Yasukawa. However, the footage is still just as hard to digest. Basically, at the Beyond Wrestling King of Arts show this past Sunday, Dickinson plastered a kneeling Lee with a chairshot to the head, and followed it up with a stiff crucifix bomb into the corner where the ringbell was located. Lee may or may not have hit her head on said bell at full speed. Lee is a tough as nails performer who takes bumps as hard as she dishes them out, but this sequence seemed a bit off.

Firstly, I still don't see how any wrestler, post-[REDACTED] can in good conscience take or give an unprotected chairshot to the head. Even if Lee wanted to take the full-on shot more than Lisa Simpson wanted a goddamn pony, Dickinson should have refused. Then again, it's in his MO to dole out that kind of spot; Matt Tremont took one from Dickinson at Slamtasia V last November. The risks associated aren't worth the CTE, and a chairshot to the back conveys the same kind of brutality with a fraction of the risk of longterm mental health. No chairshot is perfectly safe, of course, especially one at full blast.

The powerbomb is more of a gray area, but the fact that Dickinson threw her into the corner with the bell raises all kinds of red flags. For one, why have the bell so close to where wrestlers bump, especially in the super-indies where Pro Wrestling Guerrilla has conditioned everyone to do moves upon moves upon moves onto the apron? IF the bell had to be there, then shouldn't the wrestlers be more aware of surroundings? This event was not Dickinson's first rodeo by a long shot. He's been at nearly every Fete Music show, if not all of them.

I know the relationship between Dickinson and Beyond Wrestling is pretty tight, but Lee is also one of the most recognizable and bankable stars on the roster. The chairshot thing is a systemic deal that still lingers on the indie scene like a stale fart. The sooner that practice is banned across the board, the better everyone will be. Of course, CTE will still be a problem that may never go away, but at least the super, major culprit behind it will be under wraps. But the powerbomb thing, accident or no, might require him to get some kind of recourse. Since Beyond pays per-appearance, maybe Dickinson ought to sit out the next couple of pay-dates. That might make him think twice. Still, wrestling is a partnership. The protective trust needs to be maintained. Breaking it on purpose is anathema, but it's not like accidents aren't preventable.

But because Dickinson's a dude and Lee is a woman, I've heard a lot of chatter surrounding the incident from men about how intergender wrestling is bad because it "fetishizes man on woman violence" or because "it's a sign that women are asking to prove themselves too hard." I would have a rebuttal to those statements, but that would make me as big a phony as they are. If you want to know how much intergender wrestling fetishizes or doesn't fetishize women, go ask a woman who is in the scene and regularly attends shows promoted by companies such as Beyond. They're the people whose opinions would be germane to those arguments, and all the opinions, even the ones that conflict with each other, are worth listening to. Don't frame this as a philosophical problem with men wrestling women without actual input from women.