Women’s wrestling: The next big thing? (Part 6)

 

jvarsallone@miamiherald.com

Many more males watch pro wrestling shows than females, and pro wrestling is a male-dominated avocation.

So it is a greater challenge for females to be accepted as ‘professional wrestlers’ not only by male wrestlers, male agents and male promoters but more so male fans.

The eye candy stereotype is prevalent.

WWE didn’t help. The company decided entertainment is more important than sport. The mantra is find those with looks and try transitioning these sexy women into sexy wrestling women.

WWE isn’t the only game in town, but it is the most lucrative.

Frustration can mount for female combatants, who want to work for WWE but are turned away because of their look rather than talent. Dealing with condescending men whether it be from the stands or backstage at shows or on the Internet is another disheartening factor. Some of the trash written or said would get your blood boiling, if your sister was the butt of the harassing, rude and vulgar remarks.

Working the indies is rougher for women, who are lucky enough to land a match.

With a fewer amount of women wrestlers, women train with men. That can be a good thing, because they need to be physical in the ring.

If she can throw a harder punch, a stronger kick and a rougher forearm, it shows, making fans believe, respect it. Springing off the ropes and hitting the turnbuckle are other important developing areas of the profession. If a punch, kick, forearm looks weak, hitting the turnbuckle soft, how are fans and peers going to buy into the action.

Brittney Savage, a six-year indie wrestler, competed on a Battling Bombshells women’s wrestling show. No matter how her opponent throws her into the ropes or turnbuckle, Savage responds convincingly, bouncing fast off the ropes and landing hard into the turnbuckle.

Having a men’s match on a women’s show is the inverse of the usual wrestling show, but it can do more harm than good. The men can work at a faster, more physical rate, so it can make the women’s action less appealing from a work standpoint.

A women’s match on a men’s show is an attraction. A men’s match on a women’s show is show theft.

Very rare for a women’s match to main event a (men’s) wrestling show. TNA Wrestling main evented women, the TNA Knockouts, in the late 2000s. Some of the group’s highest rated segments the Knockouts. The company even devoted an entire show to women during a holiday season run. Trish Stratus vs. Lita main evented a WWE Monday Night raw show.

Recently, River City Wrestling, a (male dominated) indie group in San Antonio, featured former TNA Knockouts Alissa Flash and Angelina Love in the main event. River City dubbed its women’s division the Angels Division, consisting of athletic, beautiful and talented women of the squared circle.

Focusing on women’s wrestling by clearing tunnel vision, pre-conceived notions and the recent past through an open mind sheds some light at tunnel’s end for women in wrestling. That’s much better than being left in the dark or the dark match.

WWE is a goal for women’s wrestlers like Brittney Savage, but it’s becoming more a pipedream. No matter how hard show works and improves in the ring, is she doesn’t have that WWE look, they won’t be calling. If you don’t fit the model type, it’s very difficult. Frustrating.

So what will it take for women’s wrestlers and women’s wrestling to succeed?

Boys will be boys. Male fans, unfortunately, would rather see a cat fight or wardrobe malfunction than solid women’s wrestling. Right?

Well, if Gail Kim and Awesome Kong, Trish Stratus and Lita, Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell, and the women of STARDOM in Japan can generate a buzz for their physicality and psychology, orchestrating riveting matches that fans respond, then they prove women wrestlers who can deliver better, hard hitting, physical matches can work, changing the perception.

Wrestling fan Tori Warenik of (South Florida) Cooper City said: “I think it depends on the woman. If you have a woman who gets into the business for love of the ring, passion for entertaining the fans, she has a shot of overturning the preconceived notions of female wrestling.

“If she’s getting into wrestling purely because she’s looking for that bottom dollar, because she couldn’t think of anything better to do with her fitness model body, the stereotypes will just be reinforced.”

Having established women wrestlers train women to wrestle is another important element. WWE did hire Sara Del Rey to train the up-n-coming divas at the new WWE Performance Center in Orlando. Prior, Allison Danger at SHIMMER and most recently Lexie Fyfe at Shine and La Rosa Negra at Battling Bombshells are doing the same for those women’s wrestling groups. Some men do a good job training women to wrestle, but who better to understand a woman than another woman in that field.

Women in prominent positions backstage is extremely important. TNA’s president is Dixie Carter, who has a degree in Business Administration from the University of Mississippi. WWE’s Chief Brand Officer is Stephanie McMahon, who has a degree in Communication from Boston University, and Jane Geddes, a former pro golfer who earned her law degree at Stetson University in Deland, Fla., is WWE’s Vice President of Talent Relations.

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