WWE have recently come under attack for their presentation of their first ever all-female show. Indeed, Evolution was poorly promoted, haphazardly put together, and does feel like a token “you’re welcome” as a response to WWE’s journeys as worldwide do-gooders in Saudi Arabia.
However, it was at least something where the focus was on the female performers. They didn’t have to do that.
How does your favourite promotion match up?
As with the rest of the western world, Britain does seem to be finally catching up with the idea that women’s wrestling can be a draw, but it has been a long, exceptionally slow process.
Companies such as EVE and Bellatrix have been holding the fort, proving that women can be what brings people to shows, and the past year has seen the return of Fierce Females to Scotland, although they are only running sporadically at present after a hiatus. These shows have proven that women’s wrestling is appealing and can be successful in the correct environment.
But they are exceptions to the rule. They have chosen to solely focus on women’s wrestling. That is their prerogative, just as it would be if a company came out and said “we’re only going to book men.” I’d question the logic of anyone who did that, but I’d much rather companies did that than do what a lot are currently doing – simply paying lip service.
I asked a friend who attends a lot more shows than I do how many they’d been to lately that included more than one women’s match. Aside from EVE, the only example they could name was Wrestling Resurgence, which featured a four-way between Bobbi Tyler, Shax, Kanji and Lana Austin, as well as a singles match between Candy Floss and Chakara.
This is a running trend across the country, from your leisure centre family shows all the way to arenas. The three most prominent countries in an international spotlight in the country all suffer from this.
Aside from the one-night women’s tournament show at the Dome – which also had a men’s four-way on the card – PROGRESS have failed to have more than one women’s show on any card, except for one that also featured a number one contender’s match.
Jinny’s capturing of the Women’s championship may have headlined their big Manchester show, but it didn’t feel like a huge occasion and certainly wasn’t promoted as a main event. Toni Storm’s title reign was mostly “here’s the challenger of the month” in a throwaway copy and paste defence formula, and even the current women’s storyline – yep, the only one – wasn’t started at a show, it was a tweeted image with a couple of crosses put on top.
NGW, while not hugely popular on these shores, does have quite the international following and has spent time on UK TV. They have no women’s championship and if women appear on the show, more often or not it’s in a valet or manager role.
The last show of theirs I attended, the only woman on the show was So Cal Val in the role of guest timekeeper and ring announcer. That’s not good enough. There are plenty of women who can wrestle in the country – even within a couple of hours of their home base of Hull. There’s no excuse.
ICW, while not being afraid to put women in with the men and show they can be equals or greaters, seem to have stepped backwards since the introduction of their women’s championship. Since its inception in 2015, there have been five different champions over eight different reigns.
Of these, Kay Lee Ray (300 days), Viper (at present 311 days), and Carmel Jacobs (322 days) have spent over two and a half years as champion, fending off flavours of the week, with anything resembling a story only appearing when a big show approaches. For most of Jacobs’ reign, the title was barely seen until it came for her to lose it prior to her retirement. For a company that was so progressive in that regard, the step back they’ve taken is disappointing.
So when the field leaders are working in such a manner, it’s frustratingly understandable why others would follow suit. It works for them, why do any differently?
I really do think there’s an opportunity for women to be treated and spotlighted equally by a company in the UK. There’s no reason why on an eight-match card, four couldn’t be women’s matches. It just takes somebody brave enough to take the chance.
But if you see women as equals and think they should have equal opportunities, what about throwing them in with the men? Intergender wrestling may have detractors, critics and people who question its merits, but there is absolutely an appetite for it. This is currently being proven by more and more companies.
Fight Club: Pro have never been afraid to have women in the ring with men, indeed Meiko Satomura is still, kinda, in a manner, FC:P champion.
Riptide don’t have men’s and women’s divisions, they have an active roster. The women fight the men as equals. There’s no separation, if you’re in their ring you are a competitor – the brutal war between Jinny and Jimmy Havoc being the prime example.
Kamikaze Pro recently ran an event featuring two intergender matches – one including Millie McKenzie winning their tag belt – as well as an all-women’s match.
London Lucha League have intergender matches, as do XWA, who also host Equal Fights shows as cross-promotions with EVE where the EVE women fight the XWA men.
ICW do still have women – mainly Kay Lee Ray and Viper – in with the men. Indeed, KLR has taken many more chair shots from men than she has anyone else.
Intergender wrestling has a market. Do I want to see it all the time? If the story fits, sure, why not? It shouldn’t happen just because, though. I’m a big story guy. Spin me a yarn, tell me a tale. If the story you’re telling me leads to an intergender match, I’m here for it.
I don’t believe for one second the usual retort of it being “unrealistic.” You’re watching professional wrestling. You suspend your disbelief the second you buy a ticket.
If two competitors are in the ring, they can be considered equals – squashes aside. I absolutely believe that Candy Floss, Millie McKenzie, Jinny, hell, any of the women on the UK scene could kick my backside, so why couldn’t they do it to anyone they might face between the ropes?
If Jordynne Grace can powerbomb and eliminate Brian Cage from a battle royal on pay per view, anyone else can make women equal in the wrestling industry.
We should be living in an equal society. Everyone of all genders should be equal. WWE, albeit in an attempt to justify their trips to tyrannical regimes to accept blood money, claim that professional wrestling can be a force of good, a bringer of change. It might be a massive overstatement where they’re going, but they’re not entirely wrong.
The smaller end of the UK indy scene is proof of this. If Riptide can do it in a church hall, PROGRESS can do it in Wembley arena. If Wrestling Resurgence can do it in an art gallery in Nottingham, ICW can do it at the Hydro.
It’s time for everyone else to catch up.
LP McCausland – @getyrbodybeat