Tuesday, 29 July 2008 07:27
Maybe women’s pro wrestling is under your radar, but I enjoy following the sport.
Once upon a time, women’s matches were mostly sideshow, performed seemingly for the wrong reasons, and while standouts in the history of the sport exist (and not just the late, great Moolah’s mostly mythological championship run -- I‘m talking Judy Grable and Mildred Burke!) it’s hard to go back and look for great runs of great matches, or otherwise strong feuds featuring great matches.
That is, setting aside the awesome talents and matches in Japan in the 1980’s, and especially the 1990’s, and notably with the All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling promotion.
Let’s face it, the 1990’s versions of the WWE were for one reason, and it wasn’t wrestling. And while Lita and Trish could go, they were never allowed to go as much as the talented wrestlers across the indy stages today.
Could they keep up? Likely, but that’s a moot point.
The great thing is, that we’ve reached a point in pro wrestling history where the rosters of women wrestlers are stocked with talent, with dozens of competitors at the main event level, who work in a growing number of professional wrestling promotions, three of which (SHIMMER, ChickFight and WSU (Women Superstars Uncensored) put forth great cards on a regular basis.
To me, the women wrestlers tout a much more purer form of professional wrestling: they interact and react to the fans much better, they don’t get caught up in stupid booking (well, I’m talking the above mentioned promotions!) and they aren’t constrained by styles or body shapes.
Is women’s wrestling perfect? Maybe not. And maybe it’s not your “cup of tea” -- but if you’re complaining about women’s wrestling being all about GLOW (by the way, check out Big Vision’s GLOW compilation for some nostalgia!) then you aren’t paying very close attention.
And if you’re watching women’s wrestling, and not paying close attention, what’s wrong with you?
Just to lay out the argument, let’s look at three points: styles of wrestling, and appreciation of the craft, and depth of talent.
1) The top names of the genre are top notch wrestlers, who can match hold-for-hold with male counterpoints, in terms of technical skills, high flying ability and, in many ways, in terms of hard hitting action.
While there aren’t exactly reputations for bloodletting, there are names, like Kong and Lee and Danger, and hardcore potential in names like Melissa and MsChif and Jazz, and heck, even the TNA ladies are getting their heads shaved and showing some color.
With women’s wrestling, we have a growing portion of the industry accepting and admiring the efforts of the women, and these ladies are training hard and learning the craft and displaying creativity that cannot be dismissed.
Even by you chauvinists out there.
On TNA, we’ve seen that Awesome Kong has attracted solid attention. Of course, they couldn’t wait to cut her down, but anyone who’s seen Kong in action knows that it’s impossible to stop her.
If you want to see punishing action, you can watch Kong vs. Amy Lee in WSU. You can watch Cheerleader Melissa vs. anyone, and especially vs. MsChif. You can see Jazz and Angel Orisini and a number of other competitors, girls you don’t want to see in a dark alley -- that’s for sure.
If you want to see technical mastery, look no further than SHIMMER champ Sara Del Rey (recently dethroned by MsChif.) Look to the ChickFight promotion, and it’s awesome tournaments, where gals are fighting for several matches before winning the thing. Look at the tag team excellence of Lacey and Rain, and know that they put justice to the “Wrecking Crew” moniker. And how about the “Definition of Technician” herself, Cindy Rogers?
High flying? How about Daizee Haze? How about Nikki Roxx and Sarah Stock and a number of fearless women of wrestling?
How about the fact that we can note several horrible injuries, including one to Mickie Knuckles, and one in 2006 that seems to have derailed the career of Rebecca Knox?
These ladies didn’t hurt themselves rolling around in mud, or bopping each other with pillows. They did it when pushing the envelope of their craft.
That’s a level passion that deserves respect, not ogling.
2) Once again, it’s the purity of the professional wrestling that is displayed by the women that gets my attention. Watch the women in action, and you’ll see them interact. You’ll see them play face and heel. You’ll see them rally the crowd, play to previous matches, and work a match like few of their male counterparts bother.
You want an awesome heel? Watch Amber O’Neal in action. The bonus match on SHIMMER Volume 13 is a gem, showing her and Cheerleader Melissa in a match that would go over well on TV. Besides which, O’Neal isn’t just a Barbie doll, she plants her opponent’s with the Barbie Cutter, and she doesn’t let up on the crowd, or the competitor all match.
Overbooked nightmares are the stuff of the Vinces these days, but it’s amazing what can happen when you cut out all the camouflage and all the distractions. All those distractions are merely a symptom of the disconnect between promoters and fans.
Wrestlers, once upon a time, were the conduit between what the fans wanted, and what the promoters intended to deliver.
Today, most wrestlers are robotic, pathetic actors and incapable of controlling the flow of the match.
When I watch the gals in action, I rarely get caught complaining about botched moves, or boring sequences or outright bad booking.
That’s because the effort is both mental and physical, and in both avenues; I’ll take a MsChif match over any other wrestler. I’ll take a chance on watching Amy Lee vs. Awesome Kong over watching MMA on a Saturday night. I’ll settle down and enjoy Lacey and Rain pull out all the stops in a tag team match.
And there’s all that, without even talking about seeing some great looking bodies in athletic garb. Sure, I don’t find Lacey Von Erich’s fretting about a wardrobe malfunction appealing, but it’s cool to see her introduce the Iron Claw to the current generation of great wrestlers.
3) Let’s name some of the top women wrestling talents, in no particular order:
Sara Del Rey
Add in another tier:
Portuguese Princess Ariel
and others… (my apologies for oversights!)
Point is, that ain’t including several TNA names, anyone called a “DIVA” nor the Ohio Valley Wrestling gals, nor the Mexican or Japanese contingents, and my apologies, it does not include every wrestler on every roster.
It does represent a very strong roster that currently appear on several solid promotions, and have been seen on TNA.
Women’s wrestling isn’t confined to one strange promotion, or even one region. It’s represented on the West Coast with ChickFight, on the East Coast with WSU, and in Chicago (and other places in the ROH family of promotions) with SHIMMER.
And women’s wrestling is steadily making inroads on the major indy level. It’s no longer a joke, no longer a sport practiced by one or two troupes, and no longer something just to look at.
If you’re looking for more information, look to