The End of the “Intergender” Debate

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Photo Courtesy the amazing Joel Loeschman see more here, and be sure to check out http://www.loeschman.com

Recently, our good friend Thomas Holzerman sparked a debate about something that should no longer be debated. His piece on Cagesideseats.com here is worth reading in its entirety, but the short version is that PWG, as a critically acclaimed wrestling company in 2013, should have women on its shows. It currently does not. That, along with some statements made by its promoter, puts the otherwise great company in league with the ever shrinking handful of not so great companies that don’t give equal opportunities to women.

I’m sure all of our readers find it rather obvious that women are just as good, popular, and hardworking as the men of wrestling and deserve the same opportunities. However, some commentators on Holzerman’s piece were found still clinging to rather outdated notions about women in wrestling, notably the standard, and wholly counter-factual  trope that wrestling fans aren’t “ready” to see the intergender matchups Holzerman proposed. Again, anyone who follows us sees that as laughable. We’ve covered numerous intergender matchups across the globe, including classic moments like Sara Del Rey becoming CHIKARA’s top good “guy” by defeating Claudio Castagnoli and Rachel Summerlyn choking out bad, bad motherfucker Scot Summers to become the face of ACW. Frankly, anyone who pays any real attention to wrestling outside of the corporate universe knows it’s entirely ridiculous to suggest wrestling fans are anything but eager to see intergender bouts that give women an opportunity to be on an equal playing field with their male peers.

But some people don’t pay attention, unfortunately, and oppose gender equality in wrestling, rather ferociously. What makes many of those against equality in wrestling so intractable is the same flawed thinking that makes those against equality in other spheres of life so mentally stagnant: they attempt to turn their objective bias against women or ignorance about wrestling into objective statements of fact. We never hear “I don’t like intergender matches,” and rarely “I don’t like women’s wrestling,” just like we won’t hear, “I don’t like gay people.” Instead we hear bizarre proclamations, like statements women’s wrestling/intergender wrestling is the domain of “fetish” promotions. We hear that “society” is not “ready” to see men and women fight. Of course, we hear that “women don’t draw.” Likewise, it’s usually, “‘Studies’ suggest kids do worse in gay households.” None of these things are true, of course. They’re merely attempts to paint personal ignorance or bias as detached analysis. As long as it is presented as such, people can continue to criticize equality as serious people who are just Telling It Like It Is and and disparage those seeking equality as being “out of touch” zealots or “militant” crusaders.

Well, no more. At least when it comes to gender equality in wrestling. Below are several dozen intergender matches from around the wrestling world. From Tokyo to Toronto to Tijuana. Some of the matches new, some old. Some good, some bad, some great, some amazing. Some epic confrontations, some comical interludes. Ultraviolence, neo-Lucha Libre, shootstyle, puroresu, and so much more.  All wrestling, and wrestling that was embraced by the promoters, the wrestlers, and the audience. These matches represent only a fraction of what is readily available on Youtube (for example, none of ROH’s many intergender matches seem to be online). I could have posted three times as much by either highlighting the multiple great intergender matches that companies like Beyond and ECCW have produced, or by posting some of the many matches featuring wrestlers and promotions that even I had never heard of.

There’s no way to look through the matches below and make any of those “traditional” arguments against intergender wrestling. To attempt to do so is to place  yourself outside of reasonable discourse on Pro Wrestling. It’s to say that not only are you ignorant of the topic you are discussing, but you are willfully so. It’s to say you should not be taken seriously, because you have chosen to not take the facts seriously.

Below, DDS proudly presents the end of the “intergender” debate. We won’t miss it.

Update:

Today Resistance Pro announced its National Pro Wrestling Day match. It is, of course, an intergender match.

Update II:

We also think we’re at a point in the US where “all women’s” promotions like SHIMMER featuring male talent on their main shows would be great as well (this is already very commonplace in some promotions like ICE Ribbon, and SHIMMER has tons of guys on the pre-shows). To name names, Robert Evans, as the best intergender wrestler in the world, has certainly earned a shot at Saraya.

AAA – Fabi Apache and Aero Star vs. Sexy Star and Billy Boy

AAW – The CLASH vs MsChif and Krotch

ACW – Rachel Summerlyn vs. Scot Summers

AIW – Hailey Hatred vs. John Thorne

AJP – Ultimo Dragon, Bushi, and Makoto vs. Dark Dragon, Mazada, and Cheerleader Melissa

APW – EGO vs. Scotty Aboot and Cheerleader Melissa

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JZASbklBUY

Beyond Wrestling – Jessicka Havok vs. Mark Angel

BattlArts – Daisuke Ikeda and Syuri vs. Kenichi Yamamoto and Kana [Kana Pro]

http://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/xvu70k

BJW – Abdullah Kobayashi vs. Kyoko Kimura

BWF – Bia vs. Mano

CHIKARA – Team ROH vs. The Sendai Girls

CLASH – Truth Martin vs. Mena Libra

CZW – Mia Yim vs. Greg Excellent – MV

ECCW – RIOT vs. Administration vs. The Bollywood Boyz

Fighting Spirit Pro – Chase Rules vs. Leah Von Dutch

FMW – H and Mr. Gannosuke vs. Fuyuki and Kyoko Inoue

HUSTLE – Erica, Margaret, and Kaz Hayashi vs. Arisin Z, Blanca X, and Monster J

httpv:/www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUOeva6HpFo

ICE Ribbon – Dino & Oishi vs. Oka & Minami vs. Kasai & Matsumoto

Interspecies Wrestling – Addy Starr vs. Michael Von Patton

NEO – Kenny Omega vs. Natsuki Taiyo

NOAH – Stalker Ishikawa vs. Amazing Kong

NWA: Midwest – Tyler Black vs. Amazing Kong

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLcEmnhL10o

OSAKA Pro – Kana, Ranmaru, and Miyuki vs. Ebessan, Kamen, and Matsuyama

PWG – Candice LeRae vs. Joey Ryan

RCW – The Karate Kids vs. GCC vs. Flash and Drake

RAPW – Angel Dust vs. Chase Aaryons

SMASH – Sabu & Syuri vs. Hajime Ohara & Lin Bairon

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvxCFHLfn9U

STARDOM – Kenny Omega vs. Haruka

STHLM – Jenny Sjodin Gauntlet Match

Wrestlecrisis – Warhed vs. Jodi D’Milo

Wrestling New Classic – AKIRA vs. Kana – PV

Zero-One – Spanky and Maemura vs. Corino and Kong

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6 Comments

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  1. Great site here. I’ve come across your articles on various occasions, and I really enjoy all the pictures and insights. I largely agree with much said in this article, however I think you get a bit overzealous in setting all things equal. While I like indie and joshi women’s wrestling and I think intergender matches can be entertaining and compelling, I also think there is a limit to how far you can integrate the genders in pro wrestling before the product suffers.

    Obviously, most female wrestlers are smaller than cruiserweights.That presents issues when wrestling against men both logistically and from a believability standpoint. How much believability matters varies from promotion to promotion, but when the weight difference gets upwards of 100 pounds there is only so much that can be done without altering the character. For instance, special kinds of female wrestlers like Del Rey and Melissa can go toe to toe with the guys and look legit, yet some aspects of their game are mitigated to some degree.They can’t brutalize a 250lb guy the same way they can a 125lb woman. Essentially, most women would be perpetual underdogs while physically imposing women become less so or even underdogs themselves. Women would face even more of a challenge to get up the card than do cruiserweights and superjuniors, and speaking objectively most women lag behind the smaller men when it comes down to pure athleticism. It becomes harder for women to carve out their own niche as most will be competing with each other to fill the same niche.

    Besides that many companies will be hesitant to do M/F matches because in real life violence against women is still a big problem. If you are close to a woman who’s been beat up it can detract from the match somewhat. And of course it’s not completely PC either. The more mainstream the company is the less likely they will want to risk catching flak on the violence against women front.

    Anyway, keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “That presents issues when wrestling against men both logistically and from a believability standpoint.”

      Whatever issues these are clearly aren’t that much of a problem looking at the numerous matches I posted here. Dozens of promotions and hundreds of wrestlers have figured out how to do intergender matches. This isn’t “special” or rare, but very common, whether people have realized it or not.

      “Besides that many companies will be hesitant to do M/F matches because in real life violence against women is still a big problem.

      From what I’ve posted it doesn’t seem like very many companies at all hesitate to do M/F matches.

      “The more mainstream the company is the less likely they will want to risk catching flak on the violence against women front.”

      There’s exactly one US promotion that this statement seems to apply to, every other one that could be remotely called “mainstream” has featured intergender matches recently.

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  2. If I wasn’t clear, my problem is not that intergender matches can’t be good (Sendai vs Bucks was a really good match) but that it limits what the women can do. One of the things I like about women’s wrestling is that they are closer in size (with a few exceptions) and can use their full arsenal of moves regularly. Also being a “big fish in a small pond” isn’t entirely bad for the big fish. It’s easier to be prominent. How intimidating is a Kong next to a KANE or Kevin Nash? Is Mercedes Martinez a bad ass or THE bad ass? If you do away with divisions it will be a lot more difficult for women to lay claim to being the best overall or stand out for a particular thing. And do you get rid of the women’s title? Or does it become a handicap title like a cruiserweight belt that certain women are too good for? How many women can you see as non-women’s world champions above the regional level? Or even competing for a world championship?

    The other thing I touched on is that the narrative is going to become similar in the same way that most Rey Mysterio matches are similar. A battle against the odds. I don’t dislike Mysterio but I wouldn’t want to see a lot of those types of matches in short order. I prefer competitive well-rounded contests. The crowd may enjoy something in moderation that they may not in regularity. That applies to myself. I also think the indie crowd is not an accurate representation of the entire wrestling fanbase. I enjoy the occasional intergender matchup but I like the world of women’s wrestling as well. If you mix it up with regularity the women start to become more similar than they are diverse. I like different things. I stand by what I said in that only a few women are able to break out of the underdog role convincingly. And let me ask, how often were you actually rooting against the women in these matches?

    Finally, just because many companies do M/F matches doesn’t mean all companies should have to. If PWG doesn’t want to do them, I can allow them their own reasons and I don’t think they have stated what those reasons are. And yes, the WWE in particular is very PC about men and women mixing it up. However, TNA and even ROH seem to shy away from serious intergender matchups as well. At least in regularity. I know TNA has Eric Young and ODB doing some stuff, but what they do is so gimmicky and constrained that it is pretty much a joke. When you’re supposed to boo every time the guy hits the woman back, it can be a little uncomfortable. I wasn’t even counting those types of matches for the sake of this discussion. I just don’t like them. I don’t like how the women are used in mainstream promotions in general. All just my opinions. I really do enjoy and appreciate your efforts. I’m just not so bullish in some regards. Just hoping you’d consider the many contrasting opinions you can get on an issue like this. Wrestling is art after all, again that’s my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “If I wasn’t clear, my problem is not that intergender matches can’t be good (Sendai vs Bucks was a really good match) but that it limits what the women can do.”

    Whatever those limits you think of in theory obviously aren’t a major factor in reality. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many matches here. You can come up with hypotheses but wrestling has already done the testing and looked at the evidence.

    “One of the things I like about women’s wrestling is that they are closer in size (with a few exceptions) and can use their full arsenal of moves regularly. Also being a “big fish in a small pond” isn’t entirely bad for the big fish. It’s easier to be prominent. How intimidating is a Kong next to a KANE or Kevin Nash?”

    Replace “women’s” with “independent” and “Kong” with “Kevin Steen” and the idea is exactly the same, but no one worries that about the fact that most of the guys in the US indies are small compared to the big guys in corporate wrestling. Fact is the size disparity between men and women outside of corporate wrestling isn’t that great, and many of the top women are larger than some of the top men.

    “If you do away with divisions it will be a lot more difficult for women to lay claim to being the best overall or stand out for a particular thing.”

    If you keep women to separate divisions then it’s impossible for women to lay claim to being the best overall. They will only be the best “women’s wrestler.” As just about any actual female wrestler will tell you, that’s not their goal. The best female wrestlers don’t want to be protected and shielded like that. They want to prove they are just as good.

    “And do you get rid of the women’s title? Or does it become a handicap title like a cruiserweight belt that certain women are too good for? How many women can you see as non-women’s world champions above the regional level? Or even competing for a world championship?”

    Again, these are questions that are asked as if intergender isn’t already a real, prominent thing. Look at the matches. You see them in companies who have women’s titles still. You see them in companies who had women as their top champion. You see them in companies that did both. All those questions have been answered with “No big deal.”

    “The other thing I touched on is that the narrative is going to become similar in the same way that most Rey Mysterio matches are similar. A battle against the odds. I don’t dislike Mysterio but I wouldn’t want to see a lot of those types of matches in short order. I prefer competitive well-rounded contests. The crowd may enjoy something in moderation that they may not in regularity.”

    Again, this is theory. The matches up there tell many different stories and show many different types of matches.

    “I also think the indie crowd is not an accurate representation of the entire wrestling fanbase.”

    Well those matches aren’t just US indie crowds. They are crowds from all corners of the globe and represent the entirety of the fanbase this site is interested in. If you mean to say the fanbase of one corporate owned company is to cretinous for intergender wrestling, I’d disagree but it’s not an argument I’m really interested in. This post isn’t about that company.

    “Finally, just because many companies do M/F matches doesn’t mean all companies should have to. If PWG doesn’t want to do them, I can allow them their own reasons and I don’t think they have stated what those reasons are.”

    The fact that so many companies do M/F matches makes it’s obvious that there are no serious reasons for not doing them and not giving deserving women an equal opportunity. How is it different than a company who wouldn’t put on an inter-racial match or wouldn’t fly in any black wrestlers?

    “However, TNA and even ROH seem to shy away from serious intergender matchups as well.”

    ROH has done several serious intergender matches, and TNA has had a few as well with Ayako Hamada. And even if they hadn’t, there don’t seem to be any good reasons not to.

    On the larger point, if the one big unwatchable, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, abusive, unethical, corporate owned entertainment company chooses not to do something that’s all the more reason for the rest of the art to embrace it whole-heartedly. The matches show we already have.

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  4. Alright, I’m not eager to protract this discussion much further and you probably have better uses for your time. My main point is that by erasing gender boundaries the female wrestlers will be subjected to the same challenges and obstacles that small male wrestlers face, only worse. Even in most of your linked matches there are aspects of those elements.

    The further away from the indie scene wrestling gets, the more important appearances become (wrestlers get bigger, for example) and the harder it will be for women to succeed, especially those who aren’t 5’6″ 140lbs. Even someone like Manami Toyota, one of the greatest of all time period, would have been limited (she’s smaller than Liger and Marufuji) were she constantly competing with guys like Kenta Kobashi and Stan Hansen. I don’t think she needed to face men to show how good she was, (I don’t care or think about who the men’s champion is when I watch women’s wrestling) and I never said women shouldn’t ever wrestle men. (I would love to see someone like Hamada or Melissa get back with TNA and have a run with a men’s title–as well as the women’s title. Gail Kim or Mickie James doing the same would be a little harder to do let alone Brooke or Velvet…)

    I just don’t think it is a good idea for women and men to wrestle each other constantly. If you strongly believe otherwise I suppose I am not going to affect your opinion much. I’m not trying to be malicious or anything and I’ll admit I am not as dedicated as you seem to be. I generally support your progressive push for women’s wrestling even if it seems otherwise. I just don’t think you need to destroy women’s wrestling to advance women’s wrestling. Do you understand what I mean or do you think i have a “[sub]jective bias against women? Hey, some of my favorite wrestlers are women! (LOL)

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  5. .@GothicLolly We ended the intergender “debate” last year already. The good guys won: http://t.co/3UWaxxMpKX

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