Ben Six despairs at the state of women’s pro-wrestling:
It’s as insulting to the viewers as to the performers. We’re supposed to think that dames who make tour cyclists look like bodybuilders, and who smile broader and blander than presidential candidates, are formidable wrestlers. This wouldn’t be farcical if they could actually work but – especially as they’ve begun to recruit performers from the world of modelling rather than sports – many wouldn’t know a boston crab from seafood. Meanwhile, talented performers who – shock horror! – carry muscle mass or an ounce of fat are humiliated. This may change – I’d go into the details but they’d bore you silly – but, ’til then, the whole darn thing is just degrading people.
As an MMA fan I might be inclined to get all smug and superior about how this is what happens when you watch worked fights. On the other hand, as an MMA fan, I’ve watched Strikeforce trying to match Gina Carano with people who are either half her size or who’ve never had a pro fight before, so it’s not like I can get too smug. That said, I think that this is just plain strange:
I don’t find women’s rugby or cricket as much fun as their male equivalents for the same reason I’d prefer to watch England than Romania or Zimbabwe. The enjoyability of the sports – for me, at least – is enhanced by a level of pace and strength the male physique is better suited for.
Now obviously I have no idea about what it is in particular about the England men’s rugby team that Ben prefers to the Romanian one, but I think we can rule out the idea that the English physique is just better suited for rugby. I’d guess that the reason no-one wants to watch the Romanians is that they’re drawing their rugby players from a small talent pool, not coaching them as well, and paying them peanuts. Seems to me that a lot of the problems with women’s sports can probably be explained the same way.
This might seem like pointless righter-on-than-thou-ism, but there is a substantive point here. If the problem with women’s sports is that there’s not enough money, and not enough women doing them, then part of the solution has to be more money and more women getting involved in the sport.
This is why I’m actually sort of ambivalent about the inevitable tendency to sex up women’s fights. On the one hand it’s ridiculous (we do have channels that show actual porn, people!), and patronising. On the other it does get more exposure and money for female fighters. I’d guess that, on balance, it encourages women to get involved in the sport. For every potentially talented fighter who finds it all too tawdry, I’m guessing there are a fair few who think “I’m pretty sure I could make easy money beating the shit out of that girl!”
Obviously it’s a little harder to achieve the same result in pro-wrestling (and here I may be forced to get just a little smug and superior). The fact that MMA involves real fighting does enforce a minimal level of honesty amongst promoters. Talented pro-wrestlers will always have a harder time proving that they’re talented, rather than just hyped. But that’s hardly a problem that’s confined to the women’s game, is it?