It’s a walk-off!

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?

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3 responses to “It’s a walk-off!

  1. 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.

    Yeah, that was unclear – I’ve amended it to be blunter. I find some sports more entertaining the better the players are and the best of women would find it ridiculously hard to compete with the best of men in, say, rugby as their bodies aren’t fit for such extremes of pace and strength. The comparison with lesser male sides – who are, indeed, less good for different reasons – was to show – to myself as much as anyone – that it’s taste rather some kind of residual primary school prejudice.

    The point was that I don’t think that’s true of wrestling. (Contra lunkhead fans who’d say, “Of course they’re showing boobs! What else are they going to do? Wrestle?”)

    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.

    Yeah, you’ve got a point. I’m no puritan (or, indeed, Dworkinesque feminist). Sex can have a role in a product. (When scantily clad women and, indeed, men are locking limbs, in fact, it’s there however one might feel.) It’s when it’s the product that it gets annoying.

    A question that bugs me is whether casual fans prefer ungainly blondes to proper wrestlers, in which case, as you say, the laws of booking will dictate that the championship remains with people who’ll rarely throw a punch for fear of breaking a nail. (The fact that all the major companies are run or booked by blatant perverts doesn’t help, of course.) To that extent your smugness is richly justified.

    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?

    Heh. Indeedy. I should get more into MMA but it’s never on.

  2. I should get more into MMA but it’s never on.

    They just streamed the new OneFC event here, should still be on for a bit:
    http://www.sherdog.com/videos/weeklybeatings/Yoshiyuki-Yoshida-vs-Phil-Baroni-From-OneFC-Champion-vs-Champion-3283
    (That’s the official feed, and so on the right side of copyright law.)

    I find some sports more entertaining the better the players are and the best of women would find it ridiculously hard to compete with the best of men in, say, rugby as their bodies aren’t fit for such extremes of pace and strength.

    Again, it’s a bit of a reach for me to second guess what you find entertaining, but how much is this to do with strength and speed, and how much is it to do with actually being able to play the game to a decent standard. The two are clearly different. So, for example, Pacquiao is not physically equipped to fight Klitschko, but I defy anyone to tell me that Klitschko is a better boxer. And anyone who’d actually rather watch Klitschko fight is either Ukranian or blind. (Mrs Competition would like it to be known that I stole this point from her much more amusing post below).

    Away from fighting, the same thing seems to go on in women’s tennis. Obviously they’re unlikely to be able to compete with the men, but this doesn’t mean that women’s tennis is just a second-rate version of the men’s game. I know people who prefer women’s tennis precisely because some of the power’s taken out of it, so women have to rely on other aspects.

    A question that bugs me is whether casual fans prefer ungainly blondes to proper wrestlers, in which case, as you say, the laws of booking will dictate that the championship remains with people who’ll rarely throw a punch for fear of breaking a nail.

    Well, if they’re anything like casual MMA fans it’d be hard to underestimate them. I’m actually sort of curious about how this works for wrestling. I’d always sort of assumed that you’d get pretty good segmentation, with hardcore fans moving off to their own niches and pretty much ignoring the main stream, but you’re clearly watching enough mainstream wrestling to be getting annoyed by it. Is that just an availability issue, or am I missing something?

  3. They just streamed the new OneFC event here, should still be on for a bit…

    Cheers!

    Again, it’s a bit of a reach for me to second guess what you find entertaining, but how much is this to do with strength and speed, and how much is it to do with actually being able to play the game to a decent standard.

    Good point. It’s a matter of personal taste, I guess (so, I’d watch rugby for the crunching tackles and the lightning breaks but a proper fan would doubtless have a more, er – nuanced appreciation).

    Is that just an availability issue, or am I missing something?

    I watch WWE/TNA because I’m too much of a cheapskate to buy the shows of better companies. (To that extent I guess I’m not a hardcore fan!) On a brighter note, though, the splendid Ring of Honor are broadcasting free on t’ ‘net this year.

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