It’s often been said that Vince McMahon doesn’t worry about competition. It’s not that the WWE owner takes every other pro wrestling company lightly or doesn’t believe any of those companies can make an impact. But in Vince McMahon’s mind, WWE has no competition.
However there is no denying that the independent wrestling circuit continues to grow and its stars have never been more popular. Pro wrestling fans are more aware of companies outside of WWE than ever before and that is evident by the success of both Ring of Honor and New Japan. But how many of the trends currently playing out in the Indies are truly working their way into WWE? What are the chances that one of those trends, intergender wrestling, actually happens in Vince McMahon’s company?
It would not be the first time of course. Longtime WWE fans remember a time, not too long ago, when Chyna dominated the women’s division. Years before the Women’s Revolution, Chyna was fighting the good fight for gender equality in pro wrestling. She was big, she was tough and she was capable. She was so capable that she defeated Jeff Jarrett in the infamous “Good Housekeeping Match” in 1999. However The Ninth Wonder of the World wasn’t the only female to step into a WWE ring against the opposite sex.
Molly Holly, Jacquline, Victoria, Beth Phoenix, Sable, Mickie James, Lita and Trish Stratus have all faced off against men in WWE. As recently as 2017, both Becky Lynch and Asuka joined the list of women that worked men in the company.
Watch Sable powerbomb Marc Mero:
Of course there’s the Attitude Era, where women didn’t need to work matches with men in order to get thrown around in the ring. Stone Cold Steve Austin had no problem delivering the Stone Cold Stunner to Chyna, Stephanie McMahon and even Linda McMahon. The Dudley Boyz often put women through tables and the fans regularly popped for it.
Even after the Attitude Era ended, women were still not safe in WWE. Kane, Randy Orton and even John Cena, delivered their finishing moves to the female Superstars. It seems that the company believed the women to be on even ground with the men. With that being the case, it was no holds barred every time WWE came to town.
But there is a difference between intergender wrestling and unnecessary violence towards women. Fans know this. Much of the violence that has occurred was in a very different time and WWE was a very different place. Fans know this as well. This WWE is not the same company that showcased women in lingerie matches and mud matches. Scantily clad females were paraded around for the enjoyment of the largely male crowd and that was the norm.
Today’s WWE is a public company that wouldn’t dare allow any of the women to strip down to their underwear. It’s not about shock TV anymore and Vince Russo is no longer in charge of creative. WWE has an obligation, not only to the shareholders but to the sponsors and to a socially aware audience as well. Women deserve better. They always have. But do they deserve to be considered on an even playing field with the men?
Watch Bayley take out Sunil Singh on Raw:
Two recent events suggest that WWE is perhaps testing the waters when it comes to the return of intergender wrestling. Brie Bella put her hands on The Miz during an edition of SmackDown Live and Bayley delivered the Bayley To Belly against Sunil Singh on Monday Night Raw. While some fans consider these two moments to be just throwaway spots, it apparently proves that WWE has no issue with the idea of men versus women.
So what happens now? More throwaway moments? How far will this go? Or has it already gone as far as it can? The biggest problem with intergender matches in WWE today is that while many fans can’t take it seriously, the same is evidently true of the company itself. After all, WWE usually reserves the intergender concept for comedy segments. Those segments typically feature Superstars that exist solely as comic relief.
Santino Marella and James Ellsworth are the two most recent examples of men that fought the battle of the sexes with an audience held hostage. Therein lays the real point here: do fans really want to see intergender wrestling make a comeback in WWE?
This is where the independent pro wrestling scene comes into play. Intergender matches are not a novelty for many pro wrestling promotions; they’re routine. Men and women often compete against each other in highly competitive bouts all the time. Lucha Underground is just one example of a company that books males against females in high profile matches. Many fans applaud this, believing that this is the way the business should be.
Watch Brie Bella attack The Miz:
But is that true? How would the majority of WWE fans feel today if intergender matches once again became part of the landscape in Vince McMahon’s company? Perhaps the better question would be does WWE even need to go down this road again?
Some would say that yes, it’s a natural evolution for the pro wrestling industry. Others would argue that it’s too risky for WWE, which is certainly not as edgy as it once was. To present intergender wrestling as something more than just an occasional storyline or a comedic sideshow act is to present it as something much more. Maybe the time has indeed come for men and women to perform against each other in WWE. Or maybe this trend is destined to remain on the indie circuit.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes,YouTube, iHeart Radio, boinkstudios.com and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live