Today’s history making event is unnecessary. 

History has been made today – unlike the bogus history of last week’s WWE Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder match genuine history. For the first time in history a full round of English County Championship matches started at 2pm instead of 11pm, will be played under lights ( even though we are only a week removed from the longest day of the year !) and with a pink ball. Revolutionary change ( unlike the so called WWE “Women’s Revolution) but unlike that so called “revolution” totally unnecessary. There was no demand from the English counties for the change.

So why was it done? Simple. England are playing a Test match under lights and with the pink ball against the West Indies starting on August 17th at Edgbaston so this round of County Championship matches is being played under lights with a pink ball in order to prepare England’s elite players for this match. But there was no demand from England’s players or fans for a floodlit pink ball Test in England. So why is this Test taking place?

The answer is because of a spineless, pathetic capitulation by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) which could cost England dear in this winter’s Ashes series. In November 2015 (see previous post “Test Cricket Joins the 21st Century”) Australia played New Zealand at the Adelaide Oval in the first ever floodlit/pink ball Test. The next year Australia played South Africa and Pakistan in floodlit/pink ball Tests at Adelaide and Brisbane respectively. The Tests were great successes all won by Australia and all attracted bigger crowds than the day only Tests played previously in the same cities. So Cricket Australia (CA) asked the ECB to agree to play a floodlit Test in the 2017-18 Ashes series and shamefully they agreed so the floodlit Ashes Test will be played at Adelaide starting on December 2nd. But the ECB should not have agreed to this. And here’s why.

The only raison d’être for day/night Test cricket in my opinion is to increase attendences. But the Ashes always sells out – regardless of whether it is played in England or Australia. If the Ashes always sells out why have a day/night Test? The answer is that CA have laid a trap for England and the ECB have walked straight into it. Australia are used to playing with a pink ball – they have played and won three home Tests with it. So if they could lure England into accepting the day/night Test it would give Australia a big advantage. And the pea brains at the ECB did just that.

But of course they could not send England to Australia this winter without any experience of pink ball cricket hence the Test against the West Indies in August and hence why they had nine pink ball County Championship matches starting today. But again there was no demand for pink ball day/night cricket in England.

So in summary to appease Australia the ECB have agreed to two unnecessary pink ball Tests – as day/night Tests are unnecessary in England (where Test cricket has always been well supported). Because the ECB was too spineless to tell Australia where to go. Playing a floodlit Test in England in August is asking for trouble. And it is so unnecessary…

PS – if you read previous post “Test Cricket Joins the 21st century” you will know I am in favour of day/night Tests.  But – and this is the caveat – only as a way of boosting attendences. Ashes Tests – plus Tests in England generally – do not have problems attracting spectators. Plus the climate in the UK is not suitable for day/ night pink ball Test cricket. Therefore these Tests are unnecessary.

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Intergender angles in the WWE must go. And very quickly.

To say the first ever Women’s Money in the Bank match ended in controversy is like saying this month’s UK General Election did not go to plan for Prime Minister Theresa May. For anyone who didn’t know the match – which is won by the first competitor to climb a ladder and grab a briefcase which guarantees the winner a title match at the time of her choice anytime in the next year – ended when James Ellsworth – a man – grabbed the briefcase and handed it to Carmella making her the winner.

To say the shit hit the fan is an understatement. WWE had hyped up the match as a historic achievement for women and played an impressive video before the match showing some famous women from WWE history – including Mae Young, Wendi Richter, Trish Stratus and Lita – then in effect had a man win it. Then after a couple of days of mayhem Smackdown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan announced Carmella would be stripped of the briefcase and the match would be replayed on next Tuesdays Smackdown Live. 

Those are the facts. Now my opinion. The decision to have Ellsworth climb the ladder and grab the briefcase was ludicrous – an example of toxic sexism at its worst. It was like “We will give the women a Money in the Bank match but the poor girlies are too weak to climb a ladder by themselves so we have to have a man to do it for them”. And this is dangerous. I was talking to a friend whose 8 year old cousin (a boy) watched the match and he said to his mother “Girls can’t climb a ladder” Now WWE pride themselves on being a child friendly PG product. How on earth they did not think this ending would not influence young children into thinking that women and girls are inferior. Obviously they don’t even think. The ending was a disgrace and whoever in Creative came up with it needs to join the unemployment line. Ideally he (it must have been a he) should be put in the stocks and have women throw things at him!

Now some people have said we were being “worked” ie WWE always planned to anull Carmella’s victory and have the redo. The hole in that argument is that the ladder match is one of the most dangerous in WWE. I really doubt that this company had planned for women who have never been in a ladder match before to do two in nine days. Other people have said that WWE were shocked by the public backlash and backtracked. The hole in that argument is that WWE never listen to their fans – if they did Roman Reigns would have turned heel two years ago. But WWE do listen to their sponsors (Bryan knows this. He was briefly fired in 2010 when sponsors Mattel were not happy with him strangling ring announcer Justin Roberts with his own tie). I suspect a WWE sponsor(s) had a word with them and put pressure on the company to sort the mess out. Maybe a sponsor threatened to pull out if they didn’t sort it out. Whatever the reason hopefully we have an exciting match on Tuesday with a woman grabbing the briefcase – which is what should have happened on Sunday anyway. 

But WWE need to take a long hard look at themselves. Why was Ellsworth with Carmella in the first place? People might say it was to interfere in her matches and gain heel heat. The problem is heels are meant to get their comeuppance – but men and women can’t fight each other so Ellsworth will never get his comeuppance . WWE had been circling with disaster with this angle since it started. Trouble was inevitable. 

The same can be said the other way round. Most viewers hate Stephanie McMahon shouting at and generally emasculating the male talent. And the men just have to stand there and take it because male on female violence is taboo and quite rightly so. So why put Stephanie and the men in that position? Same with the Miz and his wife Maryse. Miz puts Maryse between him and his opponent effectively using her as a human shield since the men can’t attack her. Terrorists use women and children as a human shield for the same reason. This tactic has NO place in entertainment. 

The solution is so easy that I’m surprised the dumb dumbs in WWE Creative haven’t thought of it. Any male or female superstar that interferes in matches involving the opposite gender is GONE. At once. Also for that reason inter gender factions should be banned. For example Nikki Cross should not be in Sanity. And while we are at it can mixed tags (rubbish) and romantic angles (the current Alica Fox/Noam Dar/Cedric Alexander angle on RAW and 205 Live is hot garbage as most romantic angles are). 

I should say I’m not against interference in the WWE. But if is same gender interference the perpetrators can get their comeuppance. For example the Singh Brothers run interference for WWE Champion Jinder Mahal but get beaten up every time. They are virtually Mahal’s crash test dummies. Meanwhile it looks like the Miz/Maryse partnership is breaking up and instead Miz will have Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel to run interference for him. Good. Miz cannot use Dallas and Axel as human shields as his opponents can just beat them up which they could not do with Maryse. 

Another reason to ban intergender angles is that WWE will have to put more effort into the women’s division. According to Kate Foray’s RAW Breakdown only 4% of RAW this past Monday was devoted to the women wrestlers. If you add Maryse’s Miz TV segment with her husband the fugure jumps to a still pathetic 10%. WWE have in effect used intergender angles and mixed tags to artificially inflate female participation in RAW and Smackdown Live. If they are banned they might have to give RAW women more than one segment a week (!) 

WWE like to think they compete against real sport (they always blame Monday Night (American) Football and the NBA play offs when the ratings fall so they must think they compete for the same audience). And real sport is gender segregated – especially combat sport like boxing and MMA. WWE should be the same. Intergender angles in WWE must go. And very quickly. 

One other thought. The women’s cricket World Cup starts on Saturday. Wimbledon starts a week on Monday. The women’s Euro 2017 football tournament starts next month. I can guarantee that no men will run on the pitch and court and interfere in those events….