Tag Archives: Intergender wrestling

Wrestling should submit to regulation 

It is not very often Christmas Day trends on Twitter on the fourth of September but it happened this week. The reason was that WWE announced it would be running its flagship show Monday Night RAW live on Christmas Day this year (this year Christmas Day falls on a Monday). This will be the first time in the history of RAW – which started in 1993 – that a live episode of RAW will be broadcast on Christmas Day (on previous years when Christmas Day fell on a Monday RAW broadcast taped episodes).

Needless to say the news provoked strong responses. Most people thought that as the wrestlers work every week of the year they should at least have Christmas Day off. Others did say that the NBA in the States and the Premier League here play in the festive season so why shouldn’t WWE be live on Christmas Day? But a big difference of course is that both the NBA and the Premier League have off seasons. Of course some people will say that WWE is not a sport but scripted entertainment but that argument is not relevant because although scripted programmes like the popular UK soap operas Coronation Street and EastEnders are broadcast on Christmas Day they are not live – they are recorded so the actors get the festive season off and can watch themselves on TV! 

At first – given his company’s reputation for running its wrestlers into the ground – WWE chairman Vince McMahon was blamed for the decision to have RAW live on Christmas Day. But it later emerged that it was the USA Network – the TV channel that broadcasts RAW – wanted the live festive RAW. Quite why is a mystery since the ratings for RAW go down during American holidays like the 4th of July and Labor Day and the ratings for the festive RAW are expected to be low (this is a difference between the US and the UK. Historically some of the highest UK TV ratings have been recorded over the Christmas period – for example 30 million watched the Morecambe and Wise Christmas shows in 1976 and 1977 and in 1986 the same number watched a famous Christmas Day episode of EastEnders where Den gave wife Angie divorce papers. Ouch. Even today the BBC and ITV load the festive schedule with their most popular programmes).

But whatever one thinks of a live Christmas Day RAW the story exposes a major problem with the wrestling industry. It is neither regulated or unionised. That means Vince McMahon and the USA Network can do whatever they want as there is no regulation and no protection for wrestlers whatsoever. That is why McMahon can get away with forcing his wrestlers to work 300 days a year and be classified as “independent contractors” not “employees” which means that they are denied countless benefits to which they would otherwise be entitled.

But regulation would also benefit wrestling in other ways. A governing body would surely get rid of the abomination that is intergender wrestling. Mixed professional football for example is banned by the sports governing body FIFA. A governing body for wrestling would surely do the same. 

Plus regulation would allow wrestling to get rid of rotten eggs. An example of a rotten egg in wrestling is former Lucha Underground Champion Sexy Star -who ironically made her name in intergender wrestling (see above). A couple of weeks ago she legitimately injured fellow wrestler Rosemary dislocating her arm by doing an arm bar for real. This is a complete no no. Wrestlers work together to prevent injury so when a wrestler “goes into business for themselves” and turns it into a “shoot” (ie fights for real) it is serious. Sexy Star has quite rightly been heavily criticised in the wrestling industry but I suspect some immoral promotion – probably in her native Mexico – will employ her when the fuss dies down. In a regulated sport like boxing a governing body would revoke her licence for a certain amount of time – maybe forever.

In fact each wrestler having to get a licence to compete would really benefit the industry. If a wrestler had to get medically examined say every five years and had to pass a medical to retain his or her licence it could spot say concussions. If Chris Benoit had an examination every five years the state of his brain could have been spotted before the tragedy of 2007 when he killed his wife and child then killed himself. Plus it could stop wrestlers going on too long.  Also to get a licence wrestlers should have to pass minimum standards so that dangerously under qualified wrestlers like Eva Marie would not be allowed in the ring where they were a danger to others.

Vince McMahon won’t like it but wrestling would benefit from being regulated by a governing body. Wrestlers would get the same benefits as other employees, they would not be forced to do a live RAW on Christmas Day, they would not have to work 300 days a year, the abomination that is intergender wrestling would be banned, trash like Sexy Star would be banned and wrestlers would not be able to compete without a licence which could protect them from long term health damage. It is time. It is time for professional wrestling to submit to regulation. 

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If Lucha Underground wants to grow it must get rid of intergender matches

In case any one is interested I’m also on Twitter (@bainalan05). And last Wednesday this is what someone said about me on Twitter:

“This guy is the biggest idiot on Twitter!”

“What an idiot!”

Both tweets were by Thomas Barnes (@ThomasTheRef). So what on earth had I said to annoy him?. Here is the tweet that so annoyed him :

“If it were up to me #LuchaUnderground would be shut down for promoting #domesticabuse.”

For those who don’t know (which will be 99% of the UK population for reasons I will explain) Lucha Underground is a weekly TV wrestling show which is shown on the ElRey network in the US – but does not have a UK TV deal (which is why 99% of the UK population won’t know about it). It is based on Mexican Lucha Libre wrestling and has attracted former WWE stars Ray Mysterio, Chavo Guerro and John Morrison. It has attracted a cult following in the US probably as a “protest vote” against the current WWE product which a lot of people see as stale.

So far so harmless. So why do I want it shut down, and why do I say it promotes domestic abuse? Simple. Lucha Underground uniquely among TV wrestling shows has regular intergender matches. That means men and women fight each other either in singles matches or in their trios (three man tag) matches. The people who run Lucha Underground boast they are ahead of the curve when it comes to intergender matches and they even  boasted to WWE officials about how forward thinking the intergender matches are. But they are not. Men (even pretending to) hit women is not suitable entertainment for a TV audience in a civilised country. It might have been in the 1970s (when UK films like “Get Carter” and even James Bond films “Diamonds Are Forever” and “The Man With The Golden Gun” included man on woman violence) but it isn’t now. So far from being “forward thinking” they are going back to the 1970s.

As I wrote on Twitter I would shut it down unless it agrees to stop intergender matches. (I wrote in previous post “Why Rousey v Mayweather must never happen”) how the US authorities could get intergender matches banned. But what I will do now is to explain why it is in the best interests of Lucha Underground to ban intergender matches.

Lucha Underground reminds me of both Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). ECW was an alternative wrestling promotion to WWE and WCW which existed from 1993-2001. UKIP I’ve wrote about in other posts. The similarities between ECW and Lucha Underground are obvious. Both took advantage of the unpopularity of established wrestling Promotions at the time (WCW and WWE in 1993, WWE now). And both tried to popularise a novel style of wrestling (hardcore wrestling with ECW intergender matches with Lucha Underground). ECW won a cult following but it soon suffered from the ” plateau effect” where only a minority of wrestling fans wanted to watch hardcore wrestling which caused it’s audience to plateau at a low level. The hardcore matches repelled as many as they attracted.

UKIP is similar in UK politics. Far more people agree with their policy of getting the UK out of the EU than would vote for UKIP.
I want the UK out of the EU (I’ll explain why in a future post) but have never voted UKIP. Why? Because Nigel Farage their leader has vile policies like banning people with HIV from entering the UK and too many of his party members make fools of themselves with racist and sexist remarks. As a result at last year’s election UKIP suffered from the “plateau effect”. Apart from Douglas Carswell’s personal vote in Clacton UKIP did not get more than 33.8% of the vote in any constituency last year. And in the UK’s first past the post electoral system 33.8% of the vote nearly always does not win you a seat. If Farage had moderated his rhetoric and his members had behaved themselves UKIP might have done better than nearly 4 million votes and one seat.

And this is where the analogy with Lucha Underground comes in. I am convinced that intergender matches split wrestling fans down the middle and totally repel non wrestling fans. In effect Lucha Underground is alienating half of its potential audience which is not clever. Since (apart from the intergender matches) I have read nothing but good things about Lucha Underground from anyone not called Jim Cornette I would like to watch it and make up my own mind. But I will not watch male v female violence – even acted. So they have lost me. And how many other people?

It will also cost them if they want to grow – as any business must. Plenty of cable networks in the US (like Spike TV that used to show Raw) are VERY anti male on female violence. Wrestling writer Dave Meltzer has said that “a lot of potential TV partners either would turn on Lucha Underground because of the intergender matches or would do so if pitched the show”. In other words intergender matches are costing them fans and perhaps a future TV deal.

David Bixenspan (February 3rd 2016) wrote that ” if it’s a legitimate hurdle to Lucha Underground’s business interests, then it’s probably best to abandon the gimmick”. I would say it is definitely best to abandon intergender matches. If they do not I am convinced that they will suffer from the same “plateau effect” that ECW and UKIP did. Wrestling has a small audience to begin with. If you limit your already small potential audience you are committing suicide. If Lucha Underground want to grow (and I assume they do) intergender matches must go.