With intergender matches now commonplace in independent wrestling and WWE exploring the possibility, will there come a time when a woman will rule as a major federation’s world champion?
The queens of professional wrestling continue to take their rightful spot among the hierarchy.
The signs are everywhere. As we roll toward WrestleMania, the biggest active star in WWE right now is Becky Lynch. In the last year or so, she and her female cohorts have broken countless barriers, including their first pair of Royal Rumbles, a mind-blowing Tables, Ladders and Chairs match and being the focus of their very, own pay-per-view, Evolution. On top of that, the division showcases one of the most recognizable athletes in the world in Ronda Rousey, who has helped take things to an entirely new level in terms of publicity.
Call it a revolution, or evolution. It doesn’t matter. Professional wrestling has witnessed a historical turn in terms of equality and balance.
And it doesn’t stop in WWE. From Ring of Honor’s launching of the Women of Honor title, to the promising future of Impact stars like Tessa Blanchard, Jordynne Grace and Kiera Hogan, 2018 provided numerous signs that women’s wrestling will only continue to grow. Jeannie Buss’ Women of Wrestling promotion has come out of the gate with a boom and international competitors like Toni Storm and Rhea Ripley are becoming household names in the United States.
It’s as if there are literally no more boundaries on what women wrestlers can do. The mere fact that the Raw Women’s Championship match will likely headline WrestleMania, the biggest show of the year, says a lot in terms of how much the playing field has been leveled.
But not so fast. We’re just getting started.
In many corners of the wrestling world, women are working at an equal level with their male counterparts – not only on the same card, but in the very same match.
With the in-ring skills of female grapplers at an all time high, there’s been a slow and steady clamoring to see them show that talent against their male competitors. Intergender wrestling has gained a lot of steam over the past few years, and there’s been a quiet push to simply have wrestlers battle wrestlers – regardless of their particular sex or gender expression.
In the past, this was considered taboo for a number of reasons. Be it the undertones of domestic violence or the old mantra that “guys don’t compete against girls,” this type of style has yet to be fully accepted. For the most part, matches pitting a man against a woman were considered gimmicks or comedy attractions. Often, it would feature a very large woman battling a manager or a smaller man to a chorus of laughs.
But no longer. A large percentage of cards on the indie circuit will include at least one intergender bout, while the major federations have opted more often for mixed tag team contests, such as WWE’s Mixed Match Challenge. Recently, WWE even considered putting Nia Jax in to a match with Dean Ambrose, before ultimately scrapping that plan.
However, they haven’t ruled out going with this type of matchup in the future, either. And all over the globe, we’re seeing many more in-ring battles where the sport is taken seriously and anatomy is considered irrelevant.
In fact, intergender wrestling has gone from being considered inappropriate and misogynistic, to an athletic art form: A ballet where a man and a woman can explore the beauties of the sport, with or without the brutality of a beatdown.
A few of these contests have even drawn rave reviews. Most notably, a recent showdown between Tessa Blanchard and Brian Cage at WrestleCircus was lauded for the ability of the two performers to work together and tell an effective story, despite their size, power and other physical differences.
In many ways, it’s another nod to the current openness of the industry, and the fact that most wrestlers (on either side of the aisle) are more driven by the desire to entertain than they are ego. It’s gotten to the point that the majority of guys don’t care who they are in the ring with, and the fans treat every contest with the same level of competitive respect.
With that type of open mindedness, it’s only natural that this transition is starting to take place. And at the same time, it’s also a testament to the changes in our society, as women in all facets of life continue to assert themselves. The world keeps spinning, and the grappling game – like everything else – keeps evolving right along with it.
While the old-school traditionalists may not like it, today’s generation of fans and performers have embraced the concept of intergender wrestling. They have no problem blurring the lines of sexuality for the sake of athleticism and art.
And now, in a world where hyper-masculinity once ruled over everything there is suddenly no shame in a male competitor being beaten by a woman.
Having opened up this Pandora’s Box, it then begs the question: If a woman is going to compete at the highest level, should she also contend for the most important title of a major company?
Or in simpler terms, can a woman win the men’s heavyweight title?
While anything is possible in scripted world of wrestling, and at any point a federation could easily crown a woman, it’s a much bigger question than that. Would the wrestling audience actually buy in to a female competitor as the top overall wrestler in WWE? Would you?
In other words, with all the changes happening now, could a woman be WWE World Champion? Or could Blanchard win the Impact men’s World Championship? And would any company be so bold as to pull the trigger on such a move?
It’s not a new concept. Some major indy federations have made women their standard bearers, most notably Sexy Star in Lucha Underground.
And at one time, there was at least some discussion of putting the WWE World Championship on Chyna during her hottest run with the company. She did hold the Intercontinental title (albeit briefly) and was the first modern female wrestler to step across the lines of competition.
Since then, other women like Awesome Kong, Beth Phoenix and Nia Jax have clearly overpowered some of their male counterparts while helping forge a bridge to equality.
So, while it might sound crazy now, it’s not completely unheard of that some time down the road, you might hear a woman’s name followed by the words, “Your new World Heavyweight Champion.”
After all, women can do anything, especially in the world of pro wrestling.