Whoa! WOW: Women of Wrestling
At the risk of being called a chauvinist, sexist, and a misogynist, women’s wrestling leaves a lot to be desired. There are talented divas in the WWE roster in the absence of Lita, Trish Stratus, Victoria, and most recently Mickie James: there’s Beth Phoenix, Gail Kim, Natalya Neidhart, and Melina Perez. Joshi, or female puroresu, has always been a hotbed for great wrestling talent; with the likes of Chigusa Nagayo, Lioness Asuka, Megumi Kudo, Akira Hokuto, and Manami Toyota setting the bar for women’s wrestling worldwide.
Again, at the risk of offending the female population, setting the bar high means having to set another bar low. I’m not talking about Michelle McCool matches on SmackDown! (trembles) or seeing Kelly Kelly wrestle (shudders). I’m talking about…
For those of you who are old enough to remember Jack TV in its early days, there’s that fabled wrestling federation of botches, gimmicks, and all sorts of awesomely horrible women’s wrestling: WOW.
In many ways, WOW was supposed to be the epitome of everything that’s right about women’s wrestling: that women do belong in the ring. It was supposed to be a continuation of the tradition of women’s wrestling. It had the great strategy of having a women’s-only league that had so many elements of what makes pro wrestling good. It completely blew in execution: it had talent who were easy on the eyes (I’ll give them that) who, somehow, can’t wrestle.
Take this match between a cheerleader (Patti Pep/Patti Pizzazz) and a teacher (The Disciplinarian… errr…). It has the makings of a great story, the potentials of awesome ring psychology, and if the wrestlers were very talented they would have pulled off a wrestling clinique emulated in a Maryse versus A Bella Twin match:
I certainly didn’t know what that was, but it wasn’t wrestling. It didn’t have the elements that would make Jim Ross launch into emotional commentary, or set one up for the crazy rollercoaster of emotions from Japanese wrestling announcers calling a Kenta Kobashi match.
It’s fairly easy to diss WOW for being less of an original product, and more of a carbon copy of what worked for WCW and the WWF before (the lesbian angles and threesomes in the old ECW were just too hot for TV). Wendi Wheels, for example, was a lot like Bob Holly’s old “Spark Plugg” gimmick, and their champion Terry Gold was a lot of a cross between Kurt Angle and the old days of Rotundo and the Steiner Brothers.
Wrestling is a “man-sport,” so the promotion had to have its fair share of eye candy. Take the following:
Bronco Billie, a cowgirl who was in WOW to save the family’s farm… or something like that. She was one of the crushables of WOW during the time… or at least in my estimation.
Lana Star, a Hollywood prima-donna type whose gimmick involved breaking mirrors and spraying perfume on the eyes of her opponent. Too much like Debra McMichael, with the Jeff Jarrett-like heel tactics.
And then there’s Beckie the Farmer’s Daughter: dressed in daisy dukes and flying from the ropes with a pretty neat-looking 450 splash, she was one of the reasons why my friends who did watch wrestling tuned into WOW (especially when she was feuding with Jungle Grrrl over the matter of a splash). Although by far my favorite has to be Riot, who was a one-woman ECW:
I didn’t care much for the Terri Gold-Danger storyline or the epic between Harley’s Angels (their nWo) and Selina Majors (their Hulk Hogan), but “sports entertainment” was sort of a negative extreme in WOW, where a trio of (literal) law-breakers in Caged Heat had members named “Vendetta,” “Loca,” and my personal favorite, “Delta Lotta Pain.” There was also the token Asian/Karate Kid story that surrounded Asian Invasion and their grandmother (since they never won a match), a wrestler named “Slam Dunk,” and The Beach Patrol: a couple of lifeguards (you guessed it, Baywatch). I’d like to launch into a diatribe on “Hammerin'” Heather Steele, Jane Blond (egad) and the rest of the roster, but there’s always…
Dolph Ziggler ain’t that bad.
Women’s wrestling isn’t a failed experiment: in fact, lots of women can wrestle circles around men. Yet with promotions like WOW (thankfully defunct), it’s almost always the case that you can set the bar only as high as the lowest bar gives you the boost. So no thanks, David McClane.
Then again, one of these days I’ll stop watching puro and Ring of Honor and provide you with accounts of Pinoy wrestling.