I think this post is long past due.
While I stick by the majority of what I discussed in my often-viewed 2015 post “Why I’m NOT a Pro Wrestling Fan,” three years have passed in the professional and indy (1) wrestling world… and there’s once again a respectable theatrical wrestling scene blooming in Washington state! This feels to me like a transitional time for many forms of pro wrestling, and as art forms adapt, often times so do their consumers and critics (myself included).
Much of that previous rant was framed through the lens of discussing the big “E” (the WWE, that is) and still applies. I still have little to no interest in watching their products, or much of what exists in the realm of pure Pro Wrestling. I am still solely trained as a luchadora with little to no intent to train the American Pro style. It’s still agonizingly slow and clunky to my eye. However, I think the indy scene (in the US and abroad) is beginning to embark on the much-needed work of transforming the techniques and storytelling of pro wrestling into a more reasonable (i.e. more visually & athletically interesting and less sexist/ misogynist) product.
I’m not going to chime in on the recent debate between those who laud the “flippy shit” and those who loathe the “flippy shit.” There are valid points on both sides of the argument. But the fact that the argument is being had in the first place demonstrates to me general interest in progressing the sport of Pro Wrestling into… just that. More of a sport. There is still a place for those who don’t have enough cardio endurance to fill a thimble (let alone power a match comprised of more than just rest holds), but I feel like soon they will be in the extreme minority (if that hasn’t happened already).
As for the treatment of women in the ring: In 2016 the WWE replaced their Divas Championship with what is now the WWE Raw Women’s championship. Insofar as I’ve always viewed the title of “Diva” to be an incredibly demeaning way to frame women in pro wrestling, this is a HUGE improvement. It finally places the women who operate at the most visible level of US pro wrestling on a similar scale as their male counterparts.
What’s more significant in my view is the number of women on the indy circuit who are absolutely *slaying* the scene. In both woman-only promotions and promotions that carry women on their regular roster and allow intergender matches, a growing number of women are gaining popularity and demonstrating their technical proficiency in the ring. This speaks to a shift away from the über-objectifying “bra and panties” match of yesteryear, and even away from the hypersexualized role of “valet.” While these two tropes will likely never go away, I’m hopeful that the upswing in the number of women making a name for themselves in the ring is a step in the right direction.
So, in sum: Pro wrestling in the states is getting better, but I still don’t want to watch it. Again, nothing against those who enjoy that particular spectacle. I just prefer lucha libre.
1: A quick note on semantics as it applies to this post. I’m using the term “professional wrestling” (spelled out) specifically in reference to those companies and wrestlers who make their living wrestling on-contract, and “indy wrestling” in reference to those companies & individuals who may practice and perform regularly, but are not signed to a single organization or covering the majority of their expenses through wrestling. I fall under the category of “indy luchadora.”
In this post, the shortened “pro wrestling” is used to refer to the overarching sport of theatrical wrestling as often seen in the US (i.e. not lucha libre or Japanese style pro wrestling). “Theatrical wrestling” is the term used by the State of Washington to describe ring-based performances such as professional wrestling, indy wrestling, lucha libre, etc.