` WrestlingEpicenter.com - THE RANT: Body Shaming - The Dilema Between Serious Women's Wrestling Versus Divas WrestlingEpicenter.com - THE RANT: Body Shaming - The Dilema Between Serious Women's Wrestling Versus Divas
THE RANT: Body Shaming - The Dilema Between Serious Women's Wrestling Versus Divas

Posted By James Walsh on 03/24/18

Though I am not a fan of the political aspects of the movement on the grander scale, I am actually very fond of the idea of women's wrestling getting the acceptance and appreciation it is today. I say this because I have seen women's wrestling, or women in wrestling, go through the cycles. It went rom lady wrestling being perceived in an almost negative way with the lady wrestlers presented as butch lumbering women by the mainstream press, movies, and television. This was especially true in the years before the 1980's.

In the 80's, the script was flipped a little bit with more attractive, physically fit, less butch females making their presence felt. Most notabely, the WWE featured Wendi Richter as champion and hired the likes of Leilani Kai, Rockin' Robkin, and Sherri Martel to challenge for the championship. But, it felt like a special attraction... It was not featured every week and when it was, it still felt like it wasn't taken seriously by the audience as much as it should have been.

On the other side of that coin was the more eye candy women of wrestling. You had your Miss Elizabeth as the damsel in distress of the WWE while Missy Hyatt, Dark Journey, Sunshine, and the Dirty White Girl were in the Southern territories introducing wrestling fans to the more seductive cat fights we later came to know in ECW. These women, while attractive, were not wrestlers and were not billed as such. They were, as I said before, eye candy. There to sell posters, pictures, magazines, and kept a mostly male audience staying tuned to see the pretty girls.

The 90's brought us ECW which introduced sexual themes. From lesbian angles with Kimona and Beulah to a teased pregnancy also with Beulah all the way through to intergender violence seeing the likes of Francine and Dawn Marie get bounced around by the larger male talent when they weren't cat fighting each other in short skirts... ECW set the tone for what became the WWE's Attitude Era. That smaller promotion is why you later had Jeff Jarrett hitting women with the guitar and Bubba Ray Dudley putting the likes of Mae Young and Terri Runnels through tables.

In the early 2000's, women started to start this revolution by being attractive and expliting that eye candy appeal mixed with an ability to wrestle. Though many wrestled, Trish Stratus and Lita are given the most amount of credit. THere were also Ivory,Jacqueline, Molly Holly, and others who brought a legitimacy to the squared circle. But, for every RAW main event Trish and Lita got, there were 50 "Bra and Panty" matches or "Divas Pillow Fights".

Let me make this clear, though this was not the goal of this editorial. Impact Wrestling is what kicked this whole thing into high gear with the Knockouts division.

In the late 00's, if that is the name for the decade, Imapct Wrestling introduced the Knockouts Division. It was women doing matches on par with the male talent and the women involved were, pardon the pun, Knockouts physically. From Gail Kim's wrestling style to the Beautiful People's sexuality to ODB's brute force, it was a complete division with set characters and incredible matches. This is when the script started to be flipped.

The WWE followed suit and dropped the "Divas" name in the 2010's and started to give the women's wrestling matches more time. I don't think AJ Lee gets enough credit for her contribution to the WWE side of the transition. But, AJ was also an incredibly physically fit wrestler.

Recently, an Impact Wrestling Knockout has been the subject of body shaming by the Internet Wrestling Community. In other words, wrestling dorks who don't even know a man named Jim let alone worked out in one (which makes more sense said out loud than read) are insulting Taya Valkyrie's weight saying she's gotten too fat. This is, of course, not exclusive to Taya Valkyrie though. Nia Jax has gotten terrible chants thrown her way for being a less Barbie Doll performer. And, Ring of Honor's Kelly Klein has gotten shade thrown her way over her posterior. It is these things that remind us that no matter how much we appreciate female wrestling, there is still need for a female to look the part.

However, this is not an exclusive concept to women. For example, Silas Young looked a tad rough around the edges at the recent ROH 16th Anniversary PPV and my first thought was, "He isn't going to get the belt back right now." Why? Well, he didn't look the part. For the record, I love Silas Young's character and ability. We all have our struggles with weight, right? But, the ladies can't. Or, as I said, body shaming by those in very glass houses will occur.

Yes, my friends, we love a profession at a time where physical appearance is very important. While there were many who worked the Mae Young Classic presented by the WWE, few were hired. Why? Well, like the girl in the gym who kept blasting home runs through the windows of the gymnasium in the movie A League of Their Own, they were not pretty. While that is not the be all and end all anymore, it still is a part of it. And, it probably always will be. After all, wrestling is watched mostly by men. Is it not? And, we are pigs. Are we not?

For the record, Taya Valkyrie has gone on record saying she is more physically happy at her current weight than she was a few years ago when she was the Barbie Doll look in Lucha Underground and AAA. While I'm at it, Nia Jax was a model! So, her being a different body shape to the classic "Diva" look did not harm her in that world, why should it here? And, Kelly Klein has more of an MMA fighter's build and plays to that with her submission moves. I don't think anyone insulting her body would last more than a few moments in a shoot fight with her. I know I would not volunteer for that duty.

We live in a world where women in wrestling are getting more respect than ever. I champion this. I welcome this. And, I hope it continues. But, I also hope the performers understand the reality of the situation and the reality of the audience. Simply put, wrestling sells. But, so does sex. So, lets have both!