Intergender Matches – Best for Business or a Thing of the Past?

Jacqueline vs. Chavo Guerrero
Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Christian and Chris Jericho
Chyna vs. Jeff Jarrett
Lita vs. Dean Malenko
Molly Holly vs. Crash Holly
Jazz vs. Bubba Ray Dudley
Beth Phoenix vs. Santino Marella
Nidia vs. Jamie Noble

On top of this, three women have taken part in the WWE Royal Rumble match: Chyna, Beth Phoenix, and Kharma

In WWE, the battle of the sexes was a real thing at a certain point in time, but it may be one of those things that could never see a comeback.

CM-Punk-and-Beth-Phoenix-cm-punk-and-beth-phoenix-26618018-400-382The years 2000 to 2007 were noted as the golden era of the divas division, where you would catch the likes of Trish Stratus, Lita, Victoria, Molly Holly, Jacqueline, Ivory, Mickie James and many more taking part in not only singles matches, but hardcore matches, cage matches, and falls count anywhere matches. Not only that, but the most impressive thing that most of the women listed on here have done have been to take place in intergender matches.

If you’ve noticed by the matches (with the exception of the Rumble) mentioned, the last time there was a televised intergender match in WWE—and not including “matches” with asinine stipulations, awkward angles, mixed tag matches, or anyone cross-dressing—was in 2008, back before the “PG era” took full flight. Since then, we’ve experienced the shaky era of the Divas division in WWE, when the Divas Championship was created a few months after the match mentioned, and the Women’s Championship was deactivated in 2010. Since then, not very many divas who were crowned champions had much weight to their reigns, and most of us today will ask: “Wait, they had the belt?” Yeah, remember when Alicia Fox was champion for about two months, or remember when Natalya was champion? Three minute (or less) matches became the norm for a few years in WWE. Not until the Eve/Kaitlyn/AJ Lee feuds came about starting in late 2012, and NXT started heating up with the likes of Paige and Emma, we hadn’t seen any bit of progress. Flash forward to 2016, and thanks to a bit of backlash from the fans and enthusiasts, we’re about ready to experience what may be the biggest Divas Championship match in its history at Wrestlemania 32 between Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and champion Charlotte. Truthfully, it can’t get any better than that.

However, for most diehard wrestling fans, something else may be missing from the grand scheme of things. Sure, we’re looking at one of the strongest and most credible pack of main roster divas since the pre-Divas title era, but there could always be something added to a product that is already stellar. That could come in the form of bringing back stipulation matches, such as more instances of “extreme rules” matches (which, by the way, haven’t been seen from divas in nearly six years) or better yet, intergender matches. In fact, there have been a good amount of feuds over the past four years where this would have been deemed credible. We could have seen Eve Torres against Zack Ryder, Kaitlyn against Big E, or even AJ Lee against Daniel Bryan. The opportunities brought up could have resulted in endless storyline alterations and possibly deeper angles, so why have these never been brought into consideration?

Chyna Intercontinental champion

There are a bunch of points that can make this whole concept work; however, the deeper you go into each point, you’ll understand why the intergender match wouldn’t have been a viable option. In most wrestling schools around the nation, men and women train together, and on the television program Tough Enough, all of the competitors trained and “competed” against one another, regardless of gender. We’ve also seen a number of instances, most especially during WWE Live shows, where a diva will get involved and perform her finisher on a male competitor. However, these are all just for show, and they’re all instances of training and not the alleged “real life” competition. It’s okay to train with the opposite sex, but to actually compete against one another? I guess not.

Here’s the big kicker of them all though…society doesn’t always like to make things seem so clear-cut and simple. In today’s agenda, especially in the world of sports, allegations of domestic violence are everywhere. Athletes are facing trials and suspensions over hitting the opposite sex. Notice how I didn’t simply say men hitting women, either; women (Hope Solo, anyone?) are being accused of the situation themselves, too. Because WWE is more mainstream than ever, and they have so many endorsements and deals with many other reputable companies and conglomerates, they’ll have to play by the rules of agenda and condone any kind of violence against the opposite gender. Plus, you also have to incorporate the fact that the WWE product has more geared toward kids since 2008, and not every child knows that wrestling is a work of fiction, aside from the obvious physicality of it. Back in the 80’s, when the child demographic was big as it was now (it was the Hulkamania era, after all) there wasn’t any sign of male/female interaction aside from managers like Miss Elizabeth, and most controversies that exist now were a gleam in the eyes of future debate. Of course, this “gleam” eventually became a reality and gave growth to a debate that wasn’t simply exclusive to mainstream pro wrestling. We’ll get into that later.

Sablebomb Marc MeroWay back in most mainstream promotions, especially if you count WCW and WWE’s product for the better part of the 1990’s, definitive women’s divisions didn’t exist, and most women who were trained wrestlers were portrayed as managers, such as Sensational Sherri and Luna Vachon. Even when Alundra Blayze was WWE’s biggest female competitor in the early to mid 1990’s, there still wasn’t a solid division, and a few wrestlers would be brought in occasionally to showcase their skills, such as Aja Kong. When the late 90’s rolled around, and the likes of Chyna, Sable, Ivory, and Jacqueline were making a name for themselves, there was a bit of a scramble around the business to make them more prominent, hence the revival of the Women’s Championship in 1998. Not only that, they featured these four ladies among others to show their skills against men who stood in their way. Oh, heck, even Mae Young and The Fabulous Moolah were in there against men in their older age. Why that happened, we’ll never truly know.

Back in the Attitude Era where men faced women on a more consistent basis, it was more or less a novelty, and in some cases, it really upped the “girl power” factor, if you will. You could even argue that these intergender matches and angles elevated a lot of female talent, like Chyna, Lita, and Trish, but in today’s era, the allure of it is kind of gone, regardless of whether the divas can squat over 200 pounds or not. You could argue that news agendas and the reality of domestic abuse is a buzzkill, but the widespread reality of it is a big pink elephant in the room, and no matter how staged wrestling is, it isn’t the greatest influence upon the youth or anyone else who doesn’t understand the logistics behind the wrestling business.

Every great once in a while, be it past or present, you will see a woman showing her strength on a male competitor, such as Sable powerbombing Marc Mero, Natalya bodyslamming Jimmy Wang Yang, or Kharma dishing out an Implant Buster on Dolph Ziggler. Some of that is great to see, but because of the power and strength factor that WWE is known for over the past few years, a bar separates that illusion from reality, and you never see if the man will respond to the woman’s attack. Some of that logic is even evident in intergender matches you will see on Lucha Underground. It might hurt the guy, sure, but what kind of damage will they do to someone smaller than them? WWE isn’t as overly technical or agility-based like the Independent scene, where you’ll see women like Kimber Lee, Cheerleader Melissa, or Heidi Lovelace go toe-to-toe with the men, and for the most part, it all looks credible. While you’ll see some ring psychology similar to that style on occasion in WWE, it isn’t enough to bring back the illusion that divas can hold their own against male competitors. Back in the early-to-mid-2000’s, when you would see someone like Molly Holly or Jacqueline wrestle a man, it was deemed impressive because they would use speed and clutch ring psychology to take the upper hand in a match. But on the other hand in that era, you could have an angle where Lita gets nine chair shots in the back by Stone Cold Steve Austin. It went both ways a bunch of times, and in that era, nobody really batted an eye. That was then. If that happened now, pointed fingers would literally be everywhere.

Kimber Lee vs Hallowicked CHIKARA

You see, if an intergender match were to occur today, it would be inconsistent storytelling because of (for the lack of a better term) how our current society reacts to these events, on top of the build of WWE’s main roster as a whole. The genders have been separated for so long, and the dynamic of both men and women’s divisions have experienced a lot of changes in nearly ten years, so it may not even go over all that well to begin with. That isn’t anyone’s fault, to be honest, but intergender matches, in order for them to actually work, have to have a legitimate sign of equality on each side. Unfortunately, that means they’d have to “hit” and “work” each other, and that’s when the red flags of political correctness fly all over and cover everything like it’s the Nile in The Ten Commandments.

Would it be awesome to see these matches again? Oh my goodness, yes. I would love to see someone like Natalya or Sasha Banks go up against someone like Cesaro or The Miz. But will they ever happen? Unfortunately, they won’t. Even if WWE’s supposed vision of summoning more cruiserweights ever happens, we will never see another intergender match occur in WWE.

It isn’t best for the old-school/independent fans, but it’s “best for business.”