2CW is a fantastic Indy wrestling promotion and this past Friday I had the fortune of getting to see one of their shows right on my own turf. To my knowledge, the relatively small town of Rome, NY hasn’t seen the likes of this group before. There was a really good turn out and it was announced that they will be returning for the first night of Living on the Edge.
Of the many great matches they put on for us, one was Portia Perez versus an unamed opponent. Coincidentally, there is a huge women’s tour in Japan right now, so it wasn’t easy for 2CW to find a female wrestler to put Portia up against. As luck would have it, the promotion did find Mistress Belmont on short notice.
The match was fantastic. Portia’s heel character is consistently seamless: she goads on the audience, puts down the US in favor of Canada and generally gets everyone riled up against her. While it was my first time seeing Mistress Belmont, her dominatrix goth gimmick is compelling. For all I know, it isn’t even a gimmick. They’re great in the ring, they’re airtight with their characters and there’s no doubt that they put in as many hours as any other wrestler for their training.
Unfortunately, wrestling isn’t an even playing field for men and women. Despite the fact that women have to do just as much work, it’s like going out for a Shakespearean play. There’s simply more roles for men. Unlike Shakespeare, the roles available to women in wrestling too often don’t offer female wrestlers a chance to shine.
Take a look at professional wrestling. Any WWE show leaves me with the impression that the one women’s match you see is only there so that male viewers don’t feel imasculated by watching ten matches with male wrestlers. It really is a joke. They feature Barbies. Primarily, these women are there because they look good. Sure, some of them do have wrestling talent, but it’s certainly never highlighted. Hell, the division is called the Divas. Nothing about that suggests power or strength.
For a brief moment, the Knockout division in TNA had something to offer. The women had variety and their matches were fantastic. Roxxi, ODB and Awesome Kong weren’t perfect for magazine covers, but their matches were amazing. They were an equal draw to the X Division and Heavyweight. Even Angelina Love and Velvet Sky’s Beautiful People gimmick was easy to take ironically. They were mocking what you get to see in the Divas. Unfortunately, these women were underpaid and due to changes in the company, they’re as understated as they are in WWE.
Shimmer is an all women’s promotion that I honestly don’t know much about, but from what Kevin Hellions tells me it’s a place where female wrestlers are truly appreciated and talent and ability with a mic are acknowedged more than conventional beauty. How many wrestling fans have heard of it? And no, you’ll probably never see it played on a channel like SyFy.
When I get to see an Indy show like I did on Friday, the women’s match is usually my favorite part because of all of the above. These women consistently work hard and consistently deliver. I’ve yet to be disappointed in them. They deserve as much support and hell heckling as every other match. So when I hear fans chanting ballerina at them, it really pisses me off. I have no doubt that those two women put in as much time and effort as anyone in the promotion.
What’s even worse is when the same people in the audience start chanting hepatitis and HIV. It’s offensive on many levels. All women wrestlers are whores, or just all women? Based on what? Because fans expect them to dress skimpy? And frankly, Portia was wearing more clothes than half of the men! That’s wrestling. Show me Randy Orton in pants. It doesn’t happen.
Should you boo Portia, a heel? Yes, the same way you boo for any heel. That’s part of the dichotomy of heel versus face that all great matches thrive on. Implications about STDs are ridulous. I’d rather pay twenty dollars and cover the cost of that guys ticket than have to hear him. It’s overt sexism.
Portia, Mistress Belmont: Thank you for a great match and I apologize on behalf of Rome. I hope that this type of thing never discourages you. Your work is great and I’ll keep coming out to see you.