In my two years of being a wrestling fan I have watched way more wrestling than is probably healthy for me. A fair amount of that has been intergender wrestling, a version of which is seen all throughout the indies and even in more major promotions like Lucha Underground. It seems so common and so familiar that no one bats an eye at it in those promotions, yet WWE avoids intergender wrestling like the plague (even when the plot practically calls for it). This is nowhere more obvious than with the 24/7 Championship.
Before we even get into this though, I would like to address the times men and women have interacted to get WWE’s newest title.
- Kelly Kelly wins the title from Gerald Brisco by kicking him in the balls and pinning him. I personally wouldn’t count this as “a fight,” as Brisco is older and the skit portrayed him as defenseless, therefore, unable to fight really anyone off.
- Kelly Kelly loses it and it passes between women until Alundra Blayze gets it and sells it off to Ted DiBiase.
- Maria Kanellis wins it by forcing her husband to lay down and let her pin him.
- Mike wins it back by tricking his wife with a hug.
- Carmella wins it by surprising R-Truth with a standard roll-up. This is the most standard title from gender to gender so far, but it was nothing more than a straight pin.
So we have one standard title change (arguably two if you want to count Kelly Kelly), but that’s it. WWE has created a title which is supposed to be a free-for-all, an “anyone can compete” type title, and even then they are hesitant to have women and men fight. In kayfabe this makes no sense, especially if the men have the traditional “I don’t want to hit a woman” mentality. Women should have been dominating this title if we go with that basic logic. But instead they very quietly and patiently wait their turn, which in turn ruins some characters through their inaction. Am I to understand The IIconics would not want to find an easy way to win a title?
This lack of logic and “waiting of turns” was no more apparent than on last Monday’s Raw when Carmella won the title. All the men confused and unsure what to do when Carmella won was perhaps a good quick comedy moment, yet it exemplifies the issue — especially when the women’s locker room ran out shortly after. Am I to understand that this giant group of men who were all hounding Truth for weeks suddenly won’t try to get it from Carmella (especially when apparently all that is required is a roll-up pin)? Or that the mob of women who ran after Carmella only suddenly wanted the belt the moment SHE got it? Someone really has to stretch their suspension of disbelief in order to accept that logic.
Normally WWE is extremely skittish about men and women fighting. The times they do it they always play it as a fluke, an accident, or some sort of spontaneous act which ends as quickly as it stops. Nia Jax interjected herself into the Royal Rumble this year only to be eliminated, and that was pretty much never mentioned again. Becky Lynch took an End of Days from Corbin, simply for the sake of Seth Rollins going into Hulk mode. Lynch, the woman whose character is relentlessly dedicated to getting even, didn’t think twice about Corbin’s attack on her the next day.
The 24/7 Championship, while it has been extremely entertaining to watch, hasn’t explored much of the space it’s made for itself, instead opting to play it safe. The title makes intergender wrestling almost a necessary plot point, but the writing refuses to acknowledge it. Creative and Vince are too squeamish to have men and women wrestling on the main card, but the 24/7 title practically screams for it. The night it was introduced Mick Foley said the belt is open to the entirety of Raw, SmackDown, NXT, 205 Live, NXT UK, and “who knows.” This is as explicit as you can be without saying the word “intergender” that women and men can fight each other for this belt.
Yet we still have women patiently waiting their turn when a man holds the title and the men patiently waiting their turn when the champion is a woman. It’s almost as if space-time of the kayfabe universe itself won’t allow men and women to compete against each other, which is a shame since intergender wrestling allows for interactions we don’t normally see. Imagine Kevin Owens taking on Nia Jax. Or how about The IIconics taking out The Miz or Sami Zayn? It also allows for the underused women on the roster, who are already ignored most of the time, to get more air time without taking focus away from the underused men and making them wait for the belt to bounce back to the men’s “turn” to have it.
Who knows if WWE will ever change its view on intergender wrestling; it may not. Other promotions have done intergender matches to the point that it doesn’t even raise an eyebrow to see such a match. But WWE have introduced a title which has made intergender wrestling almost a necessity. They have chosen to simply ignore that fact in the face of internal kayfabe consistency and kept everything as traditional as it possible can. They’re taking absolutely no risks with a title they created which demands risks. A quiet, cowardly act.