The Other Side of the Table

You know what a long drive through Western Pennsylvania needs? A pop-punk playlist, a particularly stunning sunset, and a friend to do the driving while you write a blog post about the incredible weekend you just had. Check, check, and check.

My roommate and I drove the nine hours from Washington, D.C. to Toronto, ON on Friday in order to attend Smash Wrestling’s F8tful Eight event on Saturday. The trip was an absolute blast – I absolutely recommend Smash to anyone who finds themselves in Toronto – and it’s hard to go home now. But I learned a lot the last two days, about myself and my perspective, so there’s a lot of work to do when I get back.

I became the Lady J nearly three years ago, simply to create a separate place to discuss my thoughts on wrestling that wasn’t going to annoy my friends who weren’t part of the fandom. What that name means has grown exponentially since then, as I find each aspect of my life becoming more and more tied to the wrestling community. I assume, going into this trip, that I was going to Smash in order to accompany some new fans, advocate for inclusion in their promotion, and see some great matches. But you know what they say about assumptions.

My roommate has two friends from his graduate program that live in or near Toronto, and I found myself sharing a few meals with the three of them. These are brilliant science people, who know little or nothing about wrestling. They have many advanced degrees between them, and one of them had just been working toward becoming an astronaut. I was, intimidated at first, sitting across the breakfast table from all of their knowledge and I felt a little silly saying I was in town for wrestling. But once I did, they asked questions and wanted to discuss the community and my place in it. They wanted to know everything about the PWGrrrlGang and what it’s like being a female fan. One of them told me, when I insinuated what I was doing was nothing compared to becoming an astronaut or being an astrobiologist, that “every community, even science, needs an advocate.” In this community, that advocate is me. I should be proud, she told me. And I am.

Once at the show, I quickly discovered Smash Wrestling didn’t need me to advocate to or for them. They are a self-aware promotion and work hard to create a welcoming environment. The fans are quite diverse and very much like a family – they take care of one another, even if they’re on opposing sides of a match. They love their wrestlers, too, and are grateful to everyone who comes to their home to bless them with the gift of a beautiful match. It felt more like I was meant to be there to learn something than to teach anything. Right now, the PWGrrrlGang is a me, a twitter handle, a t-shirt shop, and a promotion in Canada. But people will adopt it and make it their own. It will evolve and change to fit the needs of the community. I won’t be at the next Smash show because they don’t need me. The PWGrrrlGang is in safe hands there, and I hope Karyn and Dan can help to welcome lots of new faces into the crowd.

I also learned, standing at a merch table, that if you want to have an influence on your community, you have to accept that people are going to be listening. You can’t be shy about who it is that reads your blog or listens to your podcast, even if it’s the promoters or wrestlers themselves. If we want to bring attention to issues we think are important in wrestling, it is not enough to simply discuss them among ourselves as fans. It is essential to be willing to have these conversations with people who have influence or power of their own, to stand up and say in both an eloquent and digestible way what we feel the problems are and how we would like to see them addressed. I endeavor to never become complacent with what I have already achieved, and know there is still more work to be done, more ears to bend, and to speak up whenever I can. More than anything, I hope to encourage other people to do the same. Talk to your local promoters when there is a problem, and also when something is going great. Work toward speaking to the wrestlers you admire at shows: treating them with respect and gratitude can breed the same in return. A mutual admiration society is a great way to create a safe space and an open dialogue, should you need one.

Finally, I found myself sitting with my mentor at a small cafe in my tiny old college town before the six hour drive back home. We spoke at length about what I was doing, and his interests in all of my projects. He has no connection to wrestling as a fan, but finds the sociological aspects to be fascinating. As we discussed the weekend and my experiences, he asked what was next; what was my goal? My answers were long and meandering, as I was really answering them for the first time – even to myself. I thought about sitting across from the scientists in Toronto, and standing next to the wrestlers at Smash, and then looked across the table at him. I thought about how my position has altered in two and a half years, and where I am now. And where I can be.

I know what it’s like to be a female wrestling fan. I know what it’s like to be marginalized, sexualized, harassed, and ignored. I know what the PWGrrrlGang does is important and I know that it will grow with time. I don’t know what it’s like to be a wrestler, or a promoter. I don’t know how to reconcile the things we, as fans, want to see happen at shows in order to feel safe and welcome with the way a wrestling business is run. But I want to. I don’t want to know the finish to a match, or who is winning a title. I want to know how wrestlers feel about working in places where the crowd uses racial slurs. I want to know how promoters deal with crowds or performers who can get out of control. The only way to find these things out is to keep writing, keep talking to people, and do it tirelessly. Maybe there is no perfect solution. There are probably tons of people out there who don’t want to talk to me because they don’t believe in what I do, or they think I expect them to martyr themselves. There might just be, however, a few people who are willing to discuss these things with me. Whatever it is they have to say, I am willing to listen and work with them.

A few months ago I wrote a post about how there were no mentors for women writers, there was no one who could tell me, or anyone like me, what to do in order to get people to listen. There was no precedent for something like the PWGrrrlGang in our community. Now we’re here, on the other side of the table. We’ve done a lot together already. So where do we go next? That’s easy.

We go further.

The Lady J Says

 

2016

Amid an absolute swarm of year-end lists and review podcasts (Facelock Feministas included) I decided to do one more blog post for 2016 but wasn’t sure what to write about. I got a number of great suggestions (by far, my favorite was “best hair of 2016”) and it was hard to narrow down exactly how I wanted to round out the year.

This morning, I received a tweet from a friend’s locked account (so I won’t be sharing a screen shot here.) It was very simple, and not a response to anything I, or anyone else, had said. It was the sentiment that moved me very nearly to tears, though: the presence of the #PWGrrrlGang had helped this person enjoy wrestling in 2016.

My contribution to the wrestling community is limited. I don’t have a lot of money to travel often or see as many shows as I’d like. I certainly am not athletically gifted or of the body type where you’d ever see me inside a ring. I don’t possess a mind for business that would lend to running a promotion. But I know how to advocate for people who need help, and I can write. That, in its most basic form, was how the #PWGrrrlGang was born. I wanted to create something that brought people together, that created positive discussions, and that gave people that had been feeling alone in the fandom a sense of community and belonging.

Inadvertently, I helped myself along the way. Writing and podcasting as often as I do has bettered my craft. I have also made a lot of wonderful friends who I know I can count on for thought-provoking conversation, for checking my ego, and for encouraging me when I get down on myself. There is a family here; one I am so proud to be a part of.

Many thanks are owed to EVERYONE who has used the #PWGrrrlGang tag, who has responded to or shared my work, and/or who tunes into the podcast. You are each incredible and the community would not be the place it is now without you. You’ve all inspired me with your varied backgrounds and outlooks to give me, to work harder.

In 2017, the PWGrrrlGang will be giving back – to the fans, the promotions, and the performers. There is much more work to be done, so please know I am here for the long haul. We have built something amazing this past year, all of us together, and I feel strongly that we have set into motion tremendous changes for the industry and the fandom. One day, there will be people of all walks of life who feel safe and included at independent and large-scale wrestling shows; people who maybe won’t know what we all did together, but who get to exist in a safe and inclusive fandom. By then the phrase “PWGrrrlGang” and even The Lady J may be long gone. But that’s the thing about a legacy. “It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” Who knows what the world might look like then. For now, I have high hopes that next year is going to look pretty good.

Best wishes for health and happiness for all in the coming year (and always).

With kindest regards & gratitude,

The Lady J

 

The Value of a Fan

Professional wrestling is an interesting choice of topics to create content about when your ultimate goal is to be taken seriously.

It’s almost a contradiction in terms, really. Imagine trying to find validity in your own work when the general populous, half of the fandom, and even the thing itself rarely considers the topic to be serious. Let’s not confuse “serious” with “real”, either. I fully understand the parameters of professional wrestling. But I see no reason to turn out half-baked blog posts or podcast episodes when my heart isn’t in it in order to fill a space in the void. First of all, there’s barely any space anyway – there are thousands of voices shouting about this art form, this business, on any given day. Second, whether I make an effort to keep them separate or not, this blog and my podcast are just as much a part of who I am as a writer as my work running a literary magazine or having pieces of creative non-fiction published. I take ALL of my writing seriously, regardless of the topic. That means when I misjudge someone, when I come around on a storyline or character, or when I am flat-out WRONG about something, I’m going to be forthcoming about it. It doesn’t appear to be a characteristic of the community (yet) to be forgiving and allow people to grow or change their minds, but I’m hoping that will morph over time.

For example, since my experience at EVOLVE 72 & 73, I have done a complete 180 on Ethan Page. I did a podcast where I expressed (in no uncertain terms) that his in-ring style lacked a certain force that I’ve come to prefer in competitors like Chris Hero. I maintained, naturally, that his promo and character work could not be denied, but that (in particular) his match at EVOLVE 73 against Chris Dickinson left a lot to be desired for someone who was only seeing him for the second time. Since then, Page participated in the discussions about safe/inclusive wrestling promotions that we had a few weeks back on Twitter. He answered some questions about Alpha-1 and made it clear any fan should feel free coming to him or anyone on staff with concerns about their live shows. I got to see him live at EVOLVE 74 this past weekend in Queens in an intense, character-driven match against Cody Rhodes (whose status as a Bullet Club member had only been announced the night before.) One could argue my major complaint about Page’s match at 73 against Dickinson were still factors here: both men were TECHNICALLY in heel-mode, but the crowd’s desire to see SOMEONE get their comeuppance (Page in particular) kept us all invested. Plus, I firmly believe Page is at his best when his opponent matches him in presence, and Cody surely fits that bill.

After the show, getting to speak with Page at his merch table and see first-hand how passionate he is not only about the business at large, but in particular about fan’s reactions to him and creating a space where EVERYONE can enjoy the show, really made me a convert. Not only does he take what HE does seriously, he understands how important the relationship between the fans and the talent is, and that when talent don’t take the fans seriously they run the risk of being rejected. It isn’t necessary for him or ANY wrestler to read this blog or listen to my podcast in order for me to like them – that would be very silly of me. And surely by now, wrestlers have grown exhausted of fans telling them “I run a podcast on _____”, but a smart performer remembers, somewhere in the back of their mind, that any fan who takes the time out of their day and the money out of their pocket to produce a podcast or run a website on wrestling is truly dedicated to the product at large.

Fans are just as much a part of the show as the wrestlers are, and how they participate dictates what the industry has become. If fans whose strength was in writing and research didn’t start using their talents to create zines and websites about wrestling, wrestling journalism wouldn’t be what it is today. If fans with audio and production backgrounds didn’t get into podcasting, think about all of the wrestler-helmed shows that wouldn’t exist. To some extent, fans have created whole sections of the wrestling industry, ones that generate quite a bit of money, too, that wouldn’t exist today without them taking their work seriously. And, in their defense, most wrestlers today started out as fans. A truly great promoter, booker, or wrestler recognizes that common ground between themselves and the people in the seats. We ALL got into this for the same reason, we just participate in different ways. Just because another fan doesn’t keep a blog or produce a podcast doesn’t make what they do less valid than me. I don’t subscribe to a lot of streaming services so there is a LOT of the product I’m not consuming, and that doesn’t make me less valid as a fan that someone who has five or ten different streaming subscriptions. Fan fiction writers and cosplayers, graphic artists and toy collectors, all of these people invest a great deal of time and money into their projects and all of them do it because they LOVE WRESTLING. Some fans can’t go to live shows, but they consume a great deal of the different products from their own home; they are just as valid as fans who create things or travel to who attend every Wrestlemania.

The greatest lesson I have ever learned as a writer is not to wait around for other people to give their approval in order to consider yourself a Real Writer. What I create is of value, even if only to me. It’s important enough that I take time to do it to the best of my ability, even if no one reads it. You, dear reader, coming here to put eyes on it is just icing on the cake. Seeing the amount of responses to the #PWGrrrlGang twitter chat last Thursday was incredible, but even if only two people wanted to talk that night, it would still have been worth it. Working on all of the projects I am involved with as The Lady J can be thankless and frustrating, not to mention exhausting, but they bring me joy and they are all important to me. This is how I participate; this is who I am as a professional wrestling fan.

And I take that very seriously

 

The Lady J Says

The Middle

Some stories start in the middle.

The middle of this story finds me sitting home on a Friday night trying to keep pasta away from the dog while listening to a wrestling podcast. On a stupid hot night toward the end of July, I’m taking a break from a fairly monotonous freelancing project to engage in my favorite thing: listening to fun, funny, passionate people talk about pro wrestling, and in particular, Lucha Underground.

It’s during this podcast I hear some of the individuals (who all appear to identify as male, as they all refer to one another as “he”) talking about the mentorship of some of the individuals behind LU, and how they encouraged the various podcast personalities to follow along the path they’ve walked. This is wonderfully reassuring, as I have had many positive interactions via social media with some of the writing staff, and like to think they have also been encouraging as I work toward…

As I work toward…

What am I working toward?

I have changed trajectories so many times in my not-quite-thirty years in this Earth. I wanted to work in politics, in playwriting, in publishing, in wrestling. I took care of my Mom; I left my boring day job with the government. But what am I doing right now? I am watching every match Roman Reigns has wrestled on the main roster of WWE. I am trying to figure out what to do with a Lucha Underground podcast now that the second season of the show is over. I am horribly neglecting this blog. I am attempting to do some freelance writing and editing. But to what end? What good am I doing; what impact am I making?

I realize I am jealous of these men on the podcast, because they seem to have opportunity, trajectory, and intiative. They have someone in their corner with the LU staff being so supportive. And I realize I am jealous because they are men.

The staff at Lucha Underground, in particular Chris DeJoseph has been very supportive of the #PWGrrrlGang movement. As we have expanded its meaning, many other smaller promotions like AAW in Chicago, Smash in Canada, and NOVAPro right here in Virginia, have been welcoming of a movement to support women in all aspects of professional wrestling. But what they can’t offer is first-hand experience. They don’t know what it’s like to be a female writer or booker or commentator. They don’t know what it’s like to be the first woman to _____. They provide women with amazing opportunities, ones that have been seized and capitalized on, but they cannot show the path to walk to success.

I wish I had a mentor. I have someone from college, a wonderful theater professor who has been encouraging of my varied (& sometimes doomed) choices. He is like my cheering section, but will be the first to admit he has no experience with professional wrestling. I am walking into uncharted territory, where he wishes me great success but can offer no real guidance.

I wish there was a woman who could say she’s been there and done that. I wish there was a woman who had to fight her way into the boy’s club, who eventually found a group – a place to belong – made up of people who were like-minded in their ambitions but still challenged her. I wish she could help me choose where to focus my attentions, the podcast, the articles, the blog – or just to give up altogether because I don’t have the mettle. I wish there was a woman to mentor me, but there isn’t. At least, there isn’t one that I have found.

This story is still in the middle. Maybe it’s at a crossroads, I’m not sure, but it’s definitely in the middle. If it ever moves out of the middle, I hope I remember to look back and offer a hand to someone behind me.

The Lady J Says

A Woman of Honor

When I started doing the Facelock Feministas podcast with my friend Sarah, we were so infatuated with the Lucha Underground product for a myriad of reasons. A major one was how they treated the women who worked for them. They were involved in well-developed storylines and intergender wrestling matches were utilized to demonstrate that their women were on par with their men, not secondary to them. The past few weeks worth of podcasts has highlighted how that seems to have shifted. We have not had a woman in a match in two weeks on Lucha Underground, and we’re now seeing female characters in more stereotypical roles than before. And frankly, I’m disappointed.

This seems to be par for the course in pro-wrestling, though. Just when we think we’ve made strides for women as wrestlers and as fans, we take two steps back. WWE changes the Diva’s Championship to the Women’s Championship in a theatrical presentation in front of record crowds at Wrestlemania 32 and then gives us months of pitifully short segments and matches for women on RAW, not to mention their inability to create more than one storyline involving female wrestlers simultaneously.

Another example is Ring of Honor, a promotion that has Women of Honor on a weekly YouTube segment, but does not have women’s wrestling during their televised broadcasts. Today it was recommended to me that I check out an interview Joe Koff, the COO of ROH, did with Jim Ross in which Koff says “I doubt if our roster will ever be a third [female…] We’re not that deep and […] I’m not even sure that the fans have necessarily the appetite to sit through two or three women’s matches which you would have to have to have that kind of people, to use them, and to let them make a living.” What? You don’t think the audience has an “appetite” to sit through two or three women’s matches? Where does this data come from?! Also, your fan base will rise to whatever you set before them provided the wrestling is of a certain quality. And Koff has something to say on that, too:

“But I think, at the end of the day, the women are not quite at the level, even though they’re getting there. Their matches are very fast and they’re very exciting, and I think some of the Japanese women that I’ve seen that have come over through New Japan are unbelievable. I think people like to talk about women’s wrestling because we’re a society where men like to look and let’s face it a lot of men are pigs when it comes to stuff like that. […] But at the end of the day, they want to see good action. So as the women’s quality gets better, I think we’ll see more women’s wrestling.”

What I’m taking from this quote is mostly that Mr. Koff doesn’t think women wrestlers are as good as men, but ROH puts them on TV in the capacity that they do in order for male to ogle them. Congratulations, Ring of Honor, you just made the top of my shit list. (Never thought someone would oust Striker, but here we are.)

What seems to really be at the heart of the problem is the absolute refusal of the people in positions of power (almost all men) in pro-wrestling to invest both time and money in women as human beings. There is a mass cyclical oppression happening in this industry (and film, music, art, sports, politics, science, ad nauseam) in which the lack of women in the ring discourages both a larger female fan base and potential future female wrestlers to invest in the product. In the same way (though admittedly on a smaller scale) that people of color are grossly underrepresented in film and television roles, the representation of women in pro-wrestling wildly skews the impression on the viewer that women can’t or shouldn’t wrestle, and that the product is not “for them”. To encourage the hiring of female wrestlers, to encourage the hiring of female writers and technicians and designers, is to encourage the diversification of professional wrestling both in product and in audience.

While watching Lucha Underground over the past 19 weeks, I have appreciated that the women were treated as equals to the men and given the same opportunities: the chance to be silly, to be violent, to be cheered, to be booed, and to be rewarded. The recent removal of the Catrina character from TV (though this is canon and will likely make sense in the future) married with the current status of Kobra Moon as a weird stalker girl and Taya as simply Johnny Mundo’s tagalong is a reversal of that. Lucha Underground was doing things with their female talent that no other promotion, save for all-female ones, were accomplishing in terms of equality. I have seen arguments that their women’s roster is much smaller than their male roster, and therefore it’s harder to get them screen time without overworking the female talent they do have. I don’t refute that, and agree that I would prefer not to see the talented women of LU out on injury due to working too many matches in a day of tapings. My response is far simpler: hire more women.

When I’m told the lack of imagination in storylines for female performers is based in the lack of women on staff, my response is the same: hire more. Do all women have the same experiences in life? No. I’m not suggesting that female writers should be creating content exclusively for female wrestlers. Having a diverse writing staff (and I mean to include gender along with diversity of race, religion, age, sexual orientation, etc.) creates an environment that will naturally breed a wider variety in plots. If everyone on the creative team at WWE was different from one another in all of the aforementioned categories, imagine the refreshing, boundary-pushing content they could be presenting to their audiences, even within the constraints of the TV-PG rating. It could potentially rival the Attitude Era in the way it would revolutionize the company and perhaps the entire industry.

I am regularly met with resistance when I discuss the issue of women in and out of the squared circle. I’m told the industry will never change, that some things are what they are. I’m asked time and time again, why do I bother? Why am I a part of an all-female wrestling podcast, why do I blog and write articles for other sites about representation and booking? These questions always seem silly to me, as they have a very simple answer. It’s because I LOVE wrestling. I love it. It has been there for me when I really needed it. And now I want it to be better. I want to give back to it, not just with my money or my time but with my voice. I want to encourage it to evolve and to change with the times and grow.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with me outside of the pro-wrestling world, I went to college to become a playwright. I wanted badly to be a female Aaron Sorkin (who many of you probably know from TV shows, but who got his start writing A Few Good Men as a stage play before it became a tremendously successful film). In my favorite television show The West Wing, which Sorkin was the showrunner for during the first four seasons, one of the main characters is deciding whether or not he should run for congress as a Democrat in an overwhelmingly Republican district – a district that hadn’t elected a Democrat in a dog’s age. In arguing for his running, the character tells the following story:

“I worked in a State Assembly race in Manhattan in a district where Democrats outnumbered Republicans 16 to 1. But everywhere we went, there’d be one lone poster of a right-wing nutbar who wanted to eliminate the income tax. And he was holding up signs and canvassing everywhere and bugging the local reports until we had to comment on it. So I introduced myself to his campaign manager, and I said ‘what are you doing? Your candidate doesn’t have a chance and neither do your issues.’ He said ‘this is what I believe. And no candidate gets to run in my district without speaking to my issues.’ I came this close to voting for him.”

I am a pro-wrestling fan. So are all of the members of the #PWGrrrlGang, and thousands more men and women like us. We believe women should be hired more, booked better, and should be more well-represented in this industry. We believe female fans deserve a fun, inclusive, and safe environment in which to be spectators. If you produce pro-wrestling events, you will address our issues. I intend to make sure of it.

-The Lady J Says

How I Show My Love

It’s been a while since I’ve posted in here (poor blog) but I’m working toward making this a bigger priority and writing more. One of the things that’s been filling up a little more of my time has been the Facelock Feministas podcast (which you can check out via YouTube and iTunes) and promoting the #PWGrrrlGang. I had some thoughts I wanted to share regarding last night’s FF podcast, and thought this might be a good place to put them.

I am a female-identifying professional wrestling fan. If you come here or to the podcast looking for the opinion of someone who has been or is a wrestler, or the perspective of someone who is an industry “insider”, you have come to the wrong place. I don’t think I’ve ever given the impression that I have experience inside the wrestling industry, but if I have, I apologize for the misinformation. I’m just a fan who uses my unique perspective as someone with a background in creative writing and theater to help inform my opinions of what I see weekly on my TV or at live events. My personal journey as a human being walking this earth is also painted by my experiences as a woman; those experiences are going to color everything I do in my life and the way I interpret anything that crosses my path: the stories others tell me, things I read in books, or see on TV. It’s not something I can turn off – not that I would want to even if I could.

As a fan writer and podcast host, I feel my purpose lies in being as honest as possible about how things seem to me. I hope that in my honesty I am never alienating anyone, but rather getting the ball rolling on the beginning of a conversation. If we disagree, I want to hear your point of view, as long as we can both be respectful in how we discuss the issue at hand. Just a few days ago a wonderful friend, Willow, and I were discussing our opposing views about WWE’s inclusion of Chris Benoit in products lately. This is an issue I take very personally and have blogged about before, and I believe Willow understands my perspective but can only be honest with me about how she feels. In the end, we agree to disagree but understand one another better as people.

Sarah and I have received a great deal of support for the Facelock Feministas podcast, a fact we are both proud of and grateful for. The basis for this podcast was always to give a woman’s perspective on wrestling, but to focus it to Lucha Underground, a market we felt didn’t have as many female podcast voices yet. We’ve had our fair share of trolls, but mostly we’ve gotten a positive response from people – fans, other podcasters, wrestlers, bookers, etc. – and we hope to continue to bring you more fun, intelligent content as we progress. But not every episode is going to be the same. Whether I am working alone, with Sarah, or joined by a special guest, the basis of each podcast episode is in the corresponding episode of Lucha Underground that aired that evening. Yesterday, as I worked through episode 17 of season 2 of Lucha Underground, I felt unhappy with what I was seeing on my screen. When it came time to go live with the broadcast, I said what I felt.

I like be extra sassy and have fun on Twitter, but I never really thought I was cutting the Promo to End All Promos on the creative team behind Lucha Underground. Maybe it’s not always a great idea for me to finish watching an episode and then hop straight on air to podcast. But everything I said last night I still agree with. Maybe you don’t – that’s fine. As long as you do so respectfully, I’d be happy to hear your argument! We received a few comments on our YouTube video for episode 15 of people who did/did not agree with me, all of whom were as passionate as me, but very cool to hear from. The only thing that has given me pause was a reply that popped up on the Facelock Feministas twitter account this afternoon:

Capture

This made me feel bad. My intention is never to make the people who create Lucha Underground (and I mean all of them, the wrestlers, the writers, the camera people, the designers, the technicians, everyone) think I am not grateful for the hard work they put in. I am a huge fan of this program and something really terrible would have to happen for me to stop watching (like, say, I would have to be dead. Or the show would have to be canceled. Both are things I would prefer NOT to happen.) I think sometimes it’s easier to just love something and be satisfied with it than to say “usually this is very good, but this one time it was not up to the standards of the rest of the product.” That’s how I felt about last night, particularly the story surrounding the main event match for the Gift of the Gods championship, Chavo Guerrero, and Cage. I don’t expect every main event to be on the same level as something like the No Mas match from episode 15, but the storytelling for this championship seems like dangerously bland waters to get a guy as on-fire as Cage is into.

The Kobra Moon stuff, on the other hand, is personal to me. How women are portrayed is sort of my thing, it’s where a lot of my heat comes from. I want strong female characters, characters who are held to the same standards as men, and ones that don’t play into long-standing tropes and stereotypes typically applied to women. I don’t know much about the writers and producers of LU, and I don’t know how many of them are female. I don’t know how many of them had the experiences many young girls do of being taught to never be smarter or faster or stronger or better than boys at anything, because that’s not how you get them to like you. It is hard when you have experienced certain things not to view moments like Kobra Moon giving Daga the pin in last night’s first match as a reflection of that experience. Do I think there’s more at play? Sure. Very rarely do we have matches that don’t move a major story arch forward on LU. But watching Kobra Moon trying to lick Daga (yes, I know she’s a snake) made me feel Marty the Moth-level uncomfortable.

And here’s the thing: it’s my opinion. Would I rather watch any other wrestling program available to me instead of Lucha Underground? Hell no. But I also don’t see the point in dismissing the times when you don’t like something and giving a promotion a free ride for all of the good they’ve done up to that point. I’m sure we can all think of promotions who became so complacent regarding their audience that they rested on their laurels and thought we wouldn’t find anything else to watch if they insisted on feeding us the same regurgitated shit over and over. Obviously, one lackluster episode of a show does not an abandoned promotion make; I’m not just going to shut the podcast down and walk away from a show I adore. I’d prefer to get a little heat for calling a spade a spade and saying “this was not up to par. Please do better.”

To paraphrase Amy Gardner’s character in the “Red Mass” episode of The West Wing:

First of all, I’m crazy about Lucha Underground. I’ve been crazy about it for longer than you’ve known wat it was. And I’ll keep poking it with a stick; that’s how I show my love.

Love you, LU.

The Lady J Says