Ready to Shine: Canadian Female Pro-Wrestlers See Glowing Future in the Ring

By Friend, David | The Canadian Press, July 4, 2017 | Go to article overview

Ready to Shine: Canadian Female Pro-Wrestlers See Glowing Future in the Ring


Friend, David, The Canadian Press


Canadian female wrestlers reflect on pro possibilities

--

TORONTO - Xandra Bale scowls at the crowd as she pushes through a velvet curtain and struts towards the wrestling ring.

It's a Sunday afternoon at the Oshawa Curling Club, in a city just outside Toronto, and several dozen wrestling fans have gathered to watch the villainous Bale get knocked from her pedestal.

"I know you guys haven't seen a girl who looks like me before," she snarls after snatching the microphone from the announcer.

"But when a hot girl comes out -- you're supposed to cheer for her."

A smatter of applause seeps from the crowd, but the room clearly sides with her opponent, Jessie Mack, who skips around practically taunting Bale. Within a few moments, they're clashing in a choreographed bout of combat that rivals their male counterparts.

It's the only female wrestling match during this small event put on by an independent promoter, but across the industry that's slowly changing.

Nearly a decade after she started, Bale -- whose real name is Alex Davidson -- has seen women's wrestling become legitimized, evolving from hyper-sexualized fantasy fights into serious butt-kicking action that isn't merely filling an empty slot in the lineup.

Netflix recently hopped on the bandwagon with "GLOW," a comedy series loosely based on a real-life ragtag group of wrestlers from the 1980s known as the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.

And industry behemoth World Wrestling Entertainment plans to make history next week by holding its first all-female event in Orlando, Fla., where 32 women will battle it out.

"There's never been a better moment to be an independent woman wrestler than today," says Pat Laprade, the Montreal-based co-author of "Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Women's Wrestling."

"The WWE is signing so many of them."

It's a long way from the shimmers of progress led by pop singer Cyndi Lauper back in the 1980s. She joined what was then known as the World Wrestling Federation to play the manager to newcomer Wendi Richter.

Lauper made a point of emphasizing the role of strong women but when Richter publicly urged owner Vince McMahon to expand his ladies division, he stripped her of her title, according to the book "Sex, Lies and Headlocks" by Shaun Assael and Mike Mooneyham.

In the 1990s, the industry did little to advance women, betting on superstars like the Rock while leaving others such as Canadian-born Trish Stratus with storylines about affairs with their bosses.

Wrestler Tammy Sytch was known for distracting opponents by shaking her cleavage and the WWE's "bra and panties matches" sold themselves as a race for women to get their opponents stripped down to their undergarments. …

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