Sunday, 21 January 2018

The Non-Fan Review // Women's Evolution

Two blokes who've had little time for professional professional wrestling...then write about professional wrestling. That's pretty much the premise that we're building this series around. A slight change to format this month as our two non-fans watch two seperate matches along the same theme. This month it's women's wrestling under the spotlight as Nicholas Peat watched Lita & Trish Stratus tagging against Stacy Keibler & Torrie Wilson in a Bra and Panties match from WWF Invasion 22nd July 2001, before Andrew Williams checks in with Sasha Banks vs. Bayley over the NXT Women's Championship from WWE NXT Takeover: Brooklyn from 22nd August 2015. What will our intrepid graps newbies make of their respective matches and what will we learn about their opinions of Women in pro wrestling? Let's go.

Nicholas Peat on... Trish Stratus & Lita vs. Stacy Kiebler & Torrie Wilson from WWF Invasion

Do you know what the best thing is about James Marston, creator of Across The Pond Wrestling and all around top bloke?

It’s not his winning smile, impressive turn of phrase or how he promised to slip me a fiver if I began my review this way. (EDITOR’S NOTE: NO, I DIDN’T. HONEST.) It’s that after five sessions of having me, a red-blooded alpha male with a predisposition for womanly flesh, watch sweaty, muscular men run around and grapple, he’s kindly given me some female totty to watch. (On a side note, there was a girl with the surname Totty in my class in primary school. I think she lives in New Zealand now.)

Flashback to July 2001! The Nintendo GameCube was about to be released in most of the world, Ant & Dec hadn’t left SM:TV Live just yet and Wikipedia was just six months old.
But even more dramatic than all of these things was the first ever Bra & Panties Tag-Team Match Up™! So what does such a match entail, I hear you enquire? Well, it’s beautifully simple, the commentator informs us: strip you opponent down to her bra and knickers and you win.

Wrestling gets no better than this, surely?

It seems that this is a battle between two duos, each representing a different group: WWF (as it was called back that, before the panda-loving wildlife bagged the initials) and a group I don’t know called WCW.

In the traditional video introduction, we’re introduced to Stacy, an extremely lengthily legged blonde who likes posing in front of desk fans. She lets us know that “WCW women always come out on top.” She is my favourite, calling it now.

As if to draw contrast, we meet the WWF damsels: an extremely serious ginger bird called Lita (pronounced like “litre”) and a blonde wench who goes by Trish Stratus. We learn via flashback that Trish “planted a big old kiss on Lita’s boyfriend, Matt Hardy”. THE LITTLE TART! But that’s not all, Trish also kissed Matt’s brother, Jeff… which for some reason incenses Lita. Hmm.
Cut to two chaps, one who looks a lot like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo and the other with a bandana on his head like Axl Rose, who watch Trish and Lita cat fight on telly. At this point, in slink the WCW babes: Stacy and a similarly flaxon-haired chick, known as Torrie Wilson; the politely shake hands with the gentlemen. What a lovely first impression, these seem to be well brought up young ladies, I’d be thrilled to take them home to meet my mother… Actually, forget I said that, the doxies just smooched the boys and said “nice meeting ya!”

“What was that all about?” asks Shaggy, reasonably.
“I think those girls digs us,” opines Axl, bemusedly.
The WWF birds have been ruffled. It’s on now.

But hark, strange sounds in the air! “Hey, that’s Mick Foley’s music! What’s Mick Foley doing here?” demands the commentator. I’d be happier if someone explained who the her heck Mick Foley is. From context, he’s our special guest referee: a vision in tracksuit bottoms, a checked shirt over a Universal Studios t-shirt and Matthew Kelly beard.

Do they have to pass an entrance exam to be a referee?

Then the music softens, a WCW logo appears on the big screen and out skips Torrie Wilson in the girliest way imaginable; in her red “COWBOY” top, silver sci-fi trousers and white trainers, she plays with her hair and winks at audience members and I go slightly gooey inside.

Cut to Mick, who has the dirtiest smile I’ve ever seen on a man. Lucky sod. Torrie steps in (making sure to stick her arse out as much as possible), then starts chatting to Mick. We can’t tell what they’re saying but she just be good at telling jokes, from Mick’s chuckles.

Following with one hand on her hip (like she’s impersonating half a teapot) is Stacy Keibler, in a fetching red leather top/black trouser combo. No flirting or waving for this babe: she strides straight to the ring as fast as her maxi-legs will carry her, her arms swinging wildly as she does so, like she’s trying to keep balloons in the air. It’s at this point that the camera focuses upon a man holding a sign saying “WE WANT PANTIES”. I think he’s been directed to the wrong part of the shopping centre.

And now for out first WWF waif: out bounds Trish Stratus, short of fetlock but big on glittery blue leggings, with a black tank top to complete the image. Trish stops before going into the ring, leaving Stacy and Torrie to jump and dance in front of his eyeline so she can’t charm him. Cute.

(Here, the cameraman chooses another odd sign to show us. This one says “I WANT TO SEE PUPPIES”. I genuinely have no idea how anyone could mistake this wrestling arena for a pet shop.)

But when the camera comes away from the man searching for a doggy, Lita is already out and body-popping. Head-banging like a madwoman, she is wearing a white top and the most chav-tastic trousers I have ever seen; seriously, there’s a pocket on those blue leggings for every letter of the alphabet. Once she finally stops posing and joins Trish outside the ring, the WWF girls dive into the ring with perfect synchronicity… only for their WCW rivals to slap them away! This is fun.

DING DING DING! The WWF birds slam their foes down and start hitting them; while Torrie turns the tables and starts giving Trish a good whacking, Stacy rolls out of the ring. Mick tries to restrain Lita for some reason (I don’t think he needs much excuse) and Stacy runs off somewhere, maybe to ask George Clooney if she can borrow his Batman outfit; as the commentator mentions, “thongs are legal".

Wonderful cat-fighting ensues as Trish drags Torrie up by her hair, before Torrie breaks free by kicking Trish in the girl-goolies. A good exchange of slaps from them both, before they collide with each other, leaving Torrie the worse off. Poor lamb. Trish attempts to pull Torrie’s top off, but then Stacy appears from nowhere (just like Hong Kong Phooey) and drags Trish away from her comrade by her hair! It’s two against one now, with Lita just standing there and not helping; luckily, Trish is canny enough to knock both her assailants down single-handedly. I love a woman who takes initiative.

Trish tags Lita in (is that the system they’re using now?) and the WCW lasses just stand outside the ring, arguing the toss about who is going in. Lita has no time for such folly: she shoves Torrie off and drags Stacy in, tearing her top off to reveal a canary yellow bra. Yellow is nice.

Stacy, clutching at her breasts like she’s frightened they’re about to drop off, tries to do a runner! Managing to give Lita the slip, Stacy engages in what I call “Baywatch running” (i.e. running V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W-L-Y, lest your bosoms pop out to say hello) with Lita in hot pursuit, only for the latter to end up trapped on the end of the ring like a beached porpoise. Seizing the moment, Torrie holds Lita’s legs down as Stacy tears off her top, revealing the titian-haired wench’s purple/green camouflage bra. Her knockers will certainly be well hidden when she goes hiding in the indigo forests of Swindon.

Lita, creatively, uses her own shirt as a garrotte to flip Stacy by her neck; fittingly, the cameraman chooses this moment to show us yet another sign held by a fan: “CAN I BUY YOU A FISH SANDWICH?” I’m beginning to think half the attendees are confused shoppers looking for the nearest Asda!

As the commentator explains: “Mick Foley is dong very little officiating in this match. I don’t blame him.” That makes two of us, son; Lita stands on a corner with the intention of punching on Stacy like a naughty little kitty - but the leggy blonde dodges, letting the WWF virago crash headfirst.

Stacy tags Torrie in as Lita tags in Trish; a few blows exchanged, then Torrie gets inventive: she stands on Trish’s hair and pulls the harridan up by her arms. HOW UTTERLY EVIL! Drunk off her clever idea, Torrie temporarily forgets how shirts work and tries to take Trish’s top off while still standing on her hair; this gives Trish to roly-poly out while successfully de-trousering her, revealing her tiny, white KNICKERS! Torrie is as SHOCKED as I am! But in the confusion, Trish’s shirt HAS ripped off, so each of the fighters has but one garment left.

In a moment of magical choreography, Trish drops down and acts as a stool so that Lita can jump into Torrie, giving the WWF birds a chance to tear her top off. Utterly astonished by the development, Torrie dashes off.

Where has Stacy been all this time? Well, she’s stopped clutching her norks as if they’re going to escape, so maybe she’s been having them screwed on tighter. Whatever the case, Trish drags the remaining WCW combatant into the ring, letting Lita backflip onto her. Realising their advantage, they both desperately tear the remaining clothing off of their foe; at this exact moment, the commentator decides to go through puberty: “I said it all along: you wanna be a winner, you take Stacy’s pants.”

…Indeed. So they tear them off (plus her trainers - though she’s still wearing her socks, so it’s not JUST her bra and panties…? Ah well, it seems to count) and Stacy seems utterly despondent about it. Poor love, I’d cheer you up, Stacy. I know lots of jokes too.

The victors walk off proudly leaving the referee to clean up. The commentator raises a valid point: “What is Mick Foley gonna do with the garments?”

…I have a couple of ideas but I daren’t say them on a family website.


I know what I want for my birthday now.

Andrew Williams on... Sasha Banks vs. Bayley from WWE NXT Takeover: Brooklyn

I wasn't sure what to expect with women's wrestling. Are they just as tough and melodramatic as the men? Bayley's entrance suggests otherwise - the screens flash "Bayley!" as she dances into the arena, decked out in ribbons of gold and white and black.

Then Sasha emerges, in a car, flanked by four ripped bodyguards in black. She's wearing Venetian blinds for sunglasses and struts on with every bit as much sass and stage presence as the queeniest of the male wrestlers. She even has her bodyguards lift her into the ring. Maybe this isn't going to be so different after all.

Sasha parades around the ring, cradling her championship belt. Bayley is not impressed by all this showing off. She's here to take it from her.

And they're off! The bell rings and the two ladies... don't do much. They're just standing there. Then they start chatting. I don't know what Sasha is saying but Bayley doesn't like it - suddenly Sasha is slapped down and the two girls are rolling about on the floor and slapping each other around the head.

The referee bravely intervenes to separate them. Bayley immediately leaps back against her opponent on the mat, then starts bouncing off the ropes for another charge. Wham! Smack! She tries to pin Sasha down but the match isn't going to be quite that fast. Sasha pulls away.

I can already see one huge difference between the men and the women here. Male wrestling is all about strength - huge guys with big, heavy blows. Female wrestling is more about speed - this match is by far the fastest paced I've seen.

Bayley helps Sasha up, and then throws her towards the ropes - but Sasha twists away and Bayley takes the brunt of it. As she staggers away, Sasha presses her advantage, smashing Bayley's face into the corner post several times. "NOOO!" yells Bayley, grabbing the other girl and doing the same to her.

Bayley then picks her up, spins her upside down and hangs her over the post by her feet. She gives herself a good run-up and then SLAM into Sasha's stomach. Sasha falls in a heap. Bayley drags her into the middle of the ring by one foot, tries another pin... but Sasha kicks out with both feet and the referee breaks the hold. Not yet, Bayley.

The two girls separate, and then charge at each other. Bayley aims high, but Sasha ducks low and grabs her around the stomach. Now it's Sasha going for a pin and Bayley kicking out, but as they get up Sasha aims a savage kick to the stomach. Bayley winces.

Smug, Sasha takes Bayley's hand and hurls her into the corner again. She charges in after, but Bayley turns her shoulder into the charge and Sasha reels back. Bayley climbs the ropes and leaps into her, the two girls spinning over each other. Sasha rolls out of the ring, Bayley standing ready for more.

The referee orders her back into the ring. Sasha argues back at him. Bayley takes the opportunity to charge after her, sliding across the mat and landing both feet in her face. I approve. It's very bad form to argue with the referee.

Bayley slips out, picks up her opponent and throws her back under the ropes. She's out to win, and she's not putting up with all this nonsense. But as she climbs back in, Sasha aims a knee at her midriff. Evil! She then threads Bayley through the ropes in the corner so she can attack that exposed belly. But as Sasha prepares to leap down upon Bayley and snap her like a twig, Bayley slips out of the way. Foiled!

But it isn't over for Bayley. Sasha is mad now, and she aims a few punches to the head before grabbing Bayley's neck in an armlock and preparing to flip her into the ring. Bayley resists with a flurry of blows to Sasha's back, which is enough to force her down again. Sasha kicks out again, and Bayley falls gracelessly out of the ring.

Sasha struts around, mocking her opponent. Bayley gets back in the ring, but since she's instantly grabbed, pummelled, dropped to the ground and sat on, one wonders why she bothered. Sasha resorts to hair pulling before the referee breaks them up. (Hair pulling is largely absent from male wresting, perhaps because most of the men have no hair to pull.)

Sasha pulls Bayley back up by her hair, and slaps her in the back a few times. Sasha bounces off the ropes and slams her back into Bayley's. This fight has switched completely - Bayley was taking the lead early on, but now all the fight has been knocked out of her and Sasha has turned mean. Her next move as Bayley groggily sits back up is to bounce off the ropes, spin on the spot with a "Wooo!" and then slap her in the face. I'm not sure how that one's supposed to work.

Sasha goes to pin the lacklustre Bayley. But the other girl hasn't given up yet. She kicks out, and the hold is broken. But has she got any fight left in her?

Maybe so. She slowly rises up and aims a swift double handed punch to Sasha's chest. This is not very effective. Sasha retaliates with a kick that sends Bayley flying. She strolls slowly over, grabs Bayley's head and tries to twist. For several agonising seconds, Bayley struggles to avoid her head being twisted off her neck. "Come on, Bayley!" she yells. "You're a loser!"

It's the referee that breaks them up, under that cardinal rule of wrestling that says you can't bore the audience with one hold for the entire match. Sasha decides to try strangling Bayley with one of her own arms instead, and finds using both Bayley's arms at once is even better. Several more seconds pass.

Surely there's no way to get out of this? But Bayley tries. She slowly climbs to her feet... and then Sasha simply lets go, shoving her into the corner post. Bayley drops. Sasha argues with the referee again, planting a savage kick into Bayley's prone body as she does.

I have decided that I don't like Sasha.

The evil one picks Bayley back up and shoves her into the post again. Bayley is barely conscious at the moment, but she deflects a punch and shoves her tormentor away. Sasha slaps back. Bayley fights back, but it's a feeble effort. Once again Sasha hooks her feet into the ropes and prepares to break her opponent in half.

As before, it doesn't work. Bayley slips under her, catches her in midair and... fails to deliver. Sasha wriggles free and Bayley drops to the mat. Sasha is mad again. She really wants to do her special move, so she hooks Bayley back up again and decides to soften her up with a frenzy of blows to the stomach.

The referee tells her to do something else, so she lines Bayley up against the post, picks up her legs and hooks her not into the middle ropes but the very top ones. The commentators groan. Sasha climbs outside the ropes, ascends the post and drops onto that exposed stomach with both knees. Bayley falls in a heap. Sasha lands on her colourful feet.

Now it must be over! Sasha pins her opponent. The referee counts... and Bayley breaks the hold again! It's not over! Sasha looks like she can't believe it either. Bayley crawls into the corner while Sasha trash talks. ("You think you're better than me?" In many ways, yes...)

Bayley instantly wins my respect by booting Sasha in the chest. It sends her flying but, better still, it stops her talking. Sasha charges back and Bayley grabs her and throws her into the post. As Sasha returns, Bayley trips her up, falls on top of her and punches her repeatedly in the head while yelling a lot. Not all those punches seem to connect, but the yelling is consistent.

Sasha pulls free. Bayley picks her up, hurling her into the ropes, but Sasha bounces back and aims a savage kick that Bayley dodges. Bayley charges in, but more hair pulling results and Bayley falls out of the ring - but not without slamming Sasha into the mat on the way down. This entire paragraph takes less than ten seconds.

Bayley sprawls. Landed badly, perhaps. Sasha climbs out of the ring to press her advantage, sitting on her rival and pulling her arm at a rather awkward angle. This arm has a wrist brace on it - perhaps from a previous injury - and Sasha decides to go one better by removing the brace. This is very unsporting, but apparently legal.

Bayley is hurled back into the ring, then hurled back out of it. She lands on that damaged wrist. Sasha then takes that injured hand, leads Bayley over to the steps and smashes it down on them. As Bayley writhes on the floor, Sasha continues to yank on that hand and, when Bayley resists, she stomps down with one foot.

She's not done yet. Next she takes Bayley's injured hand, wedges it between steps and ring, and smashes the steps themselves. I'd buy this move a little more if it weren't for Bayley's overacting while trying to free her hand, which she manages without much difficulty when Sasha kicks out. I'm also pretty sure that kicking the steps like that is moving them away from the hand, not crushing it like the commentators seem to think.

Bayley may have a broken hand, but I doubt it. While Bayley rolls about on the floor and the referee checks on her, Sasha returns to the ring. But not for long - while Bayley gets to her feet, Sasha runs out of the ring, somersaults over the referee and lands squarely on Bayley's shoulders. Down they both go!

Sasha is up first, pulling Bayley up by the hair and throwing her back into the ring. She tries to pin, but Bayley kicks out again. How much more can she take?

Sasha pulls Bayley up and returns to her favourite mode of attack - trash talk. The only word I can make out is "loser". She slaps Bayley in the face, then leads her by the hand to the corner post, but as she climbs the post for some dastardly finishing move Bayley regains her senses and shoves. Sasha falls out of the ring at some height. Both roll about on their respective floors.

What's this? Sasha is being counted out! But as far as I can understand it, if she's counted out like this, she retains the title. She doesn't have to beat Bayley - she just needs Bayley to fail. But she doesn't want to just beat her opponent, especially on a technicality. She wants to humiliate her, and that's why she crawls back into the ring as the count reaches eight.

A slapfight ensues, both girls on their knees. Bayley seems to think nothing of using her "broken" hand to lay a punch or two. They continue to yell at each other and trade blows as both rise slowly to their feet. Then Bayley throws the other girl into the ropes and slams her down as she bounces back! And again! And again! Sasha just keeps bouncing back and slamming back down!

Bayley then lets out an Amazonian yell, charges headfirst into Sasha in the corner and rolls away. Sasha sprawls. Bayley then does... something, possibly a dance move, before charging into Sasha again. She pulls her out of the corner, tries a lift, tries again... and Sasha flips over her head and crashes down again. SMASH.

Bayley showboats, then goes for a bearhug. Sasha tries to return the favour, then aims a punch that only serves to spin her around. Bayley pins her against the ropes, rolls her right over, picks her up twice, then goes for a slam on the mat. Sasha reverses it, and Bayley goes down hard. She's pinned again, and this time there's no easy way out. She crawls desperately forward, Sasha hanging on with all her strength. We've seen this trick before - if the pinned wrestler can snag the bottom rope, their opponent has to let go. I still don't understand that one.

Sasha isn't having any of this, using a free foot to stomp down frantically at Bayley's outstretched (and injured) hand. But while she hooks that hand down with one leg, Bayley reaches out with the other hand and... yes! She's grabbed the rope! Both girls roll away.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Bayley has grabbed Sasha in a pin instead! How? What? She tries to pull back Sasha's head like a Pez dispenser, and the two spin slowly around as Sasha tries to grab a rope and Bayley turns her away. Then, finally, a foot snags that bottom rope - the hold is broken.

The two girls sprawl on the canvas. Do either of them have anything left? Bayley is up first, but as she goes to pick up her opponent Sasha lashes out with a foot and Bayley staggers back. This only makes Bayley angry. She charges back in, picks up Sasha's feet and, while Sasha hangs onto the ropes for dear life, she shakes her like a duvet cover. Sasha pulls away, but Bayley grabs her in a very unfriendly hug, hurling her into the mat and pinning her once more. The referee counts...

...and it's still not over! Sasha kicks out and the two separate. As both girls gasp for breath, the crowd chants out what I think is "This is awesome". I could be wrong.

Bayley picks up the struggling Sasha and hangs her on the ropes, then moves her to a sitting position on the top of the post. This is always a dangerous approach, Bayley. They have a nasty habit of springing to life while you're setting up your finishing move. You did it to her yourself a few minutes ago! However, it seems all Sasha can do as Bayley climbs up after her is flail a few weak punches at her back.

Bayley grabs her with both arms, but Sasha perks up a little more and, with a load of desperate flailing, manages to push Bayley away. Bayley is so annoyed at having her trick shot ruined that she runs up and punches her in the face. She tries again, mounting the ropes ready for a huge flip - and Sasha slaps her down! Bayley tumbles to the floor.

Sasha takes advantage of Bayley crawling towards her by leaping down from her perch and into Bayley's neck. She tries to pin the challenger, but Bayley suddenly convulses and the two girls flip over. Now Bayley is on top and Sasha underneath! Pounding the mat in frustration, Sasha crawls free.

As the match comes to what must at last be the endgame, Sasha gets to her feet. Bayley is still on the floor, her energy spent. Sasha picks her up and sits her on top of a corner post, facing out. There's an exchange of exhausted slaps between the two girls and Sasha is knocked away. Bayley tries to get into a better position, punching Sasha repeatedly as the champion moves in, and while she's dazed Bayley climbs around to sit on her shoulders. Then Bailey drops down, the two flip over and both land on the mat. SLAM!

Bayley gets up, flips her opponent once more and pins her to the mat. The referee counts and it's all over - Bayley has won! The new champion of the NXT! Hurrah!

But that belt is never going to go with her outfit.

Bayley's friends come in to celebrate with her. And then... so does Sasha! Four girls hugging, all friends again, all enmity apparently forgotten.

In summary...

This is the first female wrestling match I've seen, and if this is typical they certainly last a fair bit longer. It was much faster paced, but it was also a lot meaner - the boys just want to beat each other up, while the girls want to humiliate each other. The slapping, hair pulling and trash talk add a new dimension.

I've never been entirely convinced by the "acting" of the male wrestlers, but it kind of works. They're performing in a play of sorts, and their characters are quite broadly painted. The female wrestlers are better performers, but this actually makes it less convincing for me. I find it hard to buy the trash talk and the desire to bring each other down when the two girls are hugging and friendly again at the end of the match. But which is the lie, and which is the truth?

Next time...We challenge Andrew's theory that men's wrestling is "all about strength - huge guys with big, heavy blows" as we treat our Non-Fans to some Junior Heavyweight classics. 

Andrew watches...

Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Eddie Guerrero in a WCW Cruiserweight title vs. Mask match from WCW Halloween Havoc from 26th October 1997...

Before Nicholas views... 

Will Ospreay vs. Ricochet from New Japan Pro Wrestling Best of the Super Junior XXIII - Day Six from 27th May 2015...

See you next time.

Article by Nicholas Peat (@NPChilla) & Andrew Williams (@adw_author)

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