Intergender wrestling has always been a heavily debated subject in the world of pro wrestling.
The major focal point of the debate is about big promotions and why they should do intergender wrestling matches. There’s several key factors about this topic that need to be considered though.
Origins & History
For the most part, male and female pro wrestlers have always had separate divisions and not much interaction between the two was ever made, with the exception of mixed tag matches. The first person to introduce the idea of intergender wrestling to the sport was the late actor Andy Kaufman with his gimmick of “The Intergender Wrestling World Champion” in the late 70s and early 80s. Kaufman would wrestle women on his show and use the help of Laurie Anderson (avant-garde artist) as part of the act.
Andy Kaufman did pitch the idea to Vince McMahon Sr. to the WWF, but he was against it and on his own words, he did want to bring “show business” into pro wrestling.
The Attitude Era saw a lot of changes into the sport and intergender wrestling was one of them. When talking about this subject, one name that can’t be omitted is Chyna. Her run in the WWF was groundbreaking in a lot of ways for not only intergender wrestling, but for women’s wrestling in the United States.
Candice LeRae is also a name that can’t be ignored in this topic. Her intergender matches, and especially those in PWG have been praised and considered must-see content by a good portion of wrestling fans.
Including intergender matches has seen a lot of success in the indies or in promotions of medium size like DDT in Japan. Lucha Underground also had intergender wrestling as a key aspect of the show back in the day.
The Indies & Major Promotions
One of the staples of indie wrestling has been intergender wrestling. It has always been something that has differentiated the indies from the “big leagues”.
“Why is that the case?” is a question many people ask about and there’s are multiple answers to it.
WWE has history with intergender wrestling, with names like Chyna or Lita, just to name a few. Despite all this rich history, the promotion avoids intergender wrestling. The major reason is because of TV stations and sponsors. WWE and AEW have to answer to stations and sponsors all the time and intergender is a difficult concept to sell to them. The indies don’t have worry about this type of problems and that’s a key point of this subject.
The two biggest promotions in the U.S., WWE and AEW, make most of their profits through their TV deals and intergender wrestling could jeopardize them. WWE does have a strong standing ground with RAW being the flagship show for USA Network, but Dynamite or Rampage for AEW are not for TNT when in reality, the NBA is the flagship content of that station.
IMPACT did give intergender a push in 2019 and early 2020. The biggest difference between IMPACT and promotions like AEW and WWE is that their parent company, Anthem Sports & Entertainment, are the owners of their station too. In terms of success, it’s also a very debatable subject. IMPACT did get attention because of it, but it didn’t do massive numbers, ratings or PPV buys.
Promotions could lose sponsors due to intergender wrestling and its nature. AEW lost the ads from Domino’s after the use of a pizza cutter in the middle of their ad during Chris Jericho vs. Nick Gage this year. Promotions are not going to do something that could complicate things for them in the greater scheme of things.
Why is it so Problematic?
Taking sponsors and stations aside, one of the major issues is that it gives the idea to some people that it encourages domestic violence. This the biggest obstacle for intergender wrestling. Does intergender wrestling promote dometic violence? No, it doesn’t, but watching a man hitting a women can be something uncomfortable for a lot of people to watch.
People will mention movies and how men and women will fight each other or the obvious answer that pro wrestling is predetermined. The key difference is that despite it being predetermined and 99.999% of the world knowing that, there’s still this line of realism that the sport walks. Accidents can happen and one with intergender wrestling and especially in a major promotion would be the worst case scenario. It’s risk AEW, WWE or any major promotion will not want to take.
Another problem with intergender wrestling is the interest in it. The people that support intergender wrestling are vocal, but they are also a minority in the wrestling circle overall. The interest for promotions like WWE or AEW to do it would have to be massive. It’s to niche of an audience for any big promotion to go all in on it.
Will AEW and/or WWE ever have Intergender Matches?
Despite pro wrestling having strong ratings since it’s was aired ion TV for the first time, pro wrestling has always had an uphill battle with advertisers seeing the sport as a joke or not worth investing money on ads in it. That’s why Vince McMahon and WWE coined the term sports entertainment to help a little with this uphill battle.
WWE’s content is PG and intergender wrestling just doesn’t fit with what WWE presents on RAW, SmackDown and NXT these days. At the end of the day with WWE, it’s very unlikely we’ll see intergender matches in their programming.
Tony Khan, Owner and booker of AEW, learned about pro wrestling through the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and tapes of old school wrestling. There’s no way AEW could ever book intergender wrestling, especially when they are not the flagship content of TNT or for TBS once they move to that station next year.
Intergender matches overall work better in the Indies, with the freedom they need to succeed. Even if AEW or WWE would have a change of heart, intergender matches would have some restrictions.