If there is one thing the middle and upper class Americans accomplish on Thanksgiving week, it’s a adding a couple inches to their waistline. Aside from the turkey, there’s the abundance of pie, potatoes, stuffing, and the mandatory gallon of gravy consumption. In the O?Brien family, as well as my in-laws, about a bottle of wine per person is a necessity as well. While children all over the world starve, we consume their annual consumption in one day on Thanksgiving. In the process we unbuckle our pants and loosen our belts. In one day we forgive others for gorging themselves. The rest of the year, even though nobody will admit it, we judge others based on how big they are.
WWE is currently running a feud between Mickie James and Michelle McCool about Mickie’s size and look. Last week on SmackDown! a segment ran where McCool mocked James, calling her Piggy James. The segment ended with Mickie standing in the ring with tears streaming down her face. They tried to pull it off as best they could but the whole scenario still came off as pretty cheesy. The crowd was dead as Mickie stood in the ring beside herself, humiliated on national TV.
For those of you that were not fans at the time or maybe just don?t remember, in 2002 WWE ran a feud between Trish Stratus and Molly Holly in which Stratus constantly mocked Holly for having a ?big ass?. The feud produced some of the best matches of 2002. Despite the match quality, the feud was considered by many to be pathetic since the size of Molly Holly’s rear end was the reason for their hatred, yet the series of matches warranted many fans voting it the third runner-up for Feud of the Year in PWI’s Year in Wrestling issue.
When Holly and Stratus fought, it was ridiculous that they fought over the size of a woman’s ass. Back then Stratus and Holly were the highlight of Raw most weeks because of their talent. Even though they had what felt like a stupid angle going they put on good matches. Today, McCool and James have been started a feud over the looks of James. Not only does the angel feel stupid, but McCool and James are not the caliber of performers that Stratus and Holly were. McCool has improved, but not on the level of Stratus nor Holly. James has come under scrutiny lately for her ignorance of her opponents? limitations. Not only is it just a clumsy angle, but it is not between two great performers that can have incredible matches despite the angle.
However, maybe we are going at this the wrong way. Perhaps WWE is taking what they believe to be real life situations and putting them on TV. Let’s face it, nobody likes being called a pig or being told they have a big ass, especially in front of an audience of thousands of fans and millions of TV viewers. Forget all the angles in professional wrestling and put yourself in the shows of Mickie James. Imagine that you are in the middle of the ring and your most hated nemesis comes on a giant video screen and mocks you for being ugly and chubby. What do you do? I tried entertaining this idea especially since men in wrestling fight over some petty things as well.
But there are inconsistencies. As a longtime fan I think back to how Stratus was the baby face in her feud with Holly. Now I am supposed to cheer for the ugly one? I used to think that these kinds of angles perpetuated a stereotype and were offensive to women. I found it ridiculous that women would do their hair and makeup before coming to the ring. I soon came to realize that men’s wrestling is not as sexist, but just as stereotypical. The men also get into skimpy outfits and rub oil on themselves. People may not want to admit it, but there is an underlying homoeroticism in professional wrestling.
But all of this leads to a problem. Wrestling itself is an art in which men and women portray everything from porn stars to burn victims. Of course they are going to participate in some bad angles. Wrestling may be sexist, it may perpetuate stereotypes, but that’s not why we watch it. We watch it to escape from out world. Think about whenever you read a fiction book or a watch a film. Sure you can examine its themes of violence, sexism, and racism and so on and so on, but in the end, as brilliant and shallow as all of it is, it’s not why we engage in these activities. We do it for an escape or to lose ourselves.
Maybe some of you take lessons away from what you see watching professional wrestling. That’s fine. I just would hate to see people base their judgment of others over what they see on a fixed wrestling show. There may be people (both women AND men) sending letters and emails to Mickie James right now identifying with how she is being treated and maybe it’s good for them to have someone on TV to identify with, but in the end it doesn?t stop the top diva feud on SmackDown! from being flat out silly and petty.
In closing, I want to say my thoughts on women’s wrestling in this particular column are aims only at WWE’s Women’s division. Maybe some of you out there absolutely hate this feud or maybe don?t even give it a second thought. Yet there are a few that do find this feud intriguing and identify with both James and McCool. It is evident that it does mean something to some people if Stratus and Holly had what thousands of people believed to be the feud of the year in 2002. Whether that is a good or bad thing is not the question, but if it provides the wrestling audience with a reason to watch them.
That’s all for this week. I appreciate you reading and always know you are free to send me column feedback or if you just want to talk rasslin at firstname.lastname@example.org.