|The intergender portions of this match don’t really signify anything good, I don’t think
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Sunday’s Extreme Rules was notable for a couple of things. One, Brock Lesnar cashed in his Money in the Bank contract and became Universal Champion once more. This decision isn’t worth the bandwidth to discuss because it only exposes WWE’s structural rot in that it has to feed a beast out of some misguided idea that he puts money in the McMahon’s bank accounts. People more plugged into that kind of analysis can tell you how wrong that idea is, and the fact that 75 percent of his matches end up being pretty good does not really justify having his incredibly red ass around a normal company. Since WWE is far from normal though, I feel like they deserve each other.
The other notable thing happened a little bit before the cash-in, in the “Winner Take All” main event where real-life partners Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch teamed up to defend their Universal and RAW Women’s Championships against Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans respectively. During that match, Corbin hit Lynch with his finisher, the End of Days. It wasn’t the first time a woman bumped for a man on purpose recently, but any other time a woman has taken a move from a man, the setting has been a bigger competitor like Beth Phoenix, Kharma, or Nia Jax entering the men’s Royal Rumble match. Lynch is more “normal” sized (really though, bigger women ARE normal, just not to WWE’s perceptions), and to see something like that happen to someone who wasn’t taller or bulkier than the average WWE female performer, you’d have to go back before TV-PG. Men have been bumping and taking moves for women just fine, most notably a few weeks prior, when Lynch put Mike Kanellis in the Dis-Arm-Her as a set-up for Maria Kanellis to berate him in the ring. However, in Vince McMahon’s mind, nothing is probably more humiliating than a man being violence’d by a woman. Of course, McMahon would be better served to look up woman-on-man domestic violence statistics or maybe not assume that because a cis man has a dick that he’s not necessarily tougher than a cis woman, but I’ve been banging that drum for a good long time.
Anyway, the End of Days spot was still notable, but if you think it means all bets are off and equality is here and that Lynch and Bayley are about to haul ass and annihilate Lesnar and Kofi Kingston to unify the brand titles, well, I don’t think that’s the case at all. The key was in the commentators’ reactions. They fell all sullen when it happened, as if an able-bodied competitor doing a perfectly legal move to another able-bodied competitor between the bells is something over which to get mortified. Their reaction, and the camera panning to Rollins with a look of disbelief on his face as if someone just told him CrossFit has nothing on jogging, says to me that the spot was not something that signaled Lynch being equal to Rollins or Corbin, but that it was part of WWE’s push of going away from TV-PG to attract more teenagers.
Fans and analysts alike love to say Corbin is a “great” heel because he annoys people, and WWE probably heard those cries and thought, “hey, let’s make him hit a woman because THAT’S heeling, baby.” I mean, yeah, hitting someone like Miss Elizabeth or Sapphire is a heel move because they’re not competitors. Lynch is one, and she closed out WrestleMania for fuck’s sake. Of all the people employed by that company, Lynch as a damsel in distress, being taking a move that is probably not even 75 percent of the big bombs she’s taken at the hands of Jax, is an incredibly tone-deaf decision. If anything, Lynch should have taken that move at the end of a sequence with Corbin, kicked out of it, and moved into her comeback where she tapped his ass with the Dis-Arm-Her. However, WWE has a track record with another piece built to it on Sunday night.
I think people who are looking at this as anything but WWE trying to be edgy are going to be disappointed. While it would be tremendous for WWE to say “hey, gender is a work, so men will wrestle women” would be miraculous, miracles don’t happen with Trump-donating outfits who don’t innovate but glom up trends from elsewhere. Other companies are doing intergender wrestling, sure. Impact Wrestling, for example, is leading the charge on (somewhat?) national television. One would think that WWE could see something like that and ape it for its own audience. That being said, given the trappings around it, I’m pretty sure they just wanted to show to all the teenagers how cool their product is, even though I’m pretty sure a good bit of its desired target audience can see right through it and would think that if they were following it up in good faith, that it would be a whole hell of a lot cooler.