Extreme Rules flirts with intergender wrestling once again

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When WWE announced that Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins would defend their respective championships in an Extreme Rules Mixed Tag Match, people were very quick to point out a potential loophole.

Because it was “Extreme Rules,” or more appropriately, “No Rules,” it meant that the usual “men can only fight men, women can only fight women” clause of a Mixed Tag Team Match were likely to be broken over the course of the match. Meaning that WWE could allow actual intergender wrestling.

It didn’t take long into the match for that to happen. During the bout, Lacey Evans attacked Seth Rollins on a few occasions and Becky Lynch even hit a top rope dropkick into a steel chair on Baron Corbin. But the biggest moment was at the climax of the match: Corbin hit an unsuspecting Becky Lynch with his End of Days finisher.

Immediately, Seth Rollins responded by going berserk on Corbin, attacking him over and over again with a crazed look in his eyes, performing his Curb Stomp finisher repeatedly and then pinning Corbin to retrain his title, for the moment.

Before we go any further, let’s establish a simple fact: WWE may not be a real combat sport, but it does attempt to mimic one for better or for worse. One of the facts that comes into play is that competitors in any match have consented to participate in it under the rules set forth and are aware of the potential consequences. All of this happens under sanctioning of the company and there are particular standards and rules put in place and agreed upon beforehand.

That said: I am excited that WWE allowed Becky Lynch to take an End of Days during the match. I am equally excited that, while it did knock her out for the time being and long enough for Brock Lesnar to cash-in the Money in the Bank contract on Rollins, there was no long drawn out sequence of medical personnel needed to rush the ring and lift Lynch onto a backboard while the somber announcers lamented the sick and twisted actions of Baron Corbin.

I was less enthusiastic about the following night on RAW when Seth Rollins mentioned that Becky might not even make it to the show. Not because of the full intense fight they were both in the night before, but specifically because of Corbin’s End of Days.

While the End of Days is definitely a protected finisher and even a man would have been showing effects of it, the fact that Becky was supposedly not even able to make it to the arena that night was overkill and played up too much of “it hurt more because she’s a GIRL.”

But the worst part of all of this was Seth Freakin’ Rollins freaking out.

I understand there are many who will say “Well, if someone attacked my girlfriend, I’d get mad, too!” That is entirely understandable. However, this was not a random attack. Again, this was happening in a sanctioned wrestling match where Becky Lynch had already laid her hands on Corbin (or her feet through a steel chair, at least). The rules of the match said he was totally allowed to physically attack her, just as she could physically attack him.

Lynch agreed to those rules. Seth agreed to those rules. Seth knew Lynch agreed to those rules and should have been prepared for the possibility that Baron Corbin, the bad guy, would do something like this. Seth is also aware that his girlfriend is a trained wrestler, as well as being tough in her own right.

So, it feels off to see Seth freak out over Corbin doing something totally legal that Seth should have seen coming. Specifically, that we are supposed to feel sympathy with Rollins for just wanting to protect Becky when, until now, he’s stressed that Becky is capable of taking care of herself. In general, turning Rollins into the “over-protective boyfriend” was a lame character beat.

It’s worth nothing that recently, Impact Wrestling did a full intergender wrestling match between Tessa Blanchard and Sami Callihan in the main event of their last PPV. While Impact had been teasing doing something like this for awhile, and I was definitely not impressed with their early efforts, going all in with Blanchard and Callihan was still a fairly daring move for the company.

The match itself won rave reviews and it deserved them. It was a back and forth effort where Blanchard tested Callihan repeatedly. Even though Blanchard lost, in the end, she won Sami’s respect and the tease of a future rematch between the two. There was honestly something almost relieving in Impact going with that ending as opposed to the feel-good win for Blanchard.

Contrasting how Impact handled this feud against how WWE handled even the tease of Becky Lynch being in direct competition with a man leaves WWE looking weaker here.

If WWE doesn’t want to do intergender wrestling, that’s fine. I think it’s a shame, honestly, especially considering some of the incredible people in NXT who have done awesome IG work in the past, including Mia Yim, Keith Lee, Matt Riddle, Shayna Baszler and of course, Candice LeRae.

But if WWE’s prerogative continues to exclusively be “men wrestling men” and “women wrestling women,” fine. So long as the individual divisions are shown as being equally important to one another, which is another discussion entirely.

With that said, if WWE doesn’t want to do intergender wrestling, then they shouldn’t. Not even to tease it like they did at Extreme Rules. Either commit fully to showing your women as being on the same footing as men, or don’t bother. Because using intergender like they did at Extreme Rules, just to get an emotional reaction out of Lynch’s boyfriend, looks regressive.

Same with the initial teasing of Nia Jax facing Dean Ambrose earlier this year, which Ambrose – now known as Jon Moxley – said he believed it was “punishment” for him not wanting to sign a new contract with the company. It’s worth noting that Moxley also said that he would have gladly put Jax over, but wished it hadn’t been under those circumstances.

There aren’t many major companies doing intergender wrestling these days. Impact has made the exception with Blanchard and briefly with former Knockout Scarlett Bordeaux, which means hopefully, they will follow up with allowing some of their other women to wrestle men. But AEW has already stated they don’t have plans for intergender matches and neither ROH or NJPW show men competing against women.

Intergender wrestling is still very much relegated to the independent circuit, but luckily, because of online streaming, there has never been a time where it was easier to view indie wrestling no matter where you live. Chikara, PWG, WrestleCircus and DDT Pro regularly feature intergender matches, just to name a few.

Next: WWE: 5 opponents for Luke Harper upon his return

I will leave you with this: with intergender wrestling becoming so commonplace on the indies and with companies hiring talent with intergender experience, how long can the big companies hold out against doing it and doing it well?

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