Someone tweeted me yesterday and asked for my opinion on #TreatAllWomenWrestlersEqually, so I searched around and did a little background reading to try and get to the crux of the arguments its proponents were presenting. After doing so, I couldn't possibly have disagreed more, and I can't quite figure out what the hashtag-tivists were thinking. Somehow, in trying to make some kind of wide, sweeping statement on gender equality in WWE, Ryback logic took over their brains.
Allow me to explain.
In theory, of course we'd all want every woman who steps into the professional wrestling industry to get the same opportunity to apply her craft and become a superstar. They've all worked hard, they've made sacrifices, and each one has a dream. The problem with the movement is in the tunnel vision and the complete lack of awareness these people have, because things are not black and white on this planet, and thank God for that. Ideally, we live in a world where anyone can accomplish anything, and when freed from the constraints of regulation or micromanagement, a meritocracy is the result.
The reason WWE is putting a focus on Sasha Banks, Charlotte, and to some extent Becky Lynch and Natalya, is because those women have something many of their peers don't. They can work. It's really that simple. They're not alone, as Paige and Nikki Bella have been given opportunities, among others. But, if your entire position is based on the belief that Naomi has the in-ring talent of Asuka, you're just wrong. If you see Summer Rae the same way you see Bayley, tell me what drug you're on, because I could use a little of it.
"But, these other women were around and ready to perform. They courageously stuck through the tough times, and they deserve the same spotlight and the same rewards."
No, they really don't.
It sounds nice to stand up for every female, but if you're a part of the hashtag, you need to be honest with yourself. In the WWE 24: Women's Evolution special, we saw the story of both matches at WrestleMania 32. That multi-woman tag bout had its share of ladies whose value is exterior of being actual wrestlers. It's not a slight to think Lana is a great valet, Summer is an excellent character, and Eva Marie is an irritant. People play different roles, particularly in entertainment.
Everybody can't be the quarterback, folks. The one that throws the football with the most touch and accuracy gets that gig. The guy who leads by example and gives his team the best chance to win when he's under center gets that job. And sometimes, the coach's son gets that job. It can be unfair, but it's not MORE unfair because it's happening to women at a time where people feel they can score points on Twitter by blindly backing the right hashtag.
"WWE doesn't even care about these other women," is another comment I saw on Tuesday. Hasn't Paige had multiple title shots in the past year? Hasn't Natalya worked with Charlotte several times? What exactly do you want?
Naomi, Tamina, and Emma (who I adore and hope to see do big things in the future) have all been injured, as has Nikki. Brie retired. Paige has had issues outside the ring. Lana went back to Rusev in storyline. Three women have been called up from NXT, and two of them are booked in a tag match on Sunday. A fourth is on the way, and she's going to shake everything up. I like them all, but there's one WWE Women's Championship as you read this piece, and the two women who deserve to be on that stage in Brooklyn are the ones who will walk the aisle at SummerSlam.
Ryback's absurd statement that all wrestlers in a promotion should be paid equally may have made Karl Marx cheer from his grave, but it brought eye rolls from anybody who considered that assertion for more than five seconds. Not only does Kevin Durant make more money than almost any small forward in the NBA, he also makes more than almost any of his teammates. John Cena is worth more to Vince McMahon than Ryan Reeves, and if Ole' Airbrushed Singlet doesn't recognize that, he's an idiot.
And that's not a "secret."
Sports is often a mixture of ability, marketing, and sometimes timing, and that's the same story we find in WWE. Perhaps some of these women were hungry and they didn't get a respectable chance two years ago, but so what? That sucks, but we've all gone through our own version of that tale, have we not? WWE handled the women badly, pushed the division terribly, and it was a joke. I feel bad for the Alicia Fox's of the roster, but that's as far as it goes.
There are levels of value, and both the dollar signs and the television camera time are generally based on what is in the best interest of those responsible for the successes and failures. Only five players can start on a basketball team, but I'm sure those men or women on the bench want to play big minutes. Shouldn't they be allowed to, since everyone deserves the same opportunity? You may have taken another job, leaving behind people you loved, because you didn't see the path to the future you wanted. Someone already has the position you'd like, and they're not leaving. So, you wait and keep grinding, or you walk and try to forge your own path.
You can tweet all the equality comments you want, but deep down, you know the women holding the ball right now are the ones best suited to advance the overall cause, which then might lead to more interest in the entire division. You may love Apollo Crews, but that guy isn't ready for Seth Rollins' spot. If he had it, what good would that do for anybody?
There's always a tiered system, and the easiest way to think about that fact is to see entertainment as you would a sports team. There's a first string or a group of starters, and then there are two or three groups of reserves. There are the main stars you see in the opening credits of a network television show, and then there are smaller roles. Only a few names appear on a movie poster, but hundreds could be in a cast. I was picked last in gym class, and it was perfectly fair, because I had the athletic ability of someone who now talks and writes for a living.
In professional wrestling, the reserves do eventually get to play, even without an injury to a starter. But, it takes time, and it takes growth. A certain "spot" is never guaranteed, because that would be insane.
It's not that all women in professional wrestling shouldn't get the same opportunities, it's that all men OR women in ANY profession should NEVER get the same opportunities, because some are superior to others in that field. Due to our imperfect human nature, some gems fall through the cracks. That said, we don't live in a utopia, and Sasha's matches mean more than Tamina Snuka's. I'm a fan of many of the women who aren't getting the big push right now, but there's only one current title, and battle royals stink.
I'd also like to see Kevin Owens in the main event on Sunday against Brock Lesnar, but it's not my decision. The guy who has the most to lose is the one who gets to make that call, and he believes in what he's doing. I may disagree, but I also don't have skin in the game.
Christopher Nolan and his casting people decided on Anne Hathaway for The Dark Knight Rises. Whether or not you personally liked that selection, she was who they felt was right for the part. Dean Ambrose is the WWE Champion, rather than Sin Cara, for a reason. Steve Austin and The Rock main evented two WrestleMania cards for a similar reason.
While it's true that men have more inherent chances than women in WWE, because they're featured in more segments, it's the way the company views Sasha, Charlotte, and whomever else, that gives those particular superstars a seat at the table. That chair helps to change the paradigm of what women's wrestling can and should be at house shows, on television, and on Pay Per View. Why on earth would you want to stop the momentum in favor of some fallacious equality argument, when the TOP women are gaining traction? If this works, WWE will start hiring more women, putting more effort into training them, and taking chances on some of the tenured ladies on the roster. If they're good enough, they'll get a shot.
Regardless of genitalia, all the performers WWE employs have strengths and weaknesses. Placing those people and their respective skill sets in the correct locations is how business must be done. Some may want to wrestle, but are far better when they're in other roles. Some may want longer matches or more in-ring time on TV, but everything in the business is finite. The Miz isn't a terrible wrestler, but that's not the best place for him, so we get a mixture of content. Baron Corbin might want to do 15 minute matches, but he's not ready for them yet. It's the same for the fairer sex.
Some of yesterday's hashtaggers may have had their hearts in the right place, but any reasonable evaluation of what they're fighting for leads to the same unavoidable conclusion.
You can't treat any set of entertainers equally, because they're not equal. Pro wrestling shouldn't be a "participant ribbon" society, and it never will be. If that ever were to change, I'm out.
Sorry, but not everyone can be in the main event.