When you ask fans where the best women’s wrestling in the world takes place, some people will wrongly tell you it’s in WWE and more accurately in NXT. People that know any better will tell you that answer is wrong and that joshi puroresu is where the best women’s wrestling in the world takes place.
When you compare women’s wrestling in the rest of the world and Japan, there’s a massive gap between both in terms of good in-ring workers. There are several key factors that have cause this massive gap.
A Lack of Study on Joshi History
When western wrestlers make their Mount Rushmore of all time great women’s wrestlers, names like Manami Toyota, Akira Hokuto, Aja Kong and many more legendary joshi wrestlers are ignored a lot of the time.
Names like Lita and Trish Stratus are legends, but they don’t have the same library of work as someone like Manami Toyota. You could make the case for Lita and Stratus that were part of an era that saw women’s wrestling as just eye candy and in-ring work was not important.
Western wrestlers would benefit tremendously by studying matches from AJW or even from STARDOM. Wrestlers like Bryan Danielson. Cesaro or Kenny Omega have stated in the past their admiration towards joshi and how that helped improve tremendously in-ring wise.
Lack of Opportunities
From the indies to the major promotions, it has to be said that female wrestlers don’t get a lot of opportunities in comparison to men’s wrestling. There’s several key factors to this lack of oportunities.
Not TV ready. This is a point the sometimes is ignored with some wrestlers and their lack of TV time. TV wrestling is very different to normal wrestling in the sense that you have to work for the cameras and to the crowd too, and this takes a lot of time to master, no matter how good you are.
Women wrestler generally don’t get that many bookings and if you see a lot indie cards there’s at best just one women’s match. Promoters from indie and major promotions need to do better on that regard, but they shouldn’t do it for the sake of it or to just get woke points with a certain crowd, they should book the best wrestlers for the spot.
A few weeks ago, PWG received some backlash for not booking women in their Mystery Vortex show. Some of the people making that point were people that ignored that stated of women’s wrestling on the indie scene and that it could’ve been a bad idea to put two wrestlers not ready for such a big spot. Also, some of the people criticizing PWG were meme wrestlers trying to get PWG bookings. This was quite similar to the annoying debate about NJPW and a women’s division.
In Japan, for the most part promotions are separated by genders. This separation allows the joshi to be the spotlight of the show from the opener to the main event. With more opportunities, it comes more in-ring time and by result it allows for the joshis to get more wrestling experience quicker.
Promotions like TJPW or STARDOM host some of the most entertaining women’s wrestling you’ll see and most importantly, they are the stars of the show. There’s a few women centered promotions in the US for example, like Shimmer that have done a great job giving young wrestlers in-ring time and you would be surprised of the amount of all time great wrestlers that have wrestled for them.
One of the things puroresu is better than any other wrestling territory is the way they train wrestlers. The Dojo culture in puroresu has produced some of the all time great wrestlers of all time. For example, when was the last time the NJPW dojo produced a mediocre wrestler? That list is very short and the same does for joshi promotions.
The training of women’s wrestling in countries like the US is questionable at best for so many reasons. Especially after Speaking Out. More wrestling schools need female trainers to teach the next generations.
Joshis have the advantage of learning how to wrestle from an early age if they want to. Riho, former AEW women’s champion, is the best example of this.
The Wrong Wrestlers Get Attention
One of the biggest problems about women’s wrestling outside of Japan, is the fact all the wrong wrestlers get more attention than those than those that actually deserve it. In particular, meme wrestlers.
Meme wrestlers get more attention on social media than other wrestlers and that gets them more notorious bookings. This wrestlers are not very good in the ring and yet, they get more attention than wrestlers that are not a walking meme and can actually deliver a match above 3 stars.
Promoters and fans are to blame here for giving the wrong wrestlers the spotlight and not delivering on the match aspect of things.
Women’s wrestling in the US has had it’s ups and down historically. There things that didn’t help women’s wrestling for the longest time like Moolah’s control of it and the many terrible things she did. It also didn’t help that it took WWE until 2015 to take women’s wrestling seriously and Stephanie McMahon claimed she did it.
Things like the treatment of women like eye candy or the bathroom break for a very long time slowed down the progress of women’s wrestling in the US.
It should not be ignored what TNA did for women’s wrestling in the US way before WWE’s women’s revolution, although, it also had it’s all time low moments like Sharmell vs. Jenna Morasca. Nonetheless, Gail Kim and Awesome Kong should be celebrated way more than they are right now for their contributions to women’s wrestling in the US.
There’s also been things like GLOW (the promotion that inspired the Netflix show), that were fun to watch, but when you have wrestling historians burying it all the time, it doesn’t really help.
While are talking about historical context, we can’t ignore Total Divas. Personally, I’m not a fan of the show or The Bellas, but it can’t be denied that the show help created new female fans and inspired a lot of people to join the wrestling business. We’re just starting to see the results of this show and it’s impact with female fans.