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Wrestling, WWE, Women: The Women Warriors of NXT at The Work of Wrestling

This article is about a year and a half old, and there have been many, many changes to how WWE treats its women wrestlers (including, finally, calling them Superstars just like the guys, which they are), and many of the women mentioned here have moved up from NXT to main roster WWE work (NXT is, basically, a development team for WWE, and is absolutely wonderful, in part for the reasons laid out in this article, which is why I'm linking it so long after it was posted).

I was not a wrestling fan back when it was being presented as "real" (scare quotes because there's a lot to unpack there that I'm not going to address right now), and I love wrestling (sports entertainment) for what it actually is, a show (show is too small a word -- a conglomerate? a form of entertainment?) that is telling a story through controlled violence.

The times I love wrestling best are the times when I am so caught up in the story that it makes perfect sense for someone to, oh, throw themselves off the top of a cage to try to win a match. I can get lost in the spectacle just like I can get lost in, say, a car crashing through three sky high buildings in a glorious action sequence (Furious 7).

All that being said, I need the spectacle to have a heart to it, too. In the Fast and the Furious movies, it's chosen family. In wrestling it's -- well, sometimes it's chosen family. Sometimes it's protecting your reputation. Sometimes it's pushing back against the Authority.

Sometimes -- too often, when it comes to women's wrestling on the main roster -- it's a story about two girls who try to "out crazy" each other (let me tell you how well that goes down with me, and note my intentional use of the word girls there, because that's what the show uses, too) or fight over a man. And it is gross and sexist and infuriating. Their matches get cut. Some of the commentators say disgusting things. The fans can be terrible toward them. (The racism and sexism thrown at my beloved Naomi makes me want to punch everyone in the face.) Things are changing, but these criticisms are still valid.

What separates NXT from the WWE main-stage, and the reason fans love it so much, is best summed up in one simple word:


This respect is represented in the specific way in which NXT tells pro-wrestling stories. NXT respects the most fundamental truth of the professional wrestling medium, the purpose of professional wrestling and the quality of professional wrestling that this website is named for: NXT presents itself as a legitimate sports organization promoting athletes who are competing to win championship gold.

May 2018

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