What AEW's Nyla Rose Doesn't Understand
Instead of Chyna, she's San Francisco
It's a weird time to be a wrestling fan. Professional wrestling is, at its core, people pretending to beat the living hell out of each other in brutal, real athletic contests. It was two, or four, or more men doing their best to convince their audience that they were real, the fight was real, and that wrestling was real. People were fired, beaten or excommunicated for exposing the tricks behind the magic they'd perform in the ring, because keeping that illusion was the single most important thing to the wrestling business. Well, outside making money.
Maybe it's that last sentence which ruined everything. As technology, and society's appetite for spoilers, grew and grew, the way wrestling companies made money had to shift. Due to a variety the 90's the jig was up, people knew wrestling was fake so Vince McMahon began employing Jerry Springer and Howard Stern like shock tactics to make his show water cooler conversation worthy. The fans believed in the WWE's biggest stars in the sense that The Rock really was a charismatic God, Steve Austin really was a beer drinking redneck, Kurt Angle really was a gold medalist, Mankind really was absolutely insane, and they would all kill 99% of men in a fight. While obviously they were cooperating during these brawls on television, its fans argued that the unique combination of improv comedy, soap opera and action movie that the WWE had become was must see TV. The ratings went along with it.
Without Dragnet there wouldn't have been a Naked Gun. In that same vein, without the WWE turning itself into an extremely theatrical and nontraditional version of professional wrestling, where the personas of the characters were protected even if the storylines themselves weren't, we wouldn't have the overt silliness of modern day wrestling.
One could argue that Chikara was the one who kickstarted the culture of what we now think of as "indy wrestling", but I think Chikara was brilliant. With invisible hand grenades and ludicrous masked characters like human ant wrestlers, Chikara, in my opinion, was a love letter to the cheesy side of wrestling throughout its history. I don't mind a farce, as long as it's funny. Chikara was. While the characters and concepts behind Chikara were absurd, it was created with love and care by those in charge. And while
Of course, one guy had to have started wearing jeans before everyone else, and now the concept of wrestlers having some sort of credibility is out the window. Anyone can be a pro wrestlers, on TV even, regardless of the plausibility of them being a professional athlete. Size isn't going to determine a winner in a fight, but there is an obvious difference in the way Jet Li throws a punch and Mark Stunk. Jet Li is the smallest tough person I could think of, and he still has 4 inches and 30 pounds on someone who beats up grown men on television.
Of course, this is an incredibly long intro to get to my point, but I am on my lunch break and I feel like rambling for a moment: wrestling openly acknowledges that its matches are fake, their wrestlers are fake, and everything about it is phony baloney. Which is why I don't understand why AEW has Nyla Rose, a transwoman, and at 5'7 185lbs, a rather large one at that, fighting natural born women while winning the women's title championship title. From a societal standpoint, I can understand the desire to treat transwomen as women, because they are deciding to live their lives as women, and not men like they were born. I can dig that, and you will never hear me refer to Nyla Rose using the wrong pronouns, because who am I to tell her that she is wrong in her soul and in her heart about who she is. I think Nyla Rose is an incredibly brave human being, and I honestly look up to her for the conviction she has not just in her beliefs, but in her own abilities.
Over the past few weeks, I keep seeing quotes from Nyla, saying that men don't like her because she secretly turns them on or makes them question their sexuality. I agree, this may be true for some people. I've also seen her blame being trans on the fact that people say she shouldn't be fighting women. Again, I agree. Fallon Fox broke Tamika Brents' skull. Literally broke her skull, in the first round. For those unaware, Fallon Fox is an MMA fighter, and should not be fighting women, as evidenced by Fallon's breaking a woman's skull in the first round.
Nyla uses inter-gender wrestling as an excuse to fight in the women's division, but a man, outside Andy Kaufman or people doing an Andy Kaufman gimmick, aren't allowed. This is because men are stronger than women. I'm not saying she shouldn't fight them sometimes, just like the men do in modern wrestling and I think is as horrendously stupid as turning on a garbage disposal while your hand is in the sink. You will never see inter-gender matches in boxing or MMA, nor should anyone want to see that in boxing or MMA.
Nyla Rose could be the next Chyna. She is an incredibly talented worker, and could be having great matches with men all across the card. With her size and demeanor, she could easily be beating them up too! I could see Nyla Rose beating up the male wrestlers of AEW in real life way easier than I can Marko Stunt. Nyla Rose could be an amazing icon for transwomen, women, and really everyone, everywhere. She could show what inner strength is, what true bravery is, fighting bigger, stronger opponents sometimes but coming out on top due to her tenacity. Instead, she overpowers girls smaller than her. She's gone from being tough to picking on the weak guy. If you're going to make the grand declaration that transwomen and women too on your television show, be sure to do it in a way that also paints transpeople as good people, not as bullies. Nyla can defend her position all day, but the title she should have around her waist shouldn't be the women's title, it should be the men's. And I am not calling her a man, I am calling her a woman, but with her size and strength advantage, there is no honor in her victories. Even in pretend play fighting within a genre where people wrestle the Invisible Man.