Despite being less than 30 days in, it has already been an eventful year in the world of wrestling. One particular superstar that has dominated the headlines in recent weeks is Tessa Blanchard for numerous reasons.
If you haven’t been paying attention, we have a new Impact World Heavyweight Champion. Tessa Blanchard defeated Sami Callahan at Hard to Kill to win the championship. It is safe to say this decision has caused quite a bit of a stir in the wrestling community.
Females winning championships traditionally held by men is not a rare occurrence. It is, however, a very rare thing to see a female holding the signature world championship of a professional wrestling company.
First, let us address the obvious. Tessa Blanchard is an extremely talented woman. She’s very strong and athletic, and has a swagger about her that’s unmatched. What I admire most about Tessa’s work is that she doesn’t think she belongs. She knows she does, and is able to adapt to anything thrown her way. Her matches with Brian Cage are one such example.
If you ask me, if anyone can make this work, it is Blanchard. However, there is reasonable reservations that people have about this bold decision to put the championship on her. The largest critique is that putting the title on Tessa makes all of the men look weak by comparison. That’s why I had heard some people make a suggestion that perhaps Blanchard should have won the title in a triple threat match as opposed to beating another guy straight up.
All of this controversy with Tessa Blanchard goes back to the age-old question as to whether or not intergender wrestling should be accepted by all wrestling fans. What is clear to me is that there is no black or white answer, and I don’t think any response is necessarily incorrect. There are valid reasons as to why intergender wrestling can be accepted, and other reasons why people may shun it.
Looking at the positive, it does promote a sense of inclusivity in that it doesn’t demean women as being “lesser” competitors than men. If there are certain females who spend a great deal of time training in the art of wrestling and martial arts, then matchups can become more realistic.
The most immediate example comes in the form of Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae. They are a real-life couple and are happily married, but they were also wrestling each other long before they became an item. There are many women and men that have chemistry with each other, and it can create great moments.
However, the same things that can be used to praise intergender wrestling, or females holding top championships held by men, can be used against it. The fact of the matter is, there is not a lot of realistic matchups that make sense on paper. For example, I can realistically believe that Shayna Baszler can compete competitively with someone like Rey Mysterio. However, I cannot suspend my disbelief long enough to say that Alexa Bliss can compete in the ring with Roderick Strong.
This isn’t even a matter of bias. It is a matter of biology. Women are just naturally smaller and not as big as men. Does the competitive aspect of professional wrestling take a hit when you get unrealistic matchups for the sake of promoting equality? WWE has tinkered with this idea in the past. Nia Jax took R-Truth’s spot in last year’s Royal Rumble, and proceeded to eliminate Mustafa Ali. She also held her own against Dolph Ziggler, Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton, all former World Champions.
However, it’s Nia Jax. She doesn’t have a build like Katy Catanzaro where it looks like her spine can pop out with a bad landing. She has a large frame, and it enables you to believe that she can be competitive against men, even if she’s a female.
If you haven’t seen Tessa Blanchard, she is well built. Some people believe she’s a Chyna archetype. I personally wouldn’t go that far, but I certainly believe that Tessa can be competitive against a lot of men. She’s been conditioned to adapt to such conditions for a lot of her career. Then again, giving her the world championship may look like all the men on the roster are weak by comparison.
Then you add in the fact that the controversy of her winning is compounded by the fact that her win came amid controversy of supposed racist and bigoted comments that she made. These were quickly denied by Tessa herself. Accusations came from Chelsea Green and Allysin Kay after Blanchard posted a tweet about women empowering each other. The accusations made by both women came within 2 minutes of each other after the tweet was released.
Do I believe Tessa is a racist? No, because I do not have sufficient information to lead me to that conclusion. However, do I also think that it’s coincidental that two women within minutes of each other exposed a supposedly hyprocritical tweet the moment it was released? No. It appears that there is more to the surface. In light of the news that Tessa wasn’t in a good place mentally days before winning the championship and a history of attitude issues, there may be more than meets the eye.
Regardless of such, it will be interesting to see how this situation is handled. They are in a rare position where it is a woman that is currently the face of their franchise. It is one thing for Becky Lynch to main event WrestleMania and call herself The Man. It is another for a woman to call themselves a champion amongst men.
What do you think of the situation surrounding Tessa?