Do Intergender Matches have the entertainment value to offer fans a break from the Status Quo?
Recently on Smackdown, Sasha Banks took on Carmella’s Sommelier, Reginald, in an intergender match. Matthew Roberts takes another trip back in time to look at some other occasions when the WWE presented us with man Vs woman.
Although the WWE did run two “seasons” of the Mixed Match Challenge in 2018, intergender wrestling is not something that has been overly used by the WWE in recent years. The rules in those tournaments generally precluded men vs women moments, to the dismay of some. That said, Mexican wrestling has a long heritage of that rule in mixed matches.
It’s generally left to other companies to present us with such matches and action in recent times. It may seem a lifetime ago now, but Tessa Blanchard was Impact World Champion in 2020 and there was a period when a Brit Wres indy show wasn’t a Brit Wres indy show without some form of intergender action.
However, the WWE has presented us with intergender wrestling in the past. Four women, to date, have taken a spot in the men’s Royal Rumble (Chyna – twice, Beth Phoenix, Kharma, and Nia Jax) and Chyna even had a short run as the Intercontinental Champion. If you believe her side of the story, there was even talk of her becoming WWE World Champion. At the very least it was something she felt she could do. Much like Banks/Reginald, there have been a number of “comedy” matches between men and women over the years too.
Four women held the Hardcore Championship (Terri, Mighty Molly – who won it briefly at WrestleMania X8 none the less, Trish Stratus and one of the Godfather’s, erm, ladies), and in the interests of completeness you have to acknowledge that Harvey Wippleman once held the WWE Women’s Title, having defeated The Kat (Stacy Carter) in a Snow Bunny match whilst disguised in drag as “Hervina Wippleman”. And to think people complain about the WWE’s product today…
There have been times though when the WWE has taken it, or perhaps that should be presented it, as more of a serious proposition. I’ve jumped in the TWM Time Machine again to take a look at a few examples from the WWE’s history. Some you will remember, some you may have forgotten.
Macho King & Sensational Sherri Vs Dusty Rhodes & Sapphire – WrestleMania VI
As far as I can tell, this was the first intergender match the WWE had presented, although Sherri was well known for taking bumps/attacking male wrestlers in the late 80’s/early ’90s. Many would consider this match a low-point of the careers of Savage and Rhodes and look at subjectively it’s not very good (to put it mildly). But during the match, Savage does quite violently (by the standards of the time) shove Sapphire down outside the ring and Sherri does a top-rope splash on Dusty that earns her a two count. Of course Miss Elizabeth, ringside here, had been a major part of the Hogan/Savage feud a year earlier which had involved her taking an inadvertent psychical bump.
Marc Mero & Sable Vs Goldust & Luna Vachon – WrestleMania XIV
On one of the biggest nights in WWE history (the night Steve Austin took his place at the very top of the promotion) and with the worldwide media looking on thanks to the involvement of Mike Tyson on the card the WWE presented their third mixed match in ‘Mania history here (Bam Bam Bigelow & Luna Vachon vs. Doink & Dink had been a part of WM X). It’s tempting to look back on the “career” of Sable in the WWE and imagine that her popularity and “overness” was down purely to the Playboy shoot and the tiny clothing she would often come to wear on WWE TV. And whilst you can’t really argue with that, we shouldn’t forget that before all that she actually wowed the WWE Universe with her in-ring skills.
Looking back of course there’s no sense in pretending that this match was a classic. But it was a whole lot better than ANYONE thought it was going to be and throughout it’s clear that as far as the fans in attendance are concerned, the issue in this match is Sable Vs Luna, and not Mero Vs Goldust. There’s limited intergender action but there is some and although she would rarely ever come close to looking this good in the ring again, you have to say that Sable looked pretty darn impressive here.
Crash Holly Vs Molly Holly / Matt Hardy & Lita Vs The Big Show & Trish Stratus – Raw 2nd July 2001
On a night when the build-up to Invasion was in full swing and there was a show long storyline involving Vince McMahon roaming the backstage area in search of a room to spend some, erm, quality time alone with Torrie Wilson, the WWE presented two intergender matches on one show. This is also, of course, the infamous night that Booker T Vs Buff Bagwell for the WCW Title is presented as the RAW main event and flops so badly that the short-term version of the Invasion is totally thrown out and the long-term plans for WCW to become its own brand under the WWE umbrella are killed off for good
The Holly Cousins (I think they were Cousins in the storyline?) had a short match (hey, its early 2000s WWE of course an undercard TV match is over in a few minutes) but it’s actually quite competitive with back and forth encounters. Crash is accompanied by Jacqueline (the two were sort of an alliance but had come to blows on the previous Smackdown) and Molly is accompanied by her storyline boyfriend Spike Dudley. Interestingly there is no real concession to this being man vs woman. It’s simply a normal match in terms of layout and action. In that sense, you could argue it’s ahead of its time. Molly wins with the Molly Go Round after Jacqueline hits Crash. She batters him after the match too.
The tag match is partly a thing because Trish had planted a kiss on Matt Hardy the week prior. It’s a little bit of something and nothing although it is noticeable for some of the interaction. Trish lays some stiff kicks into Matt, Lita attempts a top-rope Hurracurana on Show and then smacks him about a bit for good measure. Lita pins Trish to finish it off.
Jazz Vs Bubba Ray Dudley – Raw 29th April 2002
On a night when The Big Show joins the nWo (where have we seen that before), Ric Flair referees a tag match between Steve Austin & Bradshaw and Scott Hall & X-Pac, Hulk Hogan faces William Regal and Eddie Guerrero defends his IC title against Jeff Hardy we also got Women’s Champion Jazz challenging Bubba Ray Dudley for the Hardcore title. Bubba cuts a pre-match promo saying Jazz has “a lot of guts…but no brains” as well as making comments about “wood” that probably wouldn’t get past Vince today. There is a bit more of an emphasis in this match on the fact that it is “man vs woman” that there was in the Holly match above but in its defense that part of the storyline.
After all, a low blow will hurt you no matter who delivers it! The Hardcore rules mean Jazz can use various weapons to get some control although these are ultimately used against her too. As it goes with the Hardcore title, the match actually ends with Steven Richards interfering and pinning Dudley to win the title for himself. It was the start of a fondly remembered alliance between Richards and Jazz. Well, an alliance anyway.
Chavo Guerrero Vs Jacqueline – Smackdown 6th May 2004
On a night when The Undertaker took on the FBI in a handicap match, John Cena faced Doug Basham and Booker T “visited a psychic”, Cruiserweight Champion Chavo Guerrero followed up his offer to defend the championship against anyone with an open challenge to any opponent that he hadn’t faced before. That person was Jacqueline.
Chavo and his father, Chavo Classic, laughed it off and Chavo ran through the clichés (no-woman could ever beat him, Jaqueline would be better off going making him a sandwich) but his challenger wasn’t backing down. Again, as it was at the time, this is a short match but it is a well-received one. Jackie starts off like the proverbial house on fire and stuns the champion before he takes control. It seems as if there is only one outcome. But Chavo and Chavo Classic get too cocky, Jackie hits a low blow and a roll-up and three seconds later we have a new champion.
Proving that not only WWE did this, Jacqueline was the third woman to lift the title (Madusa and Daffney had runs with the championship in its WCW days). She would drop the belt twelve days later at Judgement Day in a match where, theoretically at least, Chavo had one hand tied behind his back. Spoiler, there were shenanigans.
Edge, Mick Foley & Lita Vs Tommy Dreamer, Terry Funk & Beulah – One Night Stand 2006
Famously remembered for the night that Rob Van Dam took on John Cena, as well as JBL being a prick (kayfabe, or perhaps not), this was originally scheduled to be a 3-on-2 until Beulah put herself in the match (with some choice words for Lita pre-match). For all the antagonism this actually starts off as a regular tag match, with people waiting on the apron for a tag, but thankfully quickly descends into chaos. If you weren’t around for the peak of ECW it all might seem a bit OTT and it’s a million miles from what you might expect to see in WWE nearly fifteen years later. And that covers some good and bad.
In the early going the women are spectators. Terry Funk having to be escorted backstage, seemingly injured for real, only to make a heroic comeback is classic Double Cross Ranch stuff (and is even better if your knowledge of Funk’s career is limited). Beulah gets a Mandible Claw and a Spear (as well as some offense from Edge it’s best not to describe). Beulah sets a 2×4 on fire, Lita gets hit with a Spicoli Driver from Dreamer, and finally, Beulah takes another spear and Edge gets the pinfall.
Not for the faint of heart, but by the same token not as starkly memorable as Beulah’s match with referee Bill Alfonso in the original ECW a decade earlier.
Becky Lynch Vs James Ellsworth – Smackdown 7th November 2017
Having disappointed, to put it mildly, fans by having James Ellsworth effectively “win” the first-ever Women’s Money In The Bank match, WWE sought to put that right by re-running the match on Smackdown (Carmella winning that one more under her own steam). Ellsworth stuck around though, hence matches like this Lumberjill match from Smackdown, I was actually in attendance for this show at the Manchester Arena, though it’s a show that will be more remembered for being the night AJ Styles dethroned Jinder Mahal to become WWE Champion.
For once in the WWE (though by no means for the only time) it’s the man portrayed as the underdog, although a lot of it is played for comedy rather than acknowledging the fact that Becky is the better wrestler.
They actually get nearly seven minutes for this, with a lot of stalling from Ellsworth. Never at any point is the result in doubt and the post-match superkick from Carmella to Ellsworth underlines the fact that he has outlived his usefulness.
Photos courtesy of WWE.com