Shooting in a professional wrestling match in order to intentionally injure someone should be a thing of the past. But that’s what Sexy Star did to Rosemary last Saturday during a show in Mexico. The immediate condemnation of Sexy Star and support for Rosemary is proof that it’s 2017, not 1947 any more.
Pro wrestling is sports entertainment. There’s nothing new with that statement. To have performed in the ring or to have been intimately involved behind the scenes gives one an understanding that pro wrestling is a whole lot more than holds, how to fall, and ways of protecting yourself.
Before entertaining the audience, the role of a wrestler is to protect at all times his or her adversary. An opponent in wrestling is the equivalent of a dance partner or a teammate in acrobatics. For certain manoeuvers, a wrestler will put their whole life in the hands of someone else, someone who can sometimes be a stranger.
You think I’m exaggerating? Unfortunately, I’m not.
I remember a scene in 2013 when female wrestler LuFisto did a moonsault outside the ring where seven other competitors were supposed to catch her or at least, slow down her fall. Regrettably, a lack of communication and timing caused LuFisto to fall straight to the floor. Blind trust doesn’t always work.
Last Saturday, it was Triplemania XXV, one of the biggest shows of the year for AAA in Mexico. Reina de Reinas champion Sexy Star, real name Dulce Garcia, was competing in a four-way bout against Ayako Hamada, Lady Shani and Canadian-born Rosemary, also known on the indy scene as Courtney Rush.
The world of wrestling is no different than any other workplace. One can’t always be friends with everyone and sometimes, arguments and quarrels can happen. However, when it’s time to work, all the parties involved have to be professional.
According to the story, Garcia had an argument with Shani before the match and they were both hitting each other hard during the match. Then, Hamada allegedly started getting rough with Garcia as well. By the end of the match, Garcia thought that all three opponents were against her and when she put Rosemary into an armbar, she decided to apply it for real and to not let go after Rosemary had tapped out. The result was that Rosemary strained her tricep/bicep with swelling around the area. Although optimistic about a quick return to the ring, she won’t come back until her doctor is happy with her strength and range of motion.
Garcia didn’t say much publicly besides that she apologized and didn’t know she was putting so much pressure on Rosemary’s arm. On the other hand, Rosemary was more outspoken about it, especially on social media.
“Let me make this perfectly clear: if you take liberties with someone’s body when they are giving it to you and trusting you to keep them safe, you are not tough. You are an asshole. And you don’t belong in this business,” wrote Rosemary in a Twitter post late Sunday night. “Sexy Star decided to do just that this weekend at Triplemania. And while I have remained quiet on social media until I was more calm to address this situation, I have now been informed that she is telling people that it is a work. You are all now being informed that Sexy Star is a liar. She was a liar in the locker room when she was forced to apologize and instead cooked up some bullsh*t excuse that she ‘didn’t know’ and she is a liar now. You know if you are torquing on someone’s arm. You know an armbar is a real and dangerous hold.”
Moreover, Garcia, who also has a boxing background, has a reputation of fighting to protect her spot, which is such an old way of thinking.
In her first match ever in Mexico City, Rosemary was involved in a title match. Years ago, seeing someone getting a title match in his or her first match could have been seen as a threat, a threat that soon enough she would take someone else’s spot. The solution then was to scare that person or to make sure she would never come back. Mexico is probably the only territory left with that very old-school mentality. They hit each other on the skull with a chair like concussions are not a real thing. They cut themselves with a blade like it’s a normal thing to do. And, apparently, they shoot on someone for no good reason.
WHAT’S A SHOOTER?
Back in the days, shooting on someone, or to be a shooter (or a hooker) meant that someone could actually defend himself in a ring. Being a shooter was a quality, especially between the 1920s and the 1950s, when some wise guys were trying to take advantage of a weak champion to shoot on him, steal the belt away or double-cross a promoter. That’s one of the reasons why Lou Thesz kept the NWA World title for so long. He could defend himself if against a shooter, because he was one himself, and a very good one. Promoters were also using policemen – shooters put against another wrestler — in order to teach a troublemaker a lesson.
Thesz, Strangler Lewis, Stu Hart were all shooters. Yvon Robert, Buddy Rogers and Gorgeous George were not. Author Jonathan Snowden wrote a great book on them called Shooters and the stories are very interesting, but interesting for its time.
Trying to get one over the promoter is a thing of the past, pretty much like having a policeman in the roster or being able to defend yourself for real in the ring.
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
You don’t have to go back to 1947 though to find similar examples to Garcia’s actions against Rosemary.
In 1984, David Schultz slapped and knocked 20/20’s reporter John Stossel to the ground twice, only because Stossel said that wrestling was fake.
In 2004, Daniel Puder tried to make a name for himself in pro wrestling by applying a kimura lock on Kurt Angle. He later said that if it wasn’t for referee Jimmy Korderas counting the three-count because Puder’s shoulders were on the mat, he would’ve snapped Angle’s arm.
Even on the independent scene, we hear about horror stories more than one should.
It’s 2017. Wrestling is scripted and with the popularity of mixed martial arts, fans understand that submission holds can be very dangerous.
SUPPORT FOR ROSEMARY
After the news broke, wrestlers, both male and female, as well as promoters and other people involve in pro wrestling showed their support to Rosemary, to a degree rarely seen.
While many were talking about how wrong Sexy Star was, Cody Rhodes was one of the most straight forward about it on Twitter:
“Sexy Star will never set foot in one of my locker rooms. I hope others follow suit,” he wrote.
WrestleCade, a wrestling convention in North Carolina at the end of November, quickly issued a statement on Monday stating that it would not bring Sexy Star in for the event and would be giving refunds for those who ordered a meet and greet ticket.
On her Twitter statement, Rosemary also talked about all the support she received: “However, turning to positives: the outreach from the wrestling community has been incredible. I’m overwhelmed with how much love I feel right now from friends, fans, and people I have yet to meet in this amazing business. We are a family and we protect our own. If you violate that, you are not welcome here.”
And in another statement she issued earlier this week, she shared words of wisdom for the whole wrestling business: “Can we all take one thing from this entire messy situation: that no matter what is going on in our personal lives, we need to take CARE of each other out there, and I’m not just talking about in the ring. And if you screw up (and we all do), own up to it. Let’s stop making excuses and take accountability for our actions.” She also said it would be her last comment on the incident.
LOST MY RESPECT
I have had to re-think my relationship with Garcia. Last fall, Garcia was generous enough to pose for my book on the history of women’s wrestling. On WrestleMania weekend, she excitedly got a picture with the book and asked the girls backstage to sign her copy of the book. What happened last Saturday made me lose the respect I had for her and made the picture she took with the book unusable anymore.
Obviously, there’s always going to be a promoter somewhere who will be willing to book her, especially in Mexico. However, women’s wrestling is a very tight and supportive sisterhood. The backlash of comments against Garcia is a prime example of that.
An accident can happen. Yet, purposely injuring an opponent shows poor judgment and a total lack of respect for both the opponent and the profession. Being a professional wrestler is a privilege and last Saturday, by her own actions, Dulce Garcia lost that privilege. She went too far, period.