[Deconstructing the Moveset] – Lipstick & Dynamite, Piss & Vinegar


So let’s talk about the past few weeks. Some very busy times led up to my trip to Los angeles to see Wrestlemania 21, RAW, meet Bret Hart and scope out the recording scene for two weeks. Needless to say, I didn’t have much in terms o access to the internet and Inside Pulse. I managed to get my Wrestlemania Madness Tournament through and you readers voted Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold as the greatest Wrestlemania match of all time.

Since then I’ve been putting everything back to normal in my apartment and at work. And needless to say I missed Smackdown and last week’s RAW as well.

Expect a full return to Deconstructing the Moveset next week, and this week’s Meat and Potatoes is a movie review oddly enough.

I managed to find a theater that was playing the new wrestling related movie “Lipstick and Dynamite” the weekend following Wrestlemania out in Los Angeles. Now, what drew me into the movie was simply the history behind it. Or what I thought would be history.

The preview for this movie reads:
A handful of pioneering women wrestlers look back at the wild and wooly days before “sports entertainment” was a multi-million-dollar business and female grapplers were regarded as a novelty (or worse, a freak show) in this documentary. Lipstick & Dynamite examines the history of women on the professional wrestling circuit (dating back to 1939) and focuses on eight female fighters, two of whom — The Fabulous Moolah and The Great Mae Young — are still involved in the fight game. Offering a perspective on the darker side of the wrestling circuit, including fixed matches, male promoters eager to take advantage of naïve female newcomers, and the poor treatment and pay often afforded female contestants, the film also examines the lighter side of the business and what some of the greats of women’s wrestling have done after leaving the ring. Lipstick & Dynamite was shown in competition at the 2004 Tribeca Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

So you have a bunch of women wrestlers reminiscing about the old days and describing how it used to be. Or that’s what I thought it would be about. Really what I took from it is that The Fabulous Moolah and Mae “Johnny” Young live together and they are also living with a female midget wrestler (Diamond Lil, who was trained by Moolah and calls her “Ma”) and that despite having decades upon decades between these “feuds”, they still choose to continue talking trash about each other on camera.

The documentary starts stylistically with the captions on who each woman is and what years she wrestled, but those stylistic fonts and colors disappeared to make way for white text, losing the style of the documentary opening. Also despite listing when these woman wrestled, they didn’t really give a clear timeline as to when the events they mention happened.

The documentary focused on eight women wrestlers, and the women ranged from relatively with it to completely out of it. The amount of wrestlers the documentary covered prevented any real sense of who these women were decades ago and are today. The two women that the documentary covered the most were Mae Young and Moolah, covering Moolah’s promotion days and very briefly dabbling into today’s female wrestlers. For the most part, they would talk down on today’s female wrestlers saying that in their primes they would wrestle circles around them.

Wait a second, doesn’t that sound like kayfabe? Well, if it does it’s because this documentary doesn’t break kayfabe. Rarely does it mention that a promoter wanted to give one of them a title, but that was it. Moolah talks about how she didn’t lose the women’s title because she was so tough and no one wanted to fight her. I’m no wrestling historian, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with a focus on anything EXCEPT women’s wrestling (and did she defend her title once every 30 days? I doubt it).

In 2005, despite how old you might be, wrestling fans don’t believe that they are watching real competition (Santa’s not real, nor is the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy or the man friendly lesbian. in the Crying Game, she’s a guy in the end). Unless you’re a child you simply don’t believe it anymore. And the director Ruth Leitman does the audience a disservice by not letting the audience behind the curtain more.