Nia Jax is 6-feet tall and weighs 271 pounds. She is, quite literally, head and shoulders above the rest of the women’s division, and in the past few weeks she has dominated all of the local female competitors put in front of her.
If your mind is immediately taken to the late Chyna, you wouldn’t be the first person to draw that comparison. Nia Jax’s size alone makes her unique in the history of women’s wrestling, especially recent history. Chyna showed that there was a place in professional wrestling for musclebound women whose size was equal to the men, and Jax has shattered an even higher glass ceiling and paved the way for the hiring and promotion of plus-sized women – a future for super heavyweights in the women’s division.
But, the comparison with Chyna ought to end with the strong feeling, among wrestling fans on social media, that Jax physically dwarfs the rest of the female roster so much that she ought to leave the division and begin competing with men, in the same vein as her spiritual predecessor.
On the face of it, the notion of having another woman in the men’s division, winning titles and entering matches traditionally reserved for the men, seems like a good idea for enhancing the role of women in the company. Having the women hanging with the men in the ring demonstrates and equality of skill across both sexes. Indeed, while the sort of treatment we saw of the female competitors on last Tuesday’s SmackDown arguably did more to set back the feminist movement than the anti-suffragettes, last Monday’s Raw saw another huge advancement in the way in which women were being used on the program.
Chris Jericho’s unexpected intervention during the promo-off between Charlotte and Sasha Banks came a little out of the blue, for it is very rare for male wrestlers to involve themselves with the women for reasons that aren’t romantic or “heroic.” But within moments, it felt as natural as Chris Jericho interrupting a promo-off between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Seamlessly blending the two divisions in storytelling in that way is an advancement.
But if a mammoth female wrestler like Nia Jax were placed into the men’s division in the same way that Chyna was, then the women’s division would suffer the same deleterious effects that it did 16 years ago. The claim, of course, is that it would be completely unrealistic for an averaged size woman to mount any kind of offense whatsoever against someone over twice her size. Whenever Chyna took a break from low blowing men to dabble in the women’s division, she utterly dominated. Her match against Ivory (who is an immensely talented wrestler) at WrestleMania 17, for example, was nothing short of a squash. But booking in this way actually places a limitation on our expectations of a female competitor that does not exist in the men’s division.
If, for example, CM Punk can beat Kane or The Big Show in a match, then why should it be beyond the realms of possibility for Sasha Banks to overcome Nia Jax?
Keeping Nia Jax firmly in the women’s division will allow her not only to follow in the footsteps of Chyna, who showed the world that women were capable of physical prowess and domination; it will allow her to make up for Chyna’s biggest shortcoming, which was the way in which she devalued the women’s division as a whole by largely abandoning it.
Women’s wrestling has consisted of blundering cat fights for long enough. In the last year, we’ve reintroduced millions of people to the idea that women can actually wrestle. This year, the WWE can show that the division can utilise the same clash of styles, David vs Goliath battles that has been a staple of the men’s division for decades. Like Chyna, Nia Jax will be one to lay the next stone on the women’s division’s path to greatness.