At Extreme Rules tonight, the Philadelphia crowd chanted “ECW” after Braun Strowman power-slammed Bobby Lashley through a portion of the set in their Last Man Standing match. It was a little premature…. If only they would have waited till the main event, because no moment embodied ECW more than when Baron Corbin hit his End of Days Finisher on Becky Lynch.
Mark your calendars. July 14th, 2019, the WWE squeezed the metaphorical toothpaste out of the container- there’s no turning back now. Male superstars can put their hands on a female superstars in the PG Era.
For some context leading up to the moment, earlier in the match, Lynch hit a drop kick off a chair that went directly into Corbin’s dome. We had seen this type of interaction happen before within the last year. “The Man” had been slowly blurring the line for inter-gender wrestling, but tonight, it got real fuzzy.
Before the End of Days, Lynch had just cleared Lacey Evans out of the ring. It was a mixed tag team match- one where the genders supposedly would only compete against same gender. However, it became clear that Lynch was not just a threat to Evans, she was a threat to Corbin too. Therefore, this maneuver was less like Tommy Dreamer tomb-stoning Francine and more like the iconic Beulah VS Bill Alfonso match. Lynch was in no way defenseless and the majority of the crowd would have loved to watch her light up Corbin.
Some will argue this is another step towards equality in the WWE; women are being seen more and more as equals to their male counterparts. Not only can the Women’s championship main event Wrestemania, but women can be portrayed as holding their own in a fight versus a man.
Others will argue this as empowering young boys that hitting young girls (or women when they are older) is OK. In a world of a publicly traded company trying to keep it’s advertisers happy, conversations even remotely promoting male violence towards females tend to be avoided.
Whatever your viewpoint, what is clear is WWE is continuing to mosey back towards the Attitude Era, but in an intentionally contextualized way for 2019. Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff, the recently hired Executive Producers of Monday Night Raw and Smackdown Live respectively, have begun to push the envelope to towards TV-14.
It will be interesting to see how the fall-out of this show plays out over Raw and Smackdown this week. It sure seems like we are moving towards a promoted inter-gender one-on-one match at an upcoming pay-per-view.
Either that or all of this is just a huge way to get more heel-heat for the already despised Baron Corbin. Personally, I think his failed NFL career is more than enough if they would just openly acknowledge it.