The ladies who punch

A three-part podcast series on the women of professional wrestling. Image: Astrid Arcana.

The women’s roster on weekly wrestling shows offer some of the most diverse castings seen on television, so is this drawing more young women to follow professional wrestling?

It’s no secret that media landscapes today favour diversity in their casts. Gen Z in particular are very conscious about who appears on television, and how they’re represented.

A 2020 study by insights platform Quantilope found that 76 per cent of Gen Z’s felt diversity and inclusion are important topics for brands to address.

Monday Night Raw – one of two weekly wrestling programs aired by the WWE – is one of the longest-running. weekly, episodic programs in the U.S, first going to air in 1997.

So, why don’t wrestling programs get brought up when discussing diversity in the media? Especially since the current cast of talent features women representing a variety of different ethnicities, cultures, and body shapes?

Michelle K Hasluck was the first women’s wrestler in Western Australia, and a legend of the industry. Photo: Digital Beard Photography.

“I was raised by a single mother who was always like ‘you can do whatever you want to do’, and I wanted to wrestle. That’s all I wanted to do. And if I have no women here, why can’t I wrestle?”

Michelle K Hasluck

The Ladies Who Punch is a three-part podcast series delving into women’s pro-wrestling and examining if the current boom seen on television is impacting the indie circuits here in Perth, and more broadly, Australia.

The first episode explores the origins of the current women’s ‘Evolution’ seen in the world of professional wrestling. We delve into which women changed the story-arcs and landscapes of the wrestling world in the early 2000s, and how that paved the way for what’s seen on television today.

How did we get from women’s matches being disparagingly known as the ‘dedicated drink break’, to the main event of Wrestlemania, the biggest wrestling show in the world?

I’m joined by wrestling commentator and creator of ‘Drawing Heat’ wrestling podcast Ben Robinson.

Our second episode takes a look at what the next generation of women’s wrestlers looks like now. How they joined a wrestling organisation here in Perth, and what they want to see in the industry going forward.

I’m joined by Explosive Pro Wrestling’s (EPW) Lizzie Maximus, and current Australian Women’s Champion Stella Nyx.

Stella Nyx is enjoying her first title reign as Australian Women’s Champion. Photo supplied: Stella Nyx.

Episode three is an exploration of one of Australian wrestling’s greatest stories: Michelle K Hasluck.

Michelle was the first female wrestler in Western Australia. I talk to her about how she’s seen the industry change throughout her 20-year career, and the hurdles she overcame being the first, and for a long time, only woman in wrestling.

Michelle K Hasluck is one of Australia’s most beloved wrestlers. Photo supplied: Michelle Hasluck.

A special thank you to Astrid Arcana for supplying the artwork.