Intergender wrestling, also known as mixed wrestling, is a type of professional wrestling match between a man and a woman and may also refer to tag team matches with both men and women on each team.

Intergender tag team matches are not to be confused with mixed tag team matches; there is a rule governing mixed tag team matches that restrict male and female competitors from attacking each other. If a tag is made, the other team has to automatically switch wrestlers, who should be of the same gender as the opposing team's legal wrestler. This type of tag team match continues to be popular in the present. On the other hand, male and female competitors in an intergender tag team match are free to wrestle and pin each other.


Andy Kaufman wrestling with Debbie Harry and Caitlin Clarke in 1983

For most of its history, men and women would rarely compete against each other in professional wrestling, as it was deemed to be unfair and unchivalrous. Intergender wrestling was first utilized in the late-1970s/early-1980s by comedian Andy Kaufman. Kaufman participated in several filmed staged matches of this nature and proclaimed himself the "World Intergender Wrestling Champion," issuing an open challenge to any female challenger who could defeat him.[1] This was the beginning of a famous crossover feud between Kaufman and wrestling legend Jerry "The King" Lawler.

Cathy Davis sued the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) in 1977 because she was denied a boxing license because she was a woman, and the case was decided in her favor later that year, with the judge invalidating New York State rule number 205.15, which stated, “No woman may be licensed as a boxer or second or licensed to compete in any wrestling exhibition with men.”[2][3] In his opinion the judge cited the precedent set by Garrett v. New York State Athletic Commission (1975), which “found the regulation invalid under the equal protection clauses of the State and Federal Constitutions”. The NYSAC filed an appeal of the ruling, but later dropped it.[2][4]

After The MSG "Curtain Call" incident in 1996 when professional wrestling was exposed as being scripted, intergender wrestling became more common and accepted by the fans. Intergender matches experienced a surge of popular interest and were often introduced to the roster of events in major North American promotions such as Extreme Championship Wrestling, World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling.[5][6] Perhaps the most successful female wrestler who competed in intergender matches was Chyna. A well-built ex-bodybuilder, she was regularly booked to wrestle her male counterparts during the WWF Attitude Era. She was a three-time Intercontinental Champion, a championship traditionally only contested by men, and was briefly the #1 contender for the company's world championship. Four women briefly held the company's now discontinued Hardcore Championship: Terri, Mighty Molly, Trish Stratus and one of The Godfather's Hos. The title had a distinct rule that it could be won by pinning the titleholder at anyplace, anywhere 24/7. The discontinued Cruiserweight championship has also been held by three women: Jacqueline (while under the WWE logo), Daffney, and Madusa (the latter while the title was under WCW's banner).

In the Japanese wrestling promotion FMW, Superstar H (unmasked Hayabusa) wrestled Kyoko Inoue in a singles match on pay per view on March 27, 2000. Inoue pinned H in a tag match earlier that month. While Inoue was presented as a credible threat to H and repeatedly downed him with her strikes, H would win decisively.

Harvey Whippleman holds the distinction of being the only male in WWE's history to hold the now-discontinued Women's Championship having defeated The Kat in a snow bunny match while disguised in drag as Hervina.

At WrestleMania 22, The Boogeyman defeated both Booker T and Sharmell in an intergender handicap match.

A prominent intergender six-person hardcore tag team match took place on WWE at One Night Stand 2006, when the team of Edge, Lita and Mick Foley defeated the team of Beulah McGillicutty, Terry Funk and Tommy Dreamer, after male wrestler Edge speared and pinned female wrestler Beulah.[7]

Woman hitting a low blow in a mixed wrestling match.

This match-type continues to meet controversy across North America as matches often straddle the line between sporting events and pure erotic entertainment, and also allegations over the depiction of gratuitous physical violence against hapless women.[8] Although still commonplace on the independent circuit, WWE only permits intergender matches on a part time basis due to PG rating and if the timing was right due to its action figure contract with Mattel in order to avoid women being overpowered by men on TV),[9] although it has on past occasions featured some of their female competitors compete in the annual Royal Rumble event (a separate Royal Rumble match for women was introduced in 2018). To date, four women have competed at men's Royal Rumble: Chyna (1999 and 2000, the only one to do so multiple times), Beth Phoenix (2010), Kharma (2012) and Nia Jax (2019, the first since the introduction of women's Royal Rumble). In a reverse of this, at WrestleMania 25 wrestler Anthony Carelli (better known by his ring name Santino Marella) won a diva's battle royal while dressed in drag as "Santina Marella" (Santino's twin sister). There has however been a number of intergender matches after the PG rating was introduced, mostly in comedic matches; Lita pinned Heath Slater after he was attacked and left unconscious by several veteran wrestlers prior to the match on the July 23, 2012, episode of Raw. James Ellsworth was also involved in few intergender matches, notably losing one to Becky Lynch on the November 7, 2017, episode of SmackDown Live. At Fastlane (2021) Alexa Bliss was helped by Bray Wyatt to defeat Randy Orton in their cinematic style intergender match that was filled with supernatural gimmicks.[10]

In Mexican lucha libre promotions, intergender matches are more common in tag team matches. However, both male and female wrestlers are restricted to attack those of their own gender. Some tag teams of this kind are siblings (such as Cinthia Moreno and Oriental), trained simultaneously with the same instructor, or even are on a real-life relationship such as boyfriend/girlfriend (Cibernético and Estrellita) or, as an exceptional case, husband and wife (Billy Boy and Faby Apache). Lucha Underground has regular one-on-one matches between men and women, and Sexy Star held the Lucha Underground title for a day, after winning it in an elimination match and lost it to Johnny Mundo in an intergender match.[11]

In one extreme, a 2011 intergender match in Japan had Kenny Omega wrestle with a nine-year-old girl named Haruka. Video of the match went viral, made international news, and led to Omega receiving numerous death threats. However, despite the match going to a time limit draw, Omega wrestled in such a way as to not harm the girl, and even allowed her to have most of the offense.[12]

Impact Wrestling held the 2019 Slammiversary XVII event which featured a very high profile intergender wrestling match for its main event, where Sami Callihan defeated Tessa Blanchard.[13] At Hard To Kill in 2020 Tessa Blanchard defeated Sami Callihan in a rematch to win the Impact World Championship.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Parker, James. "The anti-comic". – via The Boston Globe.
  2. ^ a b Smith, Malissa (June 5, 2014). A History of Women's Boxing. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 168, 169. ISBN 9781442229952 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "People in Sports". The New York Times. January 22, 1975.
  4. ^ "Garrett v. New York State Athletic Commission, 82 Misc. 2d 524 (1975)". Caselaw Access Project Harvard Law School. June 16, 1975. Archived from the original on February 27, 2023. Retrieved February 27, 2023.
  5. ^ WWE Raw Six Person Intergender Match, requires Windows Media Player
  6. ^ "Ashley Returns; Will Replace Candice At WrestleMania by Andy Steven, March 24, 2008". Archived from the original on April 3, 2008.
  7. ^ "ECW One Night Stand Results - 6/11/06". Wrestlezone. June 11, 2006.
  8. ^ Altamura, Mike (June 9, 2003). "Inter-Gender Turmoil In Ontario". Slam Wrestling. Archived from the original on August 13, 2022. Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  9. ^ "WWE Rumor: Possible reason why intergender matches have been banned in WWE". December 6, 2018.
  10. ^ Garretson, Jordan (March 21, 2021). "Alexa Bliss def. Randy Orton, The Fiend re-emerged". World Wrestling Entertainment. Archived from the original on January 12, 2023. Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  11. ^ "LUCHA UNDERGROUND RESULTS 11/23: Sexy Star vs Johnny Mundo For The LU Title! | Fightful Wrestling".
  12. ^ Lunney, Todd (2012-03-09). "Lunney: Losing to a 9-year-old-girl?". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2015-12-30.
  14. ^ "IMPACT Wrestling to Make History as Tessa Blanchard Challenges Sami Callihan for the IMPACT World Championship at 'Hard to Kill' on Sunday, January 12 - IMPACT Wrestling". Archived from the original on 2019-11-09.