Less than a year ago, Tessa Blanchard signed onto Impact Wrestling with a few goals in mind. Namely, she wanted to be Knockouts Champion and she wanted to bring intergender wrestling back to Impact. On Thursday night, at United We Stand, that second dream came true. Tessa Blanchard vs. Joey Ryan was one of the buzziest matches of the night, it seemed like everyone wanted to talk about it, including the VH team.

We asked how it felt to accomplish that goal less than a year from setting it. Blanchard grinned wide at the achievement before putting on her game face and getting to business.

“One thing over the past few weeks in Impact is if a man gets in my way, I’ve not been afraid to knock them out. So, tonight’s going to be no different.”

Credit: Anton Jackson

Tessa Blanchard v. Joey Ryan

She made good on her word later in the night, coming out of the gate swinging with her undeniable fearlessness. Joey Ryan brought his usual flair for in-ring psychology, but Blanchard was thoroughly unimpressed.

Whatever the crowd chanted at her, Blanchard was going to take Ryan to his limits. She fought out of everything he threw at her, including kicking out of two incredibly close near falls. For Ryan’s part, he rose to the challenge. Many think of him as just an X-rated gimmick but lest we forget, he’s one of the best in-ring competitors out there right now.

The Future of Intergender Wrestling in Impact

Scott D’Amore, co-EVP of Impact Wrestling, agreed when he spoke to our team. He was quick to point out how big this weekend is for women’s wrestling, but true equality means putting women and men in the ring together.

“You have a world-class male competitor and a world-class female competitor, but when they’re in the ring together all of that goes away and it’s just world-class competitors.”

Intergender wrestling may be one of the places that Impact sets itself apart from the competition. It was a common theme throughout the night, the rollercoaster that the promotion has been on in the last year. D’Amore urged new and lapsed fans to give Impact a shot with an open mind, because you may see wrestling unlike anything else. By putting two of their biggest stars together, Impact brought new eyes to the realm of Intergender wrestling.

Equality in Wrestling

Blanchard and Ryan delivered big time, with a match that rivalled the biggest and best on the card. Neither was afraid to take each other to their limits. Blanchard is smaller than her ring presence implies, and she most certainly wasn’t squashing her much larger opponent in five minutes flat. Despite that, her ferocity kept her going again and again. There was no benevolence on Ryan’s side, he was going to do whatever it would take to win.

When it came down to it, there was no offence she couldn’t handle from him. He came within moments of bringing home the win but ultimately fell to the Magnum. The two exchanged no words in the ring, but Ryan gave his props on Twitter immediately after. You can just tell he loves intergender wrestling with all his heart.

But What About Eli Drake?

Not everyone feels the same way about this particular brand of wrestling. Initially, Eli Drake was slated to face Blanchard. He declined the match, citing “I just don’t find men hitting women entertaining.”

“His opinions are his opinions,” said Eddie Edwards, Drake’s tag team partner. When pressed on his opinions of intergender wrestling, Edwards said he’s all for it. His dream opponent? His wife Alicia Edwards, of course. We’re not sure how Alisha feels about that one.

Let’s face it, intergender wrestling isn’t for everyone and that’s fine. Just like how some of us – not naming names – were hiding our face in our hands during the Sami Callihan and Jimmy Havoc match. Based on Drake’s additional comments about Jordynne Grace staring down Killer Kross, he wouldn’t have been a good opponent for Blanchard.

Blanchard might only be 5’5 but she does not need your benevolence. Ryan went out there and treated her like a perfect equal, something you can’t do if you think it’s unrealistic to not “absolutely murder” someone that size. By giving up his spot, Drake treated the Impact fans to a much better match.

We’re eager to see more intergender wrestling from Impact, and hope it has a domino effect on the wrestling community at large. A big thank you to everyone at Impact Wrestling for having us, and congratulations to all the talents on a phenomenal show.

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