Lady Arm Wrestling Is the New Roller Derby

Tonight’s event, held at the Bootleg Theater, will be judged by Keegan-Michael Key

Los Angeles is home to many an unexpected sporting enterprise: Roller derby, 1970s throwback dodgeball, Lucha va Voom. But slowly, surely, a group of women is nurturing an underground movement that threatens to overtake them all: Lady arm wrestling.

The Los Angeles Lady Arm Wrestlers was founded by Amanda McRaven in 2012, and tonight, the group is holding their tri-annual event at the Bootleg Theater. The show, says McRaven, is not just your standard-issue, two-chicks-battling-until-one’s-arm-slams-onto-the-table match. Instead, there are there are characters, there are costumes, there’s improv—essentially, everything you could possibly hope to see under one roof.

“It’s WWE meets burlesque meets a drag show meets roller derby,” says McRaven. “It’s that world.”

The matches aren’t all knock-down, drag-out fights. Some are real, says McRaven, and some are staged, “depending on the comfort of the women competing.” But each participating lady has an entourage whose job it is to rile up the crowd, and the events are judged. Tonight’s guest judge? Keegan-Michael Key.

wrestler Daniele "Dirty D" Watts
Wrestler Daniele “Dirty D” Watts

photograph courtesy facebook

The events are designated by eight wrestlers competing for the win over the course of two hours. There is also a bar (obvs), a food truck (for when watching other people do physical activity makes you hungry), and a band that goes on after the matches are over. And, LA LAW partners with female-driven nonprofits, to which the proceeds of the events are donated.

And while McRaven places an emphasis on theatrical costumes and burlesque-level stage presence, one needn’t be a star of the stage to bring home the gold. “Our champion is a lighting technician,” she says. “She’s not a performer. She’s just really strong.”