The last place you might expect to see a forceful women’s movement is inside a WWE ring. And yet, women’s wrestling has quickly, and quietly, morphed into something completely unexpected in just the past few years. The WWE has decided to shine a spotlight on their roster of tough women, and the response has been phenomenal. More than just eye candy for the male fans, these women are getting respect and their fair share of the spotlight.
The WWE has read the room, and have been smart to change their approach in the new cultural climate. Lately, they’ve been pushing their own boundaries and leaving their comfort zones, leading to a year of groundbreaking firsts for Women’s Wrestling: The first move was to drop the divisive “Diva” tag and simply crown a “Women’s Champion” at Wrestlemania 2016. It was a moment that can’t be understated. Out was the tacky butterfly emblem on the Diva’s Belt, and in was the beauty of a refined but simple Women’s Championship Belt–with Charlotte Flair both the last “Diva” and the first “Women’s Champ.” The term “Diva” to describe a female wrestler is now removed. It was a glorious disruption of the status quo.
The domino effect continued. Charlotte and Sasha banks represented in the first ladies’ main event at a Pay-Per-View in 2016’s “Hell in a Cell.” Fans then witnessed the “Mae Young Classic”, a search for the next Women’s top star. Then, the first “Money in the Bank Ladder Match”, the first “Royal Rumble” (and with a Japanese winner), and the first women’s “Elimination Chamber.” And the reception by new fans and diehards alike has been nothing but positive and enthusiastic.
Gone are the days of hiring models with no experience, attempting to do some suplexes and choke holds. Female matches now aren’t just allocated five minutes, nor are they considered the “bathroom breaks” any longer. They certainly aren’t easily cut out anymore (Example: during Wrestlemania 2014, they canceled a Divas match simply due to time). These women are fierce, strong, take bumps and blows just as hard as the next guy out there. They come in all shapes and sizes and slowly but surely, the Women’s Revolution is prizing that. A woman just serving as a male wrester’s valet is slimming in popularity. Being pushed around like Miss Elizabeth or even being used as a floozie like AJ Lee just doesn’t fly anymore (not that it ever did). Fans want to see them in the squared circle, up at it with each other.
But to celebrate the new wave of female wrestlers isn’t to diminish the work of those who came before. The ladies of today’s roster get to shine and show through this glorious time but, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Alexa Bliss aren’t the only ones who represent the globalization and growing popularity of women’s matches. We have our ladies who fought tooth and nail to prove self-worth and female value who may not even be wrestling anymore or are now gone. Mae Young, Sensational Sherri, AJ Lee, Lita, Gail Kim, Trish Stratus, Alundra Blayze, Chyna, Paige and every single woman who has come in and out. They have all empowered and aided in the progression of how the female superstars currently. If it weren’t for them, it wouldn’t be the same today. Every single female who was ever on the roster, be it lengthly or short, showed up, did their best, and excelled in an area where scrutiny, and even sexism probably caused extra nerves.
So what’s next? A Women’s Tag Team Division seems like a natural, and will surely take shape some day. And while the men have multiple titles to defend and challenge, the women only currently have two. It’s about time we get more matches in the exchange, as female superstars are certainly showing they are just as entertaining as the best of them.
Here’s to being proud of how the Women’s Revolution has taken shape, and here’s to hoping this truly brings a better grasp of what equality should be. We are all capable of the same things, the same dreams, identical hopes. There’s no need to compare your path to another’s. Though things may look fantastic on social media, the internal demons are what we constantly fight with — and watching these women fight on to represent and assist in the future of equality is empowering. We are all in some way, serving a purpose for a grander future. What a beautiful time we live in.