In recent months, I’ve become interested in the sport of wrestling, more specifically World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). The past two years, has held immense strides for women in this sport. There were, and continue to be, many firsts for the female wrestlers. The first time main eventing in 2016 with their Hell in a Cell match, or the first Women’s Royal Rumble this past January. All of these have been a step in the right direction for WWE, but I want to focus on the biggest moments for females in the industry in the past two years.
A Hell in a Cell stipulation is a match inside of a ring that is enclosed by a metal structure. There can be any number of people in the ring at once, but singles matches are most common. In 2016, Female Superstars, formerly known as Divas, were able to compete in the first ever Women’s Hell in a Cell, which was the first time women main evented a pay-per view. The match was between “The Boss” Sasha Banks and daughter of the legendary wrestler Rick Flair, Charlotte Flair. Banks loses the Raw Women’s Championship Title to Flair, who had won and lost the title twice before.
A Money in the Bank match is when six wrestlers fight against one another for a briefcase that gives them the ability, until the next Money in the Bank, to “cash in” and fight any title holder at any time in a title match. Last year, in 2017, the female superstars were able to compete in this type of match for the first time. The Superstars involved were Carmella, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Natalya, and Tamina. There was backlash from the results of the match, however, because the winner, Carmella, was only able to win because a male colleague of hers got it for her. This reaction convinced the WWE to have a Money in the Bank rematch where Carmella won again but this time without help from her colleague.
The Royal Rumble was the most recent pay-per-view event for WWE, and the latest first for the female superstars. In past years, the match consisted of 30 male wrestlers entering the ring one by one every ninety seconds and can be eliminated by going over the top rope of the ring and having both of their feet hit the ground. There were the same amount of women in their rumble, along with both Alexa Bliss and Charlotte Flair, who are holders of championship belts looking on from ringside. The “iron man” or individual who is in the ring the longest, was Sasha Banks, who was the first entrant and was able to last almost an hour before being eliminated. The last woman standing and winner of the inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble was one of the biggest Japanese wrestling stars in the world, “The Empress of Tomorrow” Asuka. Similar to the Money in the Bank finish, there was backlash from the fans. After Asuka had successful won the Royal Rumble, Ronda Rousey made her WWE debut which overshadowed Asuka’s astonishing win.
Overall, the last two years have been extremely important for female superstars in the WWE, as they were able to be treated as equal to their male counterparts. Every first for the women in this industry, is a step forward and closer to equality. The Hell in Cell match was just the beginning of a new era of women’s wrestling, with the upcoming first all women Elimination Chamber next on the list. I am joyous to see that women are finally getting equal representation in this seemingly male-dominated sport and excited to see what the future holds.