Mickey James throws Torri Wilson around as Melina looks on. Photo: Don Arnold/WireImage (Getty Images)
This Sunday, the WWE will hold its first all-women wrestling pay-per-view event Evolution. Announced on RAW by Stephanie McMahon back in July, the PPV will feature a fury of female wrestlers past and present. All current titles will be on the line, and it will also feature the final of this year’s Mae Young Classic.
This is the perfect time and a smart logistical move for the WWE to celebrate female wrestlers. They have enough talented and strong women on the roster, and they will feature previous wrestlers who aided in the women’s movement including WWE Hall of Famer Lita and Trish Stratus. The influential women’s movement has clearly reached the WWE Universe and they are cashing in.
The WWE has been pushing boundaries, pushing their female wrestlers, and putting faith in their popularity and talents the past few years. It’s been a slew of firsts for women’s wrestling, such as swapping out the Divas Champion for the Women’s Champion at Wrestlemania 32. No longer are female wrestlers just “divas,” they are women.
Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks represented the first ladies’ main event at a PPV in 2016’s Hell in a Cell. We watched the inaugural Mae Young Classic, a search for the next top female star just last year. We’ve witnessed a positive response to the matches led by the ladies of the WWE, including the first “Money in the Bank Ladder Match,” the first female “Royal Rumble,” and the first women’s “Elimination Chamber.”
The days of hiring inexperienced models with little passion to attempt to suplex are gone. Female matches aren’t just a jokingly five-minute “bathroom break” anymore. They are no longer omittable for time, like at Wrestlemania 30 when they canceled the Divas match cause another match went over. Women are no longer just bystanders, valets, or managers. They take bumps and blows just as hard as the next wrestler out there in the squared circle.
WWE’s collaboration with the E! network on the reality show Total Divas pushed the ladies to the forefront and drew more viewers to the WWE as a result. But the increase in interest in women’s wrestling wasn’t made overnight. The ladies of today’s roster get to shine and show through this glorious time, but Charlotte, Sasha, Becky Lynch, and Alexa Bliss aren’t the only ones who represent the globalization and growing popularity of women’s matches. There are ladies who fought tooth and nail to prove self-worth and female value who may not even be wrestling anymore or are now gone, like Mae Young, Sensational Sherri, AJ Lee, Lita, Gail Kim, Trish Stratus, Alundra Blayze, Chyna, and Paige. They have all empowered and aided in the progression of current female superstars. Every single female who was ever on the roster showed up, did their best, and excelled in an area where scrutiny and even sexism came into play.
The Evolution card is stacked. The main event is former UFC Fighter Ronda Rousey (who pays homage to Roddy Piper) vs. Total Divas starlet Nikki Bella. Becky Lynch’s awesome heel turn results in a match versus her former friend Charlotte. Kairi goes up against Baszler for the NXT title, a battle royal, and there will be a tag team match with Hall of Famers Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James. People are definitely going to be watching.
This is history. Women once escorted the main attraction to the ring but now they are the main attraction. This is the first all-women event brought to you by the biggest name in the business and it will be broadcasted all over the world. Despite what people think of the lineup or the matches, this is the first time we are able to have such discussions and arguments. It’s a showcase of all female talent and they will not be sharing the spotlight with anyone! This is the official start of women being displayed as equals and not as eye candy on the arms of men. It’s the very necessary step forward into the future of female showstoppers who will step aside for nobody. This is the ultimate evolution of women’s role in the business.
Finally, the blood, sweat, and tears of women in wrestling will be on display for the world to see and it couldn’t have come at a more crucial time for them, not only for the entertainment industry but in the world in general. No more “What if?” No more “Can they?” Now is the time to see what these ladies can do. It’s time to immortalize those who have worked so hard in a male-dominated industry that never gave them their time to shine, until now.