The Development of WWE's Women's Evolution
This Sunday marks the culmination of all the hard work throughout the years the women of WWE has put into the wrestling business. All the blood, all the sweat, all the tears, and all the sacrifices made has led them to this very moment. This movement is the epitome of what women's wrestling should be about, and it has changed the landscape of professional wrestling forever.
It all started with a simple hashtag, #GiveDivasAChance. After a tag team match that featured The Bella Twins verses Paige and Emma, the fans decided that the thirty-second matches they were witnessing weren't cutting it anymore.
They wanted more for the women. They wanted more opportunities to see them shine in the ring. They wanted more character development so that the women superstars could actually grow within the company instead of being held back. They wanted them to stop being supporting actresses and start being a main attraction.
A Pioneer For Women's Wrestling
When you think about how women's wrestling got to the point that it has today, you have to reflect back at some of the women who paved the way.
When I was a young kid impersonating Bret "The Hitman" Hart with my sunglasses on and super-kicking random items in my living room like Shawn Michaels, every once in awhile I would see an amazing woman on my television screen kicking butt and taking names. That woman was Alundra Blayze.
I remember rooting for Alundra against the likes of Leilani Kai at WrestleMania X and Bull Nakano at SummerSlam 1994 (which is one of the best women's matches you'll ever see by the way). When you watch both of those matches now, you could definitely make the assessment that Alundra would be an essential part of today's division and was WAY ahead of her time.
I am incredibly excited to be able to watch the now Hall of Famer inside the squared circle once again this Sunday night. Seeing her mix it up with some of the current superstars will certainly be a sight to behold.
The Era of Attitude Takes Over WWE
After Blayze's departure, in came the infamous Attitude Era where the WWE decided they had to pull out all the stops to defeat their opponent, WCW. The women of society back then were pictured in a completely different way to say the least. They were depicted as "eye candy" for the target audience of who professional wrestling was aimed for---men.
Instead of seeing highly competitive matches, the WWE Universe were accustomed to seeing women superstars perform in bikini contests, bra and panties matches, pudding matches, and pillow fights. It was clear as day at the time that women performing in actual wrestling bouts was not considered a high priority any longer.
However, despite how society perceived women in the wrestling industry, along came the likes of Trish Stratus, Lita, Jacqueline, Molly Holly, Ivory, and Chyna.
These incredible women took it upon themselves to create a whole different outlook on women's wrestling that was once lost. Their in-ring abilities shined through and the women's title at the time became a special commodity once again.
The rivalry between Trish and Lita sparked an uproar within the WWE Universe as they were starting to crave more women's wrestling. That desire was increased so much that the two women were booked in a match against each other on an episode of Monday Night Raw. However, it wasn't just a match on a random spot on the card. For the first time ever, a competitive women's match was the main event of Raw.
Women's Wrestling Becomes A Revolution
Over the next few years, women's wrestling started to gain a little momentum, but still weren't given the amount of time they needed to succeed. Incredible talent such as Mickie James, Beth Phoenix, Eve Torres, Michelle McCool, Layla, Melina, and Natalya did all they could during their time on the roster. Their talents inside the ring definitely helped create more noise about the art of women's wrestling.
A few years later, however, Stephanie McMahon introduced a few fresh faces to the main roster on an episode of Raw. It was that very night that we all felt a change in the air as if something tremendously special was happening in front of our eyes. The arrival of Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks caused an unbelievable amount of excitement within the WWE Universe, and that momentum has not even came close to slowing down ever since.
No longer do we see bra and panties matches. No longer do we see bikini contests or pillow fights. NOW we all get to see competitive wrestling matches that are put on by some of the most incredible athletes in the world. NOW we see the WWE Universe rise on their feet, have their jaws drop to the floor, and start a chant of "This is awesome." NOW the women of WWE are on the top of the mountain, and they have ZERO desire to climb back down.
There has been a women's Hell in a Cell match where Charlotte and Sasha decided to steal the entire pay-per-view. There has been the first ever women's Money in the Bank ladder match where Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Carmella and Tamina Snuka took their enormous opportunity and made it memorable. The Empress of Tomorrow named Asuka then became the first woman to win one of the most highly anticipated Royal Rumble matches of our lifetime.
Now, this Sunday, we get to see the first ever all-women's pay-per-view event....
If you're thinking about words such as "inspiring" or "groundbreaking" right now, then you definitely understand the importance of this monumental movement.
This Evolution Exemplifies The Word "Respect"
I have the utmost respect for every single female, past and present, who has ever been on the Raw or Smackdown rosters. I have respect for...
- I have respect for women like Nia Jax, who continues to not only astound fans with her athleticism inside the ring, but also continues to inspire millions of people with her message every day.
- Women like Beth Phoenix, who was one of the most dominant female superstars ever and now has become a great commentator during this year's remarkable Mae Young Classic.
- Women like Mickie James, who is a bonafide first ballot WWE Hall of Famer.
- Women like Natalya, who has emerged as the greatest technical wrestler in the history of women's wrestling.
- Women like Naomi, who may very well be the most athletic superstar, male or female, in the entire company today.
- Women like Paige, who, in my estimation, is by far one of the greatest in-ring talents to ever step foot in a wrestling ring.
- Women like Carmella, who was the very last pick in the WWE Draft and was doubted from day one, but became champion and one of the most antagonizing heels in recent memory.
- Women like Alexa Bliss, who was also doubted in the beginning of her WWE run, but has become a strong option for "Best Mic-Talker in the Business Today".
- Women like Renee Young, who has made history by solidifying herself as the first ever full-time female commentator on Raw.
The fact is that I could go on and on about every single female within the WWE umbrella. Each one of them has contributed to the success of the women's division to where it is now and especially to where it's going in the future. A HUGE part of that future is Ronda Rousey. The impact that she has made since arriving earlier this year has been absolutely unbelievable. It's fierce women like Rousey that can light a fire in the eyes of the other women in the locker room to make them better, make them stronger, and make them more motivated to shine.
The Journey To WWE Evolution
It's been an incredibly long and emotional roller coaster ride when it comes to women's wrestling in the WWE. With all the ups and downs, highs and lows, and everything in between, this Women's Evolution has become one of the most special times in the sport of professional wrestling.
The hunger, the fight, and the heart of today's superstars have played an important role to what this Sunday represents. Everything that the women of WWE have been through over the years and the struggle that it took to get to this point makes this movement such a poetic moment in time. At Evolution, the women of WWE plan to take all the energy, all the emotion, and all the excitement that will fill the air and do what they do best---wrestle for our entertainment.
Congratulations to all the women of the past, the present, AND the future of WWE. This historic night belongs to each and every one of you. Embrace it, cherish it, and know that your piece of the puzzle contributed to what all of us will be witnessing this Sunday night.
This is the culmination of the Women's Evolution. THIS is women's wrestling!
© 2018 Steve Smith