WWE: Detailing And Appreciating The Rise Of Women’s Wrestling Through History


Women in wrestling are reaching new heights, because the leader in pro wrestling believes in them. Fans are buying into it, literally and figuratively. They are no longer divas in WWE. They are superstars, just like their male counterparts, and proving they are just as good, if not better.

With the recent Mae Young Classic showcasing women wrestling via a massive WWE platform, it’s amazing to see the continuation of the evolution of the revolution in women’s wrestling.

Women’s wrestling and women in wrestling have grown so much the past five years. With the WWE vehicle driving it and fans hopping aboard, women’s wrestling is no longer the five-minute filler nor an attraction consumed of pillows, bra & panties and chocolate pudding.

They are not just eye candy anymore.

Charlotte Flair, an incredible athlete, is helping lead the revolution of the evolution of women’s wrestling in WWE. The company is the biggest wrestling promotion in the world. It has the largest fan base, the most money, a top social media presence, two prime-time cable TV shows, and even its own network.

If WWE is behind something, talent executes and fans buy into it, the premise will flourish.

Women’s wrestling is proof of that with Charlotte being a big part of the flourishing.

In 2012, she began training with WWE and debuted in its developmental brand NXT in 2013. In 2014, she won the NXT Women’s Championship. She was named Rookie of the Year by Pro Wrestling Illustrated.

Flair was promoted to WWE’s main roster in 2015, quickly winning the WWE Divas Championship. With Flair, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch on the main roster, and talent like Nikki Bella stepping up and Natalya stepping in, the wrestling in women on WWE programming improved, and fans enjoyed the matches and storylines.

Before landing on Raw or SmackDown, Chartlotte, Banks, Lynch and Bayley took women’s wrestling to new heights in WWE via NXT. Fans were invested in the action and angles from the ladies. When Charlotte won the NXT title, she defeated Natalya, who WWE sent to NXT. It was a big match and a big step in the process. Dad Ric Flair was in Charlotte’s corner, and uncle Bret The Hitman Hart in Nattie’s.

They delivered.

In 2016, Charlotte won the inaugural WWE (Raw) Women’s Champion.

No more Divas title and no more Divas. The women were superstars, just like their male counterparts, and their matches just as good, if not better.

Charlotte against Sasha Banks at Hell in a Cell in October 2016 was the first match featuring women to headline a WWE pay-per-view event. Together in 2016, they also main evented Raw in October and November 2016, the first for a women’s match since 2004.

Because of that progress of women in wrestling on the big stage, more women are training to become wrestlers. It’s a trickle down effect.

What Fabulous Moolah and Wendi Richter with pop singer Cyndi Lauper started (The Rock-n-Wrestling Connection) in the mid-1980s via WWF (now WWE) and music cable channel power MTV took time, a lot of time to grow.

When ECW made hardcore fashionable in America, WWE later put its own spin on it. The women were up to the challenge as Ivory, a GLOW alum, wrestled Tori in the first WWF women’s hardcore match in September 1999.

GLOW — Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling — was a syndicated wrestling TV show from 1986-1990. It featured women in campy segments with vaudeville style humor, rap music videos and wrestling matches. The wrestling was not 5-star, but the show garnered a strong following.

It took a while to garner the match quality, but in December 2004, women main evented Raw, a brand first. Trish Stratus and Lita battled for the women’s belt, and they put on a show. Those were top star matches.

Still, WWE was finding itself with what to do with women. The company gravitated toward style rather than substance. It became more about the looks than the wrestling. WWE’s female wrestlers were dubbed Divas, and some of the matches were anything but professional.

Women’s wresting elsewhere took a different turn. Groups like Chikara, Shimmer, Shine, Women Superstars Uncensored in the United States and promotions in Japan conducted women’s wrestling shows with women wrestling. They weren’t called Divas there. The skill level increased, and the talent pool grew.

In 2012, WWE, through WWE Executive Vice President of Talent, Live Events and Creative Paul Triple H Levesque, signed outstanding women’s wrestler Sara Del Rey to train women at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando. She became the first woman to coach wrestlers for WWE.

Two years prior, thanks to an alliance formed by Beth Phoenix and Natalya, WWE was beginning to see the merits of women wrestling. Phoenix and Natalya not only emphasized wrestling but empowered women. It was another major step, and at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, Phoenix and Natalya battled LayCool (Layla and Michelle McCool) in the first Divas Tag Team Tables match in WWE history.

Del Rey’s efforts in and outside the ring helped extend that, shaping women in wrestling by giving them the tools and skill set necessary to achieve on a WWE scale. She readied them for NXT, which provided the proving ground for them via the WWE Network. That’s where Charlotte the wrestler was born and where Sasha Banks transformed into top WWE material.

Banks versus Bayley stole the show at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn and headlined NXT TakeOver: Respect. That was the first women’s match to main event a major WWE event and the first women’s Iron Man match.

Their matches were incredible — eye openers which helped elevate women wrestling in WWE.

Charlotte and Banks became the first women to win the PWI award for Feud of the Year. They also set a record for a WWE women’s match at Roadblock: End of the Line in December 2016 at more than 34 minutes. Pro Wrestling Illustrated named Flair “Woman of the Year” and the world’s top female professional wrestler for 2016. Flair is already six-time champion in WWE.

One of Charlotte’s main goals is to headline WrestleMania, the biggest stage in professional wrestling. No woman has done it.

If anyone can, it’s Charlotte.

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What Lita and Trish Stratus did for WWE and Awesome Kong and Gail Kim did for TNA, the current group of women’s wrestlers on the WWE main roster are taking it to another level.

The sky is the limit…finally.