Since this is one of my first articles, allow me to give you a small background of myself. Born in the early ’80s I became a wrestling fan around he time of Wrestlemania 2 or 3. The exact timeframe escapes me but I’m sure glad my dad introduced me. I watched religiously from then through the 90’s all the way through 2006 when I felt the writing was bad. I gave WWF/WWE many loyal years and would not betray them and watch WCW or any other promotion. Truth be told I did watch WCW when over my cousins because any wrestling was better than no wrestling i think.
I remember watching Hulkamania run wild, the cream rise to the top with Randy Savage, and the best there is, best there was, and best there ever will be as champ. But who were the ladies of wrestling during that timeframe?
To be honest growing up I don’t remember many, nay, any outside of The Fabulous Moohlah and….hmm that’s all I remember from when I started watching. Back then women’s wrestling was more of a side attraction.
In 1985 Vince McMahon made a deal with the Fabulous Moolah to have the rights to the women’s title. If you wanted to break into women’s wrestling back in the day it went through Moolah.
As the WWF hit the 1990 the women’s title was retired from not being much of an attraction and lack of wrestlers. As we hit 1993 we were introduced to Alundra Blayze. Hope along with new talent were brought it to battle Blayze along with some borrowed talent from All Japan Women’s Wrestling. In December of 1995 due to financial trouble and lack of competition the Women’s title was retired.
Starting mid 1995 also saw the return of the “eye candy”, women valets. We were introduced to Sunny, Marlena, Sable, and Debra. With the new valets brought in was magazine centerfold shoots, extra revealing clothing, and the stripping of clothes for a distraction.
As the attitude era started ushering in late 90’s we saw a new type of woman signed. The body builder known at the 9th wonder of the world Chyna. She was not the typical signee. She was bulked up and had bigger muscles than some of the male talent. Soon after we saw more athletic types given contracts like Jacqueline, Ivory, Tori, and Luna Vachon. With the influx of talent in 1998 the Women’s Championship Belt back.
The first step to the Woman’s Revolution occurred August 9, 1999. The main event of Monday Night Raw is War featured a woman in the main event in prime time television. Chyna won the match. A #1 contender’s match in a triple threat match against HHH and The Undertaker. While she did not win the title she did win the Intercontinental Title.
In 2000-2001 saw some new faces come in with a mixture of skills. Trish Stratus, Lita, and Molly Holly. All 3 were great athletes and brought years of great matches. After the acquisition of ECW and WCW we got the talents of Torrie Wilson, Jazz, and Stacy Keibler.
In December 2004 the Revolution hit a new milestone. Trish and Lita headlines the main event of Raw in a women’s title match.
Over the next few years many of the “divas” I watched many come and go. Some talented, some underutilized. As the time my hiatus away from pro wrestling came I missed out on some of the big names like Michelle McCool, Kelly Kelly, Vickie Guerrero, Melina, and Eve Torres. I missed out Divas search, the revived Tough Enough, and the start of NXT.
Let’s get back to the “modern days” and where I picked up back into wrestling. Just before that you could say was the restart of the Revolution. Over the course of the last decade to decade and a half while we had some great athletes trying to put on good matches but also gimmick matches like bra and panties matches, evening gown matches, and the paddle on a pole match did not do the image of wrestling any favors.
On February 23, 2015 there was a scheduled match between the Bella Twins vs Paige and Emma. The match was given 30 seconds. 30 freaking seconds. For the next 36 hours on Twitter the hashtag #GiveDivasAChance was trending worldwide. Because of this things started to pick up for the women. On the new season of Tough enough Paige, Lita, and Renee Young were all given prominent roles on the show. Big talents Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks were brought up from NXT to battle with the current top stars who would be leaving soon.
In 2016 Lita showcased the new Women’s title to replace and retire the Divas championship. This was a step in the right direction by Stephanie to bring a new image to the women’s division. Over the course of the next 3+ years new firsts would happen in an effort for men and women superstars to be equal. Over that time we would see the first woman’s Royal Rumble, first Elimination Chamber match, an all women’s PPV, and of course the first women’s main event at Wrestlemania.
Going from seeing what I knew as woman’s wresting growing up ti seeing what it has become since I came back in 2016 is amazing. The division has become more legitimized with competitive athletes, bodybuilders, and even MMA fighters. Not only are they putting on great matches but main event level matches.
Looking at today and beyond, the WWE has set up the women’s division well. Other promotions are starting to take it serious too. All Elite Wrestling has made a point to show it’s diversity and inclusion and it shows with the talent they have. Also look at Impact wrestling. They have Tessa Blanchard as their champion of the men’s division. Most promotions won’t even have the men and women face each other. If the last few years of seeing improvements of the female superstars and opportunities given, I think we can say we will win the revolution and have quality entertainment for years to come.