Many are praising the WWE for booking the first women’s match to headline a WWE pay-per-view/Network event. Yet a more critical look at the story reveals a company that has less invested into its “Divas Revolution” today than it did several months ago.
Fans are heaping praise on the WWE for elevating the Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks WWE Women’s championship match to the closer. Notice how I didn’t use the “main-event” because the placement of the match to close the show was merely cosmetic. It was hours not days nor weeks that this match was “promoted” as such and I’ll use the word promoted loosely.
Dave Meltzer had the scoop on a recent F4WOnline.com podcast about how and when this happened. Meltzer’s timeline and behind-the-scenes look at the politics behind the move will second guess anyone who thought this idea was revolutionary.
According to Meltzer, there had been internal arguments going on for weeks about where to place the Charlotte vs. Sasha match on the show. CEO Vince McMahon was adamant about Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins for the Universal title closing the show as its main-event. Others (you could probably guess were Triple H and Michael Hayes among others) argued that closing the show with the women’s match was the way to go. It wasn’t until Sunday, hours before the show that the decision was made to swap the women’s title match with the universal title match and close the show with the ladies.
Meltzer also reported that the booking of the match changed the day of the show. The show was in Boston, the hometown of Sasha Banks. One would surmise that Sasha was originally booked to retain the title in her hometown. Meltzer reported that the audible is a result of a decision to fast-track the impending Bayley vs. Charlotte program.
So that is what happened behind the scenes, but here is what happened in front of our eyes. Only a mere hours before the event was the women’s title match promoted as the “main-event”. The promotion only appeared on social media, not the five hours of television that the company has per week. While many liked the match, there is no denying that it fell flat in front of the audience. There was little to no reaction for the finish as it fell flat. In the end Vince’s self-fulfilling prophecy probably did more harm than good in elevating the ladies.
Contrast this as to how the UFC promoted its first ever women’s championship main-event, Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche. The UFC had a lot invested in Ronda Rousey as they wanted her to be a star. Thus, the match was promoted as the main-event for months leading up to the event. There was no doubt what the main-event was or what sold the show. Rousey was booked in a fight she was heavily favored to win. What fans saw was an electric atmosphere which saw an exciting fight end the way the fans wanted to, Rousey received a thunderous reaction, and she became the biggest star arguably in the history of the company. The blur print was all laid out for Vince and he didn’t give it a second thought.
Instead, the company spent the last several weeks promoting Owens vs. Rollins as the main-event of the show. The reaction the Universal title match was evident that the fans saw this as the true main-event. Yet the ladies still had a chance. A classic ending with Sasha winning the title in front of a rabid hometown audience could have offered up a lasting moment. Instead the company in what has to be some of the most questionable booking in ages booked her to lose. That would have been fine if the match remained in the middle of the card but going out with no reaction was probably the worst thing that could have happened to the girls.
So while everyone is heaping praise at the match placement, the WWE deserves more criticism than praise in its handling of the match. This match should never have gone on last unless it was promoted as such. The missteps here are simply mind-boggling yet the Chairman of the Board got exactly what he wanted.
Unfortunately it wasn’t what the fans wanted and those fans will have to wait much longer if ever to see the women headline again.