As I watched Becky Lynch in that wonderful contract signing segment on Smackdown, I couldn’t help but feel proud of how far women’s wrestling has come since the attitude era. I have always been of the belief that the right star from the women’s division could become a mega-star, if given a chance. I think we are just about there and Becky Lynch is the woman to guide us all the way to the top, but first, let’s take a look at the journey so far:
While the attitude era is popular for so many reasons, it’s treatment of women is not one of them, too often relegated to the bathroom break, good quality wrestlers like Ivory and Jacqueline never really stood a chance. Fortunately, by the year 2000, we stumbled across two soon to be top WWE Superstars in Lita and Trish Stratus. Yes, they were still learning, but they had a star presence about them that would eventually mean money.
Fast forward to 2002 and we have a brand split and women’s wrestling picks up. Raw becomes the home of the women’s division with the additions of Jazz, Victoria, Molly Holly and Gail Kim. All of a sudden the women are having strong matches. By 2004, Lita and Trish main event Raw and pull a high TV rating. That was an amazing moment, finally the women got the respect they deserved, for that night at least.
With the incoming Diva Search, it seemed it would prove difficult for the women wrestlers to stay a priority. Fortunately, every cloud has a silver lining and the women’s division’s was Mickie James. Her pycho character who was Trish Stratus’ biggest fan, was a breath of fresh air. Every week Mickie would show her love of Trish in different ways, leading to some wickedly wonderful segments. Mickie James was fantastic in the role, she had a real presence about her and the fans immediately took to her. Considering the lead up to Wrestlemania 21 in 2005 was the long term storyline of Batista and HHH, it was a nice contrast for the next Wrestlemania to have a long term storyline for the women, with Trish and Mickie. There match at ‘Mania was one of the best women’s matches on mainstream TV up to that point.
Once Trish and Lita left in 2006, we had to wait 6 years for someone else to truly transform the division (though to be fair Mickie, Melina, Layla, Beth and Michelle McCool tried as hard as they could in matches too short to let them shine). 2012 arrives and with it brings AJ Lee, a punk rock chick who had a love of wrestling, she won our hearts almost immediately. She was involved in main event storylines, was GM of Raw, had a wedding angle with Daniel Bryan, became Divas champion and brought back women’s merchandise. She was a big deal and was treated as such, the significance of her run will never be forgotten.
2013 brought us Total Divas and with that the Bella Empire. Merchandising for women got even more popular and the show brought more eyes to the WWE product.
But it was not until 2014 that things really kicked off. NXT gave us Paige vs “Not so Evil” Emma, they set the bar for what was to come in some great matches. Paige and Emma moved to the main roster and we were treated to the development of Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley and Charlotte. All four grew as talents on screen each week and every match of theirs got better and better, then there was the ultimate match, the Fatal Four Way in 2015 at NXT Take over Rival. An amazing match that saw Sasha win the title and would be followed by a Becky vs Sasha and Bayley vs Sasha, the women were literally “taking over”
#Give Divas a Chance started trending in 2015 as the WWE women’s matches got shorter and shorter and this paved the way for the Divas Revolution as Becky, Sasha and Charlotte came up to the main roster. While the Divas Revolution was not what we had hoped it did pave the way for a Charlotte title reign and finally a long term storyline in the women’s division (9 years after the last significant storyline between Trish and Mickie). This storyline was between Charlotte and Becky Lynch. Becky won the fans hearts on the way to the Royal Rumble and got so popular she found herself in the women’s triple threat at Wrestlemania with Charlotte and Sasha.
What a triple threat it was, while Charlotte may have won, we saw three new superstars emerge and with that, the return of the women’s championship. But our story is not over. The brand split allowed us to get another first, a Smackdown women’s championship and who better than the Lass Kicker Becky Lynch, certainly the most deserving woman to win the match.
So now as I finish writing this I think to myself, one has to wonder where do we go from here? NXT is certainly in good hands with Asuka and Ember Moon and we have two women’s titles on the main roster. If you ask me, the only way is up, maybe main events of pay per views, maybe one day a Wrestlemania main event. I think it all starts with the Smackdown women’s division…..but I will leave that for next time!