Thursday, November 15, 2018
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The Truth About the Women’s Revolution

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There has been a lot made by WWE about the “Women’s Revolution” or “evolution” that has reached prominence for WWE for the past couple of years. Let us get this out of the way. The current crop of women in WWE have plenty to be proud of. There is no doubt that they have helped break barriers, try to keep on par with the men and change the narrative about what women’s wrestling is all about. I assure you this time three years ago, we wouldn’t think the women would main event the Royal Rumble PPV, much less have their own Royal Rumble match. We never thought that they would have a Money in the Bank ladder match, Hell in a Cell match, or hell, even consistent competitive matches. While women’s wrestling in WWE isn’t fully refined today (well, nothing in WWE is), it has certainly come a long way from where it came. However, there is something heavily that needs to be addressed. What I believe WWE is doing is essentially patting themselves on the back for more or less fixing a problem that began with them. Allow me to explain.

Think about it. What is a revolution? An overthrow of a certain order lieu of a new system. If you want to use the term evolution, which WWE also uses, it is defined as the gradual development of something. Whatever term you use, the same concept applies. In order to have an evolution or a revolution, you have to evolve or revolutionize from a certain place. In this case, wouldn’t be the WWE themselves? One of the matches announced on the WWE Evolution card is Alexa Bliss facing off against former 7 time Women’s Champion Trish Stratus. This match is supposed to be one of the manifestations of how WWE has evolved from one perennial women’s champion to another. But it is also distinguishing two completely different eras in women’s wrestling.

There is no doubt that Trish Stratus was talented in all facets of sports entertainment. She was a good performer, she could talk on the microphone, and of course, she looked the part as well (as much as some don’t like to admit it, looks in WWE matter). However, we also need to be reminded that Trish Stratus is also a face of a time in WWE where women were on our screen for the sole purpose of being eye candy. Remember all of those mud pools, pillow fights and lingerie matches? That is what the era that Trish Stratus competed in was mostly about. Of course, from time to time, you can find some rare gems, such as Lita and Trish Stratus main eventing Raw, making it the first time a women’s match main evented Monday night. At the same time, women weren’t viewed as women. They were viewed as objects.

If we were to fire up the WWE Network, head back into the archives and go back to 2001, we can see a clip of Vince McMahon forcing Trish Stratus to strip down into a half naked state, get on her knees, and bark like a dog. Now you can say that this was merely a product of being in the Attitude Era, and you can say that this was just a way for Vince McMahon to get heat, but wasn’t this a more or less accurate depiction of the place WWE had evolved from? Imagine if in today’s culture where the owner of the company were to force Alexa Bliss or Becky Lynch or any other woman to strip down essentially be degraded for the entire world to see? Alexa Bliss isn’t necessarily a main contributor as to why the women’s revolution is what it is today, but she is more of a product of the era that she lives in. She’s a five time women’s champion, and has had the privilege in competing in steel cage matches, ladder matches and tables matches to compete for championships. But the distinction is clear.

Then, you have figures like The Bella Twins. Ponder this for a moment. The Bella Twins were at the very least able to get a backstage segment at SummerSlam alongside Ronda Rousey and they, quite laughably, offered their services to Ronda Rousey if she needs any help with anything in the ring. Yeah, like Ronda Rousey needs advice from a woman who botches a suicide dive twice in the same match. They appeared at SummerSlam despite being away for the past couple of years to commit to their YouTube channel and personal lives. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that, but The Bella Twins appearing out of thin air and essentially glorifying themselves for being a part of a movement they had nothing to do can be frustrating. It is all the more frustrating when women such as Sasha Banks and Bayley, real stalwarts of the women’s revolution, were nowhere to be seen without so much as a pre-show.

The Bella Twins’ appearance right before the first-ever women’s exclusive PPV is actually self-contradiction by WWE. You want to know why? Those two represent the era that they had to evolve from. Remember that scathing AJ Lee promo that she cut on the Bella Twins and the cast of Total Divas in 2013?

“Do know what I see when I look at that ring? A bunch of cheap, interchangeable, expendable, useless women. Women who have turned to reality television because they just weren’t gifted enough to be actresses. And they just weren’t talented enough to be champion. I have done more in one year than you have done in your entire collective careers. I have saved your Divas division, I have shattered glass ceilings, I have broken doors and for what? Just for a bunch of stiff, plastic mannequins can walk on by without so much of a thank you?

You can’t even look me in the eye backstage and why? Because I gave my life for this and earned everything I have to this business while you were all handed 15 minutes of fame. I didn’t get here because I was cute or because I came from some famous wrestling family or because I sucked up to the right people. I got here because I am GOOD. I earned this championship and no matter how many times you walk in your 400K heels and fancy cars, you’ll never be able to lace up my Chuck Taylor’s. You are all worthless excuses for women and you will never be able to touch me. And that…is reality. “

AJ Lee collectively buried them all with truth within 3 minutes (not including a segment a year later where she told The Bella Twins that talent couldn’t be transmitted sexually), and what were The Bella Twins doing? They were just yelling incoherently at the top of their lungs trying to blurt out the truth AJ Lee was spitting. In that scene, The Bella Twins were figuratively playing the role of WWE, turning a blind eye and ignoring the plight of their own female employees. AJ Lee called out Stephanie McMahon and WWE on Twitter, pointing out the inconsistency and lack of fairness when it comes to treatment of men and women in WWE.

This included lack of screen time, lack of equal pay and lack of equal opportunities. That is where the birth of the #GiveDivasAChance movement took place. If she didn’t take the initiative, would we be seeing what we have today? Maybe and maybe not. But the point is that after the era of Trish Stratus, we entered the era of the Divas. An era where matches may get 3 minutes on TV if they’re lucky, pajama pillow fights, and championships-shaped after an evolving caterpillar.

It is highly ignorant to suggest that all of the women that happened to compete in the era of the women’s revolution made it happen. Let’s be honest. This revolution has only been over 3 years old. While the Divas were still the bathroom break of Raw weekly, women like Paige, Charlotte Flair, Emma, Sasha Banks, Bayley and Becky Lynch were busting their asses on NXT and started to change the culture. Then, when Stephanie McMahon did her weekly grandstanding and self-patting about the revolution that was taking place without her, she brought up 3 of the 4 Horsewomen in an effort to change the Divas scene, and while it would take some time, it did change. While there are women that have taken part in the revolution, they weren’t the motor behind the operation.

From the triple threat at WrestleMania 32, to the series of first-evers between Sasha and Charlotte, the women’s revolution was in form. But again, you can’t revolutionize if there is no need for a place to evolve from. WWE were the ones booking the matches, perceiving the women as worthless and unequal. It wasn’t until someone had the courage to call them out on it as well. That is why many hate what the larger idea behind the revolution is supposed to be. WWE can take the credit for fixing the problem, because to an extent, they did. But they have take the shoulder of the blame for putting the women in a position to have to evolve from. It’s time for WWE to take accountability for the position they put women in the past, and it’s up to them to maintain what we have today.