WWE Women’s Division: Then & Now

WWE women’s wrestling has definitely evolved from what I remember from more than 10 years ago. After taking a long break from watching WWE, I got back into it last year. I was introduced to The Bella Twins, Brie and Nikki Bella, along with the other WWE “divas.” But let’s rewind for a moment.

I first started watching WWE in the ’90s and stepped away from it not too long after the company’s name was changed from “World Wrestling Federation” to “World Wrestling Entertainment.” I was familiar with Sable, Sunny, Molly Holly, Jacqueline, Trish Stratus and Victoria- just to name a few. But the two female wrestlers that stuck out to me was Chyna due to her strength and Lita due to her aerodynamic moves.

At that time, bra and panty matches existed and Jerry “The King” Lawler was constantly heard screaming, “PUPPIES!” in reference to female breasts. Women on the show were reduced to eye candy (does anyone recall the mud wrestling matches?). They rarely stood alone; they usually accompanied the male wrestlers.

chyna

The late Joanie Laurer, known as “Chyna.”

Chyna and Lita were not immune to this, and yes, they did exude sexuality as much as the other female wrestlers. But, to me, they were also proof that female wrestlers could be as good as the guys. They were one of the few women on the show that didn’t back down from being in serious matches with the men. And I admired them for it.

Throughout my break from watching wrestling, I constantly heard the phrase “WWE Divas,” along with the name “AJ Lee.” Unfortunately, I never got to see her in action (aside from old matches I’ve seen on the WWE Network) since I only started watching WWE again last year. But the word “diva” made me cringe and fooled me into thinking that the women’s division was full of prissy wrestlers… until I actually saw one of the diva matches.

I witnessed the divas fly off the ropes the way I remembered Lita doing back then, and I saw them showcase movesets that I never saw from women in the past. Sure, some of them were still scantily-clad, but they were kicking butt. Now the women had more depth to their character, and a lot of them were stand-alone. They didn’t need any male wrestlers beside them. Now they were more than just “eye candy.” Unless, you know, their name is Eva Marie.

Not too long after I resumed watching, three of the four NXT “Horsewomen” were brought up to WWE: Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Becky Lynch (Bayley stayed in NXT for a little while longer). They brought more “straight-fire” to the division and the “Divas Revolution” began. Soon afterward, the term “Diva” was dropped at WrestleMania 32 and the women were acknowledged as “Superstars” along with the men. This announcement was delivered right before an amazing triple threat match between the aforementioned Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Becky Lynch. And appropriately, Lita was chosen to present the new Women’s Championship belt, thus retiring the bedazzled pink Divas Championship belt.

womens-championship-belt

Even now, the women continue to deliver astonishing matches by pushing their bodies to the limit. WWE raided more of NXT’s  women’s division this year, forcing NXT to bring up more of their female wrestlers to fill the rift left behind. Alexa Bliss and Carmella now call SmackDown Live their home while Dana Brooke, Nia Jax and Bayley were placed on Raw. As much as I’d love for Asuka to be called up to destroy everyone, NXT wouldn’t have much left for their women’s division.

The current rivalry between Charlotte and Sasha Banks is worth watching. Have you seen how beautiful Charlotte’s moonsaults are? Their performances have impressed the WWE Universe, and now they’re set to make history by being the first female wrestlers to participate in the upcoming Hell in a Cell match. It is sure to be exciting, but one can only hope that they don’t break their bodies, as they constantly challenge themselves to deliver impressive matches.

The WWE women’s division has come a long way, and I’m happy that the division is more respected now than it was when I was younger. It is an inspiration to young girls and women everywhere. As time goes on, I hope to see more talented women raising the bar in WWE.

sasha-charlotte-hell-in-the-cell

WWE Raw Women’s Champion Sasha Banks will be defending her title against Charlotte in Hell in a Cell this Sunday.

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