Why Women’s Equality Is Still Lost In WWE’s New Era


WWE has been trying to get on the women’s equality bandwagon for the past couple of years. Has it really changed that much or is it all for show?

For those following the world of “sports entertainment” headlined by the WWE, the mega promotion recently, and with great fanfare, changed their women’s division to a more serious stable after years of filling it full of a wide variety of flimsy model types, known as “Divas.” The division, which was once punctuated by such openly sexist tropes as “Bra and Panties Matches”, now is headlined by women touted for their great athletic skills. (With the exception of a select few anyways.)

The women’s matches have gone from bathroom break material to full-on main events. WWE has stripped away the term “Diva” and switched the pink butterfly belt in trade for a real Women’s Championship. What does that really mean though?

It all started from one Diva’s perspective on Stephanie McMahon’s appreciation tweet to Patricia Arquette, who was taking a stand on women’s equality in pay early last year. Former “Divas” champ AJ Lee, who has been on leave from the company for a while, happened to catch what Stephanie tweeted.

AJ Lee was quick to retweet and fire back at Vince’s daughter, who is also the Chief Brand Officer of WWE. She pointed out that female wrestlers make the company loads of profit and have high rating segment’s, yet receive less screen time and pay!

It has almost been two years since that moment, and in that time women’s equality in WWE has picked up the pace. Did AJ’s tweet tip the scales? Or is it part and parcel with a social moment forward that is about to result in our first woman president in 240+ years? Either way, it seems, from the outside that Stephanie and Vince McMahon both responded to her challenge, and all of these changes came from that point on.

First, there was something called “the Diva’s Revolution”, which failed miserably in getting a message across. More experienced female wrestlers came up from NXT, which functions as the shows’ minor league training ground. This included two new and very popular wrestlers, Sasha Banks and Bayley (real name Pamela Rose Martinez) who represented the NXT brand in the first Women’s Iron Man Match. The Diva’s Revolution may have failed, but the show continues to push women’s equality forward as a top line story line. There’s just one problem… In order to use women’s equality you actually have to practice what you preach. They have made some big improvements, but is it really enough?

What about the pay grade? Has it changed? With the exception of the women that alternate between the roster and reality shows, not really. It’s kind of wild to think that putting your body on the line in a ring gets WWE women less money than allowing some camera’s to record snippets of their everyday lives. (Not to take anything from the Bellas, who seem to have been the only ones smart enough to parlay WWE’s reality show aspects into profit, or any other female wrestler displaying her life on the Total Divas show), but the difference in pay is by very large sums.

To make matters worse, you still have Vince McMahon trying to force eye candy with no wrestling talent down the throats of fans, whether they like it or not. You still have women like “Maryse” or “Lana”, both of whom function as eye candy, clinging to the “real wrestler’s” arm. In Lana’s case, her job is also to deliver lines for the “real wrestler” since he couldn’t recite a script if his life depended on it. As for Maryse, no one lets her have any lines, because she can’t even do that. She can balance on 6 inch stilettos on a wrestling ring mat though, no small feat for the ankles. Oh, I almost forgot! Said female characters also help their men, The Miz and Rusev, cheat.

Meanwhile, the show may tout that they got rid of the butterfly belt and gave the Women’s division a real one. But it was hard to miss that that didn’t happen until the daughter of a powerful figure in wrestling landed said title. The now former Division champ, Charlotte, is the daughter of Ric Flair, one one got the sense that backstage he was insisting his daughter carry about a real looking belt and not a something that looked like it should come in a “Wrestler Barbie” box.

Eva Marie had nobody to accompany to the ring because “All Red Everything” was supposed to be the Women’s Division’s new star. That quickly fell through, when we all remembered she had no wrestling skills at all. WWE still continued to push her much to the dismay of fans, who now expect so much more from the women’s division.

The WWE is not longer functioning in the “Attitude Era” as it once did. Nowadays, it works in what is known as the “Reality Era” or the “PG Era,” and men pushing around women and belittling them is no longer acceptable. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have tough women storylines instead of girls fighting schoolgirl spats.

The latest turn in this saga has seen the women of WWE move up, to main event the flagship show, RAW. The newest twist has brought us Sasha Banks and Charlotte as the headliner match in the upcoming pay-per-view, as they set to wrestle in the first all women’s “Hell in a Cell” match. They would be making history as not only the first women to be in a Hell in a Cell match, but also the first Women’s PPV Main Event in history.

It might have seemed so, but that the WWE had to yo-yo on it and waffle badly. First it was the biggest thing ever. Then suddenly, the “general manager” who announced said match, Mick Foley, had to amend his original statement.

"Mick’s note: I have no idea which match will go on last, or which match will go down in history as being the official main event. The Universal Championship match between Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins is shaping up to be something special, and I am sure both men will be doing their best to steal the show – which is as it should be. In the end, the main event is whatever each fan decides it is."

So let’s get this straight. They were about to go down on history as the first women to main event a PPV, but the men doing their best to steal the show is “how it should be?” And why don’t we ever see Women Hall of Fame Inductees come back for WrestleMania like Shawn Michaels, The Rock, and Ric Flair? When they come back it’s just as commentator’s, to unveil new Women’s Championship belts, or give out awards.

So has women’s equality made it in WWE? WWE can say that they are all about women’s equality onscreen all they want. In order to make it believable they should practice what they preach. Equal pay, real PPV main events, and not treating the women as simple sideshows.

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These are the real changes that we still do not see. So how can we say that women’s equality does exist in WWE.