By Casey Lewis
Earlier this month, more than 82,000 fans packed a sold-out Metlife stadium to watch the professional wrestling extravaganza known as Wrestlemania, according to WWE.com. The 35th edition of WWE’s biggest annual event was lengthy, clocking in a little more than seven hours, according to the New York Post. Throughout the event, fans were anticipating one special match, tuning in to watch Becky Lynch beat Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey in a triple threat match for the Raw and Smackdown Women’s championships. This wasn’t just another impressive match, but rather, a historical moment — it was the first time that Wrestlemania has ever featured a women’s match as the main event.
Women have always been viewed as inferior to men in the WWE. Only a few years ago, women’s matches were often referred to as the “bathroom breaks” of the show because they were kept incredibly short and given little significance. In fact, according to Bleacher Report, women did not even get a match at all in 10 of the 35 Wrestlemanias. This all began to change in 2015 when WWE started to face public criticism for its treatment of female wrestlers. Since then, the company has worked to treat women’s wrestling with more respect, giving participants more of the opportunities needed to succeed. The WWE renamed the main title from the “Diva Championship” to the “Women’s Championship,” thus giving women more credibility. WWE began giving women the main-event slot for televised and pay-perview shows. In 2018, women even got their own pay-per-view event. Giving women the opportunity to headline Wrestlemania is by far the biggest step WWE has taken to legitimize women’s wrestling.
While it has taken far too long for women to be treated with respect in the industry, this was the perfect time for the momentous event to take place. In the past, WWE did not have the talent or big names in the women’s division to pull this off. This year, the main event features the perfect storm of some of the biggest names in the company today. The match included eight-time women’s champion and Smackdown Women’s champion Charlotte Flair, the daughter of pro-wrestling star Ric Flair. The most popular performer on the roster was Becky Lynch, who, according to Forbes, currently leads the company in merchandise sales. However, the most important part of this equation is the Raw Women’s champion Ronda Rousey. Rousey quickly became champion after leaving the UFC for the WWE a little over a year ago. Rousey made a name for herself through her quick victories in the octagon and helped elevate women to a higher status in the UFC.
All three competitors are talented performers and big names in the industry. Their performance in Wrestlemania had a memorable feel — Charlotte Flair flew in on a helicopter while Ronda Rousey entered to a live performance of “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. All three wrestlers were more than qualified to perform under the pressure, and when the moment came, they really proved themselves.
The match received a four-out-of-five-star rating from Bleacher Report and a B+ rating from CBS Sports. While some might argue that WWE was too late in giving women the spotlight they deserve, it is clear that timing is everything. Bringing women into the main match of pro-wrestling’s biggest annual event was the best possible move. The event did not feel like an undeserved spot on the card for the athletes involved. This spotlight was earned and these women proved to the WWE that they truly do belong at the frontlines of wrestling
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