For decades, men were at the center of wrestling entertainment — but the future is female, even when it comes to wrestling.
While women have been part of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) — formerly the World Wrestling Federation — since the ’80s, they haven’t always been in the spotlight. But, in recent years, WWE has been taking major steps to empower their female talent and make the sport more gender equal.
Women have been taking on an increasing role in the sport since the early 2000s, with female athletes — known as “Divas” at the time — taking the stage at WWE main events for the first time.
But in 2015, calls to #GiveDivasAChance gained traction on social media.
“The message from our fan base around the world was clear — they wanted to see our female performers in more prominent storylines, with deeper character development and competing in longer matches,” Stephanie McMahon, a wrestling personality and WWE chief brand officer, wrote in the Players Tribune in 2016.
The company took that message to heart.
That year WWE transformed its women’s division, moving away from calling their female athletes “Divas” and recognizing them instead as the “Superstars” they are.
The organization has devoted more airtime to matches featuring its female talent, and last October it held its first ever all-female pay-per-view event, called Evolution. The historic event sold out the Nassau Coliseum in New York.
The positive response from audiences only showed that WWE fans wanted to see women in even more prominent roles in the sport — and in 2019, it’s happening.
In January, Superstar Nia Jax became the first woman to ever to compete in both WWE’s Women’s and Men’s Royal Rumble in the same night. And the following month, Superstars Bayley and Sasha Banks became the first WWE Women's Tag Team Champions.
Charlotte Flair showcases her incredible athleticism while executing her signature moonsault off the top rope.
Now, WWE is going one step further in its effort to advance gender equality in the sport and give its female athletes the platform they deserve.
On April 7, the Raw Women’s Championship Match — an all-women’s match — will be the main event at WrestleMania, which proves: there’s no stopping these fierce females.
“I want it to be the best ever, because we need the women headlining WrestleMania to not be an isolated event,” Ronda Rousey, who will feature in the event, said in a recent vlog. “We need it to be proof that this works.”