It's been a busy few weeks for Vince McMahon and Co. The Royal Rumble is always one of WWE's most watched PPV specials but this year promised to be special. The addition of a 30 Woman Royal Rumble to the card is something that has never happened before. The importance of this moment was magnified by the fact that management decided the match should be the main event on a card that included a Brock Lesnar Universal Championship bout and the men's rumble match. The company has been oft-criticised for oversexualizing their female talent in the past with women wrestlers being relegated to the Divas moniker and competing in lingerie matches. In the last few years, we've seen WWE put more emphasis on their female Superstars actually wrestling. Once they realized times were changing they even named the change "The Women's Revolution". Some fans and industry professionals have soured on the revolution though. The overuse of the term historic has started to diminish the moments the woman are given and shines a light on exactly how misogynistic the WWE has been in the past. Late last year, the Women's Revolution hit a very tone-deaf low point when their first-ever female Money in the Bank Ladder match ended with a male wrestler climbing the ladder and throwing the prize down to a female competitor. This end was so poorly received that WWE chose to call for a mulligan and do the whole match over again. The same woman won but now she climbed the ladder herself without the aide of her male companion.
This Royal Rumble actually felt worthy of the word historic. Female wrestlers in the industry thought so too, as evidenced by just how many wrestlers from past eras showed up to compete in the rumble. This could easily be construed as negative because they had to hire so many past stars to fill up a 30 woman rumble match. In fact, 11 of the 30 entrants were either either part-timers or retired. That number would have most likely been lower if 2 current full time wrestlers had not been injured earlier in the week. (Paige was injured in a house show match with Sasha Banks shortly after making her return to the ring and veteran Alicia Fox was held out with an undisclosed injury as well. ) In past generations the female wrestlers were always thought of as a secondary story or an accompaniment to a male led story. This main event rumble match was anything but that and you can tell both old and newcomers alike were enjoying themselves in the ring. With all that being said the match itself was fairly generic with most of the cheer coming from surprise entrants and and the last few minutes between the Japanese star Asuka and Sasha Banks. Asuka ended up being the last woman standing in the ring which is historic for it’s own reasons but the moment that left everyone talk came as the credit were about to roll. Combat sports legend, Ronda Rousey, made her way to the ring. After a few mean looks and awkward finger points to the Wrestlemania sign hanging in the background the show ended.
Rousey is a special talent. While she was definitely not the first woman to fight for the UFC she is one of the most popular fighters ever. She’s one of the handful of UFC fighters whose popularity as a fighter has spilled over into celebrity status. In a sport full of testosterone and machismo Rousey racked up medals and belts but more importantly to her former employer she sold PPV buys, millions of them. She earned a reputation as a trash talker who backed up her words with knockout after knockout for years. WWE is trying more than ever to push women’s wrestling as a viable option for main eventing PPV specials. Who better than Rousey to lead that charge? She’s main-evented 8 PPV’s already (2 co-main events) and has a high buy rate with a fan base that has proven to be a very similar demographic to that of WWE.
If the women's royal rumble was not evidence enough that a shift in tides has come to the world of wrestling maybe the swift release of Enzo Amore can help convince you. Early last week word spread across Twitter that Amore had been accused of rape in Phoenix, Arizona. Amore was quickly suspended until further notice because of the accusation (something that in years past would had maybe been ignored) Once the Phoenix Police Department confirmed the accusation and said that they were in fact investigating Eric Arndt for sexual assault WWE pulled the trigger and released him completely. From the time of accusation to the release was just 2 days. It’s been speculated that the reason Amore was released so quickly was because he did not let management know about the investigation that had been ongoing since October of 2017. It’s also been speculated that Amore had become somewhat of a problem child in the locker room. The fact that management had decided to make him Cruiserweight Champion leads me to believe they had faith in him until this news broke. Eric Arndt has denied the claims made by Ms. Sheahan but WWE has zero tolerance for this type of situation now and that’s a good thing.
Is World Wrestling Entertainment going to be a feminist wonderland from here on out? They still regularly invite ex-announcer Jerry “The King” Lawler to come back into the fray and refer to women’s breasts as puppies so I’m going to have to say, no. But there’s a chance that the female competitors get a larger percentage of the TV time now, that’s a win and a nudge in the right direction. Especially if it means more little girls becoming fans of pro wresting and I get to see more videos on the internet like THIS