It’s been just over two months since World Wrestling Entertainment ushered in a “new era”, calling their female talent Superstars (which the guys had been branded as for decades) instead of Divas and retired the Divas Championship in favour of a brand-spanking new Women’s Championship.
Since then, though, women have continued to get dismal airtime across WWE’s two main shows, three-hour Raw and two-hour SmackDown!.
This past week, five women Superstars took part in two segments that ran for a total of 4.44 minutes—or just over 2% of the show—that was supposed to promote a tag team match between Women’s Champion Charlotte and newcomer Dana Brooke against Natalya and Becky Lynch at this weekend’s pay-per-view, Money in the Bank.
Money in the Bank is an annual event named for a multi-competitor ladder match in which a briefcase containing a championship contract to be cashed in at any point over the next year is suspended above the ring. T
his year, in the wake of the women’s wrestling revolution that largely spawned WWE’s new attitude to women wrestlers, fans were sure we’d get some sort of women’s Money in the Bank match.
With corporate sponsors and parents groups to cater to, it was unlikely that a women’s Money in the Bank match would incorporate ladders, but surely a scramble match—in which two wrestlers start the match and every few minutes another wrestler enters until all participants are present.
Each time a wrestler scores a pinfall or submission, they become the interim or unofficial champion, until the time limit expires and the winner is the wrestler who scores the last pinfall or submission—to establish the next in line to the Women’s Championship was on the cards.
This would have showcased the many formidable talents on the roster, such as Natalya, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Naomi and Paige, amongst others, and also freed up Charlotte to compete in a second women’s match on the card for her Women’s Championship.
Alternatively, what about a women’s championship tournament each week on WWE programming, with the overall winner going on to face Charlotte for her title at the pay-per-view? That would give women’s wrestling more time week to week as well as a match worth getting invested in for Money in the Bank.
Alas, early this week the women’s tag team match was announced and any hopes of WWE pushing boundaries and making a women’s Money in the Bank match were dashed.
It wouldn’t have been the first time women competed in a match containing foreign objects, though: in 2002 Trish Stratus and Victoria faced each other in a Hardcore Match, in which any manner of everyday items such as trash cans, street signs and fire extinguishers can be used to pick up the win.
In 2003, Victoria again made history by taking on Lita in a cage match while as recently as 2010 women wrestlers competed in a tables match (the winner is the first wrestler to put their opponent through a table) in which the tables were painted pink, you know, in case we forgot women were involved.
And as I’ve waxed lyrical about before, Sasha Banks and Bayley have had some vicious matches over the past year that have included the use of the steel ring steps and the LED screens at the entrance, so it’s not like women’s wrestling in WWE is completely sanitised.
But, for fans who’ve kept watching through 30-second matches, Playboy pillow fights and bra and panties matches, we were under the impression that the so-called #DivasRevolution would have come with longer matches, diverse feuds and compelling storylines.
Instead of utilising one of the most talented women’s rosters in the history of WWE, though, they’ve cobbled together a lacklustre tag team match to further a lukewarm feud between its competitors that fans stopped caring about months ago.
Graphic designer Kate Foray has been examining just how much screen time is dedicated to women wrestlers over the past year in her weekly Raw Breakdown Project, now available as an annual report. She asserts that, based on her research, “the #DivasRevolution was a band aid attempt at marketing actual changes within WWE and how they treat [women wrestlers].
“[Previously], the average percentage of time dedicated to the women’s division was 4.8%,” Foray says. “We had an increase thereafter for a few months, but it slowly tapered off again by early 2016. Even the introduction of the women’s title didn’t do much to raise the time dedicated to the [division]. In recent weeks, the average time dedicated to the women’s division has been in the 4% range.”
Granted, female Superstars only make up roughly 16% of WWE’s active main roster, but female fans make up 36% of their total audience and they are sick of seeing little more than lip service being paid to the women’s wrestling revolution in the biggest and most influential wrestling company in the world.
This is not to mention the large number of male fans who wish to see more women’s wrestling. With indie wrestling companies doing more to break ground for women in the sport, WWE had better understand what their fans want to see quick smart or we’ll be leaving in droves to watch women wrestlers be given the opportunities they deserve.