We are slowly approaching WrestleMania 38, a two-night event where night one will have two big and important women’s matches: Ronda Rousey vs Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch vs Bianca Belair. Last year, Bianca and Sasha Banks main evented night one of WrestleMania 37. But things were not always this way, a fact you can see by reading “The Women of WrestleMania” by Jason Norris, editor of “Women Love Wrestling”.
The concept of the book is to present the history of women at WrestleMania, from 1 to 37, with stats. Each chapter starts with an introduction to the era of WrestleMania, then it goes through each event with big picture thoughts and what women did on said event, alongside the backstory to what took them there. Not only does it focus on wrestlers, but also valets and any woman involved in the event. Between the eras of WrestleMania chapters, there are biographies of the eras most important contributors.
It is always my thought that WrestleMania can be seen as a snapshot of WWF/E during that year for the fact that what they present at the event is what they think it’s important and their best foot forward. Using that logic, we can see what WWF/E thought of the role of women during that year and different eras.
From WrestleMania 1 to 3, we can see an era focused on Fabulous Moolah and her control over the title and women’s wrestling presentation. Then we have a period where while it did not feature women’s matches, a woman was the center of it all: Miss Elizabeth. It was on her shoulder to be at the center of the Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage feud and Savage vs. Ric Flair, while having important moments at those shows. Women matches during this period were only on intergender tags.
When Elizabeth left, the valets started to get involved in matches. Slowly but surely, by 1998 the WWF/E brought back the Women’s title and it took a long time before they started taking women’s wrestling seriously at WrestleMania. With the exception of Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James at WrestleMania 22, the next big match was a Triple Threat between Becky Lynch, Sasha, and Charlotte at WrestleMania 32. The period in between were either short matches or battle royales used to calm down the audience before the next big match or to titillate. While WrestleMania 31 had the big Ronda Rousey intergender tag match, it was from Wrestlemania 32 onwards where we can see WWE putting effort into having important women’s title matches at the event.
This book is not only the history of women at WrestleMania, but a tribute and celebration to the contribution of women to WWF/E. Things have not always been good in the company for women, and when things seem to get better the company always manages to take a step back, but at least the women know that the fans are watching and appreciate them. Some fans might make fun of what are sometimes called “Diva stans”, but they are still fans and part of the reason they are so hardcore is because they want the wrestlers to be respected and get their due.
If you are a fan of WWE women’s wrestling and want to know a year-over-year overview of their role at WrestleMania and the company, Norris did a good job summarizing their contributions to the event while providing his own insights and personal WrestleMania experience in what is a fun read.