A month ago, WWE’s Becky Lynch spoke with Featured Cut of The Day about the growth of the women’s division in WWE.
Lynch said that Triple H (Paul Levesque) played a huge role and made sure women were represented fairly and equally on NXT. “Always made sure we were represented on NXT with great stories, with time, with opportunity. And it just grew from there, and it was a spark. I think once we proved that we could hang with the guys, and we could steal the show.”
When asked about the difference between the women’s division in WWE and AEW, Lynch said, “They don’t get as much time as we get, and frankly, they’re as not good as we are.”
July 13, 2015, on an episode of Raw, in storyline, then-Diva’s Champion Nikki Bella claimed to the live crowd that there weren’t any challengers left for her to face. Stephanie McMahon came out and would coin the now-famous term “Women’s Revolution.” McMahon then introduced the future: Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and then-NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks.
It was the beginning of a new era in WWE for women. WWE would spend the next several years reimagining the Women’s Division in WWE. WWE got rid of the term “Diva” along with the butterfly-shaped Championship Belt.
The Four Horsewomen—Lynch, Flair, Banks, Bayley—went on to main event PPV and WrestleMania.
WWE no longer booked women in “Bra and Panties” matches, or soap opera storylines involving Vince McMahon cheating on his wife with Sable or Torrie Wilson. WWE management would now hire women wrestlers from the independent scene and not models. You would no longer have to see so-called Live Sex Celebrations like the one involving Lita and Edge—where Lita explained she was uncomfortable with the whole segment but did it regardless because WWE management threatened to fire her.
Although the media has credited Stephanie McMahon with the “Women’s Revolution,” one of the key people that asked for this change was former WWE Superstar AJ Lee (AJ Mendez). Mendez, on Twitter, replied to McMahon’s quote tweet of Patricia Arquette’s speech in the Oscars about women deserving equal pay and equal representation. Mendez’s series of tweets caught fire among the WWE fanbase who had been voicing their displeasure about a women’s tag going twenty-two seconds and was the only women’s match on the entire Raw show.
The hashtag #GiveDivasAChance trended worldwide and put pressure on the company to make some changes.
AJ Mendez, who had faced sexism within the company a la John Laurinaitis telling her she “was unf—kable,” is deserving of credit for these seven years.
WWE had televised a revolution.
Now, they are dismantling it every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday.
Ember Moon/Athena is one of many wrestlers that were fired by the company in November. Athena gave an interview on Insight With Chris Van Vilet about her departure, and the changes that were taking place when Paul Levesque stepped away due to medical reasons. Athena said that women talent would sit in meeting on how to dress sexy:
“We would have to sit through stupid meetings about how we’d have to dress sexy. I remember looking at someone else (and laughing). I cater to children. I’m not about to wear fishnet booty buttcheek shorts because we had a two-hour meeting about how to dress like Mandy Rose. That’s not fair. Mandy is absolutely phenomenal and an amazing person, but not everyone is Mandy Rose.”
NXT 2.0 is an upgrade from the earlier NXT, apparently. But its ratings and quality say otherwise.
In fact, NXT 2.0 is a regression to how WWE had treated women before the Women’s Revolution.
With Vince McMahon’s new decree of no longer hiring indie wrestlers, WWE is shifting its focus to athletic, six-foot men, and athletic pretty women who can be models and are in their early 20’s.
The gimmick of one of the NXT characters is the rich, posh, blonde, white girl that says “Daddy” a lot. Her name is Tiffany Stratton, a character that would’ve existed in the late 1990s and early 2000s WWF/WWE programming.
The stable Toxic Attraction (Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin, Jacy Jane) have segments where they’re in their bikinis and strike lewd poses while the film crew is filming them. Their gimmick is the Mean Girl clique from high school (but considering who’s running creative I doubt Vince or Bruce Prichard have seen the cult classic Lindsay Lohan movie Mean Girls).
Saree’s (Sarray in NXT) gimmick is the schoolgirl who magically transforms into a superhero. Please remember that creative is a group of old men who think this is how to attract a younger audience.
During her interview on AEW’s podcast Unrestricted, a fan asked Toni Storm about the pie-throwing segment she had with Charlotte on Smackdown, and if that was the last straw for her.
Toni said, “I was actually quite happy with that segment that day.” She said she had preferred that over the original idea.
The original idea was for Charlotte to strip Toni down to her bra and panties. Storm said she agreed with the idea because “… literally, people are being fired every single week, it’s like, ‘Well, yeah, I guess I’m comfortable with that.’”
However, WWE decided to change the segment because several people in creative pushed against it.
NXT 2.0 isn’t just developmental.
It is also the vision Vince McMahon has for the main roster.