Jamie Lithgow, Padraic Toolan & Brian Damage
With WWE just days away from presenting their first ever all woman pay per view event, it is only apt that in today’s Top Five we look at our favourite female-centric moments from the company’s history.
5. Chyna enters the Royal Rumble
Ah yes, Chyna. Probably the most notable of WWE’s ‘forgotten’ female stars. I feel like most of her accomplishments are overlooked or understated because, to her credit, she was so credible and natural in the men’s world that was WWE in the late 90s that it really wasn’t a huge surprise to see her enter the Royal Rumble or win the Intercontinental Title. As a teenager I totally bought her as someone who could kick the ass of most anybody, male or female. Thus, when she won a battle royal comprising of DX and Corporation members to win a spot in the 1999 Royal Rumble there was a certain level of surprise, until I computed in my head and realised that it made total sense because she was way more over than most of the men that would enter the Rumble.
4. Molly Holly vs Victoria at Wrestlemania XX
Two great wrestlers and two great characters in a great match. It’s just a shame that the women’s ranks were so thin on the ground in 2004 that we basically just had these guys plus Trish and Lita, hence they were fighting an uphill battle in terms of sustainability. I love this match because it was probably the first women’s match I saw with a stipulation over and above ‘just’ being a title match. This was for the title, but Molly also put her hair on the line too. Finally, a hook, a reason, for the masses to invest in a women’s match beyond the hope of them getting enough time to construct a good match. That they did, plus Molly got her head shaved to create a ‘Wrestlemania moment’. At the time this felt less like a typical women’s wrestling match and more like a wrestling match consisting of two women.
3. Trish Stratus vs Lita from Raw on December 6th 2004
Two women main eventing Raw without Stephanie McMahon feeding her ego by announcing it to a live crowd? Yes, this really happened. Unfortunately, the most memorable thing from this match was probably Lita somehow not breaking her neck on a suicide dive. That aside, this was a milestone moment because it made sense. This was the hot feud at the time, it reached an apex and therefore it got to main event the show. Logical booking, but this was the first time it had happened with two women.
2. Bertha Faye, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe, and Lioness Asuka vs.Alundra Blayze, Kyoko Inoue, Sakie Hasegawa and Chaparita Asari at Survivor Series 1995
A random choice for my number two, but I have my reasons. Actually, just one; this match was bloody brilliant! For me this was next to the main event as the best match on this show. I’d rank it as one of the better WWE matches in 1995 and easily on of the best Survivor Series elimination matches ever too. What boggles my mind is that this was in 1995 and it still stands up today. How many men’s WWE matches from 23 years ago can say that?!
1. Sasha Banks vs Bayley at Takeover: Respect
Why it was not billed as an ‘Iron Woman Match’ still baffles me, but whatever I guess. Anyway, this is probably my favourite ironman/woman match. Up to this point I personally saw women’s wrestling as a division within WWE or NXT, not unlike tag teams or cruiserweights. However, after Sasha and Bayley headlined a pay per view-esque event and tore the house down I was in no doubt that women don’t just belong in a ‘division’, they are half the show and just as eligible and capable of main eventing the whole thing. Just think about the pressure Sasha and Bayley would have been feeling beforehand and how they must have felt afterwards having exceeded already high expectations.
5. Bull Nakano vs. Alundra Blayze for the WWF Women’s Championship at SummerSlam 1994
One of the first instances of the WWF taking women’s wrestling seriously. Alundra Blayze had won a six-woman tournament to win the newly-reactivated WWF Women’s Championship in 1993. It had been deactivated in 1990. After winning the title, Blayze, a known lobbyist for women’s equality in wrestling and in general, asked Vince McMahon to bring in new women for her to feud with, and Vince actually obliged. Bull Nakano was brought in from Japan and Luna Vachon stopped being a valet of Bam Bam Bigelow. Nakano and Blayze had an eight-minute match that was given 3 1/4 stars in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. We all know that Blayze left the WWF shortly after and what the women’s division devolved into afterwards. It’s a shame, because this match, which is not as nearly revered as it should be, was one of the first to show what women could really do if given the chance. And they certainly were given the chance, almost 10 minutes on the 2nd-biggest show of the year.
4. Becky Lynch kicks Edge off of his own show
I know this only happened last week, but other than Charlotte telling off her father, can you think of any other time a woman has talked to a legend this way? I think it speaks volumes to the faith WWE has in Becky. At that moment, she was the biggest star in the ring, and it wasn’t even close. And it also speaks volumes that Edge did that segment. Imagine asking Roddy Piper to come back and do Piper’s Pit and have a woman tell him get out of her ring and not break his hip on the way out. To me, the few words that Becky spoke told an epic story about where the division stands, where she stands, and WWE understanding that a woman is the most popular performer they have right now.
3. Charlotte and Sasha headline Hell in a Cell 2016
Women’s Championship matches were traditionally placed somewhere in the middle of the card. On October 30, 2016, Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho fought in a Hell in a Cell match for the WWE Universal Championship… in the middle of the card. And it was not a throwaway match. It went almost 25 minutes. Then there was a Cruiserweight Championship match and a Tag Team Championship match leading up to the main event: a Hell in a Cell match for the Raw Women’s Championship. Not only were two women going to wrestle inside Hell in a Cell for the first time ever, they were going to main event the show. It wasn’t the best or craziest Hell in a Cell match, but it was solid, and two women had just main evented a WWE main roster PPV. It happened, nobody revolted, and ratings didn’t drop. Instead, people loved it. It opens doors for it to happen again in the future, possibly at WrestleMania.
2. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley, Iron Man match for the NXT Women’s Championship at NXT TakeOver: Respect
The first women’s match to main event a PPV in NXT or WWE. It set a bar that has still yet to be reached. It’s still one of the best matches I’ve ever seen. They gave those two the ball and they ran with it, all the way from before TakeOver: Brooklyn to TakeOver: Respect and beyond. To me, this was the defining Four Horsewomen of NXT moment, and the moment that truly told us that the Women’s Revolution is here.
1. The Divas Championship is re-christened into the Women’s Championship at WlestleMania 32
They were finally shedding the “divas” label once and for all. No more humiliating matches, no more bathroom break matches (at least intentionally), the WOMEN are here to stay. This was long overdue, and long-demanded by the WWE Universe. This was the WWE’s “crossing the Rubicon” moment with the division. There’s no going back after this, and nobody would ever want them to. Women in WWE have traveled a long and hard road, and while many of the divas era are and should be proud of the their accomplishments, this should be their proudest.
5. Miss Elizabeth Debuts
While Elizabeth was no wrestler in any shape or form, her debuting on WWF television as Mach Man Randy Savage’s valet/manager really did change the course of how WWF/WWE fans viewed women. Never before had women looked and acted like her. She was truly WWF royalty at the time with both beauty and grace.
4. The Spider Lady defeats Wendi Richter
We’ve already discussed this incident in greater detail on the blog, but it is well worth mentioning again. This was indeed one of the orginal screw jobs in WWE history. Richter was rivaling in popularity to Hulk Hogan with the help of music star Cyndi Lauper. Moolah couldn’t accept that and needed her spotlight back on her. It certainly proved that The Fabulous Moolah. as great as she was in the ring, was just as sneaky and conniving behind the scenes.
3. Lita and Trish Stratus Main Event Monday Night Raw
This shouldn’t be overlooked at all. Having two women main event Raw at the time was an extremely big deal. Lita and Trish were the two top women wrestlers of that era and their match did not disappoint whatsoever. It proved that women could carry a match and an important match.
2. Chyna wins the Intercontinental title
This was yet another monumental occurrence not only for women, but for the entire WWE. They certainly broke the mold when Chyna debuted in WWE and having the trust of Vince McMahon to hold such a prestigious title was and still is a big deal.
1. The Four Horsewomen
Who knows what would have been if Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Charlotte Flair and Bayley hadn’t been brought into NXT. The four women opened up many eyes in WWE management that women’s wrestling could sell. The NXT fans made sure of that by being invested into their matches and deservedly so. The Four Horsewomen were as good as advertised broke down doors that otherwise would have remained slightly ajar.
You can read all previous Top Five pieces here.