More respect, less glare for female ‘wrestlers’

Results are pre-determined at WWE events but female performers are now doing more than just hair-pulling in the ring.

wwe women''s wrestling
The 18-minute title-decider was one of the best WWE had put on [WWE]

New York City, USA – Fans are booing as they leave the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and I’m one of them.

We’re not upset that Brock Lesnar lost to The Undertaker at WWE Summerslam. We are upset at the confusing manner in which it happened.

That’s the thing about wrestling fans. These days anybody over the age of eight knows that it’s all staged and acted out. WWE followers don’t treat it as sport. They know the results are pre-determined.

But they don’t like it when it doesn’t make sense.

That happened when Lesnar was distracted by the time-keeper ringing the bell and The Undertaker took advantage to win via submission. It confused and disappointed the 15,000 fans. Up until then, they had thoroughly enjoyed the story being told in the ring.

Where many matches can provide predictable endings, the crowd didn’t know who was going to win. And they had become emotionally invested.

Less than 24 hours earlier, the fans were going home happy. The WWE was running an additional show for their rising stars – NXT Takeover – and it was the women’s title-decider that stole the show.

In the past, I would fast-forward the women’s – or Divas as they’re called in the WWE – matches. I’d also use that opportunity at a live event to go get a drink. And I know I’m not alone. The male, 18-35 age group is a major demographic for the WWE. They would do the same.

Not anymore.

Since the hashtag #givedivasachance went viral last year, female wrestlers have been given longer matches on the flagship wrestling show Monday Night Raw. But beyond the hashtag, in NXT, the WWE has recently been signing females who want to be wrestlers and not models who try to wrestle.

They don’t want to ‘roll around on the floor and pull hair’ they want to showcase their skills and be on equal footing with the men.

The list includes Sasha Banks and Bayley who performed in the NXT Women’s title match. I’ve been a wrestling journalist, a commentator and ring announcer who has stood inside the ring and watched thousands of matches from the outside. Their 18-minute bout was brilliant, arguably one of the best I’ve seen.

They made an emotional connection with the 15,000 fans who were shouting and cheering throughout.

These women now aim to main-event RAW – the last time it happened was over a decade ago – or even be the star attraction for a pay-per-view show. That could potentially happen at their biggest annual event: Wrestlemania.

The undefeated Ronda Rousey is revolutionising women’s Mixed Martial Arts in the UFC. She’s a huge WWE fan and after making an appearance earlier this year, there are rumours that she could compete at Wrestlemania in Dallas next April.

That would be a huge box-office draw.

Wrestling has been termed as fake. But I’ve seen the performers putting in the hard work and suffering injuries from up close.

But if wrestling is good enough for Rousey, it’s good enough for me. I wouldn’t want to argue with her.

The UFC Strawweight Champion Ronda Rousey is rumoured to be part of the next Wrestlemania edition [Getty Images]
The UFC Strawweight Champion Ronda Rousey is rumoured to be part of the next Wrestlemania edition [Getty Images]
Source: Al Jazeera