Welcome to Spandexless Saturday. It’s freezing outside, so why not spend your early Sabado in the warm snuggie of stately Beat Manor. Every Saturday at 10am PST we’ll put down the comics in order to show-off early video games, do top 10 lists, or just talk about something random. This week, I’ve chosen something out of the random topic pile. So enjoy my pitch for an all woman WWE Royal Rumble match.
In 2016, women in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) were in several of Monday Night Raw’s main events, Pay-per-Views, and magazine covers for which you didn’t need to be 18 to buy. Even the violent attraction matches like Hell in The Cell and –put your opponent through a table– were taken on by female performers more than ready to prove they could captivate an audience just as well as their male counterparts.
With Wrestlemania season set to kick off in a few weeks at the Royal Rumble in Texas, this feels like the right time to start asking for an all-woman version of the most edge of your seat match WWE will have all year.
First, let’s talk about something you may not admit to anymore. Being a fan of professional wrestling. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with it myself. Odd as it might be, watching wrestling on TV was one of the very few things my entire family could stand to be in the same room for. Maybe it was seeing off-the-wall characters like the Ultimate Warrior sprint to the ring or catching what this week’s WTF Stone Cold Steve Austin moment would be. WHAT!
No matter what you thought of the product, there was no denying parts of it had tremendous entertainment value. It also undoubtedly objectified women to varying degrees. Most cases relegated them to arm candy accessories who once in a blue moon would actually compete in an athletic wrestling match. Sure there were bright spots like Fabulous Moola or Trish and Lita, but it’s hard to argue most roles of women in WWE were eye roll moments when it came to how they showcased and treated them. My how times have changed. Today the most violent sport, UFC, and sports-entertainment are the ones making headway into normalizing legitimate female competitive sports outside the Olympics as well…engaging money making entertainment. Sure, the WNBA has been around for some time now, but it’s never going to have the panache or crowd-drawing power of these other things. WWE had a year that felt like an evolutionary leap in this regard. At last year’s WrestleMania, the company erased the “Diva” label from their female talent and began conventionalizing them in with the men as “Superstars”. It feels like the right time to complete the calendar cycle with the upcoming Royal Rumble.
The Royal Rumble match itself is where 30 WWE Superstars “compete” in an over the top rope battle royal for the chance to headline April’s WrestleMania mega PPV in a match for the heavyweight title (or Universal Title). Rumble starts with 2 men battling in the ring and every 90 seconds a new competitor enters until 29 dudes, who are all hopefully Brawny Stroganoff, have been eliminated by being thrown over the top rope and both feet touching the floor. It’s more than just a typical battle royal with some added stipulations, this is where fantasy encounters briefly happen, stories we’ll see for months first develop, surprise entrants drive the crowd nuts. In 2016; the entire world, who’d read the internet, knew independent wrestling darling AJ Styles was going to debut in WWE. When the crowd got his entrance at number 3; the reaction in the arena was still deafening like thunder rattling off of a metal trash can your head is stuck in. Most people would agree the Royal Rumble match is one of the few remaining truly special things for WWE.
Can we get a Royal Rumble where this new crop of legitimate women wrestlers is allowed a shot at stealing the show? Probably not this year, but it’s good to have a dream WWE can patronize us with much like a coach handing a little league participation trophy to the kid with glasses and asthma. After all, it took some time for WWE to properly utilize its new crop of female talent and cultivate the majority of its audience to follow the internet wrestling community’s lead into seeing women’s wrestling as more than just a moment for a bathroom break. Throughout 2016, women’s matches even went as far as to save some lackluster pay per view events WWE had not properly built up hype to garner maximum audience attention (I’m looking at you No Mercy). In order to continue this acceptance and making legit women’s wrestling the norm, WWE needs to go all in. Give the ladies a Royal Rumble match of their own. A shot at a build-up to a WrestleMania main event that has a chance at getting people excited enough to be a show closer on the biggest stage. That’s best for business!
Striking while the iron is hot is logical, especially for a company targeting a growing female demographic. However, simply putting women in a production like the Royal Rumble match isn’t a simple cut-and-paste job. A few rule changes would have to be made in order to avoid this feeling like glorified marshmallow fluff. While the men’s roster has the required amount of bodies for a 30 man match, the women haven’t reached that number and would thus have to limit the match to 20 participants (also helps keep the PPV time under 3hrs). Even with risktakers like Charlotte and Sasha Banks, not all the female talent are capable of safely taking the bump of being thrown over a top rope and hitting the floor in often cringe-worthy ways. In order to aid this problem, “any competitor is eliminated when they go over the bottom rope and both feet touch the floor”. It just gives the women more room to maneuver and pull off creative saves or eliminations. Plus how many women is it going to take to get Nia Jax? There’s only a limited number of times Nia can charge at someone holding down the top rope before she goes from powerhouse monster to slapstick comedian.
There’s never been a more robust roster of talented women wrestlers. The daughter of Nature Boy Ric Flair, Charlotte, is a unique genetic specimen that has pulled off feats of athletic prowess even some Olympian gymnasts would have problems with. She’s just the tip of the spear; look at the talent of a Sasha Banks who takes hits that look like they have the force of a wrecking ball demolishing an abandoned house.
There’s the charismatic Bayley, technician ass-kicker Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax, Carmella, Natalya, and a growing handful of others who could round out a 20 person match roster. Don’t forget when you need surprise entrants there’s a small well of talent WWE could draw from such as the likes of Japanese sensation Asuka in NXT or raid any of the women who currently compete in Lucha Underground. That’s a show executive produced on El Rey Network by Robert Rodriguez and they’ve been utilizing their female gladiators in some of the most brutal wrestling seen on television, sometimes even against male competitors. LU has even gone so far as to legit have a woman as its heavyweight champion or you know as legit as scripted television can get.
I like wrestling, I might dare say I love it. For all the awful stigmas its rightfully deserved at times, it’s also created memorable moments that give those who wouldn’t have anything else in common a reason to talk to one another. In an age where audiences feel like they’ve already seen it all and can just about predict wrestling’s script word for word, giving women a chance to do the damn thing at the Rumble feels like the next logical step.
Also, BOOM! Studios I want a Sasha Banks and Bayley team-up comic where they go Pokemon hunting or fight the Power Rangers. Sorry, getting away from comics is hard.
(Note: The gifs come by way of Wrestling Giffer over on Tumblr. Check out all the awesome gifs posted every week at http://wrestling-giffer.tumblr.com)
Do you like the new women’s era of WWE and want to see it go further? Or would you rather go back to the days of bra-and-panties matches? Or are you still going to act like you’ve never watched wrestling?