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Women Steal the Show at Wrestlemania 32 With a New Title and the Match of the Night

Like legit bosses.

Charlotte with the new Women's title

For those of you who missed the Superbowl of wrestling, WWE’s Wrestlemania 32 on April 3, you honestly didn’t miss too much despite the event being five hours long (even longer if you watched the matches from the pre-show). The night’s matches were fine for what they were, but the problem was a lot of them weren’t the matches fans wanted to see. With an enormously lackluster main event, and match outcomes that did little to shake things up, this’ll definitely be remembered as one of the weaker Wrestlemanias of recent years.

Of course, there were several bright spots amidst the mediocrity, such as a fun ladder match, a solid performance between veterans AJ Styles and Chris Jericho, and some insane risks taken in the match between the Undertaker and the boss’s son, Shane McMahon. But the standout even for a lot of cynical fans was the three way match between Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks.

Before the women’s match even began, huge news came about for the female wrestlers near the start of the show. WWE Hall of Famer Lita came to the ring and addressed the crowd of over 100,000 about the new direction the division would be taking. This announcement came with the reveal of a revamped championship for the women, and the Divas Championship, emblazoned with its sparkly pink butterfly as seen below, was going to be retired.

Eve winning the Divas title

A new title was unveiled to take its place, simply referred to as the Women’s Championship (or at least new in design, since the Women’s title actually predates the Divas title). It’s basically the same as the World Championship that the men compete for, except for a different color scheme, but it’s undoubtedly a huge improvement over the butterfly belt.

Lita unveils new Women's Championship at Wrestlemania 32

Along with the rebranding of their title came a rebranding of what the female wrestlers were called. They would no longer be referred to as “divas” with all the dramatic, catty, high-maintenance connotations associated with the word. Lita announced the female wrestlers would be referred to as “superstars,” the same as their male peers, and while “superstars” has always sounded corny as well, and I would far rather the WWE just embrace calling their talent “wrestlers,” at least superstars is undeniably a word with positive connotations, so it’s a big step up over the women being “divas.”

The news for the female wrestlers didn’t stop there, as their first match of the night, a ten-woman tag match, actually broke the record for the longest women’s match to ever take place at Wrestlemania. The match itself was nothing extraordinary, however, and was quickly overshadowed by the Women’s Championship match later in the night.

On a night containing numerous matches unbefitting of Wrestlemania, the Women’s title match was one of the best matches, if not the best, of the night, and it was easily the best women’s match to ever happen at the pay-per-view. Though admittedly that second point is less impressive when you consider some of the previous candidates have been a pillow fight match sponsored by Playboy and a tag team evening gown match that devolved into the women fighting in their lingerie.

Wrestling fans have long memories, so the crowd remembered those sillier offerings of the past and knew the significance of the women putting on a pure wrestling match. The women in the match certainly remembered and knew their importance in changing that image. One of the competitors, Sasha Banks, has recalled how, as a girl, she knew she wanted to be a wrestler but was so embarrassed when her mom would see the women compete in bra and panties matches on TV. She shared her thoughts on the subject in an interview at Guide Live, saying:

“They would go back to doing the ‘bra and panties’ matches sometimes, and being a little girl, I’m like, ‘I don’t want to do that.’ So, I really looked up to the guys. I loved Eddie Guerrero. He was my favorite.”

And Sasha paid tribute to the late Eddie Guerrero at Wrestlemania 32 by wearing a ring gear similar to what Eddie used to wear. She made her entrance with her real life cousin Snoop Dogg performing her theme song live and went on to compete for over sixteen minutes in the triple threat match—a time which, for the second time that night, set a new record for the longest women’s match to ever occur at a Wrestlemania.

Sasha Banks frog splash at Wrestlemania 32

The match wasn’t without its flaws, but it was fast-paced and unpredictable, and the crowd was behind it. Charlotte ultimately won the affair, which was a letdown to the tons of fans who have wanted to see Sasha as champion for months, but it didn’t detract from being a great match that was praised by other wrestlers and fans alike. More important than the result is what the match signified: The WWE is serious about treating their female performers with respect.

That’s not to say everything is perfect now, or that the WWE doesn’t still slip up along the way (see The Rock’s appearance from a few months back, as well as the forced kiss between Ric Flair and Becky Lynch), but this is a pretty huge progress for the company, and it’s good to see them getting this right. There’s definitely more that would be great to see accomplished—like there’s no reason for the women not to have tag team championships to compete for like the men do. But I’m glad that it looks like young generations of wrestling fans being introduced to the WWE won’t have to see the rampant sexualization of the female talent that made me embarrassed to watch wrestling with my family when I was a kid.

In her interview with Guide Live, Sasha Banks commented on the barriers she broke at WWE’s training roster NXT, as she was poised to break more heading into Wrestlemania 32:

“[It’s] so exciting just because 10 years ago people called the women’s match a bathroom break. People paid for tickets to see that match, and I had to give them the show of my life. That’s exactly what I’m going to do at WrestleMania, too. I’m here to make a name for myself, and leave a statement.”

Sasha Banks and the rest of the women definitely accomplished the goal of making a statement. The women’s triple threat was easily better than the main event, and arguably the best match of the night. Now Wrestlemania 32 will be remembered as the night the women stole the show.

(images courtesy of WWE)

Chris Isaac is a Philadelphia writer and gamer who currently writes for Screen Rant. When he’s not busy writing in the third person, he does articles devoted to interviews with people in the game industry, offbeat essays, and generally things relating to feminism or geek culture. If you like those things, you should follow him on Twitter and he’ll fill your news feed with even more of those things.

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