Wrestling was a way of life in my house growing up. Some families watch telenovelas or soap operas together. We do the same in my family…just with added spandex and pyrotechnics.
I spent so many Saturday mornings on my dad’s knee watching and being mesmerized by the (definitely scripted) stories and the (definitely real) athleticism. Forget Barbie, Miss Elizabeth was a real-life version of a doll in my eyes. Looking back, I now realize that she was “arm candy” and nothing more.
As I grew up, the women were known more for their lingerie “matches” and Playboy centerfolds. It was disheartening to say the least. More importantly, it was an introduction to a world that didn’t value women as equals. I stopped watching wrestling during my teenage years.
I scoffed when my husband told me he watched wrestling, but he exclaimed that things were different. I watched the likes of Lita and Trish Stratus with him – women who were as athletic as they were beautiful. As they wrestled a historical main event on a show I grew up watching, I really believed that there was a chance for equality.
That match, unfortunately, was the exception to the norm as the past reared its ugly head. In between filler matches, I saw way too many oversexualized costume contests. I started to give up again as the company searched to find the next “diva” that they’d give their butterfly-shaped championship belt to.
After a match that took less than thirty seconds of a three hour show, the hashtag #givedivasachance was born and changed the face of professional wrestling forever. As time went on, we were introduced to the “Four Horsewomen” – Becky Lynch, Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Charlotte Flair – who paved the path of opportunity for many others. Little girls watching wrestling now have real role models and young men like my son can realize that women are capable of doing anything that men can do.
During this year’s Wrestlemania (a family tradition), I watched my favorite wrestler, Nia Jax, overcome bullying based on her size to win her first championship. After decades of watching everyone else get theirs, I finally saw someone just like me be given their chance to live out a dream. The road to equality certainly has taken a long time in the world of professional wrestling, but I believe we are finally there.
Stephanie McMahon, Chief Brand Officer for the WWE, has lived through every era of women’s wrestling. Therefore, it was only fitting that she was the one that announced that on October 28, WWE will hold its first ever all women’s pay-per-view, aptly named Evolution.
As she continued to mention that the show would feature more than fifty women from the past, present, and future of the business, I got chills and tears came to my eyes. Over thirty years of watching glorified bathroom breaks and grotesque gender inequality have led to this.
That wide-eyed little girl is ready. That frustrated teenager is ready. This proud fan AND woman is ready. Then. Now. Forever.