Women's Division: Evolution of women's wrestling in WWE over the years

Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch will meet inside Hell in a Cell.
Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch will meet inside Hell in a Cell.
Modified 19 Sep 2019

With the confirmation that Sasha Banks will compete against Becky Lynch in the second-ever Hell in a Cell match between two women, which will also be Sasha's second, (after her spectacular match with Charlotte Flair in October of 2016), it's prudent to discuss just how far women's wrestling has come in the past few decades.

Medusa, who was entered into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2015 as her WWE personality Alundra Blayze, infamously trashed the title belt on an episode on Monday Nitro in 1995, WWE decided to put the Championship back to sleep only 2 years after it had been brought out of the mothballs. It would be a non-entity until it returned in late 1998 and has been part of WWE's Championship lineup ever since.

The Championship has featured a lot of ups and downs in the last twenty-plus years, being defended in "evening gown" matches, to hardcore matches, and everything in between. The same can be said for the women of WWE, who for many years were treated as objects, even into the mid-2000s, when them being treated as 'eye candy' in segments was considered more important than Women's Championship defenses.

However you, as an indivdual fan, may feel about women's professional wrestling, there is a lot of great talent across the world, and there has been for many years - from Japan to back all the way across the planet to North America. In WWE, the Women's Evolution (or, originally, Women's Revolution) has been prevalent for just over 3 years. There's no sign of it slowing down. WWE now has gone back to the two-title formula (one for RAW and one for SmackDown, which was the case from 2008 through 2010 when the Divas Title was created) and they crowned Women's Tag Team Champions in early 2019. Women's wrestling is alive and well in WWE. Let us proceed with a brief history lesson to show just how far the women have come.

The early years (Fabulous Moolah and Early WWF)

Wendi Richter, who famously defeated Fabulous Moolah in 1984.
Wendi Richter, who famously defeated Fabulous Moolah in 1984.

In 1956, The Fabulous Moolah began a so-called 28-year-long championship reign when she won a battle royal for the vacant NWA Women's Championship. She was crowned champion and would defend the title over the next nearly 3 decades. Moolah did indeed lose the title on a few occasions, never for more than a few weeks, and in modern history (since Vince McMahon bought the WWF from his father, essentially) those title changes have been expunged from the record books in order to claim that Moolah held the title, uninterrupted, for 28 years.

Moolah, though her public image has been tarnished since her death due to many allegations of the abuse of other wrestlers coming to light, has been held up as the standard-bearer for women's professional wrestling. She did some great things, most notably becoming the first woman to wrestle inside Madison Square Garden on July 1, 1972. You would have to do some searching to find that her opponent that night, therefore rightfully sharing that honor, was Vicki Williams.

Vince McMahon integrated Moolah's Women's Championship into the WWF in 1983. Thanks to the efforts of the outstanding young wrestler Wendi Richter, alongside famous wrestling Manager "Captain" Lou Albano and popular (then, and now) pop singer Cyndi Lauper, the title gained mainstream popularity alongside the WWF, and, despite some controversy, spent the next few years as a fairly popular championship thanks to wrestlers such as Richter, Sherri Martel, Leilani Kai, Velvet McIntyre, Rockin' Robin, and others. It would be vacated, and went inactive, in 1990 when then-champion, Rockin' Robin, left the WWF.

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Published 19 Sep 2019
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