Feature Article

Please WWE, Do Not Turn The First Women's Royal Rumble Into A Joke

Do it right.

The December 18 episode of WWE Raw closed with Stephanie McMahon making a historic announcement: For the first time in history, there will be a women's over-the-top-rope battle royal at The Royal Rumble. The winner will get a title shot at WrestleMania.

In just three years, WWE women's wrestling has grown by leaps and bounds. There have been so many firsts. Two women main evented a pay-per-view for the first time in 2015; that match was also the first women's Iron Man match. The first women's Hell in a Cell match was in 2016. The first women's Money in the Bank ladder match was in 2017.

Each of these firsts was crucial, because it set a standard for future Superstars to pursue. For this reason, the first women's Royal Rumble must be a serious athletic competition all the way through. Play it straight. There is no room or time for "humorous" skits on this occasion.

These matches are more than an affirmation of what is current; they are also a course correction to how WWE treated women in the past. And I'm not talking about the bra and panties matches and dog barking segments, which were close to two decades ago; I'm talking about less than three years ago, when women's matches were the bathroom break of the show. The average women's match at the time was 3-5 minutes--nowhere near long enough to tell a decent story. WWE fans, generally speaking, were irritated and bored, but they put up with it. Everyone, the company included, seemed to have a defeatist "it is what it is" attitude about the whole situation.

But on February 23, 2015, there was a tag match on Raw between Paige/Emma and The Bella Twins that lasted approximately 30 seconds. Paige and Emma were the shining stars of the women's division in NXT. And fans were upset. The hashtag #GiveDivasAChance trended on social media, and the backlash forced WWE to consider an overdue notion: that on a three-hour show, the female wrestlers deserved a match that was longer than their collective entrances.

Since then, things have improved greatly. Now, the Cruiserweights are the bathroom break of the show (which could fill an entire editorial by itself). And the women have compelling storylines and excellent matches. To use a recent example, the Paige vs. Sasha Banks match on the December 4 Raw was the highlight of the entire show.

The company has gained a dedicated female audience--one that cosplays as its favorite characters, pays money to see the live shows, and subscribes to the Network. WWE needs to cater to that audience, specifically.

No Stupid Jokes

At WrestleMania XXV, there was a Divas battle royal, the winner of which would be crowned Miss WrestleMania. WWE invited Divas from years past -- Sunny, Molly Holly, and Torrie Wilson--to make this a nostalgia fest.

WWE mucked it up in two ways. One, they made the Divas enter the ring as part of a Kid Rock performance. There were no individual entrances, which would allow fans to celebrate each woman's participation. And two, they had Santino Marella win the title of Miss WrestleMania by coming to the ring dressed as a woman.

Imagine if WWE attempted something similar for the first women's Royal Rumble. What if Tyler Breeze came to the ring dressed as a woman? Even if he didn't win the entire thing--even if the women collectively threw him out of the ring together--it's still wasting a spot that a female wrestler deserves, for a retrograde comedy bit that's not worth the effort.

No Match-Altering Interference

This year was the first women's Money in the Bank ladder match. It should have been a landmark occasion in WWE history, a chance to create a highlight reel moment for years to come. Instead, WWE Creative had James Ellsworth climb the ladder and drop the briefcase to Carmella. To put it more bluntly: In a match that was marketed as empowering to women, a man was the one who secured the victory.

The backlash was swift, and WWE redid the match on SmackDown; this time, Carmella won the briefcase on her own. But by then, the damage was done. And even though Carmella still has the briefcase, nobody cares anymore, and nobody takes her seriously. Hopefully, WWE has learned its lesson; whoever wins the Royal Rumble needs to have stood on her own two feet to get there.

Years from now, when the women are more firmly established, outside interference in the Rumble might work. But for this first one? The winner needs to be non-controversial and legitimate.

Have A Full-Time Superstar Win The Match

Over the next several weeks, writers and bloggers will speculate on which WWE legends will enter the rumble--Trish Stratus; Lita; Alundra Blayze. They'll also speculate about which non-wrestlers will enter the rumble--Ronda Rousey; Cris Santos. They would all be wonderful surprises, and their participation would undoubtedly draw interest.

But none of these women should actually win the entire thing.

Imagine if Mr. T won the first male Royal Rumble. This women's match needs to highlight and celebrate the full-time talent, rather than being a celebrity vehicle. A Rousey or Cyborg victory might pop the fans and get some mainstream news coverage. But unless Rousey or Cyborg is committed to working WWE's full-time schedule, a victory would be a short term gain for a long term loss. What will Charlotte Flair''s multiple title reigns and Asuka's undefeated streak be reduced to if Rousey can simply waltz in and armbar her way to victory?

Establish a respectability and history the women can be proud of. And then, decades from now, they'll call back to that history instead of reinventing it all over again.

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Avatar image for dragonsama
dragonsama

I'd like to see them bring in Gail Kim. She's probably one of the best wrestlers or all time and considering the way they treated women when she was Vs what they are doing now it would be a great comeback story.

Avatar image for Blk_Mage_Ctype
Blk_Mage_Ctype

Sadly, I don't think it's possible for the WWE Women's Division Royal Rumble to satisfy everyone, and I'm pretty sure that even if they played it uncharacteristically super straight with no skits, no interruptions, and no nonsense in which the referee becomes spontaneously incompetent missing every illegal move, folks would still find a reason to nitpick it.

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HalfOfMe07

"Serious athletic competition"? Haaaaaa! Yeah, it should be treated as "seriously" as a men's event. But come on, dude.

Avatar image for ohnoitseleven
OhNoItsEleven

To be fair, you complain about the past when wwe wasn't taking women's wrestling seriously, but a lot of the women weren't taking wrestling seriously, they were using the company to get noticed and further their modelling career. Yes there were standouts who worked hard, but they were a minority. I do hope they book this seriously though. It's great to see the women get some recognition, just a shame some amazing performers like Trish and lita (and a lot of others) aren't still there to take advantage of it.

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spartanx169x

@ohnoitseleven: You do undersatand all of it is completely totally fake and scripted, right?

Avatar image for jasperwest
JasperWest

@spartanx169x: I don't watch wrestling at all, but even I know it's not fake. It's 100% authentic for what it's trying to be. It's a stage show, a broadway show, a tv show. It's not trying to be wrestling. It's a crazy show about crazy supernatural men and women with sometimes literal superpowers. It's a tv show pretending to be a authentic wrestling competition.

Avatar image for hiphipjorge9
hiphipjorge9

@spartanx169x: Game of Thrones is fake too. So is Walking Dead. That doesn’t stop millions of people from watching, enjoying and speculating on upcoming episodes. The fact that wrestling is fake and scripted is the most impressive thing about it.

Avatar image for spartanx169x
spartanx169x

@hiphipjorge9: Game of Thrones and walking dead don't try to pretend to be reality. A fair comparison would be Keeping of with the Kardashians or The housewives of Atlanta or duck dynasty or other fake reality shows, because all of those are also scripted. And they all are just as terrible because they all pretend to be real and none of them are. But hey if you enjoy it thats what counts.

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Archangel3371

Yeah I hope they don’t mess this up with any antics like they did with the first women’s money in the bank match.

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Xero_Kaiser

With all the hand wringing going on in this article, you'd think something important was about to happen.

Avatar image for dragonsama
dragonsama

@saifur77: says the guy on the Video Game website! ever hear of hypocrisy? It seams you are a shining example of it!

Avatar image for hiphipjorge9
hiphipjorge9

@saifur77: Star Wars is fake too.

Avatar image for BruceWayneJr
BruceWayneJr

If you think WWE will do right by these women or any minority wrestler they employ, then you're more delusional than Vince "Genetic Jackhammer" McMahon.

Avatar image for RedWave247
RedWave247

The problem with the women's division is all the goodwill that was built up through the absolutely brilliant NXT women's division was flushed down the toilet once they reached the main roster.

In NXT, each woman had a distinct character and was given time to be fleshed out and connect with the audience.

Once they got called up, they just joined the ranks with the rest of the women as disposable, bland, and all with basically the same personalities. And WWE seems obsessed with putting as many on screen as possible every week, with six-woman tag matches, or overbooked angles involving multiple women at once. Combine that with 50/50 booking and trading wins & losses to the point that no one is really put over strong (same with literally everyone on the roster these days except Brock Lesnar and maybe Braun Strowman) and you have a bland division that pales in comparison to what they built it up to be in NXT.

Avatar image for samurai1313
Samurai1313

Asuka! Or io shirai

Avatar image for dragonsama
dragonsama

@samurai1313: Io Shirai would be amazing. Or just Bring Kairi Sane up right now!

Avatar image for samurai1313
Samurai1313

@dragonsama: i thought they were in nxt?

Avatar image for khelandros
khelandros

If Nia Jax doesn't win this thing, I will start to believe wrestling is a predetermined fake product.

Avatar image for weFest0507
weFest0507

The future is female Kevin Wong. I hope you get replaced by a woman.

Avatar image for DEATHWlSH
DEATHWlSH

I wouldn't worry about it. Womens wrestling is already a joke, especially in WWE.

Avatar image for MindTricked
MindTricked

You're 100% dead-on about this. On Raw, they were saying it's going to be a full 30 participants, which is surprising, as I was SURE they were going for 20. Because of this, there's going to be some dead time (with lesser-known NXT entrants, I'd think), so they're going to have to be REALLY careful how they book this. A full-timer should definitely win it, and there should be ZERO male interference.

The WWE will find some way to screw this up, though.

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phrasesound

When articles about NASCAR are coming???

Avatar image for Genchild
Genchild

@phrasesound: Why is anyone talking about this. Why is any of this happening?! Oh God no I'm part of it. I've contributed. Shame on both of us.