The WWE is known for a lot of things in 2019. Most recently, the company has made headlines for crowning it’s first black Heavyweight Champion at their flagship event, WrestleMania. It was at that same event that women headlined the show in the main event for the very first time. Assisted heavily by the mainstream media behind Ronda Rousey, two of WWE’s top talents competed with the rookie in what was the best main event match at the show in 5 years. However, the match may have revealed even more of a problem that exists in the business: the continuation of highlighting white, blonde women perceived as sexy, all-American, but restricting the women who don’t fit that description.
Sexism has always been an argument for WWE, but they’ve attempted to amend those with a “Women’s Evolution”, that dropped the word “diva” from the dictionary, gave the women high-profile storylines, and matches that eclipsed the length of a bathroom break. Prior to the evolution, the face of WWE’s women’s division has always typically been a blonde white woman. In the early 90s, it was three time-champion Alundra Blayze. The late 90s saw the rise of Sable, followed by Trish Stratus dominating the 2000s. Beth Phoenix and Michelle McCool dominated the 2010s. And today? The company’s golden girl is Ric Flair’s daughter, Charlotte Flair. She is already the most decorated champion in the company’s history, which is not a shock with her amazing athleticism and abilities as a performer.
Aside from Flair, the company’s most publicized women share the blonde image, specifically the overly pushed Alexa Bliss, and rising stars Lacey Evans and Mandy Rose. Blis, in particular, has been a mainstay in WWE’s top storylines and finds herself with five championship reigns, despite the fact that she arguably one of the company’s worst female wrestlers. She is highly charismatic, which alongside her beauty, serves as her trigger.
The company’s current head honcho, Becky Lynch, was never supposed to be the star she became, much like Bayley in 2015 and Sasha Banks in 2016. It was the support of the fans that made her a household name and the most popular wrestler in the world. At the company’s next event, she will defend both of her championships against two different blonde women. On the same night, the traditional ladder match will feature 8 women; four of which are also blonde women.
Women of color, such as former champions Naomi, Asuka, and Nia Jax, have all spoken out about the limitation for women of color. Arguably the company’s most underused talent, Sasha Banks, is on a hiatus wishing for release due to mistreatment and dissatisfaction. Banks has been in several matches regarded as some of the greatest matches of not just women’s wrestling, but of all time. Yet, her run at the top comes with short title reigns and stopped pushes have made her hard to get behind as a character.
The WWE’s Annual Hall of Fame includes a female inductee. Since 2013, four of the inductees have been blonde women. Most recently, Torrie Wilson was inducted. She was marketed as an All American Girl for her model looks and blonde image. This image is one that WWE continues to still push for their women today.
Recent sources believe the build up to the company’s first women’s main event has lead to a decline in revenue, questioning the ability for them to headline the show again. In opposition, it is argued that the women are not the reason that it’s failing. Rather, it is the company’s lack of equality and concern to properly utilize women oppose to the golden image they are presenting in their front page stars. The current product feels increasingly stale and lacks true focus. With a tag team division now in place, many of the top performers are sent to that division and losing to lesser wrestlers, Peyton Royce and Billie Kae. WWE’s methods will prove to lead to their own demise, especially with the rise of a formidable rival approaching in the coming months. For cases like Banks, she will likely be held under her contract an unable to wrestle for another couple of years. For the remainder of the women, their success remains to be seen.