In general, the women’s wrestling calibre has always been presented as second rate to men’s wrestling.
Heck- the whole reason why the Women’s Revolution was and has continued to ring in our ears, is on the back that this inequality at least subtly existed. As a woman myself who has watched the programme since I was child, it has been clear to me that men ruled the roster. It’s just HOW IT IS.
However, one of the best things that has come from WWE over the past few years is the growth of the women’s division, and the way women are being presented. A part of this evolution that comes to recent memory, is the evolution of Becky Lynch, going from a mid-card name, to a mainstream figure. This has given WWE the opportunity to capitalise on giving her, and other women’s wrestlers more screen time.
But have they actually done this? No.
The last couple of weeks has been something of a shamble for the women’s division, in the way that there’s been rushed story-lines, as well as little screen time for a lot of the women’s roster. You only have to work out where the screen time is actually going to see what is happening:
- Raw: Monday 29th April 2019 – A total of 3 segments (2 of which were ‘Moment of Bliss’, as well as 1 match– Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi. This is compared to 7 men’s segments and 6 men’s matches
- Smackdown: Tuesday 30th April 2019 – Women get 2 segments, and 2 matches, men get 5 segments and 3 matches (apparently this episode didn’t really have any matches…)
- Raw: Monday 6th May – The women get 2 segments and 1 match, and the men get 9 segments and 6 matches
- Smackdown: Tuesday 7th May – The women get 1 segment and 1 match (Ember Moon and Carmella vs Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose) – the segment being Paige bringing out Asuka and Kairi Sane (who next week will be named ‘The Kabuki Warriors’). The men get 10 segments and 3 matches
- Raw: Monday 13th May – Women get 2 segments (Alexa’s write off the MITB match, with Nikki Cross replacing her, and the Lacey/Charlotte/Lynch contract signing), and 1 match. This is compared to 9 segments and 5 matches.
- Smackdown: Tuesday 14th May – 4 segments and 1 match (The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane) defeated Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville). The men get 10 segments and 3 matches.
I could go on another tangent and complain all day about how both weekly shows need to have less talk, and more wrestling. What worries me though is when us fans hear WWE proclaim about wanting to push the women’s division to boost equality, but we then work out stats such as the above and see a contradiction in this. However, to give credit where it’s due, the push for Becky Lynch has been something they’ve done right, but with this lack of screen time- how is there time to build up character or story when there are big PPV’s like Money in the Bank literally around the corner?
I am aware that many of you will be saying or thinking the same thing:
“Well there are more men on the roster, so of course there HAS to be more time to be given to them”
“This years Money in the Bank PPV has more men’s championships on the line, so there needs to be more men’s segments and matches to build this up”
“It’s obvious that either the Becky Lynch/Lacey Evans or the Becky Lynch/Charlotte match will be presented as the main event match of the PPV, can’t you just be happy with that?”
These are all valid points, and to be honest- this whole argument could be more of an argument about whether there are too many on the WWE roster to deal with, or there are too many storylines going on at the same time. However- there is a clear disproportion of storyline for women, whichever way you cut it.
Having a look into the past though, it was only a couple of years ago that on PPV’s, at least 90% of the women’s matches would be relegated to the kick-off, or women would be randomly matched up for meaningless tag team matches. Looking forward to today, things have certainly improved with things such as WWE hosting “first ever women’s *insert stipulation*” matches, as well as creating household names such as Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch. However, for many in the WWE Universe, the message that was drilled to us that women’s matches didn’t seem to matter is still potent, and will be sticking around, as long as WWE don’t give them the time to flourish the way the men get to.
With this in mind, it is also clear with the lack of screen time for women, this means there simply can’t be as much women’s talent who can get the development they deserve. For example, it’s all fun and games when we can have a random appearance from Tamina once every month, but how can you build a character when they are only been utilised to simply remind us that they’re still on the roster?
I will give WWE credit where it is due though, there are women who you can tell will have a future with the company. Names that come to mind for instance are Naomi, Nikki Cross and Ember Moon- their athleticism and charisma are things that should WWE continue their ascendance to equality as they regularly want to tell us is so- will allow for a future where their talent is recognised to the same calibre as the men.
To conclude, it’s clear that when those such as myself notice a decline or stagnation of women’s activity on WWE products, it’s hard to forget that the fight for gender equality is still an important one. We only need to look at the controversy surrounding WWE’s gender pay gap, and the stigma that “women’s wrestling isn’t as good as the guys”. You only need to hear comments like the ones wrestler Disco Inferno’s made in February 2019 (via Wrestling.Inc) to remind you that this inequality is a real thing.
“To me women’s wrestling is kind of like the WNBA. They’re the best female basketball players in the world, but they’re not as good as the guys.
“I’m not saying that there’s not a lot of talented women’s wrestlers. But the formula has shown in the past that regardless of your in-ring work, the more attractive you are determines how over you are.”
Hopefully in the near future, conversations and articles such as this don’t need to exist off of one observation regarding the screen time of women’s wrestling. But the conversation needs to be had, and it needs to be had sooner, rather than later.
You can find me on Twitter @n0cturnalowl. Thanks for reading.