The reason for any individual to be involved in the world of professional wrestling is to grab the brass ring, win the big one, become champion. To hold the championship means you are the best in the world at what you do, you are to be taken seriously, you are numero uno, and that every other person on the roster better take notice. It is expected that you will headline the pay per views, you will make the media appearances, you will be the face of the company. Yet, with all of that being said, the various championships in the WWE continually lose their importance and value. The championships have become secondary to the drama that fuels the company.
Over the course of the next several weeks we will take an in depth look at each current championship in the WWE and the problems that each are facing. We will ask the questions that wrestling fans want to know about the championships and what can be done to fix the problems. Some of these questions and concerns will include: Why does the WWE hold title matches as part if their warm up shows? Why are part time wrestlers given a bigger spot than the champions that are there year round? Why doesn’t the champion get top billing at pay per views? And why isn’t the champion always the last to make their entrance before matches?
If a company is only as good as it’s champion, what can be said of the current state of the WWE? Is it really necessary to have a WWE champion and a World Heavyweight Champion? Join me if you will in this in-depth look at the history, problems, and possible sollutions to what should be the driving force in wrestling today, the championships.
From Ass Kickers to Eye Candy:
The History of the Woman’s/Diva’s Title
In a sport that is predominantly dominated by males, the women’s championship is that prize that every woman that laces up a pair of boots longs for. It is a dream to some, an addiction to others. Being a woman in the WWE is a legacy and an accomplishment that dates back as far as the early beginnings of the organization. There is a rich history that has stemmed down from generation to generation in the WWE with women’s wrestling. It is a history that has given us some of the most unforgettable names and faces in the sport. Names like Fabulous Moolah, Sensational Sherry, Wendy Richter, Lei Lani Kai, Lita, Trish Stratus, Chyna, AJ Lee, just to name a few. However, this seems to be a different era for women’s wrestling. It is a softer time, a gentler time, a time where the focus seems to be more on the woman’s appearance and personality than on her in-ring ability. It seems as though the women that do have the natural ability to showcase their talents and know their way around the ring aren’t given the same chances as the women that possess the beauty and personality the WWE feels the people want. Let’s explore the origins of the women’s title, the morphing of the title into the diva’s title, and the current state of the women’s championship.
On September 18, 1956 The Fabulous Moolah became the first ever women’s champion by pinning Judy Grable in a thirteen women battle royal for the title. Moolah would hold the title for an astonishing 10,170 days during her career. That’s right, a little shy of twenty eight years. Moolah held the title with honor and dignity and defended it frequently. Although she was the first woman’s champion, she wouldn’t officially become the first WWE women’s champion until 1983! The belt was originally held and branded by the NWA, National Wrestling Alliance. It wasn’t until Vince McMahon Jr. took over the company and started expanding it did the title ever come to the WWE. He bought the rights to the women’s title from Moolah and Moolah agreed to exclusively wrestle for WWE. It was at this point that the “Rock n Wrestling Connection” era began. For those of us living in this period it was an exciting time, as WWE seemed to easily take over the world by making connections with the music industry.
Cindy Lauper, a huge name in the music industry at the time, started the ball rolling when she asked Captain Lou Albano to play the role of her father in the video “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” in 1983. This morphed into both Albano and Lauper making an appearance on the infamous Piper’s Pit. During the segment, Albano called Lauper a “broad” which Lauper took offense to and proceeded with hitting him with her purse. This led to a match at MTV’s The Brawl to End it All. At this, a woman of Lauper’s choosing would battle a woman of Albano’s choosing. Let me emphasize something here, this match took place on MTV during the station’s rise and popularity. In 1984 MTV was one of the biggest trends of the day. The inclusion of the woman’s match should show how immensely popular woman’s wrestling was at the time. Albano went on to choose Moolah for his wrestler and Lauper chose Richter. During the match Lauper interfered on behalf of Richter by hitting Moolah in the head with her purse. This ended in Richter winning the title from Moolah, who had held it for so long.
Through the later part of the Golden Era (the 80’s) the title bounced back and forth between three predominant women of the time; Moolah, Richter, and Sherri Martel. The Golden era ended with Rockin’ Robin vacating the women’s title after her departure from the WWE. In 1993 there was a tournament for the women’s title that saw Alundra Blaze win and become the first champion in three years. To top all the frustrations with the women’s division, Blaze left the WWE while still champion for World Championship Wrestling, the rival promotion. Frustrated with the previous two women’s champions vacating, the women’s title laid dormant for five years!
In September of 1998 Jacquelin beat Sable to claim the women’s title. During the Attitude Era the field of women’s wrestling changed big time. They were taken from being aggressive and fierce competitors to being subjected to being included in various obsurdities like the HLA (hot lesbian action) storylines and having their body parts referred to as “puppies.” To make it even more ridiculous, Harvina became champion. Harvina was a man in drag better known as Harvey Wippelman. There were some women that came out during this time, however, that showed they could hang just as well with the men. Women like Lita, Trish Stratus, and Chyna showed tenacity and competitiveness that hasn’t been seen since. Yet still, the women’s title was beginning to go down hill.
If you remember, Moolah held the title for a remarkable 28 years and showed a dominance in the ring. Between the reemergence of the women’s title in 1998 and it’s final appearance in 2010 the title changed hands 45 times in 12 years! That showed limited stability in the women’s division and took away a large amount of their credibility. In 2002 the WWE did the brand split. The women’s title officially became the WWE Women’s Championship and the only singles title that could be defended on both Raw and Smackdown. On July 4, 2008 a new women’s championship was created for the Smackdown brand, the Diva’s Championship. If women weren’t being taken seriously at this point due to the sexist remarks and the ridiculousness of their division, the WWE creates a title designed in the shape of a butterfly. Because, in a sport predominated by males nothing says champion more than a butterfly!
In 2010 Michelle McCool became the first woman to hold both the Diva’s championship and the Women’s title. She would unify the titles at Night of Champions and the Women’s title that had been in existence since 1958 was gone. Simple as that. With all the history and prestige the title once held also went any chance women had of being taken serious in the sport. Now, the Diva’s championship is a joke. The women’s division revolves totally around their show on the E! network titled E Total Divas. The women are looked at more for their appearance than any wrestling ability. Yes, there are some exceptions. Women like Natalya, Tamina Snooka, and AJ have aggressiveness and in-ring ability. However, they are the exception and not the rule. AJ is not on the E! show. Natalya & Tamina aren’t given the chances that the other women are given and pushed to the background. Women that were true talents in the sport, like Kharma and Beth Phoenix, have decided to leave and their vacancy is felt. The divas matches aren’t taken seriously, they’re usually mid-card filler and if in regards to time restraints are the first matches to be cut. There is rarely a story line or lead up to any of their matches and they have the least amount of television time.
So what can be done to fix this atrocity that would be a total smack in the face to any self respecting woman, let alone woman wrestler? First, the Diva’s title needs to go. The belt is absurd, toy like, and will never be taken serious with the appearance that it has. The return of the Women’s Title needs to happen. AJ has been photographed recently holding the Women’s Title and has not been a part of the drama queen show that plays out every Sunday evening. Next, the WWE needs to aquire more top notch women wrestlers, not models, wrestlers. A woman’s wrestling ability should be the first consideration, her looks second. If it’s possible to bring back names like Kharma and Phoenix that would be a great start, there have been rumors and hints at Mickie James coming back as well.
It should be insulting to any woman out there to feel inferior to men. In the WWE it is the norm. They have been lusted after and looked at as sex objects and not athletes. If the WWE is looking to keep fans entertained and have their women taken seriously, bring back the ass kickers and not just the eye candy!