On Sunday night, 82,265 people in MetLife Stadium, along with millions of others watching at home, witnessed history.
Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Ronda Rousey battled each other in a winner-take-all match for the RAW and SmackDown Women’s Championships. For the first time ever, women competed in the main event of WrestleMania.
As the night wore on, my excitement for the final match grew. Even though it was a little past midnight where I live, I was wide awake and ready to watch something that I never could have imagined happening years ago.
I’ve been a wrestling fan for as long as I can remember, thanks to my mom. I can recall watching it as early as the mid-2000s, seeing guys like Triple H, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, Undertaker, Batista, Rey Mysterio, and Jeff Hardy. It was fascinating as a kid seeing these larger than life characters every week on TV, and it didn’t take long for me to get hooked.
But then there was the women’s division. While I liked some of them, I was never as interested because of the amount of screen-time they had. Also, when they were on TV, they were usually doing things that didn’t entertain me at all. I didn’t want to watch bra-and-panty matches, I wanted to see women wrestle just like the men did.
Fast forward to the late-2000s/early 2010s, things improved slightly but still weren’t worth watching. While most of the cliched match types were gone, the matches barely lasted 5 minutes and were almost always considered “bathroom breaks”. It was frustrating because I knew the women had more to offer, but it felt like it was never going to change.
Then came that fateful episode of Monday Night RAW on February 23, 2015. Paige and Emma faced The Bella Twins in a match that lasted about 30 seconds. I was completely fed up; Paige had quickly become one of my favorites because of how unique she was, and she, along with the rest of the women’s locker room, deserved better than being reduced to 30-second match.
I went on Twitter later that night and saw a certain hashtag: #GiveDivasAChance. It would trend worldwide for almost two days straight, and after that things started to change.
But there was already a revolution starting within the company: NXT. Women like Flair, Lynch, Sasha Banks, and Bayley were stealing the show almost every single time they stepped into the black-and-gold brand’s ring. People, including myself, were getting what they had been wanting for so long: women having the proper time to showcase their talent.
On the July 13, 2015 episode of RAW, Flair, Lynch, and Banks were called up to the main roster and thus began a wave of history-making moments for the women of WWE.
“Divas” were now “Superstars”, and had two separate titles to fight for. Women started to main event RAW and SmackDown Live, then moved on to main-eventing pay-per-views. They wrestled in the first ever Hell in a Cell, tables, ladders, TLC, last woman standing, Elimination Chamber, ironwoman, and Royal Rumble matches, captivating audiences wherever they went. They even got their own pay-per-view, WWE Evolution, on October 28, 2018.
As each moment for them was crossed off the list, there was still one huge first that hadn’t happened yet: main-eventing the grandest stage of them all. The women dreamed about it for years and everyone hoped it was only a matter of time before it finally became a reality.
Once Rousey joined WWE and Lynch became The Man, it started to become more of a possibility. Then on March 25,2019, it became official, women were headlining the company’s biggest show of the year.
I saw the tweet while I was at work, and immediately texted my mom, “Becky’s main-eventing Mania!!” Yes, I know Flair and Rousey were in the match as well, but allow me to explain.
I have been a fan of Lynch since her days in NXT. I’ve been there through it all: her call-up, her becoming the first SmackDown Women’s Champion, her rough patch through most of 2018, and everything that led up to her becoming The Man.
If anyone deserved a spot in the main event of WrestleMania 35, it was her. After turning on Flair at SummerSlam, she became the hottest thing in wrestling and earned every ounce of recognition she was receiving.
It warmed my heart to tune in every single week and hear the crowd blow the roof off the place once her music hit. In my opinion, there really hadn’t been a women’s wrestler quite as popular as Lynch.
While her winning at Mania was almost guaranteed, I was still over the moon after she pinned Rousey. Even though I couldn’t scream out of excitement (I was the only person in the house awake at the time) I had a huge smile on my face seeing her hold both titles in the air.
I remember Lynch saying in an interview, “When I came over to NXT… I said I wanted to make women’s wrestling cool.” Well, guess what? Women’s wrestling finally is, as it should be.
To see how far the women have come since I’ve been a fan is amazing. Like I said before, when I first started watching, it was hard to get invested in what they were doing. Now, most of my favorite wrestlers are women and I always look forward to their matches and storylines each week.
That’s a testament to how hard each and every one of them have worked to get the division to where it is now. While WWE were the ones who gave the women those chances, it was up to them to prove they were worthy of those opportunities. They responded each and every time by rising to the occasion and proving they were just as good as the men, if not better.
They are the perfect example of how hard work and perseverance pays off in the long run.
So, that’s what WrestleMania 35’s main event means to me. It makes me proud to be a fan of women’s wrestling, which is something I wouldn’t have said years ago.
The sky’s the limit right now, and I can’t wait to see where this takes women’s wrestling as a whole next.