This past Sunday was the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. There were several matches that continued storylines. WWE champion AJ Styles and SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon continued their feud with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.
Shinsuke Nakamura won the Royal Rumble match and the right to main event WrestleMania 34 for the WWE championship.
But what takes the cake is the first ever women’s Royal Rumble match taking the main event of the pay-per-view. Asuka, another professional wrestler from Japan, was the winner of this match. As the winner of this match, she will have a shot for her choice of either the Raw Women’s Championship against Alexa Bliss, or for the SmackDown Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair (Ric Flair’s daughter).
What capped off the night was an appearance by Ronda Rousey, former mega-star for the UFC women’s division. She is also a fourth-degree black belt in judo.
Rousey didn’t have to grab a microphone to make her presence felt. She stood in front of Asuka, Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss and pointed to the WrestleMania 34 sign in the arena. She initiated a handshake with Asuka, but Asuka swatted it away. Rousey then stepped out of the ring and walked over to the announcer’s table to give Stephanie McMahon a handshake.
Stephanie reluctantly reciprocated the handshake, given their encounter a few years earlier at WrestleMania 31. At that event, Rousey gave Triple H a judo throw and almost locked Stephanie in an arm bar.
I think that with the current star power in WWE’s women’s division and the women grabbing more of the spotlight, the WWE is doing more good for its women’s roster than it has in many years. With the likes of Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Asuka and now potentially Ronda Rousey, the women’s division of WWE potentially has had the most star power in over a decade. About a decade ago, it was just Trish Stratus and Lita at the top of the division.
How it started
In October 2016, at the WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view event, Charlotte Flair defeated Sasha Banks in the main event for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship. This was the first time ever that the main event was a women’s match in a pay-per-view. It was also the first time a women’s match was contested inside the Hell in a Cell structure. The match between Banks and Flair at that pay-per-view lasted over 22 minutes, which is a marathon of a match compared to the usual women’s match being five minutes or less.
Stephanie McMahon, WWE’s chief brand officer, noted that a major role behind the women’s revolution was her husband Triple H. Triple H is WWE’s executive vice president of talent relations, creative and live events. As such, he has been aiming to recruit more elite wrestlers from all over the world, both men and women. Stephanie McMahon said,
“What my husband started doing was recruit elite athletes from all over the world — be it male or female. The elite women were trained as the men were. He (Triple H) started giving them the opportunity to tell stories in the ring the same as the men. The result was a huge groundswell of our audience chanting and cheering for our women.”
McMahon further explained that in 2015, a women’s match lasted as much as 30 seconds. After some time, fans were creating a hashtag (#GiveDivasAChance). After some time and planning, that is what they’ve been doing.