wrestling / Columns

Why The Women’s Royal Rumble Announcement Missed the Mark

December 20, 2017 | Posted by Steve Cook
Women's Royal Rumble

The Royal Rumble has always been one of my favorite events of the year. It marks the point where the Road to WrestleMania becomes a real thing. It usually produces one of the most entertaining hours of wrestling every year via the Royal Rumble match. There are typically big surprises, shocking returns & interesting moments. This year’s Rumble got twice as interesting on Monday night.

The 2018 Royal Rumble event will feature the first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble Match, with the winner to receive a title shot at WrestleMania. It’s an exciting moment in the history of women’s wrestling. Twenty years ago, there were barely enough experienced female competitors in all of American televised wrestling to fill a Fatal 4-Way Match. As we head into 2018, WWE has enough viable female wrestlers under contract to fill a Royal Rumble Match, and there are several conceivable choices to win. I have a feeling I’ll be discussing that closer to the event.

Today, we need to cover the part of all this that has me a bit annoyed.

See Stephanie McMahon? It’s tough to miss her. She’s in the middle of almost every single major women’s division announcement. The women always cower before her presence, like on Monday night when they immediately stopped fighting when her music hit. It was like a 1st grade classroom when their teacher comes back into the room. To be fair, the male wrestlers typically do the same thing when Stephanie appears.

Whenever Stephanie comes out and makes these big speeches while the women Superstars nod in approval in the background, it feels like she’s taking all the credit. When she stands in the middle of these celebrations, it looks like she’s giving the women charity out of the goodness of her own heart. Everything happens because Stephanie allows it. Whether she means to or not, that’s the message that’s being sent.

Honestly, it makes sense for her to do so.

Stephanie McMahon has her legacy to consider. It would be pretty great for her if people looked back one day and gave her credit for putting female WWE Superstars on the same level as the men. She’s not going to kill off all the competition like her father did, so she needs some landmark achievement to call her own. This seems like a good one that will play well in history books.

The whole taking credit thing just rubs me the wrong way. It seems to be where society is heading, though. It’s no longer enough to do the right thing. It’s not enough to help people out. Everybody needs to know that you did the right thing, and everybody needs to thank you for doing so, or else. Even our leaders showcase this unenviable character trait, and I figure it’ll pass on to impressionable youth that look for guidance from their elders.

Christmas is coming up very soon. For me, the act of giving people I care about Christmas presents isn’t about hoping that they give me accolades or something in return. Don’t get me wrong, presents are always nice to receive. But the most important thing to me is seeing the smiles on their faces after I’ve hopefully given them something they really want or could really use. Making the people I care about happy is more of a present than they could give me. I don’t need credit or attention.

It would have been enough to just book a Women’s Royal Rumble match. You could have shown Stephanie or Kurt Angle coming to terms with Shane McMahon or Daniel Bryan to include both brands in the match and have that be that. Or hey, it could have been posted on the website to get some buzz & the women could have talked about it on Raw. Instead, we had to have a pep rally with Stephanie as the center of attention, making sure everybody knew that she was responsible for female WWE Superstars getting a chance to do something new & exciting.

I almost could have lived with Stephanie’s announcement. Until I saw what happened after Raw went off the air. This is the part of the show where I put on my Old Man hat.

OK. Everybody’s all excited about the big announcement because Girl Power or some such thing, so they all raise hands and soak in the adulation of the fans. There’s a really simple problem with this…

Absolution is part of it.

For the past few weeks now, Page has led Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose in a campaign against the Raw Women’s Division. It’s pretty similar to how the Riott Squad has been annoying everybody in SmackDown’s Women’s Division. Absolution has gone out of their way to try & leave a mark on every woman on Raw. Even Alexa Bliss, the one woman in the division that pretty much everybody hates, has joined with her peers in the cause against Paige & her proteges.

This is emblematic of an annoying trend that’s popped up during these moments. They no longer become about the wrestlers involved & the issues leading up to the events. Bayley & Sasha Banks main evented NXT TakeOver: Respect because their feud was the most over with the fans and they also put on the best matches on the brand at the time. Sasha Banks & Charlotte needed Hell in a Cell because their dislike for each other escalated during multiple title matches & reached the point where it was necessary to end the feud. SmackDown’s Women’s Division needed a #1 contender because there wasn’t a clear front-runner ahead of the pack, so a Money in the Bank Ladder Match made perfect sense.

Once the matches started getting promoted, WWE made them all about MAKING HISTORY. Bayley & Sasha cried after their match because they made history, not because their feud had finally reached its climax. The losers in Hell in a Cell & Money in the Bank were more proud of making history than annoyed that they lost a high-profile match that would have put their career on a new level.

Will the Royal Rumble losers be annoyed that they won’t get a title shot at WrestleMania?

Or will we get a barrage of tweets about MAKING HISTORY?

I know that saying this will label me as an old man that’s behind the times, but I prefer wrestlers that are pissed off about losing and aren’t wrapped up in MAKING HISTORY.

WWE’s women shouldn’t be happy to make history. They should expect it. They’re the most talented crop of women that WWE’s ever had competing under their banner. Nobody in the Raw or SmackDown Women’s Division should expect anything less than making history every time they step in the ring. They deserve to be in a Royal Rumble, a Hell in a Cell match, a ladder match, a cage match, any type of match that WWE offers.

Whether there should have been a Women’s Royal Rumble years ago is irrelevant. There will be one on January 28. The competitors should be more concerned with winning it & what that will mean for their career, not with being a part of history.

After all, winners get a lot more coverage in history class than losers.