Sunday, 23 August 2015

The Four Horsewomen - The Future of Women's Wrestling is Now

In July of 2015, Stephanie McMahon, one of the name owners of WWE, announced that she would try and ignite a revolution in the long suffering Divas division, breathing new talent into the roster, and giving the women a chance to run with the ball. For too long the WWE has concentrated on looks for its women over in ring ability, and this was finally going to begin to change for the better, as three young upstarts - Becky Lynch, Charlotte, and Sasha Banks joined the main roster.

The so called Divas Revolution didn’t actually start here though, but almost 16 months earlier, and it is this year and a half long piece of story telling that would climax in Rich Brennan proudly proclaiming last night that women’s wrestling is back. 

On May 29th 2014, Charlotte faced off against Natalya at the very first NXT Takeover, and only the second live special NXT had done at this point. The match was lauded by many in the online community, and it got Charlotte’s name out there as one to watch. Her connection to Ric Flair was the initial grain of interest to get fans watching, but it was her undeniable talent that would have them talking by the time the match was over and the NXT Women’s Title (not Divas Title - an important distinction) was being lifted above her head. 

For the first time in years fans were talking about a women’s wrestling match in WWE as not simply a cool down match, or time to grab a snack at the concession stand, but as a bone-fide Can’t Miss attraction that any wrestling fan worth their salt should be searching out if they hadn't seen it live.

This could have been a flash in the pan one off experience, were it not for three other women - Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch. These four women - under the tutelage of NXT trainer Sara Del Ray - made it their mission to be seen as more than simple models. These were wrestlers. 

Sasha Banks has spoken about how when she first arrived at FCW (WWE’s old development system before NXT was formed), she had been told to “act and wrestle like a Diva”, pulling hair and the like. Let us be glad that she - and her compatriots - did not heed this advice, and instead set out to prove that not only were they on a par with the men, they could be more important. They want to headline shows, they want to headline Wrestlemania some day. They just needed the opportunity. 

Paul “Triple H” Levesque, head of WWE Talent Development, and de facto show runner for NXT clearly agreed they deserved it, because their booking was getting stronger and stronger as time would go by. 

Across the next several Takeover events - as well as on NXT television - the Four Horsewomen as they call themselves appeared in a series of matches - some one on one, some tag, as well as a huge Fatal Four Way earlier this year. The chemistry between every combination of the girls was a sight to behold. They were gaining respect from the live crowds, and to say their stock was rising with the smart fans online would be an understatement. 

These women were achieving their goals - NXT live events and television tapings were headlined by women’s matches for the first time, each being rated better by the viewers than the last. Still though they had not been given the honour of headlining a Takeover special. Could the WWE universe really get behind a women’s main event? Well with Sasha making her jump to the main roster before dropping her NXT Women’s title, it was time to finally find out. 

Skip ahead to August 22nd 2015, wrestling fans the world over witnessed the final piece of the puzzle, in this momentum shifting saga for sports entertainment. Bayley and Sasha Banks, went out to co-headline the NXT Takeover Brooklyn PPV, and would steal the show in a match that is sure to have wrestling fans talking for months and will be on everyones lips come Match of the Year discussions in December. 

These two wrestlers gave it everything they had, telling a story in the ring, working a match that felt like it had been constructed by two wily ring veterans, much less two wrestlers so early in their two careers. Every near fall had the crowd on its feet, every big spot brought out the reaction, and when the final Bayley-to-Belly suplex hit, the largest crowd in NXT history came unglued. It didn't matter that they were women, it mattered that these two had gone through a war and put on the best possible show for the crowd that night, and the crowd gave them the standing ovation they so richly deserved.

It would be impossible for anyone who has seen just how far these girls have come to not get choked up as the four of them stood in the ring at the end of the match, taking their curtain call. This was more than just a match, it was the end of a 16month struggle for respect. We must not forget though that the battle goes on. They have conquered NXT. Now they must take it to WWE proper.

Three of them might be moving on to the main roster (with Bayley hopefully not too far behind), but we have seen that to their very last breath these girls are going to keep fighting the good fight. They will not stop until once and for all we can say women’s wrestlers, not Divas, are back. They will headline Wrestlemania, or they will die trying to get there. So to Vince McMahon, Kevin Dunn, and anyone else in a position to have an affect on these girls careers: just get out of the way and let them run with it. 

These four girls, these so dubbed Four Horsewomen, are about to set the world - and the whole WWE Universe - on fire.