When my ex-boyfriend and I were at WWE Monday Night RAW in January at Nationwide Arena, he was transfixed. Paige — a Diva, then-WWE terminology for “female wrestler” — was watching passionately from the ropes as two other Divas threw each other around. Paige started pounding her fists on the ring floor.
My ex’s jaw dropped.
“What?” I asked.
At Wrestlemania 32 this past weekend, it was announced that the Diva’s Division of WWE would be rebranded as the Women’s Division. The pink, sparkly butterfly belt was replaced with a simple red belt, similar to other WWE belts.
The change is symbolic of women in WWE being taken more seriously. No one is going to argue that Monday Night RAW requires the same amount of skill as mixed martial arts brawls or National Championship football games. WWE is fake, staged, whatever adjective you’d like. But what’s not up for debate is that women wrestlers require the same amount of respect as their male counterparts.
Graphic designer and fellow wrestling fanatic Kate Foray has a website, rawbreakdownproject.com, where she posts infographics breaking down how much time WWE devotes to subjects in each RAW episode.
In her 16-week analysis focusing just on female wrestlers, Foray found that an average of 6 percent total airtime each week was spent on women.
It’s as reasonable to ask for Becky Lynch to immediately have equal airtime to John Cena as it is to ask the entire male population to not notice the way a female wrestler’s breasts bounce. Females will also notice the incredible pecs and biceps on Cena. It’s what happens when you have in-shape entertainers wearing just spandex and speedos. But dedicated fans’ adoration is more than skin-deep, and they notice the athleticism and charisma of all Superstars, whatever their gender. Talent is talent, and finally the women of WWE are getting what they deserve.