Almost every major sporting event becomes an excuse for my sister, my husband and I to spent the entire day eating junk food, drinking, and filling out prop bet sheets to compete for bragging rights. Doesn’t matter if it’s the super bowl, a boxing match, or the Kentucky Derby, we eat, booze, and track obscure bets.
For a while, though, there was one event that I did not particularly look forward to, and that’s Wrestlemania. I was first introduced to the WWE when I started dating my husband in 2006, who watched Monday Night Raw religiously. My first impression was not that great. Among my complaints were the terrible roles for women. They were few and far between, and often downright embarrassing. More often then not, they seemed to only be around to serve up cattiness and sex appeal. They were refered to as divas and their championship belt featured a purple butterfly. For me the low point was Mickie James last match on Smackdown in 2010, where after losing her match, her fellow female wrestlers, who had been calling her Piggy James, oinked at her and drew on her face with lipstick.
Dispite this, the WWE slowly grew on me. The more I sat and watched with my husband, the more I learned about entertainment wrestling. As someone who took over 15 years of dance and belonge to an improv troupe I high school, I started to gain an appreciation for the combination of athleticism and improv the wrestlers used to perform matches. Storylines improved. Characters became more compelling. And last year, things really started looking up for women in the WWE. A crop of new, athletic female wrestlers emerged, and they fought for a belt that was red and gold, no butterflies in sight.
The women of the WWE are now referred to superstars, just like their male counterparts. And Mickey James has returned to the WWE with her head held high as a respected veteran of wrestling to compete in this years Westlemania in a match with five other women wrestlers, none of whom oinked at her. It may go unnoticed outside of WWE fandom, but to me it is important to see.
To read more about the resurgence of women in the WWE, check out this USA Today article.