For three straight days, during February of 2015, #GiveDivasAChance was a trending topic.
Three. Straight. Days.
The message from our fan base around the world during those 72 hours was resounding: They wanted to see our female performers in more prominent storylines, with deeper character development, and they wanted to see them compete in longer matches. This sentiment resonated so strongly throughout WWE that our Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon responded with a tweet of his own, “We hear you, keep watching #GiveDivasAChance.”
“Divas” is how WWE branded our female performers starting in 2008, in an effort to give them a more prominent role. As a point of reference, our male performers are known as Superstars. It was so successful, it led to the creation of a WWE reality show, Total Divas, and launched the careers of those who have become household names, like the Bella Twins, Natalya, Paige, Alicia Fox and Eva Marie.
Now, fast forward to Monday Night RAW on July 13, 2015. That night, when my music, “Welcome to the Queendom,” hit the arena, I strode to the ring with my shoulders back and head held high (versus my character’s normal villainous strut) because I knew I was about to make a historic announcement.
I began by speaking about the revolution around women in sports, referencing Ronda Rousey’s breakthrough success as the first UFC women’s champion, Venus and Serena Williams’ overwhelming popularity transcending tennis and the United States Women’s National Team’s World Cup-clinching victory garnering more viewers than any other soccer game in history. I made it clear that our female performers were going to have that same opportunity in WWE.
This “movement” became known as the Divas Revolution, and the truth is, it began long before I made that announcement. I simply had the privilege of bringing it to life by introducing to WWE’s main roster three of the four women who had been stealing the show as a part of our third brand, NXT, with their unrivaled athleticism, their ability to captivate the audience and their undeniable charisma. As I said their names, the crowd erupted and jumped to their feet. They were Charlotte, the daughter of WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair; the “Irish lass kicker” Becky Lynch; and “The Boss” Sasha Banks.
These were the same three women who competed tonight in front of a record crowd of more than 100,000 at our biggest event of the year, WrestleMania, in a triple threat match for the championship.
Only, they didn’t compete for the Divas Championship. Instead, they competed for the Women’s Championship. This blockbuster announcement was made, as a surprise to our audience, tonight at WrestleMania by WWE Hall of Famer Lita.
Lita made reference to all of the pioneers who have led the way for this transition, including “The Great” Mae Young, Fabulous Moolah, Wendi Richter, Sensational Sherri, Trish Stratus and recent Hall of Fame inductee Jacqueline. She spoke of her pride in the Divas Division, the evolution of the Women’s Division, and then she revealed the physical symbol of this transition: a brand new WWE Women’s Championship belt with the same aesthetics as the male WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt. This title belt represents the pinnacle of achievement in WWE— and shows that in WWE, it isn’t about gender, race or ethnicity. It is simply about being the best at what you do.
The role of women in WWE has continued to evolve. For the first time in WWE history, Sasha Banks and Bayley became the first women to main event an NXT pay-per-view, and they tore the house down. In fact, their match the month before at NXT TakeOver was voted “match of the year” by our fan base. And earlier tonight, at WrestleMania, Charlotte, Sasha and Becky competed in a triple threat match, which ultimately saw Charlotte leave as the champion.
Our female performers are world-class athletes, actors, public speakers and philanthropists. They’re role models, inspiring and empowering women and girls to be confident and strong. They dedicate themselves to WWE, achieve great success and earn the same respect as their male counterparts.
Therefore, from this point forward, all of our performers – male and female – will be known as “Superstars.”