If you’ve been reading my column for the past 14 months, you know I tend not to write too much about wrestling past. A big part of that is the fact that WWE and wrestling in general tends to get too caught up in its own past. For the most recent evidence of this just see the Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar rematch that nobody ever wanted to see. WWE is spinning this as a big deal but no one even enjoyed this matchup the first time around. The other main reason I avoid the past is the fact that I prefer to appreciate what is happening right in front of me and I like the embrace the idea of what could possibly lie ahead. One of those possibilities that has consistently intrigued me is the future of women’s wrestling. At this moment we are on the cusp of the biggest moment in the history of women’s wrestling and it is in danger of being minimized.
Before I go into further detail of what may hold this moment back from the greatness it deserves, I’d like to compliment WWE for a moment. I think WWE deserves some credit for their effort to push women’s wrestling the way they have. Although it was long overdue, it is definitely better late than never. At WrestleMania they retired the Divas Championship and unveiled the new WWE Women’s Championship. Three of the best women in the business were given the opportunity to shine at the biggest WrestleMania in history and many would argue that they stole the show. Six months later, two of the participants in that WrestleMania match, Sasha Banks and Charlotte, are embroiled in the most meaningful feud on the Raw brand. That feud has seen the Women’s Championship change hands multiple times over the past few months and WWE has even dipped back into some of their story in NXT. The feud is actually the only one on the Hell In A Cell show that actually warrants the match that bears its name.
A company that seems to spend all of its time playing it safe is actually taking a risk by allowing Sasha and Charlotte to compete in a match that is known for such violence and brutality. I believe they’ve handled the build for this match really well too, better than any men’s match on the card and it is the only match that logically should end in Hell In A Cell.
The Universal Championship match has been more about Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho’s tenuous friendship and the List Of Jericho than it has about Owens and his opponent Seth Rollins. Roman Reigns and Rusev have told a very one-sided story that almost seems like it should have ended already. The interviews with Lita two weeks ago were a great touch that left us wanting more. The contract signing gave the match the importance it deserved as did Mick Foley’s role in the segment, as polarizing as it may have been.
Mick Foley was one of the first and most vocal advocates of what the women of NXT were doing in 2014. He wore their shirts and discussed them constantly on social media. He famously drove from his home in Long Island to Orlando to watch Sasha face Becky Lynch for the NXT Women’s Championship at TakeOver: Unstoppable. He echoed my feelings by stating that he was a jaded wrestling fan and the work of these two women reminded him of what he loved so much about wrestling. It’s quite possible that without them, he wouldn’t even be in his spot as General Manager of Raw. He also has seen himself as something of a father figure to the Four Horsewomen and they seem to have reciprocated that feeling. While some saw his part of the segment as self indulgent, he was actually helping to tell the story. He begged them to think about their actions and the consequences of them. He pleaded with them to reconsider their decision to compete in this type of match. He actually even breathed life into the Hell In A Cell match itself by reminding us the part it played in his current physical condition.
As much as he begged, as much as he pleaded, Sasha and Charlotte defied him and showed that they are indeed grown women who are capable of making their own decisions. They showed they are grown women who are aware of the consequences of their actions and are willing to suffer them. They are grown women who have fought for years to get to this point, fought for years to be known as the greatest competitor in women’s wrestling, fought for years to be put on the same level as their male counterparts and nothing will stand in their way on their quest to reach those heights. They have done it. They have gotten there. They have the eyes of the wrestling world locked upon them and the curiosity of the wrestling world piqued for what they will do inside that cell. And while they have achieved this and while WWE has played it’s part in allowing them the platform to get there, they are in danger of cutting the legs out of this story and this moment.
I hate the idea of an entire show devoted to Hell In A Cell because it takes a lot of the power of storytelling away from the use of the match. It also devalues it when we know for a fact we will get multiple of these matches at the same time on the same show each year. With the show in Boston, Sasha Banks’ billed hometown and with the women’s story as the hottest one going into the event, Foley announced via social media that it would be the main event. Unfortunately that was short lived as Mick rescinded his words soon after. Before we knew it the event was being touted as featuring an absurd Triple Main Event. Forget that there is no such thing as a Triple Main Event or even a Double Main Event. There is only one and that one is the match that goes on last. The match between Sasha Banks and Charlotte deserves to be that match and it isn’t even close. It feels like WWE has decided not to allow that match to close the show and is using the Triple Main Event phrasing as a way to attempt to save face. It will not work. We will all know it wasn’t really a main event. There is more trouble than that though.
By putting it earlier in the show, WWE will show that it didn’t learn it’s lesson from NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn. Sasha Banks defended her NXT Women’s Championship against Bayley in what was unquestionably the most important story and most important match on the show. The two women tore the house down and drained the live crowd of every drop of collective emotion. The end result was a flat main event between Kevin Owens and Finn Balor in a Ladder Match. The same thing will happen on Sunday if they make the same mistake again. This is all without even mentioning that if this story, if this historic match, if these two women don’t warrant a main event spot on a B-level show, when will it ever happen?
There is still a chance that Sasha vs. Charlotte in the first Women’s Hell In A Cell match could be placed in the true main event slot. As much as that would be the right thing to do and as big of a step as it would be for women’s wrestling, it may still be dimmed by WWE’s marketing. By calling it a Triple Main Event, it may still lessen the impact of the women being the actual main event. I know there is no way WWE will change that phrasing or their marketing at this point, but I feel they should have allowed Sasha and Charlotte to shine on their own at the top of the card. It could wind up being a real missed opportunity.
The bright side is, Sasha Banks has always talked about being so good they can’t ignore you. Charlotte has always talked about being genetically superior. Despite long stretches being left off TV, Sasha Banks has managed to be so good that they couldn’t ignore her. She fought her way back to the biggest spot she could have ever imagined herself in. Charlotte has been genetically superior, but she’s also evolved beyond her exceptional physical gifts into one of the best antagonists WWE has to offer.
In just 15 months after their main roster debuts, The Boss and The Queen have found themselves in the first Women’s Hell In A Cell match and an eyelash away from the first Women’s PPV main event. They will steal the show once again and history will be made one way or another. Even better, neither will be satisfied with making history on Sunday. By Monday morning they will both be trying to figure out how to raise the bar even higher than a 20-foot cell.
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