In Honor Of GLOW, Here Are The Most Groundbreaking Women In WWE History
Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX)’s new original show “GLOW” was released on Friday. The show tells the story of out-of-work actress Ruth Wilder (played by Alison Brie) who ends up as a professional wrestler.
The show is based on the real-life "Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling" promotion that ran in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
A lot has changed in sports entertainment since the colorful 1980s, especially when it comes to the roles female performers play for World Wrestling Entertainment Inc (NYSE: WWE) and other top wrestling promotions.
To celebrate the release of “GLOW,” Benzinga compiled a list of the eight most influential and ground-breaking women in the history of professional wrestling.
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8. Alundra Blayze
When the WWE decided to revamp and re-launch its women’s division in 1993, the company chose Alundra Blayze (previously known as Madusa) to be the face of the division. Blayze was also at the center of one of the most controversial events of the Monday Night War between WWE and defunct rival WCW when she dropped the WWE Women's Championship belt in a trash can live on WCW’s show.
7. Miss Elizabeth
While Miss Elizabeth wasn’t an in-ring performer, she served as a role model for young girls by exemplifying class and elegance alongside "Macho Man" Randy Savage in the 1980s. At that time, there were very few women of any kind in main-event storylines, but Elizabeth played a key role in major plot twists involving Savage and Hulk Hogan.
During an era of women’s wrestling that sexualized female performers, Lita and fellow wrestler Trish Stratus often stole the show with their performances in the ring. Trish and Lita were the first two women to achieve the honor of performing in the main event of “Monday Night Raw,” proving that women can be just as much as a box office draw as men. In her career, Lita main evented “Raw” twice and also holds the distinction of being the first woman to wrestle in a WWE steel cage match.
5. Fabulous Moolah
Modern-day wrestling fans would find it incomprehensible for a world championship title reign to last seven years. However, Moolah held the World Women’s Championship for two such stretches in her career. Her longest reign started in 1956 and lasted 3,651 consecutive days, or just over 10 years.
4. Stephanie McMahon
McMahon has won the hearts and scorn of wrestling fans with her in-ring performances. But the daughter of WWE CEO Vince McMahon has been an even bigger role model to young women with her behind-the-scenes work as a company executive, serving as executive vice president of creative and now chief brand officer for WWE.
3. Sasha Banks
Along with fellow performers Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Bayley, Sasha is part of the “Four Horsewomen” of the recent WWE Women’s Revolution. Banks has been a part of two of the most ground-breaking nights in the history of women’s wrestling. Banks and Bayley became the first two women to ever main-event an NXT pay-per-view event in 2015. A year later, Banks and Flair broke even more ground by becoming the first women to main-event a WWE pay-per-view event when they clashed in the first-ever women’s Hell in a Cell match.
2. Charlotte Flair
Flair was the winner of that Hell in a Cell match and has consistently been breaking ground for women since she arrived in NXT in 2013. Charlotte was named Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Rookie of the Year in 2014, was the inaugural WWE Raw Women’s Champion when WWE split the Raw and Smackdown brands in 2016 and (along with Banks) was the first ever women to with PWI’s Feud of the Year Award in 2016. Flair also became the first women ever to main-event a singles match on Raw, Smackdown and a WWE pay-per-view event.
When it comes to breaking ground, the late Joanie Laurer may have done more than any other woman in professional wresting history to smash gender barriers.
In the thick of the "Attitude Era" of WWE, when most women on the roster were relegated to bra-and-panties matches, Chyna became the first (and only) woman ever to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Chyna routinely competed with male performers, participating in the Royal Rumble and King of the Ring events and even briefly becoming the number one contender for the WWF Championship. There are plenty of male professional wrestlers out there who would love to have any of those accomplishments on their resume.
Image: Miguel Discart, Flickr
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