TrishStratus.com special guest columnist Dan Calvarese looks at 'WWE24: Empowered' airing now on WWE Network.
In 2016, WWE released WWE 24: Women's Evolution
, a documentary on the Network chronicling the up rise of women’s wrestling in the WWE. The documentary came off the heels of a time when WWE started giving the women lengthier matches, the introduction of the WWE Women’s Championship (later becoming the RAW Women’s Championship) at WrestleMania 32 and the abandonment of the term ‘Diva’, giving fans a glimpse of what to expect of the women’s division in the future. Shortly after, WWE gave the women another title to compete for in the SmackDown Women’s Championship. In a follow-up presentation on the Network came WWE 24: Empowered, showing the strides that have been made since the Women’s Evolution took off. The accolades for the women’s division include a handful of “firsts”, including the recent Royal Rumble match.
RECEIVING THE ROYAL TREATMENT
With a short 24-hours before the Royal Rumble match, all of the competitors of past and present gathered to meet and discuss the match, visibly excited to make history. As all the ladies mingled with one another, VP of Talent Relations Mark Carrano gathered them bearing good news – the women’s Royal Rumble would be the main event and close out the show. Emotions ran wild as shock, laughter and excitement (just to name a few) flooded each competitors’ face upon hearing the news. “We had no idea, we were like holy sh*t!” says newcomer Liv Morgan while fellow Riott Squad member Sarah Logan shows appreciation all the ladies found out collectively and were able to share that moment together.
DIFFERENT ERAS COLLIDE
“This is going to be the first time I’m going to be in the ring with so many women that inspired me,” says Natalya to returning legends Molly Holly & Beth Phoenix. She is not the only current roster member looking forward to locking up with some of the women of the past, including Mandy Rose, who mentions she wants to get in the ring with Trish. Mae Young Classic winner Kairi Sane is shown backstage in tears, appreciative of the opportunity to perform on the main roster for the night. “I think for me, it’s more of all of us experiencing it together with the ones I grew up with in NXT, people we grew up watching, and Hall of Famers, and legends from the past. So it’s nice to know that the ones we looked up to and paved the way for us are now giving it back in a weird way,” explained former RAW Women’s Champion Bayley, as she made her way to the arena the day of the event. As the women arrive to the arena, Stephanie McMahon is greeting past legends with hugs and welcoming them back into the WWE family for the night. “These women and all of these women all around the world have been working for this kind of recognition, for this moment, for this opportunity! I mean just to give them a chance,” says the Boss’ Daughter. “Any little girl can be anything in the world she wants to be but they have to be able to see it to know that they can be it. Because it is about showing today’s generation that they can be and do anything.”
In any event of this nature, you are bound to see some familiar faces which is exactly what we saw with the Royal Rumble. Trish and Molly are shown backstage greeting Triple H (mistakenly confusing Molly as one of Trish’s “people”), who encourages them they will not miss a beat in the ring, as well thanking them for being a part of the match. Mickie James, one of Trish’s greatest rivals, compares the differences in her runs with the WWE during the Golden Era and the current era, having returned after a six-and-half-year-long hiatus. “To have so many of my old friends come back it felt like a little bit of a homecoming. It was cool. It felt like the old locker room again, which was awesome,” Mickie told the camera crew. NXT Women’s Champion Ember Moon could hardly contain her excitement around her childhood heroes, from entertaining the idea of striking the Glamazon pose with Beth Phoenix, to wanting to play with Torrie Wilson’s dogs.
THE TIME IS NOW
As the Royal Rumble event progresses through the night, the ladies are shown backstage in a series of shots, preparing for the match – gathering their thoughts, stretching, getting words of encouragement from their colleagues/significant others, to name a few. Before the match begins, Triple H gives all of the ladies a pep talk. “I know everyone got super hyped at that moment, I totally had goosebumps and my eyes were welling up with tears. It’s just surreal,” said Ms. Money in the Bank Carmella. The time has finally arrived, and Maria Menounos kicks off the introductions with the first 2 competitors. Former Women’s and Divas Champion Michelle McCool recalls the fans excitement and involvement in the match, especially who may enter into the match next. As you recall, the first surprise entrant of the Royal Rumble was Lita, much to the delight of fans and fellow competitors. “My personal favorite was always Lita. To be able to be in the ring with her and hear the roar of the crowd – that was amazing,” gushes Becky Lynch, who ironically eliminated the Hall of Famer. As the match continued, more legends eventually popped up to face off against the current roster. SmackDown Live Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair recounts the interaction between Trish and Sasha Banks, leading to Trish’s elimination -- “Who ever thought that anyone would ever see that?!”
A NEW FORCE ENTERS
Following the conclusion of the Royal Rumble match we see the long-rumored debut of MMA fighter Ronda Rousey. She enters the ring confronting Rumble winner Asuka, and Women’s Champions Charlotte Flair and Alexa Bliss. “I was just surprised. We were not expecting Ronda to come in. I think she’ll add a different dynamic and I think it just adds another element to this Women’s Revolution and the mix of women that we have representing it,” says the Goddess. Upon returning to gorilla, Rousey is welcomed warmly by all of the Rumble competitors. “Afterwards, it was just like a big bonding session, like a sisterhood. And we’ll probably never have that moment again for the rest of our lives,” says Naomi.
THE NEXT STEP
“I think WWE being on such a worldwide circuit is really setting the bar. For me to be able to be a part of that and to be able to show any female that anything is possible is a really honoring feeling,” says Ruby Riott. As mentioned before, we have experienced many “firsts” since the start of the Women’s Revolution, including the first-ever Hell in a Cell, Money in the Bank ladder match, Elimination Chamber, and most recently, the inaugural WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal. We even were able to witness the first-ever WWE women’s match contested in the UAE. With these progressions made in 2 years for the women’s division, it’s exciting to imagine what is next for the women in WWE. However, RAW Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss has her own plans, saying “My ideal next step would be main-eventing WrestleMania. That would be the ultimate, top-of-the-line, we made it... That’s the ultimate ‘we made it’ if we main event WrestleMania.”