Flip through the sports channels on your TV each night and you’ll still see a landscape dominated by men. The NBA is on eight different channels, but it’s tough to find the WNBA.
NFL? There really isn’t much of a female football alternative on TV.
You’ll see a softball game every once in a while but really only during the dead summer months.
The only sports entertainment entity out there right now really giving women their own platform, and thriving because of it, is WWE.
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After decades of showcasing men like Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and The Rock, WWE is now putting women in their main events. Female talent like Nikki Bella, Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair (Ric’s daughter) are now closing shows, not opening them. Women in sports entertainment are no longer bit players.
This Sunday WWE is presenting its first ever all-women’s Pay-Per-View event, “Evolution” from Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, which will be streaming live on WWE Network.
“It’s been a beautiful, incredible road for women in our industry to get to this point,” Bella told Metro of Evolution. “It’s so amazing that it’s finally happening. We’re getting a ton of storyline time on TV and it’s all because our audience demanded getting more women’s matches and more women’s storylines on TV.”
Rousey vs. Bella
Sports entertainment is at its best when it incorporates real-life storylines and that has been the case with the main event of Evolution as Rousey will face Bella. Rousey, of course, is a certified bad ass having climbed the mountain of both the judo and UFC world prior to joining WWE.
Rousey is currently playing herself up as WWE’s workhorse, a fighting champion that steps into the ring each and every night. But Bella, who Rousey derides as a narcissistic diva, is actually the one with over 10 years experience inside a WWE ring. Rousey just signed on with the company at the start of this year.
“A fan recently tallied it up. I think I’ve competed in well over 600 matches,” Bella said. “I think she’s had like 24 matches in WWE. So that speaks for itself. This Sunday it’s going to be the best performance of my career, for sure. I’ll have my sister Brie in my corner, I have a new move set, and the Bellas always have a few tricks up their sleeves.”
A new era
The women in WWE these days are accomplishing athletic feats that many of their male predecessors couldn’t even dream of doing. For instance Ric Flair, the aforementioned 16-time world champion, is quite open about his daughter Charlotte being the superior athlete.
That athleticism, combined with the requisite skills on the microphone is what makes the perfect WWE performer in 2018.
“You have to blend it all together,” Bella told Metro. “It’s charisma, it’s likeability. You have to bring something different to the table. The minute a woman walks out of that curtain it’s about how much she connects with that crowd. Does she get their attention? How well does she speak on the mic? It’s all about confidence, and I only started to get better when I just started being me.”
How to watch
You can watch WWE Evolution live this Sunday on WWE Network. WWE Network is available on most live streaming devices and costs just $9.99 per month with the first month free.