Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair will make history when they battle inside the Hell in a Cell structure for the Raw Women’s Championship.
My Tuesday morning is pretty much always the same. I wake up, turn on my computer and watch Monday Night Raw. It’s a wrestling show on Fox 8 and every week I watch men and women risk their lives for the entertainment of millions around the world. On this particular morning, I didn’t know I would be watching history in the making, where another glass ceiling for women was smashed.
For the past year, women have been reaching high. There’s Hillary Clinton becoming America’s first female presidential candidate, Ronda Rousey becoming the highest paid Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC) and Michelle Payne becoming the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup. In wrestling, it’s Sasha Banks, known as The Boss, and Charlotte Flair, who more commonly goes by just Charlotte, who propelled the women’s movement forward when Sasha challenged Charlotte for the Raw Women’s Championship inside the demonic Hell in a Cell. While watching from the other side of the world, I was left astounded. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing and I couldn’t stop the tears from rolling down my cheek.
This is such a big deal because no one has ever thought women would compete in the Hell in a Cell.
For 19 years, the cage made from heavy duty steel was designed for men to settle their battles and leave their blood, sweat, and tears on the canvas.
It first appeared at the Badd Blood: In Your House pay-per-view event in 1997. Two bona fide athletes went into the cage, Mark “The Undertaker” Calaway and Shawn “The Heartbreak Kid” Michaels, and fought a match that pushed both heavyweights to their limits. This display saw The Undertaker chase Michaels around the cage, eventually slamming him against the walls and leaving him bloody after being thrown onto an announcer’s table below. In the years to follow, the cell housed daredevil acts and spine-tingling brutality.
In 1998, The Undertaker dumped Mick “Hardcore Legend” Foley from the top of the structure at another pay-per-view King of the Ring. That shortened Hardcore Legend’s career. In 2004, fellow competitor Paul “Triple H” Levesque soaked the canvas with his own blood in the war between him and Michaels. And who can forget when Shane McMahon threw caution to the wind and leapt off the top of the structure at this year’s WrestleMania?
But now, for the first time ever, the spectacle of savagery will host two female athletes who will do whatever it takes to show that girls can do it just as well as the boys. It’s proof that women’s wrestling has come a long way since it began in 1983 with the Fabulous Moolah. Then came the 90s when the wrestling became more sexualised with women forced to perform in bras and panties, have pillow fights and do gimmick match-ups such as mud fights and costume contests. Behind their glorified bodies, however, were phenomenal athletes. Three of the biggest names of the time were Lita who could perform a moonsault – a move that involves doing a back flip off rope – better than some of the guys; Chyna whose imposing figure struck fear into men and women in the locker room and Trish Stratus who was a spitfire who used her charm and athletic ability to win the Women’s Championship a record seven times. Despite that roster full of talent and ability women were always placed lower on the card and given little time to show the world they were more than pretty faces.
The mould began to break in 2004 when Lita and Stratus were in a heated rivalry, culminating with the two women closing the show – unheard of at the time – for an episode of Monday Night Raw. As a little girl I sat on the couch in a Lita T-shirt cheering on my hero. Lita dived through the top rope, nearly breaking her neck – it was something I will never forget. The two women gave it their all for a chance to be called champ. It truly was awe-inspiring and something I would proudly show any woman even today. The gap between the men and women in wrestling was getting smaller.
Fast forward to last week’s edition of RAW, where Sasha reflected on the history of women’s wrestling and the impact competitors like Trish and Lita had on the sport. It was then that Sasha challenged Charlotte to a Hell in a Cell match, and the crowd in attendance – and surely women watching around the world – in their homes erupted.
The women’s division in the WWE has arguably been the strongest in 2016. Sasha and Charlotte are two of the most famous and talented of the seven female wrestlers on Monday Night Raw today. Together, they have put together one of the best rivalries this year. Now the rivalry will be settled at October 30’s Hell in a Cell.
Sasha made history at the live special NXT Takeover: Respect last year when she met Bayley in the first Iron Woman match. She and Charlotte have shown that women’s wrestling matters.
As a die-hard wrestling fan, I have followed the careers of both women from their early days as amateurs in WWE NXT to performing on the grandest stage of them all, Wrestlemania, which normally draws 1.6 million viewers. They deserve to be the main event of this pay-per-view event.
There is no better way to show that you are truly behind this woman’s revolution than giving them the final spot on a major pay-per-view. Let them show the world that woman can kick ass and beat the hell out of each other.
October 30 will be a day etched into history. On that day their dreams come true. – Kamilia Hanna
Top image from World Wrestling Entertainment promotion.