The Greatest Royal Rumble event has been the topic of much discussion among the WWE faithful. Many fans are intrigued by the event in Saudi Arabia, which will feature a 50-Man Royal Rumble Match. Is there a prize for the winner? Will that man get a title shot?
Then there are the singles matches. The Undertaker and Rusev will square off in a Casket Match. AJ Styles will defend the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura and legends collide when John Cena faces Triple H. The Universal Championship will be on the line when Brock Lesnar takes on Roman Reigns in a steel cage. If this event were in the states, there’s no question it would be a huge night for fans. But this one is full of controversy.
The reason for that is the obvious absence of the women’s division. The female Superstars of WWE are not booked on the card and evidently will not appear in any capacity. While the prehistoric politics of the Middle East are obviously at play here, there’s definitely much more going on behind the scenes.
Check out the unveiling of WWE’s new Women’s Championship:
Why is WWE moving forward with this event? If the answer is money, then perhaps it’s the wrong answer. If the hope is that somehow this could open doors for females to perform in a return visit to Saudi Arabia, then it’s a case of wishful thinking. There’s no question that WWE as a company is free to do what it wants when it wants, but there’s also no question that WWE must answer to the audience.
What happens when that audience demands to know why the women of WWE are being ignored in such a horrible fashion? Sam Stride of The Mirror Online believes that The Greatest Royal Rumble is a step back for WWE’s female talent and that could very well be the case.
The company used to deliver nothing but sex and violence and that was especially true of the female talent. There were very few glimmers of hope for pro wrestling fans, as WWE seemed committed to keeping the women in lesser roles than the men. Even pioneers like Trish Stratus stripped down to her underwear in the ring on many occasions, as did her main rival, Lita. They did what they had to do and led the way for the women in the company. But it was indeed a long road to relevancy for the division as a whole.
The Attitude Era saw many women gain fame and notoriety which was good for the company but the way they achieved it was less than desirable. They were eye candy for the largely male audience. Women’s wrestling in WWE featured porn stars and later, runway models. The top title was a shiny butterfly belt. It wasn’t that WWE just couldn’t get it right; they just didn’t care to get it right.
Check out Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte from Raw in 2016:
But of course all of that has changed now. The division was rebuilt from the ground up with a new perspective and a new philosophy. The women deserve a fair platform. More importantly, they deserve the same chance at success as their male counterparts. They’re no longer Divas. They’re Superstars.
It’s a drastic change and one that fans around the world have embraced. Finally, the women of WWE are treated with respect as people and admiration for their efforts as athletes. This is the women’s division that Trish and Lita fought for. They demanded to be taken seriously as did every woman that followed in their footsteps. WWE has indeed turned the corner on women’s wrestling.
So why is the company disregarding the Middle East’s treatment of women? Is this not the same company that supposedly learned its lesson and evolved with the times? Why should anyone that has followed the Women’s Revolution remain silent now that WWE apparently has no qualms about disrespecting its own female talent?
The problem here is that the outside world has collided with the fantasy world of WWE. The company’s product is an illusion, a simulated combative environment in which Superstars legitimately compete for major championships. Fans know it’s a work and WWE doesn’t do much these days to convince them otherwise. But once again, reality has set in. WWE is a public company after all, which means it has many masters aside from diehard wrestling fans.
The Greatest Royal Rumble event will make money. Otherwise, WWE would probably not go. If mainstream politics and social issues are important to the stockholders, then they’re important to WWE. But in some cases, nothing is more important than turning a profit. Fans expect the company to be more socially conscious than this. But is WWE’s moral compass really in question here? Is this really about the fair treatment of women in 2018 or is it about a wrestling company putting on a wrestling show to make money?
Perhaps the biggest concern for WWE fans is the company’s apparent hypocrisy. Women are essential to the product now. They have become part of the fabric of WWE. Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live would not be the same without the women’s matches. The same is true of the monthly events as well.
Check out Bayley vs. Charlotte from 2017:
Charlotte, Asuka, Carmella, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Bayley, Sasha Banks and Ronda Rousey are all part of the team. They contribute to the overall success of the company. They have strengthened WWE because of their work and have done what many believed was impossible: they’ve made women’s wrestling relevant in the house that Vince McMahon built. If they’re not welcome, then why go?
Rusev is Bulgarian. Nakamura is Japanese. Jinder Mahal is of Indian descent, Cesaro is Swiss, Sheamus and Finn Balor are Irish. Samoa Joe, Roman Reigns and The Usos are all Samoan. If a country, state, or city, took exception with any of these men performing in the ring, would WWE still go? Is that question even sensible or is it merely an attempt to find logic in an illogical situation?
What does The Greatest Royal Rumble event mean for WWE? The card is full of top tier talent. The biggest names in the company will be there and championships may change hands. But the women will not be there. Whether or not that will have a lasting impact on WWE is unknown. Whether or not fans care about what happens to the female Superstars they’ve grown to love is certain, now more than ever.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, iHeart Radio. Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com