By: Kashawn Taylor
Anytime WWE announces some type of legends night or reunion, the reactions vary from excitement to annoyance to pure ambivalence. The whole idea of a “legends night” or reunion, in my opinion, is a farce, a ploy for ratings, hoping to bring back that nostalgic feeling and along with it, nostalgic former viewers. But the way these reunions are presented, and female legends as a whole, is horrible compared to the treatment male legends receive.
When a male legend returns, it is usually too huge fanfare and a large amount of time in the spotlight. When female legends return, they are usually grouped together in a multi-person match or relegated to backstage segments. To better explain what I mean, we can take a look at some of the past returns of female legends.
The first example of this treatment can be dated back to the Diva era. Back at WrestleMania 25, WWE announced plans for a Miss WrestleMania Battle Royal featuring women from the past along with current superstars. Some of the returning superstars included Miss Jackie, Torrie Wilson, Molly Holly, and Victoria. The match was the second-shortest on the card (aside from a 20-second match for the IC championship). The women did not get their own entrances, came out together, and a man dressed in drag eventually won the seven-and-a-half-minute match.
The match which can be seen below ironically is still up on WWE’s YouTube page with the comments turned off.
Trish Stratus and Lita steered clear of the match and for good reason. WWE clearly did not have any intention of giving the spotlight to the women that night. The match featuring male legends ran a bit longer, but featured only four people total, allowing them a chance to shine as individuals.
Even the first and only all-female pay-per-view, Evolution, featured returning legends bunched together in a battle royal match. Only Trish Stratus and Lita were given their own tag team match, which opened the show, and as we know, the opening and closing matches are considered big spots. While each woman in the battle royal came out to their own music, there was nothing of note in the match, as it was filled with comedy spots and dance breaks.
WWE had the chance to do something interesting with the first all-women’s pay-per-view, but squandered the opportunity. They could have put on dream matches, or at least listened to the fans and talent who suggested better ideas than what was presented. Torrie Wilson even noted she pushed for a tag team match against The IIconics. WWE could have highlighted their female legends the way they do people like Edge, Big Show, Ric Flair, and others.
Next, we can take a look at numerous special episodes of RAW where the women did not get to do much of anything, despite it being a three-hour show. For example, at RAW 25, WWE advertised many of RAW’s greatest female superstars and all they did was stand on stage and wave. Other shows like RAW Reunion and Legend’s Night featured the women in backstage segments.
Although the 24/7 Championship changed hands between the likes of Alundra Blayze, Kelly Kelly, and Candice Michelle, the segments were short and did not capture the essence of what these women brought to the women’s division. Basically, what the company is saying, if you aren’t Trish or Lita, do not expect to have any significant amount of time or spotlight. In fact, Trish Stratus is the only female legend to have a singles match or return storyline with Charlotte Flair at Summerslam.
Another prime, and disheartening example, is the return of Mickie James to WWE. Mickie quickly shot to fan favorite status due to her storyline with Trish Stratus. She would go on to win six championships, but would unceremoniously exit WWE and join Impact Wrestling. After leaving Impact, Mickie would make a surprise return to WWE in NXT, during a storyline where management had to look outside the company for someone who was ready for Asuka.
Mickie’s match with Asuka was amazing and she easily showed that “she still got it” and this led to a return on the main roster, but perhaps she would have fared better in NXT. Since her return to the main roster, she has not been a featured player aside from a few championship matches to elevate said champion. Even now, Mickie James is not being used while Goldberg and Edge are back, winning championships and Royal Rumbles. Mickie is consistently referred to as a legend in WWE, but younger viewers have no idea why that is. Video packages can only do so much and the constant losing and sidelining of Mickie James dampens her legacy and tarnishes her status as a legend.
It is clear that WWE does not care about their female legends the way they care about their male counterparts. From the insignificant returns to the numerous multi-woman matches that do not highlight any of the returning women, WWE continuously drops the ball when it comes to the returns of their female legends.
It is evident that WWE has a selective memory when it comes to their female talent and their treatment of female legends only shows that their performative feminism is just that – a publicity stunt to capitalize on the success of women in sports. So, unless the name is Trish Stratus, Lita, or more recently, Beth Phoenix, we as fans cannot expect to see any significant action when it comes to the return of female legends. Women like Mickie James, Michelle McCool, and Victoria may never be given the same spotlight as Trish, Lita, or male legends who have returned and had high-profile stories.
Do you think WWE will ever change their treatment of female legends? Sound off in the comments below!