Friday, October 22, 2021

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How the return of Mickie James could signal a shift in hiring practices for WWE

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Mickie James is a legendary performer. She has held multiple championship reigns in both WWE and TNA, has stayed active in indy promotions when not in the spotlight, is a mom, and is 37. 

Mickie represents a long time coming outlier to the WWE. Her re-signing and appearing on the blue brand signals a change is coming for female performers. 

WWE is still a place where, in a recent article by Cageside Seats, it was discovered that more than half of all women’s champions – at a 51.7% clip- are out of the WWE within one year of their final title reign.

And what’s even worse is, according to PWTorch, a report released by the site in 2015 concluded that 4.75 years is the average career length for women in the division. 

Now, several women have reached or are about to reach 10 year milestones, Alica Fox, Natalya, and Nikki Bella are among the few. But, this is a more recent development. 

Trish Stratus was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at 37, and is 41 now. Lita is the same age as Trish, and she retired from in-ring performing back in 2006 after debuting in WWE in 1999. Countless other female performers left in their early 30s, presumably to start a family, switch career goals, or because WWE didn’t see use for them anymore past a certain expiration date. This is how things were for a long time and ageism probably had some part of it.

But it’s not unheard of for other promotions to employ mothers or older female wrestlers. The knockouts Division in TNA employs several mothers with Angelina Love, Brooke, Madison Rayne, and Reby Hardy representing.

Sexy Star in Lucha Underground is also a mom. One of the most famous wrestlers internationally is Saraya Knight and she’s still going strong at 45 and after having several children.

Why is it that male performers can come back to work in WWE at any age, but it’s unheard of for females? The only exceptions we’ve had are Tamina and Stephanie McMahon. With Mickie, that’s about to change. 

Brie Bella plans to make a comeback sometime after her daughter is born and down in NXT Asuka, at 35, is tearing up the competition. Macey Evans also has a daughter.

Recent signees to the performance center indicate a change in how the higher ups are viewing age. Andrea is 32 while Kimber Lee and Heidi Lovelace are in their mid-late 20s.

There is a depth of women on the indys in their 30s and beyond. Everywhere else it isn’t exceptional to be a seasoned veteran. In fact, Melina is still wrestling at 37 and Aja Kong at 46, still steps foot into the ring on occasion. 

Life, with all its ups and downs, hopes and dreams, doesn’t stop moving once you hit a certain age. It’s important to see women of all walks of life represented. To a budding young girl, someone in the prime of their life, or someone who’s older and wiser, sometimes you need a reminder that you can do anything, at any age and time.

Male performers get access to a variety of “passing the torch” story lines, stories that see Superstars from the past come back for redemption, for one more chance, or they stick around like Chris Jericho and become the fabric of how a wrestler can transcend any age and time.

Maybe Mickie’s debut is narrowing the gap on something that has been an issue for the women for a long time. Perhaps women will finally get to participate in these kinds of stories and also get recognized for having long illustrious careers.  That’s a much needed and welcomed change. 

What do you think about this issue in the WWE? Who do you want to see make a comeback? Sound off in the comments below.

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