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What Progress Looks Like: Women At WWE WrestleMania

The women’s division has changed a lot in ten years.

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Sasha Banks WWE WrestleMannia Women

A look at ten years of women’s matches at WrestleMania and the progress WWE has made.

To say that the state of women’s wrestling in the WWE is nowhere near where it once was is no longer hyperbole, it’s a fact.  Even in just a year’s time there have been some huge strides albeit among the usual mess that is the business we love.  We’re coming off a season now where there has been an all women’s WWE pay per view in Evolution (which most people rightfully put on their list for best show of the year in 2018), the women have some of the best segments on RAW and Smackdown every week, and they’re even main eventing house shows now.  But despite some really rapid progress it’s been a long, slow road to get to this point.  Just look back on the women’s matches at WrestleMania since 2010:

  • WrestleMania 26 : A 10 Diva tag team match that lasts a whopping 3:26.  I haven’t watched this match, did all 10 women even get to do anything in the match?  And this was on a show where Bret Hart wrestled Vince McMahon…….in 2010, not 1999.  Good grief.
  • WrestleMania 27: Mixed Tag featuring John Morrison, Trish Stratus and Snooki (remember her?) vs Dolph Ziggler and LayCool.  I have watched this.  It wasn’t terrible, but again they got all of 3 minutes and change here (3:17 to be exact).  Yes you have to protect the TV star but with five other people in the match they could have gotten more time than this.  Please note that on this show Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole got almost 15 minutes for what was a truly terrible farce of a match.
  • WrestleMania 28: Kelly Kelly and Maria Menouos (the TV show host) vs Beth Phoenix and my first wrestling crush since getting back into it, Eve Torres (please come back for a Rumble or Battle Royal or something…we miss you!).  This one was fine for what it was, they got 6:22 to work with which is fine for a match with a non wrestling celebrity in it.
  • WrestleMania 29:  The nadir.  No matches at all.  Nothing.  There was a Diva’s champion, Kaitlyn, but they decided that a Puff Daddy ‘performance’ (I’m being nice here) was more deserving than having her defend the title even in a short match.  The Bellas and The Funkettes were scheduled for a mixed tag team match that was cut for time. To be fair, United States Champion Cesaro also didn’t have a match. Sheesh…….

Well you couldn’t do any worse than that so there was only one direction to go.  And things did go up……a little teeny bit.

  • WrestleMania 30:  AJ Lee defended the Diva’s title in a 14 woman invitational match.  Not a battle royal, or a gauntlet match, or a six pack challenge style elimination match, just a 14 woman one fall match.  LAZY.  On a show where Brock Lesnar and the Undertaker got 25 minutes (about 10 too many for real), no reason that this couldn’t have gotten better than 6:48 and something better than a straight up one fall match.  But at least the title got defended on the show.
  • WrestleMania 31:  AJ Lee and Paige, who’d been feuding over the Diva’s title until Nikki Bella won it in November, beat Nikki and Brie Bella in a tag team match that went 6:42.  On the same show where HHH and a 56 year old Sting had a match that went almost 20 minutes and had about 50 run ins, and tacked on another 10 minutes for entrances and a post match staredown.  Five minutes off of that wouldn’t have been asking too much.

Now that’s just WrestleMania matches; we’re not even talking about the weekly embarrassment of sending them out there every week on TV for literal 2 minute matches, even 8 and 10 woman tag matches and battle royals that should never go s short as 2 or 3 minutes.  But things have really taken an upswing since then.  At WrestleMania 32 Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch had arguably the match of the night to crown the new Women’s champion (now the RAW Women’s Title).  WrestleMania 33 was a mixed bag in that there were two women’s title matches thanks to the brand split but the Smackdown one got cut really short in an unintended consequence of it getting pushed to the main show after originally being on the pre-show (remember folks, 10 to 15 minutes on the preshow is often better than 5 minutes on the main show).

Last year, at WrestleMania 34, we got Charlotte vs Asuka in what was a match of the night contender, another MOTY in the mixed tag with Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle vs Triple H and Stephanie, the RAW title match with Nia Jax vs Alexa Bliss and the Women’s Battle Royal.  For now that’s the high point for inclusion.  This year we’re sure to get the battle royal, two singles titles matches, a match for the new Women’s Tag Team Titles, and possibly an intergender match featuring Nia Jax.  That’s almost half the card right there, and it’s deserved because the Women’s side has been bringing the heat more than the men since the fall.

And to me that’s the best part of this.  They’ve gotten some opportunities, they have consistently outperformed the men, so they are getting to drive the train here.  As someone who has a been a fan for over 30 years this is truly remarkable and I’ll admit that if you came to me in 1989 with the notion that one day the women would be the best thing going every week I would have called you crazy.  But here we are.  The job isn’t finished yet, though.  This momentum needs to be kept up and maintained.

The women’s side of the roster has gotten pretty deep and more of them need the time and exposure they deserve.  (If there’s a hour for just the women somewhere in that Fox TV deal that would be great).  We as fans need to reward what’s being done here, with our attention and most importantly our financial support so that it proves to be viable over the long haul.  They deserve a spot on the stage and the way they’re going now they deserve the bigger one.  The guys had a long run with not so much as an inkling of competition but it is there now and quite frankly they need to step their game up.

All in all, this is a time to be a little happier with the state of professional wrestling.  Leave the Debbie Downers on the internet and social media alone for a bit and enjoy what we’re getting here.  Long way still to go but this is a true bright spot.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Opinion

Rob: Let’s Talk About Shane McMahon

He’s the Best In The World!

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Shane McMahon

Shane McMahon is a hot topic among WWE fans, and Rob is here to chime in on the rumors that Shane could become WWE Champion in 2019.

Yeah, it’s time to talk about the Best in the World Shane McMahon.  Shane has become a real thorn in the side of many on wrestling twitter and not in the way that Vince intended.  A lot of you guys don’t like the amount of TV time he gets (even I’ll admit that this week was a bit much), don’t like that he got a win over Roman Reigns at Super Showdown (I don’t either but so long as things play out the right way in the end I’m willing to see it as a needed piece of a bigger story), and really got nuts when the NEWZ sites starting ‘reporting’ rumors that he may become WWE World Champion down the line.   Some of you guys are even threatening that you’re done if it happens, and I believe you this time.  And this all makes me wonder if certain aspects of wrestling storytelling are just not viable in 2019 anymore.  Because this is the kind of thing that would have been a layup for mega heat back in the day but now seems to only result in scorn towards the bookers, or in this case Vince, from a lot of you guys for even considering it.

Now I can’t tell you guys what to like or not like, but there are a lot of times when I see the takes being thrown around on Twitter and wonder if I’m watching the same TV show that you guys are.  I also wonder, often out loud and in this space, just what it is some of you guys want.  Because I see people complain about emotional investment but from my earliest days as a fan one of the quickest ways to get emotional investment was to do something that would make people angry.  But it seems like in 2019 way too many people on Wrestling Twitter don’t ever want to get angry, and take that as a crime committed by Vince McMahon and not a storytelling piece.  And I don’t know how you rectify that.

Who knew this would lead us to “The Best In The World,” Shane McMahon???

By my estimation, someone like Shane McMahon getting the title is perfect for the ‘You Deserve It’ era, because he obviously doesn’t deserve it.  And to win it dirty off of someone like Kofi Kingston who toiled for 11 years  to just get a chance to win it should be a heat magnet.  But instead all I see is that it’s bad booking, that it’s a sign that Vince hates the fans and needs to go, etc.  So again I have to ask just what is it that some of you guys are looking for?  Heels are part of wrestling, and heels have to prevail sometimes.  A lot of you guys won’t boo Kevin Owens no matter low he stoops in turning on or assaulting people.  And one of the few guys who gets booed from the crowd because the people there don’t like him, Baron Corbin, gets ripped every day by ‘smart’ fans for being a bad choice to even put on television.

Maybe I’m out of date here but for me part of having heels is that at least every now and then something has to happen that you don’t want.  The people you root for have to lose, the people who should be champion have to be denied, somebody has to do something that you find to be beyond the pale, etc.  And it can’t just happen when you expect it or are ready for it, it has to happen at a time when you aren’t ready for it to get the maximum effect so that you’ll get angry enough at the perpetrators to want to see them get their comeuppance.  But it seems that getting mad at the characters is a bridge too far on Wrestling Twitter, that the point of a heel is to get shout outs on Twitter for ‘good heel work’, and that anything or anyone that you find truly loathsome is now grounds to change the channel.  Thus the constant ‘Corbin has go away heat’ takes on Twitter.  Where I’m from Go Away Heat meant ‘can somebody please come out and get this guy outta here? and not ‘why is he on my TV, what else is on?’


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I mentioned before that we’re in the ‘You Deserve It’ era, and what I mean by that is that a lot of  ‘smart’ fans are judging what they watch based who’s in it and whether or not they ‘deserve’ to be there.  And deserving it is almost entirely based on their personal career journey or perceived skill level.  Workrate guys and gals deserve it, as do those who went down some long, grueling road to get there.  Even if they’re playing a heel some of us cheer them based on how good they are in the ring or what they had to go through to get there, while on the flip side anyone who doesn’t meet our technical standards or didn’t suffer enough should be relegated to supporting roles or just removed from our television altogether.  The fastest way to get someone booed now it seems is for ‘smart’ fans to find out that they didn’t have to struggle hard enough (by their measures) to get a big spot.  Hell, we just had a WrestleMania main event where the winner’s whole elevation came despite acting like a heel because the personal career story of the woman behind the character was deemed more important than the actions of her character on screen.

So now back to Shane.  If you can’t get some people to boo heels over sneak attacks, cheating to win (don’t get me started on the whole ‘heels are fine but they shouldn’t cheat too much’ takes I’ve seen…..smh), etc. and the thing some fans get most consistently upset about is whether or not the ‘most deserving’ people are in the right places, then putting someone in the highest position who absolutely does not deserve it seems like an inevitable choice.  I’m not telling you that you’re not a real fan if you don’t like it, but I am telling you that there is some very sound logic behind it if they go that route.  And all the arguments against it – that Shane is not a full time wrestler, that he’s the boss’s son, etc – seem to me like just more reason to go ahead and do it.

Anyhow……until next week, everyone.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Opinion

Steve Cook’s Top 5: Wrestling Dads

Who is wrestling’s greatest dad?

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Father's Day Cody Rhodes Goldust Dustin Rhodes Dusty Rhodes

In the spirit of Father’s Day, Steve Cook takes a look at Wrestling’s Top 5 Dads! Which dad tops the list?

Last year, right around Mother’s Day, we took a look at the best mothers in the history of pro wrestling.  I thought for sure we did the same thing for the best wrestling dads, but apparently it didn’t happen. Certainly a mistake on my part, as pro wrestling is full of fathers whose sons & daughters ended up following them into the ring. Father’s Day is the one day of the year we make sure to give our dads the respect they deserve. These men certainly deserve our respect for how they helped their children create memories for us.

5. Chavo Guerrero Sr.

I didn’t get to see Chavo’s father, Gory, who formed a tag team with El Santo that never lost a match. He also had four wrestling sons: Chavo, Hector, Mondo & Eddy. After a legendary career of his own, Chavo resurfaced in the 2000s alongside his son Chavo Jr. in WWE. When given the choice between siding with his son or his younger brother, Chavo chose his son.

Chavo Classic stuck around long enough to have a Cruiserweight Championship reign, and would later appear in Lucha Underground for Jr’s Loser Leaves Lucha match with Rey Mysterio. Chavo’s attempt to help his son lie, cheat & steal his way to victory would be his last televised appearance prior to his death in 2017. Right until the end, Chavo was willing to do anything to help his son. Can’t celebrate Father’s Day without looking at Chavo Classic.

4. Ric Flair

The Nature Boy certainly had his ups & downs with all of his kids over the years. When David started his wrestling career, Ric used his position as President of WCW to give him favorable treatment. David eventually turned against his father because it was WCW and it was the late 1990s. Everybody turned against everybody at one point or another. Reid also appeared around this time and was expected to be a natural in the ring, but life had other plans there.

Where Ric’s sons unfortunately came up short, his daughter was able to excel. Charlotte inherited all of her father’s best traits, and as far as we can tell so far, none of his worst. Ric did his best to help Charlotte as well, up until the point where she decided that she didn’t need his help. Ric was heartbroken, but part of him had to understand where his daughter was coming from.

3. Stu Hart

No father in recorded history produced more professional wrestlers than Stu Hart. We all know about Bret & Owen, but Bruce, Smith, Keith, Wayne, Dean & Ross all had matches at one point or another. Not to mention all the kids they had, and Stu’s daughters marrying wrestlers and producing more wrestlers.

Stu was something of an icon in his homestead of Alberta, where he promoted Stampede Wrestling & performed in rings for years & years. He’s most known to American wrestling fans for his occasional appearances in the crowd at WWF events & in his sons’ storylines. Everybody in the business the same time as Stu has an impression of him that they do on a fairly regular basis. True story.

2. “Bullet” Bob Armstrong

Every single one of Bullet Bob’s sons followed in his footsteps and became professional wrestlers. In something of a rarity among wrestling siblings, they were all talented. Brian became the biggest star as the Road Dogg and was by far the best talker, but Brad, Scott & Steve were all great hands that always got the job done in the ring.

Smoky Mountain Wrestling was largely built on the back of Bob Armstrong. The Bullet had multiple stints as Commissioner during the company’s existence & spent most of the era leading his sons & other fine young men into battle against Jim Cornette & his cast of miscreants. The Armstrong/Cornette feud was one of the finest pieces of work in the 1990s, which is saying something because the decade had plenty of classic feuds. Both men were just tremendous on the microphone.

Honorable Mention: Angelo Poffo

It’s Father’s Day, and the father of Randy & Lanny, Angelo was instrumental in the early portion of both their careers. Angelo’s ICW promotion was where both men got on the map & showed the potential for great things in the future.

Angelo never achieved the fame of his sons, but they wouldn’t have gotten as big as they did without him. That’s why Angelo gets the nod here over Fritz Von Erich & other men that pushed their kids into the business. Angelo pushed them, but he made sure they had good heads on their shoulders. Randy & Lanny weren’t going to self-destruct because Angelo wouldn’t have allowed it.

1. Dusty Rhodes

There has not been a better father/son moment in the history of wrestling than when Dusty addressed his son in Macon, Georgia. It was 1994, and Dustin had ongoing issues with Col. Robert Parker’s Stud Stable, including some longtime enemies of Dusty’s in Terry Funk & Arn Anderson. Dusty resolved to help him out and make up for the fact he had previously neglected his son while being a world champion & front office worker. If you don’t feel a little lump in your throat or think somebody might be cutting onions or something while watching the American Dream pontificate in the below video, you have no soul.

Some say this was Dusty’s finest promo, even surpassing his famous “Hard Times” monologue. Cody, a man heavily influenced by his father & brother, cut a promo after his match with Dustin at AEW Double or Nothing that brought back memories & emotions from 1994.

Dusty was a master of telling a great story. The bull of the woods passed that trait on down the line.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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