The WWE women's division had a momentous 2018, with such feats as the first-ever women's Royal Rumble match last January, four different matches at WrestleMania where women were featured performers, and their grandest feat yet - the first-ever, all-women's PPV, WWE Evolution this past October. Stephanie McMahon has been an outspoken proponent of the progressing women's division and believes they're receiving appropriate recognition for their success.
Stephanie recently sat down with Variety for an interview and among the topics discussed, Stephanie would acknowledge Ronda Rousey's impact on WWE's ever-changing women's division before turning the attention to events that happened prior to Rousey ever signing. Stephanie recounted WWE's tour of Abu Dhabi in late 2017, where Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss would become the first two women to compete in a match in Abu Dhabi.
"Ronda wanted to be a part of this change, and it happened actually before she came on board," Stephanie said. "Which was something that disappointed her to a certain level, and on the other level, she was excited to come be a part of it, and she certainly helped raise the bar. But there's a really important story that I think needs to be told, and that is just the power of this movement and what it really means, and the power of digital and social media, and the power of your voices; The power of all our voices.
"So, just over a year ago, in Abu Dhabi, our women were allowed to perform for the first time," Stephanie continued. "And they had to be completely covered except for their heads and their hands. And during the match, a chant broke out, both men and women, chanting this is hope. This is hope in Abu Dhabi during a WWE women's championship match. And our performers in the ring said they saw tears in the eyes of little girls in the front row. And that's what this movement is really about. It's about giving that share of voice and making change."
With Rousey's unparalleled popularity, the legitimacy added with her Ultimate Fighting background, the growing women's division that continues blossoming new opportunities, including the upcoming WWE Women's Tag Team Championship belts, and even reports from The Observer that women may potentially headline WrestleMania this year, the future seems bright for the women of WWE. Stephanie explained to Variety just how much of a wave WWE has made, mentioning that Evoltuion had trended #1 over the final game of the World Series and Sunday Night NFL Football.
"We did sign Ronda Rousey and then we, also, in October, had our first-ever all-women's PPV live streaming event called, Evolution," Stephanie said. "Just to give you some perspective, it was available on WWE Network, which as of Q3 had over 1.6 million, and it trended #1 world-wide for over 2 hours during the last game of the World Series and NFL Sunday Night Football, and that's because of our fan base and our women that kill it, by the way! And it's not giving them this opportunity because they're women, it's giving them this opportunity because they're the best and they deserve this spot."
You can listen to the full interview above. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Variety with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.