WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon recently spoke with Ayesha Tabassum of Indian Express Indulge to promote International Women’s Day, which is celebrated today. Stephanie was asked what her message to women is, and where she thinks this need to awaken women comes from.
“I believe in fighting for what’s right and fighting for equality,” she said. “I have had many opportunities in my life, I have also had lot of challenges, because of my gender. This shouldn’t be a barrier to anything you want to accomplish. I have three daughters; I am fighting for them and for women all over the world. We should be able to do what we want to do, as long as we work hard like everyone else in the room, never give up and fight for what we believe in.
“Everyday should be International Women’s Day because we fight for equality every day. It’s important to have a voice and to be proud of who you are and to have confidence in yourself. To know that you belong, no matter what anybody tells you. To never give up or back down, and work very hard.”
Stephanie was also asked how WWE is changing the landscape of women’s wrestling globally.
“WWE continues with the women’s evolution that started a long time ago but it became a part of the movement in 2015,” she said. “The hashtag #givedivasachance trended worldwide for three days calling for more character development, better storylines, longer matches and more athleticism and we rebranded the diva’s division as women’s division, we also unveiled new championships. Our women who were showcased in the main event at WrestleMania 35 – Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch – broke the entertainment revenue record at the MetLife stadium.
“The opportunities in NXT, SmackDown and RAW just shows how we have evolved – the ethnicities and body types – the representation of women of all types is being included.”
The interviewer incorrectly noted that RAW Women’s Champion Asuka is the only female Superstar to represent Asia at this time, but it’s possible she meant the only main roster women’s division champion representing Asia. She asked Stephanie if there will be a wider representation of talent from the region, including India, and what is the plan moving forward. Stephanie noted how WWE has women from 14 different countries right now, including WWE NXT. She named NXT Superstar Xia Li and her current storyline, noting that WWE sees big things to come for Li. Stephanie also named NXT’s Kavita Devi, the first female Superstar to wrestle from India.
“Of course, yes!,” Stephanie responded. “During pre-Covid days we were doing trials all over the world. We are always looking for the best – both men and women. Right now, we have women from 14 different countries and we are really proud about that. We have women from Australia, Canada, Chile, the UK, India, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Moldova, New Zealand, Scotland, Wales and China.
“We have Xia Li from China who has a Chinese dynasty-type storyline. She has a fascinating backstory too, her parents didn’t support her to come to the USA to be part of the WWE. We see big things for her in the future. From India we have Kavita Devi, but we are certainly looking for more talent from the country. We will continue to grow the roster with a particular focus on women.”
Stephanie named her WrestleMania 34 match as one of her most challenging moments in WWE. That match saw Stephanie and Triple H take a loss to Ronda Rousey and WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle.
“Facing Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 34 was one of my big challenges personally and professionally,” Stephanie recalled. “She’s so amazing that I had to train myself to just be able to showcase her because it was her debut in WWE. She was the first women’s champion in the UFC, the first female fighter to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame and she was the first American woman to earn an Olympics medal in judo. She was an incredible person with a great backstory, but she was tough. It was her debut, and it was a tag match. She teamed with Kurt Angle who is another medallist, against me and my husband Triple H who is an iconic star. The only one who didn’t belong to this professional athlete circle was me.
“I had to train three times a day for three months. On top of this, I was also a mom by then and I was competing with my husband, I didn’t want him to look bad or my father to look bad who had created WrestleMania, it was a huge challenge. I learnt so much about myself even though I was so scared. Actually, my oldest daughter reminded me of a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, ‘To do something you are afraid of every day,’ I still follow it. So back then I chose to go for the match because it was a privilege that not many people have.”