For the first time in the history of the world's largest professional wrestling company, a women's match was held as the main event on Pay-Per-View.
Last night's NXT Takeover featured a historic match between Sasha Banks and Bayley. The match was even more historic because it was only the 11th Ironman match (in which the battle lasts for a set time rather than concluding after a pin-fall or submission; these are usually considered too brutal or intense for most wrestlers) in the franchise's 35-year history -- an Ironman match between women has never been held before.
The only thing more exciting than the match itself was the crowd's reaction. Onlookers excitedly chanted the phrase "WOMEN'S WRESTLING!" and "THIS IS AWESOME!" to proclaim their enthusiasm for the new regime of impressive ladies -- a heartwarming change from the misogynistic "PUPPIES!" (referring to women's breasts) chants of the 1990's.
The battle was set to decide the fate of the NXT Women's Championship. Both ladies are fan favorites, with Banks acting as a beloved villain and Bayley as an adorable hero. Banks and Bayley (along with wrestlers Charlotte and Becky Lynch) are the faces of the current revolution in the women's division of wrestling, which has transformed from male-gaze grabbing eye-candy to a full on athletic super-show. Many are even starting to consider Banks to be among the greatest wrestlers, male or female, in the entire history of the WWE.
Bayley defended her championship with vigor while Banks fought dirty to reclaim the respect she lost from her defeat at last month's Takeover event in Brooklyn. As the heel (AKA the bad guy) Banks wasn't afraid to bend the rules, at one point obscuring the referee's vision in order to go for Bayley's eyes. Bayley fought back with vigor, scoring 2 pin-falls and a last-second submission, ultimately retaining her championship. Outside of the ring, Bayley and Banks are best friends, and the energy they brought to the ring as enemies was undeniably emotional, with both women collapsing into tears at the conclusion of the fight.
As these women move up the ranks from the WWE's developmental territories to their main roster, let's hope the positive reaction from the fans prompts the WWE to continue this revolution and support talented female athletes as main attractions. Strong is the new pretty, indeed.
To get a little more backstory on these two beautiful brawlers, check out the WWE's promo for the event, below!