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Thread: WWE Then, Now, Forever: The Evolution of WWE’s Women’s Division DVD Review

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    WWE WWE Then, Now, Forever: The Evolution of WWE’s Women’s Division DVD Review

    Then, Now, Forever: The Evolution of WWE’s Women’s Division
    June 26, 2018



    A different sort of review. This DVD is set to be released at the end of the month, but to see if this DVD is potentially worth checking out, I’ll be reviewing the individual matches, whether that means taking old match reviews or covering the matches for the first time.

    Disc One

    The Fabulous Moolah © w/Capt. Lou vs Wendi Richter w/Cyndi Lauper - WWE Women’s Title - The Brawl to End It All
    A gigantic match in WWE Women’s history. Like...legitimately. Based on WWE history (Which you should never buy into), Moolah had been champion since 1956 going into this match. Although this match took place at MSG and naturally aired on the MSG Network as a full show, this show was also shown as part of the MTV Special, The Brawl to End it All. Drawing a huge 9.0 rating, it was, at the time, the most watched program in MTV’s very short history, and I would have to think it’s still one of the most watched WWE program ever. Thank-you WM 26 Blu-Ray for easily allowing me to watch this match in HD quality. Admittedly, it’s not a good match. The women matches at this point were already garbage, part of which made the arrival of the Jumping Bomb Angels so amazing, but to make matters worse, Moolah just celebrated her 61st (!!!) birthday the day before. The result is Moolah can’t even properly work the simple formula that these women matches were having at the time. This age creating difficulty really shined when Moolah attempted a hair grab monkey flip, but has to start on her back and let Richter on her back where she’d grab Wendi’s hair at the very last moment of the spot. The match was back and forth with both women locking in sloppy looking full nelsons. Lauper got involved, punching Moolah out to get a bit of revenge for all of the smack talking Moolah and Capt. Lou had been doing in the build-up to the match. When Capt. Lou tried to return the favor to Richter, he completely missed, falling over the top rope. The finish came off as incredibly lame to me. Moolah goes for a back suplex with a bridge, which looked like a botch until I realized she was intending to perform that move, but Richter gets her shoulder up during the double pin. With that, we have a NEW WWE Women’s Champion. Imagine it, according to the WWE’s version of history, Moolah’s historic twenty-eight year title reign came to an end solely because she pinned herself. After all of this time, Moolah couldn’t even be bothered to job. Besides a count-out loss, this would be Moolah’s only loss ever at MSG. It’s a good thing they were so mindful of protecting the sixty year old elderly woman rather than the hot new star that was gaining a ton of attention at this point. As a match and booking, it’s pretty awful, but you can’t deny that it isn’t a big match. Besides the Hogan/Piper program, it was this problem that helped bring attention to the eventual first Wrestlemania. * ¼

    Team Fabulous Moolah vs Team Sherri Martel - Survivor Series 1987
    Team Moolah has The Jumping Bomb Angels (w00t), Rockin' Robin and Velvet McIntyre. Meanwhile, Sherri's team has the lady tag champions, The Glamour Girls, Dawn Marie (Not that one) and Donna Christanello. The problems started when Sherri defeated Moolah for the Women's Title back in the summer. Since then, Martel had had fights with pretty much every babyface woman wrestler. Other than that, the only backstory is just the fact that The Jumping Bomb Angels and Glamour Girls had already began wrestling matches against each other. To be honest, this is just a match to build up the Jumping Bomb Angels as the WWE begins to invest some time in them. They're the sole survivors and they're the ones that leave the greatest impressions thanks to their series of moves that is so before their time for women's wrestling. Hell, they hit moves that you won't even see in women wrestling today. I fucking love the Bomb Angels. The fact that the match came down to the Bomb Angels vs The Glamour Girls was a sign of things to come with so many more tag matches to come. I suppose you can say it was also necessary so that their match at the '88 Royal Rumble had enough hype. However, the awesomeness of the Bomb Angels isn't the only appeal of the match. Velvet McIntyre really looked good with all of her leverage moves (Particularly the head scissors, victory roll and monkey flip). It's her eliminating Sherri with a victory roll that gives the Women's Title a little direction as we move into 1988. Velvet may have been eliminated by Kai after Kai countered a victory roll into an electric chair, but Velvet still scored eliminations over Donna and Sherri. If there was a December PPV, Sherri vs Velvet would be an obvious addition. For a women's WWE match, it's really entertaining, although it was a little longer than it needed to be. Considering my undying love for the Bomb Angels in the WWE, it's a must see match. Folks, you don't need to watch terrible women wrestlers like AJ, Kaitlyn and Layla. THESE women and their aggressive style was actually entertaining. ***

    Bull Nakano © vs Alundra Blayze - WWE Women’s Title - Raw - April 3, 1995
    It’s the night after Wrestlemania 11. These two women have been wrestling nonstop since the start of August 1994. After a pair of impressive matches at Summerslam and on Raw, Nakano finally defeated Blayze for the title in Japan at the Egg Dome in November. Considering the fact that WM 11 was so short (Not even two and a half hours on the WWE Network), I don’t know why this match didn’t just take place at that PPV. Since this is Bull’s final night with the WWE, they don’t even bother giving her an entrance. Even though the handling of this match is disappointing, these two were incapable of having a bad match together in the WWE. The story of the match is simply Bull is a fucking beast and Blayze needs to keep moving and figure out a way to wear Nakano down. Blayze accomplished this by flying around some, moving out of the way when Bull attempted a suicide dive to the outside, and spamming the hell out of her finishing move - the German Suplex. Blayze realizes that in order to beat Bull, it’s going to take a lot, so rather than get frustrated when her bridging German Suplex doesn’t get the pinfall, she instead opts to hit it for a second time. When Bull misses the dive to the outside, Blayze sees that as a chance to hit a third German Suplex on the outside. Finally, back in the ring, Blayze hits a fourth German Suplex, this time finally keeping Bull down for the three count to crown a NEW WWE Women’s Champion. This is a rare example of being able to hit a finisher multiple times in a match without it being overkill. It wasn’t kick outs for the sake of kick outs, but rather a story of a monster being slayed by a hero’s favorite weapon. Bull may have only been in the WWE for nine months, but she was legitimately one of the best parts about the second half of 1994/early 1995 WWE. *** ¼

    After the match, a large unknown woman attacked the new champion from behind, laying Blayze out. With that, Bertha Faye has made her WWE debut. It’s worth noting Faye debuted wearing her normal Rhonda Sing gear, which was all black tights and face paint. Very similar look to the old tag team of the Headhunters. The next time Faye would be on WWE TV, she’d be with Harvey Wippleman and wearing her bright colors. It’s a shame, I would have liked to have seen a monster Rhonda Sing rather than the comedy figure that we got with Faye.

    Ivory (c) vs Chyna - WWE Women's Title - Wrestlemania 17
    A rematch from Royal Rumble 2001 where Chyna nearly had the title won, but her neck injury allowed Ivory to quickly win the match. On one hand, Chyna winning the Women's Title here created a lot more possibilities in the division since she was seen as such a bigger star than the rest. However, putting Chyna in the Women's Division really devalued her. This is a woman who made a career wrestling the men and dismissed the idea of working the women's division. Now she's just a regular diva. It's no wonder the WWE laughed at her request to be paid the same as Austin, Rock and Taker when her contract came up in the summer. Match was really short and saw Ivory hit some really terrible looking punches to Chyna's back/neck. There were a few points I was concerned that Chyna was legitimately going to injury Ivory due to her carelessness. After hitting a power bomb, Chyna pulled Ivory up to force the match to keep going. That led to Chyna pressing Ivory and nonchalantly covering Ivory to become the NEW WWE Women's Champion. Thus, the beginning of the end of third era of WWE women's wrestling begins. Not good at all. * ¼

    Victoria © vs Trish Stratus - WWE Women’s Title - Raw - November 25, 2002
    From the week after Survivor Series where Victoria won the title. Much to my surprise, this was really decent. Unlike nearly all 2002 WWE women matches, this was botch free. There wasn’t any clear story, but instead it was just a physical match-up that was back and forth. Especially at this point in her WWE career, Victoria is trying so hard. She may not have much to work with with the lackluster roster at the time, but she stands out as the best worker at this point. Even more surprising to me, besides the match being okay, is that it received a good amount of time and it featured a clean finish. Stevie Richards was not spotted until after the match and the closest Victoria got to cheating is shoving Trish throat first into the top rope and then delivering the Widow’s Peak to get the pinfall. Better than both No Mercy and Survivor Series 2002 matches. ** ¾

    Lita vs Victoria - Cage Match - Raw - November 24, 2003
    From Raw Roulette. This would be the first ever women’s cage match in WWE history. The most praise I can give this match is that Victoria went into it fully willing to take as hard of bumps into the cage as needed. The bumps through or over the top rope into the cage is just as good as the bumps that the guys take. So while Victoria came with her working boots on, then there was...Lita. The most memorable thing Lita did in the match is when Victoria was selling on the mat and Lita attempted to scale the cage only to lose her grip and fall off. Well, that’s one way to ensure it’ll be years before the WWE ever does a women’s cage match again. One of the worst botches I’ve seen in a cage match. Lita managed to recover though and nailed a moonsault to a standing Victoria. That allowed Lita to crawl to the open door, but before she can escape, Matt Hardy runs out and slams the door in Lita’s face. With Lita hurt, Victoria crawls out of the open door to win the match. After the match, Christian ran out to ensure Hardy wouldn’t do anything else to Lita as a step in Christian’s plot to con Lita into thinking he cared about her. The fact that the first ever women’s cage match was wasted on Lita is a real shame. Any praise for this match should go directly to Victoria only. * ¾

    Victoria © vs Molly Holly - Title vs Hair - WWE Women’s Title - Wrestlemania 20
    Since the start of 2004, Victoria has been getting the best of Molly. Pinning Molly (When she was champion) in non-title matches and tag matches. After Victoria won the title in February on Raw in a fatal four-way, her streak of beating Molly only continued. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but somehow Steve Austin convinced Molly Holly to put her hair on the line for this match. In reality, the Women’s Title was originally not set to be defended on Wrestlemania. Instead, Molly had to go to the WWE officials, offering to lose her hair in order to get a match. That’s some serious dedication. Imagine the disrespect Molly and Victoria likely felt, not originally being booked, but the WWE did find time to book an evening gown match? Yet, even when this match finally happens, the disrespect continues as JR and The King spend nearly the entire match talking about panties. WTF? I can’t imagine how frustrated Molly likely was afterward, when she learns what the commentary did. Here she is, willing to lose her hair, yet the commentators can’t be bothered to focus on the match? Unfortunately, the match isn’t overly exciting. I know I prefer their non-title match on Heat before Royal Rumble. The finish comes off as pretty abrupt too as Molly attempts to steal Victoria’s own Widow Peak, but Victoria counters it into a backslide for the surprise pinfall. Still, this was better than the other women’s match. * ¾

    After the match, the real fun begins as the two battles up the ramp with Molly trying to force Victoria into the barber’s chair to shave Victoria’s hair, but Victoria manages to spray Molly in the face with hair spray. That allows Victoria to strap Molly to the chair and start using the clippers on her. Due to time restraints, they only go as far as giving Molly an awful looking mullet, but it’s still a far more memorable segment than maybe any other Diva moment in WM history. The next night on Raw, we’d be able to see Molly bald.

    Lita vs Trish Stratus - RAW - December 6, 2004
    The historic match that had a woman's match in the main event. This is one of a handful of Attitude Era+ women matches that actually mattered. However, it doesn't take away from the fact that it was still another lame woman's match. For what it counts, it sucks less than most diva matches and the big match feel helps it as well. However, good crap is still crap. * ¾

    *Slow clap*

    Great in-depth review there, Jim. Reading it, it really feels as if I was there. Let’s re-do this review so that it clearly shows that I watched the match.

    Trish Stratus © vs Lita - WWE Women’s Title - Raw - December 6, 2004
    At this stage, this frenemy relationship was back to being enemies with things really heating up due to Trish relishing the emotional turmoil that Lita had been going through due to her unwilling relationship with Kane. They recently had a match at Survivor Series that prematurely ended due to Lita being too aggressive from the start, breaking Trish’s nose and causing the referee to quickly stop it. The surprising thing about this match is that despite having a good amount of praise and acceptance as a historic match, it’s only seven minutes long. The story of the match was built around what Lita did best - botch. Her suicide dive to the outside caused Lita to fall so awkwardly that you can’t help but to grimace when watching the screen. The fact that this is the same woman who was out of action with a broken neck a year and a half ago makes the spot even more sick to watch. Yet, this botch allows for Trish to focus on the head/neck for the remainder of the match while Lita gets to show heart by refusing to be beaten. Trish stoops to pulling off her protective mask to knock Lita out for a nearfall. When that doesn’t work, Stratus hits her Chick Kick (Without even coming close to Lita’s head) for another nearfall. Then Trish tries to use the ropes for the unfair advantage, but that still won’t give her the victory. Lita proves to be unbeatable on this night and after hitting a Reverse of Fate, she’s able to finish Trish off with a moonsault to become the NEW WWE Women’s Champion. Naturally, Lita’s title reign would be cut short the following month after sustaining a new injury...from a botch. The story was pretty decent, but this match gets overhyped. Did it actually do anything for women’s wrestling in the WWE? No. It’s just one main event. A main event slot that the women would not get on Raw again until 2016. It isn’t any different from that random Smackdown in 2003 that was headlined with Rey Mysterio’s Cruiserweight Title victory over Matt Hardy. One main event doesn’t mean anything has changed. Still, I will admit that the match had a special feel to it while you’re watching. Very slightly better than I remember it being. **

    Trish Stratus (c) vs Mickie James - Women's Championship - Wrestlemania 22
    Upon her debut in early October, Mickie James became Trish Stratus' biggest fan. It started off as just annoying, but then Mickie kept upping the psycho level. Finally, Trish had enough and told Mickie that she wanted a break. With Torrie Wilson being injured or whatever, Trish needed a partner for SNME against Victoria and Candice. Mickie volunteered and Trish reluctantly agreed, but only for it to be their last time together. Trish won the match without tagging in Mickie. After the match, Mickie wanted a handshake, but when she hugged Trish, Trish shoved her off. Mickie would give her a Chick Kick (Redubbed as the Mick Kick) thus finally turning heel. Things only got better as Mickie James kidnapped Ashley and lured Trish to the ring. Once in the ring, Mickie delivered a sick looking jumping DDT. In other words, they were having the best feud thus far in 2006. Violent tie-up to start. Mickie just slaps Trish until Trish gives a elbow in return. Lou Thesz Press by Trish. Terrible chop by Trish. Second one is a bit better. Third ends up being the worst. Just stop doing chops Trish, you suck at them. Trish kicks Mickie to the outside. Stratus misses Mickie and gives the ring post a chick kick. Mickie works over the knee by slamming it into the post. Trade of punches back in the ring. Mickie goes low with a drop kick. Loud 'Let's Go Mickie' chant. She might be the heel, but she's finally a woman wrestler doing something creative and fun. More working on the knee of Trish. Half Boston Crab, Lance Storm would be proud. Mickie pulls the hair of Trish and slams her face first back down to the mat. Sick looking kick to the back of Trish's knee while it was caught up in the ropes. Mickie poses for the fans and gets a great reaction. Spinning head scissors by Trish. The fans begins to boo whenever Trish is on offense. Ha...that's awesome. JR tries to say the fans just feels like being defiant. Trish goes to splash Mickie in the corner, but James gets the boots up to block. Mickie avoids the head scissors in the corner and slams Trish down to the mat. The fans are loving anything Mickie does. Hurricanrana is countered and reversed into a power bomb by Trish. Awkward spot where Trish tries to go for the Matrix move, but she ducks down too quickly. Trish gets in the side head lock for the Stratusfaction, but Mickie grabs Trish's crotch. The WWE edits out Mickie licking her fans while laughing. The WWE also edits out the Stratusfaction by Mickie botch. Cut to Mickie nailing the Mick Kick to pin Trish and become the new Women's Champion. Mickie was damn near perfect at this time. She had the psycho gimmick down to perfection and was easily the best women's wrestler the WWE had at the time. She even managed to take a sub par worker in Trish and get a good match out of Trish. In fact, this is the only match of Trish's that I would consider good. The match did have the typical awkward moments that women matches are known for, largely due to Trish. However, the intensity and the crowd reaction easily made it a non issue. While I'm normally not a fan of the WWE (Or any company editing matches) the edit of the botch at the very end needed to be done. They had built up a pretty good match, but the botch really hurt the lasting feeling the match gave me. So without the botch, there was nothing to hurt the match greatly. I can't help, but miss this Mickie. Much like 2002-2003 Victoria, she was so much different than all of the other divas. I actually had a reason to care about her, unlike today. This feud (Mickie mainly), was my main reason to watch Raw around this time. I'm not the typical diva's fan who thinks it's a good match even though it can't even compare to the quality of the other matches on a card. This was a good wrestling match and it didn't need any BS curve for women wrestling. *** ¼

    Kaitlyn © vs AJ Lee w/Big E - WWE Divas Title - Payback 2013
    It was in the build-up to this match that Kaitlyn found out that she had a secret admirer. That admirer ended up being Big E. In his big reveal, Big E lulled Kaitlyn into a false sense of security before dropping the bombshell that it was all a ruse created by AJ. Being humiliated on live TV has seemingly driven Kaitlyn to insanity. If you ask me, all this did for Kaitlyn is make her out to be the most cringeworthy WWE wrestler at this point. She’s acting like a child for something that wasn’t even a good prank. On one hand, this allows Kaitlyn to be more aggressive, which is perfectly fine, but on the other hand, she does a lot of idiotic things. The best example of that is late in the match after AJ had done a lot of cheating, including knocking Kaitlyn out with AJ’s own street clothes belt for a nearfall. In a nice spot, AJ attempts a top rope crossbody, but Kaitlyn catches her, attempting a spinning slam, only for Lee to counter THAT into her Black Widow. Kaitlyn is able to power out of it and deliver a backbreaker. One spear later and it looks as if Kaitlyn has the match won...only to fuck around with mind games. Instead of going for the cover, Kaitlyn takes forever, crawling on AJ, pulling Lee up in a seated position to blow a kiss at her, before finally attempting the cover. Naturally, all of this stalling gave AJ time to kick out. The match only goes a couple of minutes more before Kaitlyn misses a charge in the corner, goes face first into a turnbuckle pad, and is locked in the Black Widow for a second time, being forced to submit to crown a NEW WWE Divas Champion. That was a really good potential ending with the spear, but instead that stupid stalling had to happen. Kaitlyn flat out fucked up and it cost her the belt. She’s supposed to be the babyface, but how are you supposed to sympathize towards her when she’s not wrestling smart? Match would have been better had it ended with the spear. **

    After the match, Kaitlyn is a pathetic mess as the crowd chants “You gave up”. She breaks down crying, only to be comforted by Layla. That garners boos from the crowd. Layla brings Kaitlyn to the back where they’re joined by Natalya and Alicia Fox, but Kaitlyn is far too distraught to listen to any of the kind words from her friends. Kaitlyn runs off to be a sad, pathetic fuck alone. The WWE might has well just fired Kaitlyn after this PPV because they’ve ruined her with this booking.

    Paige (c) vs Emma - NXT Women’s Title - NXT ArRival
    With both women having video packages shown for them in addition to seeing how they prepare for this match, this feels important and the complete opposite of the piss breaks that the Diva matches are on the main roster. In my limited viewing of Emma, I don't exactly get her appeal, but she was great here. She still did her usual wacky antics, but she did it with a stern expression on her face and added a ton of aggression to the match. I can't say I expected Emma to damn near squash Paige with Emma just being too tough for Paige despite the fact that Paige kept avoiding the Emma Lock. The importance of the match increased when Emma becomes the first person to ever kick out of the Paige Turner, forcing Paige to debut her Scorpion Crosslock (Whether it is or it isn't, it's at least the impression I got from the commentary) to finally force Emma to tap out. Even in losing, Emma looked great and Paige managed to put on a better match than anything else I've seen her in. Admittedly, that isn't much. A legitimate good match without having to use the usual Diva's curve. It's no wonder the NXT's Diva division is so highly praised. *** ¼

    Overall
    I'd describe disc 1 as being a look at the WWE women's division before the surge in quality. Just the various big moments over the years when the division was still mostly not taken very seriously. Admittedly, I do feel as if the last two matches could have fit better on disc 2 though. Maybe you could argue that AJ Lee and Paige were the very initial start of something and then the arrival of the Four Horsewomen truly got the evolution going, but considering there's a seven year gab between the rest of the disc and the last two matches, the last two matches do feel a little different from the rest. As far as selections go, there's not much I can really gripe at. Nearly everyone significant to quality women's wrestling is represented. The match may have sucked, but Moolah/Richter, was such a big match and even to this day, an argument could be made that there's never been a bigger WWE women's match than that one. Anyone who has interacted with me for awhile knows how much I've been hyping the brief runs of both the Jumping Bomb Angels and Bull Nakano in the WWE. Perhaps neither one actually mattered to the WWE, but you can go back and watch matches from either and they hold up incredibly well. Up until the Horsewomen took over NXT, the Bomb Angels and Bull was the only consistently good women acts in WWE history. From there, we got to see a brief appearance from Chyna, although if you're looking for quality, it would have made more sense to grab one of her IC Title matches from 1999 rather than her time in the Women's Title picture. Of course, Trish and Lita are well represented. Neither one is as good as the fans or WWE makes them out to be, but there's no denying that they weren't stars. Surprisingly, Victoria is represented a good deal, which is well deserved. Then the disc wraps up with the aforementioned showcase for both AJ and Paige. I do feel as if there's a couple of omissions though. The biggest omission for me is a singles match for Beth Phoenix. She was a bright spot in an otherwise rough time period. She was important enough to get to be a part of a Royal Rumble match. She's even on the cover. Why doesn't she get a match? Her One Night Stand 2008 match against Melina would have been a worthy addition to this DVD set. Speaking of talent on the cover, but not receiving a singles match, there's Jacqueline. She's a bit harder simply because she didn't really have good matches, but the six-pack challenge from Survivor Series 2002 would have been a fine choice, particularly since it also showcased Molly Holly and Jazz, while also being the start of a new era of WWE women's action. Omissions are to be expected though and ultimately the WWE showcased the talents that mattered the most during this massive thirty year time span. A decent disc one with the quality undoubtedly getting better with the next two discs.

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    Re: WWE Then, Now, Forever: The Evolution of WWE’s Women’s Division DVD Review

    Stunned that they wouldn't include Trish vs Lita from Unforgiven 2006. It's historically significant, and it's a really good match, unlike most of their matches (Lita really sucked, honestly). Victoria vs Trish in the hardcore match wold have been a cool inclusion.

    I am even more surprised by the omissions of Beth and Michelle McCool. While I don't think much of McCool as a performer she was the most pushed female for about three years.

    Like you I'm glad they put a decent amount of Victoria in. She carried the division and really bumped up the quality of women's wrestling. Obviously it wasn't great beforehand, but at least Victoria improved it

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    Re: WWE Then, Now, Forever: The Evolution of WWE’s Women’s Division DVD Review

    It only takes a quick look at womens wrestling 10 years ago to appreciate the standard you get to see today.

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    Re: WWE Then, Now, Forever: The Evolution of WWE’s Women’s Division DVD Review

    Disc 2

    Charlotte w/Ric Flair vs Natalya w/Bret Hart - NXT Women's Title - NXT TakeOver
    Throughout the night, they had been hyping this match up beautifully. They legitimately made this match feel like one of the biggest of the year. It's amazing to think this is how the WWE is booking woman's division. I do have one gripe about the booking leading into the match. Why is Natalya in this? She's already on the main roster. Paige's whole point about how the NXT Divas Title can lead to winning the WWE Divas Title is completely lost since Natalya has already held the WWE Divas Title too. It seemed like they sacrificed one story (The women of the future battling) for the sake of a second story (Flair vs Hart, the next generation). Despite the overwhelming praise this match received, I wasn't impressed much. It is botched free and again, it feels super important. However, neither girl looked very good out there. They tried to have this epic match, but it fell short for me. I hated the main Figure Four spot where Natalya somehow reversed the pressure despite being in the exact normal position. Just as the commentary is mentioning how the only way there would be a new champion is by pinfall or submission, the referee is conducting a ten count with both women on the outside. What was going to happen had neither girl been able to get back into the ring? After Charlotte failed to make Natalya submit to her own Sharpshooter, she surprised Natalya with Hail to the Queen, which looked so weak that I would have expected it to come from The Ascension. The match is better than the Diva matches on the main roster, but I won't say it's anything special beyond that. ** ¼

    Stephanie McMahon vs Brie Bella - Summerslam 2014
    Of course you couldn’t have a DVD spotlighting the evolution of women’s wrestling in the WWE without looking at the one responsible for literally every bit of its success in Stephanie. Sitting in the front row is possibly the next Raw Women’s Champion, Ronda Rousey, and the current NXT Women’s Champion, Shayna Baszler. If you want to look at the evolution of WWE women’s wrestling, look at those two, not the two that are in the ring. My biggest annoyance about the match isn’t even the finish, but rather the crowd. Chanting, “You still got it!” at Stephanie’s first match in over a decade comes across as pretty idiotic. 1) Stephanie was never good 2) It’s not as if she’s doing anything truly special in this match and 3) She’s actually better than she was in the early 2000s. So chanting “You still got it!” seems almost insulting. Expect more from your pro wrestling. To elaborate more on point three, Stephanie looks really comfortable in the ring. Gone is that girl who looked awkward and unsure of what she was doing at any given time. Stephanie’s moveset is very simple, but that’s a good thing as she’s able to master it rather than try to be like the other Divas and work in more complicated spots, but end up botching them. The first half of the match is just Stephanie easily in control, which doesn’t exactly make the Diva division look good. Brie manages a comeback, but once she does, Triple H comes out to try and figure out a way to help his wife. That brings out Brie’s sister, Nikki to...stand around not doing anything. Before the angle kicks in, Nikki’s presence at ringside is awkward as she’s standing around, not actually getting involved in any way. Hunter would find his way to help his wife after pulling the referee out of the ring during a Brie cover. That would prompt Brie to hit the ropes and to drop Trips with a drop kick through the ropes. From there, we’re ready for the big angle with Nikki climbing into the ring to seemingly get revenge on McMahon, only to shock the world by downing Brie with a forearm. Nikki helps Stephanie up and with that, Stephanie picks up the victory. The Nikki heel turn was pretty senseless and the Bellas would be back together before the end of the year, but I have to admit that the match had a big feel about it. It was a spectical match rather than the pissbreak that Diva matches were at the time. Sadly, as big on paper as they looked at the time, the Diva Title matches with Paige vs AJ lee, that were taking place around this time period, including on this show, failed to be as big or as good as this Stephanie/Brie match. It’s a completely average match with an eye rolling heel turn, but I do feel as if there’s a justification for this match being added to the DVD set. Things may be picking up over on NXT, but on the main roster, the women’s scene was still mostly just pure filler. **

    Bayley © vs Sasha Banks - Iron Man Match - NXT Women’s Title - NXT TakeOver Respect
    It would not be a NXT TakeOver review unless Jim severely underrates a highly regarded match. Here’s the thing - Iron Man Matches are stupid. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Why is that? Because literally since the very first televised one at Beach Blast 1992, they’ve followed the same formula! Without knowing anything about this match beyond the fact that Baylie won, I assumed the final fall took place in the final moments of the match. Surprise, surprise, Baylie scored a submission to take the lead with four seconds to go. In the history of Iron Man Matches, there has never been a match where the final score was not a tie or someone winning by only one fall. Iron Man Matches desperately need someone like Brock Lesnar to come around and squash his opponent by five falls or something just to condition the fans into realizing that these matches do not need to be so repetitive. It’s not to say this match isn’t without it’s merits, but even my favorite parts had something negative attached to it. For example, Sasha’s AMAZING heel tactic of stealing Izzy’s bow. That’s without question, one of the best heel tactics I’ve seen in my lifetime. Yet, what did it really accomplish? Bayley was hurt on the outside and didn’t see it, so we didn’t get an enraged Bayley kicking the shit out of Banks for having the temerity to do that to her #1 fan. Since the moronic fans were too busy chanting for women wrestling, it’s not as if this got Sasha crazy heel heat either. Ultimately, the spot meant nothing and that annoys me to no end because it’s a fucking awesome idea. The commentators also let me down with the fantastic ending by completely glossing over the story of it. Sasha couldn’t force Bayley to submit to the Bank Statement because she couldn’t get a proper grasp due to her previously injured hand. The commentators briefly mentioned the lack of a proper grasp, but they didn’t elaborate. Due to the failure of a proper grasp, Bayley was able to escape and lock in an arm submission to score the submission. Not arm based ending not only played into earlier events of the match when Bayley worked over the hand of Sasha, but it plays into their TakeOver Brooklyn match when Sasha did something similar to Bayley. Even after the match, the commentators couldn’t be bothered to explain what we had just witnessed. Both women are talented and they put in plenty of hard work, but they’re limited by the restrictions of the gimmick of the match and other aspects such as the commentating. I loved seeing Bayley add some aggression, Sasha stealing Izzy’s bow (Even if it didn’t mean anything), and some of the excitement, but this falls far short of being a MOTC like some make it out to be. This match would have been so much better had it just been a standard match that went thirty minutes. *** ¼

    Charlotte w/Ric Flair vs Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch - WWE Women’s Title - Wrestlemania 32
    Going into the match, Charlotte was the reigning WWE Divas Champion, but earlier in the day on the pre-show, it was announced that the Divas Title would be deactivated and the WWE Women’s Title would be started up again. So technically speaking, Charlotte isn’t the champion here. The biggest positive of the match is that it’s finally an opportunity for the women to have a proper platform at Wrestlemania. For so many years, all the women were receiving at Wrestlemania were worthless battle royals, various forms of tag matches, or inexperienced “Divas” challenging for the title. Even when they brought in a past legend like Trish Stratus or celebs to work a match, it just wasn’t benefitting the division. You have to go all the way back a full decade for the last proper women’s title match at Wrestlemania with Trish vs Mickie James. So not only are they given an opportunity, but on this all important night where they had to deliver, they did just that. It’s a really good match and I’ll even go as far as to call it the first and (thus far) only time in Wrestlemania history that the women produced the MOTN. Although there were plenty of one-on-one battles, I was pleased to see that the third woman was never out of the ring for too long. Around maybe five minutes left in the match with all three women locking in their submission holds, something just happens where you feel as if you’re watching a big time match. There’s some big spots in the match with Charlotte’s moonsault to the outside and Banks’ helio to the outside that looked absolutely phenomenal. What made that latter spot so great is that it looked as if Sasha was just attempting a normal suicide dive, but was going to come up really short. Yet, at the very last moment, Banks added a rotation, nailing the helio wonderfully. Poor Ric Flair takes a dive from Becky Lynch too, in a spot that may have been able to come off looking better with Sasha properly pulling Flair in front of her instead of just grabbing his arm and Becky aiming for The Nature Boy anyhow. If there’s one monster flaw of the match, it’s the finish, namely, who wins. Charlotte winning is a gigantic let down. For one thing, it comes across as pretty unnecessary since the re-introduction of the Women’s Title wasn’t just given to Charlotte. She won it here by tapping Becky Lynch out to the Figure Eight. Yet, Charlotte unofficially came into the match as champion thanks to being the Divas Champion. So what was the purpose of not outrightly naming Charlotte the first Women’s Champion? The other problem is that this was Sasha Banks’ night. She had Snoop Dogg singing her down the aisle, she wore Eddie Guerrero inspired ring gear, she nailed some of Eddie’s moves including the Frog Splash, and most importantly - the fans wanted her as champion. With this being the first day of the return of the WWE Women’s Title AND it being Wrestlemania, it was the perfect time to give Sasha the belt. For a company obsessed with creating moments, especially Wrestlemania moments, they purposely made this moment less important by having Charlotte win. It’s a shame, especially since it’s a significant grievance on a match that’s otherwise really, really good. Still, these women produced a match of great quality like they needed to do. As I said, it’s the best women’s match in Wrestlemania history. *** ¾

    Six Pack Challenge - Smackdown Women’s Title - Backlash 2016
    Participants are Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss, Carmella, Nikki Bella, Natalya, and Naomi. I assume that’s every woman on the Smackdown roster at this point? Since all six women are able to be in at all times, the match was just a general clusterfuck of random spots, women being thrown out, more spots, and even more women being thrown out. Zero story and with the pace never changing, it’s all just one big blur. It reminds me of some of those WCW Lucha Libre six and eight man tags. Some of the spots were nicely done though. Once the eliminations began, they all came extremely quickly. The two highlights being a power bomb/Blockbuster combo by Natalya and Naomi to eliminate Bliss and then Carmella pulled out an upset and rolled up Nikki to eliminate one of the favorites. It came down to Becky vs Carmella, but that presented a problem since I’d imagine Carmella was the least likely to win out of all six women. So once it came down these two, there’s zero drama because you know the result. As expected, Becky wins with her armbar finisher to become the first ever WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion. Really should have came down to Nikki or Natalya vs Becky instead. I don’t know why they felt the need to throw all of their women into this match. **

    Sasha Banks © vs Charlotte - Hell in a Cell - Raw Women’s Title - Hell in a Cell 2016
    The first historic women’s HIAC match AND the first time the women get to main event a PPV. HISTORY~! For a company that doesn’t always think very logically, you do actually have to give them credit for having the sense to have this go on last when McMahon likely would have preferred having Reigns/Rusev or Rollins/Owens main event instead. Banks has been champion since the start of the month after winning it on Raw. Sometimes it’s abundantly clear when the WWE is trying to force a classic and this is one such time. Before the bell, there’s a long segment with the two fighting leading to Charlotte power bombing Sasha through a commentator’s table. That led to the match seemingly being cancelled as a medical team comes out to put a neck brace on Banks and to load her up on a stretcher. It takes forever before Sasha does the predictable heroic jump off of the stretcher to wrestle the match. Rather than helping the match, I feel as if it hurt it. Sasha went from acting like she was paralyzed to suddenly working a match as if it was just a regular match. Oh sure, Charlotte did focus on the back, leading to Sasha selling it, but it’s too big of a difference for Sasha to be physically incapable of even standing on her own to now hitting the Three Amigos or any other spot that causes her to land on her back and be okay. In addition, since the match did end up happening, the long segment of Sasha being loaded up on a stretcher and slowly wheeled away feels like a waste of time. I don’t mind the angle of Charlotte trying to injure Sasha before the match, but it needed to be dialed back some. Although forced, I can’t deny that the match doesn’t have a big match feel to it. The crowd was pretty into everything. At points in the match, the action was great. They managed to work in some fun spots including Sasha channeling her inner RVD by jumping and grabbing onto the cage and then jumping off and turning her body to hit a spot, in this case being a knee to the face. There’s also spots involving the steel steps, a chair, and a table. As mentioned, the back is the main story of the match and every big move Charlotte does is done purposely to target that back. Banks’ selling is...hit and miss. When she’s selling, she’s selling really well, but part of selling is having it affect your moves, which it never seemed to do until the very end. The finish does fall flat for me though. Charlotte throws Banks back first onto a table, it doesn’t break, and after Sasha rolls off of the table, Charlotte simply hits Natural Selection to pick up the pinfall to become the NEW Raw Women’s Champion. It’s a good match, but the WWE’s insistence at making it be a classic is exactly what prevented it from being a classic. *** ¼

    Overall
    Well, this is an odd disc for me. The women's evolution has officially kicked in and the quality of the matches have clearly improved. At the same time, this disc is a disappointment for me because I'm not as big of a fan of these matches as others. Charlotte/Natayla and the Iron Man Match particularly stands out as matches I didn't like as much as some. Another person could review this disc and rule that it has multiple four star matches. Ideally, I would have preferred to get matches like Sasha/Becky (TakeOver Unstoppable), Charlotte/Bayley (TakeOver Fatal Four Way), Bayley/Sasha (TakeOver Brooklyn), ect. In fact, Bayley in general seems to be shortchanged during this time period. Sure, she gets her one match, but she deserved a bigger showcase. Spoiler for disc 3, Bayley isn't going to get another single one-on-one match. If there's one match that I find most baffling that isn't on this disc, it's Bayley vs Asuka (TakeOver Dallas). Disc 3 picks up in mid 2017, so that means we skip over practically the entire NXT run of Asuka. How the hell do you skip over Asuka in NXT?! Even the NXT DVD that came out last year only featured a single Asuka match. The Best of 2017 NXT DVD did a bit better by featuring 2 Asuka matches, but it's still so little. So overall, disc 2 is a nice improvement over disc 1, but it certainly isn't a disc catered to what I liked most about this time period.

  5. #5

    Re: WWE Then, Now, Forever: The Evolution of WWE’s Women’s Division DVD Review

    Disc 3

    Money in the Bank Ladder Match - Smackdown - June 27, 2017
    A direct rematch from the recent Money in the Bank PPV with Carmella, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Natalya, and Tamina. Since James Ellsworth won the match for Carmella, Carmella ended up being stripped of the briefcase and a rematch was made for Smackdown. It’s a good thing this happened in the WWE Network era otherwise this would be some serious BS. This match was...not good. Giving the women the same gimmick matches that the men has is supposed to show that the women can be just as good as their male counterparts. This match accomplished the opposite. Using the same ladders that the men use, the women were clearly struggling the maneuver the ladders, they had to climb up so high which meant they weren’t going to be doing any big spots off of the ladder, the bottom rung was low enough that their trapping spots failed, and in general it just did not come off good at all. There’s a botched sequence with Charlotte trying to trap Tamina under the bottom rung, but the ladder isn’t positioned in the right way, so Charlotte has to struggle to move the ladder some, allowing Tamina to be freed without the ladder even being lifted up. While Charlotte is busy fighting Carmella on the ladder, Tamina tries to subtly crawl under the bottom rung again to get back into position to show her strength by pushing the ladder up, dropping Charlotte and Carmella off of the ladder. We do get a bit of a story at the very end, which has some nice aspects, until the very finish. James Ellsworth runs out, despite being barred from the building, to try and help Carmella steal the victory again. This time though, Becky is there to stop him, eventually dumping the ladder over, allowing Ellsworth to get in the best bump of the match by falling off of the ladder crotch first on the top rope. Lynch then tries to retrieve the briefcase, but Carmella yanks her off by one foot, causing Becky to land badly, injuring her ankle. That allows Carmella to use a chair to strike Becky a couple of times. With Charlotte and Natalya fighting in the crowd and Tamina can’t be bothered to get back into the ring, Carmella is able to easily climb the ladder and pull down the briefcase to win the second ever women’s MITB match. Had the match just ended with Becky thwarting the Ellsworth interference and winning, the lousy match would have at least been salvage with a rewarding outcome. Hell, keep the Carmella chair attack to convince the fans that Becky wouldn’t be able to win, only for Lynch to find the heart to climb the ladder with one leg to win the match. Camella winning again just made this entire match feel pretty pointless. If nothing else, at least a woman won this women’s MITB match. I suppose that’s something? The worst MITB match I’ve seen. * ¾

    Kairi Sane vs Shayna Baszler - Finals - Mae Young Classic
    This is the first I’m seeing any match from the Mae Young Classic. Apparently, Sane defeated Tessa Blanchard, Bianca Belair, Dakota Kai, and Toni Storm to reach the finals. Meanwhile, Baszler defeated Zeda, Mia Yim, Candice LeRae, and Mercedes Martinez to earn her way into the finals. Personally, I’m more familiar with Baszler’s opponents, so I’ll just assume she had the more impressive journey. I presume this is the first time I’m seeing Sane in an one-on-one match. Thanks to Baszler being made out to be this dominant bully and Sane is a tiny plucky underdog, it create a very simple and easy story to tell. For the first half, it’s nearly all Baszler. She destroys Sane including one kick to the side of the head that knocked Sane loopy. Yet, for Sane, she was going to be put over strong by her ability to keep fighting and looking for those little opportunities to get in offense. The smartest thing Sane did in the entire match was begin to work over the ribs of Baszler. In kayfabe, if the ribs hadn’t been worked over, I don’t know how Sane could have won. Case in point, Baszler’s Kirifuda Clutch submission hold. The commentators claimed it was this hold that Baszler won all of her previous matches in the tournament and it spelled certain doom for Sane, but Sane instead fired off a series of elbows to Baszler’s midsection until the Ace of Spades was forced to break the hold. Although the action continued pretty evenly until the finish, you could sense that Sane was building the momentum needed to pick up the victory. She did exactly that after dropping Baszler down on the mat with a double stomp and then climbing back to the top rope to nail her flying elbow drop to win the match and the entire tournament. Sane shows some great babyface fire, but sometimes her pirate gimmick gets in the way. At one point, Sane did this stupid march to the corner that felt so out of place because it wasted a lot of time. If you want to do that stupid shit when you’re wrestling an easy jobber on NXT, fine, I suppose it’s harmless, but don’t do it in such a serious match. I feel as if I’m slightly disappointed by Sane. When she’s serious, she’s really really good at what she does, but she doesn’t wow me like The Jumping Bomb Angels or Asuka did when I first saw them. For someone with so little experience, Baszler is great in her role. It comes as no surprise to me that while Sane won the tournament, it’s Baszler that has had the greater NXT success. *** ½

    Women’s Royal Rumble Match - Royal Rumble 2018
    Second time watching this match, the first since seeing it live on the WWE Network. To be honest, I don’t think it holds up as well as the first watch. Right away, you’re losing the surprise factor, which is mostly concerning all of the surprise entrants from the past. Losing the surprise factor isn’t always a bad thing, the very best Rumble matches, you can watch over and over and they still deliver because they’re great matches. Here, the biggest strength of the match are the surprises. When it comes to the past stars, some end up delivering and others end up disappointing. Lita was garbage in this. I suppose shouldn’t be a surprise since she was always a botching machine, but she did not look good in this despite what the fans or commentators tried to state. Luckily, her time in the match is pretty minimal, only lasting five minutes and although she did get in two eliminations, she’s just there to add some nostalgia fun at the start of the match. I do not understand why the WWE allowed Michelle McCool to look so good. Not only did she get in the most eliminations, but she didn’t actually help anyone. Not only does she eliminate women from Raw, Smackdown, and legends, but she’s eliminated by Natalya, which doesn’t help any new star out. Others like Jacqueline or Kelly Kelly didn’t add or take away from the match. Vickie Guerrero’s short time in the Rumble was perfect. It’s short, but she kept people interested the entire time she was in during this peak of the comedy. Out of all of the legends, the one who looked the best was Molly Holly, but she didn’t do a whole lot and was ultimately forgettable. For Trish, she was the smartest book women legend since she only eliminated women that didn’t matter, she had an all too brief interaction with Mickie James, and was ultimately the one to finally give Sasha Banks something to do when Banks eliminated her. Speaking of Sasha, she was in the Rumble for nearly fifty-five minutes, but up until the fifty minute mark, I don’t remember a single thing that she did. Which is part of my biggest issue with the match - the amount of time the wrestlers hung out outside of the ring. Frequently, the women would just sell outside of the ring, which made it especially difficult to keep track of who was still in the Rumble and who wasn’t. And really, with the exception of setting up Naomi’s near elimination when she’s caught by several women, the killing time out of the ring didn’t serve any actual purpose. Even then, all Naomi needed was for Nia Jax to eliminate one or two extra women to provide enough bodies to fall onto to keep from reaching the floor. One of my oldest Royal Rumble memories is Rick Martel out of the ring, without being eliminated from the match, in 1991 and how immediately, a swarm of referees went after him to re-enter the match. It was partly a heel tactic, but now it’s done so often that no one is even able to get heel heat for avoiding the ring. I did like the story near the end where if you have a friendship/partnership, not only is a betrayal going to happen, but once you screw over a partner, you’ve screwed yourself. It started off with Beth being eliminated by Natalya, but Natalya found herself eliminated not too long afterwards by Trish. Sasha, as she’s prone to do, fucked over her BFF, Bayley, only to get screwed over by her temporary buddies in the Bella Twins to eliminate her. In the most idiotic move of the entire match, Nikki thought it was wise to eliminate Brie while Asuka was still in the match. Naturally, now being the solo Bella, Nikki was easily eliminated by Asuka to win the match. In a match where it’s everyone for themselves, it’s the wrestler who was the biggest outsider that ended up winning. For Asuka, she didn’t do a ton, but I did like the fact that she once again made Ember Moon her personal bitch by eliminating her. Moon who deserves credit for selling the hell out of her hurt shoulder going into the match. My biggest annoyance of the match is just the commentary. I’m pretty sure the commentary team had a sheet of random facts for every woman involved and it’s some of the most forced facts you’ll ever hear. Apparently Sonya Deville is so excited to be working in Philly since she was a big Allen Iverson fan as a kid. Okay...I’m so glad I know this info now. Likewise, I have to question how over the women actually were. Admittedly, this match is at the end of a four hour PPV, where we already saw one Rumble match, but it seemed like the biggest reactions were all for some of the husbands of the women. The Undertaker, John Cena (Well, fiance of Nikki), Daniel Bryan, and Rusev all getting big chants. I still believe that the Rumble is good and it does go by at a decent speed, despite how dead the crowd was outside of the entrances, but watching it again months later, the issues became far more apparent. I do honestly believe that this match had potential to be a trainwreck, but not only did it end up not being that, but it also was a mostly fun Rumble whereas the other Rumbles in recent history had some clearer drawbacks. *** ¼

    After the match, Raw and Smackdown Women Champions, Alexa Bliss and Charlotte Flair, climb into the ring for a fun moment where Asuka debates which champion to challenge for Wrestlemania. All of a sudden, Joan Jett blares and out comes the WWE’s newest signee, Ronda Rousey, comes out to the ring wearing Roddy Piper’s old leather jacket. She poses while pointing at the Wrestlemania sign, offers her hand to Asuka (Who just slaps it, much to Rousey’s humor), points to the WM sign again, heads out of the ring to shake Stephanie’s hand, and wraps up the segment and PPV by pointing at the WM sign again. Looking back now, this segment is beyond pointless seeing as it’s now June and Rousey hasn’t wrestled any of the three women in the ring yet. It takes away from Asuka’s big win and frankly, it could have been done as the show closer for the following night’s Raw. But hey, Rousey in the WWE is a big deal.

    Elimination Chamber Match - Raw Women’s Title - Elimination Chamber 2018
    Participants include Alexa Bliss, Bayley, Sasha Banks, Mickie James, Mandy Rose, and Sonya Deville. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this going into it, but I was pleasantly surprised. For me, the quality comes from the fact that they injected a lot of story into the match, which greatly made up for any lulls in action. Even before the match began, we’re told (Well...I’m told since I don’t keep up with shit) that everyone in the match has a partner or ally. So right away, it’s different from every other Chamber match where it becomes an unofficial team match, only with the clear knowledge that only one can win. The first battle is between the Absolution faction and the BFFs of Bayley/Sasha with the match beginning with Bayley vs Deville only for things to go badly for Bayley once Rose is the third person to enter the match. Absolution’s teamwork is great as they slowly destroy Bayley, however; their inexperience shined through as well. Even though none of the women had ever been in an Elimination Chamber match before, you still felt as if Deville and Rose are the green ones in the match due to their failure of having the common sense in trying to eliminate Bayley. Controlling Bayley is all well and good, but if you don’t eliminate her, you’re not really accomplishing anything. This ends up biting Absolution in the ass as Banks is the next to enter the match. Not only is Banks able to bring aggression to the match, but she’s able to eliminate Rose with the Bank Statement, thanks partly due to Bayley preventing Deville from breaking up the submission hold. Before Deville can be the next target of Sasha, Mickie James came into the match and although her time is very short, James looked awesome in this. Any sort of doubt I had about Mickie deserving to be in this and only being added because of all of her past work for women’s wrestling was thrown away by Mickie being the MVP of the match. She even delivers the spot of the match by delivering a top of the inner chamber Lou Thesz Press on Deville to eliminate the second member of Absolution. Sadly, Mickie’s time was far too short and she gets doubled team by the NXT Four Horsewomen with a Sasha Backstabber and a Bayley Belly-to-Bayley to eliminate her. Once again, it’s all about the story as Alexa hasn’t even entered the match, but her buddy is already gone AND she has to compete against Sasha and Bayley. Although Bliss tried to keep away from the BFFs, she’d luck into the fact that Sasha and Bayley’s friendship is a toxic friendship, causing Banks to Lion King’d Bayley while Bayley tried to climb on top of an inner chamber. Although Bliss still had to compete against both Bayley and Banks, both of the challenger’s focus was more so on each other than Bliss, allowing Bliss to surprise an exhausted Bayley with a roll-up after she delivered a top rope Belly-to-Bayley on Banks. The final segment of the match is where I do have my only significant issue with the match. At one point, the second best spot of the match, a top of the inner chamber Twisted Bliss is performed on a standing on the outside Banks, but it’s ruined by the fact that A) Banks somehow just turned it into a Bank Statement and B) Finishes has to happen in the ring. Maybe I’m misremembering, but I could have swore you used to be able to attempt pinfalls outside of the ring on the old steel grates in previous Chamber matches. It’s a stupid rule and messed up the flow of the match. Even worse is that after ditching that awesome potential finish of the Twisted Bliss, Alexa still ends up winning moments later with a draping DDT from the top rope. Fuck the DDT. The Twisted Bliss should have been the finish. At times, the match could be pretty quiet while they waited for the next spot to be ready to start, but the multiple stories kept me interested. A really good first effort by the women in a Chamber match. Admittedly, maybe next time, add women from both brands so that anyone could be seen as a potential winner. I may have liked what they brought to the match, but Absolution and Mickie were just there to make up the six needed contestants. *** ½

    Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey vs Triple H and Stephanie McMahon - Wrestlemania 34
    I’ll be honest, I don’t know the backstory for this. I think it has something to do with Hunter and Stephanie being secretly shady and Angle being too foolish to keep that shadiness a secret. I have to admit, this has to be one of the most unexpectedly good matches in WM history. On paper, it just looked bad. It seemed like it’d just be another one of Triple H’s standard overly long and attempts at a forced classic. Hunter has hardly been having much luck at WM in recent years. Yet, this was really fun. Any time Rousey is in the ring, the fans come alive and it’s entertaining. I know some have taken to not being too fond of Stephanie hanging in there with Rousey and Rousey taking it to Hunter, but I feel it works for a couple of reasons. Any time Rousey and Stephanie locked up, Rousey had zero reason to be concerned. Chances are, Stephanie did as well as she did against Rousey because Rousey wasn’t putting in 100% against her. The same can be said about Hunter battling Rousey with the addition that Rousey didn’t do anything too devastating against Hunter. A series of punches, a Frankensteiner, ect is hardly an example of Rousey dominating one of the more successful WWE wrestlers of the 2000s. In addition, it’s pro wrestling. There’s a certain theaterics to it all, so it’s understandable why they’d delay Rousey locking in holds on Stephanie since it’s all about building up to those moments. Even though it’s his big return to WM after not being apart of the biggest show of the year since 2006, I wouldn’t say Angle looked good here. He was just good enough not to be bad or a clear negative to the match. It’s a little disappointing, but again, this match is ALL about Rousey, so it’s fine. Going into this match, there was one finish and only one finish that they could do. Rousey absolutely had to force Stephanie to submit to the armbar and anything less would be a disappointment. Even a Rousey pinfall on Stephanie wouldn’t have been as rewarding. Now watching this for a second time, I still feel like there’s some great suspense as to what the WWE was going to do. They teased a finish so many times that the viewer didn’t know if Rousey was going to get the submission or if the WWE was going to do something especially dumb like having Hunter pin Angle. It certainly sounds like it should be impossible that the WWE would think of doing such an outcome, but this is the same company that had Sting job to Hunter back at WM 31. Luckily, common sense prevailed and Rousey finally locked in the armbar and without Hunter to save Stephanie, McMahon was forced to immediately tap out to win the match for her and Angle. As I said, this was one of the best unexpectedly good matches in WM history. I don’t know where I fall in terms of the MOTN, but I wouldn’t argue with anyone calling this the best match of WM 34. A rather good sports entertainment match. *** ½

    Overall
    Thus concludes the first ever HISTORIC disc three in the first ever HISTORIC WWE three-disc Women’s wrestling DVD. This time period of just under a year was highlighted by the WWE really going over the top with their nonstop nonsense about how everything was historic and the first time it had ever been done with WWE women’s wrestling. It’s over the top and frankly, comes off as more ridiculous than actually historic. By continuously emphasising how everything is historic and the first time it’s been done, nothing truly stands out as being special. The WWE is trying far too hard to force historic significance to this time period rather than letting it happen naturally. Quality wise, this disc has the least amount of matches, but it’s pretty good. I haven’t seen either of the two WWE women MITB matches, but the one shown on Smackdown was pretty awful and only showed the failure of the women to truly be exactly like the men. The Rumble match and the Elimination Chamber match are far better examples of the women able to not only compare to the men, but to some degree to outperform them. If there’s one thing lacking from this disc, it’s a NXT women’s match. Considering the whole women’s evolution began on NXT, it comes off as a real shame that this DVD set didn’t feature a single match from that brand since 2015. We do get the finals of the Mae Young Classic, which is important, but couldn’t we have also got a peak of the current women in NXT? Whether a slightly dated match like one of the Ember Moon vs Shayna Baszler or even a late addition like Candice LeRae vs Zelina Vega. Anyone who watches the actual weekly program could probably come up with a decent list of 2018 NXT matches that would be deserving to be included on this DVD set. Overall, while far from perfect, Then, Now, Forever: The Evolution of WWE’s Women’s Division is a good look at WWE’s women wrestling and its recent surge in quality, particularly for anyone like me who hasn’t been keeping up with WWE too closely in years.

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    Re: WWE Then, Now, Forever: The Evolution of WWE’s Women’s Division DVD Review

    Charlotte w/Ric Flair vs Natalya w/Bret Hart - NXT Women's Title - NXT TakeOver - Not surprised to see this on here at all, this is WWE's favourite match to hype as an important and great match. I guess I liked it at the time a little better than you did here, but eh there's much better on this DVD.

    Stephanie McMahon vs Brie Bella - Summerslam 2014 - Again, no surprise to see a Stephanie match in here but really was this necessary when Steph's tag with Ronda is on the same disc? This was no good at all, but did give us this great gif



    Bayley © vs Sasha Banks - Iron Man Match - NXT Women’s Title - NXT TakeOver Respect - shocked the Brooklyn match with the feel good ending and curtain call isn't on this. I enjoyed this a hell of a lot more than you.

    Charlotte w/Ric Flair vs Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch - WWE Women’s Title - Wrestlemania 32 - I mean this was near enough the only thing worth watching on the entire show. Very good triple threat.

    Six Pack Challenge - Smackdown Women’s Title - Backlash 2016 - I loved this PPV, SD Live glory days baby. It did what it needed to achieve, I guess they just wanted the crowning of the first champion on DVD.

    Sasha Banks © vs Charlotte - Hell in a Cell - Raw Women’s Title - Hell in a Cell 2016 - Loved it. I think it's the best HIAC match since Taker/HHH (new day usos might of taken that now though) and one of the few that feel like the two women hate each other.

    Money in the Bank Ladder Match - Smackdown - June 27, 2017 - What's really funny about this selection is that it was clear at the WWE 24 documentary about women's wrestling that they regretted that the finish to the MITB match being a man winning the briefcase for Carmella because they edited him out of the highlights of that match. And here on the DVD they are showing you the rematch, not the one where Ellsworth single handedly won it for someone else. But yeah this was trash, this year's was much better.

    Kairi Sane vs Shayna Baszler - Finals - Mae Young Classic - I wasn't in love with this final because Shayna isn't great in the ring whereas Kairi was the MVP of the whole tournament and I was fearing the worst because I knew their love for Ronda and thought they would push Shayna to prepare everyone for Ronda. They dropped the ball with Kairi doing nothing after this big win, and yeah the walk the plank stomp she does is silly.

    Women’s Royal Rumble Match - loved it, smashed my expectations. Ronda's after Bliis now at least Jim, and she's most likely in a mania big match next year with Charlotte.

    Elimination Chamber Match - Raw Women’s Title - Elimination Chamber 2018 - Thought this was very good and outshone the men on this night.

    Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey vs Triple H and Stephanie McMahon - Wrestlemania 34 - I thought the Charlotte/Asuka match was MOTN from this show and goes to show you what a big moment Asuka's streak ending turned out to be with it not being on this show, but Ronda's the big star now. This was very good and exceeded everyone's expectations I would say.

    ---

    Stunned they don't have an Asuka NXT title defence in there. Something like Asuka Vs Ember Moon would of made all the sense in the world given they are both main roster now.

    Surprised the 4HW 4 Way from NXT isn't on there either because that was the night it felt like something is going down here with these women's matches being great. I don't think all 4 have had a match with each other since then either.

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    Re: WWE Then, Now, Forever: The Evolution of WWE’s Women’s Division DVD Review

    I've made it through discs 1 and 2 so far. As far as which matches were chosen, WWE clearly went with the "First Ever" Matches. The first Raw main event, the first cage match, the first Hell in a Cell, etc.
    Chyna vs Ivory was far and away the worst match on this DVD. This match felt more like a standard no-build TV match than any sort of PPV match. The angle going into this match was that Chyna had an injured neck and had to sign a "Hold Harmless" agreement. Yet, during the match she never took a blow that would seemingly put her in danger. Plus, there was not even the hint of interference from the RTC. I would have expected either someone to come out on stage or their "music" hit or something that would make it look like Ivory had some chance of winning. And as bad of a representation of the women's division as this match was, it's an even worse representation of Ivory.

    And while in this day and age it can be kind of annoying to listen to some of Jerry Lawler's commentary about the women (can't count how many times he says the word "Puppies" on this DVD, but what I found worse was Vince McMahon's comments on Bull Nakano, comparing her, a 200+ pound woman, to Yokozuna, a 500+ pound man. Jim Cornette's heel commentary wasn't much better though.
    First Ever Undisputed World Champion:
    George Hackenschmidt

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    Re: WWE Then, Now, Forever: The Evolution of WWE’s Women’s Division DVD Review

    Quote Originally Posted by ZinEdine Zidane View Post
    I'm a moron. This is the first time I've noticed that the gif is manipulated and it's not just a weird angle.

    Quote Originally Posted by BattleKat View Post
    Chyna vs Ivory was far and away the worst match on this DVD. This match felt more like a standard no-build TV match than any sort of PPV match. The angle going into this match was that Chyna had an injured neck and had to sign a "Hold Harmless" agreement. Yet, during the match she never took a blow that would seemingly put her in danger. Plus, there was not even the hint of interference from the RTC. I would have expected either someone to come out on stage or their "music" hit or something that would make it look like Ivory had some chance of winning. And as bad of a representation of the women's division as this match was, it's an even worse representation of Ivory.
    I can't believe I'm going to do this, but I'm actually going to defend this match.

    This was the culmination of a several month long program where RTC got the best of Chyna enough that her career was nearly finished. This was all about Chyna squashing the fuck out of Ivory and winning the feud. It wasn't about making Ivory look good or have her be as anything other than someone getting destroyed by the most dominant woman in WWE history. If you want a match where Ivory looks good, watch their Rumble 2001 match instead. For what they were going for, it wouldn't have made sense for Chyna to let Ivory get some shine before losing.

    However, I will go along with the idea that since this was not a showcase match for Ivory, perhaps she should have had another match on the DVD since she was a serious worker and actually had a long history with women's wrestling. For example, the Hardcore Match for the Women's Title at Unforgiven 1999 against Luna would have been a solid match to add to the DVD. Not only is it an early gimmick match for the women's division, but it not only showcases Ivory, but also highlights another previous meaningful women's star in Luna. Although I liked the match, I don't know why we got Trish/Victoria from 2002 when a match like Ivory/Luna would have accomplished more.

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    Re: WWE Then, Now, Forever: The Evolution of WWE’s Women’s Division DVD Review

    Iron Man (Woman) Match--I loved this match, just not as much as their match in Brooklyn.

    WrestleMania 32--
    Great match, maybe the best main-roster women's match of recent years, but let's get something straight, Charlotte is NOT the "First Ever" Women's Champion. I know WWE loves to ignore the history of its own company, but the Women's title has existed before.

    Hell in a Cell--good match, but with a poor finish.

    Money in the Bank--I didn't even realize this wasn't the PPV match until the bell rang. I didn't even know they did a rematch. So WWE wanted to do a five person gimmick match, just a few days after doing the same gimmick match with the same people, and they have to somehow make this match different. No surprise this match failed.

    Overall thoughts--I was expecting the profiles to be other people talking about the impact these women have on the industry, instead of each woman talking about herself, and in some cases talking only about the match that is about to be shown. I understand WWE wanting to include all of the "firsts" but that doesn't mean there needs to be a "Spotlight" on someone like Carmella. Plus, there are enough stars left out of being profiled for this DVD (Jacqueline, Chyna, Beth Phoenix, Fabulous Moolah...), along with stars on the rise, that given another year or two they could release a volume 2. That being said, this one could have concluded with the Royal Rumble. Given another year or two and Alexa Bliss and Ronda Rousey could have far more relevance on this than they do now.
    First Ever Undisputed World Champion:
    George Hackenschmidt

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