ByJosh Molina, writer at
Covers mixed martial arts and professional wrestling and the convergence of the two industries.
Josh Molina

This Sunday, the WWE will move the needle a bit when it comes to women in professional wrestling.

For one, WWE's will wrestle Charlotte for the championship inside a cage, and not just any cage, but in a covered cage known as "Hell in a Cell."

Will the women actually bleed? That would be extremely rare territory for female wrestlers. These days, bloodletting among the male wrestlers barely happens.

There's also the possibility that the women's match could go on last, as the main event, which would mark the first time a women's match has headlined a PPV. The WWE has not yet announced the match order, but as one-third of the trio of main events, it's certainly possible.

There's nothing particularly epic about the feud between Charlotte, the former champion and the daughter of the greatest professional wrestler of all time, Ric Flair, and Sasha Banks. They are merely the right people in the right spot at the right time, as the WWE looks to book women on par with men, largely in response to the rise of , who proved that women could be the top draw in the UFC.

The women, for much of the last decade, have been called "Divas," but the WWE has dropped that title in its wrestling matches in an attempt to move away from personality and more toward match substance.

As Banks and Charlotte prepare to make history, they follow a long list of women who have taken part in great feuds over the years. The WWE's 1980s boom, in fact, erupted largely for two reasons: The emergence of Hulk Hogan on the national stage, and the participation of mainstream music star, Cyndi Lauper appearing with WWE wrestler, Wendi Richter in her challenge of the Fabulous Moolah.

Imagine or suddenly appearing in a major angle over several weeks with the WWE women's champion? All the "Little Monsters" and "Katycats"would be tuning in to Monday Night Raw to watch the women's' revolution. That's what happened in 1984 in the WWE.

Banks and (real name Ashley Fliehr) are carrying the torch into a new generation. In reality, neither one of them will likely be the face of the women's division in a year, since the WWE is seriously marketing as its future:

So, in that context, let's take a look at some of the great women's rivalries of the past:

Lita vs. Trish Stratus

Say what you will about the workrate of the female wrestlers of the past, but Lita and Trish could work, and when they wrestled each other, it was magic. These two main evented a 2004 Monday Night Raw episode and tore the house down. Lita, trained in the Lucha Libre style, was a high-flying athlete. She could jump through and over the ropes, do a moonsault off the top and execute a perfect huricanrana. She was a beauty to watch.

Stratus was also a top athlete, executing springboard handstand elbows to devastate her opponents. She was also a great striker, finishing her opponents with her leg kicks. These two had fantastic matches, and it wasn't about the hard bodies; it was about the hard action in the ring.

Wendi Richter vs. The Fabulous Moolah

Imagine professional wrestling on MTV? That's what happened in July of 1984 when Richter defeated The Fabulous Moolah for the WWE championship. In Richter's corner was Cyndi Lauper, who was a hot MTV star at the time. Lauper made professional wresting acceptable to a mainstream audience and the product became somewhat of an underground, high-art phenomenon.

The match, marketed as "The Brawl to End it All," drew a 9.0 rating, the highest for any MTV event at the time. Richter was basically the symbol of the 1980s woman: independent, powerful and original.

Moolah symbolized the old guard. She had been champion on and off for nearly 30 years prior to the match. The match itself was not great, but the energy inside was, and Richter in the TV main event of the show, walked out with the title, and helped pave the way for the first the following year.

Alundra Blayze vs. Bull Nakano

Blayze and Nakano were two of the best female wrestles of all time. Nakano brought her Japanese style to the U.S. for a brief WWE run against Blayze, who had wrestled in Japan and was as tough as they come, male or female.

The two had great matches together, but the highlight of their feud was at 1994. Nakano, who weighed about 200 pounds, moved like a lightweight, with slick fluidity.

Blayze had offered the best of both worlds from the WWE's perspective. She had beauty pageant looks, but was also a muscular-looking athlete. These two women worked a stiff match, with Nakano attempting submission moves, such as an armbar, which was rare for the WWE in those days.

Blazye won the match with a perfect belly-to-back suplex into a bridge. It was a great match that is at least as good as anything you'd see in the WWE today.

Chyna vs. Lita

You can't have a conversation about WWE women's wrestling without mentioning who, like her or not, forever changed the division. Sort of like a of her time, Chyna was bigger and stronger than all the other WWE women at the time. She started as Shawn Michaels' body guard, and over time, with lots of weight-cutting and plastic surgery, transformed into a high-profile, marketable female athlete who eventually defeated Ivory to win the women's championship. She struck fear into her opponents and brought some realism to the division. She was so dominant that she outgrew the division and eventually wrestled men, even winning the intercontinental championship.

She had great matches with Lita. Everyone had great matches with Lita. The two put on a spectacular performance at Judgment Day in 2001. Chyna died earlier in 2016 after a long battle with substance abuse, but during her prime, she was a pioneer in the women's division.


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