Raw’s main event featured two female Superstars for the first time since 2004. Sasha Banks defeated Charlotte for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship in a stellar match.
The moment was the apex of a long, but successful
Divas Women’s Revolution. Still, there were many crucial moments leading up to Monday’s match.
Here’s a look at the events that made Raw’s main event possible.
NXT’s first TakeOver event set the stage for the growing emphasis on women’s wrestling in WWE. Paige successfully defended her NXT Women’s Championship against Emma in one of the show’s standout matches. It was the first real standout NXT women’s match and set the stage for the Women’s Revolution.
Paige vacated her NXT Women’s Championship after winning the Divas Championship in her main roster debut. NXT held a tournament featuring its female competitors to decide its next champion. Charlotte and Natalya advanced to the final round and faced off at NXT TakeOver in May 2014. The match featured their Hall of Fame relatives — Charlotte’s father Ric Flair and Natalya’s uncle Bret Hart — at ringside, but was more memorable for being an outstanding contest. Charlotte pinned Natalya to start her dominant reign as NXT Women’s Champion and solidify herself as one of the company’s top rising female talents.
NXT TakeOver: Rival
The women’s division was gaining momentum by February 2015. Charlotte was already an established star, Bayley was a lovable underdog, Becky Lynch was coming into her own as a rocker lass character and Sasha Banks had emerged as the brand’s top female heel. All four were featured in the TakeOver: Rival Women’s Championship match, which saw Banks pin Charlotte to kickoff her lengthy title reign and run as NXT’s top female star.
Stephanie McMahon was called out on Twitter by former Divas Champion A.J. Lee for this:
— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) February 23, 2015
Lee responded with the following:
@StephMcMahon Your female wrestlers have record selling merchandise & have starred in the highest rated segment of the show several times,
— AJ Mendez Brooks (@AJBrooks) February 25, 2015
— AJ Mendez Brooks (@AJBrooks) February 25, 2015
Fans chimed in with the hashtag “GiveDivasAChance” to show their support of the female competitors. The trend proved that fans had a strong interest in female wrestling, despite WWE’s questionable main roster booking. But then again, I think Corey Graves said it best with this:
— Corey Graves (@WWEGraves) February 24, 2015
NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable
After having put on several memorable matches, Banks defended her title against Lynch at TakeOver: Unstoppable. The Irish “Lass Kicker” debuted her Steampunk-inspired look and won over the crowd with a stellar performance. Despite a losing effort, the Full Sail serenaded Lynch with the “Woah” and “Hey” lyrics to her entrance song as a sign of respect.
NXT women debut on Raw
On July 13, 2015, Stephanie McMahon announced the official “Divas Revolution” on Raw by introducing a debuting Lynch, Charlotte and Banks. Though it resulted in a long, disappointing tag-team feud, it provided the foundation of the changes that have taken place over the past year.
NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn
Sure, the NXT callups were great, but there was one Superstar missing: Bayley. The developmental brand’s resident hugger still had unfinished business. She went on a redemption tour by defeating Emma, Charlotte and Lynch to earn a shot at Banks’ championship at TakeOver: Brooklyn. The two battled in a show-stealing match, which saw Bayley come out victorious. She’d carry the division for the next year before making her debut on Raw in August 2016.
Night of Champions
Nikki Bella held the Divas Championship for a record 301 days. The Bella Twins were long considered the embodiment of the former Divas division prior to the NXT callups. But that ended when Charlotte defeated Nikki at Night of Champions for the Divas Championship. Like her NXT Womens’ Championship victory, the win solidified Charlotte as one of the company’s top Superstars and kicked off one of the most dominant runs by a female competitor in WWE history.
NXT TakeOver: Respect
After having already stolen the show at TakeOver: Brooklyn, Bayley and Banks competed in the first female Ironman match in WWE history. The two battled for 30 minutes and shared a 2-2 tie before the champion forced “The Boss” to tapout via a modified armbar. The revolutionary match was also Banks’ last appearance on NXT as a competitor.
The only main roster match that could be argued against Raw’s main event in terms of importance took place at WrestleMania 32. Charlotte was scheduled to defend the Divas Championship against Banks and Lynch in a triple-threat match. During the preshow, however, WWE Hall of Famer Lita announced that the three Superstars would be battling for the new Women’s Championship, rather than the butterfly belt the company had used for years prior.
The match itself was arguably the best of the event. Each competitor was treated like a legitimate Superstar during their entrances. Banks, Charlotte and Lynch all provided memorable highspots and put on a 16-minute wrestling clinic.
It was the first real moment in which the female competitors felt equal to their male counterparts in terms of how they were booked and presented. The triple-threat was given a “big fight” feel, which is what all three competitors deserved.
Raw main event
For the first time in a long time, the ladies of WWE took headlining honors on an episode of Monday Night Raw. Booked above the likes of Universal Champion Kevin Owens, U.S. Champion Roman Reigns, Tag Team Champions New Day and Cruiserweight Champion T.J. Perkins, it’s clear the ladies have a strong hold firm hold of the spotlight within the WWE Universe.
Not to mention Banks grabbed hold of the Women’s Championship for the second time in her career in what proved to be a stellar match, writing the latest chapter in a career-defining feud opposite Charlotte.