Good Thing: Women’s Wrestling Dominates ‘Elimination Chamber’
The long-promised "Women's Revolution" in wrestling may finally take root this weekend. Sunday February 12 is the Elimination Chamber live event on the WWE Network, the first branded Pay-Per-View (a colloquial word these days, but one that's stuck) for Smackdown Live in 2017. Of the seven matches announced for the show, three are women's singles matches. In fact, there's only one men's singles match, with the other three being multi-man gimmick matches, including the titular main event in the elimination chamber. And that's a big deal.
In the past, the opposite has been the norm. Men occupy the singles' spots on PPV cards, while the women's division either has one big multi-woman match to get all the women on the show, or they have one singles match for the title, with the rest of the roster left out. But ever since the brand split between RAW and Smackdown Live last summer, the latter show has put a particular effort into building multiple stories for its women's roster.
Alexa Bliss won the Smackdown Women's Championship from Becky Lynch back at Tables, Ladders, and Chairs, and ever since she's had the help of returning veteran Mickie James, who blames Becky for attempting to erase her role in the history of women's wrestling, and has knocked the former champ down at every opportunity.
Meanwhile, Naomi, who's been on the roster far longer than Alexa, has earned her shot at the champion, pinning her during a six-woman tag match at the Royal Rumble. That match also featured Nikki Bella and Natalya, who have their own feud over Nikki's prime spot in both wrestling and its related reality TV ventures.
So at Elimination Chamber, Alexa Bliss will face Naomi for the Smackdown Women's Championship, while Becky Lynch is up against Mickie James in the latter's first solo match since arriving on Smackdown Live, and Natalya has the match she's been demanding with Nikki Bella.
The past year has been a big one for women's wrestling, but it's certainly had ups and downs. After a show-stealing triple threat match and the introduction of the new Women's Championship at Wrestlemania 2016, it often seemed like WWE wasn't ready to fully commit to the "Women's Revolution" that they constantly took credit for. Every women's main event, and every groundbreaking match like the first women's Hell in a Cell, was overhyped to the point that women's wrestling sometimes felt like a publicity stunt.
But now, on the road to Wrestlemania 2017, with very little fanfare, we have a show that's dominated by women. Not because WWE is trying to prove something, but because those are the matches that make sense based on the stories Smackdown Live has been telling. For once, they're not treating it like a big deal, and that makes it an even bigger deal than it would otherwise be.