WWE made history at WrestleMania 35 with the first-ever women’s main event at its flagship show, and the company is set to do it again at WrestleMania 36.
According to the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t WrestlingNews.co), WWE will be hosting a whopping six women’s matches at WrestleMania 36, which would be the most in company history. Those matches are expected to include:
- Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler for the Raw Women’s Championship
- Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship
- Bayley vs. Naomi for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
- A WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match featuring The Kabuki Warriors
- The WrestleMania women’s battle royal
- A to-be-determined women’s match
To put that into perspective, WrestleMania 35 had just three women’s matches (one of which was on the pre-show) while the same was true of WrestleMania 34 and WrestleMania 33 had just two women’s bouts. WWE has traditionally left only a few spots on the card for the women’s division at Wrestlemania each year, with one or two singles titles matches and a battle royal. The creation of the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship, which were introduced in early 2019, has added another WrestleMania match to the card even though Vince McMahon reportedly had “no plans” for the division and has put very little effort into building it up since its creation last year.
The fact that WWE is pushing the women’s division so strongly in route to WrestleMania 36 does come as a bit of a surprise, however.
Shortly after WrestleMania 35 last year, it was reported that WWE was “second guessing” its push of the women’s division due to declining earnings and disappointing TV ratings. In the months following that pay-per-view and the historic main event of Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey, it didn’t go unnoticed that WWE scaled back on how heavily it featured the women’s division even though many of the company’s best and most popular performers are female stars. WWE seemed to heat back up on women’s wrestling at the end of 2019, when WWE’s talented female stars main evented both Survivor Series and TLC, and as WrestleMania 36 approaches, a few of the company’s biggest storylines involve female stars.
Flair has jumped to NXT for a dream match with Rhea Ripley both to help NXT in its TV ratings war with AEW Dynamite and to give “The Queen” a fresh new rivalry after she had really run out of options on Raw and SmackDown. That rivalry makes sense as a way to put more eyes on NXT, to help Ripley become a bigger star and to create a compelling women’s feud on the undercard. Ripley vs. Flair should be one of the best pure wrestling matches on the show, and the same is true of Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler, which has been a very well-booked rivalry thus far and is about as good of a replacement as you’re going to get for the once planned Rousey vs. Lynch singles match that won’t be happening yet as Rousey will not be appearing at WrestleMania in any capacity this year.
Whether or not WWE is able to make any of the other women’s feuds as intriguing as they could be is a different story, though.
Bayley vs. Naomi has been bumped up to Super ShowDown and is apparently no longer in the cards for WrestleMania 36. That actually might not be a bad thing if WWE chooses to move forward with its once reported plans of Bayley vs. Banks instead because that’s a true women’s division dream match that could be the best match on the show. After all, WWE.com ranked their NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn match from 2015 as the best women’s match of all-time, and with the right story behind it, they could top that bout this year. That match is still up in the air, however, as is the women’s tag team title match, the battle royal and the aforementioned-but-unconfirmed singles match.
In looking at the current state of the women’s division, there isn’t an obvious Women’s Tag Team Championship that jumps out because the division has been largely ignored since its inception, though a WWE Hall of Famer could be returning to set up that match. There also isn’t a clear singles match as the only singles non-title rivalry that appears to be being built up at the moment is Ruby Riott vs. Liv Morgan, though Lacey Evans vs. Sasha Banks could be a long shot given their recent history. While it would be a smart idea to give those talented female performers a spot on the WrestleMania undercard, WWE doesn’t exactly have a great track record of doing that come Mania.
What seems more likely is that most of WWE’s lower card female performers—as well as its NXT women—will participate in the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal. Even though that match has essentially meant nothing since its creation, WWE is making a major step in the right direction as more and more women are being given the opportunity to wrestle on the grand WrestleMania stage.
Other than maybe the all-women’s Evolution, WrestleMania 36 should be the biggest step forward for the women’s division in its storied history.