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It's hard to believe that over a year has passed since the Women's Revolution, then known as the Divas Revolution, kicked off in World Wrestling Entertainment. So what inspired this movement in WWE's Women's Division? The US Women's National Team winning the World Cup in soccer. That achievement, and the millions who followed the road to the World Cup, led to a huge boom for women in sports, entertainment, and other forms, and WWE joined in with the Women's Revolution.
The seeds for this were planted in June, when the Bellas resorted to their villainous ways and used Twin Magic in Nikki Bella's Divas Championship defense against Paige. After weeks of the Bellas cheating their way to victories over her, Paige attempted to rally the rest of the women against the "Bella Empire," only to be turned down. To make matters worse for Paige, the evil Alicia Fox suddenly appeared and attacked Paige during her match against Brie Bella, beginning her alliance with the twins, which was known as Team Bella.
Team Bella was the equivalent of the "villainous" teams in sports; the Patriots, the Yankees, the "Big 3" Heat, etc. They had the power, they had the title, and they considered themselves as the leaders of the division. Of course, Nikki Bella, as champion was the leader of Team Bella, while Brie and Alicia Fox were Nikki's evil henchwomen.
In July, Stephanie McMahon (despite being a villainess) decided to give Paige some help in her quest. On that night, July 13, Stephanie introduced NXT Divas Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and then-NXT Women's Champion Sasha Banks into the main roster, marking the beginning of the revolution. Charlotte and Becky formed an alliance with Paige, while Sasha (a heel at the time) decided to align with villainous Divas Naomi and Tamina. As a result, the division had three triumvirates battling each other.
Paige, Charlotte, and Becky were originally known as the Submission Sorority, but due to the X-rated connotations (which Paige reportedly warned WWE about when they cooked up the name), the name was changed simply to Team PCB. They were the only babyface team in the revolution, and really, they were the only trio who didn't have an established leader. Though based on status, Paige was the senior member, as she began on NXT in 2012 and moved to the main roster in 2014.
The trio of Naomi, Tamina, and Sasha referred to themselves as Team B.A.D. (Beautiful and Dangerous). Naomi was considered as the leader of the trio, with Tamina as the enforcer and Sasha as the up-and-comer, almost like an ethnic female equivalent of one of my favorite factions, Evolution.
The NXT alums received their first true taste of the main roster PPV atmosphere, when Sasha and Charlotte competed against each other and Brie Bella in a three way showcase at Battleground, which was won by Charlotte. At SummerSlam, all nine women participated in a three team elimination match, which Team PCB won when Becky Lynch forced Brie Bella to submit to the Dis-Arm-Her.
As a reward for winning the elimination match, Team PCB participated in a Beat The Clock Challenge on August 31. The Beat The Clock Challenge has been done many times in WWE, but this was the first time that the women participated. Mostly, BTC is often used to decide a #1 Contender, but on two occasions, BTC was used to determine who would be the last to participate in the Elimination Chamber match. The rules are simple. Paige, Charlotte, and Becky each competed in singles matches. The one who wins her match in the fastest time would become #1 Contender for the Divas Championship at Night of Champions.
Becky went first, defeating Alicia Fox in 3:21. Charlotte followed, and she beat Becky's time soundly when she defeated Brie Bella in only 1:40--100 seconds even. Paige, unfortunately, was not able to beat the clock at all against Sasha Banks, making Charlotte the #1 Contender. All the while, Nikki was closing in on becoming WWE's longest reigning Divas Champion, but Charlotte decided to attempt to stop history from happening and challenged for the title on the final Raw before NOC, which put Nikki a day away from the mark. During the match, the twins utilized Twin Magic, but Charlotte got the pin on Brie (thinking she was Nikki) and won the title! Or so she thought.
Stephanie McMahon entered and announced that due to Brie getting physically involved, Charlotte wins via DQ, meaning Nikki remains champion and will surpass the mark. However, the title bout at NOC was still on, with Nikki's championship advantage being taken away; she'll lose the title if Team Bella gets involved. As expected, Charlotte defeated Nikki at NOC on September 20 to capture the Divas Championship, ending Nikki's 301-day reign.
The next night on Raw, Team PCB, along with Charlotte's two-time Hall of Fame father, Ric Flair, celebrated Charlotte's big victory. However, Paige ruined the celebration and decided to do an on-air shoot berating her PCB partners as well as the rest of the women. Paige stated that Becky was irrelevant and would never become champion, and later said that the only reason Charlotte is where she is was because of her father. I had figured for weeks that Paige would turn heel after Charlotte won the title, and sure enough, I was correct.
Despite being villainous, Paige continued teaming with Charlotte and Becky, with the matches often ending with Paige abandoning her partners. However, on a WWE Network event, Charlotte and Becky turned the tables on Paige during their match against Team Bella. Paige was busy dealing with Natalya, who was one of the subjects of the villainess' rant, while Charlotte went on to successfully defeat Nikki Bella in a rematch at Hell In A Cell.
Natalya had actually taken Paige's spot in PCB, but after she was attacked (by Paige), Paige returned to the group. However, after PCB lost to Team Bella, the evil Paige attacked her partners, finally cementing herself as a villainous Diva. Later on, Paige set her sights on the Divas Championship, beginning with winning a #1 Contender's four way match. The tail end of the build to Charlotte vs Paige at Survivor Series was met with controversy, as their contract signing included Charlotte mentioning her brother, Reid Flair, who passed away in 2014. Paige uttered a disparaging remark about Reid, which led to a brawl between the two.
Charlotte retained the title against Paige at Survivor Series, but it was met with controversy, as Charlotte was shown leaning on the ropes inadvertently. This led to Paige claiming that Charlotte is a cheater, and on November 30, Paige had Becky challenge Charlotte to a match, claiming that Becky will see Charlotte's true colors. On that night, Charlotte entered with Ric Flair against Becky, while Paige was on commentary. To Becky's surprise, Charlotte feigned an ankle injury and rolled up Becky while Ric provided the distraction, and in the process, Charlotte was beginning her own villainous turn.
Meanwhile, while Team PCB was crumbling, Team Bella was down by one with Nikki Bella sidelined due to issues with her neck. Brie and Alicia were left to continue on as a duo, usually competing against the remnants of PCB, as well as playing de facto babyfaces against Team B.A.D., who were the only ones left standing. However, Sasha was clearly getting the best reactions, and that was used to suggest that Naomi and Tamina could be envious of their partner's popularity, but they continued to remain aligned.
Charlotte's villainous persona slowly increased week-by-week, as she continued to use deceptive methods to win matches, singles and tag team with Becky. Even though she was supposed to be the babyface in the title rematch at TLC against Paige, Charlotte played up her increasing villainous role, utilizing her father as well as an exposed turnbuckle to defeat Paige.
On the very first Raw of 2016, Charlotte and Becky again faced each other in a non-title match, but this time Becky was victorious. Her joy was short lived, as Charlotte viciously attacked Becky Lynch, finally cementing herself as a villainess and also ending PCB. Charlotte and Becky faced each other at the Royal Rumble for the title, with the Nature Girl winning. After the match, Sasha Banks resurfaced and attacked both women, letting them know that she plans on going after the Divas Championship.
After the Rumble, Sasha amicably informed Naomi and Tamina, that she'll go on her own and they won't be needed in her match against Becky Lynch on Raw. Naomi and Tamina appeared to take the news well, only to attack Sasha during her match. Becky actually came to Sasha's aid, and the two fought off Sasha's now former partners. With this, Sasha became a babyface for the first time since her early NXT days in 2013. This led to a tag team contest between the duos at Fastlane, which Sasha and Becky won.
Sasha wasn't the only woman who turned face during this revolution. After the announcement of Daniel Bryan's in-ring retirement on February 8, Brie was transitioned to a babyface due to her marriage to Bryan. She was placed as the contender for Charlotte's Divas Championship, but she was unsuccessful at Fastlane. On Leap Day, February 29, Brie was placed in a feud with villainous manager Lana, who denigrated her and Bryan during Brie's interview. This feud actually allowed Lana to finally get physical and go after Brie on numerous occasions, all the while forming an alliance with Naomi and Tamina, now referring to themselves as Team B.A.D. and Blonde.
Brie had her own backup in the form of turned babyfaces Alicia Fox and Paige, as well as Natalya, as they went against B.A.D. and Blonde. The heel group added Summer Rae and Emma to their side, leading to a mega tag team match set for WrestleMania's pre-show. However, Brie's side was one woman short, but that spot was filled, shockingly, by Eva Marie, who joined the brawl and took out Lana. The Red Queen's appearance was met with mixed reactions by the rest of the women, as she is actually an on-screen villainess. However, she was placed with Brie's group due to the fact that they're all cast members on Total Divas.
The match at WrestleMania on April 3, 2016 in Arlington (in the arena where Aaron Rodgers won the Super Bowl) marked a few firsts. It was Eva Marie's first straight up match at WM, and while she didn't turn against her partners like many expected, she still got to show off her signature evil persona. It also marked Lana's in-ring debut, as well as the first straight-up matches for Emma, Summer Rae, Tamina, and Naomi. As expected, the Total Divas emerged victorious, and there was the scene: the victorious quintet celebrating with Nikki Bella, who is donning a neckbrace. This also marked the last match for Brie Bella, as she retired from wrestling less than two months after her husband did.
Meanwhile, the Revolution would reach bigger heights en route to WrestleMania. A new contender for the Divas Championship needed to be crowned, and Sasha and Becky faced off in a match on Raw, which ended in a no contest. The two faced off again on SmackDown, but during the match, the evil Charlotte attacked both women, continuing the impasse. It was then announced that all three women would face each other at WrestleMania for the Divas Championship. Or so we thought.
Right before the match was set to take place, WWE Hall of Famer Lita entered the ring to announce that the Divas Championship and the "Diva" label are no more. She unveiled a brand new belt pictured above, which was instilled as the new WWE Women's Championship. As the photo shows, the Women's Championship resembles the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, only with a feminine look; a white strap and a red centerpiece. The Divas Championship had been in WWE since July 2008, nearly eight years. The "Diva" label had been existing in WWE dating back to the heart of the Attitude Era. With this, Charlotte became WWE's final Divas Champion, and at the event, Charlotte defeated Becky and Sasha to walk out with the new Women's Championship. I consider this the high point of the Women's Revolution.
The Women's Revolution is continuing in WWE, and NXT has played a role in it for the entire time, with marquee women's matches at Takeover events. This includes the NXT Women's Championship bouts between Sasha Banks and Bayley, as well as Bayley's reign as champion for months on NXT. Since WrestleMania, Dana Brooke, Carmella, Nia Jax, and Alexa Bliss have all graduated from NXT and moved on to the main roster. The Women's Championship changed hands for the first time on June 20, when Sasha Banks won the title from Charlotte. And fans are expected to see Bayley become part of the main roster before the year is out.
I was inspired to write this post on Tuesday, when the WWE Network aired an episode of WWE 24 about the Women's Revolution. On the program, the history of women's wrestling in WWE was discussed, from the heyday in the classic years, to the down period where women were completing in fluff matches that were mainly about the women looking sexy more than showing off their in-ring skills, to the boom in improving women's wrestling and making it all about the actual competition. I love women's wrestling with a passion, and I almost cried watching the episode, which detailed the evolution of women's wrestling as a whole. I have been enjoying this year as a fan of women's wrestling. It has been the best year in a long while, and I think it's going to get even better than this in 2017 and beyond.