Sometimes, all you need to do is complain to the right people. WWE were happy to ignore the angry cries fans directed towards the women’s Battle Royal being named after The Fabulous Moolah, but the sponsors for WrestleMania, Snickers, were having none of it.
After the chocolate brand’s staff realised how much people hated Moolah, they told Vince & Co. to rename the Battle Royal or lose their sponsorship. WWE had no choice but to obey, and now they’ve renamed the match… the Women’s Battle Royal. Not exactly catchy, but at least the bout isn’t named after a pimp any more.
With the new name change, you can’t help but think that WWE would’ve avoided all this aggravation in the first place had they chosen to honour a more worthy deceased superstar. There aren’t many women in days gone by who made a huge splash in the sport as so few people took women’s wrestling seriously, but a few ladies stand head & shoulders above the rest. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the ladies of wrestling who WWE should’ve honoured.
Luna Vachon’s success in wrestling isn’t measured by championship reigns. In fact, she didn’t have much in-ring success at all in WWF, failing to capture the Women’s Title on several occasions. What separated Luna from her peers was the stand she took against the way women were showcased in WWF.
During her second run in the company from 1997-2000, Vachon was subjected to dressing up as a dominatrix, participating in evening gown matches, and putting over Sable repeatedly despite their genuine dislike of each other. By the 2000 Royal Rumble, Luna was done with the sexualisation of women in the division. She was scheduled to take part in a swimsuit contest, but refused to take off her gown in protest. She was later released from WWF due to backstage outbursts.
Despite being brought up as a pioneer by modern day WWE, the company treated her terribly during her stint with them. Vachon has yet to be entered into the Hall of Fame, presumably for her drug related death, or due to backstage politics. Either way, we are now in an era that celebrates women for their talent as opposed to their bodies. Naming the Memorial Battle Royal after one of the first ladies to stand up for women’s rights in the company would have cemented WWE’s commitment to the Women’s Revolution.
Although Miss Elizabeth wasn’t a professional wrestler, she certainly made her mark in the world of sports entertainment as Randy Savage’s manager. Her movie star looks combined with her intelligence, charisma, and her alignment with one of the most popular stars on the WWF roster made Miss Elizabeth a huge hit.
When the duo split in 1989 at WrestleMania V, the fans were shocked that The Macho Man had it in him to cast aside his most loyal supporter in favour of Sensational Sherri. Yet when Elizabeth and Savage reunited two years later at WrestleMania VII, the crowd erupted in applause. The two went on to have long careers in WWF and WCW despite their real life divorce in 1992.
Miss Elizabeth sadly passed away in 2003 as a result of acute toxicity. Her life was troubled, but it’s hard to think of stars such as Savage, Hulk Hogan, and Ric Flair without also thinking of the “First Lady of Wrestling”.
Naming the female Battle Royal after Elizabeth would’ve highlighted how instrumental she was to the success of some of the biggest names in wrestling, and for the winner of the match named in her honour, it would’ve meant Elizabeth could continue to help pave paths to glory even in death.
Sherri Martel made a huge name for herself as a manger for some of the biggest names in wrestling. However, she was also an accomplished competitor, becoming a six time women’s champion across three different promotions.
During her storied career, Sensational Sherri enjoyed a wealth of success. In her debut match for WWF, Sherri became the Women’s Champion by pinning her former teacher, the now publicly lambasted Fabulous Moolah. Martel went on to hold the title for an incredible 15 months before dropping it to Rockin’ Robin.
After the women’s division in WWF fizzled out, Sherri reinvented herself as a manager for the likes of The Honky Tonk Man, Randy Savage, and Ted DiBiase just to name a few. She even managed Harlem Heat through seven WCW Tag Team Title runs after signing with the company in 1994.
In 2006, WWE inducted Martel into the Hall of Fame for all of her accomplishments.
Sensational Sherri passed away from a drug overdose in 2007. Whilst WWE would prefer to keep away from her death, there’s no denying that Sherri was a true star in wrestling, loved by the fans and her peers. Dedicating the women’s WrestleMania battle royal to her would not only have honoured her life, but act as a reminder to everyone to seek help if they’re battling with their inner demons.
WWE throw the term ‘trailblazer’ around so often that the word has lost a ton of meaning, yet there’s no other way to describe Chyna. In a world dominated by men, Chyna carved out a niche by being the only woman on the roster able to go toe-to-toe with the male competitors.
Chyna’s accomplishments are legendary. Not only was she a former Women’s Champion, she was the only woman to become Intercontinental Champion, and she managed to do it twice. “The Ninth Wonder of the World” was also the first woman to enter the King of the Ring Tournament, the first female to enter a Royal Rumble match, and she even enjoyed a brief stint as the No.1 contender to the WWF Championship.
Chyna’s pornographic past and drug addiction has kept her name off WWE television for the most part. Recently though, the likes of Stephanie McMahon and Triple H have been mentioning her due to the impact she had in wrestling, and on little girls who grew up loving the sport because of her.
Discussions on whether Chyna will ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame will never die down. With senior WWE staff members on board with mentioning her on TV, it would’ve been an excellent time to finally induct “The Ninth Wonder of the World” into the Hall, and to celebrate her induction they could’ve named the Battle Royal in her honour.
Of all the ladies on this list, no one did more for women in wrestling than Mildred Burke. She was a fantastic competitor, devoted to the sport, and worked tirelessly for women everywhere looking to make a name for themselves in wrestling.
Refusing to give up her dream, Burke first caught the attention of her trainer, Billy Wolfe, by bodyslamming one of his male students. From there, Wolfe began teaching Mildred what he knew, and led his future wife to the Women’s World Championship in 1937, a title she held all the way to her retirement in the mid 50s. Burke was also booked to appear at carnivals wrestling men. In over 200 intergender matches, she only lost once.
Following a messy two year divorce battle with Wolfe, Mildred moved on with her life as she was sick of battling the NWA officials in her husband’s corner. Taking her Women’s World Championship and loyal troupe of female wrestlers with her, Burke brought the title to her own wrestling promotion, the World Women’s Wrestling Association. From 1970 up to its closure in 2005, All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling used Burke’s championship as their top title.
Burke’s fight against her husband and the NWA is legendary by itself. She fought to bring integrity to the sport that saw women as nothing more than a sideshow act. Add to it her wrestling prowess, and her devotion in creating a safe haven for women to train, and you have a true legend worthy of being remembered.
If WWE wanted to name their Memorial Battle Royal after anyone, it should’ve be the woman who went above and beyond to legitimise the female division in a time when very few people cared.
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