It feels like only in recent years, is the WWE giving Women’s Wrestling its due respect. This is not to say there haven’t always been great female wrestlers, purely that it seems that for the longest time they were treated as sexual objects or sideshow attractions, even the true greats treated as if they are just there to kill time until the men get back in the ring. Now, I am not really in a full position to explain the entire history of Women’s Wrestling but if you want to know more about it, you’re in luck as WWE has produced a DVD collection covering most of the most important figures in Women’s Wrestling from Wendi Richter to Alexa Bliss. Of course, it being a WWE overview, the first voice we hear is that of Stephanie McMahon but that’s fine because she started the Women’s Revolution so it’s important we remember her.
The sequencing of the DVDs is well-formed, we get an introduction to one woman at a time, we hear from their mouths, something of their story and then we get something of a showcase or signature match from their career. Obviously, with that edited format, you don’t get the full story and quite frequently, you feel like there’s a lot of the stories that aren’t told but should be, though you’re always aware when watching a WWE DVD, you’re watching the story they want to tell.
The choices of focus are for the most part well curated, with the ‘Then’ DVD featuring spotlights on Wendi Richter, Sensational Sherri, Alundra Blayze, Ivory, Victoria, Lita, Molly Holly, Trish Stratus, Mickey James, AJ Lee & Paige. Now, while I can’t question any of these women’s inclusion (and considering the backlash against The Fabulous Moolah Battle Royal, it’s appropriate that though she is featured in the first two matches of the disk, Moolah is only mentioned as the woman that Richter beat), there are certain exclusions that are somewhat disappointing, especially with Alundra Blayze vs Bull Nakano and Ivory vs Chyna back-to-back but with little mention of Nakano or Chyna a particular disappointment. Also, it’s always a disappointing reminder that with the plight of women in the WWE that quite a large part of this first DVD features Jerry Lawler commentary, clashing the empowerment vibe with screeches of “puppies” upon witnessing Trish. There are a lot of delights to be found here such as the aforementioned Blayze-Nakano encounter and Victoria-Stratus backing up Victoria’s reminiscences about the work that Fit Finlay put into shaping up the ‘divas’ division. It’s mostly just a shame that so determined is the WWE to show how many strides they’ve made in recent years that by the end of this, the first of three DVDs we’re already at 2014 with literally three matches covering up to the year 2000.
The ‘Now’ focuses in on the current generation of superstars with The Bella Twins, Natalya & The Four Horsewomen of NXT which are, once again, solid choices for inclusion here, though it does feel like various talent such as LayCool and Beth Phoenix are particularly notable in their absence, especially considering how heavily the rest of this disc’s content is heavy on the Four Horsewomen. Despite the intensive focus on only the most recent era of Women’s Wrestling, it’s still hard to quibble with so many high quality choices, the true standout still being Bayley-Sasha Banks from NXT TakeOver: Respect. That said, one thing this disc really hammers home is how much belt designs went downhill in the Divas era.
Our third and final disc, the ‘Forever’ side, puts the focus on the future with Carmella, Alexa Bliss, The Mae Young Classic, Ronda Rousey and the first women’s Royal Rumble given their full attention. It’s a cute addition, having the Mae Young spotlight on the final disc, accompanying the tournament in her name, showing how far things have come since her day and it really does show by this point how well selected so many of the matches are with such a high level of quality with selections being well-made such that no particular era stands out as being ‘weak’ in such terms. For the second WWE DVD in a row. It’s nice that the DVD goes right up to this year’s WrestleMania with Rousey & Kurt Angle vs Triple H & Steph. It’ll be interesting to see where any of this goes from here.
It’s not a perfect collection, as long as it is yet there are still so many omissions – Chyna, Phoenix, Jazz, especially Jazz, the other two have matches on the set but there’s no Jazz, hopefully, Jazz can make it into the Women’s Royal Rumble next year because more people need to know about Jazz. Even with the disappointing lack of Jazz (seriously, nothing more than a brief mention by Trish?), this is a good primer for anyone looking to educate themselves on most of the names they need to know from the past 30 years of Women’s Wrestling. It’s a well-put-together collection with some fun interview segments that are sure to delight its target audience. That said, I don’t think I can say enough how much it needed more Jazz.
WWE: Now, Then, Forever – The Women’s Evolution is available on DVD now.
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