Sunday night will see WWE make history once again with the first ever all-women’s pay-per-view Evolution.
Emanating from the Nassau Coliseum in New York City the show will be headlined by Ronda Rousey putting her Raw Women’s Championship on the line against Nikki Bella, and includes a card featuring the biggest female talent from WWE both past and present.
It’s just the latest chapter in WWE’s evolution of the women’s division, and at the centre of that movement has been the company’s Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon.
Ahead of what will be a landmark weekend for the company her Grandfather created, the Raw Commissioner spoke to talkSPORT about her dreams finally become reality thanks to WWE Evolution.
Stephanie, this weekend sees the first ever all-women’s pay-per-view. How much are you looking forward to it and what match are you most excited about?
I’m really looking forward to all of them, those that have been announced. Ronda Rousey versus Nikki Bella for the Raw Women’s Championship, then there’s Becky versus Charlotte, which is going to go down as one of the greatest rivalries of all time for the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
Trish and Lita are coming back and the NXT Women’s Championship match between Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler I think is going to be a contender to steal the show. The list goes on and this is going to be an incredible show. It’s going to be high quality, incredible action and storytelling and I think we are going to leave our audience wanting more. WWE Evolution is the crucial and next step in the evolution of women’s wrestling in WWE.
Given your performance at WrestleMania this year, were you not tempted in joining the ladies with a match of your own?
Fire and foremost I’m just privileged to be the voice of this movement. This has been a movement that has been happening ever since women stepped into a ring, and that’s every woman in every promotion who has made this happen and helped pushed this through. In terms of my match at WrestleMania, I wouldn’t say I’m a skilled or accomplished wrestler in the ring and it was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done in my life.
Getting in the ring with Ronda Rousey alongside Triple H and Kurt Angle. I currently don’t have any plans to compete at Evolution because it’s about our women’s division, however I’m always open to getting in the ring if it’s best for business.
Trish and Lita are in action and we’ve some big names announced for the Battle Royal, but can we expect further legends to return for this landmark event?
This is WWE you should always expect the unexpected. This is the evolution of WWE so ‘Then, Now, Forever’ represents more than a tagline for us. It really does represent where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re going to go. We try our best to represent that throughout our programming and Evolution will be no different.
You mention Ronda Rousey, how important has she become for the division and this pay-per-view?
Ronda is absolutely key in opening doors. She has star power and presence, and she brings such a diverse history and background.
From competing in the Olympics and becoming the first ever UFC Women’s Champion, to being in moves and being a philanthropist, an entrepreneur and even an executive producer. She has absolutely increased the interest in women’s wrestling in WWE and has brightened the spotlight for all competitors, which is exactly what Ronda wanted to do. She wants to raise the bar for the women’s division and bring a light to it that has never shined as bright before.
There’s such a talented pool of female stars in WWE right now. Outside of Ronda do you have a personal favourite you like watching?
You can’t just highlight one. It’s not just Alexa Bliss, it’s Becky Lynch, it’s Charlotte Flair, it’s Ember Moon, it’s Naomi, it’s Sasha Banks, it’s every single person on our women’s roster that are bringing a it to a different level.
They are exciting to watch, they are incredible personalities and they are incredibly talented in the ring. They are performers, they are professional athletes and they are continuing to raise their own level of competition.
How much further can this evolution go? Are there any targets left for WWE Women’s division?
At the moment I still think there are targets. Ultimately will we have achieved success when we’re no longer talking about the difference between men and women’s wrestling?
Perhaps. I do want to see a women’s main event at WrestleMania, even though all matches are main events I’d really like to see a women’s match close the show. I think that would be a real crowning achievement for this movement.
When you first began working with you father in this business could you ever envisage how far the women’s division could go?
It was something I dreamed of every day and now our division is paving the way for women everywhere, no matter what industry you’re in. I was out to dinner the other night with my daughters and three little girls in this restaurant stopped me for autographs. I don’t usually get stopped, because it’s usually my husband so it caught me off guard a little bit, but I asked them about Evolution and they were so excited and they told me who they like and who they look up to.
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The thing with WWE is that we are showing diversity because it’s so it’s important to see yourself in true success stories, whether that’s in business, sports or media, you need to see it to know it’s possible. We have all different body types, we have all different ethnicities, different religious backgrounds, personal beliefs – you name it. We really encompass all the different beliefs in the world, that’s our universe and that’s our roster. So we want little girls to be able to see these women achieve success, achieve their dreams, because we want every girl to know that she is capable of anything she wants to be.