Today’s “Wrestling Forward” looks at the upcoming WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships match on Sunday, Charlotte Flair replacing Becky Lynch, Xia Li’s impending breakout, and the importance of ignoring misogynists in order to diminish their undeserved platforms.
On Sunday, six women’s tag teams will compete inside WWE‘s Elimination Chamber structure for the honor of being the new Women’s Tag Team Champions.
Wrestling fans have been waiting several months for WWE to introduce the new titles, which look absolutely fantastic, before Vince McMahon’s Christmas Eve announcement. When Alexa Bliss revealed the new titles in mid-January on “A Moment of Bliss” and stated that three teams from Raw and SmackDown Live would compete for the titles inside the Elimination Chamber, all of that speculation turned into HYPE.
And let’s keep that hype going on Sunday.
Tag team wrestling has seemingly been undervalued in WWE, especially since talented tag teams on Raw couldn’t get any traction on television for well over a year. Last week’s episode of Raw was highlighted by The Revival finally winning the Raw Tag Team Championships, and they were finally able to remind the WWE Universe why they are one of the best tag teams in the world.
If the men in WWE are having a difficult time getting tag team wrestling noticed by Vince McMahon, we have to be careful not to give any reason for WWE to give up on the Women’s Tag Team Championships.
So whether you “stan” the IIconics, the Boss’N’Hug Connection, Nia and Tamina, The Fabulous Glow, Fire and Desire (Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose), or the Riott Squad, support all these women on Sunday and beyond. They have been KILLING it week after week in tag teams on Raw and SmackDown, giving it their all inside the squared circle, even when it seems like the company itself isn’t pulling their own weight.
And now with the championships, they have something to fight for, giving these underrated tag matches tangible meaning in storylines; it’s what many of us have been asking for all along.
So keep watching, keep tweeting, keep supporting your faves without tearing down others (or else Charlotte Flair will find you and ether you), and show WWE that we do care about women’s tag team wrestling.
Don’t Give Glenn Gilbertti A Platform
This is going to be short and sweet. Don’t give misogynists a platform. Glenn Gilbertti, aka Disco Inferno, isn’t a fan of women’s wrestling?
Well guess what? I ain’t a fan of his, because that remark his sexist and his reasoning is absolutely horrendous. Women’s wrestling, as Allysin Kay pointed out to a misogynist on Twitter, is not a STYLE, “Women wrestle in all different STYLES & ‘woman’ is not one of them.”
So if you say you aren’t a fan of women’s wrestling, it’s pretty clear what you really mean.
I’m grateful that Kelly Klein, an acclaimed woman in wrestling who was recently the Women of Honor Champion and tore down the house with Mayu Iwatani in Miami, bravely spoke out against a recent quote from Gilbertti.
Gilbertti has 19.2k followers on Twitter. It’s not for me to tell you who to follow on social media, but if you don’t stand for the things Gilbertti says, such as, “If there’s a girl out there whose work isn’t as good but she’s hotter and has sex appeal, I’m a fan of that,” please unfollow/mute/block whatever it takes. Because comments like this are wrong, are meant to dehumanize women as objects, and they have no place in a sport that is doing its best to finally change for the better.
Don’t give misogyny a platform. Don’t support his account or his words. Call him out when he makes comments like this, but don’t follow him or others like him in this community. Someone like him should not have 19,000 followers on Twitter or a legion of people who say they are “fans” of his. We need to stand up and say, “This is wrong,” and prevent him from having a platform.
Instead, support Kelly Klein, women’s tag team wrestling, WOW, EVE, STARDOM, and other women in wrestling.
Klein’s tweets above are the reason why it’s OK to make this behavior known when it happens, but when you see someone speak with hate, know that they must be held accountable. The first way to hold them accountable is to call them out and show your support to those who are more deserving than people like Glenn Gilbertti.
Stop the hate in wrestling by chopping down a bigoted platform at its pillars.
Voices From The Crowd: Charlotte Flair Replaces Becky Lynch
Charlotte Flair was one of WWE’s greatest heels as Sasha Banks’s mortal enemy in late 2016, and it’s safe to say she’s exceeded those levels of heat, even though she remains one of the strongest and most positive forces on social media in the wrestling business.
The video of Vince McMahon announcing Charlotte as Becky Lynch’s replacement at WrestleMania 35 reached 70,000 dislikes, making it their most-disliked video of all-time.
From WWE’s perspective, this is likely “mission accomplished”.
Our Trace Johnson already wrote about why inserting Flair into the match – because we all know WWE won’t leave their new top star out of the main event of WrestleMania after promoting WrestleMANia each and every week – won’t cheapen Becky’s crowning moment, drawing parallels to other big WrestleMania Triple Threat wins.
There’s no doubt that “The Queen” commands respect, and one of her fans, @Thatsovan, summed up Charlotte’s greatness in a conversation with me, arguing for her inclusion in the match:
“Why shouldn’t Charlotte Flair be added to the main event of WM? Charlotte Flair is one of the hardest working female wrestlers in the WWE. She started from absolutely nothing, no prior experience. She worked HARD, to get the opportunities she has received. People love to say she’s only successful because of her last name; but, believe it or not, Charlotte Flair has been the face of the Women’s Revolution prior to Ronda Rousey joining the WWE.
Charlotte Flair proved her star potential back in 2015-2016, and since then she has not only grown as a character but also as a performer. She is an outstanding wrestler and a great person to represent the WWE for media purposes. Without Charlotte, the WM main event would just be suplex, suplex, armbar, and another suplex. Charlotte brings a different style of wrestling, one that is needed in this match in my opinion.”
But I wanted to get some additional perspective, because if a video gets 70,000 likes, that means there’s something here. So why are so many wrestling fans upset with Charlotte being in the match, even though most of them recognize how good she is?
@legitbecky is one of the smartest people I know, and she’s a Becky Lynch fan who isn’t afraid to check her own bias when speaking. I absolutely had to get her thoughts on this hot-button topic, and, well, I’m glad I did:
“I think the Charlotte/Becky storyline is one for the books. It created one of the biggest superstars in today’s time with The Man. However, I thought that ship sailed after Becky had beaten Charlotte on countless occasions; I thought wrong. I’m not the biggest fan of the storyline and Charlotte inserting herself, but the payoff for Becky could be HUGE, if the WWE does it right. Cementing her as a top star.
I don’t think it has much of an effect on Charlotte other than her being able to help put someone else over for a change. She’s a Flair and will always be a household name regardless. I think it’s time for someone else to shine for a bit. As for fans, I think we just need to continue to be vocal and support who we want to support through merch, through social media interactions, whatever it be. The more vocal we are about this storyline, I think the better chance we have at getting the best payoff.”
Her words really resonate with me, especially those last couple of sentences. The louder we react, the more supportive we are of these women, and the more measurable attention (merch sales, tweets, views etc.) we give, the more we show WWE that women can take center stage at WrestleMania.
As @legitbecky said, we’ve seen Charlotte and Becky match up together so many times that it can be discouraging for some fans to see Charlotte in her spotlight again. But the two have an interwoven history, and, as @Thatsovan noted, Charlotte is a huge star in her own right.
The solution is simple: Be loud, be proud, and make the main event of WrestleMania 35 as impactful as possible. It’s only going to help us all, whether you stan Becky, Charlotte, or the Four Horsewomen of MMA.
Xia Li Is A Name To Remember
“I am spicy. You will feel the heat.”
The Mae Young Classic tournaments have introduced us to so many great wrestlers, wrestling characters, moments, and quotes, but that simple statement from Xia Li’s highlight package at the MYC 2 still resonates today. It’s a quote I carry in my head every time I sit down to type out another 1,500-word column.
You don’t like what I have to say? Am I too abrasive? Whatever. I’m spicy.
Sasha Banks is one of the most influential professional wrestlers on the planet and has already changed the game in so many ways as a WWE Superstar over the past few years. So when Sasha gives someone a vote of confidence publicly, I am definitely going to pay attention.
Xia Li, an exceptional athlete and martial artist, could very well be the next star to have been introduced to the WWE Universe at the Mae Young Classic 2. We’ve seen Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, Toni Storm, Shayna Baszler, and so many others become legitimate stars in WWE NXT after standing out in the first MYC.
Despite a 1-2 combined record in both Mae Young Classics, Li has shown immense potential and real improvement from year-to-year. With more hard work, Li, whose character is as engaging as anybody’s in the Performance Center, could be a breakout star in the near future.
It’s always important to keep a “pulse” on whose next, and after Eric Bugenhagen turned heads on his NXT TV debut against Drew Gulak, I’d like to remind WWE fans of Xia Li’s potential, pointing towards Sasha’s praise as an example of how the industry’s best minds view her. Her appearance in this year’s Royal Rumble? Another sign that WWE is high on a superstar who has made plenty of NXT Live Event appearances over the past few months.
Anyone who watched her in the Mae Young Classic 2, like my colleague Laura Mauro, can attest to her future star power. She’s constantly improving, and she’s a name to remember as 2019 progresses.