McGuire’s Mondays: Paul Levesque’s comments regarding women’s pro wrestling mark two steps forward, one step back in WWE and NXT

By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)

“Equality is equality. Equality is not ‘I want my own show.’ Equality is not ‘We have to have our own program.’ If I told you I was making an all men’s program and I didn’t want women on it, it would be criticized.”

Those were the words of Paul “Triple H” Levesque last week during a media call. From the second I read them, there was only one question that kept circulating through my mind …

MANIPULATING THE NARRATIVE

He can’t be that tone deaf, can he?I mean, I get it. By all accounts, it seems like the reporters on the call got Ornery Levesque, and that’s as fun a Levesque as any out there, but a comment like that? At a time like this? When the NWA is staging its own women’s pay-per-view and Ring of Honor already has a weekly all-women’s online show? Really? He’s going to ostensibly tell us that women in WWE don’t deserve their own show and then spout off about equality?

You can’t define equality for the sole purpose of fitting it into your own parameters. And you certainly can’t define equality if you’re projecting your own thoughts onto an entire gender and that gender also happens to not be your gender. There’s ignorant, and then there’s stupid. Those comments are both.

And why is that?

A CHECKERED HISTORY

That’s because Levesque doesn’t know what it’s like to be a woman in the wrestling business. For that matter, neither do I. But with that in mind, it’s not necessarily hard to look at the unfair discrepancies between men and women in wrestling when you look at the history of it.

Back when Levesque was making dick jokes and crotch-chopping his way to the top of the card, women in WWE weren’t called women — they were called Divas. There was not a 30-minute iron-woman match concept. Instead, it was a combination of bra and panties matches and gross storylines that objectified pretty much every female on the show in one way or another.

And let’s not kid ourselves. This wasn’t 100 years ago. People barely old enough to legally drink alcohol in the United States of America could have memories of seeing those things on television. It wasn’t all that long ago when women in WWE were viewed as sex objects and very little more. To recognize that every single woman has had to fight – and I mean fight – her way to be something more than what the brass at WWE wanted them to be is paramount to understanding the plight of women in that company.

The thing is, Levesque’s comments suggest he doesn’t understand that very reality. In turn, his words suggest a guy who views women’s wrestling as a placation – something that he knows they have to do because so many women have broken down so many walls over the last 20 to 30 years – but not something that he entirely believes in nor cares about. And yeah, that might sound harsh, and I’m sure there are many Levesque apologists out there who have story after story about how much he’s helped this woman or that woman further her career, but let’s go back to the “We have to have our own program” jab …

DEFINING EQUALITY

You know what Levesque can do that very few other people can do in WWE? Change things. And when you have that ability in that company, you also have a responsibility – a responsibility to those around you, a responsibility to be an agent of evolution. If Levesque wanted to, he could stage a yearly all-women’s pay-per-view. If Levesque wanted to, he could put more than one or two women’s matches on every TakeOver. If Levesque wanted to, he could produce a weekly television program akin to what Ring Of Honor is doing now.

But he’s not doing that. And if you claim to have the best women’s division in the world at WWE, which he did, then why wouldn’t you want to showcase that more often? Why does it feel like the women’s matches in WWE are often little more than an afterthought?

Oh, wait. You don’t think that company treats women’s matches like afterthoughts?

If that’s so, then why do we get rematch after rematch after rematch on both Raw and Smackdown each week? And why does that 50/50 booking feature matches that almost never go beyond four minutes? Why didn’t Bayley, who deserves a medal of honor for carrying WWE through the pandemic, get a WrestleMania match? Why doesn’t creative ever seem to have anything for can’t-miss Rhea Ripley on the main roster? Why did it take 35 WrestleManias before women headlined one of them?

Saying that you don’t think having a women-specific program is essential to equality in your company is insulting to every woman who ever played a part in moving that division forward. That’s because equality is just that: equality. Equality doesn’t bend. Equality is not relative. Equality is, by definition, something like this: If you have four matches that feature men on a show, you then must have four matches that feature women on a show. Equality is not this: If you have six matches that feature men on a show, the women just better be thankful that they even got two matches on a show.

How this appears to not be understood baffles me. It also leads me to this …

WASTED TALENT

As Zack Heydorn of Pro Wrestling Torch pointed out Sunday night on Twitter during NXT’s TakeOver: In Your House, Raquel Gonzalez has no opponents left after she defeated Ember Moon to retain her women’s title. The curious thing about that? Levesque insisted that NXT has the best women’s division in the world.

It’s subjective. But if it does, why hasn’t anyone at NXT taken the time to build any one of those tremendous performers up to a level where it would feel like she was a true threat to Gonzalez’s belt? It should also be pointed out that this was Gonzalez’s first TakeOver since winning the title in April. We’re two months into a title reign and we’re already out of potential credible opponents for the champ? How does that work? While a victim of the same thing in the men’s division, at least Karrion Kross blasted through four other challengers Sunday night. I can’t even think of four women in all of NXT who I’d believe could provide any type of drama in a match with Gonzalez right now.

And make no mistake about it: The fault for that does not land on those women in that division. Those women are great and from top to bottom, that list of performers is like a call sheet for should-be stars in wrestling. Instead, the blame falls on the people running the show. Cough. Levesque. Cough. That’s on those who call the shots behind the scenes. If they have all this amazing talent – and they do – why not use more of it in more substantial ways?

When Bayley, Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Asuka were in NXT, it felt like each time any of the four were in the ring, be it with one another or against other opponents, nobody knew who would come out on top. Asuka’s streak was incredible, Bayley and Banks had one of the best series of matches that promotion has ever seen, and Charlotte’s star power alone made her appearances can’t-miss. These days … I don’t know?

I guess Dakota Kai is going to turn on Raquel at some point?

For having such a loaded women’s division, it sure would be nice to utilize it a little more, don’t you think, Mr. Levesque?

EVOLUTION II

And so it must be asked: Why did WWE give up on “Evolution,” the company’s all-female pay-per-view?

The further we get away from it, the more it makes me wonder if WWE only did it because Ronda Rousey came in and Nikki Bella came back. And while it was a great idea in theory, and the show was even better in execution, I do think it’s fair to at least question if the company would have done it had Rousey never scratched her wrestling itch.

And that’s a shame because while she’s a marquee name, there are so many women that could have carried that show then and could carry that show now. Such is why Levesque’s comments last week are, as much as anything else, deflating. They are almost like a white flag, an indication of surrender when it comes to the momentum and the hope that WWE once gave its women’s division.

What’s worse is the reality that, for decades and decades and decades, WWE did, in fact, put on all-men’s shows. For years, if you ever saw a woman on WWE programming, it would be in a valet role, and that was it. These days, women’s wrestling has grown into its own entity and any women’s match anywhere on any card has the ability to give any other match on the card a run for its money when it comes to match of the night honors, no matter the gender.

WWE has helped cultivate that through the years and as a whole, it should be given credit for stepping up in that department. But if you’re going to address equality in the way that Levesque did last week, and you’re going to sound as dismissive and derisive as he did, you’re now taking two steps forward and one step back.

And that’s not good for anybody, let alone an entire division of wrestlers . Wrestlers who have earned chances. Wrestlers who demand attention.

And wrestlers who deserve better than what Levesque said.


Readers Comments (9)

  1. Complete tosh. He is 100% right on this and you are way off. Equality is not force feeding us something there is little desire for. Having a women’s TV for the sake of appearances is not the way to bring equality. The women all reaching the level of Becky, Sasha, Ronda, Bayley, Asuka and Charlotte (and notable NXT wrestlers) would bring deserved equality. It’s not something that should be given it should be earned else it’s pointless.

    • Well Said. Should the WWE be like the NBA and lose Money for 2 straight decades on the WNBA. If the demand was there WWE would be the first to jump on it. We all know they have not met a dollar they did not Like. So we all know the reason why, it’s not profitable ATM. Just the truth.

    • McGuire’s “Must Miss” Monday is the worst thing on this site since Will Pruett’s constant drivel.

      UFC didn’t put women’s fights on until Ronda Rousey was one of the top 3 stars in the sport, and they were right to do so. Now you’ll see an occasional PPV headlined by Amanda Nunes, but none by other female fighters because they don’t bring in viewers.

      Wrestling should be the same way. If someone can draw, you put them in position to do their best and ride it for as long as you can. If that person is female, then so be it. If they’re male, then so be it.

      • I was a Pruett fan until he started pushing his opinion something the world needed to do or else. His writing became insufferable and this is turning the same way. The most “Must Miss” thing on Mondays are articles like these.

  2. Are there any female wrestling journalists working for this website? Just curious.

    • We had April, but unfortunately she faded away from writing for the site. I’d love to add good female writers and voices. Unfortunately, none have shown interest whenever I’ve put out requests for new writers.

      • To me, wrestling is the definition of escapism. I would much prefer that we try to solve the problems of the world in another venue. Must we insist on politicizing everything?

  3. Your bias is showing. I’m sure you know more about what it’s like to be a woman in the wrestling world than HHH.

    You mention the constant rematches and 50/50 booking. Are you only watching the womens segments? Because for the most part, that’s most of every show, men and women both.

    WWE doesn’t need an all womens show. They don’t need more content. They need better content. Better content leads to greater demand.

    To point the finger at HHH for comments he made has got to be one of the dumbest things I’ve read. We all know the reason why Evolution 2 hasn’t happened. We all know why women have been objectified in the WWE over the years. We all know why it took 35 years for a womens match to headline Wrestlemania. HHH is not the problem there. But I sure bet he gets tired of taking the heat for the one in charge.

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