Can We Talk About How Much Better The WWE Women's Division Has Gotten Over The Last Decade?

Rhea Ripley winning the Women's Royal Rumble
(Image credit: WWE)

I don’t have a time machine and I can’t see into the future, but I’m sure one day people will look back on our current era of WWE, and wrestling as a whole, as one of the greatest periods in the history of sports entertainment. The in-ring product, storylines, and a healthy amount of competition have led to some great moments and even greater changes in the past decade, and one area of WWE’s product that has gotten so much better is the women’s division.

Earlier this year I wrote about everything that has changed since the launch of the WWE Network in February 2014. In that article, I briefly touched on how the women’s division has become one of the strongest components of the company. But since I had to keep things brief at the time, I decided to go back and revisit some of the ways WWE’s exciting women’s division has improved and become the standard bearer for the industry as a whole. Well, now is that time…

Sasha Banks and Bayley at NXT Takeover Brooklyn

(Image credit: WWE)

The NXT Roster Completely Reshaped Women's Wrestling In WWE

As far as I’m concerned, some of WWE’s best wrestling in the past 20 years took place in NXT between 2014 and 2018, and a lot of the buzz surrounding the developmental brand was its stellar women’s division. Sasha Banks, Bayley, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch, all of whom have won various championships on the main roster in the past, all got their start down in Florida, and little did we know at the time, they were reshaping women’s wrestling into how we know it today.

While the Divas division was still focusing more on models-turned-wrestlers than longtime fans of the sport, these four, and numerous others like Alexa Bliss, Carmella, Emma, and Paige gave their blood, sweat, and tears, waiting for their time to strike and usher in a new era. And they did just that…

The Four Horsewomen at NXT Takeover Brooklyn

(Image credit: WWE)

The "Four Horsewomen" Brought Next-Level Matches To The Main Roster

Between 2015 and 2016, Sasha Banks, Bayley, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch, also known as the “Four Horsewomen,” a reference to the legendary Four Horsemen, made their debuts on WWE’s main roster. While Bayley wouldn’t be fully in the mix until a year after her fellow NXT alums, the other three made an instant impact on the product and let fans of their work in developmental know it wasn’t going to be cast aside on Raw or SmackDown. Instead, it flourished.

The Divas Era officially came to an end at WrestleMania 32 in April 2016 when Flair defeated Banks and Lynch in a game-changing triple threat match for the new WWE Women’s Championship. And with that, the women's roster began to take over and get better by the day.

Iyo Sky and Rhea Ripley on Raw

(Image credit: WWE)

The Divas Championship Has Been Replaced By Two Prestigious Titles

The Divas Championship was around for the better part of a decade, with all but two years of its existence seeing it as the only women’s title on the WWE main roster. While there were some legendary champions to hold the belt over the years like Michelle McCool, AJ Lee, Paige, and even Charlotte Flair at the end of its run, the belt wasn’t always associated with great wrestling. 

Since then, the WWE Women’s Championship and the Women’s World Championship have been fought over in some major matches, including the main events of shows like WrestleMania, SummerSlam, and most recently, Elimination Chamber 2024, where Rhea Ripley defended the World Championship in her native Australia.

Naomi on SmackDown

(Image credit: WWE)

The Women's Roster Is So Deep

If you look at the official WWE roster, it’s not difficult to see that there are more women wrestling for the company than ever before. Between NXT, Raw, and SmackDown, there are a few dozen female wrestlers, enough to build their own show in the vein of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW) back in the ‘80s. Stables, tag teams within those stables, main event talent, mid-carders, up-and-comers, you name it, it’s there.

This stacked women’s roster is also something of a curse, however, as there are so many talented superstars but only two singles titles and a tag team championship on the main roster. And, like how WWE’s going to have to leave big stars off WrestleMania 40, there are only so many spaces to fill in the title picture. Well, unless the company introduces a much-needed midcard title for the division… 

Bayley celebrating between the ropes after winning The Royal Rumble.

(Image credit: WWE)

Women's Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, And MITB Matches Have Leveled The Playing Field

Another thing that has made WWE so much fun to watch the past half-decade or so is the introduction of the Women’s Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, and Money in the Bank matches that were once reserved only for the male wrestlers on the roster. These marquee matches have leveled the playing field, so to speak, and have given even more women time to shine on some of the company’s biggest shows.

Long gone are the days of the “bra and panties” contest before the men’s rumble, the “Miss WrestleMania” pageants, and other various dated and disgusting gimmick matches that were so prevalent during the Attitude Era and Ruthless Aggression phase. It’s better this way, even when not talking about equality in the ring.

Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair on Raw

(Image credit: WWE)

Wrestlers Like Rhea Ripley And Bianca Belair Have Been Able To Make Themselves Into Massive Stars

Back in February 2020, I wrote about six up-and-coming female wrestlers to watch out for in WWE, and two of those superstars – Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair – have become some of the biggest stars the company, and the sport as a whole, has seen in years. Both of these wrestlers have held the various women’s titles for extended periods of time, taken part in high-profile WrestleMania main event matches (Belair headlined Night 1 of the 2022 “Showcase of the Immortals”), and developed beloved characters that connect with the fans.

These are just two examples of female wrestlers grabbing the proverbial brass rings and making names for themselves through grit, determination, and iconic moments in and outside of the ring.

Becky Lynch at WrestleMania 35

(Image credit: WWE)

More Respectful And Engaging Storylines Have Become The Norm

Perhaps the best thing to happen WWE’s women’s division over the past decade has been the inclusion of more respectful and engaging storylines, angles that have been given just as much time, consideration, and heat as anything with the male wrestlers. Becky Lynch becoming “The Man” and winning the first women’s main event match at WrestleMania 35,  Bayley’s current program going against her former Damage CTRL stable, and Asuka being treated as one of the most dominant forces in wrestling a few years ago are just three examples of this.

Sure, there have been some duds over the years, but that’s just part of wrestling, and everyone is prone to have something just not work or connect with the fans. But overall, the storylines and matches have resonated with the public for the most part, and that’s what really matters.

WWE is in a much better place today than it was a decade ago, and a lot of that is because of the strong women’s division. But as they say, the best is yet to come, and I think this is just the beginning. I just can’t wait to see what’s in store at some of the big upcoming WWE events like the two-night WrestleMania 40.

Philip Sledge
Content Writer

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or chatting about professional wrestling to his wife. Writing gigs with school newspapers, multiple daily newspapers, and other varied job experiences led him to this point where he actually gets to write about movies, shows, wrestling, and documentaries (which is a huge win in his eyes). If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.