The last time WrestleMania was in East Rutherford, in 2013, there wasn’t even a women’s match on the card. Six years later, WrestleMania is back in New Jersey, and this time three women will make history as part of the first-ever women’s main event of wrestling’s biggest show, as WWE announced on Monday.
It’s official: Ronda Rousey will defend her Raw Women’s Championship against Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch in a triple-threat to close out the 35th edition of WrestleMania on April 7. This had been rumored since Lynch’s wildly successful heel turn and subsequent badassery last summer, and the feud has gotten more airtime than any other since Becky won the women’s Royal Rumble back in late January. In what now looks like something of an unofficial dry run, WWE also held its first all-women’s pay-per-view in October, with all three women getting spotlight matches: Lynch and Flair had an instant-classic last woman standing match for the SmackDown women’s title, while Rousey main-evented against the recently retired Nikki Bella.
The road to get to this point hasn’t been smooth. Lynch’s injury angle was possibly overkill, and the McMahon-scented overage of it all added levels of confusion that simply weren’t needed. More recently, Rousey’s bending and breaking of the fourth wall has been anything but elegant. Still, this match deserves the marquee spotlight that comes with the main event.
WWE has been on a crusade to call any and every key match a main event; this year, that title has been applied to the women’s match, both men’s title matches, and the geezer showdown between Triple H and Batista. Fans generally scoff at that reasoning, arguing that the true main event is just whatever goes on last, because that’s the match that is most often (but not always) remembered best. The lasting image tends to be of whichever wrestler triumphs and ends the show on top.
Whether that’s Rousey (the least likely, if only because there are rumors that she might step away from pro wrestling after a wildly successful debut year), Flair (who has both the legacy name of her father and the most impressive résumé of any woman on the roster), or Lynch (who arguably kick-started the push towards the main event with the sheer force of her popularity), the winner will close the show with the Raw Women’s Championship, and it’ll be the first time in WWE’s history that a woman gets to do that. Considering where the promotion was just six years ago, when the only planned women’s match was bumped for time, that’s quite a turnaround.