If we’re being honest, the WWE doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to stories including or focusing on female characters. Though they’ve made progress recently, we can’t forget where we came from. Wrestling fans are haunted by prior mishaps involving wrestlers like Dawn Marie, Torrie Wilson, and Ric Flair (who has been in several gross storylines). Unfortunately, we’ve had to strive to get away from a legacy that has weighed us down.
Trish Stratus and Vince McMahon – Specifically when Trish’s dog moment
March 5, 2001, was a day that most of us who were fans, and especially Trish Stratus fans would love to forget. That episode of Raw went ahead with the typical foolishness that was standard for the time, but an ongoing storyline of Vince finding romance with Trish while Linda McMahon was experiencing a mental breakdown would come to a disturbing climax. Stratus was in the position to seek Vince’s forgiveness, but the man was not in the mood to budge. Vince instructed her to apologize in “dog language”, and crawl as she begged. Unfortunately, Trish complied.
The reaction of the WWE Universe, and the nation was not what was expected. The outrage spilled over into politics, as Linda was running for the US Senate was attacked by Senator Chris Shays. Sen. Shays said, “I think when you force a woman to take off all her clothes in an arena and get down on the ground and bark like a dog, I think that’s an assault on women.” Sen. Shays was correct. It was an attack on women and very eye-opening to the women in the locker room as to what a storyline with the most powerful man in wrestling would look like.
Lita’s Pregnancy and Miscarriage… on LIVE TV
2004 was a wild time in the WWE. The Attitude era had come and gone, and things were supposed to be moving in a different direction for the company. During this time, WWE Creative decided that Lita, who was in a number of questionable (at best), needed to be in a kidnapping/pregnancy storyline with Kane and Matt Hardy. This storyline had it all: kidnapping, coerced sex, pregnancy, and miscarriage (Lita was hit by Kane to cause the loss of the pregnancy). This storyline has the distinct honor of receiving the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic Award in 2004.
Among women, this plot can be particularly distressing because of the delicate nature of the subject matter. This was a harsh reminder of WWE’s views and opinions of women, by exploiting the Hall of Famer in this way for ratings.
The One We ALL Want to Forget: Katie Vick
This moment from this storyline is at the top of the list of moments that should not have happened, and that we have to fight to forget. Unfortunately, this moment was not centered around a women’s wrestler at the time but instead featured the ultimate degradation to a woman. During a storyline with Kane in 2002, HHH accused Kane of murder, and the victim: Katie Vick. Kane called the whole thing an accident and said that Vick was his friend. After sharing his story, HHH accused Kane of sexually assaulting Vick at some point during the night she passed. A few days later, WWE decided to share with the world a clip that “only a man like Kane could do…” And aired the vilest thing the WWE has ever seen. I refuse to go into details here, but the video is still available online.
Many WWE legends and stars went on record discussing how disgusted they were with the entire thing, but the most heartfelt apology to Kane prior to his Hall of Fame induction came from Stephanie McMahon in the form of a tweet. Stephanie said, “Congratulations to one of the most unique characters and individuals I have ever known, Kane. A man with unparalleled intellect, whose heart is as big as his body. Welcome to the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2021! You deserve it! (Don’t worry, we all know you had nothing to do with Katie Vick!”
Why is it Important to Understand the Past?
Even if they are tough to read, articles like this should be shared. Because of what those women went through, we wouldn’t have the modern period of Women’s Wrestling or the Women’s Revolution. Both this age and the Divas era have shown us that we are worth so much more as women and as wrestlers. We owe them a debt of gratitude for that. Unless they stepped up and asked to be treated like superstars and not meat, we wouldn’t have the matches and storylines we enjoy today.
Stephanie McMahon said it best in Business Insider, “I think anybody has, regardless of your gender, we all have equal value if you have value to bring and value to provide, you just have to be willing to use your voice.” I salute these ladies for their courage and perseverance in the face of adversity so that we can have better and be seen for what we truly are: formidable forces!