Lita and Victoria fought in WWE’s inaugural women’s steel cage match on November 24, 2003. Eric Bischoff held a special episode of Raw Roulette to make the contest into a steel cage match. Molly Holly, the women’s champion, spun a wheel to determine the match stipulation and chose a steel cage match.
Lita had returned to action the previous week on Raw after being out of action with a broken neck. Victoria had just concluded a long rivalry with Trish Stratus. The two women didn’t know each other before the match, but they still put on a great show. Lita and Victoria showed in a 5-minute match that women can compete with men.
Unfortunately, the ending of the match didn’t compare to the rest of the match. Just as Lita was heading towards the door to escape the cage and win the match, Matt Hardy ran to the ring and slammed the door in Lita’s face. Victoria took this opportunity to crawl past Lita, and out the door of the cage to pick up the victory.
This match cracked glass ceilings by enabling women to compete in a stipulation match historically reserved for men. Without the inaugural women’s steel cage bout, we wouldn’t have seen current matches like the Elimination Chamber.
Victoria stated on Lillian Garcia’s podcast a few years back that she was wanting the match to be a lot more brutal than it was. Specifically, she wanted to bleed. She asked Vince McMahon if she could bleed during the match but was told “no” and that “nobody wants to see Divas bleed”. She then attempted to bleed by rubbing her face against the cage but was unsuccessful.
Lita has remarked in recent years that she hopes she could rematch Victoria with more ring time. The firm didn’t want women to have long, hard-hitting matches at the time, so the pair “were bound,” she added. They couldn’t jump from the cage or do anything extra, so it was a conventional cage fight. Lita said she would have wanted to wrestle when women’s matches were average and they didn’t wrestle differently from men.
Although both women had some regrets about the match that was out of their control, they both are happy that they had the opportunity to make their mark in women’s history as the first women to compete in a steel cage match in WWE. There would be many other firsts for women in the company, but it wouldn’t be for another 10-15 years. I believe it’s vital to honor the women who paved the way for today’s women to have major matches, stories, and roles on the show every week.