Gender Equality?: WWE Risks Overshadowing First Women’s Elimination Chamber by Adding History-Making Men’s Match

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Photo: WWE

At a time where pro wrestling has become more innovative and has pushed more boundaries than ever before, WWE has opted to put a spin on an old classic, by putting on the first ever seven-person Elimination Chamber match. It is the latest in a long line of history WWE has been making lately and normally, history is a really good thing. However, too much of a good thing tends to come with unintended consequences, in this case, risking taking the shine off of the women, who are set to make their chamber debut on the same card.

#ChamberforAll

One of the most circulated hashtags during this year’s groundbreaking Royal Rumble event was #RumbleforAll, a direct reference to both the men and women being in separate rumble matches for the first time ever. Of paramount importance, not only did both the men and the women get their own rumbles, but they got them under the same rules: 30 entrants, over-the-top-rope, etc.

This marked a huge step forward for the women’s revolution as the men and women were on a completely level playing field. Of course, this was nothing new as the past few years have seen women compete in the same matches of their counterparts including No DQs, Falls Count Anywhere, Hell in the Cell, Iron Man, Money in the Bank and more. A women’s rumble, especially one that marked the first time the women main evented a ‘Big Four’ PPV, was the next logical step.

That left the Elimination Chamber as pretty much the only stipulation match still used frequently that the women had yet to appear in. As was announced on the Monday right after the Royal Rumble however, that was set to change. At the eighth PPV of the same name, the women would be getting their first crack at entering the Elimination Chamber as Alexa Bliss would be defending her Raw Women’s Championship inside the daunting structure.

This was a huge announcement but one that was met with skepticism from Bliss herself. After all, why did she have to defend her title inside the chamber when Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar, did not? Bliss tried to argue her case about equality and accused Kurt Angle of favoring the male champion over herself. The champion’s case fell on deaf ears however, largely because she hasn’t defended her title since October. But Bliss’ words still carried a lot of weight and a lot of meaning though, especially given this week’s announcement of a seven-person chamber match for the men.

Seven Men Enter, One Man Leaves

Kurt Angle addresses Raw's controversial main event

WWE Raw GM Kurt Angle has a solution following the end of the #Fatal5Way match! #WWEChamber

Posted by WWE on Monday, February 12, 2018

Adding to already established matches seemed to be the theme of this week’s Raw, as prior to the announcement that seven men would enter the Elimination Chamber, a change was made to the scheduled fatal-4-way to determine the chamber’s sixth, and at the time, final entrant.

The match, which was set to see Finn Balor take on Bray Wyatt, Matt Hardy and Apollo Crews, was billed as a second-chance qualifier as all four men had lost their opportunity to earn their way into the chamber in previous matches.

But, four wasn’t enough as Seth Rollins, fresh off the heels of losing his second tag team partner in the last six months, was looking for a way onto the card and into the Wrestlemania main event. Rollins lobbied Angle to turn the 4-way into a 5-way and after the crowd gave a resounding “Yes!” for Rollins’ inclusion, the match was made official.

Rollins joined the other four in Raw’s main event as all five men battled for the chamber opportunity. After about 15 minutes of chaos, it came down to Rollins and Balor, who worked together to take out Wyatt and Crews, who had been fighting on the ropes. With the two down, both Rollins and Balor hooked one of Wyatt’s legs as the ref counted to three.

Raw went off the air with controversy as both men believed they had won the match. And according to the officials, both men did win, throwing a wrench into things. Neither Balor, Rollins or the fans would have to wait long for a decision as Angle took to Facebook to make a special announcement shortly after the end of the show. Due to both men getting the simultaneous pin, it would be Rollins AND Balor added to the chamber, marking the first time in WWE history that an Elimination Chamber match would feature seven superstars.

History or Afterthought?

With the announcement of the history-making seven-man match, the headlines have shifted and so too has the focus. In just a few hours, the story has already become all about the men’s match and how a seven-man chamber could work: Will a fifth pod be added to accommodate the extra man? Or will the match open with a triple threat?

Before, the women’s history-making moment stood alone but now, not only do the women have to share their shine with the men, but they have to do so while competing in a lesser match. The decision to add a seven-man men’s match in the same year that the women would be competing in their first ever six-person chamber creates a problematic situation. Because while unintentional, WWE has created an outcome where the women are not competing in an equal match as their male counterparts. Not to mention they are being made to share their history with history for the men, something that has not been the case throughout the Women’s Revolution.

When Elimination Chamber is all said and done, the women will still have made history. They might have even main evented for a second PPV in a row, although that is much less likely now. But at the end of the day, the women won’t be the headline story. They’ll be a footnote, all thanks to the decision to pack potentially too many firsts into one PPV.

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