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First time WWE event to feature only women

July 24, 2018

WWE announced Monday its first all-women pay-per-view event, set for Oct. 28, in Uniondale, N.Y. — a milestone for a company that has sought in recent years to raise the visibility of its female competitors.

Streaming live on the subscription-based WWE Network and on pay-per-view platforms around the world, the Evolution gathering at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum will feature more than 50 women in championship matches from the Monday Night Raw, SmackDown Live, NXT and NXT UK series, as well as the finals of the all-women’s tournament, Mae Young Classic 2018.

The entire women’s roster will participate, including Superstars such as Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair, Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, Carmella, Nia Jax and Asuka. Hall of Famers Trish Stratus and Lita are also on the bill.

“Because of all of you men and women using your voices for change, we are able to provide the platform to show the world that women can do anything and be anything they want to be,” said WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, while announcing the event Monday, at Raw’s episode in Cincinnati. “Because of all of you, we are able to stand here and make another first-ever announcement.”

In the past three years, Stamford-based WWE has implemented a number of changes aimed at putting women on a more equal footing in the ring. A social media campaign — known by its hashtag #GiveDivasAChance — spurred the push for gender parity.

In 2016, WWE dropped the Divas name for its female participants and rebranded its competition of the same name as a women’s division. From then on, women would compete as Superstars — the same moniker used for male stars.

“I think that change would have happened anyway, but there is no doubt that the intensity of the social media discourse helped to speed up the process,” WWE Co-President George Barrios said in a recent interview.

Recent years have seen inaugural women’s editions of Hell in a Cell, Money in the Bank and Royal Rumble matches and a new women’s tournament, the Mae Young Classic. A Sasha Banks-Alexa Bliss Raw title match last December in Abu Dhabi marked the first time women Superstars had competed in the United Arab Emirates.

Last April’s WrestleMania, the company’s signature annual event, featured the first women’s Battle Royal match.

The company, however, faced criticism for agreeing to its hosts’ requests to hold an all-male Greatest Royal Rumble on April 27 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. WWE officials did not rule out women participating in future Saudi events.

WWE has also worked to expand its roster of women Superstars. Last January, the firm signed Rousey, a former UFC champion.

“It has been such an honor to be a part of this women’s division for the last few months,” Rousey said in a tweet Monday. “These women have all taught me so much, and I couldn’t be prouder to call myself a WWE Superstar. I’m ready for Evolution.”

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; Twitter: @paulschott

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