For those who may not know, March is Women’s History Month. Like all months and holidays celebrated by marginalized individuals, corporations pander (oops), celebrate in their very own way. Wrestling companies, like other companies, celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8. World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) decided to celebrate the day by publishing content on its social media channels. One video, in particular, created by WWE stood out for all the wrong reasons.
Happy Women’s History Month!
The video in the tweet above celebrates “historic firsts of the Women’s Evolution.” Cool, right! Wrong. The video, in Tik Tok fashion, is simple and short. On the first watch, the video seems fine. Nothing wrong with celebrating the accomplishments of female superstars in WWE. But finally, after watching the video approximately three times, it hit me: where are *Sasha Banks and *Naomi?
*When referring to the past, I’ll use Sasha Banks. I’ll use Mercedes Moné when referring to the present and the future. When referring to the past, I’ll use Naomi. When referring to the present and future, I’ll use Trinity Fatu.
In case you missed it. Back in May 2022, Banks, now known as Mercedes Moné, and former tag team partner Naomi departed from WWE. While we haven’t seen Trinity Fatu return to wrestling, Moné made her return at New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s (NJPW) Wrestle Kingdom 17. At Battle in the Valley on February 18, Moné defeated Kairi Hojo for the IWGP Women’s Championship. And just because Fatu, hasn’t made her big return to wrestling, she’s been killing it outside of wrestling.
Ok, now back to the WWE International Women’s Day video. So there is this video celebrating these very iconic first-time wins in WWE. But the video is missing two historic first-time wins and two very important women: Sasha Banks and Naomi.
Naomi’s WWE History
You see in, 2018, WWE decided to host its inaugural WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal. Many fans may remember the battle royal because of its name controversy. Yes, the women’s battle royal was supposed to be the counterpart to the men’s André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The women’s battle royal was originally named The Fabulous Moolah Memorial Battle Royal. Yet, due to Moolah’s dark and problematic past, WWE removed Moolah’s name from the battle royal. This was after backlash from fans. After the name change, the battle royal lived on at WrestleMania 34. On April 8, 2018, in New Orleans, Louisiana, at WrestleMania 34, the inaugural winner was Naomi.
WWE would hold the battle royal again at WrestleMania 35 in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the battle royal would not be held after 2019. (Unless the battle royal is brought back at WrestleMania 39). While there isn’t any hard evidence that WWE planned to hold The WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal annually, it did feel that way.
And yes, some people reading this may think this is not a strong enough argument to call WWE out for being petty. But like Billy Mays always said, but wait, there’s more.
Sasha Banks’ WWE History
But what about WWE’s ability to erase a championship win? On February 17, 2019, WWE held its Elimination Chamber pay-per-view in Houston, Texas. A tag team Elimination Chamber match was booked to crown the inaugural WWE Tag Team Champions. Six teams squared off, with The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection, WWE superstars Bayley and Sasha Banks. That’s right! SASHA BANKS. No mention of The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection in the video.
None. This is on-brand for WWE. Wrestling companies like IMPACT Wrestling don’t shy away from showcasing former talent and acknowledging IMPACT’s history. In fact, WWE is notorious for erasing superstars after that superstar has left on terms WWE finds unacceptable. In recent history, the company has done its best editing and cropping out former WWE superstar and current All Elite Wrestling (AEW) wrestler Jon Moxley.
This is Bigger Than Wrestling
But why does the video situation feel so icky? Our society has a track record of erasing Black history, specifically Black women’s history. If you watch more than wrestling and follow the United States news cycle, there’s a current movement to erase Black History and Black Culture.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), there has been a wave of bills introduced in state legislatures across the country that would prevent Black studies from being taught in schools. Critical race theory, which is a growing field of study that examines the intersection of race and culture, has come under fire from some lawmakers who argue that it is a subject of political fear-mongering. But, many experts argue that critical race theory is essential to understanding the history of racism in the United States. That’s not it either. In the last few years, books focusing on Black culture have been banned by schools and libraries across the US. A very disturbing trend.
A trend that Black women are familiar with all too well. Black women contribute ideas, work, and creativity to this world. Yet, too often, their contributions go unrecognized or erased. Their work is taken without credit or citation. This is a problem. Trail-blazers like Sojourner Truth, Marsha P. Johnson, Tarana Burke, Fannie Lou Hamer, Dorothy Heights, Gloria Richardson, and Katherine Goble Johnson are often overlooked and underappreciated.
Their Impact on Black Culture
This is why WWE’s decision to remove two trail-blazing Black women from its International Women’s Day celebration cuts deeper than typical WWE pettiness. But try as they might, WWE can’t erase Naomi or Bank’s impact on the wrestling industry.
Moné will always be known as WWE superstar Sasha Banks, a five-time WWE Raw Women’s Champion, a three-time WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion, one time WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion, and a one-time NXT Women’s Champion. Banks’ legacy as a WWE Women’s Triple Crown and Grand Slam Champion is set. She has already main-evented one of the most historic WrestleMania main events EVER. The same main event earned Banks and Bianca Belair an ESPY Award for Best WWE Moment in 2021.
Fatu will always be known as Naomi, a two-time WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion, a one-time WWE Women’s Tag Team Champion, the inaugural FCW Divas Champion, and the 2018 WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal winner.
More importantly, WWE cannot erase the impact Moné and Fatu have had on Black culture.
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