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2018 will truly be the year of women’s wrestling

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WrestleMania Dec 16, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; WWE women's champion Sasha Banks in attendance as the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at the PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Forget divas revolutions and giving divas a chance. Put aside your ladder matches and your ironwomen.

A Hell in a Cell was a nice hors d’oeuvre, and the Mae Young Classic was a nice salad appetizer. In 2018, the main course will be, to quote a woken individual, “wonderful.”

The year is 2018, and women’s wrestling in the United States finally takes the throne it deserves.

The Royal Rumble is the crowning moment of women’s wrestling, but there is so much more to like in 2018. WWE should call 2018 the Year of Women’s Wrestling.

It starts at the Royal Rumble, where January’s event in Philadelphia just became must-see. The Royal Rumble is the start of the road to WrestleMania. The women deserve the same opportunity. Nothing matches the excitement and surprise of a good Royal Rumble. Now we get it twice – feed me more. Who becomes the women’s Kane and eliminates 10 other competitors? Does Sasha Banks outlast 29 other competitors like Rey Mysterio? With the blank slate that is a first Royal Rumble for women, WWE has limitless opportunity.

What female WWE legends surprise us with their presence in the Rumble? Can Lita and Trish Stratus and Gail Kim give us the same feelings that we get year after year from Batista or Kevin Nash?

That brings us to the next step. Ronda Rousey is coming at some point. Now that the Four Horsewomen storyline appears less likely, will Rousey pull an AJ Styles at the Royal Rumble?  Rousey may be months, or a year, away from her WWE run, but it will be the biggest story in sports when she eventually joins the ranks of WWE in-ring superstars. Criticize the way her UFC run ended all you want, but when that woman stepped into a WWE ring for the first time, not even the Rock could overshadow the pure star power the exuded from that Vegeta-clad judo machine.

Whatever becomes of Rousey’s wrestling career likely sees its best days beyond 2018, but when she debuts, it brings in new eyes and a bonafide superstar to the division.

The year of women’s wrestling is not just about individual matches and wrestlers, but about the stories told.

There is not enough patience in the world for Asuka’s undefeated streak to last through 2018. When Asuka’s streak snaps, it needs to feel like the big moment it is. Probably 90 percent of the audience is unaware of Asuka’s NXT reign of terror. If the commentary team properly promotes her dominance, the woman who beats her fairly, or by nefarious means, gets a rocket strap of her own.

Is this how Rousey debuts? Does Charlotte Flair add Asuka’s head to her collection of “firsts”? Let’s hope it does not involve Scott Hall and a stun gun.

The execution of the first Miss Money in the Bank is a star-builder in itself. Whether Carmella uses her briefcase to become an evil opportunist like Edge or a hated, coward champion like the Miz, it is the next step in a bright career for the Princess of Staten Island.

Testing the limits…

Now that we have so many firsts out of the way, the seconds and thirds can be so much better. Instead of doing gimmick matches just to say you did them, they can now mean something. Imagine when WWE builds toward the next female Hell in a Cell match next September in Nashville, Tenn. Without a focus on Money in the Bank as a “first,” it can be a focus on the story and great match that it becomes instead of complaining about James Ellsworth.

The year of 2018 will be the true breakout for women’s wrestling for that exact reason. There are no limits. Get it right this year and women’s wrestlers just become wrestlers.

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