Subjectively, with the exception of the New Daniel Bryan, the top level of women’s wrestling is, by some distance, the most engaging aspect of WWE. This isn’t a hot take, nor is it performative progressivism: all you need to do, if you haven’t already, is open your ears.
You will hear the anguished howls of Charlotte Flair as she sells the effects of deeply personal, physical war as something more than predetermined theatre. You will hear the bruising welt of Charlotte’s full-on, open-hand slaps to Becky’s face. You will hear hatred. You will hear Asuka’s terrifying native tongue taunts, as she compensates for an inability to operate within WWE’s verbose sports entertainment framework with committed character work. You will hear gasp after gasp from the crowd, as Ronda Rousey endangers her opponents with urgent, realistic, sudden submission attempts. You will hear crowd after crowd rain down chants of “Becky! Becky! Becky!” as their Man, Becky Lynch, comes around.
The work put forward by the best of WWE’s women, subjectively, is life-affirming. There’s a level of depth to it almost unparalleled on the main roster. Just look at the way Asuka, seduced by the idea of herself, mouths along with her “SmackDown Women’s Champion…” ring introduction. Among the best women in WWE, there is a palpable desire to be the best and to embrace being the best.
Objectively, this opinion, echoed across the chamber of social media and hardcore live crowds, is not echoed by the casual fanbase. The noise isn’t reverberating. This isn’t just a case wherein the brand isn’t drawing, and no one performer is immune to the stigma. The few remaining metrics available to us show that there is a decline within the decline.