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After an important change, WrestleMania’s 33 card is now set

Friday’s Rude Awakening looks at WWE responding to fan criticism, what the main event of Mania should be, and Ric Flair’s statue’s little Naitch.

We publish a whole lot of content here at Cageside Seats. We’re also [looks around and whispers so the bosses can’t hear] not the only place producing wrestling content on the internet. So, as a service to you on the weekdays, we’ll be producing a wrestling newsletter, "Rude Awakening." Well, it will be a newsletter eventually: for now, it’ll just be part of your experience here at Cageside, collecting the news, recaps, and social moments from the greater wrestling universe daily so you won’t fall behind, with a newsletter format to come.

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WWE surprised everyone on Thursday night, as they actually responded to feedback from fans upset that the SmackDown Women’s Championship match was on the pre-show of WrestleMania 33 by moving it to the main card. This is great news, for a number of reasons: for one, WWE has spent the last year-plus, and the build to this year’s Mania, patting themselves on the back for the women’s revolution/evolution, but it’s been a case of saying one thing and doing another. RAW’s women’s division focuses almost exclusively on three wrestlers, with Nia Jax a recent change in that regard, while they act like they don’t care about SmackDown’s women at all when it comes to their Big Four matches and the builds that lead to them.

So, treating a top title as a top title and putting it on the main card at Mania is recognition of complaints that fans and critics had — fans and critics like such as Kate Foray of the RAW Breakdown Project, who has been making fantastic points all week about the various issues with leaving the SmackDown women on the pre-show. Just putting the match on the main card isn’t enough, of course: WWE needs to be a better job of building SmackDown feuds that even the skeptical will accept as belonging on the main cards of major events. They need to do a better job of conditioning fans to believe that SmackDown’s women matter, because it’s clear there is a disconnect somewhere: just look at the differing reactions to the placement of this match on the Mania card for evidence of that.

We’re at a place where, somehow, there are fans who think women’s wrestling is a subdivision of wrestling along the lines of tag team and cruiserweight wrestling. This just reinforces the idea that wrestling is a space for men, and women participate in it as some sort of sideshow oddity, not as equals. WWE is light years ahead of where they were even a couple of WrestleManias ago when it comes to their women and the build for them, but there is clearly still work to do within WWE and with regard to changing the perceptions of their fans. Recognizing that they had messed up with SmackDown’s women is a start: maybe by Mania 34, we won’t need to bring all of this up again.

For now, let’s just all enjoy the fact that Naomi has a better chance of doing her blacklight entrance while it’s dark outside.

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