A couple of important caveats: I am beyond thrilled that the women opened the show, and I am overjoyed at the amount of time they got last night. I hope the segment does absolutely bananas numbers in the ratings.
Yes, integrating the women's division into the larger framework of the show is an excellent sign for the future—but on the flipside, there's a legitimate fear that it could lead to men overshadowing the division in these feuds. We're barely weeks removed from the reality of Ric Flair being a dominant player in the division, which was rightfully lambasted all over Cageside.
There's an argument that Sasha and Charlotte looked the major players in last night's segment, but I don't agree with this assessment at all. Once Jericho came out, the segment was primarily about the men. He repeatedly told Banks to shut her mouth ("Quiet, quiet, quiet") and then ran down Sasha's character for two full minutes—and then Enzo immediately came out. Sasha had zero chance to verbally respond to Jericho's bullshit before a man came out to save her. That's a problem.
("Do you know who you're talking to, Mr. Mid-Life Crisis? I'm the Boss, and I'm the Women's Champion. You don't get to talk to me like that.")
A world title feud is supposed to have some gravitas. Last week, it absolutely did, with both Sasha and Charlotte killing themselves while battling over the championship. We then got Sasha's heartfelt promo about this being the "era of women's wrestling." That's making the world title meaningful.
Last night felt like a midcard angle. I actually enjoyed the Rusev/Summer vs. Dolph/Lana story last year (almost entirely thanks to the former pairing, but still). But that's a midcard story. This is the world title, a championship that Stephanie McMahon keeps calling "equal" to the Men's Championship. The two men who came out are a washed up gatekeeper, and a tag team wrestler. They're nowhere near the same kayfabe level as the champion and her challenger, but they were presented as being just as important in this segment. That's a problem.
And then there's the elephant in the room: Enzo Amore literally saying he wants to give Sasha Banks a creampie. (No sense in hiding the word here.) Yes, Enzo's is a sleazy charm, and it was plenty in character (though I'm pretty positive he never said anything remotely this overt when he was courting Carmella in NXT).
But the line itself isn't the problem. I can accept that this is a part of wrestling that's just not for me. It reminds me of the Attitude Era, which drove me away from wrestling for 15 years. The problem is the context.
Sasha Banks realized her life-long dream last week, and she got to cut a shoot promo about the thing that matters more to her than literally anything else in life. All week long, I've followed her social media accounts, and I've seen her retweet or like comments from fans—primarily little girls—talking about how she's an inspiration and a role model to them. And there's been innumerable replies to her posts from fans saying the same thing—that she was a hero to them. All week, the line has been "Sasha realizes her childhood dream."
When you view Enzo's line in that context, it's downright creepy and wildly out of place. This is a hero to little girls the world over, and the first thing you say to her after "rescuing" her (and thus depriving her of agency in the interaction), is that you want to fuck her.
I can imagine a parent watching last week's segment, and being proud to share that with their child. For one, it's an important statement on gender equality. It also represents the classic American notion of, "work hard and you too can reach the stars, yada yada yada."
I can't at all imagine that about last night's opener.
(I know, I know. "Think of the children.")
To be clear, I'm definitively not saying last night degraded Sasha's character in any way. The women shouldn't have to be asexual, since that's not how real life works. And being a sexual being in zero ways diminishes her capacity to be a hero to little girls. But it is wildly out of tune from last week, when it was a vicious competition between the kayfabe best two women's wrestlers in the world.
"You'll never beat me, never!"
Immediately following up last week's meaningful, impactful, heartfelt segment with a direct, deep dive into schlock is completely incongruous, and a little disturbing. It is again seemingly defining WWE's female competitors by their sexuality, not their kayfabe accomplishments.