WWE Ring

WWE Hosts First Ever Women’s Match In Saudi Arabia

World Wrestling Entertainment, more commonly known as the WWE, made history this week by hosting the first ever women’s wrestling match in Saudi Arabia. Natalya Hart, of the Hart Family Dynasty, was one of the participants facing off with U.S. marine veteran Lacey Evans. Two powerhouses and inspirations for female athletes everywhere, these two superstars broke barriers this Thursday with their match at WWE’s Crown Jewel event. 

Both Natalya and Evans were required to wear full body suits to ensure that their arms and legs were fully covered, as opposed to their normal wrestling gear which is a little more revealing and breathable when they compete in the United States. Saudi Arabia has long been labeled as one of the most oppressive countries in the world in regards to how the culture views women. It was just last year, 2018, that women gained the right to drive a vehicle, and were also granted access to attend sporting events if they wanted to. The lifts on these bans to basic human activities are all in an effort to re-brand the country, however, they obviously still have a long way to go. 

Embed from Getty Images

According to Human Rights Watch, “women still face discrimination, as four feminist activists are behind bars, others remain on trial, and torture allegations have not been credibly investigated.” 

These small adjustments to the law are barely anything revolutionary, and the women of Saudi Arabia still have to deal with the sexist environment they are living in, regardless of the laws. The government has also been known to detain and arrest any women’s rights activist who is vocal about fighting for these new rights. 

Embed from Getty Images

The WWE Crown Jewel event took place at the King Fahd international stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital. The stadium is one of three in the country that now allow women to attend in the audience. While the country may have a long way to go in the name of gender equality, the fact that two women were broadcast live participating in a wrestling match in such an oppressive part of the world is a huge feat.  So much so that both WWE superstars took to Twitter to express their gratitude to be apart of such a monumental moment. 

“I never thought I’d have the opportunity to do the things I’ve done with WWE,” Evans tweeted on Wednesday. “Tomorrow I get to show my little girl that hard work can bring you to history-making heights.”

Her opponent, Natalya, expressed a similar sentiment on Twitter: “The world will be watching. I am so incredibly proud to represent our women’s division tomorrow night at #WWECrownJewel. It’s time to bring your best, Lacey.”

The WWE women’s division has taken a major turn within the past decade. Originally the women’s division was known as the “divas division” and the female wrestling matches were often overlooked, underdeveloped story wise compared to the men, and there was only one championship belt that the women could win. Now, the women’s division is thriving in a way that the WWE hasn’t seen since the attitude era. Natalya has been a wrestler since 2007, so she personally has been there for it all, and now she can say that she was there to break boundaries for women in Saudi Arabia.