The WWE's Royal Rumble network special is on Sunday and ahead of the show, Stephanie McMahon the chief brand officer of the organisation, discusses the evolution of the women's division and her further goals for it.
Stephanie McMahon on the WWE's first women's Royal Rumble, making history in Abu Dhabi and the rumoured arrival of Ronda Rousey
History will be made on Sunday night in the WWE when the first women's Royal Rumble match takes place.
The event, part of the WWE's Royal Rumble network special, will be the first time women have been involved in the match format.
The first Royal Rumble was held in 1988 in Hamilton, Ontario, but all previous 30 incarnations have all been men's matches.
But on Sunday, at the Wells Fargo Center, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 30 women superstars from the WWE will compete in the match with the winner earning a championship title match against either the Raw or SmackDown women's champion at WrestleMania 34 on April 8 in New Orleans.
Ahead of the match, Stephanie McMahon, the chief brand officer of the WWE, spoke to media about the match and the recent evolution of women in the WWE.
On how it felt to be able to break the news on Raw on December 18 to announce the first women's Royal Rumble would be happening
"I had the opportunity as my character to make the announcement, it's definitely the most memorable moment for me. The six women in the ring after their tag match had no idea what I was going to say, so the tears and emotions were genuine. It ended up with the crowd chanting 'this is hope'. We got a bit of criticism for breaking character that night but it was the best way to for these women to appreciate the moment."
On WWE breaking new ground with the women
"Since 2016 we have had the first ever women's Hell in a Cell match, the first ever women's Money in the Bank match and then in December in Abu Dhabi we had the first WWE women's match in the Middle East for the WWE women's championship. There a chant broke out in the arena that said "this is hope". That chant came from our fans. We did not direct it."
On what was the catalyst for change that has led to this
"In a match in 2015 that lasted all of 30 seconds they started a hashtag #givedivasachance and it trended worldwide for three days. They were calling for more athleticism, more character development and better storylines for our women. Their voices were so loud that our chairman and CEO Vince McMahon responded and said “we hear you” and keep watching. Now after many first time matches. After many main event pay-per-view and television shows our women for the very first time ever are going to compete in a Royal Rumble match."
Is there more the women's division can achieve?
"There is a lot of room to grow. I don’t think we will have made it until we have women main eventing WrestleMania."
On what people can expect from the match with a number of surprise guests due to appear
"I'm not giving away our secrets. but anything can happen in a Rumble match. Stay tuned."
The chances of Stephanie herself facing Ronda Rousey, the MMA star, who has been heavily linked with a deal with the WWE, at WrestleMania 34?
"I think first and foremost we would have to make Ronda Rousey a part of the WWE roster. So we will have to wait and see if that happens."
WWE Royal Rumble is on the WWE Network, which is available through OSN, with the main show beginning at 4am UAE time.