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A Mark’s Eye View: Lipstick and kayfabe

Women’s wrestling has come a long way since the 1980s.

A Mark’s Eye View‘ is a weekly look at some of the things that made me a huge fan of professional wrestling.

WrestleMania 35 was a historic event in terms of women’s wrestling. The event featured the second Mania women’s battle royal. (It has not quite reached the geek status of the men, but give it time.) The newly created Women’s Tag Titles were defended for the first time. Most spectacularly, the show closed with a triple threat for both Women’s Championships. Professional wrestling has come a long way since the 1980s.

While valets were not new to wrestling, they began to draw attention during the ’80s. Most famous of these was Miss Elizabeth. (She was actually always billed as a manger.) Elizabeth burst upon the national scene in 1985. “Macho Man” Randy Savage was a recent addition to the expanding WWF, and all of the heel managers wanted to manage him. Savage shocked all of those courting him and the wrestling world by announcing the previously unknown Elizabeth as his new manager.

The two immediately became one of the hottest acts in the Fed. Elizabeth’s classy movie star looks paired alongside Savage’s brutal antics made for a real life beauty and the beast act. Whether it was intentional or not, the two also formed a great dynamic with the over-controlling “Macho Man” being fiercely protective of his manager. Savage’s eventual face run and ascendance to the WWF Title are thanks in no small part to Liz.

Just as influential and memorable for entirely different reasons was Missy Hyatt. Where Elizabeth was quiet and demure, Hyatt played the role of the spoiled rich girl who got everything she wanted. She was loud, obnoxious, and was much more about sex appeal than Savage’s manager. Hyatt also had no problems getting physically involved in matches. This culminated in a mud pit match against Sunshine in 1986.

One of the most controversial angles of the 1980s involved a valet. In 1988, Tom Prichard was feuding with “Dirty White Boy” Tony Anthony. One week, Lady Mystic (the future Dirty White Girl) came out with black eye and begged Prichard for help. When asked what had happened she kept saying how Anthony had done it to her. It was shocking and violent and absolutely would not work today.  

The era also featured women’s wrestling, but it was mainly used as part of storylines. Wendi Richter was a big part of the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection until she was screwed out of the WWF Women’s title. Women’s wrestling would only be seen sporadically on WWF television in the ensuing years. The NWA was just as guilty, only trotting out Misty Blue Simmes to be a part of Team America with Magnum T.A. and Dusty Rhodes.

Things began to change in 1988. Madusa Miceli hit the scene and, won the resurrected AWA World Women’s Title and proved that women were more than just eye candy. Before the year was over, she was the first woman voted Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Rookie of the Year.

The role of women has changed greatly since the 1980s. While it’s great to see that women are more than just sexual objects, it’s a shame to see the reduced role of those who are mainly valets. It’s nice there are more huggers in WWE, but I prefer Missy Hyatt.

Next week: Who’s keeping track of all this?

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