In WWE historiography (read: revisionism), women’s wrestling has a pretty scant history. It’s clear that the company is trying to establish a lineage for its “women’s evolution” through its choice of Hall of Famers – inducting the performers who fit that narrative, and expunging those who don’t from corporate history.
This means that at the moment, as far as WWE is concerned, women’s wrestling started with Moolah and Mae Young, and then developed with the likes of Sensational Sherri in the late 80s and early 90s. Then there were Alundra Blayze and Jacqueline, who basically constituted the whole of women’s wrestling until the early 2000s, when Trish and Lita really started to develop their roles within the Fed. Blayze knew and worked with Sherri, and both Blayze and Jacqueline were active when Moolah and Young were regular on-screen characters. Jacqueline worked with both Trish and Lita towards the end of her time as a featured performer.
Slowly but surely, WWE is building a timeline free of all that bra-and-panties, swimming-pool nonsense. Shocker: it’s pretty flimsy. At the moment, it looks as though were never more than two Hall of Fame-worthy women in the company at a time, because so many deserving performers haven’t yet received their due. If the Fed wants to fix the problem, there’s a very simple solution: put more than one woman in the Hall of Fame each year, and make sure one of them is Ivory.
I’ve written about Lisa Moretti’s achievements elsewhere. Her career sums up the lot of many female performers who have graced the ropes of WWE in the past 20 years. A talented technical wrestler, she went back to her old training school during her time off the road because she felt that her work in the Fed was worsening her skills, not improving them. She was a three-time women’s champion who once wrestled in a gravy bowl. By the time women’s wrestling had regained some ground, she was almost out of the ring – the best work of her career came during a brief run at the end, before she found herself training on Tough Enough and hosting WWE Velocity (think Main Event, but less important).
A talented performer, Ivory played a huge role in cultivating the brief renaissance in women’s wrestling around 2003 and 2004. It hasn’t made its way into the history books yet, but for a moment there, the likes of Molly Holly, Jazz and Victoria were having matches with Lita, Trish, Jacqueline and Ivory that could have been classics if they’d had ten more minutes.
It’s clear from the start that these are not the kind of women who would have fought in a chocolate pudding. They want to wrestle, and everyone gets a moment to shine – even with the debuting Jazz looking like an absolute killer. Lita and Trish have become era-defining, but two women don’t make a division. Ivory was an integral part of the closest thing WWE has had to a proper women’s division at any point before the “evolution”.
Ivory was also a defining member of Right to Censor, one of the best-remembered stables of the early 2000s. Playing with audience expectations after years of being sexualised for their amusement, she brought an intensity and aggression to the role that was one of the best things about the stable and got her impressive levels of heat. Picking on faces like notable thong-wearer Lita, Ivory’s hyper-conservative heel character earned promo time that helped to draw attention to the burgeoning women’s division.
Unlike Bull Nakano, no single rivalry on Ivory’s CV is regarded as having made a major contribution to women’s wrestling. But her regular and consistently great work with some of the most beloved female wrestlers in WWE history demonstrates her importance to the division as a whole. What’s more, at a time when female performers are being given chances to escalate their feuds with gimmick matches, bringing one of the participants in the first women’s hardcore match back into the fold should be a no-brainer.
For all of this, Ivory is one of the wrestlers who would have gained the most from a real “women’s evolution”. With more time on the mic and in the ring to demonstrate what she could do, she could have had a body of work that stands up to any of the biggest names in women’s wrestling worldwide.
That’s exactly why they should induct her. It would be an honest reflection of WWE’s history with female performers to induct someone like Ivory – a popular and influential figure who made the best of what she was given, but who never really got the recognition she deserved. Not that WWE would have to acknowledge this, of course.
I’ve already argued for one woman who should be in WWE’s Hall of Fame. That’s usually it from the Fed’s point of view. Perhaps the company is worried that, given how badly it has treated women over the years, if it doesn’t space them out it might run out of worthy inductees in a few years. But the standard “this year’s woman” approach feels like PR-driven tokenism, even though every woman in the Hall of Fame thoroughly deserves to be there.
Ivory should be among them. She should have been there years ago. And though I’m dying to see Bull Nakano take her rightful place there, I doubt the world would end if they were inducted in the same year.