Under Vince McMahon, women’s wrestling has been the aforementioned sideshow. He seems leery of even promoting his male wrestlers as athletes and is long known for favoring a more cartoonish presentation of pro wrestling, so it tracks that he wouldn’t have time for women wrestlers. This is a guy who would book some of his sexiest female performers to flirt with him or make out with him, back when he was playing a bad-guy boss on-camera. He’d also always make sure he got his comeuppance in those storylines, but that’s a hallmark of his outsized approach. It’s telling that it took an E! reality show targeted at women to finally begin fleshing out who WWE’s female performers were.
At this point it should be clear that John Cena is amazing at his job. Over the past year he’s dug out his worker boots and had excellent matches with people like Seth Rollins, Cesaro, . Styles, and Kevin Owens, and before that he was working bloated, mass-marketed epics with The Rock. Cena is still better on the mic than anyone in the company, and capable of turning into a parody of himself in Trainwreck, and a genuinely surreal character on Total Divas . He’s a monster heel and a white-meat babyface at the same time. If you don’t think John Cena is in the Pantheon, you’ve been wrong for a long, long time.
Today, joshi isn't nearly as popular as it was in its heyday, but a smaller, dedicated contingent carries the torch. Sure, audiences for female wrestling matches remain largely male, and the athletes' wild, flashy costumes and outsized personalities play into the sport's entertainment value, but the ring is still a sacred place for these female athletes. Stepping into it, they shed society's conventions. "I have met so many [wrestlers] that are so sweet and shy outside the ring," one wrestler told Reuters photographer Thomas Peter , "and then you get into the ring and they explode."