WrestleMania Nears WWE Record After Three Women Headline Its Flagship Event

(Bloomberg) -- World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. put a trio of women in the main event of their flagship pay-per-view for the first time ever. At $16.9 million, it’s the second-highest grossing event in WWE history.

Becky Lynch, a flame-haired Irish underdog and fan favorite, bested Ronda Rousey, the former mixed-martial arts star and UFC champion, and Charlotte Flair, daughter of the legendary wrestler Ric Flair, in the main event before an announced crowd of more than 82,000 at a football stadium in New Jersey.

The match capped a shift for WWE, which in recent years has bet big on its women’s roster by adding new championship belts and increasing television time for its expanded talent roster. It’s a deliberate move away from earlier pro wrestling eras from the 1990s and early 2000s, when scantily-clad women were more often advertised in exhibitions with mature themes.

No longer. Lynch, Rousey, Flair and others are instead billed as equivalent to their male talent, with theirs now the faces on billboards and posters, subjects of television ads, media appearances and Internet marketing campaigns.

Social media traffic for WWE and MetLife Inc., which owns the naming rights to the stadium near New York City home to the NFL’s Giants and Jets, both surged during the April 7 event. Next year’s WrestleMania will move to another football stadium, this time in Florida at the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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