Earlier today, during a global press conference for Sunday’s NXT TakeOver: In Your House, WWE posted a tweet claiming Raquel Gonzalez was the “first Mexican and Latin American woman to win a WWE title”.
Women’s wrestling fans took to Twitter in hard disagreement, citing the names of other Latin and Mexican women who have also held a WWE title.
And while we applaud Gonzalez for all she’s accomplished, and we applaud diversity in any wrestling roster, the tweet signified just how regular WWE’s tendency to perform revisionist history has really gotten. Instead of celebrating diversity in a true and honest form, WWE chose to ride the “first-ever” high again; something they love to do, whether the “first-ever” is an actual first, or not.
That’s where women’s wrestling fans need to step in and keep the legacy of past and present wrestlers alive. If we simply built our belief systems on over-promotional tweets, we would be blind to real change.
Many fans claim that some of the Latin and Mexican women who WWE is failing to recognize weren’t Latin or Mexican in their characters, and so their heritage doesn’t “count”. It’s a ridiculous notion to think that someone’s heritage, nationality, race, or personal characteristics are somehow not valid simply because they are practicing kayfabe.
WWE has a history of celebrating diversity when it fits best within their script, but that is a celebration that should be accomplished, everyday. So, we’ve decided to add to the celebration and create a list of every Mexican and Latin woman who has held a WWE title.
Melina is Mexican-American, and speaks both English and Spanish natively.
The California-native has held the WWE Women’s Championship three times for a total of 279 days, as well as the WWE Divas Championship two times, for a total of 119 days.
Melina was named “one of the best wrestlers in the world” by Bret Hart.
Though born in England, Layla’s paternal grandparents were Spanish, and WWE often pushed her appearances for Latin magazines, like the Latin edition of Smooth Magazine in 2007. Layla herself stated, “…I am a little bit Latin…” in the promotion for her magazine appearance.
Layla held the last WWE Women’s Championship in 2010 for 131 days, and the WWE Divas Championship for 140 days in 2012.
Not only is Eve Torres of a Latina background, but WWE sent Eve with Triple H, Big Show, and Shane McMahon on a promotional tour promoting their partnership with TV Azteca. Torres said of the trip:
“It’s very important not only because I have a Latina background, but I just think it’s important for us to recognize the potential for growth there is in Latin America. There’s a huge fan base there, and it was very apparent to us while we were down there. The fans are very passionate and very excited that we were down there representing.”
WWE and NBC Universo has also celebrated Torres for Hispanic Heritage Month, in years past.
Torres is a three-time WWE Divas Champion, holding the title for a total of 260 days.
Brie and Nikki Bella
The Bella Twins are of Mexican and Italian descent; their actual last name is Garcia-Colace.
Brie held the WWE Divas Championship for 70 days in 2011, while Nikki Bella later became a three-time WWE Divas Champion, holding the title for 307 days to become the longest Diva title holder.
Together, The Bella Twins have won the Teen Choice Award for “Choice Female Athlete” and were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2020.
Houston-native Kaitlyn is of Mexican descent, her mother hailing from Mexico. In 2012, Kaitlyn revealed her Mexican descent in an episode of WWE Inbox.
Kaitlyn held the WWE Divas Championship in 2013 for a total of 153 days, winning it from Eve Torres during an episode of Monday Night RAW.
Author, mental health advocate, and former wrestler AJ Lee (last name Mendez) is of Puerto Rican descent.
The Jersey-born wrestler fought hard for her success while also battling bipolar disorder, becoming a three-time WWE Divas Champion from 2013-2014, for a total of 406 days.
Pamela Rose Martinez, ring name Bayley, was born in San Jose, California, and is of Mexican-American descent.
One of the most decorated female wrestlers in WWE, Bayley is the first women’s Triple Crown Champion and Grand Slam winner in WWE history. She is also the longest-reigning SmackDown Women’s Champion in history with 380 days.
Bayley also held the NXT Women’s Championship from 2015 to 2016 for 223 days, the Raw Women’s Championship in 2017 for 76 days, and is one of two inaugural WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions, holding the tag belts with Sasha Banks twice for 145 days.
Yes, you’re reading this right: Ronda Rousey is of English, Polish, Trinidadian and Venezuelan ancestry. Her grandfather was partly of Venezuelan descent, and her maternal great-grandfather was Trinidadian. By her own accord, she’s “half Venezuelan, a quarter English, and a quarter polish.”
Ronda Rousey has accomplished a lot outside of a WWE ring, but she was also the Raw Women’s Champion from 2018 to 2019 for a total of 231 days.
Born in Milwaukee, Candice Michelle is of both German and Costa Rican descent.
Candice was not only an actress and model during her WWE stint, she also held the WWE Women’s Championship for 105 days, and the WWE 24/7 Championship for sadly mere minutes, becoming the 25th title holder after pinning Kelly Kelly during the 2019 Raw Reunion special.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Indi Hartwell has said on Twitter that she is of Chilean and Italian descent.
As a member of the tag team The Way, she is one-half of the current NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions, winning the titles with Candice LeRae in early May.
We won’t forget our current NXT Women’s Champion—Raquel Gonzalez. Though the WWE tweet that is drawing disdain from fans directly mentions Gonzalez, it’s clearly not her fault that WWE has revisionist tendencies.
Born in La Feria, Texas, Gonzalez is of Mexican descent. Gonzalez and Dakota Kai were the inaugural NXT Women’s Tag Team Champions, holding the title for less than a day. She’s held the NXT Women’s Championship for 66 days, winning the title from Io Shirai at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver.
Though this feature is aimed at Mexican and Latin women who held WWE titles, let’s not forget the WWE women of the same descent who never held titles, but still made their marks. Women like Zelina Vega, Vickie Guerrero, JoJo Offerman, Shelly Martinez, and others.
Let’s also not forget to celebrate women of Mexican and Latin descent in all promotions, around the world. Or men of Mexican and Latin descent, for that matter. They all broke barriers to do what they love in an industry that historically has failed to be inclusive.
People of Mexican heritage are already of Latin heritage, if you want to tear apart the logic behind the quickly posted tweet, and clearly, Gonzalez is not the first of her heritage to hold a title.
Instead of riding the high of real or false “firsts”, let’s celebrate the people who paved the way for the current rosters. None of us get far alone, and that’s something even Gonzalez herself acknowledged in the quote, mentioning Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero.
WWE made a point to use some of the above women to promote Hispanic Heritage Month, or during opportunities to show diversity. So, the idea that they thoughtlessly erased their work in one tweet is understandably enough to drive fans mad.
It’s always important to reach for the real firsts; to reach for more inclusivity, more diversity, more representation. Revisionist history, however, erases the work of many, and completely misses the point of celebrating diversity in the first place.
We congratulated Raquel Gonzalez on her incredible victory over Io Shirai, we congratulate her on her incredible reign so far, and we can’t wait to see what she has in store for wrestling fans. We also thank every person before her that built the path to equity.
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One Comment Add yours
So who was first? All these women obviously held titles before Raquel, but who was the first one?