The WWE announced Thursday afternoon that they would be changing the name of the upcoming women's battle royal at WrestleMania 34 after extensive public pushback to the match being named after the Fabulous Moolah.
On Monday, the WWE announced the creation of the first-ever Fabulous Moolah Memorial Battle Royal, which would bring performers from their Raw, SmackDown Live and NXT rosters together in a match at WrestleMania 34. As the counterpart to the annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, women who didn't have another match lined up would have the opportunity to compete on a WrestleMania show -- many of them for the first time.
The match will now simply be called the WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal.
"After further consideration, we believe it's best to proceed with the name 'WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal,'" reads a statement from WWE. "What remains most important is that this historic match is part of WWE's unwavering commitment to the women's division."
From the moment the match was announced the prevailing trend on social media and elsewhere was not joy or celebration, but rather anger and indignation centered on Moolah, the new match's namesake. Moolah, real name Mary Ellison, was a four-time WWE women's champion (including a reign recognized as lasting for 28 years) who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995.
The negative fan reaction centers on allegations that Ellison, through her efforts in training and managing other female wrestlers over the course of several decades, exploited a number of her trainees for her own financial gain in a variety of ways. Allegations from former trainees Jeannine "Mad Maxine" Mjoseth, Wendi Richter, Luna Vachon, Leilani Kai and others, in interviews conducted in recent years, have said that Ellison pocketed upwards of 25 percent of their booking fees, as well as deductions for a variety of travel and living expenses.
A 2006 story that appeared in the Augusta Metro Spirit of Augusta, Georgia and the Free Times of Columbia, South Carolina, included accusations that Moolah was involved in the sexual exploitation of Sweet Georgia Brown (real name Susie Mae McCoy) and others.
Backlash on social media occurred immediately after the WWE's announcement. Tweets published by the primary WWE account and the personal accounts of a variety of women likely to be in the match received almost entirely negative reactions. The YouTube video announcing the match eventually had its comments disabled.
Thank you @WWEUniverse for using your voice. What remains most important is that the "@WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal" will be a historic match and is part of @WWE's unwavering commitment to our Women's Division. #WomensEvolution #ChangeTheName
- Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) March 15, 2018