WWE confirms 32-woman tournament for the summer

Paul Levesque and WWE superstars Bayley, Alexa Bliss and Asuka announce a 32-competitor women's tournament, coming this summer. Courtesy of WWE

The WWE took the next step in ensuring its women's division has a platform to showcase its vast talent.

The company announced Saturday that 32 of its top female performers will compete in a first-ever women's tournament this summer.

"I speak on behalf of all of us, not just the champions standing before you today, but the entire women's division," current SmackDown Live women's champion Alexa Bliss said in a presentation in Orlando, one day before she puts her title on the line at WrestleMania 33. "It's truly an honor to be part of another significant movement in WWE history."

The announcement is the latest milestone in the women's evolution, and the tournament is an avenue for the female performers to receive the recognition and respect they deserve.

At WrestleMania 32, one year ago, WWE executive vice president Stephanie McMahon announced the company was rebranding its "divas" championship to the "women's" championship, a development that further established that women's performers should be on equal footing with men.

Since then, the division has flourished. In October, Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks made history by becoming the first women to compete in a "Hell in the Cell" match as well as being placed as the main event on the card.

Flair and Banks, along with Becky Lynch and current Raw champion Bayley -- the former Four Horsewomen of NXT, the company's developmental division -- have thrived in the WWE since being called up. Each has since been thrust to the forefront of weekly storylines, as well as Bliss, who has established herself as one of the most recognized heels in the business, men or women.

"I am proud to be part of the women's revolution, representing Japan and WWE," NXT Women's Champion Asuka said in the presentation.

The tournament is the latest showcase following last year's Cruiserweight Classic and January's United Kingdom Championship tournament.

No date or venue has been announced yet, but the women's tournament will be shown on WWE Network.