In order to commence the ascension back to the top, one must often hit rock bottom.
The current angle on WWE TV which features immensely-talented female wrestler Nattie Neidhart ("Natalya") reduced to comic relief as a result of a flatulence angle must constitute an absolute low point not only for the Divas' division, but also for the concept itself.
I have despised the generic, homogeneous model-turned-wrestler concept since Vince McMahon and the Creative team used the term "Diva" in reference to the women's division. The metamorphosis of the once-prestigious role of female professional wrestler into something lacking all entertainment value has been stunning and drawn out.
Even the Federation itself has acknowledged this, with Michael Cole having once degraded the division with on-air snide and crass remarks, going so far as to cut a Divas' match short to push his own (equally pointless) agenda.
As viewers, we are over a decade removed from the tasteless bra-and-panties match angles, the forced disrobing of Trish Stratus at the hands of VKM, the staged voyeurism of the locker room sequences and other sexist and disgraceful storylines.
However, we are also almost a decade removed from the apex of modern women's wrestling, the Trish-Lita match which headlined an episode of RAW, a match breathtaking in its ability to incite genuine emotion and vested interest in the audience.
One could make the argument that the nadir of the genre has not yet been reached. However, for anyone who has tried to suspend disbelief for long enough to believe Kelly Kelly can defy the laws of physics to execute her ridiculous airplane spin move will tell you, a true nadir will generally be evident to most of a viewing population.
Popular culture is filled with examples of entertainment ventures "sinking to new lows." Identifying these moments and peppering one's analysis of them with superlatives is, in itself, a source of entertainment. It is similarly enjoyable to identify the point at which an object of entertainment begins its descent towards unbearability, hence the catchphrase "jumping the shark."
Trying to identify when the Divas' division jumped the figurative shark is impossible, though I would argue that Episode 1 of the Diva Search would certainly garner a likely majority of votes.
In the years that have followed, the WWE has embraced the notion that female talent that is attractive holds a greater premium for its audience than a more superior athletic talent. Bona fide women's wrestlers have been underutilized and/or subsequently released, such as Gail Kim, Mickie James and Melina. Inexplicably, performers whose in-ring ability is marginal at best have been given pushes usually reserved for the best and brightest. Worst offenders in this category include Kelly Kelly and the Bella Twins.
And though fan frustration may be heightened by undeserved pushes and equally unfounded relegation, the hybrid of these negatives is currently being personified by the character Natalya is being required to portray.
Despite being a legitimate superstar, blessed with attractive looks, extraordinary in-ring talent and better than average mic skills, she has seen her status as a successful performer (as measured by wins and losses) diminished by countless prominent losses.
To add insult to injury, her character is now being portrayed as one who suffers from nausea-inducing flatulence.
To reiterate, one of the top talents in the gender-specific division has been reduced to a flatulent loser.
If that isn't the low point for the Divas' division, I shudder to think how it can get worse.
This is an angle which should be greeted by overwhelming backlash. The IWC, casual fans, female fans—all stakeholders with passion for the product should express disgust with this juvenile and insulting to fans' intelligence characterization.
As fans, we should somehow be able to demand an end to the "Divas' division" and a return of "women's wrestling" or some other (perhaps more appropriately named) concept. That concept should put a premium on in-ring talent, with performers such as Kharma, Beth Phoenix and yes—Natalya given starring roles.
Supporting players in this renewed emphasis on wrestling could include developmental performers as well as new performers from the indie federations. There must be hundreds of female pro wrestlers toiling in obscurity who could deliver a superior product to the current embodiment of mediocrity.
At the very least, a charismatic and dynamic second-generation talent like Ms. Neidhart should not be forced to see her status succumb to the ridicule that accompanies burial in such a ludicrously awful storyline.
This has to be as bad as it gets.
This piece is clearly an opinion piece and is deliberately negative, given the author's displeasure with the storyline and the division as a whole. Your comments and viewpoints are welcomed and appreciated.