There are lots of things that can be said to describe the current angle on SmackDown, which sees WWE Diva Natalya become the victim of a humiliating flatulence problem in various backstage segments and skits. And, unsurprisingly, none of them are complimentary.
It’s not funny. It’s a juvenile waste of time. It’s embarrassing television. It could destroy Natalya’s career and render her a joke if WWE aren’t careful.
All of these are fair criticisms that have been echoed on message boards, news sites and television reviews all across the web in reaction to this storyline.
In fact, even Natalya’s own uncle, Smith Hart, has recently taken to his Twitter account to lash out, calling it a waste of his niece’s considerable talents.
But one thing that hasn’t really been spoken about is how incredibly counter-productive this gimmick is to the image of the WWE divas.
You see, WWE management have spent years presenting the women in WWE in a wholly flattering, glamorous light only to risk undoing all their work with this flatulence angle.
Why they are doing this current angle is anyone’s guess. But it is almost startlingly in contrast to how they have marketed their divas in the past.
Indeed, aside from its crassness, one thing that sticks out about this current gimmick is how a WWE diva is being presented in such a demeaning and laughable manner. It is a striking turnaround. It would almost be fascinating, were the storyline not so atrocious.
Far from being a glamorous, incredibly beautiful girl that most male fans will dream about (which is how women in the cosmetically-obsessed WWE have overwhelmingly been portrayed for over two decades now), poor Natalya has been turned into an on-screen joke, unable to stop breaking wind at the most inconvenient times and emitting poisonous toxins so bad they are enough to almost kill Hornswoggle and Santino.
Or so we are told in the storyline, anyway.
So much for being the object of anyone’s fantasies.
This angle is even more perplexing when you consider that, with the dawn of the PG era, the emphasis on T&A in the divas has been greatly curtailed as the product is watered down and made more accessible to kids and sponsors, and WWE have also tried in recent times to turn their women into role models.
Goody-two-shoes babyface Kelly Kelly (who, over the years, went from being an inexperienced model to respectable in-ring performer) was held up as an example to young girls of how hard work and effort could be pay off and heap huge rewards.
Likewise, the educated, well-spoken Eve Torres has been heavily utilized in a public relations role, doing numerous speaking engagements and interviews for the company.
Even Natalya and her tag-team partner Beth Phoenix became (admittedly heelish) role models in their “Pin Up Strong” group for a brief time, as they asserted their dominance over the promotion and, refreshingly, refused to be “pretty and perky” simply because management required that in all their girls.
With their emphasis on wrestling and being taken seriously, they were quite the pair, and potentially could have been breakout stars in the women’s division had WWE just had the time and patience to push their act to the top.
Of course, the scant attention paid to “Pin Up Strong” and Kelly’s achievements wasn’t anything great, and the women’s division in WWE is still woefully neglected, but it was a step in the right direction at least.
With this current flatulence angle, however, Natalya is far more a laughingstock than a role model. Who can take her seriously with this gimmick? Who would want to?
Summarily, there are numerous problems with the current flatulence storyline, but the main one be that WWE has, for reasons only known to them, set out to undermine and totally destroy an image of their women that they have spent years carefully crafting.
Hopefully they can realize their mistake, and this angle will quickly be swept under the rug, never to be mentioned again. Although, knowing WWE’s misguided booking team these days, I wouldn’t bet on it.