A few months ago, I was so insulted by how the female roster was being utilized on WWE TV, I wrote what became a series of articles that resulted in my boycotting the company until women were treated better. While I still watch the televised events to report on storyline developments, I refuse to support WWE with my consumer dollars, everything from T-shirt to pay-per-view purchases, including WrestleMania 28.
Since that time, there has been some improvement with women's roles on WWE TV, namely with Aksana and AJ.
Aksana went from having to deliver cringe-worthy dialogue to her boyfriend, SmackDown general manager Teddy Long, and then being dismissed, to being an active part of the Team Teddy movement, whether it was celebrating a Santino victory, or calling Vickie Guerro out on match interference. Hopefully this will be a step in the right direction for the Lithuanian bodybuilder's character.
The World Heavyweight Champion of that brand, Daniel Bryan, one of the toughest and most bellicose of in-ring competitors, is hitting his stride in a heel persona to match that aggression. Part of his success has been in resurrecting the dynamic originated by "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth. Savage was hated for berating Liz, then hiding behind her to avoid a babyface's onslaught. Audiences clamored for nothing more than Elizabeth not to stand by her man.
The intrigue with AJ is that while Bryan has used her as a shield, AJ has also willingly stepped into the line of fire, something Elizabeth only did when Savage was a fan favorite. It will be interesting to see how the relationship unfolds—if she is an innocent, or if she's in on Bryan's scheme.
Eve continues to be the port in the creative storm. She's become one of the top performers, able to adapt to sometimes contradictory personality changes week to week. More often than not, it seems as though creative is just winging it rather than focusing on long-term storylines.
At least this year she is on the card. At WrestleMania 27, Eve was the Divas Champion, yet only made an appearance in a backstage sketch with The Rock and Mae Young.
Unfortunately, the storyline of this year's match, which could have carried some emotional heft, has been rushed. Eve and Kelly Kelly, we presume, were friends because Eve seconded Kelly to ringside when she was champ. Kelly was never given the opportunity to address to the fans how Eve's abrupt transformation to heel affected her.
Meantime, Natalya and Beth Phoenix went from being BFFs out to destroy the Barbie Divas to no longer being on the same side of the moral fence—I'm assuming, anyway, because one day Natalya was just cast in the babyface role in her SmackDown matches.
The awful, childish gimmick that WWE writers and producers hung on Natalya was the reason I started writing about the terrible way women are portrayed on the company's programs.
Akin to the Eve and Kelly Kelly breakdown, creative missed an opportunity to get the audience involved in these characters by not giving Natalya or Beth a platform to address their dissolution.
I'm all for having celebrities be part of WrestleMania, but I think it was a missed opportunity—there's that phrase again—not to have Natalya and Kelly realize they're on the same page, and face off against their former buds Beth and Eve.
Instead, it will be Maria Menounos, host of the infotainment program Extra, teaming with Kelly against Eve and Beth. Also a contestant on the popular Dancing with the Stars, Menounos brings a certain cache of celebrity with her, but, like Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne and Pam Anderson, maybe that celebrity would be put to better use escorting the babyfaces to the ring.
Menounos injured her ribs during a recent Stars rehearsal, so perhaps that is exactly what will happen today, and WWE will make the overdue redemptive call to Natalya to wrestle at Kelly's side. I hope so.
While some progress has been made, I don't have faith in creative at this point (is the farting over?) to call my boycott off, so it will continue. However, WrestleMania is the wrestling industry new year, so I remain hopeful changes are only a calendar turn away.
Moreover, it is imperative that creative dump the childish gimmicks and focus on long-term storylines with emotional resonance.
Finally, we all hope Kharma will be in a good place.
If she is, and she's ready to wrestle, her appearance would certainly shake up the WWE landscape.
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