Why WWE Should Get Rid of the Divas Division and Make the Women Managers
One thing has become increasingly clear recently: It is time to put WWE's floundering women's division out of its misery.
To tell you the truth, it has been greatly struggling for years—basically after WWE signed almost all of the contestants from its first Diva Search contest in 2004, opting to cast aside real women's wrestlers like Jazz, Molly Holly, Gail Kim and Victoria (now Tara in TNA) in favour of the gaggle of photogenic models/actresses that the competition discovered.
The final nail in the coffin may have come in late 2006 when Trish Stratus and Lita, two of the most famous divas in WWE history, retired.
While the division had been struggling greatly even before that (supremely talented as she was, even Trish could only do so much with clueless, inexperienced wrestlers like Christy Hemme and Ashley Massaro), after those two exited, the division spiralled into the irrelevant, botch-filled sideshow it is known as today.
How bad are things?
Well, Beth Phoenix is Divas Champion, but is barely on Raw or SmackDown these days.
She's also pinned spotlessly clean by tiny non-wrestler Maria Menounos twice now—once in a six-women tag match at December's Tribute to The Troops show and at WrestleMania 28 on Sunday.
As if Phoenix's credibility couldn't have been killed anymore, it was frequently brought up by the announcers that Menounos had suffered two broken ribs while training for her appearance on ABC's Dancing with the Stars.
Great. So not only did Phoenix get beaten by a non-wrestling celebrity with relative ease, she was beaten by an injured non-wrestling celebrity.
Not that most of the other women have fared much better.
Phoenix's former tag partner Natalya has been saddled with a truly heinous flatulence gimmick, which manages to be crass and tasteless even by WWE's already low standards.
Former Divas Champion Kelly Kelly got to team with Menounos at WrestleMania but still seems like as much as an afterthought now as ever.
Alicia Fox and Tamina, both of whom have shown glimmers of potential in the past, are stuck on Internet-only brand NXT.
The Bella Twins, who could be a star act, seem to wander from one half-hearted, hastily-pitched storyline to another (including this recent general manager storyline which saw each girl take a different side) and the fans remain as apathetic to them as ever.
Interestingly, former divas like Gail Kim and Maria Kanellis have went on record over the past year about the shoddy treatment of women in WWE, noting the limitations constantly placed on them by management and how the women in WWE are almost always under-cut and marginalized by a booking team indifferent to women's wrestling.
Maria, a Diva Search contestant who was often criticised for her poor wrestling skills in WWE, has even discussed how she pleaded with management to send her on more house shows in a bid to help her improve, only to be shut down.
Kanellis has also implied on Afterbuzz TV's Raw recap show that the main reason she is no longer with the company is because she spoke up about her complaints regarding WWE's attitude towards the division.
Kanellis' and Kim's interviews confirm the worst.
The grim fact is: WWE management isn't terribly bothered about their women's division. It is simply not a priority to them. And no matter how hard the girls try (and to their credit most of them do), it doesn't seem that situation will change anytime soon.
In my opinion, you either do a divas division right, or you don't do it at all.
There's no point having one unless you are willing to put the time and energy to allow it to flourish and grow.
WWE has shown a stubborn unwillingness and/or inability to do this, so it is now pertinent to suggest a different course of action for the promotion: use the women as managers instead.
The fact is, while WWE probably hasn't done everything possible to train the girls properly, as Kanellis has noted, most of the models on the roster simply aren't cut out to be wrestlers. The model experiment has failed miserably.
Sure, people can point to the success of Stratus or Victoria (both of whom has busy modelling careers prior to signing their WWE contract and later blossomed into good wrestlers), but they were fitness models. They were bulked up enough to be able to take bumps and throw the other girls around.
Many of the models WWE get in now are from the TV world, where being as thin as possible is a priority. While this may assure the girls are more cosmetically pleasing to management and therefore more likely to make TV, their tiny frames make it harder for them to be good wrestlers or bump-takers.
There's a world of difference between someone Stratus (who, believe it or not, during her wrestling career was probably twice the size of many of the girls WWE have now) and the likes of Fox and Kelly. The muscle-bound Stratus was built for wrestling; those two aren't.
And the fact is, most of the models would be far better suited to being managers. Case in point: Rosa Mendes.
Despite being in the business for several years now, the un-coordinated, clumsy Mendes has shown she has no aptitude for wrestling whatsoever.
Hey, remember the time she managed to botch simply standing in a corner waiting for Kelly to hit the handspring elbow?
Thankfully, WWE bookers finally figured this out (it only took five years) and placed her with struggling tag team Primo and Epico as their gorgeous, occasionally sneaky valet.
As a result, Primo and Epico got more over, with Mendes adding some much needed glamour and sexiness to their act. It was also a triumph for the former Diva Search contestant herself: she could finally contribute something to the company and earn her paycheck.
While not a former model (she was one of the few girls on the all-women season three of NXT with any indie experience), former Wrestling Superstars Uncensored star AJ Lee wasn't exactly setting the world on fire with her in-ring skills either.
It was not until she was placed with Daniel Bryan in the storylines that she become someone relevant and important on-screen. As a result of this shift from wrestler to valet, most fans are emotionally involved in her character—a rare thing for a WWE diva—as they root for her to stand up to her obnoxious boyfriend and leave him.
WWE should follow suit with the rest of the divas. It would finally give the women a useful role and no doubt help improve the prospects of several bland mid-carders who desperately need a manger or someone to speak for them.
As for the (few) women wrestlers on the roster, like Beth Phoenix and Natalya?
Turn them into managers, too. Of course, they can be more physically involved than your average valet is to capitalize on their in-ring presence and skills. Under this scenario, the established female wrestlers on the roster wouldn't be left out either.
Summarily, while many fans of women's wrestling would have preferred a proper, credible women's division, that doesn't look likely to happen anytime soon.
Perhaps WWE have decided women's wrestling cannot be a draw in the U.S., or they just do not want to invest too much into girls they know they'll probably end up getting rid of in a few years anyway (while there are exceptions, most divas tend to be in their 20s). Who knows?
However, rather than just getting by with their watered-down sham of a division, the company could—and should—make an attempt to turn their divas into valets.
Not only would they no longer be wasting the time of fans, many of whom tune out for the women's segments, it would finally give the girls themselves something to do.
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