WWE: Is Layla the Right Choice for Divas Champion?
As most will know by now, at the Extreme Rules pay-per-view, former Lay-Cool member Layla El returned to WWE after a nearly one year absence and won the WWE Divas Championship from Nikki Bella.
This development in the storyline was a small shock for most wrestling fans. While Layla has reportedly been ready to return from her surgery for a torn ACL and MCL for a while now, the rumor mill indicated that it would long-absent Kharma, not Layla, who would return at the PPV to destroy Nikki Bella.
Apparently this was the original intention, until it leaked and WWE felt they had to throw out their original idea and hastily change their plans.
WWE, which seems to be fast morphing into WCW circa 2000 in their increasingly erratic booking, absolutely has to keep us on the edge of our seats and constantly guessing these days, you see.
While Kharma’s returning and winning the title may have been the predictable, it also, per the storyline, made perfect sense: the evil Bella Twins had viciously mocked the former TNA Knockout after she announced her pregnancy in May of last year. It seems only fitting that she would be the one who would return and send the two sisters packing.
Indeed, done correctly, this would have been one of the few examples of long-term storyline consistency in WWE’s badly booked and marginalized women’s division.
Of course, due to this booking debacle, Layla’s long-awaited return didn’t exactly get off to the right start.
With everyone anticipating Kharma gaining her much-deserved revenge at Extreme Rules, it was inevitable that Layla’s return at the event would come off as decidedly lukewarm.
This is something that has become crystal clear in her recent TV appearances, where the former Diva Search winner has been greeted with only polite applause by underwhelmed fans in the arenas.
Considering how massively over she used to be—Lay-Cool, Layla’s tag team with the now-retired Michelle McCool, used to be one of the most heat-garnering and entertaining acts in the company—this has to be considered deeply disappointing.
However it is unfair to entirely dismiss Layla’s recent efforts and say she is not the right choice for Divas Champion.
For one thing, the English star is still one of the better, more technically-competent female wrestlers in the company—as her enjoyable bout with Natalya on this week’s SmackDown shows. At a time when the promotion is struggling to find decent, well-rounded women’s wrestlers, this makes her so much more of an asset.
In fact, hopes are high that her upcoming title defense against for Divas Champion Beth Phoenix at the Over the Limit PPV will be a great women's wrestling bout that will help properly kick start Layla's return.
The former Lay-Cool star also remains a strong and confident speaker on the mic. While it remains to be seen if Layla can truly take off as a babyface—she has only ever really been interesting as a heel—she certainly possesses the skills, personality and strong charisma to succeed in the role.
Ideally, WWE would have stuck with their original plans and given Kharma the Divas Championship at Extreme Rules. That they didn’t go with this logical, highly-anticipated piece of booking is yet another missed opportunity for WWE’s floundering women’s division.
Layla may not be the right choice for Divas Champion—that would have been been Kharma—however, as a back-up plan, the multi-talented star can perform adequately in her role. Even if her title reign doesn’t live up to expectations, she can, at the very least, keep the belt warm until WWE to decides to re-debut Kharma as a monster heel.
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