After taking some time off to pursue outside opportunities, former WWE Divas Champion Kelly Kelly made her return to the company on last week's Raw, defeating Eve Torres in a rather forgettable match.
Oh, the bout itself was fine, and went much longer than your average women's match in WWE, but everything about it—from the way it was thrown out without advertising to the underwhelming fan reaction—simply screamed “time-filler” and “afterthought.”
Kelly, who—after ranking highly in men's magazine Maxim's heavily promoted Maxim Hot 100 list earlier this year—saw various mainstream entertainment opportunities present themselves to her, must be wondering why she came back in the first place.
Indeed, after spending most of 2011 being the company’s most pushed Diva, Kelly has seen her once-thriving wrestling career plummet in 2012.
There are a few reasons for this development.
For one thing, Kelly has shown interest in outside opportunities, which, for a WWE Diva, is a big no-no (per DivaDirt.com).
Don't believe me?
Ask Stacy Keibler, who parted ways from the company soon after participating in reality show ABC's Dancing with the Stars. Or Ashley Massaro, who parted ways with the company after appearing on CBS' hit show Survivor. Or Maria Kanellis, who parted ways with the company soon after appearing on NBC's The Apprentice?
Noticing a trend here?
The paranoid WWE don't seem to like it too much when their performers start looking outside of the company, possibly viewing it as disloyal and taking it as a sign the person cannot be relied upon.
Another reason is probably Kelly's bland, babyfaced character. Unlike fellow Divas AJ Lee or Kaitlyn, both of whom have shown a tremendous amount of personality and charisma during their time in WWE, Kelly's character remains as dull and uninteresting as ever.
No wonder she hasn't been getting pushed as much: There's not terribly much you can do with her. All she does is smile and wave.
The company did attempt to show a more aggressive side of the Diva during her lengthy feud with Beth Phoenix in the autumn of last year, but it was quickly forgotten about.
Of course not all the blame lies with Kelly. It seems like every Diva, except AJ of course, has been forgotten about. With this in mind, it's not terribly surprising how far Kelly has fallen in prominence.
Does anyone remember that Layla is Divas Champion? Where is Beth Phoenix? What is WWE doing with talented third-generation female star Natalya? Anyone remember when Eve was one of the best heels on Raw?
It was hoped that when Raw expanded to three hours, the women's division would be allowed more match and storyline time as WWE attempted to fill up the extra time. The recent signing of skilled independent wrestler Sara Del Ray was also seen as an encouraging sign that things were going to turn around for women's wrestling in WWE.
While, as noted, Eve/Kelly was given a decent amount of time last week on Raw, there are no real indications that WWE are interested in saving their floundering women's division. The recent releases of talented female wrestlers like Kharma and Sofia Cortez serve to emphasize this point.
Oh, sure, maybe every few months they’ll do a storyline or sign some indie girl and get everyone’s hopes up again, but it will almost certainly never come to anything. WWE's women division has been marginalized for so long, we now have a very good idea of where it lies on the company's priority list.
At one point in 2011, the fast-improving Kelly looked to be the next big female name in the company, a supremely talented model-turned-wrestler in the Trish Stratus mould. But for a combination of reasons—some her own flaws, some the fault of the WWE—it hasn’t happened.
That’s not to say Kelly will never be able to do anything of note for the rest of her tenure, but as for becoming the No.1 Diva in the company again? Probably not. That ship seems to have sailed.