Diva Debate No. 2: Week of November 19, 2012 Edition
Welcome to the second edition of Diva Debate!
For those of you who may have missed last week's debut, Diva Debate is a new weekly article here on Bleacher Report that debates four topics involving the WWE Divas and TNA Knockouts, as well as recaps the week's events and any important or breaking news.
This past week has been fairly eventful. We had a pay-per-view championship match as Eve defended the Divas title against Kaitlyn, TNA named a new No. 1 contender to Tara's Knockouts title and the AJ Lee-Vickie Guerrero saga continued.
We will look at all of those happenings and discuss a number of topics, including Eve Torres' worth to WWE, TNA's "revolving door" approach to booking its Knockouts division and the greatest women's wrestler in the history of the Divas division.
Topic No. 1: Is Eve Torres the Most Valuable Female Performer in WWE?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
The short answer is yes.
Before I expand on that statement, allow me to clarify a few things first.
Yes, I am aware that AJ Lee is the most popular Diva on the current roster and is receiving the most TV time. Yes, I understand that Natalya is virtually unmatched in terms of her in-ring skills. But I also understand that popularity and wrestling ability do not, alone, make a complete performer.
Eve has proven herself as an above-average talker and is constantly improving her wrestling skills. She is incredibly intelligent with a degree in engineering from USC to prove it. Her natural athleticism and her inarguable beauty have made her an integral spokesperson for World Wrestling Entertainment.
Her most valuable asset lies in her ability to play both heroine and villain. The winner of the 2007 Diva Search, Eve played the role of All-American good girl for four years. Then on one memorable, early 2012 Raw, she made a sudden and unexpected heel turn.
Since then, she has relished and succeeded in the role, earning another Divas Championship reign and becoming one of the more prominent women on WWE television.
As the No. 1 villain in the Divas division, as well as its champion, Eve is in position to carry a roster of women that has seen a number of significant departures in a very short span.
Gone are Kelly Kelly, the Bella Twins and Beth Phoenix, all former Divas champions, leaving a roster in transition. There is nothing more comforting than knowing you have a versatile performer capable of steadying the proverbial ship while it awaits a new captain.
Perhaps Eve is the new captain.
Eve is everything WWE should look for in a Diva. She is smart, confident, athletic, sexy, beautiful, well-spoken, driven to improve and be the best she can be, and is dependable.
She is the most valuable woman on the roster. At a time when there are more questions than answers surrounding the state of women's wrestling within the company, World Wrestling Entertainment is lucky to have her.
Topic No. 2: Is TNA's "Revolving Door" Booking Hurting the Knockouts Division?
Photo Credit: TNA Wrestling/Lee South
On the November 15 edition of Impact Wrestling, Mickie James returned from a months-long hiatus to win a battle royal to become the No. 1 contender to the Knockouts Championship.
ODB was the top contender last month, Tara the months before, Brooke Tessmacher before her and Madison Rayne before her.
Three of those four women captured the championship. What is worse is that they did so with very little build or story for fans to invest themselves in. As a result, the title switches meant little. After all, another woman would soon step into the role of challenger and take the belt anyway.
TNA finds itself in a troubling spot right now. Rather than taking the time to craft a story for its Knockouts, its idea of freshening things up is to cycle a different woman onto and off the card on a monthly basis.
The problem with the company's current approach is that it does not help any of the women get over with the audience. It hurts storytelling, with continuity and consistency issues being the most prevalent. Most importantly, the division begins to resemble the competition's Divas division, something the Knockouts were originally meant to be the alternative of.
One month, Brooke Tessmacher looked like a legitimate breakout star for TNA. The next? She was soundly defeated by Tara and suddenly disappeared from television.
Gail Kim became the longest reigning Knockouts Champion in history. Since losing the title to Tessmacher, she has all but disappeared from television.
The same can be said for Madison Rayne and let's not get started on Rosita and Sarita who, despite still appearing on the TNA roster, have not been seen in nearly a year.
There are those who will argue that the month-to-month change keeps matches fresh and never lets a Knockout get stale. To an extent, they have a point. But freshness can only go so far.
The constant revolving door of Knockouts prevents any type of hierarchy from forming. Instead of a distinct ladder of competition, there is simply a group of character-less, story-lacking women fighting over the belt. No one is allowed to look better than the others and no clear-cut star of the division is established.
A company can have all of the talent it wants, but without a star or distinguishable traits separating the competitors from one another, a jumbled mess is sure to result.
TNA will find itself facing such a mess if it does not take a long look at the way it books its women's division.
Topic No. 3: Is Naomi Being Wasted in Her Current Role as Funkadactyl?
Photo Credit: WWE.com
When watching NXT Season 3, two things stood out to me: One, Naomi was incredibly athletic and two, she may have been the best worker of that group of women. At least at that time.
Now, some two years later, she has not been allowed the opportunity to follow up on her performances on that show, instead being relegated to the role of cheerleader for Brodus Clay.
It is interesting that Naomi would be kept out of the ring when there is a decided lack of depth in the Divas division and, after Layla and Kaitlyn, there is no clear-cut babyface. Sure, AJ Lee appears poised to get back to wrestling but, until that happens, there is an opportunity for a fresh face to interject herself into the Divas title picture and, for whatever reason, Naomi has not been allowed to be that face.
Is Naomi being wasted at this point? To an extent. The Funkasaurus gimmick is still over with the audience, despite Clay's current losing streak. There is no reason not to believe that Naomi could remain a member of the Funkadactyls, all the while competing against the top Divas in the company. But in the long term, it would be best for her to go her separate way if she wants to find true success.
With Brodus Clay's push coming to a sudden and hard stop, now would be the perfect time for Naomi to pursue her in-ring goals. The longer she stays away, the longer she continues to dance alongside Cameron and Brodus and the more risk the company takes of her going down with the sinking ship.
Topic No. 4: Is Molly Holly the Best Women's Wrestler in WWE History?
Photo Credit: World Wrestling Entertainment
There may never be another female wrestler to walk through the WWE's doors with the talent that Molly Holly had.
That is a very strong statement, but for those of us who have watched the former Women's Champion compete during her heyday with the company in the early-to-mid-2000s, there is ample evidence to support it.
Molly was not a one-trick horse. Some Divas rely on their sex appeal. Others rely on beauty. Others rely on sports-entertainment spots, while some are just extremely talented in-ring workers.
While Molly was never overtly sexual in her presentation of herself, she was the perfect combination of every other facet. She was beautiful, she was a great worker and she could mix in the crowd-pleasing entertainment spots to make her matches that much better.
As a worker, Molly used a number of different styles to perfect her in-ring game. She was well-versed in technical wrestling, did not hesitate to break out a submission hold and could fly of the top rope when she saw fit (the Molly-Go-Round, anyone?). She was a complete worker, having learned a lot from Madusa in WCW and from other talented individuals she encountered throughout her career.
As a plucky babyface, she enjoyed a rivalry with Trish Stratus early in her career. As a villain two years later, she provided the perfect foil for the mega-popular Stratus as they did battle over the revived Women's Championship.
Molly also had tremendous matches with the likes of Victoria and Ivory, two other skilled in-ring workers, and managed to help carry Lita to a few very good title bouts after the high-flyer returned from a severe neck injury.
What was most admirable about Molly's in-ring talents was her ability to work with women of completely different styles and still put together a quality match. Stacy Keibler and Nidia were not highly-trained in-ring workers when Molly worked with them but still, they managed to have their best matches with her.
To answer the question posed, Molly Holly is the best female wrestler in WWE history. While Trish Stratus may be more decorated and Lita may have been more popular, Molly was the glue who held the division together. She was as responsible for a number of quality women's title matches as anyone else and for that, she deserves the respect and admiration of fans across the globe.
In a day where the most common method of finding Divas involves a swimsuit catalogue, one appreciates Molly's work that much more.
Speaking of trainers in FCW, here's a shout out to Sara Del Rey, one of those trainers and, perhaps, the only woman close to rivaling the greatness of Molly Holly between the ropes.
The Week in Review
Photo Credit: WWE.com
On Monday's Raw, Kaitlyn scored a very quick win over Layla to earn a Divas Championship match at Survivor Series. The incredibly abbreviated nature of the match made it difficult to take anything away from it. And WWE wonders why fans do not react to the Divas matches when they finally are given time.
On Thursday's Impact, Mickie James won a battle royal to earn a shot at Tara's Knockouts title. Mickie's return is a welcome one, but until the company stops adding and subtracting a different woman from the title picture on a monthly basis and works harder to develop stories and interest, it is difficult to get excited for a Mickie James-Tara match that we have already seen countless times before.
SmackDown featured a six-woman tag match set up by an angle shot for WWE's official website. Eve, Aksana and Alicia Fox fell to Kaitlyn, Layla and Natalya.
It was an entertaining match, if a bit short, that helped to sell the Divas title match between Eve and Kaitlyn. Aksana and Layla had a logical connection to the champion and top contender, but one has to question the addition of Natalya and Alicia Fox, especially when the creative team cannot seem to make up its mind as to who is a babyface or heel from week to week. I enjoy their work, but they really had no place in the match.
After a disappointing week of television for the Divas and Knockouts, the week ended on a very high note as Kaitlyn and Eve had a very good title bout at Survivor Series. The match played perfectly into the story that has been told between champion and challenger, with Kaitlyn unleashing her frustrations on Eve, only for the champion to channel her inner-Ric Flair and use Kaitlyn's aggression against her, out-thinking her and picking up the win.
Tamina's return at the show was a welcome one as she attacked AJ Lee from behind and left her lying following the Superfly Splash. As the hired muscle for Vickie Guerrero, Tamina can play the role of dominating Diva, while allowing AJ to be the sympathetic character—a role she flourished in before the ill-fitting switch to authoritative GM of Raw.
With Kaitlyn having lost her title match, it remains to be seen what is next for Eve Torres heading into December's TLC pay-per-view.
In the Next Diva Debate...
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Next week, I will take a look at the potential pairing of Rosa Mendes and Alberto Del Rio and why it could be a very good thing for both performers.
I will also examine the return of Mickie James and what it means for the TNA Knockouts division. Can she still carry a women's division or is she simply a star with name recognition who can be a major player but never really the "star" again?
With the debut of Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins at Survivor Series, could a call-up for a number of the NXT Divas be on the way? I take a look at some of the top candidates for such a call-up and their realistic chances for success once they arrive.
Is Lita vs. Trish Stratus really the greatest rivalry in Divas history?
So join me again next week for another sometimes good, sometimes bad, ALWAYS entertaining edition of Diva Debate.
The title of this article features the word "debate," and now it is your turn to let your voice be heard in regards to any one (or all four) of the topics discussed in this week's Diva Debate article. Leave a message relevant to anything discussed inside. Also, your feedback is incredibly important. If you have any suggestions or constructive criticisms of the article, feel free to let me know in the comment section. I look forward to hearing from you all, as together, we build what will hopefully become a long-running weekly article here on Bleacher Report.