One of the most curious cases of a woman entering World Wrestling Entertainment and underachieving is the third-generation Hart family member Natalya.
A member of the WWE roster since 2008, the extremely talented in-ring competitor has yet to truly reach the level of success critics, former and current Superstars, and fans believe she deserves. She has a single Divas Championship reign to her name but it was very short, lasting only from Survivor Series in 2010 until the following January's Royal Rumble pay-per-view in 2011.
Since then, Natalya has been cycled onto and off of WWE television, never really allowing her to gain any momentum. In the past year, she has even been reduced to participating in an all-time-terrible farting gimmick, that may very well have killed any credibility she had with the casual audience.
Why is it that a woman that has shown tremendous ability between the ropes, has the pedigree of one of the greatest wrestling families in the history of the industry, and has a solid fan base been allowed to achieve so little?
There is a belief amongst those in power that Superstars and Divas are expected to look a certain way. Superstars are to look muscular and handsome, the type of person the company can plaster all over posters.
Divas, it seems, are too look like something the common fan would see in a catalogue. It is a very shallow way of determining who can and cannot achieve great success in the business but it has been a reality for close to 30 years (with a few very prominent exceptions).
Natalya does not fit those guidelines. She is very beautiful, but she is not beautiful in the way McMahon and Co. expect their top women to look. She is incredibly fit and fairly defined but, again, does not have the body of a woman that just stepped out of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition.
Equally important to looks and wrestling skills is the ability to cut a promo, something Natalya has not had a lot of experience with in her four-year WWE stint. When she did get the opportunity, she has solid, if not spectacular. Where Eve and AJ have exceeded expectations with the time they have been given on the microphone, Natalya has been merely good.
There has been speculation over the years that Vince McMahon's seemingly love-hate relationship with the Hart family has led to Natalya seeing any push she may be enjoying come to a crashing halt. While McMahon has shown petty tendencies in the past, considering his good standing with Natalya's uncle Bret in recent years, it is unlikely that plays a factor in the stagnant nature of her place on the card.
So why has Natalya not quite met expectations four years into her career? There is no viable, valid reason. The body image excuse gets thrown out the window when one takes into consideration that Beth Phoenix was tremendously successful for the company and Kharma was originally slated for a huge push before her pregnancy sidelined her.
The promo ability excuse has some legs to it but, taking into consideration that only a few women actually get any time to speak on television, it seems unlikely that could play a role. The McMahon-Hart family rivalry? Forget it.
At this point in her career, much like Molly Holly and Katie Lea before her, Natalya may simply be a talent Vince McMahon has no idea how to use. She simply does not fit into what the company is doing so, rather than releasing her, the company keeps her on-board, occasionally giving her something silly or stupid to do in backstage skits.
A shame, considering Natalya is in the prime of her career.
Have a theory as to why Natalya has yet to truly achieve great success in WWE? Tell the world in the comment section below.