No Way Out 2001 featured a showdown between Trish Stratus and Stephanie McMahon that absolutely caught an entire fanbase off guard in terms of its quality.
For two women with little or no wrestling experience, they tore the proverbial house down, and would have stolen the show were it not for epic clashes featuring Steve Austin taking on Triple H and The Rock challenging Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship.
The match was not built through a series of matches. In fact, No Way Out was the first time the two women met in a one-on-one contest. Instead, the rivalry was built exclusively out of the ring, through a story involving Vince McMahon and his unfaithfulness to his wife.
Trish was the gold-digging blond that had set her sights on the owner of the then-World Wrestling Federation. Stephanie was the protective daughter who recognized Trish’s manipulative maneuvers and would stop at nothing to prevent her from getting her claws into her father.
The rivalry featured a number of cat-fights and attempts by each woman to humiliate the other. It was one of the more personal rivalries heading into the No Way Out event and the result was a heated match that proved the two women were extremely talented entertainers.
Today’s Diva roster is one of limited experience. Natalya has the most in-ring experience, competing all over the globe since 2003. Layla and Rosa Mendes have been employed by World Wrestling Entertainment since competing in the 2006 Diva Search. Alicia Fox has appeared since 2008. Kaitlyn, AJ Lee, Aksana and AJ Lee made their debuts in 2010 as contestants in the female-only NXT Season 3.
The point is that the majority of today’s talent has less than five years total of in-ring experience.
So why should the company attempt to build rivalries based on a series of matches when they can build to a single match by crafting quality, entertaining storylines featuring their female performers?
While the program between Kaitlyn and former Divas Champion Eve Torres was mainly built through in-ring competition, the fact that they had an external story surrounding them helped the audience buy into their work between the ropes, as was never more evident than in the final bout between the two on Monday’s Raw.
In recent years, Vickie Guerrero, Eve and AJ have all proven to be more than competent when it comes to performing on the microphone. Both of the latter women enjoyed their greatest exposure as on-air talent, because they showed that they could carry a storyline on their own, without a male crutch to lean on.
With so many of the Divas proving to be strong representation for the company in its various charitable events, there is reason to believe they could succeed in building a rivalry fans would be interested in and, eventually, want to see blown off in a high-profile pay-per-view match.
Building a rivalry of this type would result in less televised in-ring action but, at the same time it would give the Divas more airtime to develop characters and connect with the live and viewing audiences.
It is highly unlikely the company would ever revisit the booking style they proved could be highly successful with the Trish Stratus-Stephanie McMahon match from 12 years ago. Instead, they would rather throw two Divas out to have a forgettable three-minute match on Monday Night Raw, hoping that the audience will react in even the slightest way.
Shortened television matches are something male performers, most of whom have their own individual clusters of fans, can overcome. For a roster in such transition as the current Divas roster is, utilizing a tried-and-true booking method could go a long way in ensuring that they maximize their potential and enjoy as much success as possible.