Welcome back to Diva Debate.
It has been quite a while since we have last met, thanks largely to a lack of Divas action on the road to WrestleMania.
This past week has been quite newsworthy, however, with the return of former Divas champions, reports that WWE is negotiating with two others and TNA presenting its Lockdown pay-per-view, what lack of in-ring action there may have been was made up for with breaking news stories and interesting returns.
So sit back, relax and enjoy as Diva Debate gets you up to date on all things Divas and Knockouts, as well as relives one of the great women-related moments in WrestleMania history.
Diva Debate is a constantly evolving article here on Bleacher Report. As such, changes are bound to happen.
Beginning with next week's edition, Diva Debate will be no more. In its place will be Diva Digest, a revamped article that will continue to deliver the same editorial and retrospective work that you have come to expect from Diva Debate, but with a greater emphasis on breaking or relevant news stories and the week in review from both the World Wrestling Entertainment Divas and TNA Wrestling Knockouts.
This will result in a more focus, more fluid article that will be a higher-quality piece than previous editions of Diva Debate.
This article has always, and will always, be fueled by the support of the readers. I look forward to continuing the evolution of it with all of you in the immediate and long-term future. Thank you for reading and, as always, your feedback is appreciated.
On Monday's Raw, Brie and Nikki Bella made a surprising return to World Wrestling Entertainment, wasting little time in confronting Divas champion Kaitlyn.
According to WrestlingInc.com, by way of F4WOnline, the return was in the works for quite some time:
The Bella Twins returning to WWE goes back 6 or 7 weeks when officials decided they wanted more women on TV and wanted to beef the Divas division up. At first, the plan was to call up some of the Divas from NXT but that idea was nixed. Then officials decided they wanted to bring back some of the WWE Divas who had left the company recently.
A report by 411mania.com indicates that the company may be offering more money to the Divas than they were making before.
The report is interesting for two completely different reasons.
First, it indicates that WWE is not happy about the current situation with the Divas roster and is actively looking for ways to make it better. Reaching out to women from its past, who have connections with the audience, in an attempt to rejuvenate the roster is a great idea.
After all, women such as the Bellas are still in their prime and still have a lot to give to the company.
Secondly, it would seem as though the company has no immediate plans to call up any of the Divas from developmental. That is disappointing in that there has been a lot of hype around Paige, who has impressed both trainers and fans alike and appeared poised to be one of the post-Wrestlemania call-ups.
Now, with management focusing on targeting some of the former Divas champions of the past, Paige's main roster debut will have to wait a little while longer.
Just who are the former champions being contacted by WWE, though?
With the news of World Wrestling Entertainment negotiating with former Divas to return to the company came the question of just whom those Divas were.
WrestlingInc.com, citing reports from F4WOnline.com, had the answer: "Apparently they made offers to Maryse and Kelly Kelly also. Kelly and Maryse reportedly denied their first offers but are still in talks."
411mania.com, crediting Wrestling Observer, added Beth Phoenix to the names of potentially returning Divas: "The company has also reached out to Beth Phoenix in an attempt to coax her back; no word on how negotiations are going or if they are at all."
The negotiations with Kelly and Beth should not be considered that much of a shock.
They were both last seen on WWE television only a year ago and would not have missed such a significant amount of ring time that they could not quickly knock off the ring rust.
Maryse, on the other hand, has not been a full-time in-ring performer since early 2011 and last competed in a match on Monday Night Raw on August 2011.
Considering she recently launched a fashion boutique called House of Maryse on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and became engaged to The Miz, one must question just how interested she would actually be in returning to the everyday grind of the road.
If the company could convince Beth, Kelly or Maryse to return, it would be a major coup for a Divas roster that may very well be the worst the company has seen, with no disrespect meant to the women that are currently a part of that roster.
All three of those women have been a part of pay-per-view matches and have all competed at WrestleMania. That experience is invaluable when it comes to rebuilding a roster.
Soon after the Bellas made their appearance on Raw, a fan Tweeted former Diva Kharma and asked about the potential for her return now that her two most-hated WWE rivals are back. She responded:
@kevingonzalez_perhaps— Kharma (@Kharma) March 12, 2013
It is not new for talent to tease fans with a return that may or may not ever happen, but one would assume that, if the company is reaching out to former female employees, Kharma would logically be one of them.
Add to that reports that World Wrestling Entertainment has re-trademarked the "Kharma" name and you have even more reason to believe a potential return is more than just rumor.
In 2011, shortly after her debut with the company, Kharma was forced off of television due to pregnancy. The Bella Twins mocked the larger Diva's announcement and criticized her weight and all signs pointed to a rivalry between the sisters and the returning Kharma sometime in 2012.
Unfortunately, Kharma was released and the Bellas allowed their contracts to run out and the feud never materialized.
A return to the company by Kharma could rekindle the tension between she and The Bellas and deliver a heated, personal rivalry between two women, the likes of which have not been seen in quite some time.
In February, Diva-Dirt.com reported that WWE had signed a new developmental Diva:
WWE has signed a new Diva by the name of Kendra Smith, who has already reported to developmental facility NXT for training.
She was not a model, however, and actually possessed an athletic background:
Not much is known about Smith in terms of how far along she is in her training, although she does list pro wrestling in her skill set alongside kickboxing, Muay Thai, and MMA/Grappling. She also looks to be an avid stunt woman who specializes in “aerial harness, air ram, green screen, and weapons.”
Earlier this week, she was officially added to the NXT roster under the name "Kendall Skye."
The future of women's wrestling in WWE could change based on how well Kendra's training goes and how much success she has if and/or when she is called up to the main roster. In recent years, the company has focused on signing models to contracts and hoping it can train them to wrestle.
Kendra is a woman with athletics in her background, one who likely will not be intimidated by the physical nature of the business. Whether she has passion to learn, improve and succeed in the sport is another question that will be answered over time.
As TNA prepares to tape its "One Night Only" pay-per-view events in Orlando, it has reached out to a number of former employees to return for an all-Knockouts show. Little could it have imagined that so many former Knockouts would turn down the offer.
Diva-Dirt.com reported that as many as seven former Knockouts, four of which were champions for the promotion, have turned down the latest offers from the company to return for the one-night event:
Rain and Winter join Angelina Love, Kharma, Roxxi, Sarita and Traci Brooks in the list of former Knockouts who have said no to participating in the event.
The sheer number of women unwilling to return for a pay-per-view event and a paycheck is damning to a company that, at one time, was considered to have the best roster of women's wrestlers in North America.
Is their reluctance to return the result of a Knockouts division that has received less and less focus from the creative team over the last year? Perhaps there are still harsh feelings between the women and TNA.
Whatever the case may be, it seems unlikely that the company can produce a complete pay-per-view event using the handful of women currently under contract. Perhaps fans will be treated to the debuts of Gut Check winners Taeler Hendrix and Lei'D Tapa.
In the weeks leading up to TNA's Lockdown pay-per-view this past Sunday night, Gail Kim had become more and more vocal in her criticisms of Knockouts referee Taryn Terrell.
During Sunday's Knockouts Championship bout between Gail and current titleholder Velvet Sky, those criticisms would backfire. Late in the match, Gail had Velvet pinned for what she thought should have been a three count. When it was only a two, she immediately insulted and berated Taryn before crossing the line and slapping the New Orleans native in the face.
Unable to take any more, Terrell delivered an impressive spear to the challenger and unleashed with rights and lefts. This lead to Velvet Sky delivering the In Your Face finisher and retaining her title.
The interaction between Taryn and Gail gives the Knockouts division a rivalry it has not seen in a while. It is a program between two women with animosity for one another, rather than simply wanting to become Knockouts champion.
Their feud will help do two things.
First, it will give the Knockouts division a secondary rivalry that seems fresh and will take focus away from the fact that so many of the same women are challenging for the Knockouts title. Second, it gives the division a fresh new face in Taryn, who will undoubtedly be making in-ring debut sooner than later.
Kaitlyn continued her backstage courting of the mustache-wearing second-generation star Cody Rhodes on Raw Monday night, only to be tossed aside when Damien Sandow revealed to his tag team partner that he had found two other women for them to spend the evening with: the returning Brie and Nikki Bella.
The twins, each a former Divas champion, claimed that they returned because because the Divas division was seriously lacking. As one could imagine, Twitter was abuzz following their appearance.
The return of Brie and Nikki instantly add to a division that has been less than stellar over the last six months. It also gives the company two defined heels that it can use to help continue building Kaitlyn as the top babyface on the Divas roster.
On Thursday night's Impact Wrestling, Knockouts champion Velvet Sky teamed with Mickie James to meet Tara and Gail Kim in a tag team bout in which all four competitors were former champions.
Prior to the match, fans were made aware that Brooke Hogan placed referee Taryn Terrell on probation following her assault of Kim on Sunday at Lockdown.
The match was a high-quality one, playing to each woman's strengths and electrifying the Chicago crowd.
Late in the contest, Gail once again got in Taryn's face, attempting to provoke her into doing something that would cost her her job. She slapped the official and, to the surprise of Gail, received one back. The crowd popped as Taryn allowed her frustration with the multi-time Knockouts champion to boil over once again.
With the focus back on the participants, Velvet Sky was able to deliver In Your Face to Tara and pick up the win for her team.
The continuation of the Taryn Terrell-Gail Kim feud on Impact Wrestling cemented TNA's confidence in both ladies, as well as the pleasure with the reactions the fans have been giving their physical altercations.
Meanwhile, Velvet Sky continued her roll since winning the Knockouts Championship, scoring a huge win for herself and Mickie James. With both Gail Kim and Tara falling in decisive fashion in recent weeks, one has to wonder which Knockout will provide competition to Velvet's title next.
Could it be her partner, Mickie James? How about a returning Madison Rayne? Or will she be faced with competing in, and defending in, a multi-Knockout match?
Expect to find out in the coming weeks.
Friday night's SmackDown featured Kaitlyn teaming with Layla to defeat Tamina and Aksana. It was a largely uneventful match, the purpose of which was to continue the on-again, off-again story between the Divas champion and her so-called mentor.
Just after Kaitlyn flattened Aksana with a spear, Layla tagged herself in and picked up the win for her team following a high cross body block.
Post-match, Kaitlyn looked less than thrilled with the former champion, who seemingly has aligned herself with the current titleholder out of want to be closer to the Divas title.
Logical story progression would eventually see a heel turn from Layla and a feud between she and Kaitlyn over the title. At this point, though, considering the lack of attention the company has given the Divas as of late, there is no guarantee that will be the case.
Immediately after the match, the Bella Twins introduced themselves to Cameron and Naomi by attacking them in the backstage area. Agents Mike Rotunda and Jamie Noble had to pull the sisters off of their prey while the Funkadactyls were left lying.
A rivalry between the Bellas and the Funkadactyls is a nice first stop for the twins.
It will give them something to do while the story between Kaitlyn and Layla wraps up. It will keep them visible and on the minds until they move onto the Divas champion.
Wrestlemania XIX is an all-time great World Wrestling Entertainment event, featuring the biggest names in the history of the sport.
In one night, Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, The Rock, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Shawn Michaels, Vince McMahon, Triple H and Chris Jericho performed on the same card in front of 54,097 fans at Safeco Field in Seattle, Wash.
It is fitting, then, that three of the most talented in-ring workers in Divas history met in a Triple Threat match for the Women's Championship.
Trish Stratus and Jazz entered the sold-out baseball stadium as the challengers while Victoria, accompanied by boyfriend/lackey Steven Richards, arrived to the squared circle with the title around her waist.
For just over seven minutes, challengers and champion proved what women were capable of when given more than two minutes to have a competitive match. They exchanged wrestling maneuvers and stiff strikes that kept the Seattle audience interested. The use of Steven Richards in the match was brilliant and added one of the more entertaining spots of the whole bout.
In the end, Trish would catch Victoria with the Chick Kick and pick up another Women's Championship.
The WrestleMania XIX Women's Championship match was, essentially the last time the title meant anything until three years later at WrestleMania 22, when Trish defended against Mickie James.
The triple threat in Seattle was a major step in two rivalries that dominated women's wrestling at the time and one of the shining examples of three talented women performing on the biggest stage the sport has to offer.
Next week, Diva Debate officially becomes Diva Digest.
Also next week, the fallout from Brie and Nikki Bella's return to WWE. Will any other former Divas join them? Will Naomi and Cameron gain a measure of revenge on the twins? Will they interact any more with Kaitlyn?
What about the ongoing issues between Taryn Terrell and Gail Kim? Will there be any repercussions for Taryn slapping Gail while on probation? Please, for those who do not want to know before the show airs, do not post SPOILERS.
All of those answers plus the week in Divas and Knockouts news as well as another trip down memory lane as we look back at another classic WrestleMania moment or match.