Welcome back to Diva Digest, the home for all things WWE Divas and TNA Knockouts here on Bleacher Report!
A lot has happened since the last edition of this article, including the debut of the reality show Total Divas, several quality Divas title matches between AJ and Kaitlyn, the emergence of Taryn Terrell in TNA and the return of Mickie James to championship glory.
With so much happening involving the Diva and Knockouts, and SummerSlam and Hardcore Justice on the docket for both wrestling companies, here is a look back at the week that was in women's wrestling.
This is Diva Digest for the week of August 4.
Last Sunday night, WWE's reality show Total Divas, starring the smart, sexy and powerful women of the company, debuted on E! Network. The hour-long drama was a ratings hit for the channel, drawing 1.3 million viewers and becoming the highest-rated debut since last August.
That is good news for World Wrestling Entertainment, which invested a lot of time marketing the program, as well as the Divas themselves, who are likely to see more exposure on Raw, SmackDown and Main Event as long as the ratings hold strong and people continue to tune in.
The show itself is not much more than the typical "reality" shows that air on any other channel on television. There is manufactured drama with a hint of real life happenings involved, and no one feels any smarter for having watched.
What is interesting, however, is the backstage look at World Wrestling Entertainment as well as the real-life relationships revealed on the show. Internet fans have known for quite some time that John Cena was dating Nikki Bell while Daniel Bryan was dating Brie. Casual fans, however, did not, and it is those fans who will get caught up in all of the drama surrounding those four and stay glued to their television to see what happens next.
The exclusion of Nattie from WrestleMania was clearly created to infuse drama into the show, but her feelings about being left out were more likely to be real. As one of the most talented women on the roster, she feels she gets passed over in favor of the more typical beauties.
Ariane (Cameron) and Trinity (Naomi) fighting over the former's boyfriend being backstage at WrestleMania dress rehearsals and threatening to fight Brodus Clay was funny, if only because he probably would have gotten destroyed.
And Nikki Bella's quest for a marriage proposal from Cena seemed almost desperate, an attempt to get married before or at the same time as her sister and Bryan.
The star of the debut episode was newcomer Eva Marie, who defied management almost immediately and decided to dye her hair fire red instead of the blond that was suggested. It should be very interesting to see what this young woman with attitude can accomplish (and who she can make angry) over the next few weeks.
The show has a lot of improvements to make. The pacing was way too fast, and the parts that were manufactured for drama's sake felt manufactured. Let the girls be themselves. After all, they work for World Wrestling Entertainment, and there is enough drama to be found behind the scenes on a daily basis alone.
This writer will continue to watch, if only because the company has not given me a reason not to.
On Monday night's Raw, Kaitlyn and AJ met inside the squared circle for yet another one-on-one bout and, as they have all summer long, delivered another solid match.
This time, Kaitlyn would deliver a vicious spear and pin AJ to earn another Divas Championship match four days later on Friday Night SmackDown.
In that match, Kaitlyn would appear poised to capture the Divas title for a second time, vanquishing her former best friend and ending the summer with the butterfly belt strapped around her waist.
Unfortunately, after months of teasing it, Layla finally turned heel on someone, costing Kaitlyn her opportunity and leaving the squared circle with AJ.
There is a lot of potential in the AJ Lee-Layla duo, all of which involve a unique dynamic that was most prevalent in the Harley Quinn-Poison Ivy pairing in the Gotham City Sirens comic book series. In this scenario, Layla is the traditional sexpot in the same vein as Ivy, while AJ is the slightly psychotic, yet very popular villainess that is reminiscent of Quinn.
The two of them using their completely different personalities to torment Kaitlyn could produce excellent television and an entertaining storyline for even the most casual of fans to get into.
While the likelihood is that WWE decides to go down the same old "Mean Girls" path with Layla and AJ at the expense of unique storytelling, there is a golden opportunity for a fresh direction to go in. Hopefully, for the fans' sake, the company realizes this sooner rather than later.
Coming off of the highly successful debut of Total Divas, it was only natural that the company would find a way to involve some of the ladies from the program into Monday night's broadcast. They did just that, booking a singles bout between Brie Bella and Natalya.
Despite the effort of the ladies involved, the match was more of an excuse to put over the new reality show. Natalya and Brie were given some time to work, but it was all inconsequential, or at least felt that way.
The finish came when Nikki Bella appeared on the entrance ramp with a kazoo in hand, quacking at Natalya (whom the twins had compared to the ugly duckling) and distracting her so Brie could score a quick win.
Unless this is the beginning of a rivalry between the third-generation Diva and the devious sisters, there was no real reason for this to take place, other than to promote a reality show.
On Thursday's TNA Impact Wrestling, Gail Kim met ODB in singles competition. The match, and rivalry, was the result of Kim once again berating a Knockouts official only for Brooke Hogan to fire that referee and return her to active competition.
Two former Knockouts champions, ODB and Gail proved to work well together in the rather short match that fans were treated to before spilling out of the ring and continuing to fight around the ringside area.
Eventually, the referee had no choice but to call for a double count-out, a less-than-popular decision that left fans wanting more.
More is what they got.
What had once been a basic singles match erupted into a post-match brawl that saw two referees fail to keep the women apart.
Considering the lack of depth on the Knockouts roster, as well as the nonexistence of fresh matchups, turning things up a notch and allowing two talented workers to deliver hard-hitting, brawling action like fans were treated to on Thursday night's Impact may not be a bad thing.
With the Knockouts Champion Mickie James looking for a top contender, Velvet Sky having been played out as such and the mysterious disappearance of Taryn Terrell from television over the last month, Gail and ODB can carry the ball until the company is ready to deliver its next title feud.
The Diva Digest Fave Five returns with several lovely, talented young performers looking to take their place in the weekly rankings.
Over the past week, a champion has defended her title. A contender has pinned said champion. A former champion has turned to the dark side. Twins cost Natalya...again, rookie Divas made an impact on reality television, and Gail Kim and ODB left an impression on Thursday night.
Without further ado, here are the top five women in wrestling for this past week.
The longest-tenured Diva on the roster, Layla has had a very disappointing 2013 to this point. A two-time Divas champion, her betrayal of Kaitlyn on Friday's SmackDown will hopefully bring back some of her edge while a potential pairing with AJ creates a dynamic that allows all involved to shine.
Big things may be in the future for the 2006 Diva Search winner.
The former Divas champion defeated AJ on Monday's Raw following a spear and was seemingly only moments away from recapturing her title before Layla stepped in and cost her the match on SmackDown. With the numbers game against her and the shock from her former friends and confidants turning on her, it remains to be seen what Kaitlyn does next.
Whatever it is, expect that it will go a long way in bringing her a step closer to the Divas title.
3. Eva Marie
The rookie Diva made a huge impact on Sunday night's Total Divas premiere, standing up to management and making it known that she is her own woman. Whether or not she can make her personality and her attitude translate to the ring and in front of an audience remains to be seen.
If she can, however, the company may have the breakout Diva of the program on their hands.
2. Gail Kim
A lot of credit for Thursday's match should rightfully go to ODB, who is among the most energetic and entertaining women in the business. But Gail Kim ranks in this week's Fave Five because, so far in 2013, it is hard to name another women who has had the sort resume she has had when it comes to delivering in in-ring performances.
She brought Taryn Terrell to her level and made her a star almost overnight. She has had tremendous matches with the likes of Mickie James, Tara and now ODB and does not appear to be slowing down at all.
The godmother of the Knockouts division, its first champion and the first female breakout star for the company way back in 2007, Gail is reminding fans who were disenfranchised with her last WWE run just how damn good she really is.
1. The Bella Twins
Was there a better choice for No. 1? Maybe. But it is difficult to deny how important the Bella Twins are to the current scheme of things when it comes to the WWE Divas. They are the unquestioned stars of Total Divas, and their respective relationships with John Cena and Daniel Bryan will go a long way in providing all of romance and drama fans expect from a reality show.
They have promoted the show extensively, appearing on NBC's The Today Show as well as other media outlets to get the word out, and their work has paid off.
If they can translate the wave of momentum that they are riding right now into better storylines and matches on WWE programming, then Brie and Nikki may very well be unstoppable throughout the rest of 2013.
It is no secret to anyone who has read Diva Digest in the past that NXT star Paige is a favorite around here.
Since the last edition of Diva Digest, which was far too long ago, the second-generation star has won the NXT Divas title.
Here is a shot of the next champion.
Diva Digest will return next Sunday with a recap of this week's Total Divas, a look back at the week that was in Divas and Knockouts action, the Diva Digest Fave Five and the return of the retro Diva profiles.
In the past, Diva Digest has taken a look back at, and paid tribute to, some of the more underrated or under-appreciated women in wrestling's past. Ivory and Molly Holly were two examples, and next week, a new Diva will earn recognition.
If you, the readers, have any former Divas you want to see profiled in future editions of Diva Digest, feel free to voice your opinions in the comment section below.
Diva Digest has always, and will always, exist because of the readers and their involvement in making each article better than the one before it.
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