Melina, the current divas champion...and the best wrestler in the world? What? That can't be true.
If you are anything like me that is the exact reaction you had when you heard that Bret Hart had said he felt Melina was the best wrestler in the world. I mean, sure she is an okay diva and a decent wrestler, but what has she done to warrant being called the best in the world? Or what has she done to earn praise from Bret "the Hitman" Hart, one of the best technical wrestlers to ever step in the ring?
These had to be the same thoughts that were moving through your head when you read this article .
Now at first I thought that perhaps my favorite wrestler ever was getting senile in his old age, or perhaps the concussion that retired him was finally getting to him. Then I thought about it —Melina is an okay wrestler and surely she has done something to earn such high praise from Bret. So I decided to give Bret's claims a chance and take a look at exactly what made him say such things.
After a little research and watching a fair few of matches, this is the evidence I have found.
Melina has taken part in a little bit of innovation in her WWE career. She was in the first women's falls count anywhere match in WWE history, a Women's Championship defense against Mickie James. More than half of the match took place outside the ring, and it featured slamming into the barricades, the floor, and the ramp along with a great deal of hair pulling. The match ended in the ring after Mickie missed a top rope Hurricanrana and Melina picked up the pin.
Melina also had the honor of competing in the first ever Women's I quit match at One Night Stand 2008. This match was a losing effort against Beth Phoenix. The match featured a lot of good in-ring action. The better spots in the match featured Melina reversing a glam slam attempt driving Beth's head into the middle turnbuckle and when Melina reversed a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker into an armbar.
The end of the match came after Beth Phoenix hit a Glam Slam and had Melina locked in it for a full twenty seconds. Melina, however, refused to quit until Beth readjusted the hold and hooked underneath Melina's chin and contorted her body into basically a ball. Melina lasted another full ten seconds before quitting.
Melina's matches —what can be said about them? Well, recently they have been a little botchy; however, she has been working non-stop for the last year, so we can take that with a grain of salt. We should not be so selfish as to only include recent matches —we should look at all of them. However, I can only narrow it down to one signature match.
If I had to pick a signature match for Melina it would have to be the "I quit" match. The match really was good and it had a decent timeslot. It showed off Melina's technical skills fairly well. The match often gets a bad rap because it was featured on a card that had all matches with extreme stipulations and really wasn't that extreme. However, from a technical stand point the match still holds up.
When one is making a case for Melina as the best in the world, it would be fool hardy not to include one of the best things she has going for her. Melina's natural flexibility is just phenomenal; it is best showed off in her now infamous entrance in the form of the split. As impressive as her natural flexibility as, it is useless when standing on its own but does come in handy when discussing our next section.
Melina does have the ability to pull off fairly memorable spots in her more "high profile" matches such as at PPVs which in some ways can make or break the match. When one is thinking of Melina's spots please remember these aren't high spots, so please do not think of anything too Hardy like.
One of the spots that really shows off Melina's flexibility came at the Royal Rumble from this past year in a match against Beth Phoenix. The match, while it was fairly good, was largely forgettable except for one key spot when Beth Phoenix had Melina locked in a Single Leg Boston Crab. She had the hold locked in very tight, and it seemed sure that Melina would submit when Beth did one of the weirdest and sickest things I've ever seen done in a wrestling match —she actually started to hit Melina in the back of her head with her own foot. Now this spot may seem strange to you, but it would have been impossible without Melina's natural flexibility.
Another of Melina's better spots also came earlier this year at Night of Champions in a match against Michelle McCool. The match had the two spill to the outside a number of times, but the highest point in the match came when Melina and Michelle were fighting on the barricade. McCool actually hit Melina with a DDT onto the barricade. It is also noteworthy that this was one of the better woman's matches of this year. That is something to be said in this current day and age, but it is often overshadowed by a woman's match that took place later that night, Mickie James versus Maryse.
Melina has had her fair share of matches and opponents over her career. However, it can be said her signature opponent when she was a heel was Mickie James, and her signature opponent as a face is Beth Phoenix. Whenever she meets either one in the ring the outing is sure to be decent, and if you aren't the biggest fan of woman's wrestling, watchable.
Melina has also locked horns with Candice Michelle, Torrie Wilson, Ashley Massaro, Trish Stratus, and Michelle McCool. Many are also looking forward to the upcoming matches she is going to have with Maryse.
Melina has got to have the largest or second largest move-set of any diva on the current WWE diva. It consists mostly of mat-based moves and submissions and is not that bad from a technical standpoint if I do say so myself. Some of her more notable moves include the Pendulum Backbreaker, Bodyscissors, Neckscissors, Armbar, Bow and Arrow strech, and the rear Chinlock.
Her finishers are also a fundamental part of her move-set. We have the two she currently uses a leg trap sunset flip powerbomb known as the Last Call, or the L.A. Sunset for those familiar with her Indy days, and the inverted leg drop bulldog into a pin she calls the Primal Scream, named after her signature shout.
Then we have the finishers she used as a heel, which I feel are significantly better. One of them is the California Dream, or the Kyrapractor from the Indy circuit, which is a Muta lock. The other is called the Extreme Makeover, and that is charging bulldog.
Melina has had a lot of success in terms of titles in the WWE. She is a three time women's champion and is the current diva's champion. In a kind note, she is also the first person of Mexican descent to hold the women's championship in its prestigious history. Her title reigns last long enough for her not to be considered a transitional champion.
Her first women's championship title reign lasted 64 days, her second lasted 41 days, her last women's championship lasted 154 days and her diva's championship title reign was at the 55 day mark at the time of publications. It should be noted that her first women's championship title reign ended the same day her second reign began. Both changes took place at a house show.
That is a total of 314 days, which translates to about ten months, as champion. That isn't that bad considering Melina has only been an active singles wrestler for about 2 1/2 to three years.
Melina's extreme matches in comparison to some of the extreme woman's matches on the Indy circuit, and even some of the matches in TNA, are, in truth, not all that extreme. However it does say a lot of her that the WWE would trust her enough to allow her to compete in matches that are "firsts." Firsts are very important in a lot of aspects, mainly that they set a standard. Melina's matches did set some form of a standard, and if WWE ever has one of these firsts again, I think I know where they will turn.
When one looks at Melina's spots we must take special care to make sure we are talking about spots, not high spots. One thing I noticed about Melina's best spots is that she is on the receiving end of them. This indicates a very special form of trust between her and her opponent and this trust proves a lot.
Let us take another look at the spot with the DDT on the barricade, with any spot there is a chance for injury, but this one had so many things that could have gone wrong with it. Melina could have gotten a concussion, McCool could have landed wrong, they could have missed the barricade, etc. However nothing went wrong and they pulled it off. Furthermore, Melina was able to finish the match and walk away unscathed. This shows that she knows how to take a bump, a very important feature in any good wrestler.
When talking about her matches they are good, but just look at her opponents, her two best opponents, Mickie James and Beth Phoenix, sure they are at the top of the division and sure Melina has had good matches with them but just look at who they are. Mickie and Beth are two of the best female wrestlers in the company. It would be difficult to not have a good match with them. However this does say something about Melina because if you can't have a good match with someone whom is above your level as a wrestler, there is no case to be made for being the best in the world, and you'd be like the Great Khali.
Let us turn instead to another one of her more noted opponents, Michelle McCool. Melina has had good matches with McCool. This says a lot about Melina because McCool is, at least, at Melina's level. Melina has shown that she is capable of having good matches with wrestlers at her level. However there aren’t many circumstances when Melina has been in there with someone at her level, so we lack evidence to see if she can do it consistently. We may have our answer to if she can if this feud with Maryse goes well.
To my extreme annoyance, I have found that Melina's matches with wrestlers at a lower level than her have either been too short or an absolute joke, so I cannot determine if she is capable of carrying someone at a lower level than her to a good match.
Melina may have one of the best move-sets out of the current crop of divas; however there is one issue with this. Due to the current staple of divas matches being three or four minutes in length, Melina lacks a stage in which to show it. This makes her matches feel unfinished at times. They start to build but she has to end it quickly due to the weak timeslot.
Melina seems to be one of the people WWE knows they can count on when she is holding a title. She has the company's trust which is always a good thing to have. This makes her title runs fairly good, and strong, if not always memorable. She may need sometime off, however, as her performance is degrading slowly.
As for Melina's flexibility, I believe her trainers at Empire wrestling federation, a promotion that watchers of wrestlevision would be familiar with, said it best when many of them said of her "she has the most natural ability of any woman who came through our school."
So overall does Melina deserve the title of best in the world?
No, I don't think so yet.
Melina is great in the ring and she does deserve praise from both peers and fans alike. She does have a long of potential, a good skill set, and hopefully a long career ahead of her. She is definitely one of the best female performers WWE has right now, and when one is discussing the top twenty or thirty woman's wrestlers in the world she has a strong case to earn one of those spots.
However, she hasn't shown enough consistency to earn a number one spot. She may earn that spot in due time if she is given the platform to show off her skills and develop her potential. TNA, whom shows a good deal of respect towards its woman's division and have their fair share of great female talent, may be that platform. The WWE can also be that platform for her if they layoff with the short timeslots and give Melina and all their divas a chance to show what they can do. If they do so, we may see Melina cash in on her great potential and truly earn the title of best in the world.