Among WWE Raw, WWE Smackdown, and TNA Impact, the women’s divisions have continued to expand over recent years. Is this sudden influx of women wrestlers good for business?
I ask, not only because their periods attract bears (or so I’ve heard,) but because the current formula strays from the successful blueprint of a past era.
Actually, the question isn’t if professional wrestling should employ women, it’s how women should be utilized in professional wrestling.
The women’s championships faded from existence during the late 1990’s. The WWE’s Women’s Championship was vacant from December 13, 1995 to September 21, 1998 and WCW’s Women’s Championship was nearly unrecognized. It was also during this time that professional wrestling began to flourish to inconceivable heights.
From a television ratings perspective, 1999 was the single greatest year in wrestling history.
Yes, women’s wrestling was slowly being reintroduced in WWE by then, but it was a very different brand of entertainment. This wasn’t the PG era that WWE practices today. This was an era of bikini contests featuring latex body paint. It was Sable stripping Debra of her Evening Gown. It was The Kat flaunting her “puppies” to an Armageddon PPV crowd.
WCW introduced the Nitro Girls Dance Team in 1997 and they quickly became a prevalent part of the show.
They entertained the crowd during commercial breaks and had brief on-air dance routines, but these performances were mostly kept independent from the actual wrestling product.
This strategy retained an essential component necessary in attracting and retaining wrestling’s key male 18-35 demographic. It doesn’t matter if it’s hot girls dancing, hot girls wrestling, or hot girls just standing there looking hot, each instance fills the same requisite.
Obviously, the Divas and Knockouts in today’s top organizations are not utilized with the same approach as their successful predecessors, despite the enormous ratings once achieved. Today’s version rebrands the women as professional, athletic, smart, and sexy. They occupy a bigger spotlight now more than ever. They have gained equality in a “sport” of men. Although commendable, is this what wrestling fans really want?
Would fewer people watch professional wrestling if women wrestlers were not featured as prominently? Probably not.
Would fewer people watch professional wrestling if women were taken out of the ring and relegated back to the valet role? Again, probably not.
Previous ratings indicate a potential for increased viewers when women are featured in a non-wrestling role, whether it’s dancing and/or displaying other attributes.
But, if wrestling fans have relinquished the desire to watch women in degrading situations and now possess a more respectful outlook, then the women’s division should be viewed as an asset and not an obligation.
Maybe it’s the current talent pool conceding the impression that the division was built (or retained) upon obligation.
I enjoy watching good wrestling, and I enjoy watching hot women.
If the women are hot but can’t wrestle, then don’t put them in the ring. If the women can wrestle but aren’t hot, put them in a dark match. (I’m kidding.) If they fill both criteria, like very few do, then please put them in the ring.
Don’t consistently showcase women on a wrestling show just because they are women. They should be wrestlers first.
Downsize the division if there is a shortage of talent. The current division (WWE more specifically) is long on bodies but short on talent.