WWE Divas: Has Vince McMahon Been Burned Too Many Times by Female Employees?
I think it's no secret that Women's wrestling in WWE is dire at most times. Although recent storylines seem to be promising that the Divas Division is heading towards somewhat of an improvement, there is plenty of work still to be done before it can be respected like it was throughout the Trish Stratus years.
Still one does have to wonder why it has taken WWE so long to try and improve the division when the tools to fix it have been around for some time. Once again the answer lies within the changing tides of WWE and the fading role of Vince McMahon.
Periodically McMahon seemed to want to push certain women as the face of the division. Unfortunately for him, since the early 90s, when he could no longer rely on the Fabulous Moolah to hold the division together, various females have been put into this position.
Occasionally, however, the women that are given the opportunity do not seem to return the trust McMahon places them.
Please remember that for this article is meant to be seen from Vince McMahon's point of view. The reasons for the following women wrestlers leaving the company in their position may be extremely valid but McMahon only judges on how it affects him and his company.
Wendi Richter has a place in history for winning the Women's Championship at the first WrestleMania. It was obvious from the way she was being booked that she was being primed to replace Moohlah as the face of women's wrestling in WWE.
McMahon however did not anticipate that she would refuse to sign a new contract despite being the reigning champion within the company. Richter claims she was under her original contract and that Vince's new offer did not offer fair compensation.
On November 25th 1985, Richer was scheduled to defend her championship against the The Spider Lady at Madison Square Garden. The match was a set up however, as The Spider Lady would force Richter's shoulder's to the mat, against the script, and the ref made a quick three-count, despite the champion kicking out.
It turned out that the Spider Lady was actually Moolah in disguse and that McMahon had instigated a screw job to get the championship off Richards. Vince McMahon on this occasion gained his revenge.
In 1990 the Women's Championship was deactivated after the title holder, Rockin' Robin left the company whilst still holding the title. It was three years before Alundra Blayze would become the next champion.
Blayze was handpicked to revive the division and get viewers re-accustomed with serious female performers. After winning the title she would almost spend two years as one of the main female performers in the company.
In 1995, WWE was suffering financial troubles. They had gained bad press from a steroids scandal in the prior year whilst World Championship Wrestling began to challenge their position as the most dominant pro wrestling company in America. With costs needing to be cut, Alundra Blayze was one of the casualties of this time period.
Despite being stripped of the championship, she still had the belt in her possession. Five days after leaving WWE she appeared on WCW's flagship show, Monday Nitro and dropped the Championship belt into a bin live on TV.
The belt's credibility was ruined and WWE was publicly humiliated. The belt would once again be deactivated for a further five years.
By the time the Championship was re-activated, women's wrestling in WWE had taken a new direction. The Attitude Era was in full swing with athletic female performances making way for sexually focused content.
Sable in this respect was the ideal candidate. She wasn't the worst female performer of all time, but she could never be considered great. Matches were few and far between and she even had a contract stating she couldn't take large bumps. She was practically given everything she needed to become a top female competitor despite lack of in-ring talent.
So it probably came to a surprise to Vince McMahon when Sable started disputing her role within the company in 1999. In turn McMahon forced her to lose the title to Debra to which she responded to by quitting.
Sable would sue WWE for $110 Million claiming sexual harassment and unsafe working conditions as her reasons. Apparently she was asked to go topless for TV programming and that initiated the the lawsuit.
It is probably worth mentioning that 1999 was the year Sable posed nude for Playboy Magazine twice. She was also briefly seen topless on SmackDown in 2003 when she returned to the company. So the likelihood is that there were other reasons which won't come to light.
Still, in McMahon's eyes he gave her everything and she threw it back in his face.
In all fairness, Chyna probably had a good reason to be pissed off with WWE. When she started in the company she would regularly wrestle men. Considering most of the women who wrestled for the company at the time were like Sable there was no realistic way Chyna could ever lose.
However, after being with the company for three years and given two Intercontinental Championship reigns, her role in the company began to diminish. Her on-screen relationship with Eddie Guerrero had begun to transform her into an attraction wrestler and manager. Then later on in the year a kayfabe injury at the hands of Right to Censor saw her confined to the levels of the Diva division.
As expected, few women could challenge her for the title leading to many squash matches and reduced screen time. After having a decent match with Lita at Judgement Day 2001 she would disappear from the company.
Behind the scenes Chyna was in a relationship with Triple H when she started working for WWE. Triple H in 1999 would start to have an on-screen relationship with Stephanie McMahon which developed into a real one. The Ninth Wonder of the World constantly insinuated that they started their relationship when The Game was still meant to be with herself.
Supposedly Chyna's official departure was down to personal reasons but I wouldn't be so quick to rule off the McMahons not taking kindly to a possible pot stirrer.
After Chyna's departure in 2001, the Divas division went through its strongest period of time. Many women such as Trish Stratus, Lita, Molly Holly, Victoria and Jazz rose up to become prime viewing on WWE's main TV programming. December 6th, 2004 would be the highest point as a Women's Championship bout between Stratus and Lita was booked as the main event of that episode of Raw.
Mickie James would join the division only 20 months after this major milestone. Very quickly she managed to establish herself as a serious contender against the women who had been there for over five years. Her talent was confirmed when she managed to defeat Stratus for the Women's Championship at WrestleMania 22.
It was not long after however that an exodus of female talent began. Due to various reasons, many of the names that made WWE's female division the best began to disappear. Despite this setback, James became the face of the Divas division and managed to barely hold everything together.
Problems for James began in 2009. After she won her first Divas Championship from Maryse at Night of Champions, rumours began to come out that WWE was criticising James for gaining weight. She would later be called out for unprofessional behaviour in a title defense against Gail Kim. During the match Kim would become concussed yet James would still try and make her go through her regular moves. Unfortunately, Kim was unable to react to anything in the correct manner and the match ended terribly.
It was not long after James lost the championship to Jillian Hall in an unannounced match and was traded to SmackDown. Many perceived this as a punishment for her recent action and indiscretions. James would still remain in the title picture despite the trade and feuded with Michelle McCool in a rivalry that heavily made fun of Mickie's figure, with the infamous Piggy James skit.
Although she managed to win one more Women's Championship before being released, the true reason for her poor treatment became apparent in a series of interviews after her move to SmackDown.
James made it common knowledge that she was actively pursuing a career in country music and that she fully intended to leave WWE to achieve success. It is known that Vince McMahon doesn't take kindly to those who openly plan careers outside the ring.
WWE also own a music label. It is likely McMahon believes anyone who plans to expand their talents into other mediums should still do it under his brand. He fails to recognize that WWE outside of wrestling is viewed as B Class entertainment.
Melina along with Mickie James was one of the last great female wrestlers to emerge from the Divas' golden era. As a face she was immensely popular and even considering the dire state of the division she competed in towards the end she was one of the highlights of the night on most occasions.
Unfortunately Melina was a backstage troublemaker. Supposedly, she engaged in multiple backstage flings which not only hurt the credibility of her boyfriend, John Morrison, but caused friction between various talents.
Vince McMahon doesn't like real life romantically involved couples in his company. Charlie Haas and Jackie Gayda can attest to that after being released after getting married in 2005. Melina and John Morrison are the reason why he dislikes such bonds.
Earlier this year, John Morrison was receiving the best push in his career so far. Yet after WrestleMania XXVII he began slipping back into midcard obscurity. It was later revealed Melina had encouraged Morrison to act negatively towards Trish Stratus in the build up to their WrestleMania match.
This unprofessional behaviour has hurt both their careers as Melina was gradually phased out of the company and released.
No Chance in Hell of Divas Gaining Vince's Trust
Vince McMahon never forgives and never forgets. Sure he is willing to let past indiscretions slide in the name of making money but I'm almost certain that once you have crossed him he will always be wary of your intentions.
He will never let these problem get in the way of good business but lets consider the facts. From 2001 to roughly 2007 there was no competition for talented female performers to go to if they left. Sure they could work the indies but that's no sweat on McMahon's brow.
Before and after this period however, decent female wrestlers could help other companies out. This is possibly why the Divas division is in a terrible state. Sure a wrestler like Kelly Kelly is good looking but the lack of decent in-ring skill will mean she's not on TNA's list of signings to make.
Vince McMahon is playing it safe.