Whether she was wrenching on her opponent's arm or pounding a woman's collarbone with a forearm shot, Sherri Martel often growled like an animal in the ring. This sound was that of a predator, a vicious and merciless tiger baring its teeth.
Women's wrestling today is lacking in tigers. There are too many bunnies entering the ring during Diva's matches.
The WWE has a long history of great women's wrestlers; The Fabulous Moolah, Bull Nakano, Wendi Richter and Luna Vachon. What has replaced this storied history is mostly unwatchable, a misogynistic joke.
Do I enjoy looking at swimsuit models in formfitting clothing? You bet. But I'm tired of having it sold to me as wrestling.
When the WWE Divas stride into the ring, I change the channel.
Is that what WWE wants, for their male fan base to start yawning, to seek their sports entertainment elsewhere? How long do they expect cleavage and toned heart-shaped butts to hold our attention?
Not only is the current product boring, it’s demeaning. It speaks to young female fans in clear language.
"The only value you have is the shape of your body and the prettiness of your face. Leave the athleticism to the boys."
There have been rumblings of WWE wanting to take the Women's Division seriously. The Natayla and Beth Phoenix "saving the Divas" angle is certainly a start. Phoenix's recent push is well-deserved: she's a talented in-ring performer.
If WWE does in fact want to bring the integrity back to women's wrestling, they can't stop there. In order to further their Women's Division, WWE must:
1. Remove the Diva label
Christina Aguilera is a Diva. Awesome Kong is a wrestler.
A simple distinction, and one could argue is just an issue of semantics, but I think the first step in taking the Divas seriously is changing how we refer to them. The current Diva's Championship belt looks like a middle school girl's art project. Get rid of the butterflies; the old belt looked fine.
2. Make the pretty girls valets
Miss Elizabeth certainly contributed to the entertainment and drama of Randy Savage's matches without botching a single DDT.
If you want to give women like Kelly Kelly a job, have them accompany wrestlers to the ring. They can add to the glitz and pageantry of wrestling instead of taking precious airtime from young stars. On a base level pure sex appeal is entertaining, but I think many fans would much rather see more quality matches.
3. Sign the next Moolah
Talented women are out there. The WWE just has to stop talent scouting at the beach. The swimsuit model to pro wrestler transition will not work often.
They should instead be scouring wrestling schools and independent promotions for the next big thing.
Once Kharma returns from her pregnancy, WWE needs to have her and Phoenix become the foundation of the Women's Division. Having them battle for the title would be a vast improvement over what we've been seeing the last few years.
Vince McMahon needs to do whatever it takes to get Gail Kim back on board and give her ample screen time. Lita might be coaxed out of retirement. And inexplicably, Tomoka Nakagawa, the best female heel I've seen since Sherri Martel, is working elsewhere. I’m sure there’s some middling talent WWE can release to make room for these real wrestlers.
4. Ban all Bra and Panties Matches and any other asinine match
Bikini Match. Lingerie Pillow Fight. These are the kinds of events strip clubs might host. Matches like these are one step from women wrestling in a kiddie pool full of baby oil. If they were replaced with Hell in a Cell, Ladder matches, Street Fights, would we not all be the beneficiaries? Gimmick matches should come with heightened risks and elevated action not collective leering.
5. Trust the Audience
Putting less attractive women in less revealing clothing to perform actual athletic feats might sound like it is a money losing proposition, but the WWE has to trust that its wrestling audience would prefer wrestling to cat fights.
We can't assume that thirteen year old boys will groan when they see that The Bellas have been replaced by Nakagawa.
Maybe he'll see her perform a springboard moonsault, hold her own in the ring and build drama throughout the match and realize he prefers the new way.