"Divas of Doom ... or salvation?" -Katie Raymond
Following the restructuring of WWE.com, an article caught the eye of WWE casual and Internet fans. In the wake of Stephanie McMahon taking over the site's operations, an honest and objective article weighed in on a debate that has been on fire for years. A debate that has questioned whether it is time to signal a new era in wrestling.
While most debate marathons about a new era circle around CM Punk and reality, there is another that has caught my own attention that I wish to examine in this article.
When both Trish Stratus and Lita unlaced their pro wrestling boots back in 2006, with them left an era that gave us women with sex appeal and attitude. An era where women like Jacqueline Moore and Chyna faced their male counterparts and left the "damsel in distress" role behind. An era where we saw Torrie Wilson and Stacy Keibler in lingerie one minute, then Victoria and Trish Stratus compete in hardcore matches the next.
For fans, it was a time where we got to see women in both roles and where there wasn't even a huge divide in the sexes in wrestling. It would almost be an insult to them as "Divas."
But then Lita, Trish, Chyna, Jacqueline, Sable and etc. would soon be gone and ushered in was an era of uncertainty in roles and balance in the women, erm I mean, "Diva's"division."
When I first read Katie Raymond's "Diva's of Doom...or Salvation" on WWE.com, I thought, "Finally, it's not the big ugly lavender butterfly belt in the room anymore." For the past five years now, the Diva's division has been on life support. From "blink and you'll miss it" matches to idiotic dance competitions, the Divas division for fans is now a time for us at home to take a piss break and quiet time for the arena. And quite frankly, many people are sick of it, and should be.
At first eye glance, the problems may be obvious. However, one must devolve deep into the mind of the WWE and the real issues, which may have played into why the women in the WWE have fallen so far in such a short amount of time.
These issues must also be addressed in order to find a way for fans at home, on the Internet or at the arena to care about women's wrestling in the WWE.This is what inspired me to write this article. Raymond's article was on the right track but for myself, it just barely scratches the surfaces of the issue.
Let's start with the constant debate of "real wrestlers vs. models." Frequently, the likes of the Bella Twins, Eve and Kelly Kelly get saddled with critique that they are only models in wrestling attire. That their matches of 40 seconds or less are warranted because their in the ring skills involves more "booty poppin" (as Beth Phoenix puts it) rather than chokeholds and grapples.
I agree that many of the Divas that have came and gone for the past five years have not had great in ring ability. The Divas' theatrics involved too many obviously called spots and stalling trying to figure out what move to do not. Couple that on with measly bumps such as hair pulling and botched slams, it's no wonder why barely anyone can be interested or care about a Diva's match. Half the time, I wonder if I am watching a wrestling match or middle school gymnastics.
However, does this problem lie with the Divas or WWE? Does the WWE simply feel that the women can not rough in the ring just as much as the men do? Or is the WWE too afraid of women getting too hurt in bumps especially given the "PG" product?
I tend to put most of the blame more on the WWE, but not exactly for the typical reason you think. Unlike more wrestling purists, I have absolutely no problem with WWE hiring models to wrestle or women with no in ring experience.
After all, both Trish Stratus and Lita actually started out as models and valets who barely wrestled seriously. Lita was a typical scandalous valet back in the days of ECW, and Trish was a fitness model. Even when Chyna first started out, she actually had little wrestling experience and ring work, it was her strength and physique that made her.
What I have a problem with, is WWE's inability to train these women properly in the ring and not wanting to give them the right development. I honestly do feel like Kelly Kelly wants to do more, but she can't because frankly she doesn't know how. Which is why unlike others I tend to lay off the criticism of Kelly Kelly and her stinkface because she still has not been equipped with the right tools to carry a better match.
Beth Phoenix, like Chyna, had the advance of her strength and physique and also being tutored by Trish Stratus in her early days. And Natayla gets automatic love from Hart fans and more credibility because she was a child of the Dungeon. Quite frankly, these two, to me, got lucky.
WWE can and hire all the models that they want to, but they need to be trained in the ring. A task that is actually not as hard and impossible as many want to believe.
But then there is the other side of the coin.
Do the Divas actually not want to wrestle? Are they simply not trying enough? Do they even really care?
Since honesty has never been an issue with me, I am willing to understand why these questions would be raised, also. After all, in the current Divas of Doom storyline, the likes of Eve and Kelly Kelly are still acting naive and unaware of the issues that many have brought up. That is evident by their replies and messages on Twitter and on camera.
But I tend to give these ladies the benefit of the doubt. There were stories back in her beginning days that Kelly Kelly did not care at all to actually wrestle in the ring. But the likes of CM Punk has actually praised her for her hard work these past five years. I also remember hearing about how former WWE Diva Ashley was actually being trained by Finlay.
These women I truly believe would love to do more if they were given the opportunity and the right tools. Hopefully, now that Dustin Rhodes aka Goldust has been put in charge of the division, he can realize this and give the women the proper in ring training that they deserve.
The ultimate question is, can the Divas' division be saved and cared for by fans again? And if so, how?
While this article has approached the task of solving the issues of the Divas not being able to perform very well in the ring, I believe it will take more than in ring ability to salvage their problem. After all, the midcard division has a lot more adequate wrestling, but yet is still just as much left in the dust as well as its IC and US titles.
What the women's division needs is not another Trish or Lita, but another Sable.
It needs someone who can gravitate the fans' attention on the mic enough for them to care about them in the ring. Sable was not the greatest in ring wrestler in the world, but she like her counterparts Shawn Michael and Stone Cold, was a hell of a mic worker. Back in the day Sable would draw a huge crowd reaction even before she began to hone up on her in ring skills.
The women's division doesn't have to have perfect in ring ability, but what they need is someone who stands out with enough charisma in order to bring back fans' attention.
This is even why I'm not entirely sold that Beth Phoenix, Natayla and even Awesome Kong can do the job. As better as they may be in the ring, I'm not too sure about their charisma or originality. Beth Phoenix and Natayla are already playing up to a stereotype that a woman must be too tough and immature in order to be good. Awesome Kong plays up to a stereotype that a woman must be unattractive, freakish, etc. in order to dominate and be good in the ring.
And no disrespect to any of those ladies, but there needs to be something different. John Cena on his Twitter said it best, there needs to be someone who stands out from the rest. Kelly Kelly does have this potential, but she is placed in the generic blonde cute girl who can barely talk role.
Sable's charisma would fuel her star power enough that fans cared just about her match as they did the main event. Please view her tag team match with Marc Mero against Sable and Luna Vachon at Wrestlemania if you don't believe me. Not only that, but it was obvious that she tried and could put on an interesting and even good match with a plausible move set. Not just gymnastics and botched hair pulls.
And mind you, Sable's swag even got to the point where it didn't mind who she was against in the ring, man or woman, she was gonna rip it up. Ergo her memorable powerbomb on Marc Mero.
In order for this division to be truly saved, a Diva quite frankly must have all the same parts to their whole as a man in order to get fans to care. It will take decent in ring ability, charisma and originality in order to turn these Divas into wrestlers.
Enough is enough. It is time for a change. But there needs to be that right person to do it.
Thank you all for reading my comeback article! Sorry that I have been away from you guys for so long. Please comment, given props to, retweet, or whatever you can do in support of this piece. You can also follow me at @Itssocrates on Twitter.