Hosted by former divas Lilian Garcia and Maria Kanellis, former WWE writer and "I Want Wrestling" webmaster Dave Lagana and "Superfan" Preston Gomez, AfterBuzz TV's Monday Night Raw recap may be the best show most wrestling fans don't know about.
Despite the shallow premise (come on: do we really need to hear any more of the woefully overexposed Dave Lagana's thoughts on wrestling? The man hasn't exactly been shy about putting his opinion out there, has he?) it has nonetheless become an intriguing after show, crammed with insightful commentary from the former WWE employees, as well as the occasional interview with big wrestling names (both Trish Stratus and Steve Austin have been guests on the show).
And no one else has shined more than Maria Kanellis. During her stint on the show, the former Playboy cover girl has exuded warmth, humor and a great deal of knowledge about the business as she has covered the flagship show of her former employer.
A million miles away from the ditsy airhead she played for most of her WWE tenure, the quick-witted Maria is showing a side of herself most wrestling fans probably didn't even know she had. That, and an utterly outstanding fashion sense (check out the wonderfully absurd hat she's wearing on this week's edition-- Princess Beatrice would be proud).
Maria was also the highlight of this week's show, providing an insight into the often difficult lives of WWE divas, as well as giving a spirited response to the persistent criticism of many fans that the women in WWE haven't "earned" their spots and are there simply to get on television, become famous and move on to bigger and better things.
Because many of the current divas (like Kelly and Eve) came from either modelling careers or WWE's Diva Search contests, critics will often cite their non-wrestling background as "proof" of their lack of passion for the business. Maria, who got her start in the 2004 Raw Diva Search, has heard these accusations, too, and they clearly ruffled her feathers quite a bit, going by her comments here.
As the panel runs over the women's tag match on last night's Raw, Gomez, who is not a fan of women's wrestling, casually dismisses the divas' bouts in WWE, asking, "Why would anyone want to watch that?" Then shortly after claims the majority of the divas see WWE as nothing more than "a launching pad" and insists that the women are there solely "to do other things," noting that many leave and few ever last long. He scornfully claims that "at least eighty percent" of the women currently on WWE television don't truly want to be there.
Maria, who was released from WWE last year, takes exception to this and points out that the life of a WWE diva isn't an easy or glamorous one and that none of the women that stuck around a decent length of time would have done so if they were in it solely for the chance to get a shot at mainstream success.
Maria also insisted that the women in WWE do want more time for their matches and better storylines but that WWE management will rarely oblige, and it is these frustrations that lead to so many women leaving. Her fiery comments come roughly at the one hour mark of the show.
That is so horrible...You want to know my honest opinion on it? I mean, do you have any idea how much we would love to stay, we would love to be there, how we would love to do everything we dream about? The only reason a lot of us have left is because we didn't get the opportunities there we wanted or thought we'd earned, or the opportunities we fought for, that's the only reason! All that "you're just a diva"; it sounds so trashy. If you are on the road 250...350...days a year there is no way (it's just for fame)..you obviously want to be there. Sure you get on television, but every weekend (on house shows) you're getting your ass kicked, you're all covered in bruises, I look at Candice Michelle, she was a Go Daddy girl she got there. But she worked hard. I used to look at her legs; from the top to the bottom they were covered in huge bruises from all the different places Beth had grabbed her to put her in position... She worked her tail off to become champion! For you to say that, you have no clue how passionate these women are!
Maria also discussed her own WWE release in her long diatribe, saying:
I would still be there if I got the opportunities I wanted. We're not actresses on television playing an action star who doesn't really get hit, we were getting hit. I'm no longer there because I spoke up and because I got spoke up that's why I'm sitting here.
Lilian, who was WWE's ring announcer for almost a decade, corroborates that life on the road can be hard and notes that she left WWE last year partly because of "the toll" it took on her.
Maria raises several good points. It's easy to criticise the divas for being poor wrestlers or not having enjoyable angles or programs, but these women are often working within the strict limits of what WWE management (who have never thought highly of the division) will let them do. Maria has noted in past interviews that the women in WWE often asked for more time in their matches to help them improve, as well as more input into their storylines, but these requests were often brushed aside by the booking team.
It's also true that if the majority of WWE Divas were in it for the fame, the likes of Kelly and Eve would have moved on long ago. Instead, they stuck around and worked hard at their craft and eventually became a lot better. Indeed, the recent Kelly-Phoenix feud has become a highlight of WWE Raw.
But regardless of whether you fully agree with Maria's remarks or not, certainly to entirely dismiss the effort of the women in WWE, while sitting right next to two former divas, showed a distinct lack of tact and diplomacy on Gomez's part. Some "Superfan" he is.