JC’s Top Rope Report: How The WWE Botched A Divas Revolution
When I first started writing about pro wrestling a few years ago, I never would have thought I’d write a full column dedicated to women’s wrestling. Unless I was writing a career retrospect on Trish Stratus, Lita or Mickie James. But women’s wrestling has never been a focal point in the WWE. It has always been a secondary thought. Even when RAW moved to three hours, it never received more than ten minutes of TV time.
But along came NXT, and that changed the way women’s wrestling was perceived among a lot of wrestling fans. The people in charge of NXT decided to give the women down there a chance to showcase their abilities. And guess what, they showed that women can have just as good if not better matches than men. It started with Paige and Emma. They put on a couple of good matches that got the attention of fans. The majority of WWE fans weren’t used to seeing women get time to tell a story in the ring. They were the complete opposite in terms of character but they meshed well together in the ring. Of course, Emma was treated as a joke in the WWE. And while Paige had a great debut, she never really followed it up with anything meaningful. I never thought her and AJ had standout matches. Unlike Paige and Emma, Paige and AJ didn’t mesh well in the ring.
NXT was not done producing talented women’s wrestlers, however. A new crop of women arrived and they brought about an even bigger change to women’s wrestling. Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Bayley compromised the Four Horsewomen of NXT and made NXT their own. Often times, their matches over shadowed those of the men. Not only were the matches great, but they were given storyline development and were able to get the audience invested in their characters as well. Sasha Banks, who is only 23 years old, looks like a 10 year ring veteran every time she is out there. Bayley may be the most likable underdog character wrestling has to offer at the moment. And Charlotte and Becky Lynch bring the goods every time they are in the ring.
This was something that has been sorely missing from RAW and Smackdown every week. Fans were desperate for a change. They knew Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks were ready to get called up to the main roster. It was just a matter of when. Finally, we were going to get compelling storylines, characters with depth, and quality matches in the ring from the women of the WWE.
But it backfired from Day One.
Where do we start? How about the debut of all three women listed above. Instead of the debuts naturally happening as a part of a storyline, the WWE just had to have a McMahon involved in the storyline. They wanted to get in on the women in sports movement and piggy back off the success of the likes of Ronda Rousey and the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team. Okay, I can see that. But if you want your fans to care, you don’t force feed it down their throats. You let the story happen naturally. But no, the WWE feels that if a McMahon isn’t attached to it then it means nothing.
So Stephanie McMahon introduces these three new women into the WWE. Was Stephanie McMahon involved with the Divas storylines in the last few months? When was the last time she even interacted with the women of the WWE? So why all of the sudden does she care about what happens in the women’s division? This was really simple to do: Paige can’t find anyone to help her on the main roster to take on Team Bella. So one week while the Bellas are talking about their dominance in the ring, Paige comes out. The Bellas and Alicia Fox mock her and ask if she is hear for another beatdown. Paige says no, she’s here to fight. They ask if she is going to take them on 3-on-1. Paige says no, she found help. And out comes Becky Lynch. Team Bella says it is still 3-on-2. Paige says she wasn’t finished, and she found one more woman to help her. And out comes Charlotte. All of them brawl and the faces stand tall to end the segment.
The next week on RAW Charlotte and Becky take on the Bellas, with Charlotte and Becky coming out on top. On Smackdown, Paige beats Alicia Fox. Now Team PCB has established they are a threat in the Divas Division. Team PCB is in the ring the next week on RAW talking about how they are there to shut the Bellas up and are the new faces of the Women’s Division. But not so fast!!! Out come Naomi and Tamina. They said Team PCB is getting ahead of themselves. They are not to be forgotten in the women’s division, and they found someone to back them up in their battle to get to the top of the division. And out comes Sasha Banks, the Boss of NXT. Tamina and Naomi say they saw how Sasha worked her way to the top of NXT, and they know she will help them get to the top in the WWE. Team Bella comes out, but they don’t get in the ring as they see Team BAD take out Team PCB. The Bellas walk back up the ramp with a look of fear. You can still have the elimination tag at SummerSlam, but at least now there is some meaning to it. This way, it isn’t just women thrown together into random teams. I would have also made the SummerSlam tag a full elimination instead of a team elimination. And the winner or winners, if it is not Nikki Bella, get a future Divas Title shot.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot simpler and more of a story doesn’t it?
Instead the WWE did the random team thing, and it never clicked. Also, they shoved the term Divas Revolution down our throats to the point where it is nauseating. That’s a big problem with the WWE. Instead of letting something get over naturally and develop on its own, they force it down our throats and make us sick of it after a week. And the booking has caused a lot of fans to not get fully invested.
But my favorite moment of this Divas Revolution came the RAW after SummerSlam. While Team PCB was in the ring for MizTV, the Bellas came out. And Nikki Bella said something that left me dumbfounded. She actually said, “Wins, losses, who cares!” WHAT? WHAT THE HELL IS THE POINT OF HAVING MATCHES THEN??? That comment received a ton of backlash from wrestling fans. And it deserved it. I give the Bellas credit for improving in the ring, but that comment, and comparing them to the women of NXT, shows they are way behind the curve.
The WWE has put themselves behind in the booking of the women in the WWE. And it sucks, because when you watch them on NXT you know there is a ton of potential there. But until people in charge in the WWE decide to change their ways (Hi Kevin Dunn!), there really is no hope. After the last NXT Takeover, I said the following:
“Never in my 25 years as a wrestling fan did I think I’d see the day where women’s wrestling is the best thing going in the WWE. But these 4 women from NXT have a bright future ahead.”
I still stand by that statement. If they bring Bayley up by the end of the year, and go forward with them as the Four Horsewomen, then maybe there will finally be some substance in the women’s division of the WWE. But it is amazing how things went from excellent on NXT, to okay on SummerSlam, to awful on RAW when it comes to the booking of women in the WWE. While I don’t like how the women have been booked, I also hated how the fans reacted on RAW. No, you aren’t awesome, you are just stupid for trying to get yourselves over. And you are the same people who wanted these women on the main roster!
The Divas Revolution has been screwed up in the WWE. We all had hope for it, but the WWE has botched it so far. The way women are portrayed needs to change in the WWE. Until they are given storyline and character depth, and a reason to be fighting each other, fans don’t have a reason to get fully invested. The WWE had a huge opportunity to change the women’s division in the WWE, but instead they screwed up a good thing they had right before our very eyes. It can be saved, but the WWE has some work to do.
Until Next Time,
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka