The Downward Spiral of Women’s Wrestling in WWE
“Trish Stratus is on my top ten list of favorite wrestlers of all-time.”
I was in the midst of a recent conversation with my girlfriend, who scoffed at the comment and believed that my only interests in her were that of a superficial male. Wherever the 2013 Hall of Famer actually ranks on my top ten, 20, or whatever numbered list I have is irrelevant, as is the reason for the debate that spurred such a claim. The fact that she is even in the discussion, while performing her entire career in a heavily male-dominated form of entertainment, however, is very relevant.
It wasn’t that long ago that women’s wrestling mattered in WWE. I don’t need to take you on a history course to tell you that there was a time when the ladies didn’t just look good, but could actually entertain in the ring and be the focal point of interesting storytelling each week as well. The women’s division was almost never going to close the show, but it was a part of the program we’d usually be interested to see unfold, and was certainly never the automatic bathroom break that it is now.
Perhaps Trish Stratus and Lita were the equivalent of baseball’s Bryce Harper and Mike Trout in 2012: once in a generation talents that just happen to come along at the same time. But even taking them out, there were many other factors that kept you compelled.
So what the hell happened?
It was probably around the time that the Diva Search began to appear that the whole thing went to downhill. WWE started hiring more and more great looking models that unfortunately lacked in the talent department. Before we go any further, I know, Trish was a fitness model before signing with the company, but again, she was once in a generation and totally “got it”. None of these others did. After a while, when all of the legitimate talent either retired or moved on to other places like TNA, we were left with girls that were both terrible in the ring and totally uninteresting. They couldn’t hold the attention of the viewer and people stopped caring.
What’s more is that WWE very obviously stopped caring as well. With the exception of the Beth Phoenix and Natalya anti-Barbie tandem from 2011, we haven’t seen anything worth mentioning in years, mainly because the company isn’t even trying. It is as if they write the entire show, and at the very end of the process say, “oh we have to put the women on…let’s just have two of them go out there in a three minute match for no reason.”
How exactly do we fix this? Let me armchair book for a moment and completely rewrite the Divas division. I would have all of the ladies in the ring getting ready for a battle royal. Before any action can take place, everyone stops, whoever the champ is at the time grabs a microphone, and drops a CM Punk-esque pipe bomb promo on how poorly the women’s locker room has been treated the past few years and they all tear the place apart Nexus-style. They then do away with that putrid butterfly belt, and change the ridiculous bubblegum divas theme. It’s drastic, but it sure as hell would get people talking, and if executed properly, would propel the division to new heights.
Alright, snapping back into reality here, obviously this is never going to happen. I think it is a great idea to really punch viewers in the mouth and let them know these girls are important, but it is a bit far-fetched to expect WWE to try something that extreme with the women.
So realistically, what do we do?
Firstly, WWE needs to shuffle the deck with the roster. Bring some fresh talent up that can actually work or talk (both would be nice, but I won’t be greedy), and cut ties with the ones who are totally useless (i.e., Aksana, Rosa, Cameron). I wouldn’t necessarily build around AJ Lee and Kaitlyn, but I would certainly build upon them as a starting point as I think the both of them bring something to the table. Then, take the two best all-around ladies and place them in a three month program. Start it off for the title, then in month two it becomes personal (the heel is sleeping with the face’s boyfriend, the heel runs the face’s mom over, the heel makes fun of the face for somehow being related to Katie Vick, whatever). By month three, put them in a really physical environment generally reserved for men, like a TLC or last (wo)man standing match or something.
Naturally, the two women involved would have to be able to pull it off, but if done right, through solid ring work and at least decent promos, two stars would be made and the division would be back on the map.
However WWE decides to get it going, there are too many talented, athletic, beautiful women out there for the division to run this dry and make fans so uncompelled that they forget that the division use to matter. Ultimately, the writers’ job is to make every segment on the show entertaining, and this is a part that is desperately lacking. If we are lucky, perhaps change will be coming sooner rather than later.
Agree with my booking ideas? Disagree? Have better ones of your own? Let us know how you would book the Women’s Division back to prominence in the comments section below.
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Photo Credit: The Chuck, Nerdtopiacast, CC