Craig Wilson, Brian Damage & Jamie Lithgow.
This past week Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch – three of NXT’s brightest talents – debuted on Raw. It makes this planned Sunday Sermon, on the WWE’s Diva Division, even more topical. Honest, folks, it was already in the pipeline before Raw. Anyway, here’s our thoughts on how the WWE could fix it’s female division. Note use of female rather than diva?
Craig: It’s good timing that ahead of our planned Sunday Sermon on the WWE divas division and women’s wrestling generally, the WWE go and promote – in Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch – three of the brightest female talents the company has to their main programming.
It certainly makes for three welcome additions to the main roster and it is in no way surprising that the three have made the jump up. But will it be enough to shake the perception that the divas division is nothing more than an afterthought for both the WWE and its fans?
After all, how many prediction threads have featured phrases like “don’t care” next to a divas match and how few posts on the site refer to the divas scene? In order: a lot and hardly any.
So is the problem the talent or is it more than that?
Brian: I think it’s a little more than that. You can have all the greatest talent in the world…but if you don’t let them be themselves and hold them down so to speak in the ring…what good are they really? The main difference between NXT and the WWE is that Triple H lets the young talent work and the fanbase..although smaller..appreciates that. On the main roster…we usually get a 2 or 3 minute match and it is over. It’s hard to get behind any “diva” when they don’t take the time to develop one properly.
Craig: I agree with that, hell even Flair and Steamboat in the 80s wouldn’t be able to sell a story in a matter of minutes. Do you think there’s a thinking, particularly in terms of Raw etc, that the fans wouldn’t take to divas being given long matches or is it more to do with a lack of interest in the division from those responsible for writing Raw?
That said, there’s a third option: the writers don’t think the talent are talented enough.
Brian: Let me try to answer your question with a question…how many of the WWE creative writers are female? For that matter, how many of the WWE’s road agents are female? I believe the answer is zero. That’s a big problem. Why are men writing women’s storylines? Wouldn’t it make sense to get a female perspective on a female wrestler? Why are there no female road agents? Would it kill the WWE to hire someone like an Amy Dumas or somebody of that ilk who wrestled all over the world with success. Somebody that the girls could turn to for a little female advice other than say Stephanie McMahon?
Jamie: A very good point. Stephanie McMahon likes to champion the whole ‘give Divas a chance’ phrase, and utter it whenever she can. That’s all well and good, but can WWE back that up? As good as it is that Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Becky Lynch have been called up, I fear that – after an initial surge in interest – it will be business as usual. WWE is still a boys game, and until the company grows a pair of balls and appoints a deserving woman into a position of creative power that won’t change. I’m not counting Stephanie McMahon in that, her job is her birthright. Unlike Becky Lynch, she’s not had to “scratch and claw” to get anything. How can Stephanie take some her statements seriously when she – the bosses daughter – stands alone as the only powerful female – in terms of booking – within WWE.
The fact that female professional wrestlers (or superstars) in WWE are called “Divas” is an indication of where the company is at. Are the words “woman”, “lady” or “female” not marketable enough? I don’t recall watching the FIFA Divas World Cup this past month. Nor have I ever seen the Divas PGA or Divas NBA. Also, I thought the term ‘diva’ was a musical term anyway…?
Brian: I get that the Diva term is strictly for marketing purposes…but with that name comes a stigma of a woman who feels entitled…spoiled and has an attitude problem. It just puts the women in a negative light right off the bat. Secondly, even if you have all the greatest talent in the world…does that ugly Divas butterfly title even worth a damn?!? Seriously, is it as prestigious as the days when Trish Stratus was holding the WWF women’s title or when Wendi Richter and Fabulous Moolah held it?
Craig: It’s probably a good starting point, with those new female performers on the main roster, to ditch the divas title and replace it with a women’s title. It’s a baby step but it’s a good start. Right?
Jamie: I’m still amazed that WWE went with the Divas Title when it was unified with the Women’s Title in 2010. It’s astonishing that WWE adopted the Divas title history too – it only had two years worth of it at the time. I just figured that when Michelle McCool unified the two belts she would keep the Divas Title belt – maybe with some slight design tweaks – but be called the WWE Women’s Champion.
Anyway, you’re spot on. If WWE are ever going to do something meaningful regarding the female wrestling division they have, then now is the time. A less patronising title for the champion would be a good start. I do disagree slightly on the belt itself though. I like the general shape and look of the title, but the “Divas” wording and bright pink colour scheme need to go. Is Ronda Rousey’s UFC belt all pretty and pink?!
Craig: I wouldn’t like to be the guy telling Ronda Rousey that her title belt was being changed to being all pretty and pink…
Jamie: Would you have the same trepidation about telling Nikki Bella? That’s another issue about how the ‘Divas’ are perceived. These women are supposed to be fiercely competitive and serious competitors… does anybody view them as such?
Craig: I absolutely would not have issues, if I was in creative, of telling the Bellas that.
Hypothetically, the WWE – with or without a female writer – decide to take the women’s division in a different route with the focus on the debuting NXT females, Paige, Natalya etc. What do they WWE do with the female talent left that isn’t as good in the ring as others? Do they punt the likes of the Bellas etc?
Jamie: Annoying as I find them, there is a place for The Bellas. They are perceived as the antithesis of the NXT ladies, so it makes sense to have them represent the ‘old guard’. In this hypothetical situation the emphasis would be placed on longer, more competitive matches that fans can care about. If The Bellas can make the grade then great, they would be like female John Cenas. If not then they would have to adapt or perish. Same goes for all the ‘Divas’, if they can’t work then they don’t work.
As an aside, in this hypothetical women’s division Eva Marie would find a home instantly. She’s off TV while she trains in order to be good enough to be on NXT and then WWE. She even said as much during her infamous promo on NXT several weeks ago.
Not sure the likes of Layla and Summer Ray – if not acting as a valet – would have much of a future though. The sooner WWE stop using women as ‘dolly birds’ for celebrity guests the better. What was the deal with them and the cast of Entourage?!
Brian: I know I may be in the minority, but I wasn’t exactly enthralled with how the NXT women were introduced on Raw. Sure, it was nice to see them debut…but didn’t it seem like Stephanie McMahon took away from the moment by being involved? Maybe I am overthinking things, but shouldn’t it have been Paige that introduced the new women to the roster…since it was her who wanted to change the Divas division?
Craig: Absolutely spot on, Brian. It became all about Stephanie McMahon.
Jamie: Agreed. I’m just thankful that they’ve finally been introduced, but it was a bit of an odd way to do it. Are Naomi and Sasha Banks now friends by default? If the intention is to push the reset button and put more focus on women’s wrestling then I see why Stephanie was involved, to give it more gravitas. That said, there was zero mention of it for the remainder of Raw, so how big a deal can it be considering we saw J&J’s car get trashed at least two more times following the women’s segment.
I love that WWE.Com is calling it a “revolution”, despite it being instigated by the owner of the bloody company.
Brian: You see, that’s what really bothers me…will the division truly change for the better or will this be just a smokescreen to business as usual. You have the horses now in place…they better utilize them to their fullest potential or risk the new women became stale bread like many of the other “Divas.”
Craig: This has been a cracking discussion over the divas division and the supposed “revolution”.
That said, no women’s match on Smackdown! and only a promo and still nothing booked for tonight’s Battleground.
But that’s beside the point, what needs to happen as a matter of priority? Change title, name of division and give them more time to tell a story in the ring. Are those our priority changes?
Brian: That is what needs to be done. Improving the division won’t happen overnight, but they are starting to head in the right direction.
Jamie: I’d agree with that. I can accept that WWE might lose interest in the Tag Team division every few months, but in this day and age they surely cannot be allowed to treat women’s wrestling as an expendable sideshow. Fingers crossed that this “revolution” is just that.
You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.