Wrestling fans tend to be overly nostalgic at times, exaggerating the positive qualities of past WWE programming, especially when compared to the current product. They praise the Attitude Era and bash the new generation of wrestlers for “not getting the business”, but I feel statements of this kind are out of touch with reality. The industry undergoes constant evolution and the pros and cons of each “era” are debatable. Nevertheless, few can disagree with the claim that WWE’s Divas Division is not what it used to be.
Over the past decade, superstars like Chyna and Trish Stratus have been replaced by eye candy lacking personality or wrestling ability. Looks have always been crucial for a female star’s success in WWE, as the majority of the division has always consisted of stunning bombshells, but it seems like beauty is the deciding factor nowadays. The likes of Rosa Mendes and The Bella Twins come into the company without any wrestling experience and the short time they spend at developmental is unable to mask how green they are in the ring.
What is worse than the Divas’ talent recruitment is their booking. Performers like Beth Phoenix and Natalya come along occasionally, but they are never given the chance to shine. Phoenix’s title reigns were diluted by random jobbing sessions, and the daughter of Jim Neidhart has been reduced to the role of a valet for The Great Khali. There are some names in the company who are capable of putting on entertaining matches, but WWE simply does not care enough to showcase their abilities.
Or is that about to change?
Naomi of The Funkadactyls has been a treat to watch in the ring and what is even more surprising is the fact that WWE seems to recognize her talent. She has been getting more and more matches on TV over the last few months, despite receiving nowhere near the screen time she deserves. That fact alone is of course no evidence of intention to invest in the Divas, but it does indicate that someone backstage is paying attention and wants to see more of Naomi.
On the other hand, you have AJ, who is arguably the only female performer to have a big impact on WWE programming in the last year. Ever since she was called up to the main roster, she has been involved in high-profile angles, including Daniel Bryan’s World Heavyweight Championship loss at WrestleMania 28. Her “love triangle” storyline with Bryan and CM Punk proved to be a major boost for her popularity and she went on to become the Raw General Manager, before assuming her current position as Dolph Ziggler’s valet. Recently she has also become the No. 1 contender for the Divas Championship. The thought of having a champion who actually gets a reaction from the crowd is refreshing.
Furthermore, last night’s Raw planted the seeds for a “secret admirer” storyline involving the current Divas Champion, Kaitlyn. It was not a long segment, but it raised questions. For the first instance in a long time, a story is developing in the Women’s Division, and as opposed to AJ’s push from last year, it does not have anything to do with the WWE Championship picture.
Considering that WWE and E! have teamed up for the production of the upcoming ‘Total Divas’ series, exploring the female workers’ personal and professional lives, is that a sign of reinvigorated interest in the division?
Or was it just a temporary impression left by yesterday’s overly stretched out edition of Raw?