Divas matches used to receive the brunt of a lot of jokes from wrestling fans. When you saw two women in the ring, it usually signified that it was time for a bathroom break or to get a snack. In the past few months though, that has changed. It seems like at least one of the divas matches each week, whether it’s on RAW, Main Event, NXT or Smackdown, is a must see match.
Most fans probably noticed this at the first live NXT event, NXT ArRIVAL, with the match between Paige and Emma completely overshadowing the main event of Adrian Neville vs Bo Dallas. Some enthusiasts, however, have been watching NXT for a while and this top quality women’s wrestling was just par for the course for them. When did this change happen? When the divas division go from being a joke with quick matches and flash pins to being a must-watch part of the show with multiple segments? The answer is two fold.
First, the explosion of the popularity of Total Divas on the E! network has drawn a lot of new eyeballs to the WWE, eyeballs that want to see their favorite Divas (and John Cena) on Monday nights. At first though, this just led to the cast of total divas feuding with then current champion AJ Lee. Don’t get me wrong, it was great that the Divas were getting more air time, but that air time was spent mostly on pretty petty promos…
The second answer seems to coincide with the hiring of Sara Del Rey as a trainer in the WWE performance center. There was a time when she was considered one of the best wrestlers (of any gender) on the indies. Before the Bellas were let go in 2012, they really were just cut from the same “model looks, no wrestling talent” Diva archetype. Today though, after presumably putting in time with Del Rey, they are putting together matches Kelly Kelly could never have dreamed of having. I don’t want to overstate Del Rey’s importance though. The WWE also did themselves a favor by hiring excellent established talent like Baylee, Emma & Page.
Another thing that is happening now is that the Divas are getting more time. A few months ago, the divas would get one quick segment, something like a 3 minute match, at best. Now there are multiple segments on each show featuring the women. It’s kind of a drag that it still seems like the cast of total divas are off in their own world having matches with each other based on the episode that aired last week, like when Brie Bella wrestled Natalia because she didn’t like her wedding gift or something. But the ring work is great, so I’m not going to complain that much. The more interesting segments revolve around the Diva’s championship though, whether it’s Paige winning the belt in a huge upset or Alicia Fox going crazy, win or lose, it’s great that more than one woman at a time is able to have a personality in the WWE.
As an aside, I hate that they call it the Diva’s championship in WWE. Why do the wrestlers in NXT get to be “women”, but when they get called up to RAW, they are now “Divas”? I get that the WWE can’t trademark “Women’s” (like they have with Divas and Superstars) and Vince might think people remember what happened to the old Women’s title, but at some point something’s gotta give…
The great women’s wrestling continued this week on NXT Take Over with Charlotte Flair and Natalia putting together a match that can rival any Paige vs Emma match. The WWE took care to give it a huge main event feel, with both Ric Flair and Bret Hart at ringside, and Charles “lil naitch” Robinson as the referee. The girls were given ample time to tell a great story in the ring, and that they did. What’s interesting is that when you let the ladies go like that, in the end, they both coming out looking like winners. This is how you build stars and make people care about matches.
Intergender matches – the next frontier
This probably won’t happen any time soon, since the rumors are that WWE’s sponsors don’t dig it, but there is a lot of room to tell great stories here. Yes, will be highly unrealistic for Paige to go toe to toe with Randy Orton, giving up over 100 lbs, but that’s not what I’m looking for. A great story can built around this, like the story they have going now with Summer Rae, Fandango and Layla. Fandango breaks up with Summer Rae via twitter or something dumb like that and all of a sudden is making out with Layla on TV, rubbing it in Summer Rae’s face. The logical end to this story would be Summer Rae going through Layla to beat Fandango to ultimately get her revenge. However, it seems like we’ll have to settle for Layla as a “Fandango-by-proxy” here. I’ll be happy to be proven wrong though, WWE. Remember, Kharma eliminated 2 men from the Royal Rumble a few years back and spiked Dolph Ziggler with her Implant Buster.
Whether or not we get to see that though, the fact is that women’s wrestling is growing in the WWE and that’s a good thing. Let’s hope they can sustain the push and not get bored with like they did with the tag division, back when the Rhodes Brothers held the straps.
Match of the Month
Sara Del Rey vs Claudio Castagnoli (aka CESARO)
Remember how I was talking about how an intergender match works when there’s a great story to it? Look no further than this match between Sara Del and CESARO. The announcers do a great job of putting over the story and both wrestlers in the ring. Hopefully, that’s the next thing the WWE works on.
Ricochet (c) vs Yamato – Open the Dream Gate title match
This bonus MOTM that happened at the beginning of May. It doesn’t feature any women, but this whole Dragon Gate iPPV, Dead or Alive, was amazing. Check it out if you ever have the free time.
Oh well, it’s time for me to take it back to parts unknown.