Seeing as we’re deep into Wrestlemania season, I think I’ll keep the wrestling theme going for a bit longer. Today I’d like to talk a little about the Divas division in WWE.
I don’t want people to think I’m shitting all over the WWE or any of the current roster of Divas, for the most part I enjoy the product and I think the Divas division in particular has improved immensely over the past year, even if the title belt (pictured above) does look like it was hastily bought from the clearance section at New Look.
I also don’t want anyone to think I’m bagging on women’s wrestling in general. Outside of WWE (especially in Japan) women’s wrestling and inter-gender wrestling is just as good- or sometimes better- than men’s wrestling. Hell, I don’t need to defend it, just go watch some and find out for yourself.
Anyway, last summer WWE ran a “Divas Revolution” storyline, where boss Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley challenged all the women on the roster to take the spotlight and it’s generally accepted that the entire storyline was a huge steaming turd. In retrospect, though, it lead to creating some sorely needed new stars within the division and helped some already established Divas to improve their ring work.
See, women in the WWE have always been considered a side-show to the point where it’s become a running joke among fans that the Divas match is the “toilet break”, but that is becoming less the case. In about 7 months we’ve gone from a joke of a division to having a triple threat Divas at match at WrestleMania 32 between Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Charlotte (all relative unknowns this time last year) that is going to be a serious contender for match of the night.
It’s been a long journey to this point. Whilst there have been female stars in WWE in the past like Fabulous Moolah and Alundra Blayze, they never really got the spotlight until the mid-90s, but it was for all the wrong reasons. Around that time, WWE was losing a lot of it’s audience to WCW and to compensate they introduced an edgier, more risque product (dubbed “the Attitude era”). The Divas of this era were defined more by getting their boobs out than any quality wrestling (Sable and the hand print bikini *facepalm*).
Seriously, Wrestlemania 16, the women’s match was a FUCKING LINGERIE CAT FIGHT! I wish I was making this shit up. I only put this here for posterity, the whole thing is a shambles. WRESTLING FANS- THIS IS WHY PEOPLE LAUGH AT US.
Maybe I shouldn’t judge it through 2016 eyes, it was a different era where certain things were acceptable that just aren’t now, but still, IT MAKES ME SAD AND IT SHOULD MAKE YOU SAD TOO. I get that it’s just supposed to be fun, mindless titillation but it’s not even good at that.
Things got a bit tamer in the 2000s as WWE headed towards a more family friendly set up. Rather than a parade of boobies and “accidental” nudity the Divas division became a bit more like the Lovely Girls competition from Father Ted (s2, e7, Rock a Hula Ted). In a way this was worse. Despite the way women were treated before, between the likes of Chyna, Lita and Trish Stratus there was at least some half-decent wrestling going on. Now it was basically a parade of lovely bottoms putting on 2 minute bore-fests.
I’ve got nothing against admiring lovely bottoms, but it’s just so out of place at a wrestling show. It would be like if a soccer match ended in a draw so they decide a winner via a line dancing competition. It might be perfectly good line dancing, but it’s confusing and not what I’ve paid to see.
People have speculated for years on how to get a female character over in WWE, and I think the reason they’ve struggled is because there’s been too much emphasis on making them FEMALE characters. There are all different kinds of character traits, but “woman” isn’t one of them. Apart from James Bond or any Steven Segal character ever when has being a “man” been a character trait?
All great male characters in WWE have been great because the performer is aware of who they are and have a clear direction, look and moveset that fits together and the audience can understand. For the first time we are seeing that logic being put to the Divas. Whether it’s an Irish steampunk brawler or a naive hug-loving extrovert, a solid character is the foundation of getting any wrestler over.
So what do you think? Are the WWE Divas benefiting from better writing and less sleaze? Should I stop overthinking it and just enjoy the lovely bottoms?
Let me know in the comments, like/share if you enjoyed reading and I’ll see you next time xx