To continue my unofficial “Women’s Wrestling Week” here is a follow up to my 10 Quick Fixes For the Divas Division that I wrote last year roughly around the time AJ Lee allegedly upset the other Divas by saying she hoped Bailey, Sasha, Becky, or Charlotte became the next recipient of the coveted Slammy Award for Diva of the Year.
Let’s see what’s changed in a year since this post and four months since the hashtag movement that may or may not have been started by a certain pale English woman who has recently developed a fondness for performing submission holds on the announce table.
1) Establish Unique Gimmicks
This one seemed to be an easy remedy. Perhaps not a no-brainer,but at least less difficult than they make this out to be at times. I’m not saying there’s no difficulty in writing compelling women characters. Sometimes I have been compelled to simply copy a favorite male character and add boobs. But then I remember, you know, women are people too and just like I have varied talents, strengths, weaknesses, and reasons for doing things, so do most women. That and I have a wife that will speak her mind so I usually listen to her. At the end of the day, I will forever advocate that you just make a wrestling version of Black Widow, Katniss, Maleficent, or whatever else lead female character is making hundreds of million at the box office. Crazy as it sounds, maybe hire a female consultant.
As it stands, we’re still experiencing some growing pains. After a year of “Mean and Catty;” “Women Be Crazy;” or “Undefined” we have not made much progress and may have even regressed.
Nattie is best described as Den Mother. She’s a veteran, she’s disappointed in some of the youngsters and excited for the others. It has a foundation. We can build on that.
Bella Brand is basically that. A sometimes symbiotic, sometimes parasitic relationship between sisters that is more concerned with keeping their confusing brand in the forefront than improving the product around them. What is their brand? Are they hard working inspirations or Catty Mean Girl Caricatures? Nikki is the obvious Alpha Mean Girl and Brie is usually just “and also appearing.”
Paige is no longer crazy nor a faux-lesbian frenemy and simply a terrible, violent entitled person. Possibly delusional? Definitely an improvement.
Becky Lynch is the definition of undefined; at least in canon. She’s an adorable, fiery master of puns on youtube. On the show, she’s a goggle wearing cheerleader for Charlotte who may or may not be a really good wrestler, but keeps losing so it’s hard to tell. Pun Master may be one-dimensional, but it’s better than “and you were there too.” You can work with that. Lass Kisser could be a thing too, if she weren’t the Lass constantly getting kicked.
Former NXT Women’s Champion “The Boss” Sasha Banks is a fully actualized character with flaws and a determination to be the best who may or may not hate face characters that succeeded without compromising their morals. Also makes children cry. Main roster Sasha is a member of a trio that call themselves Beautiful and Dangerous and they play the numbers games? At least there’s no internal fighting. But Sasha is all the money. She’s smark money. She’s “look at the pretty girl” money. She’s “related to someone famous” money. She’s “girls can kick butt” money. She’s “Geek Goddess” money. Need I go on? Get this woman a mic, some backstage interaction with the rest of the division, and let her loose for a minimum of 8 minutes of in-ring excellence then watch the money pile up.
Current Divas Champion Charlotte is basically “I’m my dad with boobs and less everything but flexibility.” That’s it. They don’t even play up her size or athleticism as much when they can just make her say “Woo” and throw knife-edge chops. Trying to bring her real life “doing this for my brother” reason for wrestling works so much better if there had been some ground work laid instead of shunting her off into a three person team for ten weeks. Offensive or par for the course, bringing up dead relatives should be reserved for blood feuds and not “you wouldn’t let me hang out with you guys anymore.”
Naomi, Tamina, and Alicia Fox are basically the best example of regression. Naomi had real frustrations about being the nice girl getting overlooked. That’s good. But now she’s just a pair of light up shoes helping Sasha cheat. Tamina was being sort of built up as a potential future dominant force but her admitted limitations may be why she’s back in a “stand outside and look intimidating” role. Alicia Fox was a crazy chick, but had the interesting wrinkle of it being born of frustration and being more “whatever, I’m going to do snow angels” than “I will hide in your bushes with dolls made of your hair I collected from shower drains around the country.”
Frozen is still making money you guys. Why isn’t El Torito wearing a snowman outfit instead of a cowboy hat in Mark Henry’s erotic food dreams? Frozen Road Warriors!
2) Unique Look
Sasha definitely stands out in her Boss of NXT garb. (WWE Shop Zone should have an entire store for just her/Mikaze originals) Becky is working the steam punk. Nikki’s still Sexy Baseball Player and that’s fine. Paige is sort of gothy. Brie is Twizzler Pants? Tamina’s got a Lady in Leather feel to her. Nattie had the dominatrix thing going for her, but she’s used so sparingly these days. Really, the only woman with any sort of focus that could use a unique eye catch is Charlotte. If they insist on her being a face for a while longer, why not give her the Xena treatment I suggested last year?
For the most part, the ladies are doing a better job of standing out than some of the men, but I still would love to see any of these three in real life.
3) Give Them Time To Work
My bad guys, this is on me. I’m why we can’t have nice things. I complain that the ladies don’t get enough time to a) show us their moves b) tell any story other than “hey what’s that” or c) do anything memorable other than a horrible botch. So Raw gives me two, count ’em two decent length matches and I still complain. Granted, I complained because they were pointless tag matches that neither built towards the title or any goal whatsoever, but I complained and got rewarded with a 4 minute Becky and Sasha match. That’s like watching Guerrerro/Mysterio at Hallowen Havok ’97, being told they’re going to face off on Nitro and Chavo cheating at the four minute mark to get Eddie the win.
Like the scare crow from The Wiz, sometimes You Can’t Win.
4) Show More Pre-taped Segments
Slowly but surely, we’re getting there. As I mentioned earlier, for the first time in forever (sorry if I put a certain song in your head) two women feuding were each given backstage segments to build towards that meeting. But still, there’s still so much room for improvement. Becky’s been in maybe six of these since July and has said all of a paragraph worth of words. A lot of the interactions have been limited to “do you think such and such is jealous of you?”
I still don’t understand why the people with the award-winning video production team don’t use that more. Imagine an ECW (or Lucha Underground if you’re feeling especially ambitious) approach where they take all those backstage fallout and various other youtube videos and integrated them into the show. Team BAD and New Day interacting is perfectly fine because they’re all heels. Dean Ambrose is a masterclass in promos when he’s not on the actual show.
The ladies could grow so much if we got to see their social media and unscripted backstage moments. People loved that stuff during the AE. That’s actually a staple you can bring back and even crotchety old guys like me wouldn’t be mad about.
5) Give Them Motivation Other Than Jealousy
Well Paige is sort of jealous and sort of deranged right now, so that’s cool. Charlotte is her legacy which could work if you add layers to it, but does have a different motivation. Sasha wants the gold because she is the best, the crowd just doesn’t know it yet. That’s about the extent of it right now though. Nobody else is really relevant to the discussion right now. The last champ is out recovering from a host of injuries nobody would have begrudged her for taking time off much sooner to have addressed. Her sister basically exists to remind you there are twin sisters on the roster. Has she ever had a motivation beyond “support my sister?” Alicia might as well be a Foxy Lamp and Nattie is a Culture Club Song at this point. Naomi and Trinity are Sasha’s road dogs whose original motivation was anyone but Bella.
Well, at least everyone isn’t completely irrational and calling each other fat or something.