The G1 Climax is coming, and I’ll probably spend more then a little time on that when it starts, with hopefully a preview this weekend. For the record, I have Tanahashi beating Ishii in the final. But something potentially important happened on Raw on Monday, and everyone is giving their two cents. So I figured I’d put something out there after not posting anything in a week.
The best NXT women debuted on Raw. Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte generated a lot of buzz when they came out. And while I’m excited for what might happen, it would be so easy, so incredibly easy, for this to go completely wrong. And the WWE does not have the best track record when it comes to potentially controversial issues. Not that something like gender equality in the workplace should be controversial, but that’s WWE for you. Woman’s wrestling is something I’ve wanted to write about for a while, so it might as well be here.
So let’s get the good stuff out there first. Out of the nine women in that ring, four of them are elite wrestlers and three of them are good-to-very good. Really only Tamina and Alicia Fox are people I would rather not see on TV. Everyone else there I like. And the potential for these girls is off the charts. Any combination of them in singles or tag matches has the potential to be great.
Potential is the key word, and the most worrisome. Because it doesn’t matter how talented these women are if they are given sub-five minute matches and the only stories they’re given are “women all hate each other, catfight!” The announcers are awful at this as well. As a counter, the announcers have been better about NXT call ups. Neville has been treated with plenty of respect, when it would be easy to bury him or Owens on appearances. But giving that same respect to the WWE Diva’s is not a skill that Michael Cole and JBL have displayed in the past.
If the NXT debuts are the start of a woman’s renaissance in the WWE, there are three things that need to be done. The first is that they need to be given stories. There are enough women that they don’t have to be all in one segment. They need to be have stories and characters that are about more then just being a girl. The defining characteristic of them can not be the fact that they are chicks. Second, they need to be given time in the ring. The NXT ladies have proven they can have main event calibur, twenty minute matches. I don’t think they need to do that right away, but a Diva’s match cannot be thought of as a bathroom or snack break. Treat them like the guy wrestlers, and give the talented wrestlers time to put on a quality show. Don’t give us a 15 minute Tamina vs. Bri Bella match then torpedo the whole renaissance when they stick up the show, but let the good workers work.
The third thing is maybe the most important. The WWE must, MUST, get rid of the Diva’s title. The butterfly belt has got to go. It is impossible to take female wrestlers seriously when their top prize is covered in glitter and shaped like a goddamn butterfly. Look at the NXT belt for an example. The women’s belt is like the NXT Title and the Tag Titles. It’s simple, stylish, and most importantly, not insulting. The Diva’s belt, and the term “Diva” in general, lumps all the female wrestlers together into being pretty, inconsequential things.
Pretty and inconsequential has been the standard for WWE in regards to female wrestlers forever. If that is actually going to change, the “Diva’s” must be taken seriously and treated with respect.
And Stephanie McMahon had no business doing the introductions. But that’s a rant for another time…