Cheap Heat: Disparity of the Divas
By Jacob Fox
Heading into Wrestlemania, WWE has added the one required diva division match to the card. The returning AJ Lee teams up with her longtime “frenemy” Paige to challenge WWE Diva Champion Nikki Bella and her twin sister Brie. Upon announcement of the match, I found myself at a certain level of apathy that I found very surprising coming from myself.
Unlike the majority of wrestling fans that I know, I am a huge fan of women’s wrestling. I watch both Shine and SHIMMER and various other women’s divisions with great loyalty. Upon its introduction in 2007, the TNA Knockout division quickly became the strongest division in the promotion. Although it suffered greatly, similar to the entire company, during the Hogan and Bischoff era in TNA, the Knockout division has regained its legs. A very promising revival of the feud between Gail Kim and Awesome Kong should exemplify what is to come in TNA. A quick YouTube search will bring up many matches of the similarly strong NWA Women’s division. There is undoubtedly good women’s wrestling available for anyone who wants to see it.
Despite the strong presence of women’s wrestling, in the biggest super card of the year, WWE gives their fans a tag match that is far below the bar set by the women in the other divisions. Although both Paige and AJ Lee are excellent wrestlers, the Bellas are most definitely sub par; this being despite Nikki holding the Divas title. Although it is possible Lee and Paige might be able to carry the Bellas through a tag match, one wonders why this would even be attempted at Wrestlemania. WWE should want to put forth the best Divas match possible.
In my attempt to see if my regular wrestling chatters felt the same way, there were few who did. My sister enjoys good women wrestling like me. However, the majority of responses from others were that the uninteresting Diva match was necessary because every card needs a “bathroom match.” Although I have often referred to certain matches in such a way, this time it actually bothered me.
The reason for my disappointment, though, was not the bathroom match concept. I was upset because my fellow fans seem to think that the Divas match is always the default match for filling in this slot. While I agree that the current Diva division is very weak, my hope has been that WWE has been wanting to shore it up. This would be easy since the independents are overflowing with women wrestlers who would love to be under a WWE contract. Most of my friends disagreed and felt that the division should either stay as it is or be eliminated altogether.
To further my confusion about the current state of women’s wrestling in WWE is the current state of women’s wrestling in NXT. The disparity between WWE and their development roster is often discussed in relation to the male wrestlers. The live super cards that NXT has been putting on have been leaps and bounds better than most of what the main roster pay per views have had. The disparity between the women’s divisions is the most pronounced, however.
Recently at NXT Take Over: Rival, fans were treated to a four way four star match that saw longtime NXT Women’s Champion and daughter of Ric Flair, Charlotte, lose her title to the likewise very talented Sasha Banks. This match was then surpassed only a few weeks later by the 15 minute main event rematch which saw Banks retain her title one on one against Charlotte. Alone, those two matches have surpassed anything on the Divas main roster in years.
The anchor of the NXT women’s division currently is Ric Flair‘s very talented daughter, Charlotte. Her long reign with the NXT women’s title has provided fans with many great performances. Her recent failure, however, to regain the title indicates she will most likely be making her own trip to the main Divas roster soon. Although she is not only very deserving of this and destined for a long and inevitable run with the Divas title, I wonder if it is the best thing for Charlotte.
The question that looms over Charlotte‘s eventual promotion is will she be allowed to have the kind of matches on the main roster that she had in NXT. Undoubtedly the tall and formidable Charlotte would complement AJ Lee very well in the feud the two are likely to have. Even Paige and Charlotte might have good chemistry if they are allowed to go all out. However, Paige had much better matches herself in NXT than she did when she was promoted. This begs the question of whether Charlotte will be allowed to show what she can do on a regular basis or will her talent be censored by short match times.
The addition of Charlotte to the Divas main division will only serve as a temporary fix to the troubled roster. Although there are fourteen women currently in the division, very few are often shown on television. Charlotte is capable of having excellent matches with the likes of Natalya. Tamina Snuka is currently on the injured list but a return could present fans with a very interesting feud between too very similar women.
The unfortunate side of this is that I am getting well ahead of myself. Charlotte has had one match so far on Raw and it was a rather quick and disappointing loss to Natalya. While this might be a hint at a upcoming feud, it equally could be a sign of things to come. I am not saying, of course, that Charlotte will be promoted to be a jobber, because that idea is ridiculous. But it is possible that her promotion may end up being a demotion in regards to the kind of work she is allowed to engage in.
In the end, I tend to think that WWE does actually care about the state of their women’s division. If they were not intent on shoring it up, they would not be putting the amount of effort into the developmental division that they obviously have been doing. The excellence continuously presented in NXT’s women’s division shows that WWE is at least not intent on letting the Divas division die out. However, it’s still not definite that things will get any better soon. If they do, though, fans might be treated to an outstanding match up between Charlotte and Banks at Wrestlemania 32. That, in itself, makes keeping up with the division a rewarding priority.
— Jacob Fox