Is There a Double Standard in WWE?

emma 4

AS I SEE IT: Is there a double standard in WWE?
Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

This past week saw an ongoing example of how WWE treats its women…er, “divas”, specifically Tenille Dashwood, and how there are different standards for punishment for those getting a major push, and those who aren’t.

Let’s start with the way the “Divas” are treated overall. The name by itself should tell you all you need to know. First of all, WWE generally recruits from models, rather than from independent wrestling, or from women in sports (notable exception: Ric Flair‘s daughter whose background is in volleyball).

If they don’t look like models, they seldom if ever get a call, regardless of their in-ring skills. Ask Sara Del Ray. Del Ray can outwork pretty much anyone on the roster not named Nattie Neidhart. Her work in CHIKARA, Ring of Honor, and SHIMMER has shown that. But no traditional model looks. So she’s in WWE Performance Center, training models to be “Divas”.

So, then if woman are judged to have the looks, they get breast enhancement (with the notable exception of Stacy Keibler). They starve themselves. Ask yourself if it looks like most of the WWE women have had a meal recently. In total, WWE’s ideal in-ring woman is a human Barbie doll.

Now…a woman gets a job as a Diva. Like any wrestler, they need a character in WWE to go along with their matches. How about one of the most skilled women on their roster, Nattie Neidhart. Her pedigree is well-known. Her talent is well-known. But she’s “gotta have a gimmick”.

A boob job wasn’t enough. How about a really cute gimmick…like farting? Nattie Neidhart was stuck for months with a gimmick…the farting woman. If that wasn’t enough, she was referred to different times as fat (an oldie but a goodie, since Mickie James, who was also skilled in the ring got tagged as “Piggy”.

So why take these women seriously as performers, or as characters? Even with Stephanie McMahon as as minority owner of the company, the image of women hasn’t gotten better.

Some would argue it’s gotten worse. You can easily argue that this treatment of “Divas” allows women to be interchangeable and disposable, even more disposable than the men , a disposability which I know is a reality of wrestling overall. But with women, it’s worse.

So, we’ve all heard about what happened with Emma, who can also actually do something inside a ring. From all appearances, it seems the judge believed her explanation, but nonetheless gave her a day community services.

Nonetheless, WWE fired her…for about two hours…until not just wrestling sites, but sports website Bleacher Report and even TMZ questioned this inconsistency. 2 hours later Dashwood was re-instated with the following:

“Upon further evaluation, WWE has reinstated Tenille Dashwood (WWE Diva Emma) but will take appropriate punitive action for her violation of the law.”

TMZ went so far as to say:

“WWE officials quickly realized they overreacted, because their action would open the floodgates to fire a gaggle of wrestlers for fighting outside the ring, DUI and all sorts of other misdeeds.”

TMZ’s original post on the subject said WWE wouldn’t be able to put together a tag team match (since removed). To prove the truth of that TMZ statement, here is a list of talent on the current roster alone with DUIs, which anyone would say is a far more serious offense than shoplifting…alone:

  • Former WWE Champion Jack Swagger DWI for marijuana in 2013, who is now getting a new push turning babyface, with a program working with Rusev. His arrest got the most press of any of these situations.
  • WWE Tag Team Champion Jay Uso DUI in 2013 (which was pled down to driving with a suspended license, as well as a 2012 DUI.
  • WWE Intercontinental Champion (until his recent injury) Wade Barrett with a DUI while in Florida Championship Wrestling (the predecessor to NXT) in 2008
  • Santino Marella, a DUI in 2008
  • Bo Rotunda (Bo Dallas), a DUI in 2012
  • Chris Jericho (who detailed his 2006 DUI episode in his second book, and a subsequent 2010 arrest in Kentucky for public intoxication)
  • WWE Diva Cameron DUI in 2012 (who also was accused of bribing a police officer to let her go) .

Mind you, this is a list of those currently ON the roster. A quick check of Google would show you a number of others who were retained on the roster in the recent past.

So WWE overreacted. Media called them on it. WWE couldn’t just dismiss it as marks behind keyboards, since sports sites and TMZ picked it up as well. WWE had to be surprised, because they caught more flack for overreacting than they would have for responding to the incident by quietly killing Emma‘s push and taking her off TV for awhile, which is likely what is going to happen now anyway, between her incident and Santino Marella’s pending retirement.

Until next time….

— Bob Magee