Katz Files: What’s Wrong with Women’s Wrestling?

The Katz Files – Arnie Katz

What’s Wrong with Women’s Wrestling?

The Kingfish Arnie Katz takes a hard look at the recent slump in WWE & TNA Women’s Wrestling!

The news that Gail Kim will make her triumphal return to WWE got me thinking about the current state of big-time women’s wrestling in North America. Six months ago, women’s wrestler was hot and journalists and fans talked about a future in which women’s wrestling had real prominence and acceptance. Even WWE had made some strides with the addition of Beth Phoenix and Natalia.

Today, the picture isn’t as rosy. The steam has gone out of the Knockout Division and WWE has backslid into a succession of meaningless matches.

Let’s consider the big problems:

Ring Skill

A lot of the women have insufficient ring training and simply can’t do much in the ring. WWE, which recruits women primarily based on looks, is prone to this, but there are some fairly unskilled workers in TNA, too. And as always, Bad work undercuts the good work of such as Gail Kim and Mickie James.

Possible Solution: Send those women back to school. Some women who started out unskilled have learned how to work. Maria is a god example of a woman who wasn’t able to work when WWE hired her, but who now can present a halfway decent match. Kelly Kelly might be an example of a woman who is currently making that transition.

TNA is having good luck mining the independent promotions for attractive women who can also wrestler. WWE should consider an affiliation with one of the smaller promotions for the purposes of training and refining the women they want and to find ones that meet their standards for looks and and wrestle.

Storylines

Back in the day, the Lionel Model Train Company thought it would be very smart to bring women into the toy train hobby. So they put out a train set that had an engine and rolling stock in pastel colors!

That’s pretty much the approach that WWE and TNA use. There is almost no plot support for women’s wrestling – and what support there is simply can’t compare to the plotting for the men. This leads to many, many no-heat meaningless matches. It is as if the promotions can’t wrap their brains around the idea that these are female wrestlers. The bookers too frequently gravitate to trivial or even silly storylines for women. (Yes, there are some good ones; but they should all be good.

Possible Solution: Better writers and bookers less vulnerable to underrating the women due to either sexism or their tradition “side show” role in wrestling back in the day.

One thing that would really help WWE would be to stop using their “serious” female wrestlers in t&a stunts like bra-and-panties matches, pillow fights and such. Such spots have the same effect on female performers as they do on male ones.

Role Definition

This is closely related to the two previous problems. Some women are better used as female wrestlers while others are more suited to the “window dressing” slots. Both promotions have hired women for their beauty and then put them into wrestling situations.

Possible Solution: All male wrestlers have their roles. Female wrestlers should be positioned with the same care. Some women are destined for the bikini contests and others are destined for title matches. There are a few who can do both, like Maria, but they are exceptions. Peyton Banks, Traci Brooks, Eve Torres and other non-wrestlers shouldn’t be made to wrestle for extended periods of time. The catfight is their limit.

Lack of Mic-time

This is more of a problem for WWE, but TNA doesn’t do all that much better. Female wrestlers need time on the microphone (and something to say) to get across their characters. Dramatic scenes, such as the ones that have put over The Beautiful People, are also lacking in most cases.

Possible Solution: The TV shows have limited time available for all of the matches, dramatics and hype. It may take giving women time that now goes to bottom-of-the-card guys. In the long run, it might be best to have a regular hour or occasional specials that give more emphasis to women’s wrestling.

Some vocal coaching might not be a bad idea, either. Women who talk well make better use of the little time available than those who haven’t developed the ability to emote lines.

Women’s wrestling is not dead, but the tremendous surge of six months ago has ebbed. TNA and WWE can still regain momentum, but it is going to take some attitude changes behind the scenes.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the Internet’s favorite daily wrestling column. I hope you’ll be here, too. Bring your friends; maybe we’ll tailgate.

— Arnie Katz
[email protected]
(8/26/08)