‘THE YEAR OF THE WOMAN!’ That’s what Mick Foley proclaimed that 2015 should be. The Hardcore Legend and noted feminist took to his Facebook, inspired by Madusa’s Hall of Fame speech:
For me, the speech was a landmark event – a turning point from which the term “Diva” suddenly seemed worn and a little insulting. “Diva” was a great marketing idea that feels in 2015, like its outlived its usefulness.
LET’S MAKE 2015 THE YEAR OF THE WOMAN! WWE has lost one of its most unique and valuable assets with the retirement of AJ Lee. But anyone who has seen the recent WWE NXT product knows there are women bursting at the seam of progress – ready to become the next AJ, the next Paige, the new Natalya. LET’S CREATE A WOMEN’S DIVISION! LET’S MAKE 2015 THE YEAR OF THE WOMAN!
Perhaps Madusa can be their GM.
He’s right in that A.J. was a huge asset to the company. We’ve talked about representation and the need for more diversity numerous times (and will continue to do so until it gets better; sorry, nerds), and A.J. covered a lot of those bases. Her passion and love for wrestling, and the reverence for what she did spoke to fans on a much deeper level than most wrestlers get to come close to. A lifelong fan, she was basically everything The Miz should have been, someone who grew up loving and only wanting to do this one thing who got to live her dream every single day, and whose gratitude was loved and appreciated by fans of all ages.
The scary thing is that she also got a lot of hopes pinned to her. One of the biggest detractors against Divas is the “models getting hired to wrestle” issue, and not wrestlers getting hired to wrestle who also happen to be TV-friendly. WWE does it with their male wrestlers, but the blowback for a handsome football star-turned-pro wrestler is never quite as vicious as an athletic woman who got paid to look good for a while. There is an authenticity with A.J. that’s also felt with women like Paige or Bayley or Sasha, but women who put in genuine effort like Summer Rae (who sadly only gets to show off what she can do during those rare NXT matches), or for a very long time Alicia Fox, don’t get that same grace.
We know the state of the NXT women’s division is untouchable, but on the main roster, we’re told that giving Divas a chance means embarking in a brand new direction of catfights and a battle royal. Great. Fun. Awesome. Just what everyone wants. We beg for someone like Charlotte be given a chance to kick ass, but the thought of moving her to Raw is terrifying. The system is fundamentally broken: The main stage is mocking and cruel, and diminishes your talent, but the minor league that really shouldn’t be important is where people are given a chance to shine. We get a show like Total Divas that’s meant to attract new audience members, but it’s low drama, and the kayfabed reality still does nothing to make these women look like strong, intelligent forces to be reckoned with. Eva Marie has been dedicating more time to in-ring training, but will that make a difference?
If the wrestlers are the elite, supercharged embodiment of the male fantasy, whose fantasy are the Divas? The male gaze only goes so far, and beyond “she’s aesthetically pleasing,” the interest ends. The success of the women in NXT, the breath of fresh air that was A.J., and the revisionist history surrounding the idolization of women like Lita or Trish Stratus prove one thing:
We. Want. Wrestling.
So, what do you think? Do you think we’ll get it? What do you want to see happen now that WWE has lost their biggest female asset, their top merch-seller, and the biggest beacon of hope for those who want things to change? Will taking away the name “Diva” help? A new belt? Longer matches? What will it take for you to believe in the women of WWE’s future? Tell us in the comments below.