If I told you that Lance Storm — a classically curmudgeonly wrestling veteran who hates everything, and by everything, I mean everything — had the best and most reasoned response we’ve read yet on the problems with WWE’s “Divas Revolution,” you’d call me crazy, right?
As part of a Q&A on StormWrestling.com, Storm was asked the following question:
“I’ve heard two schools of thought on the divas revolution. One, that it’s a dud and the same formula with different faces, and second, that it’s a proverbial “slow burn” and it will get there in due time. Your thoughts?”
In his response, Storm (who we can only assume was serious for a minute) lays out the facts and covers the problems with WWE creative and its presentation from beginning to end, from their tendency to say something’s something without doing the work to back it up, to promos that kill the action before it’s even allowed to happen. All the better talking points are here — a deconstruction of the differences between NXT and WWE, the backhandedness of the term “Diva” and Total Divas painting them into a corner — without any of the exaggerated doom and gloom.
It’s a little long, but give it a read.
Before I get into my thoughts on what they are doing let me first state that I am a big fan and supporter of women’s wrestling and have a great deal of respect for many of the women involved in the “Divas revolution”. For the most part I think the Divas Revolution is being screwed and unless they change the way it is being presented it will fail, or at least not succeed to the level it could or more importantly should. To fully understand why you have to look at how the women are presented in NXT and how that enabled them to get over to the level that they did, and then look at how they are being presented in WWE and consider if that will also allow them to get over to that same level.
In NXT they are women wrestlers, they are competing for the NXT Women’s Championship; a title belt that looks credible (actually better than the Men’s Title in my opinion) and therefore can be respected. We were never told that the women were going to be taken seriously or that they were going to have good matches and be respected. They were just presented on the show in a respectable light, allowed to focus on competing to be a champion, and given enough time to do a good job if they were able. The women worked hard, had good matches, were given good angles, and fans started to care, and they got over. It was in a sense Organic.
In WWE the women are “Divas” a term when used in any other industry is a derogatory term referring to stuck up bitchy women. They compete (occasionally) for the Diva’s Title, which is a purple belt with a butterfly on it. At best this looks like a Barbie toy belt and at worst it’s derogatory and offensive because of the female sexual euphemism for butterfly. The women in WWE need a new title belt to compete for and in all honesty it needs to be renamed the WWE Women’s World Title.
Furthermore coming out and telling us there is a Diva’s Revolution and the women are going to be good and important now, was a big mistake. Don’t tell us it’s going to be good, just let it be good and we will come to that conclusion all on our own, like we did with NXT. Also in NXT each woman was given her turn to be focused on and chase the title. This allowed us to get behind them and follow their journey and struggle, while keeping the focus on becoming Champion. In WWE we are getting 3 groups of 3, which makes it near impossible to focus on the women individually and form an attachment to any of them and it has completely removed the focus on the title and being a champion.
In NXT the women got over one at a time. Paige won the first NXT Women’s Title Tournament in a really good match with Emma, which started the ball rolling. When Paige got called up, she was stripped of the title and another tournament was held. Charlotte won this tournament in an awesome match with Nattie, to set her up and get her over. Sasha was then pushed and focused on and she got over, with Becky in a secondary role. Baylee was used to get Charlotte and Sasha over while building her own underdog status. Becky then got the focus and the push and she got over huge even in losing her title challenge (an amazing accomplishment). The long slow build was then finally paid off with Baylee in Brooklyn and we all saw what a great reaction she got winning the title.
Since the start of the Diva’s revolution on RAW the title has not been the focus at all. PCB are faces, Team BAD are heels, and Team Bella float back and forth. All are getting wins and losses, no one is moving forwards or backwards and no individual is getting focus on directly. We are constantly being told it’s a new era, but to be honest we are just getting slightly longer, slightly better matches, with a few new faces.
When the crowd on RAW in Brooklyn turned on the women’s match it wasn’t the fault of the crowd nor the fault of the women, it was the way it was presented. In the promo to set up the match Nikki Bella actually said that wins and losses didn’t matter and that these muti-diva matches are pointless. She said the only thing that mattered was the Diva’s Title and how she will soon be the longest reigning Diva’s Champ of all time. How can anyone be surprised or angry that the crowd gave up on the match that followed when they were flat out told before it started that it didn’t matter? Furthermore how can we care about Nikki’s long title reign when I doubt anyone even remember the last time she defended it?
I do remember both Sasha and Charlotte making Nikki tap out to win tag matches, a fact that wasn’t focus on, nor did it earn them a title match. To get this thing over you have to completely overhaul the way in which it is presented, like they did in NXT. You must focus on each woman in turn with a constant focus on the Championship. Unfortunately because they also have to focus on and promote Total Divas, they have to focus on a large group of women, in particularly the Bellas, so this may be impossible. The Bellas have improved a ton over the last couple years and they are more than capable of having good matches, but in my opinion as long as they are being focused on, this will never feel new.