The Mother Brain Files: Stick Figures
By Mother Brain
So this past Tuesday, I tune in to the second season finale of WWE NXT not only to see who would win but also to find out who would be the new rookies for season three. The rumor on the net was that the format would change and have the 8 rookies divided between men and women. Not a bad concept; however, WWE as always decided to swerve the internet rumors and announce an all diva competition instead.
Now donâ€™t get me wrong. There are some interesting prospects for future divas, specifically the 6â€™9 Aloisia who definitely looks as if she could have given Chyna a run for her money back in the Attitude era. Whether word of her so-called â€œfiringâ€ by Vickie Guerrero remains to be seen. But for now, besides her, 4 out of the 6 diva rookies are all ex-models trying to be wrestlers. And when you overview the current state of the divasâ€™ division as a whole, I can only name 5 women with actual wrestling ability.
Whatever happened to the earlier part of the previous decade when the divas showed more promise than the days of Wendi Richter and Alundra Blaza/Madusa? In the period of 2002-2006, WWE had the best of women who could wow the crowd with their looks and in-ring talent. Trish Stratus set the bar, like most Canadian wrestlers do, for adding a level of sexuality to the ring while telling great stories with such defined performers as the wholesome Molly Holly, the sadistic Victoria, and Mickie James during her heelish stalker angle. There was also the high-flying Lita who not only complemented the style of her in-ring acquaintances, the Hardy Boyz, but also went from a huge fan favorite to bringing her real-life love triangle with Matt Hardy and Edge into the ring. Many of these divas executed great matches that made the fans sit and watch rather than take a bathroom break.
But by 2006, the best of the divas were phasing themselves out for careers in film and television. The company began to seriously push their annual Diva Search competition to bring new women into the fold. Yet most of these women from Christy Hemme to Eve Torres were coming from the world of modeling and some of them had no knowledge of wrestling whatsoever. Maybe it had to do with GoDaddy.com babe-turned-diva Candice Michelle being popular in the mainstream and how she worked hard to improve her in-ring skills, leading to a Womenâ€™s Championship victory in 2007. But even in an age where sex sells, wrestling fans still expect quality matches from the divas as opposed to gimmick matches like Playboy Pillow Fights and Bull Riding competitions (Note that I did not mention bra and panties matches. I gotta be a little bias).
With more ex-models-turned-divas than ever, fans pinned their hopes on the likes of Mickie James, Beth Pheonix, Natalya, and to a certain degree Melina to continue raising the bar on the division; however, with Melina being injury prone, Mickieâ€™s weight controversy, and the other stronger divas being thrown into bad storylines and/or seeing little in-ring action, WWE would push the likes of Kelly Kelly and the Bella Twins because of their looks more so than wrestling ability. Their push would be a factor in Mickie James being fired from the company, leading to a lackluster 2010 of divas action. With few exceptions, the majority of the WWE Divas now all look the same and have one of two personalities: No personality as a face or a simple bitch personality as a heel.
Now what about the TNA Knockouts? Initially, there was a great deal of promise when Gail Kim was positioned as the top face and having a division full of distinct personalities such as ODB, Awesome Kong, the Beautiful People, Taylor Wilde, etc. Some of these women were not exactly diva material for WWE but they helped to show that TNA can be full of women of all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, mismanagement in recent years for TNA has brought the Knockouts division down, resulting in losing top stars, poorly booked storylines, and a much smaller presence in the Hogan/Bischoff regime.
Time can only tell if womenâ€™s wrestling will ever regain the respect it deserves. At least for WWE, the loss of Mickie James and most recently Straight Edge Society member Serena has put them on a major search for highly talented women, even if that meant taking every potential diva out of developmental and onto the new NXT season. Whether the move sinks or swims remains to be seen.