WWE launched their ‘Divas Revolution’ in June of this year to what was initially a host of fan fair and should have brought about a new era for women’s wrestling within the WWE, but has this been successful so far or is it simply hype?
WWE has mishandled the women’s wrestling division since the inception of the attitude era, in the most part. (I will freely admit that for a time there were some of the best female performers to ever grace the WWE in terms of Trish Stratus, Lita and Victoria but for every great match we got from these we also got a ‘Bra and Panties’ match or a mud fight.) However this year the WWE decided that on the back of the recent mainstream attention that female sports are beginning to garner, and rightly so, that they would try to improve the product on offer in their main two shows- Raw and Smackdown. From this we got the ‘Divas Revolution’ where the women’s division (I refuse to call them divas) was going to be focused and highlighted as much as the mens wrestling and given more than the usual 2minute throw away matches.
To see where this comes from we need to do a little bit of back story, so here it goes. Since the switch to the PG era there has been far less focus on the Women within the WWE, and this all came to a head when AJ Lee took exception to the unequal pay and treatment and tweeted to the world that this was the case back in January this year. However for a couple of years before this, Triple H has been fully hands on with the developmental territory known as NXT and had been trying to sign and bring in talented and experienced women’s wrestlers to showcase on the roster looking to give fans something new and exciting to watch. Top talents had started to emerge there such as Paige, Bayley, Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Beck Lynch and were starting to get closer and closer to main eventing the card and were at times stealing the show as the most talked about match. This was a completely different approach to the main roster which hosted ‘Divas Search’ winners and former models that had the so-called ‘Television look,’ and as a result we got very little in ring time on Raw/Smackdown weekly and many of women’s wrestler’s were used as valets or to accompany others to the ring.
After the infamous AJ Lee tweet she shortly left the country, and dropped the title to Nikki Bella on her way out of the company but the WWE seemed to notice that the fans wanted more and deserved more than they were getting.
And all this was set to change with the Divas revolution as Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks were all promoted to the main roster on the same evening to usher in a new era. But since then has this really worked, and is the division in a better place than it was 12months ago?
In a short answer: Yes! However the revolution hasn’t so much been a true revolution but more of a small-scale uprising, as we have yet to see the true change the division needs and that we as fans deserve. And here are the reasons for this:
Most of the new talent is far more capable in the ring than those women who were previously highlighted as the best in the company. Sasha Banks is easily the future of the company as she continues to improve and evolve in the ring every time she gets in there, she has a great character, amazing ring psychology and great athletic work. Yet when she debuted as the NXT women’s champion she didn’t once bring her title onto the show, and was given a small background role along side Tamina and Naomi, both of which are true travesties. Why not have her debut as the boss and challenge the current Divas champion? Lets get a champion versus champion match to see who is truly the best, and set her up for a great meteoric rise from the beginning. Its only in recent weeks that a teased feud with Paige has helped her step out of the shadow of the team BAD role that has hindered her.
All of the promoted talent has suffered a similar treatment as everyone has been lumped into 3women teams that allows for the maximum showing of number son television but makes story telling and character development more difficult. And these are two key components to improving the division, that the WWE really needs to refocus on. Admittedly in the last several weeks this appears to have happened more, but had this been done from the beginning we could be looking at a totally different landscape within the WWE women’s division right now and not in the future.
The quality of the matches on offer has improved since the ‘Revolution’ however when you add three superbly talented women to the roster this is to be expected. All members of the roster have delivered in the recent months and the fact that they have been given longer matches (15minutes) has helped this as it gives them more time to work more moves and tell a better story in the ring to draw in the viewers. But while the ring work has improved there are still problems, Natalya is absent from the revolution but is a much better in ring worker than Tamina- so why has this happened? Brie Bella is still awful to watch, despite some small improvement so expecting people who have followed Charlotte and Sasha to believe that Brie can hold her own against these is poor booking- yet we’ve seen this. WWE needs to be booking the more talented women at the top of the card against each other and break away from the 3women teams that are holding back the true competition that could be offered. Dont believe me then check out one of my favourite matches of this year so far from NXT Unstoppable
Placement on the card is improving within the WWE however there are still some concerns around how much the WWE is truly behind this revolution following this Monday nights Raw. WWE have Nikki Bella as their current champion, and this Monday at midnight she was due to break the record and become the longest running champion in the company’s history (at least since the switch to the Diva’s title) and had to defend her title on the show against Charlotte to make it to this achievement. With this history making moment in the balance and the ‘Divas Revoluton’ in full swing it seemed like the time was right for the WWE to main event a show with the Divas title, as what else was as worthy this week on the show? But guess what the WWE missed their opportunity and instead booked Sting Vs Big Show in the main event spot! Yes that’s how you kill a revolution and a history breaking moment, you give guys who are 5years at least past their prime the main event spot over a history defining match! And to make matters worse the pulled the whole ‘Twin magic’ finish to allow for a really clustered end that led to Nikki retaining via DQ and becoming the longest reigning champion by luck and not skill, completely turning the audience on the whole match. Not only that but Charlotte could have moved the division forward and we could have had Nikki in full on revenge mode as she didn’t break the record and chasing for a second run as a great story to lead the women’s division. Instead now we have Nikki Vs Charlotte at Night of Champions and she will most likely lose the belt there when it is meaningless.
However not everything is bad, as while WWE missed the opportunity to give the Women the top spot their match deserved NXT hasn’t. They have announced that Bayley and Sasha Banks will main event the next NXT special in a 30minute Iron Man match, and after their first match this is truly deserving and hopefully the main roster can learn from this moving forward.
WWE has received a lot of negative press about the ‘revolution’ but I believe it is changing, slowly yes, but it is changing and hopefully it will continue to evolve for the better. At the same time however im worried about the talent there now as I feel they will be the first wave in the change that maybe don’t get the wrestler treatment they deserve but instead pave the way for the next wave of NXT call-ups like Bayley, Dana Brooke and Billie Kay to be debuted and be treated as the talent they are. While I feel there are elements of the division that need to improve I also feel its in a better state than it was at the beginning of the year, but its a work in progress more than a ‘Revolution.’ Lets hope this can continue and in 12months time I’m less critical and more positive about this as I have faith in the talent moving up, all they need is an opportunity.