Welcome back to installment number three dedicated to the unceremonious burial of women’s wrestling at the hands of TNA and WWE. Once again, comments and criticisms are welcome. Before I continue where I left off, I’d just like to say a quick congratulations to Kia Stevens (AKA Awesome Kong/Kharma) on her pregnancy. I found it interesting that many people online, myself included, seemed to have a negative reaction to the news. That’s such a strange reaction to the news of a pregnancy. So I’ll speak for everyone, something I like to do, and state that we are happy for Kia, but upset for women’s wrestling in the WWE. The Kharma character seemed like a possible Divas savior; the ‘E put all their chips on her to revive the division. Hopefully she’ll be back sooner rather than later, and pick up right were she left off. I also don’t believe the ‘E will actually follow through on the Kharma/Bella Twins feud when she does come back; I see the Bellas as placeholder champions who will be back to appearing with guest hosts within a few months.
4. Commentary. Now I noted the burial of the Divas by Michael Cole when I started this little series, and John Kincaid noted the hypocrisy of Lawler’s comments during the Kharma announcement. These weren’t one-off instances of WWE insensitivity or thoughtlessness, these were indicative of a larger systemic issue. Let’s take, for instance, a match a few weeks back between the woeful Kelly Kelly and the Bella Twins. During Kelly’s entrance, â€œThe Kingâ€ could not shut his mouth about how attractive Kelly is. I know this is â€œThe Kingâ€ we’re talking about, and this is just part-and-parcel with the sexist schtick he’s built for himself, but it often goes too far. However, when Kharma made her appearance the announce team pointed out her power, intimidating persona, and size.
I don’t take issue with the guys pointing out that Kharma is a big woman; how often do you hear them comment on the size of superstars like Mark Henry, Big Show, Kane, or the Great Khali? They treated Kharma as a wrestler, not a piece of titillating eye-candy. The issue was the key terms they used to discussed Kelly Kelly, and how it acts as verbal subterfuge considering that they’re trying to get her over as a wrestler. Think about it this way: you are a woman working in an accounting firm. You went to a good college, got your degree, and then earned your CPA or additional licenses. You’re working hard for respect as well as laying the groundwork for future career success. Now imagine you go into your boss’s office for your yearly performance review. Instead of talking about your work ethic, accomplishments, or ability, he uses up all the time to discuss how attractive you are. Not only is this possibly illegal–which is why this isn’t a perfect analogy–but it’s also insulting; why aren’t you talking about me as a dedicated professional?
Much of the same can be said about TNA; during the match between Miss Tessmacher and Angelina Love, Taz and Tenay both avoided discussing Tessmacher’s ability and instead focused on her physical attributes, which brings us to another issue…
5. A lack of talent on the roster. Now I noted in my previous installment how WWE have filled their roster with women lacking in wrestling experience. But that’s not to say that experience equals talent or quality ring-work. Both divisions place a premium on attractive workers that would barely qualify as mediocre in the ring. Hell, many are barely scraping the limits of sub-mediocre. Now, let me be fair and say that not all male wrestlers are quality workers either; there are only so many individuals out there that you can truly call gifted wrestlers. But average, or even bad, wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan,the Ultimate Warrior, or Cena can still turn in a good performance if they work alongside great wrestlers like Randy Savage, Ted DiBiase, or â€œRavishingâ€ Rick Rude. A great wrestler can carry his opponent, no matter who he is, through a match, especially on the biggest stage.
The huge rift between the talent of the best women’s wrestlers in the WWE and TNA and the rest of the roster is such that even the best can’t carry most of these women through a match. A large portion of either roster seemingly lacks the basic skills necessary to be a quality wrestler; their timing is awful, chemistry is non-existent, and matches lack any form of psychology.
It doesn’t help that these mediocre or straight-up awful workers employ such a limited move-set. I understand why it’s done: the promotion doesn’t want to see a ludicrous number of botches. But the byproduct of their limited move-set is that they stagnate. Let’s return to Kelly Kelly, whose move set is limited to a sloppy Lou Thesz Press, the awful stink-face, a slap on the butt, and a tilt-a-whirl head-scissors. Melina has one of the worst finishers I can think of, the Sunset Split, but she has some fierce competition in the â€œAre You Kidding Me?â€ category from Miss Tessmacher’s Victory Roll.
6. Screen time and storylines. These two go hand-in-hand; if a promotion is going to severely limit the number of minutes per week they’re willing to spend on women’s wrestling, then make them count. Now, TNA has done a good job of recapping the Velvet Skye feud with Karen Angle, even going so far as to have her appear in main events as part of the feud, and they do discuss the Winter/Angelina Love angle often. However, the whole Angelina Love hypnosis/brainwashing storyline might be the single worst piece of writing in wrestling today.
My first issue with the storyline is this: neither hypnotism or brainwashing WORK THAT WAY! Brainwashing does not turn a person into an unflinching, unstoppable machine of destruction. It doesn’t help that Angelina Love is so skinny it seems that a stiff breeze would knock her over, but Russo and Company seem to want to turn Angelina into a monster heel, no matter how ludicrous or illogical the storyline is.
The second issue is that almost all of TNA’s storylines are told in a â€œshootâ€ style. If these storylines are supposed to mirror real life, then why isn’t anyone calling the cops? Somebody, help this poor woman! There’s video footage of Winter putting something in her drink! Taz, quit talking about how unbelievably erotic this scenario is and put an end to this. You’re all complicit, TNA, all of you!
But for all of the horrifying faults of the Angelina Love/Winter angle, at least they receive more thought and attention than the WWE Divas. At this point the creative staff must have a Diva’s storyline- template created and they only need to substitute names in. It would seem that after the ‘E discontinued the Women’s Championship belt, they would have been able to construct a superior storyline for their lone women’s title. That has yet to come to pass, unfortunately.
Fans might be more accepting of the reduced role of women’s wrestling in the major promotions if they were receiving quality wrestling and storytelling in return. Neither company has delivered on either of these fronts.
Continued next week!