Welcome back to the fourth and final installment dissecting the current state of women’s wrestling (you can catch up here, here, and here). Next week I’ll dive into the â€œSuper-Cenaâ€ mythos, and why it’s not entirely accurate. Other than that, I won’t waste anyone’s time by rambling on here; let’s just get to it.
So women’s wrestling in the two major promotions is a mess, and with Kharma’s pregnancy, it has simply become worse. The unfortunate truth is that if either TNA or WWE really want to develop their women’s divisions into something more than a diversion, they have to rethink their approach on a holistic level. There’s almost an old boys-club mentality at play here where male talent must take center stage at all times, and women are relegated to second-class citizen status within the companies they work for. By burying women’s wrestling, both companies seem to be saying that not only is women’s wrestling not a draw, but female stars can’t bring in revenue.
WWE is in the midst of an astonishing slump lately, with stock prices plummeting and attendance for tapings of Smackdown cratering. A large reason for the ‘E’s struggles has to do with a lack of charismatic young faces; Cena and Orton are still far-and-away the two biggest stars the company has. But there is an entire roster of female talent that rarely gets the chance to create a voice for their characters. As a company in desperate need of marketable talent, the ‘E should start looking at their Divas roster. Not just WWE, in fact. TNA needs home-grown talent that can enter the public consciousness alongside the ‘E’s biggest superstars. Ignoring the women’s division, and relegating them to the background, is doing both companies a disservice.
If either company wants to undo the damage they have done to the female talent in their company, and draft a new philosophy regarding women’s wrestling, there’s a few simple steps they can take. One is to push wrestlers with in-ring ability, and sign new talent that has a proven track-record when it comes to ring-work. If either company feels a need to include women with more sex appeal than talent, then utilize them as valets or managers. Another step is to increase the amount of air-time dedicated to women’s wrestling, especially promo and interview time. This is where characters are crafted; neither company can expect charismatic characters to sprout from the ground. Another step is for the announce teams to treat these women as wrestlers first and foremost, and discuss them in terms of their wrestling abilities.
These are simple steps, but they’re not the only ones; they’re simply the most obvious. This just makes both companies continuing inability to make any lasting, real change in their women’s divisions all the more frustrating. It’s sad to say, but there are times when I as a fan would almost prefer that these companies eliminated their women’s divisions altogether if they weren’t going to treat them with respect. Each botch, every questionable storyline, every tasteless gimmick builds upon themselves into a giant dispiriting mass that hangs over women in major professional wrestling in the US.
And not only is this treatment an insult to the female talent, but it’s also an insult to female fans. WWE genuinely seems to believe that women will tune in to their product to swoon over Cena and Orton, which is the same effect they hope Kelly Kelly has on male fans. This assumes, however, that the women watching the WWE product aren’t interested in good wrestling or captivating storylines. But we all know that women who are hardcore, discerning fans aren’t a myth or an anomaly; they exist, and they rarely find themselves positively represented. Not to say that female fans don’t enjoy watching wrestling if it doesn’t involve female wrestlers, but it is disconcerting that neither company seems all that interested in trying to appeal to their female fan-base.
As male fans, not just in wrestling but in entertainment in general, it’s hard to understand what it’s like to not be represented. Even worse, to be represented in a largely negative light. But I would assume that it’s downright insulting, and it’s more likely to drive women away from wrestling. If WWE is going to stick with the PG product, they need to pull in additional demographics outside of the male 18-34 crowd, since a portion of that group is not interested in wrestling that is not replete with sex and blood. Appealing to more female fans, instead of keeping them at arms distance, can help this company.
There are plenty of male wrestling fans who bemoan the state of women’s wrestling, and are incensed that their favorite wrestlers aren’t getting the push that they would like. But male fans also need to let both TNA and WWE know that we expect more out of women’s wrestling. That means avoiding a lot of the base behaviors that both of these companies are trying to illicit. Whenever male fans whistle or catcall women as they bend over and wiggle their assets in front of TV cameras, or only discuss them in terms of their attractiveness, it reinforces the philosophy that these companies are operating under.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I think there’s anything wrong with men or women appreciating the looks of a member of the opposite sex. In this situation, however, maybe there are more important things to discuss.