CITR- A Woman’s Job is Never Done- Part 4 (WWE Divas, TNA Knockouts)
by Patrick Spohr on June 13, 2011

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 “Super-Cena” 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.

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Patrick Spohr

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  • sideshowbob

    hey I like watching the divas segments and knockout segments, but probably for all the wrong reasons according to the theme of the article. I will say though that if I was a company owner, and I read the way womens matches are talked about, Id put next to no effort in either. Even when they do try, it gets crapped on, like its an auto response. What is the best compliment on this site on a wwe womens match this year? Anyone? It’s no longer ‘I wish they would get more time’ like the standard internet love-fest, its ‘get this off my screen’ or ‘bathroom break’. I cant imagine what would run thru the brain (insert joke here) of one of these womens wrestlers if they sat down and read the comments half the time… So instead the promoter says ‘hey lets put em out there in a skimpy outfit,’ and that keeps some attention.. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m hoping for the day that a womens match interrupts and outshines swagger vs kofi.. Just have Beth vs Natty go out there immediately following, but jawjacking to the camera about ‘showing them up’… All it would take is said on the mike one time, and of course some work by the wommenfolk…
    But even when they really DO try they aren’t given much of a fair shake or acknowledgement these days it seems..

  • Patrick Spohr

    You are correct to some degree; most people automatically lose interest as soon as a Diva or Knockout comes on their screen. The problem is that both companies have let it deteriorate to the point that fans are disengaged.

    But it is their problem, and it is their job to make it work. They can’t half-ass it, which is the feeling I get from both companies when I see them trying to make changes to their women’s divisions. I really believe that if they want to change the culture, then they need to make it loud and clear to the fans that things will change. Fans need to believe that both companies are serious about changing the state of women’s wrestling. If they do, then they’ll start to pay attention.

  • Joseph Hargrove

    I don’t like the approach the big two(WWE and TNA.)have taken to their respective women’s divisions. What most fans need to know is no matter how much we protest the way the Divas and Knockouts are booked, it won’t change management’s opinion of them.

    I still watch a few matches from the two promotions but I have always found Japan and SHIMMER to have better wrestling for the women(Sad, but true.)

    Great column, Patrick. Keep up the good work, mate. Cheers!

  • sideshowbob

    my scenario *could* work… Have Cole talk smack about the divas again, and a group comes out soley to have good matches to show him up. Have him seem impressed, to the point that he wants to apologize in the ring… Then BLAMO! Have someone go uberheel by jumping ‘whatever faces are in the ring’ from behind, and Cole fully support the heel diva.

  • Mike Gojira

    Sigh….anyone remember the edition of Raw where Lita won the Women’s Championship from Stephanie McMahon in the MAIN EVENT?

    I think it’s safe to assume that we won’t be seeing moments like that again, which is a shame.

  • Kapri

    Wow, this is in every rpecset what I needed to know.

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