It was one year ago – July 13th 2015 – that Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks made their debuts on RAW and – since they were women who could actually wrestle – unlike the useless models that WWE usually hire – fans and the company – called it a revolution*. One year on how has the revolution got on? The answer is mixed to put it mildly.
The revolution started going wrong on its very first night. Let’s look at the definition of the word “revolution” :
“Revolution (noun) : The forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favour of a new system”.
So who announced the revolution on RAW last year? Stephanie McMahon the daughter of the owner of the company! In effect the establishment of the WWE announced the revolution which is plainly nonsense as revolutions are the overthrow of the establishment! What should have happened was an ex wrestler like Lita should have announced it or just let the three women debut without a ballyhoo. That was the first mistake.
Their next mistake was to merge the three debutants with six of the existing women on the roster and split them into three teams of three. This led to weeks of mind numbingly dull tag matches between various combinations of the teams. Anybody with a knowledge of history would have known that this would be a disaster as it was merely a female version of Vince Russo’s disastrous “Gang Wars” of 1997 when the Nation of Domination, Disciples of Apocalypse and Los Boriculas fought in meaningless tag matches. If it didn’t work for the men why on earth did WWE think it would work for the women 18 years on? What they should have done is either have Banks, Charlotte and Lynch as “invaders” – a female version of invading forces like the NWO, the Nexus or the Shield – but the problem with that idea was they for obvious reasons can only attack other women which lessens the element of surprise after their debut – or do what I would have done. Say that the women’s division is a shambles and needs a reboot strip the then champion Nikki Bella of her title get rid of the title belt and launch a new title** and have a tournament to crown a new champion. Just like WCW did with all their titles in April 2000 when that company was a mess and needed a reboot.
But it didn’t happen. And the reason it didn’t happen was because of a male ego. Nikki Bella is the girlfriend of John Cena the biggest star in the WWE. But unfortunately as an ex model she is a relic of the WWE’s toxic, sexist hiring policy and should have dropped the title. Indeed that was the plan. But unfortunately Cena allegedly lobbied the WWE to let Bella break AJ Lee’s record title reign and they accepted. Cena’s ego and the WWE’s determination to stick it to Lee’s ex husband CM Punk meant that Bella kept the title until October’s Night of Champions Pay per view – a dreadful mistake.
Even when Bella dropped the title to Charlotte the company still kept messing the women’s division up. For some reason best known to themselves the company had Paige mention the death of Charlotte’s brother Reid saying “Your brother didn’t show much fight did he?” which was crass and offensive to put it mildly. Then at the Royal Rumble in January this year they had Charlotte’s legendary father Ric Flair force a kiss on Becky Lynch. Yes they showed sexual assault on TV. Quite how showing an old man forcing a kiss on a young woman ties in with the WWE’s family friendly PG rating is a total mystery (they edited the incident out of repeats of the Rumble which tells you all you need to know).
To be fair, at Wrestlemania they almost got it right. They finally produced the new women’s belt they should have had back in July and the three women that had made their debuts back in July – Lynch, Banks and Charlotte – had one of the best matches of the night. Pity they had to have Ric Flair interfere to help his daughter gain victory but the match was a credit to women’s wrestling and it looked like the WWE were finally getting the women’s division right.
Er…they haven’t. Since Wrestlemania it has been going backwards again. Women’s matches are still far too short and the WWE still have a chronic inability to produce more than one female feud at the same time. For example after losing at Wrestlemania the popular Banks virtually disappeared from TV until the end of last month. This is partly because she suffered a concussion but mainly because WWE wanted to hold back her title bid – presumably to August’s SummerSlam – they had nothing for her to do. Imagine John Cena not being on TV because WWE wanted to keep him out of the title scene until August? You can’t. Because they wouldn’t do that that’s why….
It shows how pathetic the WWE is that the fact there are two women’s matches on the next WWE pay-per-view Battleground- Becky Lynch v Natalya and Charlotte/Dana Brooke v Banks and a partner of her choice – is eye catching and a sign of progress when it really shouldn’t be. The fact is while the WWE women’s division has improved since last year it can be said it is only taking the division back to the 2002-4 era where there was Trish Stratus, Lita, Molly Holly, Jazz, Gail Kim…the women’s division should have improved since 2004 but until last year it had actually gone backwards.
Women’s wrestling should by all logic be as successful as women’s tennis. After all the women wrestle at the same venues as the men – just like women play tennis on the same Grand Slam stage as the men. But thanks to WWE sexism it is more like women’s football, rugby , cricket and basketball – regarded by fans as inferior to the real male athletes. A few things I would do are :
Sack the models. The likes of Nikki Bella, Eva Marie, Lana and Maryse must be swept away. Women must be wrestlers – not eye candy or pretty valets for their husbands and boyfriends. Those kind of women should be swept into oblivion.
Scrap Total Divas. Total Divas is a crap reality show on the E channel – think “Keeping up with the Kardashians” only worse. Since the women aren’t known as Divas anymore this show must go. If WWE are contractually obliged to produce this garbage pay the E network whatever they want to get this rubbish off our TV. If they want $10 million give them $10 million. You can’t put a price on gender equality….
Sign more women. There are plenty of good women wrestlers WWE could sign. Kharma, Candice LeRae, Sexy Star, Ivelise, Cheerleader Melissa, Jessica Havok to name but six. If you want to improve the women’s division sign good wrestlers. Its not rocket science!
Treat women the same as men. I don’t mean intergender wrestling I mean what Adam Blampied of What Culture said “Book the angle as if it is starring two men. Change their names to Bayley and Sasha Banks***. And you’re done”! Simple! So why can’t WWE do this? Also have the women in the same stipulation matches as men – a Money in the Bank ladder match, a Last Man Standing Match, a TLC match, even a Hell in the Cell match between two women. Why not?
Oh…and sign Ronda Rousey. You know it makes sense.
There are no excuses. So far it has been more a case of “evolution” rather than “revolution”. In fact the so called ” revolution” has had all the revolutionary impact of a used teabag. What the WWE should be aiming for if not women main eventing pay-per-views – which has never happened -is for women to co main event pay-per-views. It happens at Wimbledon at the Olympics and at UFC 200 last Sunday. There is no reason why it should not be possible in the WWE. And if it happens then we will be truly able to talk about a revolution.
*WWE called it a “Diva’s revolution” but I refuse to use the word “Diva”.
**The WWE did introduce a new belt but at Wrestlamania not in July last year. It is a big improvement on that awful pink butterfly belt.
***Or any other women.