The current pro wrestling tension between TNA and WWE fans revolves around an ill-conceived concept of “originality.” For whatever reason it has become very important for fans to claim ownership of a concept, storyline, character or idea on behalf of their favorite company. Fans calculate these “original” ideas, creating a laundry list with hopes of triumphantly stating that one company is more “original” than the other.
The whole process of doing this is cumbersome and overrated. There is very little “originality” coming from the three U.S. promotions that have television deals and to argue about it is to engage in a fool’s errand. Truthfully speaking it’s just like arguing over the pros and cons of hanging toilet paper from the over or under position.
People by and large are resistant to change, and the more time goes on the more people desire for things to stay in one static state of dependability where they can remain comfortable as absurdly possible. Pro wrestling and her fans are not excused from this plight, and in fact may be more susceptible to acquiescing to familiarity more often than not.
But in order for this capitalist consumer based society to continue trudging along the way, we the people have to “believe” that change is happening all around us. We’re fed fairy tales about how things are getting better when, in reality, it’s pretty much the same mess with a fresh coat of paint. The very same is true of pro wrestling; a company appears to be on the verge of making a cutting-edge change, but in reality fans are seeing the product moonwalk itself into stagnancy and mediocrity. Things are only made worse by the fact that we’re all essentially arguing over which promotion is more mediocre than the other.
Real change, serious dynamic moves towards a better and brighter future, is one gigantic pain in the ass. To enact change is to embark upon a journey that speaks against our desire to be comfortable, a long and tedious expedition that requires the discipline and intent to continue along the path until it ends and the desired results are attained. That’s what true success is all about, creating a goal and working to bring that goal to fruition. It the desired results from an intended goal are not realized, then an effort was not successful; end of story.
For any promotion to produce “original” content, their goals from the very beginning must contain an element of change that will not sit well with fans. Change will alienate people; change will make diehard fans question the product or even turn away from it. However, if the desired results are necessary, then—be it subtle or overt—change must happen and fans must be conditioned to accept the journey that comes along with adapting to that change.
Real change, however, decreases revenue and profit in the short term. Real change, however, forces fans to think differently about the way they view the product and choose to support it. Real change effects everyone, from the top down and bottom up. Real change hurts, and with fans being as penny pinching as Ebenezer Scrooge, very few people have the testicular or ovarian fortitude to test the waters for fear of failure and alienating consumers who pad their pockets with cold hard cash.
As fans who invest in the product one way or another, let’s be real with each other and discuss what real change means for our favorite companies and how it affects us. We have to be honest with ourselves: we don’t want real change. If we did, we would’ve given up on both TNA and WWE years ago in favor of much more fulfilling and authentic pro wrestling. But alas, our insatiable hunger for sports entertainment is as vicious as our desire for a fast food; we like crap, and we’re content with having more streamlined crap than anything of substance. And that’s absolutely fine, but we’ve got to admit that’s where we are and that the real debate is on whether we prefer TNA’s crap over WWE’s crap.
To be fair TNA’s crap seems less refined than the mess peddled by WWE only because of the relative infancy in the business. By comparison, TNA appears to produce a more “original” product than WWE because WWE has produced “original” content for fifty plus years. That “original” programming has grown stale and is (truthfully speaking) held to a different standard than TNA because of its seniority. To speak of TNA’s lovable “growing pains” is the nice way of speaking about the WWE’s lackluster and uninspired product. Dress those comments as we may, it’s all still one big steaming pile of crap.
If both companies are producing crap and we’re content with arguing over who’s crap is more “original” than the other, how can either company truly be different? How can either company justify bringing real change to the product if we’re too busy discussing or nuancing the ways they can refine their crap? Simply put, it won’t happen because we’ve been conditioned to accept mediocrity as a norm. To really push the boundaries of our imaginations, to really invest in a logical and consistent storyline that creates long term fidelity instead of short term satisfaction, is to say something profound to each promotion in a way that will justify changing the product for the betterment of the business overall.
Here’s a thought I’ve promoted over various social media outlets many times before, and I’m thoroughly convinced neither TNA nor WWE have the balls (or ovaries) to be different in this regard: why not create a major storyline with female wrestlers as the leads and showcase them in a main event spot during a pay per view?
Don’t let the hype and speculation fool you; as much as the SI.com article about TNA and Dixie Carter would have you believe that she’s entering a world dominated by men (which she is), Dixie Carter is also among female contemporaries with just as much power and swag (if not more) as she has. Dixie Carter is in competition with Stephanie McMahon-Levesque and Bonnie Hammer (president of USA Networks). With McMahon-Levesque being made the “face” of her father’s promotion and touting that forty percent of the WWE’s audience is compromised of women, with Bonnie Hammer continuing to dominate cable network television, and with Dixie Carter stepping out into the fracas, now would be an optimal time for either organization to prove their mettle using such a storyline.
And it’s honestly not that hard a thing to do or accomplish. Today’s society sees a movement to establish both equality and equity between genders; if the writers can craft a simple and compelling storyline, it shouldn’t matter who plays the part. The only thing that will inevitably change is the way the protagonist in the story responds to the changing elements around them. Replace AJ Styles and Magnus with Gail Kim and Brooke Tessmacher respectively; replace Randy Orton and John Cena with AJ Lee and Natalya. Can we honestly say with a straight face that the storylines involving these women would diminish in quality because of their presence?
Of course there are several reasons as to why such a move would fail horribly; women’s wrestling is a niche market, a large swath of fans really don’t want to see a main event women’s angle, blah blah blah. But with so many fans complaining of the industry’s lack of originality, wouldn’t it make more sense to push the envelope in this way? Aren’t fans always complaining about the piss poor way women’s wrestling is treated here? Wouldn’t you, loyal and true pro wrestling fan, want to have the opportunity to brag about how your favorite wrestling promotion was the first to pioneer the industry with a successful major storyline involving women?
Nah … we want the same old crap. We’d rather celebrate the insipid trailblazing of a women’s division that lacks direction and … well … women. We’d rather sit idly by as the Total Divas are paraded incessantly before our eyes in an endless series of nonsensical matches and segments that are barely related to anything. We’d rather be the first to complain and whine about how bad one promotion treats its female athletes, ignore how badly the other promotion is treating their women’s division, and utilize any time in between to take pee breaks. Then we’ll simply turn around and blame the promotions for not doing things the way we’d like to see them, even though we already know deep within our hearts that we honestly don’t want to see either promotion veer too far away from what we know and love about them already.
This is why I say very few people have the balls (or ovaries) to do something different or to be different in pro wrestling. We’re all slaves to familiarity, and a promotion won’t risk alienating investors and advertisers to placate our selfishness. We’ll pay very good money to John Cena’s name in a main event marquee, but we won’t drop as nearly as much coin when Daniel Bryan is placed in the same situation. Argue against that if you choose to, but it is a stone cold fact; he who sells the most merchandise will be justifiably placed in the forefront, and the needle won’t move for anyone else until we create the demand for such a star. “They” don’t have the balls (or ovaries) to mess with that formula because we don’t have the balls (or ovaries) to be more than barking seals for what’s familiar and comfortable.
Yes it’s a ballsy move to create a network to showcase your vast library of pro wrestling history or continue to funnel money into a film studio that produces a steady stream of B-movies much to the delight of no one. Yes it’s a ballsy move to go head-to-head with a promotion that has a stranglehold on the business and to continue to buck a system that grows more stifling and hostile with each passing year. Creating the same type of product, mimicking the product of your competition, and refusing to put serious coin and consideration behind anti-typical wrestling superstar isn’t ballsy; it’s safe, it guarantees profit (be it large or small), and it conditions us all to go along with flow, believing we’re ultimately powerless to truly dictate what it is we like and want.
At the end of the day, the three major promotions aren’t all that different from one another when it comes to being “original.” There are very few individuals at this point in the game who have the unmitigated gall to push boundaries or at least try to be different and original in presenting their pro wrestling product (thank God for CHIKARA, Japanese wrestling, DragonGateUSA, EVOLVE, SHIMMER, Shine and WSU). But until we, the fans who pay money to see the action and drama displayed in between the ropes, expand our horizons and ask for something truly and deeply different instead of something superficially aesthetic, then all we’re going to get is what we’ve been getting … the same old mess. If we get the same old mess, all we’re going to have is the same old pointless complaints and hollow accolades.
So the real question is, how many of us have the balls (or ovaries) to be different?
On Sunday, March 17 TNA will tape footage for its Knockout Knockdown “One Night Only” pay per view. Advertised as a Knockouts exclusive pay per view, the event will showcase the several of TNA’s female performers in order to crown one woman the “Queen of TNA.” As thrilling as the pay per view sounds, most of its publicity to date has focused on the women not attending the event instead of the actual event itself.
Bonnie Maxon (Payton Banks/Rain), Sarah Stock (Sarita), Katarina Waters (Winter), Lauren Williams (Angelina Love), Tracy Brookshaw (Traci Brooks), Kia Stevens (Awesome Kong), and Nicole Raczynski (Roxxi Laveaux/Roxxi) have all declined offers to participate in the Knockout Knockdown pay per view special.
That’s seven (7) women that have politely responded negatively to an offer to work with TNA for “One Night Only.” As delicious as the irony may be there are probably several justifiable reasons as to why these women declined the offer, most of which probably have little to do with TNA. Scheduling conflicts, interests outside of professional wrestling, and burgeoning careers in other areas could deter anyone from being available for a one shot, pay per view taping.
These issues don’t begin and end with TNA, however; according to a report from Dave Meltzer the WWE reached out to a few former Divas, offering them an opportunity to return to the company. While it was reported that a few unnamed Divas turned down the offer, the Bella Twins were apparently the first to put their pens to the contracts. This would explain their random appearance on this week’s episode of Monday Night RAW.
At first glance it would seem that these separate incidents in two different companies are not even remotely related to one another. Given the particularly fragile state of women’s wrestling in TNA and WWE, however, these incidents point to a much larger issue that warrants some conversation among fans.
Consider the following piece that offers more insight from Meltzer’s report. Speculation has it that WWE decided not to call up Divas in their NXT developmental system, with reasoning that is hearsay at best:
That’s quite the vote of no confidence in the women in NXT, but almost all of those there with the requisite looks aren’t good enough workers yet to be brought up to the main roster. The Anti-Diva Paige, who has gained a cult following at Full Sail University, is ready, but lacks the swimsuit model physique that WWE management wants from their femme fatales.
Oddly enough this “news” coincides with another report regarding the WWE’s recent efforts in creating its next cadre of Divas:
It is very obvious that the WWE has a specific agenda when it concerns their women’s division and its athletes, an agenda that typically angers the scant number of fans that actually appreciate women’s wrestling. On the other hand, it’s equally damaging to the division for fans to have an unrelenting belief that the division is without women who can actually wrestle.
In fact it could be argued that prior to the aforementioned tidbits, the WWE’s Divas Division was beginning to look a lot like TNA’s Knockouts Division from two years ago; this was something discussed, in some form or fashion, in two separate pieces written for this site which can be found here and here.
The aforementioned tidbits also conflict with two separate Twitter posts from legendary Sara Del Rey, who now works with training the up-and-coming WWE Divas:
The real question is, what is the future of the division looking like if “good work” is being done, considering the fact that former stars such as Maryse Ouellet and Barbara “Kelly Kelly” Blank (also including Kia “Kharma” Stevens, Elizabeth Kocianski “Beth Phoenix” Carolan, and Eve Torres) are being courted for returns to the company?
Things aren’t much better south of Stanford, Connecticut either; TNA’s Knockouts Division, as they are now, is a far cry from what once use to be a stellar women’s division. The lack of star power could put a serious damper on this Sunday’s Knockout Knockdown “One Night Only” pay per view taping, despite former Knockouts’ sincerest wishes to be a part of the event:
Several fans have commented on various sites and blogs that TNA’s women’s division lacks depth; even with some strides being made with the Knockouts via the Gutcheck Challenge segments, very little progress has been seen, accomplished, or (in the best case scenario) “revealed” in the product.
Taeler Conrad-Mellen (Taeler Hendrix), Lucy and Kelly Knott (Hannah and Holly, The Blossom Twins), Lei’d Tapa, and Ivelisse Velez (formerly known in WWE’s NXT as Sofia Cortez) have all attempted to gain contracts with TNA and have had some air time on IMPACT Wrestling to be introduced to the fans. Out of the five women, however, Velez is the only one to “fail” at gaining a contract with the company (an interview with the Blossom Twins revealed that they indeed have a developmental contract with TNA). Most disconcerting about Velez’s “failure” is that it came at the hands of losing the contract to Lei’d Tapa, whom most fans considered to be “too green” to even justifiably gain even a developmental contract.
The only thing that adds more fuel to the fire is the fact that prior to her Gutcheck match, Velez performed in what was received as a stellar, five-star match for the SHINE promotion affiliated with Gabe Sapolsky’s DragonGate USA/EVOLVE promotions:
This of course isn’t taking into consideration the fact that TNA’s current Knockouts Champion, Jamie “Velvet Sky” Szantyr, has been panned by some fans and critics as being least “deserving” of holding the championship over women such as Gail Kim, Mickie James, and Lisa Marie “Tara” Varon. Keep in mind that even Varon’s latest KO Title run was marred by the presence of Jessie Godderz, who’s character turned one of the most dominating female wrestlers in recent times into a starstruck, boyfriend obsessed mess of a heel.
What does all of this have to do with the current state of women’s wrestling in TNA and WWE, besides the obvious shambles that its in?
It may be nothing more than a conveniently timed occurrence, but it is telling that both companies have to look to their past in order to move their company forward. Wrestling fans at large are still very divided on what they expect to see when two women enter the squared circle.
The loudest and harshest critics, as few in number as they are, scream viciously and consistently for what is essentially equal treatment for women wrestlers. They want and expect women’s matches to go longer than one minute; they want and expect the women wrestlers to be competent in the ring. They want and expect their women’s wrestlers to be more than just eye candy doddering around the ring aimlessly.
Other wrestling fans seem content with women’s wrestling being a passing fancy, an intermission giving them a break to hit the concession stands or the bathroom stalls. They don’t expect much from the women wrestlers and are more interested in photo ops with them than they are backdrops and Iron (Wo)Man matches.
If you synthesize both of those expectations you realize that TNA and WWE are unequally yoked in responding to all of their consumers’ wants and expectations. Each promotion only caters to one specific demographic, the demographic that will add significantly to their profit margins. If this is the case, then the most pressing objective for either promotion will be to respond to the immediate concerns of the demographic that spends the most money on the product.
In the case of WWE, most fans are still stuck on the legacy of Patricia “Trish Stratus” Stratigias, who is and was arguably the last “perfect storm Diva” to compete in the WWE. To say that Stratigias was the “perfect storm Diva” is to say that everything aligned to make her 8 year stint in the WWE the Diva stint for future Divas to emulate or surpass. Stratigias’ athletic ability, combined with her particular looks and sex appeal, paired with the incredibly talented Divas surrounding her during her run, created her mythical career that is only second to the legend of Tammy Lynn “Sunny” Sytch.
The WWE has yet to find another “perfect storm Diva” and the fans’ resistance to change keeps them from advancing forward towards altering the way Divas are defined. This is why it would make sense for the WWE to court former Divas or create new ones in the mold of Trish Stratus instead of allowing a new and talented crop of Divas (i.e. Paige) to resonate with fans in their own unique way. Consider also that the company’s product is catered towards children and women (see: John Cena’s 10 Year Reign); if that is the company’s bread-winning demographic, are they the ones openly clamoring for a ten minute match between Beth Phoenix and Natalya Neidhart?
In regards to TNA’s situation, the fans surely appreciate the women’s wrestling offered by the promotion. The division’s lack of depth and focus, however, gives some the implication that the company is not concerned or as focused on the division as they have been in the past. This could be a result of the company’s attempt to define itself in terms that separate it from its closest competitor, which has ultimately caused it to look more like its competition than anything else.
Truthfully speaking the main thing that separates the Knockouts from the Divas right now is the length of their televised matches.
With their flagship show going on the road, TNA is now more in need of athletes and stars that can make their product a household name. The more they move towards this worthy goal, the more the company will look towards men and women that “look good” for media appearances.
In that sense they too are looking for a “perfect storm Knockout,” but they also cannot risk losing their hardcore demographic in the process; they cannot stand to irk their diehard fans that want to see great wrestling from female wrestlers that can go in the ring. Particularly with awarding Lei’d Tapa with a contract over Ivelisse Velez, one can only wonder about the company’s rationale in such a decision, a type of decision that is becoming more and more stereotypical of the company as they progress forward.
TNA is stuck with filling in the very visible gaps within their Knockouts Division while defining the division in the midst of fine tuning the overall vision and mission of the company. Needless to say something is bound to get lost in translation when such things are being juggled by a relatively small board of directors and creative team. The all-Knockouts pay per view on Sunday only complicates matters, forcing the company to also rely on “one-time” performers (as opposed to the “part-time” performers of WWE) to make the division appear more robust than it truthfully is.
All of these things combined leave fans (and some female wrestlers) feeling as if women’s wrestling isn’t being taken seriously by both companies in some form or fashion. Depending on your perspective, that feeling is correct and justifiable in a lot of ways.
Think of entertainment as a reflection of our society; following the events of September 11, 2001 a surge of war themed video games hit the shelves. Even to this day games like “Call of Duty” or “Halo” are best sellers among hardcore gamers. For the past few years the highest grossing movies have been films based off of comic book superheroes, dating all the way back to Tobey Maguire’s stellar performance in Sam Raimi’s 2002 blockbuster movie Spider-Man.
If the two major companies appear to place women’s wrestling as more of an afterthought, what does that say about the fans who support the product? Could it be that, despite the blog posts and YouTube videos of some prescient and super savvy fans, we’re not all that inclined to support women’s wrestling as much as we’d like to think that we would?
It says a lot about both company’s perceptions of its fans when more time is spent reaching out to former wrestlers than pushing and promoting the next generation of female superstars. What do we value if bringing back The Bella Twins, Maryse and Kelly Kelly is more of a priority than focusing on current Divas Champion Celeste “Kaitlyn” Bonin who, by the way, was a professional weight lifter (just like John Cena) before becoming a pro wrestler?
What must we value if even by kayfabe standards TNA felt it necessary to give Lei’d Tapa the contract on television over Ivelisse Velez? What must they think of us if a star like Jason “Christian York” Spence or Wesley “Wes” Brisco can win their Gutcheck challenges and immediately get placed on television and pushed, while the Blossom Twins, Taeler Hendrix and Lei’d Tapa have to report to OVW?
Finally, what can be said about the state of women’s wrestling in both companies if they’re having trouble winning back women that have already worked for them?
I still say this and stand by the point: the day wrestling fans by and large receive the best in women’s wrestling from both major companies is the same day either one of them can pull off what Dana White did with the latest UFC pay per view…
We take a look at the WWE Diva’s Division, and what are some issues and interferences with what has kept them from prominence.
And this is the final statement on the WWE overall atmosphere.
Today fans of sports entertainment are collectively basking in the afterglow of last night’s WWE Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View. As we regale one another with fond memories of the event, one of the best WWE produced events so far this year, we should take some time to discuss one match that has been grossly overlooked by at least ninety percent of the company’s supporters and detractors.
That match is the Divas Championship match between Nikki/Brie Bella and the returning Layla.
For years the WWE has seemingly ignored the obstreperous clamoring of certain fans that have taken the company to task for defaming the legacy of women’s wrestling in sports entertainment. The message board diatribes and blog worthy musings of such analysts have indeed become legendary in their own right, often resulting in numerous fans tacitly agreeing that Vince McMahon could care less about allowing women to shine just as much (if not brighter) than their male counterparts.
Unfortunately such logic, as observant and subjective as it may be, is not entirely true. The reception of Layla’s return last night and her subsequent win over Nikki/Brie Bella, if anything, have proven that those fans who point accusatory fingers at the WWE in regards to women’s wrestling are aiming three equally venomous and loathsome digits back at themselves.
While last night’s Divas match was far from a classic, five-star encounter between Ric Flair and Antonio Inoki, it was far from the fluff that the WWE typically offers fans on Monday and Friday nights. Four things made Layla’s match against the Bellas better than what we’ve been offered thus far:
- It lasted longer than sixty seconds or less…
- It did not end with a roll-up…
- There was a decisive pin-fall victory after the successful execution of a finishing maneuver…
- It didn’t involve Kelly Kelly.
Despite popular belief, the WWE landscape (and the pro wrestling landscape in general for that matter) is indeed changing, and the fresh winds of those changes are sweeping ever so softly through the company like a gentle summer breeze.
Human beings, however, like to complain. While some would say that humans like to complain for the sake of complaining, it could be argued that human beings simply prefer to be proven right. As such, complaining is a way of seeking approval, acceptance and validation from one’s peers or social group.
Therefore if one dislikes something, one will turn to their social group via social media and air his/her grievances in hopes that at least one other person feels the same way. Once a group has gathered to support a particular grievance, the “complaining” will continue because it is a method of feeling accepted for the person who started the whole thing in the first place.
Fans who have become disenfranchised by the WWE’s obvious disregard for women’s wrestling rally together to complain and piss on everything the company does related to women’s wrestling. The negative effect of this process is that these fans become too jaded after a certain point to either acknowledge or appreciate good women’s wrestling when they witness it.
When it comes to Divas matches, these same fans will pick and pull at anything they can in order to continue to wallow in the cesspool of their misappropriated hatred of the WWE’s treatment of women’s wrestling. Again, even if the WWE does something right by these women, someone somewhere will grab the slightest bit of nothing and politely poop over the entire athletic affair.
Back to last night’s match…
The first level of disappointment came for fans when Head Administrator (pun intended?) Eve Torres made it known that Beth Phoenix was not medically cleared to wrestle (something that our very own Mr. Quinn Gammon knew via text message from the WWE forty minutes prior to that actual conversation taking place).
When the Bellas foolishly reveled in a brief moment of relief, they also remembered that Kharma was a) at least physically able to return to the ring, and b) hungry for their blood. Poor way of foreshadowing her eventual return (which may happen tonight…fingers crossed…)…
Head Administrator Eve reassured the Bellas that Kharma would not be Nikki’s opponent, leaving us in the air as to who that opponent would actually be. Immediately fans buried the match before it even had a chance to take place.
Imagine this scenario if you will: you’ve paid Brock Lesnar $5 million (or more) to appear for a certain number of dates for the WWE for 1 year. You build a strong story line for him and John Cena, the company’s top star.
You have an excellent Pay-Per-View with excellent matches so far on the card, with one more before your main event. Your crowd is emotionally spent yet hot for the final match, and you must calm them down before giving them the last match of an awesome night.
Would you, the plucky, intelligent, and “smart” fan that actually cares about women’s wrestling, debut a Diva you plan on pushing to the moon right before an epic battle between Brock Lesnar and John Cena given the circumstances of the Pay-Per-View?
God help us all if you said yes. Moving right along…
The second level of disappointment came when Nikki and Brie entered the ring and grabbed the mic; most fans tuned out or took a bathroom break at that moment alone.
The third level of disappointment arrived when Michelle McCool’s music blast throughout the area. Fans were instantly surprised at the sound of her music and were potentially delighted to witness the return of The Undertaker’s wife…who, to my knowledge, has made no uncertain remarks about a return to pro wrestling.
This is considered a level of disappointment because these fans that were “happy” at the potential of McCool’s return were also the same fans who politely shat on McCool and her abilities prior to her departure from the WWE.
The fourth level of disappointment, the most disconcerting level at that, was Layla’s return.
WWE Diva Layla El, who suffered a knee injury one year ago at the May 1, 2011 Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View, returned last night to a largely lukewarm response from fans who were expecting Kharma and Michelle McCool in that order. To call it a letdown for those fans would be a huge understatement.
The fans that found themselves whelm-deficient by her return are also the same fans who criticize the WWE for being too predictable. Once again we’re subject to the hypocritical and moody musings of those who want to be “right” more than they want to be “entertained.” It’s unfathomable how one can logically rant about a company being predictable and then gets mad when something they didn’t or couldn’t have predicted happens.
The fifth level of disappointment happened during and throughout the entire match; we’ll come back to this level in one moment.
The sixth level of disappointment happened when Layla defeated Brie Bella to become the new Divas Champion, which automatically sets up a rematch tonight on RAW for the title. This can be considered a level of disappointment because all of the fans who were put off by the previous five levels now have one last cache of ammunition to fuel their vapid discourses.
Any fan that may have been slightly irked by any of the aforementioned levels of disappointment truly missed out on something special last night…
1. Nikki Bella wrestled her third straight match.
Nikki’s initial title victory over then-champion Beth Phoenix last week on RAW was an actual wrestling match, one where Beth was defeated with the dreaded roll-up but still managed to carry Nikki through a decent match that ended…wait for it…logically.
Nikki took advantage of a weakened champion whose abilities were compromised by an accidental injury. Her victory didn’t come after a botched move or after thirty-five seconds of flailing around the ring. In fact she did something that WWE superstar Edge would’ve done: she took advantage of an opportunity.
That match was followed up by non-title match against Alicia Fox on the April 27 episode of Smackdown. Definitely far from a barnburner, the affair was still a credible showing given the assumed wrestling acumen of both Divas. With a little twin magic, Brie Bella retained the title for her sister by utilizing a finishing maneuver, and not the dreaded roll-up.
These matches were capped off with a third actual wrestling match from Nikki Bella last night at Extreme Rules. Three straight wrestling matches from the Divas and fans are still unsatisfied? Inconceivable!
2. Layla returns and showed almost no sign of ring rust and virtually NOTHING of her former character traits.
Anyone who remembers Layla prior to her injury will recall that she played second fiddle to Michelle McCool. She was McCool’s yes-woman, a tool the former Divas champion used in her quest to belittle Mickie James and Kelly Kelly.
Layla, as McCool’s yes-woman, also spent a good amount of time selling the offense of her opponents while McCool would sporadically wrestle decent matches.
I’m positive no one remembered that last night as she moved exceptionally well in the ring, particularly after coming off of a yearlong absence due to a knee injury.
Doesn’t seem like a big deal? Take former WWE Diva Candace Michelle for example, the former Go Daddy dot com model-turned-wrestler who suffered a clavicle injury after a bad spill in the ring from the top rope.
Michelle returned to the WWE looking like a soccer mom, and her skills inside the ring were noticeably worse than before she left…which wasn’t anything to write home about in the first place.
Or take Kelly Kelly for example, who after wrestling in the WWE for going on six years now (starting from her ECW stint in Extreme Exposé) still can tell the difference between a wristlock and a shoelace.
So Layla returns after a major injury, works like thunder and lightning in a good match, and fans are still unsatisfied? Inconceivable!
3. The Bella Twins are leaving; Enter Kharma to escort them from the building.
Speculation has it that the Bellas’ WWE contract expires at the end of the month, which is ironically today.
Please recall that Kharma, who left the WWE after the May 30, 2011 episode of RAW, vowed to destroy the Bellas upon her return if they were still with the company…
What this means for Layla has yet to be determined, but the reality is that this appears to be a slow build to the growth and development of the division that we’ve all clamored for in one way or another.
Kharma gets a solid return to the company without overshadowing or being overshadowed by the big dogs (Cena and Lesnar). The Bellas get to leave the company by putting over a rising star. Layla gets an imminent threat to her championship; this is the stuff we’ve dreamed of and yearned for!
And fans are still unsatisfied? In-effin’-con-ceivable!
Bottom line is this, folks: last night’s Divas match between Nikki Bella and Layla was well done and executed by all parties involved, particularly the women who gave a good show in the ring.
With Kharma peeking over the horizon, AJ being deviously featured on Smackdown in the middle of the main event feud between Sheamus and Daniel Bryan, and at least a slew of Divas biting at the chomp to hit the main roster hard (Kaitlyn, Maxine, and FCW Diva Raquel Diaz), it is simply ridiculous for any fan to sit anyone and complain incessantly about the state of women’s wrestling in the WWE.
Constantly comparing the current crop of Divas to Trish Stratus and Lita will cause one’s heart to harden to the efforts put forth by the Divas today. None of them are anywhere near performing as these two women have, but they are all far from being useless in the ring.
With all that being said, the least we can do is stand and welcome Layla back to the WWE as we congratulate her on her championship win last night, and thank the Bellas for their work in the WWE and for looking so amazing for so many years.
Anything else than that simply proves that we don’t want women’s wrestling as bad as we think we do.
Anyone else doing the “Funkasaurus Dance” to celebrate the arrival of the weekend? Just me? Awesome.
Hot off the heels of a stellar RAW, WWE’s B-show held its own and delivered a decent night of television.
As fans we got what was expected; an Elimination Chamber line-up, Orton/Barrett match, and another video courtesy of WWE Productions but we also got unexpected farting, veganism, and a new tag-team.
Without further ado, my 7 points of the night:
1. Smackdown’s Elimination Chamber Line-Up.
Smackdown kicked off the show with Teddy Long in the center of the ring, explaining the Elimination Chamber.
He announces Daniel Bryan will defend against Wade Barrett, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Cody Rhodes and Big Show.
This match piqued my interest mostly because it is Bryan’s/Rhode’s first Elimination Chamber and Wade Barrett’s second. Big Show and Orton are tied with 3 chamber appearances each, so should be interesting to see if that gives either veterans an “edge.”
2. Mark Henry’s “Suspension.”
After injuring himself last week on Smackdown and powering through the Rumble, it was no secret Henry would be taking time off. The only mystery would be how WWE would choose to write him out of Smackdown for the time being.
After hearing Teddy Long run through the EC line-up, a frustrated Mark Henry makes his way to the ring and tries to swap his Chamber entry for an instant title match.
Long decides to take a stand and removes Henry from the match but won’t give him a title shot either.
Henry responds by flipping Teddy’s tie…and he’s suspended…
We all knew it was coming but that was a little weak in my opinion.
Before Henry could actually do some damage to Long, the Great White (here’s hoping his push gets him a better nickname) comes to save the GM.
We see a nice Brogue Kick take Henry out of the ring and learn that Sheamus isn’t deciding which champion to face until after the Elimination Chamber.
3. Sheamus v.s. Rhodes
Sheamus’s mic time draws out Cody Rhodes, who announces he is going to win the title at the upcoming PPV.
Long seized the opportunity and left the two to put on a pretty great match. I feel like both Rhodes and Sheamus have come a long way, and I enjoy Rhodes as Intercontinental Champion.
I would not mind seeing something develop between these two.
4. A new tag-team added to the “tag-team” division.
Apparently Santino was disatisfied with his current partner, Yoshi Tatsu and decided to replace him with….Hacksaw Jim Duggan?
The two made a funny pair and the tag-division is a bit of a joke anyway…. so I guess it works.
In their non-title match against Primo and Epico, Rosa came through with yet another distraction and the P&E got the win.
5. Heel heat brought to you courtesy of Veganism.
How do you get the crowd in Omaha, Nebraska to turn against you? Tell them not to eat meat.
::sigh::, I get where they are going with this and it is nice to see Veganism get some play. My dad has been vegan for the last 36 years and I have eaten vegan off and on for most of my 26 years.
More and more people are becoming Vegan and there are a lot more options out there for Vegans in 2012. In case you did not know, Vegan does not just limit one to no meat. It means no diary, honey, eggs, seafood, poultry, etc.
After my grandma battled stomach cancer, which her doctor attributed to too much red meat, my dad became Vegan as a sign of support and actually did find it giving him many health benefits. My dad tried to force the diet on me from birth but my mother, who loves all things fried and meaty, had other plans. Nevertheless, I always eat vegan when I go to my dad’s for PPV’s. Spicy fried tofu…yum!
My problem with this Bryan-Vegan business is that A. We saw this angle with Punk/Hardy already… “I’m better than all of you, you shouldn’t eat meat” and he gets booed while an oversized giant wrestler gets cheered for eating a steak. Granted, it’s not as bad as booing the guy preaching “no drugs” but still, we have seen it before which leads me to B. Bryan isn’t Punk.
Because they both have similar backgrounds and were Indy Darlings, there has been constant comparisons between the two and now we have similar angles. Some commentors and writers on various other sites have gone as far to say that Bryan rivals Punk on the mic…
That claim is so ridiculous to me, I will just keep moving…
Bryan continued his descent into sneaky heel status by claiming he shouldn’t have to be in the Elimination Chamber, he already proved his worth as champ, womp womp.
He and Show have it out via mic/chokeslam and Bryan narrowly escapes a punch to the face thanks to an injured AJ.
6. People are talking about the Divas.
Too bad it has nothing to do with their skills, great matches, or even looks this time…
In a backstage segment we were given Natalya farting and Santino throwing up into a trash-can because of it.
While I did not cry injustice like a lot of people, I don’t really see this helping anything…
Natalya and Beth squared off against Tamina and Aksana, with Beth ordering Natalya “out of her ring” and gaining the victory. Natalya is left behind and takes it out on Aksana only to be attacked by Tamina.
Look at that, my blurb about the Divas is about as long as one of their matches and probably about as interesting…moving on.
6.5 Khali replaces Henry in the Elimination Chamber.
My friends and I really enjoyed the movie “Despicable Me.” If you haven’t seen it, you should. It is fun for all ages.
Whenever we are in disbelief or surprised by something, we quote the minions from the movie and deliver a high-pitched “Whhhhaaaaaaaaaaa?”
Yeah, we are really cool…Anyways, that’s what Khali’s involvement in this PPV received from me.
Big Show and Khali in the same Chamber match seems risky to me. How many big, awkward moving superstars do we need in an already cramped space?
7. Orton and Barrett Git R’ Done.
These two beat the hell out of each other and I was happy to be along for the ride.
Both men looked great but Orton came out victorious via RKO to Barrett on a steel chair.
Backstage, Bryan finally gets a match up with someone other than Big Show… yep, Randy Orton. Already looking forward to next weeks main event.
***An honorable mention goes out to IMPACT this week. The London crowd really added some much-needed energy and the matches were pretty good. Usually I equate watching IMPACT to watching paint dry but not this week.***
Until next time, Too-da-loo