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Charlotte's WWE Raw debut: harbinger of change or more of the same?

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Full disclosure - I did not catch Raw live last night, so my impression of NXT Women's champion Charlotte getting the pre-Takeover debut spot that was given to Sami Zayn, Tyler Breeze and Adrian Neville before Fatal 4Way is based on Geno's live blog and reactions, and the WWE.com highlight clip.

I am a Hulu subscriber, but Bret Hart's niece and Ric Flair's daughter didn't make the cut on the 90 minute version of the show that is available on that streaming service.  Make of that what you will...

Honestly, I'm not terribly hot under the collar about the Nature Girl's loss.  It's not ideal, but it does reinforce the hierarchy that NXT is in essence a minor league developmental system.  This isn't new.  It's main roster kayfabe that continuity only flows downhill when it comes to NXT...things that happen on RawMain Event and Smackdown count in Full Sail Live, but things that happen at Full Sail Live don't mean much on RawMain Event and Smackdown.

And the queen of the NXT women's division wasn't squashed by Natalya.  In the brief amount of time that they had, it was Charlotte who looked fairly dominant, before cockiness and lack of focus got the best of her and allowed Natty to pick up a roll-up victory.  Better announcers would have really driven this point home by saying that the Dirtiest Diva in the Game's attention was too much on the upgraded venue and larger crowd than the task at hand.

It's understandable that everyone involved would lean heavily on her legacy to establish her to a new audience, especially one just south of the heart of "Flair country".  Charlotte let loose with more WOOOs last night than she's delivered in her last several NXT appearances, where they're mostly limited to her entrance, and of course Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole couldn't shut up about her daddy.

My concern here would be that, given the brief amount of time any new act gets to establish a character on the main roster - let alone a female who isn't in the cast of an E! "reality" show - will "Ric's daughter" be the only character gets on Raw?

On the other side of that argument, though...if that leads to a series of matches between her and Natalya which focuses on their lineage while delivering compelling in-ring action that slowly re-educates Vince McMahon, Kevin Dunn and the WWE Universe on what women are capable of as athletic storytellers...does she need that much of a character?  She's progressing as a talker, but mic work is not her strong suit.  Heeling it up during her entrance (she was back to using dad's high-five-fakeout-fix-my-own-hair gesture last night after her recent tweener turn on NXT) and arrogantly ground-and-pounding her opponents in the squared circle should keep her over just fine.

Is that just a dream, though?  Many of us were telling ourselves that Paige's call-up was going to herald this new era of women's sports entertainment.  That the Anti-Diva's charisma would wear down objecters.  A debut feud with the equally charismatic AJ Lee would lead to a more prominent role for the division and transition seamlessly into ready-made programs with fellow NXT alums Emma and Summer Rae.

Since then, Saraya Knight's little girl has been champ, but she's also been crazy, and kind of a lesbian, and is currently adrift without a story while waiting for her episodes of Total Divas to start airing.

Even in looking like a hoss who got caught last night, Charlotte's debut was a subplot to an ongoing TD plot line: the marital issues between Natty and her husband, Tyson Kidd.  I hesitate to complain about those too much, because they're a major factor in what is easily the comeback story of the year from the last graduate of the Hart Dungeon (somebody get those cat skull shirts and hoodies on sale in WWE Shop and I'll have a whole new wardrobe - FACT), but outside of T.J., having an E! angle carry over to the more wrestling-centric shows hasn't drastically altered anyone's place on the card.  Nikki and Brie were always over, The Anvil's daughter has always had a role in some angle where her wrestling ability was secondary, and...yeah.

In the end, I'll continue to be hopeful.  I'm not going to stop watching.  I'm a fan of good pro wrestling regardless of the gender of the performers, and I believe that presenting females as strong competitors and not just eye candy or soap opera extras will make it easier to convince more folks to watch with me.

And I'm happy for Paige, Charlotte, Emma and Summer.  Even when I don't like the way they're being presented on screen, the call-up definitely means more exposure and hopefully more money for them, if not now, then in the long run.  Much like with Adam Rose or The New Day, I can be happy for the person playing the role even if I don't agree with or like the gimmick.

But I wonder if it's foolish to keep sticking our chin out, looking for better women's wrestling, or less stereotypical representations of other racial and ethnic groups, from WWE.  Sure, I can see where Charlotte's debut would lead to an exciting and lucrative Divas' division.  But I've been given very little outside of my own fantasy booking and armchair marketing plans to believe it will become a reality.

What did you make of Charlotte's main roster arrival, Cagesiders?  Are you still hopeful for a vibrant women's scene in Vince McMahon's promotion, or are you resigned to Jerry Springer appearances and twenty second title matches?

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