Given how often women are treated poorly on WWE programming throughout the years, its almost inexplicable how WWE has managed to keep hold of a female audience without driving them off. It's not just women that like good women's wrestling. Men do too! Everyone enjoyed the four way match at the last NXT special. WWE has been in a unique position for years to really bust open the popularity of women's wrestling in the United States.
As a matter of fact, it should have happened ten years ago when they had Trish Stratus, Mickie James, Gail Kim, and Lita. It should have the beginning of a trend towards a more athletic, aggressive, and ambitious women's division. Instead, we got the Divas Search.
Fast forward a decade and here we sit with Charlotte Flair, Natalya, and AJ Lee as well as numerous other talented workers under their employ. There is still a lot of female talent in the indies right now. The popularity of women's wrestling, which has traditionally struggled in the United States for numerous reasons, seems more ready to explode than it ever has. But it won't. Because there are those in WWE who just won't light the fuse. Instead of the girls getting their own hour long show to showcase their talents, we get Total Divas.
WWE fans have been conditioned to believe that Divas matches are either a joke or a bathroom break, because that is how WWE has chosen to present them for the past decade. Every time it seems as though it is about to break through, the WWE comes in and crushes it. While WWE and Stephanie McMahon may pay lip service to female empowerment, their television product still represents the women of WWE as something lesser. The women of WWE are not athletes or superstars, they are Divas.
A note to the higher ups in WWE: Divas are opera singers. These women are professional wrestlers. I would hope that someone in the WWE offices would know the differences between the two. (For Kevin Dunn: Opera is that thing where they sing in Italian and everyone dies at the end. Spoiler warning, by the way.)
The fact of the matter is WWE is wasting potential revenue with its ridiculous concept of a women's division. Performers like AJ Lee have gained strong popularity but never been able to take it to the next level because the WWE machinery never gets behind them.
I remember a news story that AJ Lee was the first diva to get a t-shirt on sale since Trish Stratus. This is astounding to me. WWE is failing to properly nurture talent and exploit merchandising opportunity based entirely on the talent's gender. Hollywood long believed that women can't sell franchises and Hunger Games proved that was bullshit. Hell, the Alien movies proved that was bullshit over thirty years ago and yet this view still persists. These are old, tired ideas that refuse to die because its the same old, tired people running these industries.
If you're going to fill out a three hour Raw every week, then variety is an absolute must. Variety just so happens to be the very thing that the WWE is absolutely against offering to its increasingly bored and apathetic viewers. We get the same matches over and over again, week after week. The womens division is carelessly thrown out on television in nothing matches to fill two or three minutes in a three hour show that is almost two hours of pointless filler these days.
If they cultivated their women's and tag team divisions and gave them something meaningful to do, then maybe a three hour Raw would work better and they wouldn't bleed as many viewers through out the night. What this means is that the women of WWE get actual storylines that doesn't involve them all being crazy. Something of substance, something with stakes. Something that matters and the crowd can get behind. Give them ten minute matches and allow them to shine a bit. Hell, maybe you'll start selling merchandise and make some money.
Currently, the WWE machine thinks so little of its female performers, that the latest game, WWE 2K15, doesn't even have the option for creating a female in the creation suite. Way to tell all your young, female fans how little they really matter to you. I know this might as come as a shock to some in the WWE, but girls buy WWE merchandise too! But hey, Triple H's and John Cena's character models looked great, so I guess that's all that matters.
Speaking of Cena, let's stop having him slut shame women on worldwide TV. Teaching eight year old boys its okay to bully women with different points of view than you is reprehensible. He did it Eve, he did it with AJ, he did it with Lana. It's a stupid, ugly trend and it needs to end.
I can't think of one good reason why WWE shouldn't work to make their women's division stronger and more ambitious. I would like to see the Divas championship go away and replaced by the Womens Championship. Mostly because that belt looked a lot better. You have six hours of weekly TV to fill, maybe its time to start offering more variety in those six hours.
Better women's wrestling being showcased on your programs could help that and maybe you make some stars on the way. Stephanie McMahon is all for girl power and doing what's best for business, right?
When it comes to women's wrestling in the WWE, it's time to put up or shut up.