This is a guest post by John Daigle.
On Saturday night, in front of a raucous 15,000-plus in Brooklyn, New York, NXT Women's Champion Sasha Banks was escorted to the ring by four large men portraying bodyguards in a Cadillac Escalade. The bright lights of the Barclay's Center illuminated off the recently polished black chrome of the vehicle, just another innuendo of the spotlight being rightfully placed atop Banks, and all the women in NXT for that matter. As Bayley -- the challenger and life-long underdog that had began her quest to finally accomplish her dream of becoming champion exactly four weeks ago by knocking off Emma, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte in consecutive weeks - waited for Banks to step into, or in this case, be lifted into the ring by those accompanying her (a feat only the "Boss" gimmick has the stature for), Bayley continued to size her up, clearly contemplating if this dream of hers was too farfetched, let alone possible.
Once the bell sounded, dueling chants of "Let's-Go-Bay-Ley!", "Let's-Go-Sash-A!" rang from the rafters down. The split crowd remained on their feet as the co-main event had officially begun. As Banks slowly came face-to-face with her opponent, simultaneously toying with her ring gear whilst laughing at how adorable and, in the words of the champion, pathetic she appeared, anger had finally overcome fear, leading Bayley to pounce first. The next 18-20 minutes of the night involved a combination of intimate storytelling (Sasha targeting the "broken" hand of Bayley, Bayley refusing to stay down), grueling desire (Banks kicking out of the first Bayley-to-Belly suplex), and arguably the best in-ring work the entire weekend had to offer (including, but not limited to a reverse super hurricanrana, for instance). As Bayley frustratingly threw her wristband outside of the ring and tightened her elastic hair tie (a maneuver she typically does to signify the use of her finisher), a stunned Banks stumbled to her feet. From there, the crowd counted in unison with the ref striking the mat as the second Bayley-to-Belly suplex was seemingly too much to overcome.
Immediately after the bell had sounded, Charlotte and Becky stormed the ring from backstage and hugged the new NXT Women's champion. After all, it wasn't just a win for Bayley that had them nearly in tears. This was a win for women's wrestling and wrestling fans as a whole. Charlotte and Banks had headlined house shows before, but this...this was special. As the three friends continued to celebrate in the ring, Banks finally came to her senses and rose to her feet. Frankly, we had seen this before. Playing the Boss character to perfection no matter the circumstances, Banks had quickly exchanged congratulatory words with Charlotte after winning the title several months back before pushing her away in order to keep her heel persona intact. But Saturday night, in front of the raucous 15,000-plus, Banks walked straight over to Bayley and cried in her arms. The four women left to a standing ovation and quite possibly the most audible cheers of the night.
But that was Saturday.
On Sunday night, in front of more eyes and the much larger audience of the WWE Universe, Banks' stable (Team B.A.D.) was eliminated from their three-team tag match in six and a half minutes, a stint that doesn't even take into account the actual time Banks spent in-ring (45 seconds, MAYBE). And on Monday, as the crowd repeatedly chanted her name (among numerous other things), Banks wasn't even on the card.
One-third of the three nights spent at the Barclay's Center was referred to as "NXT Takeover: Brooklyn". The other two nights, the term "Divas Revolution" made an appearance all too often. And therein lies the problem.
Just over one month ago, Stephanie McMahon chose to destroy her character of being, outside of the Miz, one of the best natural villains of this generation by welcoming the women of NXT to the big leagues. In a division that had run out of clever ways for Paige to continuously fight both Naomi and Nikki Bella, the introduction of Charlotte, Becky, and Sasha was supposed to breathe life into a fan base that had spent the previous weeks clamoring for new blood. The accomplishments of all the women in NXT, whether it be Banks or even Blue Pants, was no longer a well-kept secret. We had seen their matches. We knew what they could do. And that's what we wanted. But introducing them was only the first part of the equation.
Since then, there have been very few singles matches and even fewer Divas Championship matches. The minutia of stables continue to take the place of wholesome one-on-one in-ring work even though every single woman out there (except maybe Brie) is more than capable. And despite commentary's unrelenting recognition of Nikki's consecutive days spent as champion (275 and still going, in case you haven't heard), there have been no targets on her back from the start. Much like all of us, the rest of the Divas division seems uninterested, to say the least. Instead, they're approach remains what we feared the most.
Earlier this year, Kevin Eck, former editor of WCW Magazine, took to his blog, The Ecks Factor, to describe what he rightfully considered "questionable booking" during his time on the WWE creative team.
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by the questionable booking. During my time on the WWE creative team, we actually were told that there really are no babyfaces or heels in the Divas division. It was strongly implied that the Divas are all just a bunch of catty chicks, most of whom are mentally unstable. A perfect example of that philosophy was the booking of the program between AJ and Paige last year. Instead of establishing a babyface and a heel, both characters acted heelish.
Though this was said between the overlap of the post-AJ Lee era and during Paige's hiatus, it all rings true to this very day. There's a reason why Team Bella are heels when fighting Team PCB but baby faces when fighting Team B.A.D. The mistake, of course, being the thought that more minutes and card placement results in a revolution, or the equivalent of the product that is still occurring in Full Sail. Now it's clear: though the women from NXT were called up, the direction that brought them to the WWE in the first place clearly was not. And Monday night was no different.
I don't blame the Barclay's Center for taking no interest in another six-woman tag match, and I sure as hell don't blame the women of WWE for working through it. Unfortunately, they continue to be led astray, forced to make something out of nothing. After all, the same thing was done whenever the New Day was initially forced upon us as faces, and we see what they have suddenly become. The difference, however, is the direction, or lack thereof. The New Day changed. The Divas division, on the other hand, doesn't appear to have that same sort of leeway. They'll continue to act "catty" towards one another, and that's only if they're still given a chance after the debauchery that was Raw.
Stephanie was right. We wanted a revolution. We just didn't want this one.