Last week, we rallied the community for some discussion of the Liv Morgan teasers which seemed to be repackaging her as either the latest Sable clone, or perhaps something darker.
While we don’t yet know exactly who Liv 2.0 will be, we got something more than a hint when she crashed the Lana/Bobby Lashley wedding on Raw last night (Dec. 30). Based on her 5 - 10 minutes of screen time during that whole affair, we got some indications about where WWE might be headed with the new version of Gionna Daddio’s* character.
Morgan may be playing someone whose sexual orientation is gay or bi, who was lied to and/or manipulated by Lana, a woman for whom cheating on her husband and proceeding to torture him with their failed relationship is only her latest act of infidelity & emotional terrorism. Or she could be pretending to be confused or curious about her identity (sexual and otherwise) in order to antagonize Lana for reasons we’ve not yet been made privy to.
Even reading what I just wrote, I’m tempted to tell myself it’s not that serious. And because it was presented as the penultimate act of the farce which was Lana’s wedding, a lot of people reading this are probably saying that very thing.
But me personally, I’m a straight male. And while I happen to be a straight male who’d like to see wrestling in general and WWE in particular depict LGBTQ+ people in their storytelling, I will never know what it’s like to see one of my favorite pastimes only feature characters with similar life experiences to mine as mentally unbalanced or sociopathic liars.
Of course, just like there are cisgendered heterosexual white dudes who are fundamentally good people, there are queer folks who can be assholes. But WWE only ever centers the few gay and lesbian storylines they do around queer folks you wouldn’t want to be friends with - mostly stalkers or schemers. Liv 2.0 looks to either be one or the other. Or maybe both.
Lots of fans will say “wait and see”, which you often have to do with serialized fiction. I’m not judging you if you choose to take that approach. But especially if you’ve lived through Billy & Chuck, the Mickie James/Trish Stratus angle, or the Torrie Wilson & Dawn Marie program, I definitely understand why you’re already willing to call the whole thing a loss.
This story could have involved the out lesbian on WWE’s roster who makes more headlines for public relations appearances than she does for pro wrestling matches.
Welp... my mind is blown.— Daria Berenato (@SonyaDevilleWWE) December 31, 2019
I know my friend I know https://t.co/riAfd8b5ff— Daria Berenato (@SonyaDevilleWWE) December 31, 2019
Or even if the reports that a Sonya Deville/Mandy Rose romance angle was nixed because Daria Berenato’s* real life partner was uncomfortable with it are true, Sonya’s sexuality could have been integrated into her character in some other positive manner (on a show other than Total Divas) to counter-balance the way Morgan was used last night.
More will be revealed about Liv 2.0. She’s set-up as a babyface, which is different from Mickie or Dawn Marie. Her attire mixed traditionally male and female design elements, which could be foreshadowing some interesting, progressive elements of the gimmick.
But for now, weeks of teasing her “real” self led to the debut of a young woman who needed a mentor in order to feel confident enough to come out as a conventionally attractive lesbian, and then either was lied to by that person or has developed an unhealthy fixation on her. It’s not a story that’s going to excite many people in the long-term** except for ones interested in nothing but gawking at conventionally attractive lesbians (and let me tell you, there are better places to scratch that itch). And it’s a corner WWE might not paint itself into if they had more creative team members who know what it’s like to live as something other than a cis heteronormative person. Or empowered the LGBTQ+ staffers they may already have to create more storylines for their communities.
WWE needs to hire people who actually understand what representation means to the audience they’re trying to reach. But what do I know? I’m a bear, I suck the heads off fish. pic.twitter.com/qRUYpgylyS— player/coach (@CMPunk) December 31, 2019
Like Punk, I don’t know. But it’s a conversation WWE and the wrestling community needs to have. Liv Morgan’s role on Raw last night is our latest opportunity. Please be respectful and civil if you choose to join in the discussion.
* Real names were used in this post to make it clear we’re talking about the role, not the performers.
** Yes, it’s killing it on YouTube. But will it appreciably change WWE’s business? Is this an ongoing gimmick that can be used in a lot of different feuds?