During an interview on Jalen Rose: Renaissance Man, SmackDown wrestler Naomi was asked about the biggest challenges she faces today as a Black woman wrestler in WWE.
She focused on TV time in the first part of her response:
“I think, just in general, still trying to fight for the TV time. You know, getting matches that are longer than two minutes. And although, you’re thankful, because there’s still so many women that aren’t even getting the TV time. It’s like, okay, I got two minutes. At least I got that. I got two minutes to show, and prove, and get people behind me. But, you want more. You need more, you know what I mean? To develop those stories and those characters...”
She also touched on the importance of staying away from stereotypes:
“...challenging the writing and what they have for me creatively. And going outside the box of the stereotypical characters, and also pushing myself creatively to inspire and also give the fans what they want and need from me. Just continue to grow and evolve creatively as a character and entertainer, it’s very challenging.”
Naomi is still fighting for that opportunity every single day:
“That opportunity has to be there. And I realize whenever the women in our industry are given that opportunity, they knock it out the park every time. But it can’t just be sporadically, it needs to be consistent. So, that’s what myself and all of us are still pushing for and fighting for. Each day, each week.”
Naomi’s perspective is a reminder that it was only last year that #NaomiDeservesBetter was trending on social media and then briefly worked into the WWE storyline. A more recent reminder of how difficult it can be for women to receive TV time in WWE is the poorly implemented Queen’s Crown Tournament, in which the cumulative match time for seven women’s tournament matches was actually less than 20 minutes. The time disparity between men and women was right in our faces because the King of the Ring tournament was running at the same exact time.
As an aside, I’d also like to point out that last week’s (Dec. 3) episode of SmackDown contained a shockingly low amount of actual wrestling. Here is the amount of TV time allocated for each of the five matches, in chronological order:
- 5m 31s: Sasha Banks vs. Shayna Baszler (this doesn’t include the commercial break)
- 1m 37s: Viking Raiders vs. Los Lotharios
- 2m 01s: King Woods vs. Jey Uso
- 3m 48s: Cesaro vs. Sheamus
- 0m 16s: Roman Reigns vs. Sami Zayn
These times add up to roughly 13 minutes and 13 seconds for the entire broadcast, which included roughly 84 minutes of total content with commercials excluded. We’re talking less than 16% total match time in WWE’s televised content for the night.
With numbers like that, it’s no wonder Naomi is thankful for even just two minutes of TV time.