Is Women’s Wrestling Dying A “Total Divas” Death?

AJ Lee

AJ Lee

It is just a week removed from what many are calling the best women’s match in a long time between Natalya and Charlotte Flair at the NXT Takeover. Some have even gone as far as to call it the best women’s match they have ever seen. It wouldn’t be my personal pick, but it was one of the better matches in recent memory. TNA had a very good match with Gail Kim and Taryn Terrell about a year ago in an amazing “Last Knockout Standing” match at last year’s “Slammiversary” pay-per-view.

If you’re a fan of the independent wrestling scene, Candice LaRae is a name you might know for her work in “Pro Wrestling Guerilla” where she is fighting males and teaming with Joey Ryan who had a run in TNA. If you dig deeper you can find promotions like “Shimmer”, an all women’s promotion on the independents.

You can find good women’s wrestling if you go looking for it and it isn’t on “E Network’s Total Divas”, that’s for sure.  A few months back, Jim Ross had  Trish Stratus as one of the first guests on his podcast. Both concluded they were not a fan of the term “Diva” and the naming of the WWE Women’s Championship as the Divas Championship. Trish Stratus is the Ric Flair of women’s champions with the most reigns in the WWE with a total of nine. Her and Lita both are members of the WWE Hall of Fame and rightfully so. They are the only women in history to work a singles match with only ladies in the main event of Raw in its entire history.

Everyone remembers or knows the history of Wrestlemania being headlined by Mr.T and Hulk Hogan. What is sometimes forgotten is the Women’s Title Match with Wendi Richter winning the title, which was also one of the featured matches on the card even though mostly for her manager, music star Cindy Lauper. Speed ahead to Wrestlemania 30 and you had a battle royal Divas match for the title booked in the worst position arguably in the history of professional wrestling.

It was revealed, if you believe it or not, the Divas match was supposed to be third on the card and was switched according to “Total Divas” and match was in danger of being cut. Something that did happen to the mixed tag match the year prior also featured on that show. It wasn’t cut as we all know, but it did go on after an audience had been stunned to silence after watching The Undertaker have his streak and now maybe his career come to an end.

The spot second from the top prior to the main event has become the women’s home for their matches and until that changes any hope for the WWE putting on anything close to a credible women’s match is pretty much dead. Even great, experienced performers are hard pressed to tell good stories with so little time as this spot is often the victim of time cutting and not given very long for a match to begin with. It is basically designed as the “bathroom break” or a chance to grab a snack prior to the main event.

If that doesn’t change, you are never truly going to get much from the roster of ladies regardless of how talented they are in the ring. The match with Charlotte and Natalya demonstrated how well the women can work when given time to tell a story. They did have their famous family members with Ric Flair and Bret Hart on the outside, but that was just window dressing to a great match.

Paige, the current Diva’s Champion, had many good matches as the NXT Women’s Champion. Those were always given more time than a typical divas match on Raw, Smackdown or a pay-per-view. Emma was having decent matches as well, same could be said for Summer Rae. All of them have not had a match anything close to that since coming to the main roster.

Going back to that interview with Stratus and Ross, she talked about how the women would have to fight for time for their matches and a real team attitude with all of the ladies that I really don’t see today. She also mentioned about how both her and Lita were used in main storylines as part of the show prior to getting the chance to compete in the ring.

This was something that happened with A.J. Lee when she was around and made her into the most “over” Diva on the roster despite not being connected to “Total Divas” in anyway.  She had learned how to cut a better than average promo and was decent enough in the ring to be a legit performer. Much like Trish Stratus, Lee has developed into a better wrestler and talker over time. Lee’s sudden departure has left a massive void as the overall audience really is given no reason to care for any of these girls. They have done the odd idea of trying to cross over angles from “Total Divas” to bring to Raw with very little success.

In short, despite a filled roster of girls the WWE and their “Divas Division” may not be as over as Hornswoggle and El Torito and that is pretty damn sad.

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Their was a time that TNA offered an incredible “Knockouts” Division but like all things there they have watched that dwindle down to a roster of ladies you can count on two hands and have fingers left over. Gail Kim for my money is the best women’s wrestler on television you can find. She had two runs in WWE, but never seemed to fit in with them. In TNA, she was given a canvas and the time to paint some pretty pictures in the form of matches. Mickie James also did some pretty great stuff in TNA prior to being released. Like they have with their “X-Division”, TNA has dropped the ball with their women’s division. Those two things were part of what made them different from WWE.

It’s really a shame what has become of women’s wrestling with the major companies. Ring of Honor has no real women’s division to speak of despite talk of looking into developing one. In short, if you want to find women’s wrestling you need to hit your local independent wrestling shows more often than you will find it on WWE or TNA. If we can get one classic a year these days it seems like we are lucky.

I have never written a list of my all time favorite matches in wrestling. If I were to make such a list, one match that would be on it, would be the retirement match for Trish Stratus in Toronto against Lita. It told a great story and was a wonderful match. It also seemed to mark the end of a magical time for women’s wrestling even though we didn’t know it at the time. Least in the WWE it did.

The most over female in the WWE doesn’t even wrestle — she is Stephanie McMahon. Maybe, if she eventually wrestles Brie Bella in a match, she will be given more than five minutes and a better spot on the card?  Shame it doesn’t happen for the ladies that can work and have a solid match.

If you say women can’t draw interest or money, I would just refer you to the UFC with Ronda Rousey and the success she has had.

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