NEW DAWN FOR DIVAS?
Two weeks ago, I had a chance to see an excellent match between WWE Divas workhorse - Natalya and #WWENXT's Charlotte. At least it seemed like an excellent match upon first viewing But sometimes things - be they matches, movies or books - can strike one differently upon a second viewing , a second reading etc. After a second viewing, I'm convinced that what took place between Natalya and Ms Charlotte was more than just a match. It was a symbol of the potential the Divas division, and all the hard-working ladies who comprise it to be a more sunstantial and meaningful part of WWE moving forward. It's the match that has me convinced that we could be looking at a new dawn in women's wrestling.
The key word is COULD - because so much is dependent on letting go of the notion (whether it be backed up by ratings patterns, studies or statistics) that WWE Divas are side dishes to be consumed quickly and without much fanfare before the serving of the main entree.
I know there are many naysayers who just flat out think they don't want to watch women wrestle. But there have always been naysayers - non-wrestling fans, who siad they didn't want to watch ANY wrestling at all. Sometimes, all it takes is ONE match to change their perspective. Back in 1989, I would often show cynics one of the the Ric Flair-Ricky Steamboat classics - so they might better be able to appreciate the artistry of professional wrestling. Maybe it's time to show new cynics a different Flair - different gender, different generation, different style - but with that same unmistakable artistry - and an unrestrained love and passion for that art - that can turn even the most hardened cynic into an appreciator, and maybe even a fan.
This was perhaps the finest WWE women's match I've seen since Trish Stratus had her retirement match with Lita...and maybe even better in its own way. Lita and Trish was so good that a #HellInaCell match couldn't follow it. But Charlotte and Natalya was so good that a few years down the road, we might all look back on it as the match that showed us all what was possible when two women work as hard, and care as much, and wrestle their hearts out - working in front of the appreciative crowd at Full Sail University as if it was 75,000 strong at #Wrestlemania. They weren't a side dish to be consumed quickly before the real stars arrived. They WERE the entree - perfectly seasoned, something to be savored and thoroughly enjoyed - even upon repeated viewings.
The record shows that Natalya took the blows - the farting angle, dancing with Khali, - and has still somehow managed to emerge as one of the most respected and most popular ladies in the business.New Divas champion Paige and former champion AJ Lee have broken the mold of what a WWE Diva was "supposed" to look like. And Charlotte? She's responsible for the title of this post. Because once I'd seen her match for a second time, all I could think was, "it's a new dawn" for women's wrestling.
There might be some resistance to the idea of allowing the Divas to play a more substantial role on WWE Monday Night Raw. Maybe I should show up once in a while as a reminder that in 1996, the stars for the new generation were SUPPOSED to be Marc Mero and Ahmed Johnson - neither of whom currently reside in the WWE Hall of Fame. I was on hand at the Cape Cod Melody Tent in 1996 when the news was broken to Stone Cold - WWE Universe that the company just didn't see any marketing potential in him. Oh yeah, and the reason it took me almost twelve years to get into the WWE, was because Mr McMahon didn't think I looked like a star. Fortunately, the powers that be were brave enough to go against the conventional wisdom of what stars were supposed to look like and I think we all emerged better off for it. I hope the current powers have that same courage to think outside the box, and see that the time may just be right, and the talent might just be there for that new dawn in Divas wrestling to truly begin.
As a good friend of mine used to say, "enough is enough; it's time for a change." That time is now in the Divas division. Enough of the 3 minute Battle Royals, and the 2 minute "Lumberjill" matches. After seeing a thing of true beauty between Natalya and Charlote, allowing the ladies to go out there and give anything less than their best is not only an insult; it's not best for business."
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