WWE Diva division in best shape ever!
Bernie Barnes @thedailyjobber
What a difference a year makes.
After #GiveDivasAChance, which trended in February of 2015, high-lighted how the WWE Universe’s overwhelmingly negative attitude toward the women’s division, the Big Fed has turned an important corner.
Heading into the 2016 Fastlane pay-per-view, WWE’s female roster is the largest and most talented in nearly a decade. Increased air time devoted to the Divas, as well as multiple story-lines and programs within the division are promising signs for the future of women’s wrestling on the big stage.
On the latest edition of Monday Night Raw, there were three segments devoted to the women of WWE. More importantly than that, all three segments featured different wrestlers, and only one of the segments was directly related to the Divas Championship.
Considering that’s not including the opening segment with Stephanie McMahon and Dean Ambrose and the backstage interview segments with Rene Young, the female presence has never been so prominent in WWE.
At the top of the heap is the current battle over the WWE Divas Championship between current champ Charlotte and number one contender Brie Bella.
The two met in the ring on Raw after Charlotte interrupted Byron Saxton’s interview with Bella where she was addressing the recent retirement of her husband Daniel Bryan. After a heated exchange, Bella attacked Charlotte with stiff kicks before the champ retreated.
Charlotte is the right person to carry the division championship at this time. She has come into her own as arrogant heel, and her continued association with her Hall of Fame father adds to her legitimacy, despite having only debuted on the main roster less than a year ago.
The downside to Bella and Charlotte’s program – in terms of progressing the division – involves the prevalence their male counter-parts (ie Daniel Bryan and Ric Flair). Their program would be stronger if they – and the prestige of the title – were carrying it alone.
Late in the show, Becky Lynch took to the ring against Naomi, as Team BAD member Tamina looked on at ringside. Although Lynch brought home a victory via submission, Team BAD ganged up on the Lass-Kicker, inciting Sasha Banks to come down and confront them.
This quartet’s program, set to culminate in a big tag match at the Fastlane pay-per-view, is the most layered and interesting in the division.
Team BAD are pure Diva heels, attacking Lynch in the parking lot before Raw began and using the numbers game to their advantage. While Naomi’s career has not recovered since her fall from number one contender last year, her association with consummate heavy Tamina has kept her relevant.
The real intrigue in this program comes from Banks and Lynch. They share a storied history in the ranks of NXT, see-sawing between being teammates, opponents, friends and bitter rivals. Since Banks made her return from injury at the Royal Rumble, they have been at odds. Team BAD’s presence as mutual enemy has united the two NXT vets, but only tentatively.
The tag match at Fastlane will offer many opportunities for all competitors involved. For Naomi and Tamina, it will be a chance to further cement their place as feared villains and viable contenders for the prize that has thus far eluded both. For Banks and Lynch, it will be a chance to once again show the superb skills they exhibited at Full Sail University, and perhaps set the stage for a singles program which could very well culminate on the biggest stage of the year, WrestleMania 32.
Last but not least, Summer Rae and Paige squared off on Monday Night Raw in a match that saw both wrestlers returning to action after an absence.
While many see Rae as a weak link in the division, she proved that she is not to be underestimated, picking up an upset win over the former NXT/Divas Champion from the United Kingdom.
The match itself was important in separate respects:
- For one, it was a contest between superstars which seemed distinct and unattached to any other women’s program and the title. This is important, as it brings the women’s division almost on par with the men’s which features several concurrent programs not hinging on a major belt.
- When the WWE Universe begins to chant either “We want Sasha!” or “We want Lana!” during a divas match, it usually spells death for the match’s heat. It shows a lack of interest which negatively affects the performance, and makes the division appear weak. Neither Paige nor Rae allowed the chants to have said effect, and by powering through they eventually won the crowd over and put on a great showing. They proved the division is strong despite the absence of Banks or Rusev’s bride to be.
- In the past, any match that was used as a vehicle to plug E! Network’s Total Divas was doomed to be a hollow bit of fluff action. But again, Rae and Paige gave an intense performance that was better than (many might have believed) it should have been.
The influence of Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and the women of NXT on main roster programming, coupled with the WWE Universe embracing female matches have gone a long way to bring about increasing equality in pro wrestling. If these and other trends continue, the future of women’s wrestling looks brighter than ever, and the idea of two Divas headlining a pay-per-view, even a WrestleMania, seems less like only wishful thinking.