The Wrasslin’ Essay: The Divas’ Revolution(?)

The WWE Divas’ Revolution has the potential to be the most exciting and important shift in the way women are presented on WWE television since the emergence of Trish...
Sasha Banks

The WWE Divas’ Revolution has the potential to be the most exciting and important shift in the way women are presented on WWE television since the emergence of Trish Stratus and Lita as risk-taking workers in the late Attitude Era. The movement, however, is currently falling well short of its promise.

While the main roster Divas’ Division has been injected with some much-needed athleticism and TV time, what is being presented on Raw still can’t match the quality of the NXT Women’s Division in spite of the flagship show now utilizing most of the developmental circuit’s top talent.

Since its inception, one of the key factors to the success of the NXT Women’s Division has been the emphasis on their Women’s Championship. Every female on the roster’s top priorities have been to get title shots, win the title, and then defend the title. Unfortunately, with the main roster angle built around three trios rather than one-one-one competition, the WWE Divas Championship has been all but forgotten. What should be the raison d’être of all involved has been reduced to a prop whose only value is to remind you that Team Bella has the longest average tenure on the main roster.

This lays bare biggest problem with the so-called Diva’s Revolution: it’s not a revolution at all.

The term revolution implies violent uprising and swift regime change. However, Nikki Bella remains Diva’s Champion, and the NXT call-ups are presented not as a popular front bent on slaughtering sacred cows and sending the establishment to the guillotine, but as eager, bright-eyed freshmen who need upperclassmen to help orient them to the rigors of college. WWE’s insistence on pairing the NXT Women with main roster Divas portrays the division’s fresh blood as kids eager to sit at the grown ups’ table rather than hungry young lionesses who know they are ready to conquer the world.

Furthermore, if a “faction war” was going to get over new talent and draw money, TNA would have spent the last decade setting the wrestling world on fire with their brilliant creative. By breaking essentially the entire women’s locker room into cliques, the WWE is both reinforcing tired twentieth century stereotypes of women and hurting the chance of each individual Diva to get over.

When the Divas are presented all at once as “the Divas,” it compartmentalizes and minimizes their impact on the show. What NXT has done so successfully is differentiate their characters from one another so that a match between Bayley and Sasha Banks means something totally different to the fans than a match between Charlotte and Banks or Blue Pants and Dana Brooke. Pushing the Divas and NXT Women together into groups robs them of the individual identities and potential drawing power.

Compounding these problems is WWE’s consistent and utter failure at “showing” rather than “telling.” Since the launch of the Divas’ Revolution, everybody from Paige to Michael Cole to, of course, Stephanie McMahon has lined up to sing the praises of the movement, telling the audience what a great thing it is that they are watching. What’s severely lacking, though, is evidence of real change and concrete proof of greatness. If you never watched NXT, would you even know that Sasha Banks and Charlotte are better than the Bellas?

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David Gibb

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