If You're Only Watching WWE, You're Missing What Women's Wrestling Is All About
Despite being the self-proclaimed “Worldwide leader in sports entertainment”, WWE certainly leaves much to be desired with regards to its Ladies Division. The Divas Division is all but an afterthought for the WWE powers that be, despite a roster which sports two of the better female wrestlers in the world today: Beth Phoenix and Natalya. Add Kharma to the mix, assuming she returns at some point in the near future, and you have three women with more than enough skill to lead the Divas Division to another level, if only WWE would allow such a thing to occur. These women are all more than capable of giving you quality matches which tell a story and keep the viewer entertained throughout. Instead, WWE books them in 2 minute squashes that often go nowhere, build towards nothing, and leave fans indifferent to the division as a whole. I have no doubt Beth and Natalya are making nice paychecks, but at what point do they begin to weigh the less money/less travel TNA option several former Divas have taken advantage of over the last several years? Perhaps never, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility, especially considering Tara, Mickie James and Gail Kim have all made a similar jump and flourished in the process.
TNA’s Knockouts Division is doing it the right way. They’ve stacked their roster, from top to bottom, with talented women, and are often one of the more entertaining segments on IMPACT! each week. Regularly getting 6 to 10 minutes to work their matches, the Knockouts are allowed to showcase their skills, rather than just their physical attributes, and I’d argue the Knockouts Title currently means more in the world of pro wrestling than the U.S. Title or Tag Team Titles in WWE. TNA works to make the division mean something, giving their women match time, mic time, and backstage segments that have substance and don’t just cater to the lowest common denominator. The roster is a perfect balance of veteran performers like Tara, Mickie James and Gail Kim, larger than life personalities like ODB, and younger talents in Velvet Sky, Madison Rayne, and current Knockouts Champion, Brooke Tessmacher, the latter of whom has shown a great deal of improvement over the last 6 months. Tessmacher, taking full advantage of her tag team run with Tara, has proven her willingness to work hard and get better. This is not something you could readily attach to WWE’s Kelly Kelly, someone who appeared content to be a marketing tool rather than a wrestler.
If only WWE had any interest in making their Divas Division matter in the least. The Independent scene is home to a ton of great female wrestlers, women perfectly capable in giving credibility to a division sorely lacking in talent. Promotions like Shimmer and Women Superstars Uncensored (WSU Wrestling) are extremely important to the scene, showcasing some of the most talented women in the world. While they don’t currently have a weekly offering for their fans, what they do have is a helluva roster of talented women, especially the awesome Jessicka Havok, arch rival Mercedes Martinez, and the current WSU Tag Team Champions, Sassy Stephanie and Allisyn Kay, the Midwest Militia. Having just recently been sold, my hope is with new ownership we might also see a move into some sort of bi-weekly (or even monthly) episodic online television, taking better advantage of a deep and talented roster. Until then, do yourself a favor and check out their iPPV’s and YouTube clips.
Shimmer is another important promotion working to give women’s pro wrestling a platform to succeed. In October, they’ll record their 50th DVD, and over the course of 6 ½ years, have showcased the biggest names in the business, including Ayako Hamada, MsChif, Cheerleader Melissa, Madison Eagles, and Sara Del Rey.
Japan and Mexico also have a wealth of talented ladies wrestling for various promotions. Back in November of last year, Sean Waltman (X-Pac) revealed he’d tried to put in a good word with WWE on behalf of luchadora Faby Apache, a current star with Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA). Waltman, despite saying she was the, “best female worker” he’s seen in the last 10 years and can, “go with anyone”, was informed they weren’t interested in her. Waltman believes this has everything to do with her not having the ‘Diva look’. Faby is, of course, not anywhere close to the only female receiving this sort of treatment by WWE, a company seemingly hell bent on showing us all the ways it’s not a pro wrestling organization. In doing so, they’re not only selling their fans short, preventing them easy access to some amazing wrestling, but they’re selling the business short as well. That makes promotions like WSU and Shimmer all the more important to the wrestling world.
Yes, the ‘entertainment’ aspect of pro wrestling is necessary, and when done properly, enhances the product. But every now and again, don’t you just kinda wish two people would get in a ring and fight it out? There are plenty of females doing just that on the Independent circuit. If you’re tired of hair pulling, half-hearted slaps, and 2 minute matches with 30 second intros, there are certainly other options just a click away. Despite what WWE may be trying to beat you over the head with, women are an important piece of the pro wrestling puzzle, and can be very entertaining when allowed the time and space to develop and tell a story.