The #GiveDivasaChance trend helped bring attention to gaping problem in WWE’s main programming which is that they don’t really give the women performers much to do. In the years following the retirements of Trish Stratus and Lita, the role of the women has reduced to the point that their matches are largely used as filler to kill time on a PPV. If you are a female wrestler on the main WWE roster, unless you happen to be Stephanie McMahon or interacting with her, there isn’t much chance you being involved in a major angle or getting a significant amount of TV time to build your stories and showcase your skills. Admittedly, since AJ Lee’s sudden departure and the #GiveDivasaChance movement, it has improved slightly. The girls are being given a little more time for their matches. However, that still doesn’t account for the poor writing of their storylines and the fact that their matches are still used as filler on PPVs.
Compare that to the other wrestling shows out there. Lucha Underground has the women wrestling the men with Sexy Star involved in angles and feuds, Ivelisse being a title holder in main events, and Angelo Fong getting months and months of build up before her debut. They also wrestle the men, which nobody else is doing. In TNA, you have the women featured heavily on the show in big angles and matches. Then when you look at the WWE’s developmental brand, NXT, the women are arguably the best part of the show. Just as recently as this week’s Takeover special, Unstoppable, we had two womens matches, including an outstanding match between Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch for the NXT Women’s Title.
I have personally always felt like that if you have high caliber talents, you should use them to their fullest. Lucha Underground utilizes their talents in key roles. NXT has some of the best women wrestlers on the planet like Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bayley, & Becky Lynch, and uses them to their full potential. And even in TNA, the likes of Gail Kim & Awesome Kong are among the most important parts of the show.
The problem isn’t that the WWE’s main roster is devoid of talented women. When looking for in ring talent, Natalya is about as good as it gets. On the rare occasion that she gets to showcase her talent, she hits a home run. If you want flashy characters and personality, Paige is one of the most unique female talents out there and could be great if she had better material to work with. Even Nikki Bella has improved leaps and bounds since her initial years with the company.
I don’t know why WWE would resist using their women to optimum potential. It could be an archaic mindset that “Women don’t draw in this business” or it could be the standard practice of WWE constantly underutilizing anything that isn’t involved with the World Title (it wasn’t until recently that they focused on the IC & US Titles after years upon years of doing almost nothing with them). I am not saying that women should be pushed just because they are women. When I see talent and I see potential for something engaging or entertaining, I feel like it should be showcased.
Given the strong group of talent they currently have in NXT, I would like for them to be in a better position when those women get to the main roster. Sasha Banks is one of the most complete performers around and when she starts getting used on Raw every week, she deserves the proper stage to let those abilities shine. Bayley is one of the best babyfaces in the business today and deserves to have her natural charm showcased in matches and storylines that matter. Charlotte has said that one of her goals is to main event a WWE PPV. Well, you know what, she is talented and has great matches all the time, so why can’t she? Rhoda Rousey is a gigantic star attraction in a real sport that is typically thought of as male dominated, so why can’t Charlotte be a top star in a fictional universe where the writers can manipulate the variables to tell the story that the fans would enjoy?
I know it is strange to criticize the WWE for not showcasing the women and then praise NXT, one of their brands, for how they utilize the female talent, but there are many things that the NXT brand excels at where WWE’s main show struggles. The handling of the women is just one of them. As it stands now, Women’s Wrestling on the main show is grouped with the Tag Team Division and several male talents that should be given more and aren’t. I see potential there, but for whatever reason, it isn’t being used in a meaningful way.