According to “wrestling twitter,” it’s over. What we’ve largely praised for the past two years is done. One of the bright spots of North American pro wrestling has gone dim. Ladies and gentlemen, the WWE Women’s Division is trash. The Women’s Revolution is dead! There, I said it. It isn’t true, but I said it.
You’d think as wrestling fans we’d not collectively do the whole sky is falling bit with one stretch of bad booking on one show and a monumentally bone-headed PPV finish on the other. Yes, Raw’s women haven’t been given a ton of worthy ideas to work with in the past few months. Emma’s return has been forgettable, which considering her history is a shame. Bayley’s entire championship reign was mishandled from the start and turned into a disaster by the end. Nia isn’t where they want her to be. And they lost Charlotte to Smackdown in the Superstar Shakeup.
Things have been better on Smackdown. Their women’s division has fared a bit better for the most part. The quality of the stories told are consistently better on SD and the creative team on the blue brand gets much more out of the various characters. Smackdown lost a dominant, upcoming personality in Alexa Bliss, but they gained the star power and credibility of Charlotte Flair. There have even been Raw women openly complaining that SD uses a weaker division with less TV time much more effectively than the Raw creative squad.
Where things got blatantly horrible with the Smackdown women happened at the Money in the Bank PPV this past Sunday. After hyping the first ever women’s MITB match as this huge historical event, even going so far as producing a sappy, over-the-top video package praising women of the near and distant past who blazed the trail the current females walk upon. After all that, they booked a goofball, incompetent man to be the one to actually win the match, albeit for his friend who is a girl, Carmella.
That was the moment that bought out all the angst. Watching the #MoneyInTheBank hashtag on Twitter over the past few days details that exactly. Lots of upset folks. Women and men alike. Words like “tone deaf” and “disrespectful” were being thrown around. There was plenty of sarcasm and snark to spare as well. There were gender-neutral complaints about the finish as well. There were questions of why hype a match so much only to give a bullshit finish to it? No one is served positively by it. Not the women workers in the match, not James friggin Ellsworth, and certainly not the paying audience watching. After that finish, the tone changed. People started to openly question whether the Women’s Revolution was over! As if!
Then Raw happened and the entire three hour and 15 minute show had one women’s segment that was lame. There was a match with a whack ass DQ finish in about three minutes, a bit of a tussle between some of the ladies, and the return of Bayley which seems way too soon for what it looked like they were doing. Then that tone from fans got louder and angrier.
Hopefully the immediate response from Smackdown authority figures, Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon, did something to quell the hysterics. Bryan then made the decision on this weeks’s Smackdown to strip Carmella of the MITB contract and he booked a rematch feturing the same competitors for next week’s show. They can’t undo the damage that was done on Sunday at the PPV, but this quick acknowledgment of a wrong and the choice to fix it is promising. It does nothing to change a very important moment from being ruined in a lot of fans’ eyes, but it signals to the fan base that they get it and want to make good even though it was clearly the plan all along. I don’t think anyone believes WWE did not see the controversy coming.
With that said, we all need to take a deep breath. The Women’s Revolution is not over. WWE is not done pushing the women as serious athletes who fight for respect and championships. I mean, even the most jaded, cynical fans have to realize that the women being apart of the shows at or near the top of cards, being treated like ass kicking athletes, is totally to WWE’s advantage. Even if it is just for P.R. reasons, the company is not going to revert back to two minute women’s matches being the norm where they are just there for a splash of sex appeal and a popcorn break. Stephanie wouldn’t then be able to do her fake ass, uncle Tom, “we love women” gimmick on Twitter and at corporate functions.
They understand that the fan base has seen and enjoyed and paid too much money into this division and the style they bring to back off how they frame the ladies. It’s like how the GOP knew that once you give the country healthcare they like and can afford, even the folks that initially voted against it and fought it tooth and nail would then five years later kick your ass if you tried to take it away. We like their women kicking ass and taking names. We like in-depth storylines involving female talent just like we do with the men! Who’d have guessed?!
Just my take.