On Friday, WWE announced the release of former Divas Champion Kelly Kelly. There have been reports that Kelly had been rather disinterested with touring with the WWE, wanting to spend more time with her ice hockey boyfriend, and had been modelling under her real name, Barbie Blank. Kelly spent the last 6 years in the employment of the WWE, having started as a exhibitionist in the revamp ECW. Much of her in-ring career was spent as a bit part player in a then much stronger women’s division. Despite this, she would become one of the more popular divas in during this time and would eventually become the face of the Diva division by 2011.
Kelly was by no means a brilliant in-ring worker, but Kelly had been the one of the few remaining ‘over’ divas in the WWE, and her release makes her the 5th female to be release from the main roster in 2012. She now joins Kharma, the Bellas and Maxine of divas who have been released this year. Among this is a massive cull of female competitors in FCW aswell, which has included the likes of Raquel Diaz, Eddie Guerrero’s daughter, Sofia Cortez and Christina Crawford, Alicia Fox’s sister. In TNA, alike wise cut of Knockout Division is taking place. Angelina Love, Winter, Tracy Brooks and Velvet Sky have all been release, 3 of whom have been previous used heavily in the Knockout Division. The most worrying concern for WWE and TNA is that there has not been any immediate action taken to replace said wrestlers.
In truth, women wrestling is a far cry to what is was. On December 6th 2004, an independent trained journeyman wrestler Lita took on a Womens Champion, model-turned-pro wrestler Trish Stratus for WWE Womens Championship on episode of RAW. The feud built between the two had been going on for several months before hand, but in truth, their feud had its foundations from the time both had debuted for the company in 2000. Such build the match had that it was entrusted to take the main event spot for that evening’s RAW. Never before had women’s wrestling match drawn enough attention to warrant spot on RAW. Lita would defeat her eternal rival Stratus and win her 2nd Women’s Championship. In TNA, during the early days of the Knockout Division in 2007 and 2008, it would usually received the highest ratings of iMPACT!. The main staple of Gail Kim, Awesome Kong, ODB and the Beautiful People were advertise heavily as the reason to watch TNA.
Today, women’s wrestling is certainly on downward straight. In no way do the likes of Layla, Eve or Kaitlyn could be seen to be able to main event an episode of Superstars, yet alone a episode of RAW. The knockouts, due to the arrival of Eric Bischoff and Bruce Prichard (who’s publicly stated his dislike of women wrestling), have been downsized in terms of the size of their roster and their importance. Less TV time is given to female; the only new female arrival in WWE to gain any sort of popularity was AJ Lee, and this was due to her playing a large part in major WWE storyline. That is the major problem with the Diva Division: they’re not given enough attention to build a character.
A Diva segment on RAW will usually consist of one diva whom is smiling, one diva who is not (this is to determine who’s face and who’s heel), a 2 minute mess will occur, and then the diva who won will smile/not smile even more intensely. The problem with this formula is that there is no character building taken place here; we’re subjected to a random match with no context of importance and value. We don’t care about the divas because they are not doing anything to make us care about them. Much of their booking seems to be an after-thought at best.
But is this the death of women’s wrestling? No would be my answer. Despite its clear-out, the WWE still have some bright talents coming through. The likes of Sara Del Ray and Paige will be great additions to the waning Divas division. TNA’s knockout division still contains some of the better female workers seen. But the first signs of real trouble are here, and it would be foolish for the WWE and TNA to allow it to happen. In a world where equality between the genders is closing socially and financially, you need to have a strong women’s division to gain more profit out the increasingly richer female viewers.
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