mark my words

Mark My Words: The Revolution is Not As Advertised

We’re told that there’s been a revolution happening in WWE’s women’s wrestling. Well, we were being told that, for a little while, when we had nine active Divas on the roster. Remember that? We had Team PCB (Paige, Charlotte, Becky Lynch), Team B.A.D (Sasha Banks, Naomi, Tamina), and Team Bella (Nicki Bella, Brie Bella, Alicia Fox) and suddenly everyone had to show up at ringside to support their besties. In bringing Charlotte, Becky and Sasha up from developmental in NXT, WWE were seen as using their strong female characters and leading them to a revolution on the main roster. Thanks to injury, and Natalya’s understandable part time status due to her husband, we’re now down to seven, going up to eight when Nattie’s around.

Unfortunately for this brilliant team strategy, the storylines broke down pretty quickly, because you can’t write nine women as if there are only three of them, and that’s what the teams boiled down to. You had PCB as the gutsy young underdogs, Team Bella as the ruling force of prom queens, and Team B.A.D as the sassy, vicious ones. I have a horrible feeling that’s how they were pitched in the creative meeting, too, and I don’t think it was an accident that we ended up with most of the women with darker skin on one team. WWE is not exactly good at showcasing its wrestlers of colour in any case, and when this comes to women, the screen time vanishes almost completely.

When the teams began to break down, there weren’t any good storylines to support it, and we ended up with Booker T’s phrase ‘women just hate each other’ as the prime storyline – women were just not designed to be in teams, kayfabe seemed to say, and obviously they would eventually break up, because the compressing the women hadn’t worked. But now there were nine individuals – ten if we count Natalya, who’s mostly part time these days due to looking after Kidd – who all needed screen time and storylines… and it just seems like WWE’s creative team couldn’t handle that in the limited time women are afforded. The reality is that if you only give someone three minutes every two weeks to show us who they are? We don’t remember, or worse, we don’t care.

If I take Raw on 18th January 2016 as an example for the time women have spent either onscreen in general (which generously includes flashbacks) or wrestling, let’s examine what they had. First we had Brie (with Alicia) out to face Natalya (with Paige), a ‘Total Divas’-inspired segment that gave us face Paige when she’s been a heel for a while now, had no interaction with the main of kayfabe, and lasted for five minutes. No, really, including the time they spent showing us ‘Total Divas’ clips, the whole segment was five minutes, three of which were the match. We were, however, treated to a second segment of women, which is probably considered pandering to the misandrists at this point, which was eleven minutes, as it was setting up for the title match at the Royal Rumble. The match within it, Becky Lynch vs. Tamina, was four minutes long.

That’s sixteen minutes spent on women in total of a product that is, without commercials, 135 minutes long – that’s (rounding up) a maximum of TWELVE PERCENT of your time spent on not just women’s matches (which made up more like six percent of the show) but women in general. That’s appalling. It’s disgusting. Even with three out of the ten women on the roster out right now, that’s ridiculous. The fact that there are only ten women on the roster is ridiculous. Maybe if we put some more onus on a larger women’s roster, and we had then, say, 30-40 percent of the matches on the card be women’s matches, then we wouldn’t have so many injured male stars right now.

If you want a comparison, at the start of the same Raw, there was a 28-minute segment, including a match, setting up Roman Reigns and the title match in the Royal Rumble. You might argue that this set-up included more people, because Jericho was there, along with Rusev, Del Rio, Barrett and Sheamus – but actually, we squeezed seven Divas (and one Diva’s father) into sixteen minutes, while the segment on the men’s title only had six different men in it. Just talking about the title changing hands took most of this half hour, whereas Becky challenging Charlotte to a match at the Royal Rumble took a scant three minutes.

How can we believe that we’re giving Divas a chance, that there’s been a revolution, when even discussing the title changing hands is done in a three-minute segment, whereas we spend half an hour on the men’s equivalent title? We can’t. There is no revolution happening on the women’s side of the roster in WWE, and anyone looking to come up from NXT would be better staying put, where they’re taken seriously, and might get a chance to main event. Up on the main roster? Thanks to good old Vince, there’s no chance in hell.