The women of WWE are being wasted.
Last night on Raw, there was no prominent presence of women besides a backstage, one-shot cameo by the Bella Twins and, of course Eve Torres, who was set for a match with Beth Phoenix to open an opportunity for Divas Championship contention.
But, even Eve’s quest to reach the top of the Divas division took a backseat to the storyline involving Kane playing mind games with John Cena while stalking his sidekick Zack Ryder, who had just finally scored a date with Eve.
Beth Phoenix, the Divas Champion, didn’t even get to appear on camera, much less set foot in the ring.
This only reinforces the perception of the Divas Championship—and the whole women’s division—as meaningless.
The fact that the titleholder didn’t even compete because her match was less of a priority than another storyline demonstrates just how unimportant the belt is to WWE’s creative team.
This is counter-productive for the whole product.
In the pre-Raw era, champions such as Hulk Hogan rarely wrestled on weekly television. But back then, it was through protection—the rarely-seen title matches sold tickets to house shows and reserved the champ as part of a special attraction at Pay-Per-View events.
Since the end of the era of exhibition matches where stars were enhanced by squashing jobbers each week, that approach has been largely scrapped.
Now, titleholders wrestle on TV frequently. Just last night, WWE Champion CM Punk pinned Dolph Ziggler, while World Champion Daniel Bryan beat WWE Tag Team Titleholder Kofi Kingston.
But when the women do wrestle on television, their matches are incredibly short.
This is partly to conceal the shortcomings of limited in-ring talents, such as Kelly Kelly. But it is also partly because they’re treated as fillers. And this is where WWE shoot themselves in the foot.
WWE needs to commit to their Divas division.
If they did, it would make them money.
And that’s another thing—the word “Divas” sounds pampered and pretentious. Their belt even has a pretty butterfly on it.
TNA, when promoting their equally unnecessarily-titled but less ludicrous “Knockouts,” justifiably took shots at WWE’s presentation of “Divas.”
But the proof of what works is in what draws money—the Knockouts, each of them are individual characters that viewers invested in emotionally, which regularly spiked the ratings for TNA programming because they were presented as a valuable, viable and credible part of the company rather than two-dimensional cookie-cutter characters.
WWE could learn from this.
Why don’t we know more of Eve’s persona, her passions, her goals?
Instead of having her flee from Kane in fear and lock herself inside Zack Ryder’s car, why doesn’t WWE emphasize that Eve is a jiu-jitsu student? They could show more of Eve’s legitimate toughness, perhaps even in confronting Kane, without promoting violence against women.
Like Eve, many of those on the roster are legitimately tough females.
So, why don’t we see Beth Phoenix exhibit the genuine toughness she showed earlier in her career, such as her ladder match with Katie Lea in Ohio Valley Wrestling?
Why isn’t she reinforced as a successful amateur wrestler who turned pro and made it to the top?
Why not stress more that Beth’s buddy, Natalya Neidhart, trained in the legendary and notorious Hart Dungeon?
The odd passing comment from the likes of Michael Cole isn’t sufficient.
There are others whose characters could be fleshed out—AJ, Kaitlyn, and even Naomi, who last night appeared as just one of Brodus Clay’s Flash Funk-like dancers on Raw, but showed great wrestling potential in matches on NXT.
It would also help to start making the women more “real” by giving them second names more often and not just one that matches their first—like Kelly Kelly.
With investment of time and resources into their female wrestlers while promoting and pushing those who can actually put together high-quality matches, WWE could be on to a winner.
Instead, they are wasting a pool of talent and their own airtime.
Where’s the sense in that?
Written for the Bleacher Report.