Inside Pulse 12

View From Down Here – A Riposte to the Divas

There’s been some talk – nay, arguments, really – about female wrestlers from (especially) WWE on Inside Pulse lately. In particular, it seems that because they are female we should overlook their faults and just like them. Well, I’m here to present an alternate view.

 

They’re shit.

 

Wow, that’s the shortest column I’ve ever written. Good night!

 

What?

 

Seriously? I need to discuss my points and not just make bland, generic statements? Why? No-one else…

 

Okay, sorry.

 

Now, my “alternate view” said absolutely nothing and added nothing to any discussion – well, neither does a sycophantic view of the situation.

 

For the record – I like women’s wrestling. They can bring a different set of skills to the ring than the men – flexibility, agility, and a certain fluidity of movement.

 

But – and here’s the problem – the big leagues don’t pull it off that well. In 2011 and 2012 I did a ranking of PPV matches from WWE and TNA, and, as something different, also ranked every women’s match I saw, be it TV, live or PPV. In 2011, my top 5 consisted of 1 TNA and 4 Riot City Wrestling matches. In 2012 it was 1 TNA, 1 Shimmer and 3 RCW. This year, so far, I think it’d be one from each of TNA, RCW, Shimmer, Shine and a Canadian promotion I was sent on DVD (though I have no idea of their names – damn you fan-cam!).

 

So what’s wrong with female wrestling in TNA and WWE?

 

Part of it, as I mentioned last week, is that the transition from indy to TV is not a step everyone can make successfully. The stage actors v film actors analogy. But I think the problem is one that goes beyond that.

 

They have Sarah Del Ray (who’s impressed me when I’ve seen her in the ring) in WWE training the women. Half the Divas are married to, engaged to, dating or seeing male wrestlers. And yet the skills we see in the ring are, shall we say, limited. Some might say that the women are there for eye candy, something to look at. Great – then make them valets, managers, ring announcers, anything except wrestlers. Because we do expect our sports entertainers to be just that – sports entertainers. Megan Fox is nice to look at, but watching her “act” in the Transformers films was the mental equivalent of having bamboo shoots stuck beneath the fingernails. She should have stuck with modelling or being a vacuous talking head on television.

 

Well, the majority of female wrestlers fall into the same category. Nice to look at (in most cases), but they should stick to what they do best – standing around looking good.

 

There are exceptions to this, and they stand out all the more for what they are paired with. And, unfortunately, because what they are paired with are often appalling, they look appalling for being in the ring with them. Even Ric Flair couldn’t make El Gigante look like a wrestler.

 

Let’s look at the women I have seen wrestle in the past 12 months, shall we?

 

WWE

AJ Lee
The current women’s champion is a competent wrestler. She can certainly put on an entertaining match and has a character down pat in her interactions with everyone. She also has some fine verbal delivery for a female wrestler (and I will make that qualifier here). Her black widow submission is something she does very well. So she is a good wrestler, but she is not a great wrestler.

Alicia Fox
Awful, just awful. She has not learned a thing in however many years she’s been around. She has ‘valet’ (as in car park attendant) written all over her.

Brie Bella
Her wrestling is basic, but where she is let down is in her reactions and her selling. When AJ Lee delivered her over-hyped ‘pipebomb’ (erk) Brie and her sister reacted so appallingly badly it came close to destroying the whole segment. When her fiancée Daniel Bryan was attacked by Randy Orton she reacted as though he had received a noogie. I haven’t seen Total Divas, so I cannot comment on that, but where it matters – in the WWE – her acting is terrible. And she sells moves like she’s got stomach cramps.

Cameron
She was a dancing Funkadactyl. She should still be a dancing Funkadactyl. She should not be wrestling.

Charlotte
From NXT, she’s green as hell, and her finisher needs work, but she seems to have some sort of inherent knowledge of where she is in the ring. What little I’ve seen of her tells me she could go places. You’d think her father was a 286-times world champ or something, really.

Emma
From NXT, she seems to be okay in the ring, but I have seen too little of her to make a fair call. Still, early indications are promising.

Eva Marie
I don’t get it. She brings less than nothing to the table.

JoJo
Green as freshly mown grass, but she seems to have some sort of basic ability. Not sure what to make of her yet.

Kaitlyn
Another green wrestler, but her improvement has actually been marked. She has potential to be a good in-ring worker, I think.

Layla
I will pass on making judgement, because I can’t remember seeing her wrestle this past year, but I remember her before when she and Michelle McCool were stinking up the rings with their bad Beautiful People rip-off act and their lack of wrestling ability.

Naomi
See Cameron above, but add, don’t let her open her mouth to talk.

Natalya
On the main roster she is the only one I would consider a wrestler. She has legitimately good skills in the ring and she knows how to sell and, more importantly, how to react (see her during AJ Lee’s ‘pipebomb’ (erk) promo). She comes across as a wrestler, and as some-one who could actually fight if need be. It’s just a pity she has been saddled with horrible gimmick after horrible gimmick and has rarely been allowed to show her impressive skills… mainly because so few other Divas know how to wrestle to keep up with her. In my opinion, she should channel her father and become a bad-ass tough-gal fighter. (So sue me, I like Jim Neidhart.)

Nikki Bella
See her sister for comments, as they are pretty much as one, but Nikki somehow manages to come across as even more fake, so I just thank God they aren’t doing anything with John Cena that would require her to act or react.

Paige
Much like Emma, I have seen too little of her in NXT, but what I have seen has impressed me greatly.

Tamina Snuka
She’s Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka’s daughter, you know. She’s still looking a little green with her moves and I wince when she hits her version of the superfly splash. However, she also reacts very well within her character, and her selling is pretty good. Like AJ Lee, she has a character that seems to be consistent and is something she is doing well.

 

Now, if there are any WWE Divas I’ve missed, then I’ve not actually seen them wrestle, or if I have seen them wrestle they have left virtually no impact on me. See, I have a feeling I’ve seen Summer Rae and Sasha Banks, but can’t for the life of me picture them doing anything in the ring wrestling-wise.

 

Now…

 

TNA

In researching this, I couldn’t remember who was still in and who wasn’t in TNA, so I went to the Knockouts website. Well… they have 7 women there. One is a backstage person, one is out on maternity leave, leaving five females. Ouch.

Brooke (not Tessmacher)
Though she still has some selling issues, her actual in-ring work has improved over the past couple of years, and now that she’s hooked up with Bully Ray, she finally has a consistent character, one which she seems comfortable pulling off. If she keeps getting better like she is, she will be a fine wrestler sooner rather than later.

Gail Kim
The single best women’s wrestler on television today. Her in-ring work is second-to-none and her selling and character are flawless. She reacts well, she can talk on the mic, she is a fine example of what a female wrestler should be, and any young woman who wants to be a wrestler could well do far worse than emulate Gail Kim.

Lei’D Tapa
Haven’t seen a huge amount of her, but what I have seen has left an impression. She is legitimately strong and has the intense character down pat (definitely channelling her uncle, the Barbarian, and doing it well). Her skills expose her as being green, but it is easy to see the potential there for a new wrestler to carry the Awesome King kick-arse role forward.

ODB
ODB’s an interesting one. Her whole thing with Eric Young has really put me off her in so many ways, but when she gets in the ring she is a brawler who looks like she is up for a fight, and there are not enough of those sort of characters in female wrestling. Her unique look, unique style and unique character (which she does really well) set her apart from most of the rest of the female wrestlers out there, and in a good way.

Velvet Sky
Her current role as Chris Sabin’s valet is perfect for her because it keeps her out of the ring. She clearly comes from the Ken Anderson school of wrestling where improving is only optional. Where Anderson tries to get by with catch-phrases, Sky uses her perkiness.

 

Others

This list is not exhaustive, and some of these I have only seen once or twice, but I think I can make a fair judgement call after what I’ve seen.

Angelina Love
(TNA, Shine) Another in the long line of female wrestlers who think it’s fine just to look good (though even that is debatable here, definitely a YMMV situation) and not bother to learn any of that icky wrestling stuff.

Canadian NINJAs (Nicole Matthews and Portia Perez)
(Shimmer) I’ll treat them as one, and they are thirty years too late. Imagine the matches they could have had with the Jumping Bomb Angels?! Great tag team and I love the Funky Cold Medina finisher.

Cheerleader Melissa/Alissa Flash
(Shimmer/TNA) Probably the best female wrestler not in the big two at the moment. There is little to say here, as she is much like Gail Kim in that her moves are nice and clean, her acting and reacting is spot-on, and she knows how to play a character. I would like to see more of her on TV.

Eliza Sway
(Australia) She has a different look to most female wrestlers, is tall and strong, and looks like she could rip your head off as soon as look at you. While her skills are maybe not as advanced as, say, Summers or Miami, she is still a damn fine in-ring performer, and her character is well done.

Hannah Blossom
(TNA Bootcamp UK) Another one who looks the goods. Still has some to learn, but there is definitely something ‘there’ to work with.

Jessie McKay
(Shimmer, Australia) Not really sold on McKay. Her strikes look weak and her selling is hit or miss. But I think working in Shimmer against a wide variety of opponents can only help her.

Kellie Skater
(Australia, Shimmer) Another wrestler who I have seen improve out of sight over the years. Her work in Shimmer has been some of the best I’ve seen her do, and it would be great to see her take that next step.

Madison Eagles
(Australia, Shimmer, Shine) Over-rated, especially by Madison Eagles, she is a mainstay on the Australian wrestling circuit. Has a tendency to be sloppy or stiff for the sake of being stiff, but her skill and work is still above nearly anything in WWE at the moment.

Mia Yim
(Shine, Shimmer, TNA) I didn’t know her when I watched the TNA Knockouts One Night Stand show, but have since seen her in a Shimmer DVD and have been shown a Shine match with her in it, and she looks the goods. Her moves, especially, are really clean and nice.

Miami
(Australia) One of the hardest hitting and strongest Australian females, I think she should give it a go overseas as well; she will do well there. I would like to see her as a heel, though, as I think she could be a legitimate kick-ass heel that would make the life of any face a living hell.

Mickie James
(TNA) Though she’s now apparently ‘retired’, ‘resting’, ‘somethinging’, she was definitely a part of the female landscape in the past 12 months, and she looked good, better than I had seen her in a long time. Having seen her from the start as Trish Stratus’ stalker, she is one female wrestler that you can look at and say she has really grown, and has become one of the best female wrestlers of the past decade.

MsChif
(Shimmer) Not a huge fan. Her work seems a little sloppy and she has selling issues a lot of the time. But she does have a definite (and unique) character and seems to be genuinely strong, so there is that.

Santana Garrett
(Shimmer, NXT) Has some good skills and while she looks a little loose, she’s definitely got more than just mere potential. One to watch, definitely.

Saraya Knight
(Shimmer, Shine) Former champion, and a woman who carried herself as a champion. She is one TNA should be looking at to help bolster their diminishing Knockouts division.

Savannah Summers
(Shimmer, Riot City Wrestling, Australia) As I write this, she in the USA doing her first overseas shows, including Shimmer, so good luck to her, but I am sure she will do well. This is because she is one of the very best female wrestlers I have ever seen. Her skills are clean, her selling is second-to-none and her characterisation is nearly always spot-on. An excellent wrestler.

Serena (Deeb)
(Shimmer, WWE) Another wrestler who has improved, and her work in Shimmer has been very good, as well as in the Knockouts ONO show. She should get another chance in WWE, maybe in NXT, judging by what I’ve seen.

Shazza McKenzie
(Australia, Shimmer) A good wrestler, who is one of those women who is improving all the time. I think she’s got a bright future overseas, away from Australia.

There were probably a few others I saw but missed, or I saw and were so awful I’ve forgotten their names (and that, unfortunately, does include a number from Shimmer).

 

So, looking at that rather long list, what stands out? The best of the females in the ring are currently not with WWE, and TNA only has a few, but there are so many out there for them to choose from if they were serious about bolstering their divisions.

 

Now, where I’ve already mentioned the tough time transferring from indys to big leagues, I have a feeling this should not be too much of a challenge in this case, and for one reason and one reason only – what is already there, especially in WWE, is so bad that even an over-acting ham actress is going to be better than a pair of screeching Bellas.

 

But, still, nothing – and I say nothing – could be worse than the years we fans spent with Kelly Kelly as our WWE women’s champ.

 

And to finish – remember when the WWF/E could put on a women’s match like this one?

 

 

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