Alright, so for today’s edition of my personal Mania countdown, I want to take a look at the chasm between WWE’s Divas division and NXT’s Womens’ division. Because while the Divas division HAS improved a but now that they dropped the 3 on 3 on 3 faction bs and stopped ignoring Sasha, it still has a very long way to go to even be within a mile of NXT’s women.
Which is frustrating, because WWE has the talent for their women to be a huge draw.Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Paige, and of course Sasha Banks, are all immensely talented, and if truly given the ball to run with and the airtime to get over, could easily do as well as if not better than most of the men on the roster.
Then again, that might be the problem. Vince McMahon is notoriously misogynist. And Vince still has final say. Vince has gone on record as believing womens’ wrestling can’t draw money. He has his announce staff, (mostly Lawler), speak derisively about women in general, playing into “they’re all catty bitches who want to undermine each other” tropes. He calls them Divas. Except that Diva is not a flattering term for woman, unless you’re an opera singer. It generally refers to a bitchy domineering prima donna, spoiled and demanding.
Vince also traditionally hasn’t liked giving the women a lot of airtime. It’s hard for an audience to care about woman A vs woman B when they barely have any airtime to build a story and sell a feud or a match. Granted, a lot of this has gotten better over the past year, even though the “Divas Revolution” angle kind of fizzled. The current top tier main roster women are pulling a Daniel Bryan and forcing Vince and company to showcase them more. And the triple threat at Mania, if given 20 minutes and a good placement on the card, has EVERY chance to steal the show. We already know from their past clashes in NXT that Becky, Charlotte and Sasha can do exactly that.
But that’s a very big if. Vince is letting Tripsy sway him into giving the women more time to shine, but when it comes to Mania Vince can still get paranoid and chicken out on ideas. He could still sabotage the whole shebang and cut their time. Hopefully he doesn’t get cold feet, because I really desperately want to see women shine at Wrestlemania again as we haven’t had since the heyday of Trish Stratus.
The other side of this coin is NXT, where all three of our Mania participants cut their teeth. At first in the current version of NXT, (we will not acknowledge the prior version’s Diva season debacle. It NEVER HAPPENED), the women were placed under the same restrictions as the main roster. They were very limited in what they were allowed to do. Then Tripsy decided to let them work like the men, and they took that ball and obliterated it.
The NXT women were incredible, frequently stealing the show, overshadowing not only their main roster peers, but often the main roster men. In the past two years NXT womens’ matches have been match of the year candidates. Last year both matches between Bayley and Sasha made top 5 lists everywhere. Their Iron Woman match WAS the match of the year on several wrestling sites. It was also the first womens match in decades to main event a major show. (Raw is a weekly show so I don’t count Trish doing it).
NXT also has the first woman to ever earn herself the Joe chant. In her debut match, Asuka, formerly KANA, got an “Asuka’s Gonna Kill You” chant before the match even started. NXT has proven beyond any conceivable doubt that, yes Vince, women CAN damn well draw money if you give them the fair chance to do so.
And that’s one of the most anticipated contrasts coming up this weekend. Asuka/Bayley is GOING to be excellent. It’s GOING to be show-stealing. It’s GOING to leave us all breathless on the edge of our seats. Because not only is it a match featuring two of the best women wrestlers on Earth, it’s a match featuring two of the best wrestlers on Earth PERIOD.
Which means you KNOW Charlotte, Becky and Sasha will will watching it intently. They’ll HAVE to. Because they have SO much to prove on Sunday, and if they want to do that proving, they have to equal Bayley/Asuka, if not outright outshine it. And it’s a safe bet that, if given enough time, they’re damn sure going to try.
So the real battle this weekend is Women Vs Divas. The NXT girls need to prove they’re still the best of the best period, and the Divas need to prove that their best days aren’t behind them in NXT, but ahead of them on the main roster.
All 5 women in the spotlight this weekend have set themselves a ridiculously high bar, and I for one cannot wait to see if they exceed it.
Tomorrow; the misogynist double standard of the Hall of Fame.
Tags: A Penny For Your Thoughts Wrestlemania Countdown, divas, NXT