The WWE has been making a conscious effort to strengthen its women’s division. While it could be said that the company botched the initial “revolution” of it all by having Nikki Bella become the longest tenured champion, at least they have been giving it the good old college try.
That’s the least we can ask from the company. As we continuously fantasy book the men’s division, nitpicking each individual angle, the people behind the scenes have listened when it comes to the women’s division. They are trying to give us what we claim we want — better female wrestlers, more time for them in the ring and a larger platform on a more consistent basis to shine.
So far it has been a mixed result.
Charlotte hasn’t exactly been the best of champions, but much of that isn’t her own fault. She went from a face who the WWE tried to garner cheap sympathy for, only to see the audience quickly grow sick of seeing her in tears each Monday night. Time is still on their side, though, and there’s good reason to think (NXT Women’s Division) they will eventually figure it out.
That said, the full revolution hasn’t happened for other reasons, too. Same reasoning for the Bella twins to be as featured atop of the division. It is the WWE’s direct affiliation with its reality show, Total Divas.
WWE attempted time and time again, despite one program being taped months earlier, to weave stories from the show into WWE programming. It was always a weird, convoluted mix of playing to the lowest common denominator and hoping to attract casual fans.
With the attempt at revitalizing the division in full swing now, though, it is time for the WWE to distance itself from Total Divas and the previous era of women’s wrestling completely. The reality show can be a standalone product. It doesn’t need the women’s division much in the same way the division doesn’t need the show.
Here is what we need to ask ourselves: What do we think about when we hear the term Diva? Well, outside of professional wrestling it is a term used to often describe pro athletes or women in derogatory terms. Sure, sometimes it is used to positively describe a pop-culture icon, but more often than not many associate it with some sort of character flaw.
According to Webster’s Dictionary a diva is:
1- A Prima Donna, 2- the main female singer in an opera company, 3- a famous and successful woman who is very attractive and fashionable; especially : an attractive and successful female performer or celebrity
Some of that is how you might best describe the previous era of women’s wrestling, but if the WWE is sincere in trying to make the division more respectable and based off in-ring abilities, then continuing to use the word to describe its performers would be a slap in the face to the women who aren’t there to become reality show fodder.
Think about it rationally. As is with the current structure in place, the women in the company are fighting to become the “best Diva” in the division. We can try to rationalize this by how the WWE loves its own terms or phrases for its athletes, an example being how it call its male performers Superstars instead of wrestlers. Only the WWE World Heavyweight Championship isn’t called The Superstars Championship.
The Divas division was likely created by a man, too. It is yet another small example of how people in power tend to view things. Instead of empowering women by going all the way with the division, giving them simply a Women’s Title, they are subjected to the term they feel enhances something that doesn’t actually need to be enhanced.
Seriously, outside mutual playful moments with a woman you have known for a long time, try to attempt calling a female co-worker a diva today. Think about how well that would go over. Now imagine if the company gave out Employee of the Week awards for men, but Diva of the Week for women… again, not something that would end terribly well.
Now, this isn’t exactly the worst thing in the world. The WWE didn’t create the Divas Division and title out of some misguided hatred for women. At the time of the birth of the division, the term diva was being used in a way which mostly describe powerful women in a positive light. Think Beyonce or those VH1 arena shows that featured a few decades worth of top female vocalists.
That time has gone by, however. So, too, has the previous era of women’s wrestling in the WWE. Again, while not the very worst thing in the world, the company could go a very long way in reshaping the entire landscape of the division by simply having the current or next Divas Champion scrapping the belt on Raw, dismissing the term in a promo while talking about wanting to better women’s wrestling, and introducing a new WWE Women’s Championship.
Oh, and most certainly stop the announcers from calling them divas and prevent Jerry Lawler from ogling every woman he sees with his words. Sophomoric humor can be funny, but not when it is used in a way to diminish someone’s abilities.
In the grand scheme of things, it is at least a small gesture the WWE could make to continue to not only re-brand the division, but show it’s about more than simply highlighting the looks of the women it employs.