#GiveDivasAChanceIt was a line that has been all over Twitter in the last couple of days, as fans finally banded together to demonstrate their combined disgust over the booking of the Divas division in recent years. Whilst the WWE will always be quick to support their female athletes and promote their role in the success of the Attitude Era, when it comes to nowadays, they seem to give more thought into Stardust’s costume than their Divas.
After RAW this week I felt pretty much ready to give up on WWE changing their attitude towards the divas. Forget the unbelievable efforts being shown in NXT by the likes of Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Bayley; with Vince McMahon and the current creative team in place, nothing changes. A 30-second long tag team match that consisted of knocking Paige off the apron and hitting a Bella Buster on Emma was a pitiful situation. RAW is three hours long, and they could barely give three minutes to the diva match.
In the outcome of this disgrace though came a movement of pure passion and drive, which still has shown little sign of slowing down. In a slight to the idea that people should ‘Give Truth a Chance’ in his pursuit of the Intercontinental Championship, fans on Twitter altered this to give Divas a chance. It was the clearest signal that people were sick of the divas division being a creative afterthought, and the fact that it remains one of the top trending topics today is a signal of the desire behind it.
However, what truly catches the attention is how it has permeated the wrestling community and stretched beyond the initial declarations by fans. Mick Foley and Velvet Sky promoted their support for the movement. Corey Graves stuck his foot in his chiseled gaping mouth for absolutely no reason when he provided his two cents. Even though I understand he didn’t mean anything bad by dismissing the hash-tag, Graves unnecessarily dragged himself through the muck and made himself an enemy of many fans in the process.
@StephMcMahon Your female wrestlers have record selling merchandise & have starred in the highest rated segment of the show several times,
— A.J. (@WWEAJLee) February 25, 2015
@StephMcMahon And yet they receive a fraction of the wages & screen time of the majority of the male roster. #UseYourVoiceThen it became even more serious. Stephanie McMahon tweeted about how pleased she was with Patricia Arquette’s passionate speech about equality for women in the workplace during her Oscar acceptance. But, she likely wasn’t as thrilled about a response by WWE Diva AJ Lee, who indicated that her and her colleagues are paid a fraction of the male superstars and given significantly less airtime. As AJ has never been one to shy away from controversy and speaking her mind, this placed a tremendous focus on the disparity between the divas and those booking television.
— A.J. (@WWEAJLee) February 25, 2015
But then came a moment that added an element of cringe to this enthusiastic support. Vince McMahon produced a tweet with the hash-tag, stating that he is listening and to keep watching. Really? Now I’m not the sort of person that believes that McMahon is the root of all problems in WWE, and that when he finally relinquishes the reins everything will get better. Maybe that’s wrong, but it doesn’t seem completely realistic. But forgive me if I’m a little skeptical that this means anything more than some multi-diva match at WrestleMania and season 4 of Total Divas.
We hear you. Keep watching. #GiveDivasAChanceWhen it has come to the Divas Division, this has been a decade long problem that McMahon has provided zero remedy for. Since the retirement of Trish Stratus and Lita in 2006, they have been unable to construct meaningful feuds and television for their female performers. Even with talent like Mickie James, Natalya and Beth Phoenix under contract, they were consistently placed in throwaway matches and feuds, and anytime it there was any signal of improvement it was always a false dawn.
— Vince McMahon (@VinceMcMahon) February 25, 2015
Let’s just examine the facts for a brief moment. A Divas match has never headlined a WWE PPV. Only one has ever been promoted as the main event of an episode of RAW. In 2014, only two Divas matches went longer than ten minutes – the Brie Bella vs Stephanie McMahon match at SummerSlam (convenient?) and the 8-diva elimination match at Survivor Series. The average time for a WWE Divas PPV match was 6:49 and a rating of 1.3 stars. Compare that to NXT (13:01 and 3.25 stars) and the gulf becomes dramatically clear.
Now, I’m not saying all the divas are always going to outperform the superstars in matches, but they should certainly be given the opportunity to try. Matches with Eva Marie, Summer Rae and Cameron might often leave fans groaning due to their inexperience, but it can’t be much worse than having the Ascension shoved down my throat every week or a segment involving Adam Rose or ‘Axelmania’. RAW and PPVs are three hours long for crying out loud – is it really so difficult to find fifteen or twenty minutes for a divas match on the card?
In the end, this #GiveDivasAChance is not about pushing divas to the top of the card or Graves’ moronic assumption that they need help getting noticed. This is about fairness, about giving some athletic and talented ladies the opportunity to shine. The WWE Championship is the main prize, and the company has always been a male preserve, so the concept of men on top is unlikely to ever change. But, this should not relegate them to filler matches, unimaginative angles and becoming the customary bathroom break slot.
In AJ Lee, Paige, Natalya and Tamina, the company has women with wrestling in their blood and DNA; it is their passion as well as their profession. Alicia Fox, Emma and Naomi are both excellent athletes and performers. And with the Bella Twins and Layla they have women that bounced back from early criticism of their wrestling ability and worked their fingers to the bone to be taken seriously as competitors. And whilst Cameron, Eva Marie and Summer Rae have kinks to be worked on, they can’t be expected to improve in blink-of-an-eye matches.
NXT has also exposed this fact if it ever needed proving. If Charlotte, Sasha Banks or any of the other magnificent competitors are thrown onto the main roster and immediately she their matches shorten and significance lessen, it will be an absolute travesty. Not only that but it’d be a disgrace and a clear sign that the creative team on the main roster simply don’t care enough about the divas, or think of them as having enough drawing power. The talent will be there, and more than that it will have already been seen on television, so there’ll be no excuse to not display it.
Frankly, I’m utterly sick and tired of breathing a deflated sigh whenever I write the Divas Debrief sections on RAW or SmackDown, because I know these ladies are capable of so much more than they’re given. They are trained athletes and entertainers, not just window dressing to the ‘real performers’. Everybody knows this, and anyone with sense should be in agreement with me and those that are pushing this hash-tag. This is long overdue and it is movement’s like this that make me proud to be a wrestling fan, especially after Monday’s horror show made me ashamed of that fact.
Please, I implore everyone reading this to keep this movement alive, and hope that McMahon does take notice and gives the fans and divas what they want. This is long overdue, and with the excellent performances of the female wrestlers in TNA, Lucha Underground and NXT fresh in my mind, it is time the WWE Divas were given a chance to show what they can do.