This week, we have Callum Wiggins, Leslie Joy, and Carlos Toro answering questions on the future of the divas division now that NXT stars Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks appeared on Monday Night Raw on July 13.
1. What was your initial reaction to the three NXT women's wrestlers appearing on Raw?
Leslie A. Joy: Oh thank God. Hopefully, Paige can now go back to just looking hot and screaming and we won't have to suffer through her painful promos anymore. And if I saw one more match between Nikki Bella and Naomi/Tamina or Nikki Bella and Paige I was going to scream – so just in a nick of time.
Callum Wiggins: Having followed the careers of these women throughout their time in NXT, I was extremely excited when they stepped out on the stage on Raw. Rumors had already spread about Charlotte and Sasha Banks joining forces with Paige at SummerSlam, but having both them and Becky Lynch enter the fray in this gang warfare storyline is even more exciting.
I think the segment as a whole was exceptional from beginning to end. Stephanie McMahon inserting herself into the mix to address the revolution that is set to take place in women's wrestling was a huge stamp of approval. It demonstrated that with her backing, this wasn't going to be a flash in the pan, but would have serious legs to it going forward. Then when the NXT trio stepped up, the crowd new who they were and what they bring to the table, and the atmosphere was electric.
Are they the right three to be promoted from NXT to Raw? In terms of pure wrestling ability, undoubtedly so. Personally, I'm more a fan of Bayley's character than Becky Lynch, and I feel if she wasn't suffering from an injury she might have gotten the nod ahead of the Irishwoman. But all three have earned the respect of the NXT fans and are more than capable of stepping up to the main roster, so I have nothing but positives for this segment and their arrival on Raw.
Carlos Toro: Pure excitement. In terms of wrestling talent, these three women are probably the best in the company—main roster or NXT. I wasn't surprised because of rumors and the way this current Bella Twins-Paige angle has been going really didn't lead to much conclusion, but it didn't deter my excitement one bit.
This was not a moment where you look at all three and think, "that was a nice surprise there." No, this was a "they finally made it moment." We watch these women compete on NXT every Wednesday on the WWE Network and we knew that if there ever was a time where female wrestlers would finally get their chance to step out of the shadows of ridicule and mediocrity and shine on the biggest spotlight in the industry, that would be now.
As much as we have been enjoying Kevin Owens' transition from NXT to the main roster, we're going to get three extremely talented female wrestlers do the same and it's going to make watching Raw and SmackDown that much more enjoyable.
2. Do you think the future of women's wrestling, especially in WWE, has improved with their appearance?
Leslie A. Joy: I don't watch NXT, so I'm essentially making a snap judgement on something I saw for like 10 minutes, but since that hasn't stopped anyone on the Internet before: I felt like things already improved in the divas division, and I don't just mean how well Becky Lynch, Charlotte, and Sasha Banks performed – the Bellas and Naomi were performing better as well. Granted, both have been steadily improving, but I did see them do some moves I don't usually see them do.
I think part of the problem – not that Naomi and the Bella Twins haven't worked hard or aren't incredibly athletic women—but they were models/actresses/cheerleaders first and became wrestlers and I don't think they have the experience or technical ability to really lead or carry a division on their own. However, I think bringing in a few girls who are wrestlers first, who do know what they're doing, and who have experience will rub off on the current divas and improve the quality of the division overall.
While I have yet to see any of the three NXT girls cut a promo, I figure between the three of them at least ONE of them has to be better than Nikki Bella carrying the entire division in the promo department (ugh, just typing that made me a sad panda).
Callum Wiggins: To be honest, I see this as a case of WWE finally entering the 21st Century and giving their female athletes the respect they are due. Of course, professional wrestling has had males as their headline attractions, but does that mean the divas should be pushed to the sidelines? For too long, they were treated as sex objects and afterthoughts, and the performances of Charlotte, Banks and Lynch in NXT has shown the world that those primitive days are in the past.
Realistically, women's wrestling outside of WWE has already understood this for the most part, with TNA and Lucha Underground in particular giving their female roster significance and a purpose beyond eye candy. With women-centric promotions such as Shimmer and GLOW experiencing success on the independent circuit, I don't see the overall scope of women's wrestling to improve. The evolution has been taking place across the globe, with the WWE confined to a bubble.
Within WWE then, this is unquestionably a breath of fresh air for the divas division that has been confined to obscurity for far too long. There have been false dawns with the promos of AJ Lee and the stunning emergence of Paige after WrestleMania, but this seems like the real deal, and the reaction of the crowd for this initial segment demonstrates that this improvement is supported by the masses.
Carlos Toro: Yes and no. Yes, because if all goes well and we see these women improve the divas division the way we hope it does, the perception of women in professional wrestling will hopefully change from Bra and Panties matches to the female equivalent of what we have been watching from their male counterparts for the past half-century.
I say no because that kind of mentality doesn't change overnight and it'll take years for fans and people on the outside looking in to get the aforementioned idea of women in pro wrestling out of their memories. The Attitude Era was the most popular period in professional wrestling history and it was also the time where the women were treated as sex objects the most, so naturally, that will be the default thing that will come to anybody's mind when you talk about female wrestlers.
I sincerely hope that there is a change in how the media views women in this industry. There are far too many talented women for us to overlook and a renaissance in women's wrestling hopefully is shortly upon us.
3. Where do you see the divas division in five, ten years?
Leslie A. Joy: I'm a pretty new viewer and haven't even been watching wrestling for 5 to 10 years, so I can't really make a prediction, but here are a few things I hope to see happen within the divas division with the next 5 to 10 years:
Obviously, I would like to see deeper and more prominent storylines for the divas division as opposed to catty bitch vs. catty bitch. I'd also like to see higher billing for the divas in pay-per-views. The Divas Championship shouldn't feel like a lesser belt than the Intercontinental Championship and United States Championships.
I'd like to see more integration of women wrestlers into the main event. While I hated the Uso vs. Tyson Kidd & Natalya double-date-gone-wrong set-up, I did really enjoy the mixed tag-team matches and I am kind of bummed that we haven't seen any since. The Ziggler/Lana vs. Rusev/Summer Rae storyline is begging for something like that and I hope they do it. I think they could push the idea even further, like adding a female wrestler to The Authority stable and to the Dean Ambrose-Roman Reigns alliance for example. There are like 8 million different creative options; WWE should pick at least one.
I've noticed that the ratio of hot to not-hot is much different for the divas division than the men's division. This is not right. Let's transfer that like 5:1 one ratio to the men's division as well. I want a hotter crop of superstars.
Callum Wiggins: This is a dangerous thing to predict years going forward, even for somebody as invested in women's wrestling as I am. Frankly, there have been so many shifts in attitude that I struggle to even come up with an answer. The divas division has suffered many highs and lows, from remarkable feuds of Trish Stratus and Lita to today's suffering from creative apathy and poor preconceptions. However, I want to be optimistic that this is the beginning of a golden age of women's wrestling in WWE.
I have a number of reasons for this. Firstly, the training facilities are at an all-time high. Whilst I feel gimmicky competitions like Tough Enough or the Divas Search aren't going to discover the next top divas, scouring the independent scene and offering tryouts at the performance center will. There, they will be guided by elite coaches, especially Sara Amato, who will ensure the quality of their matches will remain consistently high.
NXT will hone the skills of these divas, and if they aren't up to scratch they will be shown the door in a hurry by those passionate fans. But my biggest reason to feel positive is that Vince McMahon is delegating more creative control to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, who—unlike him—understand how to book wrestlers in this era, male or female. With them driving the creative team to actually care about the divas division, something they have neglected for too long, we should be looking forward to a glorious recovery for women's wrestling in WWE.
However, I state that this optimism is only presented with caution. The future in WWE is always unpredictable, and the divas division has been burned too many times before to suggest it won't happen again.
Carlos Toro: I see one of two scenarios occurring down the road: The first scenario is where all three women that appeared on Raw, plus Bayley, are at the top of the division, hopefully rebranded as the women's division again with a more appropriate title belt than a pink butterfly with the word "divas" written across the middle.
Charlotte and Sasha Banks have this generation's version of the Trish Stratus and Lita rivalry with quality 15/20 minute matches almost every time they appear. It's not out of the realm of possibility that we may even see them main event a pay-per-view, albeit probably a minor throwaway one, but still a huge accomplishment. Ronda Rousey has already done it for UFC and she's a global star. Charlotte made that a goal in an interview last year and I hope she gets to accomplish it because she has the talent to pull it off.
We're also getting championship matches that last more than eight minutes long (seriously look at the match times for Divas Championship matches on pay-per-view for the past four years, most of them last about eight minutes). We're getting real, well thought out storylines with promo packages showcasing those storylines and rivalries.
The other scenario is that everything is exactly the same and Charlotte is jobbing to Eva Marie, who in this scenario has not improved one iota in terms of in-ring ability, in a 90 seconds match. That is the worst thing to happen to women's wrestling and I would give up any hope of WWE treating women's wrestlers just as well as the men. And that my friends is called insanity: doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.
Are your opinions similar to that of this article's writers? Excited about the future of the divas division now that their NXT counterparts have arrived? Sound off on why or why not in the comments section below.