The Dilemma with Divas
Yesterday, I read this very eye-opening article on 24wrestling.com.
For those of you who are too lazy to check it out. Former WWE Diva Gail Kim quit the WWE a while back, and in this interview revealed a lot about what how WWE treats the Divas division behind-the-scenes. The fact that she quit kind of summarizes her opinion of it.
When I first heard of what she did, I wasn’t very sympathetic. It was common knowledge that she left TNA Wrestling, a promotion where she had built herself into a star and champion, primarily for WWE’s more lucrative contract, and we all assumed she knew she wasn’t going to be utilized in a prime role once she got there, so why is she complaining? She asked for that.
On top of that, why is this even a big deal? It’s “Only” the Divas, right? Most of them are just models who can’t wrestle anyway, right? Look at all of the crappy matches they have on TV.
However, this interview has changed my opinion on Gail’s actions, and the WWE’s Diva division. The reason why we as wrestling fans don’t take the Divas seriously is because the WWE doesn’t. Especially if the Divas are being ordered to have crappy matches, like Gail is insinuating. And it sucks that even in Sports Entertainment there is a glass ceiling for women.
I totally understand Gail’s reasoning for “Taking the money.” Sometimes your career decisions are affected by life circumstances. I have a family to feed, and since the economy tanked shortly after I got married, I’ve had to take jobs that a few years before I would’ve considered beneath me in order to keep the bills paid. As much as I dislike working in a shop, if GM offered me a job right now, I’d take it in a heartbeat. Pride doesn’t pay the rent (unless you’re in Pride MMA, but that’s another topic).
But I also understand that everyone has a threshold for BS, and a person can only take so much of it. And Gail reached her limit. Johnny Ace made her promises of being utilized as a top Diva that the WWE obviously had no intention of keeping. I suspect that she was offered the contract simply to weaken TNA’s knockouts division, which was garnering much more respect and a much stronger following than the Divas at the time.
What saddens me is the perception that women can’t be as entertaining, compelling or competitive in the wrestling environment. If given the right amount of attention, time and freedom, I believe that you can have a women’s division that might even rival the men. The WWE has, and has had, very athletic and talented women on their roster who, if trained properly and allowed to excel at their highest level, could revolutionize their division. Beth Phoenix and Natalya aren’t the only women in the WWE who know how to wrestle. I’ve seen flashes of upside from the likes of Alicia Fox, Layla, Eve Torres and even Kelly Kelly. The true potential of the Divas was shown in the Attitude era, when Trish Stratus, Molly Holly, Gail Kim, Jacqueline, Ivory, Jazz, Lita, the Tough Enough girls and even Stephanie McMahon herself routinely had high profile feuds and classic matches. These women were all beautiful, but they were also tough, and they knew their craft.
I take back all of my criticisms of Gail Kim’s walkout, and wish her nothing but the best. I wish there was a solution for this environment, but until the higher-ups in the WWE change their attitude about women’s wrestling, this is how it’s going to be. Frankly, I’m surprised that Stephanie allows this, since she has competed as a Diva and is herself a former Women’s Champion. You’d think she’d be lobbying a bit more on the Divas’ behalf.
I now wonder, though, what kind of response Gail would’ve gotten had she staged a protest in the same vein as what CM Punk did…