I just watched an old-school type match. The two competitors traded offense in the beginning, then the obviously more polished one began to dominate. They isolated a body part and worked it over, shades of Arn Anderson or the British Bulldog. The younger talent made a valiant but fleeting attempt at a comeback, but it was firmly swatted down, ending with a quick finishing maneuver. This was the type of match you saw all the time on TV in the 90’s, and it was excellent to see it today.
Who were the competitors in this excellent event? NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte and Becky “Thank God they don’t make me Irish step dance anymore” Lynch.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a little iffy on women’s wrestling. Maybe I watched too many botched moves by Trish Stratus back in the day, or maybe I still have nightmares of Bull Nakano (talented, but terrifying), but when a women’s match is on, I usually reach for the fast forward button. It’s not that I don’t think they are supremely athletic and talented; many of them are. It’s just usually not my cup of tea.
However, even a not-even-fairweather fan has to admit:
There has never been a better women’s division than there is in WWE right now.
AJ Lee. Paige. Natalya. Brie and Nikki Bella. Tamina Snuka. Even Emma, for goodness’ sake. All quality talents who obviously are giving 100% towards the business of being a professional wrestler. Not a model who happens to wrestle from time to time. Not someone who seems to be using the WWE as a stepping stone to mainstream popularity. A wrestler.
That’s not counting the next generation of women wrestlers (I won’t use the word divas to describe them, since it borders on demeaning in my eyes) from NXT; women like Charlotte (who will likely be WWE bound in the next few months), Becky Lynch, Bayley and Sasha Banks. The Women’s wrestling division is awash with superstars.
Now, I know what some of you are saying. “What about the days of Trish, Lita, Molly Holly and Ivory? What about Gail Kim, Jacqueline, Victoria and Beth Phoenix? Surely we have had an equally talented roster, if not more so. I won’t necessarily argue that fact. In fact, it’s women like those WWE legends that likely birthed the current division we have now. AJ Lee was a giant Lita fan as a child, so much so that she broke into tears when meeting her at a live event. I’m sure she’s not the only one who became a wrestling fan partially due to the work Lita, Victoria and the rest did a decade or so ago.
So while the talent itself might not be the highest we have ever seen, the Women’s division is certainly getting hyped (Sorry, Mojo, for borrowing your phrase) more than ever. Want proof?
– Total Divas obviously should be exhibit A. WWE has never had a spin-off before, but I would venture a guess that the E! show has brought at least some group of new fans to the wrestling world.
– The Stephanie McMahon / Brie Bella segment was the “main event” slot on two Monday Night RAW’s. In a row.
– There will be not one, but TWO women’s matches at this year’s Summer Slam, both of which receiving equal billing and promoting (if not more so) than the other cards featuring guys like Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton.
– The Women’s division causes a whole lot of discussion on Twitter, and what was most surprising to me was that it was intelligent debate; people discussing the merits (or lack there of) in Eva Marie rather than just how she looks in a bathing suit. Didn’t see that coming.
So perhaps this is a lesson to myself that I should set down the remote control each week and watch every wrestling match, regardless of the gender of the performers. We might be in the Golden Age of women’s wrestling, and I don’t want to miss it.