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.

Stephanie McMahon has been on a vindictive streak, her fury directed against one half of that magical twin duo, The Bella Twins. The storyline, if you go back, is really about a conflict between Stephanie and Brie Bella, stemming from Stephanie’s ongoing issues with Brie’s husband, Daniel Bryan. The last time we saw Brie Bella, she was slapping the crap out of Stephanie’s face during the final moments of her employment with the WWE. Brie would go on to quit the business that night, ending the use of Brie as leverage in the feud with Daniel Bryan – a noble sacrifice.

After one encounter with Brie backstage the following week, Nikki has been Bella twin-less. The familial ties, of course, was the only excuse needed to redirect Stephanie’s fury from Brie and onto Nikki. This is all well and good, I suppose, but for the past 6 weeks Stephanie has gone on to punish Nikki for Brie’s actions, with some fresh, new torment dreamed up each and every Monday night.

My problem with this feud has nothing to do with the performances of the two ladies on television. Stephanie is believable as the vindictive boss, and Nikki is doing her part and playing the hapless victim quite well. The problem is that the feud is stagnant and has shown zero forward momentum these past six weeks. Nikki is simply a stand-in for Brie. At some point, doesn’t the focus of the feud have to migrate from Brie to Nikki? After all, it is Nikki that is enduring these unjust physical punishment on a weekly basis.

If Brie Bella is currently resting at home, enjoying the company of her husband, there’s no reason for her to be featured on television as the focal point of a feud that cannot progress until she returns. In the interim, there’s zero reason why Nikki couldn’t have simply stood up for her sister, and had Stephanie’s anger focused onto her for that reason - keep the available talent as the active player in the storyline. Instead, Nikki is simply playing the perfect, voiceless victim – taking the fall for actions that she did not commit and doing nothing to defend herself. She is simply standing there with her arms tied behind her back, literally in some instances. Nikki, despite actually appearing on television every week, has been regulated to a bystander in this conflict.

The rumor, of course, is that Brie Bella is coming back in the near future and will be having some sort of scheduled altercation with Stephanie McMahon at SummerSlam 2014. Still, for the past six weeks, an eternity in the world of television, Brie has been a nonfactor in this feud. Brie is the focus of this storyline but hasn’t actively participated in any tangible way. It is an infuriating example of bait-and-switch storytelling.

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