Hello good wrestling fans. I”m back after a significant move to a new city with some somewhat fresh thoughts about WWE’s women’s division. While I’m sure many of you are hoping for some predictions or speculation from me heading into SummerSlam, I have some general thoughts that have been swirling in my head since my last post that I need to put out into the universe. So, let’s talk about them, in this go-home edition of Nylons before SummerSlam.
For the first time, I actually have multiple things to say in this section!
First off is the women’s title feuds. For the first time in several months I actually care about the outcomes of both matches. The build to the RAW and Smackdown women’s title matches respectively have created a lot of intrigue, and fans are being given a sense that the victors will actually matter. On the RAW side, you have Ronda Rousey feuding with Alexa Bliss and her new sidekick Alicia Fox. I’m not the biggest Alexa fan, but her heel work with Ronda has been spot on, particularly this past week on RAW. The best heels cut promos where they “have a point,” and Alexa’s was that while Kurt Angle is busy protecting his Universal Title match by constantly intervening in Roman Reign’s affairs, he ignores his women’s champion. Given that comparison, it’s hard to argue that she’s wrong. On top of all of their segments, it feels as if the winner of this match will change the direction of the women’s division for the remainder of the year, so a match that important has to mean something good.
For Smackdown, we have the friendship of Becky Lynch and Charlotte being essentially put on the line in their triple threat with Carmella for the title. In a case where the challengers outshine the champion, this match portrays itself as something that will inevitably stir tension between the two “tea” buddies, if not break them up entirely.
Fans are expecting one of them to win the title and, similar to the RAW match, victory for either woman will set the scene for the division in the next couple of months. Most interestingly is the question of whether Becky or Charlotte will turn heel as a result of the outcome of the match/during the match itself; regardless of which one does, it would be a welcome reset to their characters.
The goodness in all this is that both women’s titles feel important. And in this era of WWE, when wins and losses seem to matter less and less, that is something to be celebrated.
To add to the excellence in storytelling between wrestlers, there is also goodness to note of the women who hold court outside of the ring.
Women in speaking roles have been more visible in the last few weeks, most notably with Renee Young, who not only put on an impeccable performance during that Paul Heyman interview, but held her own as the first woman to sit at the announcer’s desk to call RAW. This move is far overdue in my opinion. Renee has the professionalism of a sports journalist and the eagerness of a fan. She’s serious without being stoic, smiley without being plastic. She seems like a three-dimensional person, which is difficult for on-air personalities and backstage interviewers to achieve in WWE.
As well, managers like Lana and Zelina Vega greatly enhance the gimmicks of their male counterparts. We all remember how effective Lana was in getting Rusev over during his first hot streak a few years back, and I hope that pairing the two together again allows them to connect to the audience in an evolved way with their Rusev/Lana Day gimmicks. Zelina Vega, on the other hand, truly sells herself as an asset to Andrade “Cien” Almas. She is convincing as his “business partner” and, often without Andrade saying more than a few words, gets him over as am arrogant, holier-than-thou heel. She asserts herself as a force without taking too much of the spotlight from Andrade, which is what a great manager should do.
Though it could be argued that having women as simply managers to men is regressive, I believe that in certain cases it truly works to highlight the strength that women can bring as talkers. And I think there’s something to be said about women that are integral in getting men over, because in the real world as in wrestling, it isn’t often that women are given credit for men’s successes.
I am actually forgoing this section, as I have more important things to discuss below. But isn’t it pretty much par for the course that WWE is either really great or really problematic, or somehow both at the same time? Seems fitting.
You’ve probably been wondering why I don’t talk much about Ronda Rousey in Nylons. I must admit that I am hesitant toward engaging with her due to some transphobic comments she made a few years back. But it is also because, outside of that, I have needed some time to truly formulate how I feel about her in the WWE. I think I’ve arrived at an initial conclusion.
Yes, Ronda is a star. Yes, she’s got mainstream appeal. Yes, she may even make her armbar look cool sometimes. But…here is where my compliments of her end. My issue with Ronda is the way she is booked.
You may recall in my write-up of the Royal Rumble earlier this year that I predicted that eventually WWE’s hype would get to Ronda’s head, and that she would continue to steal the spotlight away from the other women. WWE proved this to be irrevocably true with the way they promoted Ronda’s first match on RAW last week. The constant mentions of it throughout the show, the the screen graphics seemingly every other commercial break, the backstage shots of Ronda warming up with Natalya…
This woman told us when she joined WWE that she wanted to earn her stripes, and earn the respect of both her peers and fans. In her storyline, we were told that she specifically indicated to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon that she didn’t want special treatment.
And now, only a handful of months later, she is days away from her second title match, only her fourth total match on TV in WWE, where she is likely going to be crowned as champion. She rushed to the front of the line, and we’re supposed to forget all of the promises that she made to us at the beginning?
Where WWE gets its “evolution” wrong is that you can’t say women are “equal” to men if you only treat a handful of them that way. They run picture-and-picture promos for Ronda’s title match during other matches. They flashed her merch across the screen as she entered the ring for her first match. In order for this “empowerment” schtick to work, they need to book ALL of their women this way. They need to push every woman like she’s Ronda Freakin’ Rousey. I believe every woman deserves to feel that important.
I want intensity between Sasha Banks and Bayley that Ronda shows to Alexa. I want Ember Moon’s merch to flash across our screens when she steps up to the ring. Women don’t get anywhere in society because of a few women who have made it to the proverbial top. Women make it up to men by being uplifted by the women who have already started to climb the ladder. Ronda is ascending quickly, and we’ve seen very little evidence that she is willing to reach back down and advocate for her sisters clamoring to reach her level. She does not equal the women’s division, and we shouldn’t allow WWE to fool us into believing that just because Ronda has achieved the hype that men have always received, that the whole of the division has suddenly “made it.” Your feminism is fake if it doesn’t ride for all of the women behind you.
I can’t wait to dive into SummerSlam results in a couple of weeks — I like having time to digest a pay-per-view before I form an opinion on it. So we’ll see where things are at after the Biggest Party of the Summer.
Stay legit bossy,