The Main Event Vol. 123 - Has The Womens Evolution Peaked?

The Main Event Vol. 123 – Has The Womens Evolution Peaked?

Welcome to another edition of The Main Event. I am your host, Don Franc, back with another column you will all hopefully enjoy. Before I continue with today’s column, although it’s late I would like to send my deepest sympathies to Shad Gaspard’s family. I know what they’re going through now is an extremely difficult time. At the very least he died a hero; something that his son can be proud of growing up. R.I.P Shad…

THE UNDERCARD

Zelina Vega A Star

How about we counter the sadness by looking toward something more optimistic? And nothing shows more positivity than Zelina Vega’s character work at the moment. COVID-19 has been detrimental to every facet of the business, yet it provided opportunity to a few members on the roster. These types of opportunities are rare, but from the rubble a star unexpectedly emerged. Zelina grabbed this opportunity with both hands and in the process made people stop and really take note of her talents.

Admittedly, I thought she was good in the role she played with Andrade, but I never saw her as more than that. Well, not until this past month or two. She singlehandedly made RAW her own for a few weeks and pretty much dominated television time. There’s nothing negative in this section so I’ll fail to mention her stable, but even through dreadful booking she still came off as a star.

I know that with an empty arena it may make wrestlers more comfortable on the mic. However, Zelina was on fire with the stick before the pandemic started, so it’s her talent alone that makes her special now that she has more of an opportunity to showcase it. She deserves major credit for boosting her stock during the pandemic. She proved herself capable of being more than just a business associate (AKA valet and occasional speaker).

It would be great if WWE would actually take Zelina’s stable seriously. That way she could really showcase her managerial skills and versatile microphone ability. From what I’ve seen she’s not too bad in the ring either, so she could potentially fall back on that. Either way she’s talented enough to be the mouthpiece of a stable or a terrific heel character in the Womens Division. No matter which way you slice it, Zelina is a star.

THE MAIN EVENT

Has the Womens Evolution Peaked?

It certainly seems that way considering the rut the division is currently experiencing. What was once an exciting prospect of WWE now feels stale and uninspired. It’s as if the best work in the division has already been done. Either that or the lack of creativity is causing the Womens Division to become stagnant. Therefore, it could be argued that the main event of Wrestlemania 35 was the summit of the Womens Division. I highly doubt they’d be able to exceed that level of importance.

Since then the Womens Division has seen tough times. Despite Becky Lynch having an enjoyable title reign while simultaneously being the most over superstar on the roster, there were many hiccups across the board. First, The Man had to contend with an unproven Lacey Evans to the point that she was involved in a mixed tag team match during the feud. She fared no better thereafter by being inserted into a feud with Natalya for WWE’s second biggest show of the year, Summerslam. What a far drop from competing against the best/most popular women in WWE’s main event of their biggest show. Things did pick up during the second half of her reign, but yet there was still the sense of a division unravelling on the blue brand.

After Bayley’s win over Lynch to capture the Smackdown Womens Championship, she turned to the dark side to underwhelming effect. Her heel turn – along with her title reign – didn’t exactly set the world on fire. In fact, it came to a head at Money In The Bank where she had to face off against Tamina of all people. To say that the Womens Division has been on a slow decline since the Show of Shows last year would be an understatement. Oh, and don’t get me started on the Womens Tag Team Championships!

This is in stark contrast to how the NXT Womens Division has been thriving in recent months. I’ve watched every episode of NXT since ‘Mania and the women are doing pretty good for themselves. The roster is deep enough to not become stale with a wide array of talent touting different styles. So why is it possible for the NXT Womens Division to be so versatile, whereas their main roster counterparts continue to struggle? They’re the same company! Yes, NXT and the main roster are run differently, but there should be no reason why WWE can’t follow the yellow brand’s blueprint. A blueprint that they created!

The fact of the matter is that the Womens Division on the main roster kind of sucks right now compared to how it used to be. Yes, nothing lasts forever but I’d have thought the Womens Evolution would have lasted longer. The reason why this troubles me is because I’m a huge proponent of womens wrestling. The Womens Division is still one of the better divisions in WWE but it has the potential to reach former heights again. The sad truth is that Becky Lynch is a huge loss and they now have to find some way to recover.

Asuka is the perfect candidate, yet I feel as though the silly character WWE stuck her with will continue to hinder her progress. Charlotte is being over-exposed. Baszler needs to be booked like a monster even more. Evans needs to turn heel. Liv Morgan should continue what she’s doing. Ruby Riott should be given more of an opportunity. Naomi should be featured more. Banks and Bayley should just start feuding already. Those are but basic suggestions to aid in fixing a more deeply layered problem.

In order for the Womens Division to reach their previous heights, fundamental changes will need to be implemented. They may still be getting plenty of television time, but what’s the purpose of that time if its wasted by a lack of vision on the part of WWE’s creative team? WWE arguably has the most talented female roster in the wrestling industry. With the amount of talent they have at their disposal they really don’t have any reason not to have a thriving division. It’s a lack of effort on the part of WWE that makes me think they also believe the Womens Division has already peaked.

So what changes can actually be made to assist the division in reaching its former glory? Well, for starters, WWE needs to deepen their talent pool. It feels like they’ve been recycling the same women for the entirety of the Womens Evolution, so it’s only natural that the division would be experiencing a bit of a dip in quality. This is easily remedied though as WWE has an abundance of female talent to freshen things up. Yes, this could potentially be detrimental to NXT but a talent raid has happened before and they survived.

Or, instead of taking talent from NXT, why not just trade talent? NXT isn’t the same developmental brand it once was so it’s not really a demotion if you end up there. Charlotte is breaking that stigma and Balor is doing a great job of doing the same, so it’s not a stretch to start trading. This will be a much needed breath of fresh air for the main roster and perhaps even add a little bit more “star power” to NXT. Fresh faces are good at ensuring that the division doesn’t seem stuck in place, forever spinning its wheels and getting nowhere.

That’s why having only one Womens Division would get things moving again. They have too little bodies on the main roster to warrant having two separate divisions, which accounts for their lack of depth because the women are spread across the two brands extremely thin. The negative effects are that the same women are mostly challenging for the belts and this becomes boring and repetitive. You can only watch Bayley and Lacey Evans feud for so long! Forming one division will not only create depth, but it will also provide more for the creative team to work with.

And I think that’s the only way that the creative team can provide better booking for the Womens Division. They’ve become complacent due to the success of the division and now it appears that they’re resting on their laurels. It’s so hard for them to book anything interesting for the ladies. This is especially the case if your name is not Becky Lynch or Charlotte Flair. Those two mega-stars of the Womens Division seemingly get all the attention of the booking team whilst the rest of the females get the short end of the stick.

The writers should expand their creativity across other parts of the Womens Division. I don’t think it’s too much to ask of the writers to book other women in feuds who are not involved in the title picture. Too many times are the women not challenging for the belts just coasting by. Now, you have to give credit where credit is due; WWE is doing a great job with Liv Morgan. This shows that they are still capable of putting on good women’s wrestling. At the height of the Womens Evolution there were non-title feuds across the board and the division was all the better for it (i.e. Nikki vs Natalya).

That is the mindset that the creative team of the Womens Division have to aspire to revert back to. Building one division and focussing all their creativity on the division as a whole will bring back the aura that the Womens Evolution once held. This will also aid in creating more star power; something that the division sorely lacks. With Lynch gone and Flair overexposed, WWE now have to ensure that they’re on point and poignant with how they handle Asuka moving forward, what with her still having credibility and star power. Banks/Bayley already lost some of their star power due to shoddy booking, so that component is severely depleted.

It’s because of this that it’s more important for the creative team to elevate fresh faces than ever before. Bring up new stars and push women you know are going to add something to the division. Alexa Bliss is a great example of an uber talented women being wasted away in the Womens Tag Team Division, just like Asuka before her. Unfortunately, the Womens Tag Team Division isn’t working out and they should scrap it to be quite honest. This will free up more talented females and put an end to a piece of the puzzle that’s holding the Womens Division back.

So in essence; forming one Womens Division and focussing on every aspect as well as ending the Womens Tag Team Division, freeing up talent and elevating/trading NXT stars will make for a healthier division. WWE have worked hard to build the Womens Evolution. Now is not the time to be mired in complacency and become content with previous successes. Now is the time to work even harder at maintaining the fantastic work they’ve done and take the Womens Division to even greater heights. The onus is on WWE to prove to us that the Womens Evolution is yet to peak.

DARK MATCH

Nikki Bella’s Revelation

Nikki Bella recently opened up about how she got raped at age 15 and 16, by a fellow a high school student and a college-aged man, respectively. Imagine being sexually assaulted not once, but twice! How hard must that not have been for Nikki Bella to endure? And how much harder must it have been to reveal her most personal story to the world? After all this time you’d think she’d be at peace with it, but an experience as traumatic as that will surely come back to haunt you. She’s brave for coming out with such an extreme tale of torture. I commend Nikki Bella for that.

This information offers a change in how I perceive her. Towards the latter stages of her career I started really noticing her work. At first my thoughts were the same as everybody else’s. I felt she had little to offer in the ring and she only made it because of her looks and the reality television show she starred in. But that changed when she cane back from a hiatus with a more athletic frame and a more varied moveset. This impressed me because it was clear as day that she was trying to improve – which she did – and that earned her my respect as a performer. Perhaps overcoming the hardships mentioned above aided in her willpower to better herself and the perception of what she was.

But although her performances bettered and her effort increased exponentially, I still felt like she was missing depth as a character. What if WWE actually incorporated what she went through as part of her character? I know that some of you may be thinking that would be a blatant exploitation of Nikki Bella’s suffering. This act is also in line with what WWE normally does so a story such as this will likely be met with criticism. But if WWE could pull it off in a tasteful manner then Nikki’s story can symbolise hope.

This is especially prevalent in the #MeToo Era so a story based around it wouldn’t seem out of place. Instead of the reality TV star side we see of Nikki Bella we get to see the true side of her. A victim who became a survivor and morphed into a success story. This could potentially motivate women who also experiencing the same trauma. It cannot be easy to deal with something like that and seeing someone on TV saying they’ve overcome such a torturous event in their lives can inspire hope.

In any event, Nikki talking about her trauma was brave and we should applaud her for that. We need more symbols of hope in this crazy world, no matter where we get them from.

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And that does it for this edition of The Main Event. Do you guys think the Womens Evolution has peaked? What suggestions do you have to make it great again? You can drop a comment below. Alternatively, you can pop me an email on [email protected] or follow me on Twitter @donfranclop. But until next time folks…

This is Don Franc signing out.

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