Nylons and Midriffs: What’s Happening in Women’s Wrestling (July 2, 2018)

Nylons and Midriffs

Credit: banksselection.tumblr.com

Hello good wrestling fans. I’m not going to beat around the bush with this post, because we have a lot to get through. I want us all to be caught up and acquainted with where things look to be going now that Money in the Bank is in the rearview. However, we’re still going to discuss MITB here, as well as the fallout from the pay-per-view on RAW and Smackdown Live. For post-PPV discussions, I’ll split up each usual section into two parts for the show and the subsequent TV installments. Let’s jump right in.

The Good
MITB: The women’s MITB ladder match was just fantastic. I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish. The match had intrigue, excitement, plenty of spots, as well as suspense. Each woman had a chance to make her memorable mark on the match, and it didn’t seem that any one of them were dead weight (well, except for one, but we’ll get to that).

Credit: kennyomegasgf.tumblr.com

The crowd in Chicago (my city!) was also hot for this match, which only made it more fun to watch live at home. Special shout out to Sasha Banks, who continues to bump harder and sell more convincingly than her peers, male or female.

In addition to the ladder match, I must say that the Nia/Ronda match was well executed, especially considering how lackluster the build was for it.

RAW and SD Live: There were a few little nuggets of goodness on TV these past couple weeks. First, we’ll talk about The Tale of the Never-Ending Feud between Sasha Banks and Bayley. On the RAW after MITB, we saw multiple backstage segments threading through the show, culminating in a final declaration by Sasha that she was done with Bayley. This was good mostly for the execution; I’d love to see more women’s segments like this that seem to build on one another rather than just being one-offs to fill space on a show. It was nice to see some continuity in a women’s segment in a single episode of RAW, even if the actual content of the scenes left a lot to be desired. We’re going somewhere at least.

And then, we had Bayley beat the life out of Sasha the next week, leading the audience to believe she’s turning heel. Again, I’m unsure if I agree with that move — as Sasha makes a far better heel, especially in this rivalry — but I am captivated at the movement of this feud. I’m seriously hoping this culminates in a match at SummerSlam, especially since WWE has missed so many marquee match opportunities with these two. I’ll keep my reservations on the heel/face dynamic after the two go to counseling on RAW tonight *eye roll*.

In other news, Becky Lynch seems to finally be getting a push! This is sorely needed for her, and with Charlotte out of commission for the next several weeks, this is a golden opportunity for Becky and WWE Creative to assert her as a top woman in the SD Live women’s division. Also, the segment between Alexa Bliss and Ronda Rousey was very well done. It felt very Attitude Era, with Ronda storming to the ring to whoop ass and take names later. And her backstage interview after it all didn’t mince words — exactly the way that Ronda should be portrayed.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfJuw5EfXAE&w=560&h=315]

The Bad
MITB: I know a lot of fans (*cough* namely male) didn’t really mind the ending to the SD Women’s Title match, but considering the long term booking….this was bad. If it wasn’t bad enough that she lost to someone who likely couldn’t convincingly wrestle a mop, Asuka, at one time seen as one of the most dangerous women on the roster, was made to look like a fool because someone appeared wearing her entrance garb?

Asuka deserved to win that match. She needed that win after losing her streak. WWE is diminishing her to be Just Another Woman on the roster, and that’s one of the biggest mistakes they could make. When you have something special, you need to tout it as such. Carmella cannot hold a candle to Asuka in the ring. She couldn’t even hold Asuka’s robe. There’s no reason she should have won.

RAW and SD Live: Sort of recapping stories already discussed above, the logistics of the biggest women’s feuds right now are lacking. The Sasha/Bayley feud has been so overdone that you can barely manage to digest it now that it finally is happening. For as long as we’ve waited for the trigger to be pulled, it is disappointing that the timing is too little, too late. WWE needs to act quickly to make up for lost time or risk irrevocably tarnishing these women’s gimmicks for years to come.

In more Fierce Women Who Deserve Better news, Asuka continued to be chumped by Carmella, falling down to a single superkick from the champion.

Credit: lastwordonwrestling.com

I can understand to an extent the point that WWE is trying to make, that the Asuka of old is dead, but must they do so at the expense of logic? If you’re going to do this with Asuka, at least make her opponent someone who can match her between the ropes.

One last thing: Why is Mickie James just a sidekick to Alexa Bliss??? Is she not a six-time women’s champion? She deserves so much more than she is being given. I’m not sure if this is ageism, or Mickie wanting to work a more limited schedule (which I doubt, she knew what she was signing up for), or “waiting until the right time” or what, but given that she is older than the other ladies, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to get the best out of her while you have her? For as long as she has been in the busines grinding, she is owed her crowning final run.

The Thorny

Credit: pinterest.com

No need to split this section up, because I’ll be blunt: WWE’s obsession with blonde white women is ruining the women’s division. Period.

This will likely be a recurring critique in this series, but I’m so tired of it and it bears as much repeating as is necessary. The evidence in this instance is that, once again, two blonde white women are champion over much more deserving women of color (with some exceptions).

It was infuriating to see Alexa win the briefcase and even more so when she cashed in to win back the title a mere two months after losing it. Nia was booked horribly during her short run as champion. I don’t care if the feud between Alexa and Ronda makes sense after this shady booking. It still screwed over Nia, who could have been a monster of a champion if she was booked correctly, literally and figuratively.

Consider that Alexa has been on the roster for only two years but is already a five-time champion. Five times! Like Booker T! At least Charlotte has wrestling ability to justify her reign at the top. Alexa doesn’t have that, and she won the briefcase over women that could have used the push from a MITB win. I’m thinking Sasha, Ember, Naomi, and even Becky who, to add insult to worked injury, looked silly when she was at the top of the ladder fake-fumbling with the briefcase because Alexa missed her spot.

Carmella gets the same critique. She rises when her non-white opponent continues to fall from grace, even if the announcers try to sell us otherwise. Good mic skills should not be able to carry in-ring mediocrity this far, at least not in this era of WWE.

Although WWE promotes a “women’s evolution” within its brand, the politics of it all has stayed the same: the most marketable women are those that match the conventionally attractive and desirable template for white male viewers, and that is blonde and white. When will that empire fall?

***

Whew. That was a long one. But I think we’re all ready to look to the next few weeks before Extreme Rules. Now go back to your Netflix account so you can finish binging GLOW.

Stay legit bossy,
AC

Nylons and Midriffs: What’s Happening in Women’s Wrestling (June 14, 2018)

Nylons and Midriffs, Scholarly Wrestling Reviews

Hello, good wrestling fans!

I’m back with another entry into the Nylons and Midriffs series. Not exactly the same time as I promised in my last post, but ’tis life sometimes. Due to circumstances out of my control, this post is one week later than I hoped it would be. Therefore, this week I’ll discuss the events of the previous two weeks of RAW and Smackdown Live, not including the go-home shows to Money in the Bank. I’ll discuss those in my next post, to talk about everything MITB-related.

With that, let’s jump right in.

The Good

Image credit: WWE.com

I liked that in the weeks leading up to the go-home for MITB, the women were given more time than usual in segments and matches. We saw women receive attention that are typically disposable when it comes to airtime, like Lana, Naomi, and Mickie James. The primary exposure for them were matches rather than segments, and ones that were given at least a commercial break in the middle of them. This is great! I just want to see women wrestle!

And the wrestling was sound. While the pacing and sequence choreography could use some work, the female Superstars have the moves to carry matches. Fans also have new rivalries to daydream about — can you imagine Sonya versus Naomi, Sasha versus Ember, Charlotte versus Becky (again)?

And as one small aside in this section, Becky Lynch picked up a victory over Charlotte! While I have a lot of feelings about the pedestal that Charlotte has been put on during her time on the main roster, it is undeniable that at this point, having her put you over means something. I hope it signals a push for Becky in the future, because that woman is criminally underutilized for her wrestling ability.

The Bad
The most bothersome thread throughout the last couple of weeks has been that WWE is confused on how to make women clear-cut heels and faces. Let’s look at two examples.

The first: Nia Jax. She only just finished a triumphant, anti-bullying feud with Alexa Bliss to win the title, but now she’s in the murky area of tweener against Ronda Rousey. She used a jobber to show off her power to Ronda while cutting a very heelish promo.

Image credit: DigitalSpy.com

Then, the next week, she quasi-injured Natalya, and acts overly concerned for her to seemingly irk Ronda, who we are supposed to believe is Natalya’s actual friend. What? Is Nia the heel or the face? Being less half-assed about Nia’s characterization would really help the fans invest in this feud, because we have schemas for face v. face, heel v. face, etc. Even if it’s silly to turn Nia heel so soon after her feud with Alexa, it would be a lot better than what we’ve been given thus far.

Second: Lana. She is a part of Rusev Day, who WWE are for some reason trying to push as heels. She teased breaking Rusev and Aiden English up when she returned to TV, only to have Aiden give her an endearing song for fans to sing during her matches. When she qualified for MITB, she celebrated with Aiden like a face. But during her dance-off with Naomi, she attacked Naomi after teasing a truce with her. How does this benefit Lana?

Last: Sasha Banks and the Tale of the Never-Ending Feud. One week on RAW, we had Ember Moon, a face, tag with Sasha Banks, a…tweener(?), and Alexa Bliss, a bonafide heel. Why??? I understand that sometimes heels and faces tag together to build tension in an ongoing feud, but a) none of these women are feuding, and b) it only works if the characters are distinct and use that to play off one another. Sasha being lost somewhere between heel and face made this trio very odd.

And then, when Bayley came out to “save” the match after Alexa left to gain victory for the face team, Sasha took the win like a face. But afterwards, when Kurt Angle told the team that they lost by DQ, Sasha instantly hated Bayley again, like a heel. Who is this feud for?! Who is the face? Who is the heel? WWE is wasting some of its best and most unique talents by damning them to purgatory. No one likes you when you’re in purgatory.

The Thorny
I would be remiss in my ranting if I didn’t mention my rage at the Gauntlet Match on RAW a few weeks ago. The announcers spent the whole night touting the match, spewing “historic” and other hyperboles into our ears. And it was all well and good, until we entered the third hour and there was still no match. We got to half an hour before the end of the show, still no match. We got a damned comedy segment about barbecue before we got that Gauntlet Match.

WWE insulted our intelligence by assuming we’d forgotten that the men’s gauntlet match from several weeks before lasted nearly two-thirds of the show. The women’s Gauntlet started at 9:43pm, Central Daylight Time. Twenty minutes. Less than twenty minutes. A match with seven participants, one of which who was in her hometown. This is disgraceful and unacceptable.

Photo cred: CagesideSeats.com

I am glad that we have reached the point of doing. Yes, we now allow women into previously uncharted territory. Now we need to work on the execution, and I don’t mean on the part of the wrestlers. On the part of Creative, producers, and decision-makers in WWE. They need to advocate for women to get the exposure they deserve.

We cannot tout women’s liberation if we are going to only allow women to shine as long as the men shine brighter. That is “women’s empowerment” that fits politely within the patriarchy. If WWE really wants its women to transcend the shortcomings of the past, the company needs to execute the booking of their women’s division in a more audacious way. They deserve to take up space.

***

Through and through, I’m still amped for MITB. My thoughts on the go-home shows are mostly positive in terms of the female Superstars, so hopefully the pay-per-view itself delivers some satisfying results.

Until next time, stay legit bossy,
AC