If WWE want to make a point of a re-branding of their women’s division, from ‘Divas’ to ‘Women’, and keep Total Divas rolling, WWE need to fully acknowledge their flaws by drawing attention to them with a character that they already have in their roster – the awesomely ‘evil’ Emma.
The fall (and inevitable rise) of the Total Divas
Not long ago, WWE fans would never even have dreamt of it, but it’s actually happening – The Divas Division is getting re-branded, sparked with a Triple Threat match at Wrestlemania that is actually eagerly anticipated. It will be the Women’s Championship. A new belt has been commissioned too, so WWE are finally done with the patronizing purple butterfly. One has to assume that this transition will be officially announced on Raw after Wrestlemania, and that a big deal will be made of it, and so it should be.
However, will it be as big a deal as one would hope? Is this a single match and one short and self-righteous speech by Stephanie McMahon away from happening, or should this change be exploited further? Bizarrely, it is quite possible that making a point of the villainy of the ‘diva movement’ could be the very core of what keeps the movement both alive and harmless to the women.
Let’s face it – the ‘Divas’ will never fully disappear. After all, with WWE’s fixation upon reality show and franchise Total Divas, they will definitely go out of their way to make a point of how the Divas still exist. However, to make this work, and for this big change to be worthwhile, the Divas need to be given their own canvas. A women’s mid-card so to speak, officially demoted to function as its own entity. It’s a process that seems underway, considering that the ‘women wrestlers’ are getting a Triple Threat match at Wrestlemania, and the ‘Divas’ are getting a 5-vs-5 throwaway match in its pre-show, that will presumably be shorter than The Undertaker’s entrance.
However, it would be a wasted opportunity not to make this booking important, especially as WWE have made points about how things will change, or are at least addressing that they are listening. For example, a speech by Shane McMahon seemed to make some fans happy yet uncomfortable, as they expected him to get a telling off by daddy Vince. To make this booking important, the Divas need their own villainous leader that acknowledges the flaws for which viewers despise a division that has been built for so long on bitchiness – yet this is made up for by great talent. It is one thing for there to be an overnight switch from Divas Division to Women’s Division, but it would be something else for viewers to witness the fall of the personification of the heel Diva, who has led her evil faction to prevent the abolition of the Divas Division. While she will inevitably lose that war, she can at least remain the final boss in the mid-card Total Divas section that the ‘good Divas’, or better yet ‘anti-Divas’ (the kind of characters that were represented by members of ‘Team PCB’) can be up against en route to the championship. In fact, this would also be a beautiful method by which Bayley can be promoted at some point, en route to Sasha Banks, as opposed to them instantly being toe-to-toe – for an NXT face alumnus to either get the title from the heel Diva, or prevent her from infecting it with her evil diva ways.
But who is nearly nasty, yet brilliant enough to fill in this role? That’s easy – Emma.
Why Emma? Because she’s done it before.
As it turns out, Emma has just found her way back into the main roster, albeit so unceremoniously, that it seems like the biggest ‘NXT graduation’ injustice as of yet. Not only was in unceremonious, but it was far too soon. Asuka is presumably next in the queue for the NXT Women’s Championship, but Emma should have followed. But no. She is one of ten women in a Wrestlemania pre-show match. It’s time to make amends, WWE. After all, this was the character played by Emma during her run in NXT, and it was a spectacular success.
Cast your mind back to November 2015. Eva Marie gave an infamously terrible promo which called out Bayley, during which she felt the full force of an irritated (and arguably irritating) Full Sail crowd. This was beautifully symbolic of the appeal of the NXT Women’s Division – there are so few of these moments. However, instead of a total abolition of this character (even if Eva Marie’s flaws are accidental), writers knew to acknowledge the common hatred for this character, by enlisting Emma (alongside minion Dana Brooke) to represent the heel Diva. This promoted rival face Asuka, and led to what I still argue was the match of the night at NXT TakeOver: London. On top of this, Emma was the final diva that Asuka faced on NXT before her match-up against Bayley at NXT TakeOver: Dallas.
In the main roster, this is writing itself.
This wrestler vs diva approach wasn’t booked as though it was of massive importance. It was actually the lower of the two women’s matches on the TakeOver: London card. The first match of the night. It was hardly Daniel Bryan taking down the establishment at Wrestlemania XXX, but there is no reason why it shouldn’t promoted as massively important in the main roster if this format repeats.
Back to March 2016. Emma might have got the final pin in the match that takes us to Wrestlemania (Paige vs Emma on Raw), but that has not been the talking point. In fact, she’s not even in the team that is getting attention. All attention has been snatched by The Phenom – Eva Marie. The hatred for her came spectacularly full circle on Raw on March 28th, when Marie’s surprise appearance received boos that rivalled the unintentional heat that Roman Reigns had received. Booaaah!
After the show, I had partly expected that this was what WWE was actually aiming for. That was until Dave Meltzer revealed that WWE had fully expected her to get a massive babyface cheer when she arrived. WWE need to take a step back, and in acknowledging what it has done wrong, should enlist someone that isn’t actually Eva Marie to personify those problems.
We have already seen unease in the ring as Team Total Divas (written as ‘good Divas’) after Eva Marie (whether WWE like it or not, a ‘bad Diva’) affiliated herself with them. Having led ‘Team BAD & Blonde’, that should be Emma’s scripted role, post-Wrestlemania, gunning straight for the champion. This naturally unravels as the Total Divas take the high ground and become the faces in the newly formed Divas mid-card.
The Women’s Championship is what Asuka represented in NXT. The Divas Championship is what Emma should represent in WWE over the next few weeks.