by Shanna Harris (@AbsoluteSmark)
The change was quick. You never saw it coming. It was definitely surprising, because now all eyes are on the woman who wasn’t ready to take the title, but did. All it took was Paige holding up her newly won Diva’s title up in the air to remind me of just how much I’m ready for a revival of quality WWE women’s wrestling. One match, which couldn’t have been more than a minute long, brought back a happy feeling that I forgot I’d had when it came to women going toe to toe in the ring. One Paige Turner is giving me big hopes for the future of WWE women’s wrestling. Let me tell you why.
You see, ever since AJ Lee has been less of a presence in WWE’s title picture, I’ve forced to watch a women’s division that I couldn’t fully get behind. The Diva’s division of old is too easy to hate. According to the criticism I’ve heard over the years, the downfall of the women can be attributed to many things.
The Bella Twins being the total cause for all problems related to women in WWE is an argument I’ve heard before, but do not agree with. Do I personally not like them? Yes. But they’ve improved tremendously and could be part of the show if given the right story. The uber talented AJ Lee taking a backseat to everything Total Divas was another common complaint. I’m only speaking for myself, but I was never bothered too much by Total Divas. If used correctly, the show could’ve been a vehicle to give all the women on the roster time to shine. But, WWE dropped the ball by making it “Total Divas vs Everyone.” For those who don’t watch the show, that’s not very interesting.
Here’s the thing that very much got on my nerves: 2 minute matches with zero substance. Matches that are a copy and paste of every match we’ve seen before. For a very long time, there has been no progress and lots of stagnation in the WWE women’s division. Emma and Summer Rae have been wrestling the same match with the same moves and the same ending for what feels like forever. If you’ve seen these women on NXT, like I have, you know that both can do much more than what they’re doing.
And then we come to my biggest pet peeve of all. Talented women on the roster not being property recognized for being that. Natalya wrestled AJ Lee in what I and many other people would consider a damn good match. They got the crowd behind them, it was full of great wrestling and pacing, and it was a match that many people were talking about when it was all over. What did these women get for this match? Nothing. Just their fans telling them they had a good match. Sorry, WWE. That is not good enough.
Then, in what I would consider the biggest travesty of them all, WWE let women Eve Torres and Kaitlyn go stale. Letting two women with all the potential and talent in the world go was bad form. Sure, you can’t hold on to their legs and beg them to stay, but why were they give nothing meaningful while they were in the company? At the time Eve Torres left the company, she was the best woman grappler on the roster. Zero recognition for that. Her lasting legacy? Being called Hoeski. Which would be a funny joke if it weren’t a real thing that happened.
Kaitlyn was involved in what could have been a division changing feud with AJ Lee, only to see that dropped unexpectedly. WWE put no real effort into giving Kaitlyn anything to do besides that one story, leaving Kaitlyn with no other choice but to leave the company. Again, another woman who was a damn fine wrestler in her own right allowed to walk out the door. Tragic.
I’ve sat through month after month of women’s matches that went nowhere and women’s stories cemented around jealousy of another woman having something that I was close to throwing in the towel. WWE can never have enough stories about women wanting to be the best, but women fighting over nail polish seems to be the order of the day. It’s been such a long time since I’ve truly enjoyed WWE women’s wrestling that I forgot what it felt like to actually enjoy it and allow myself to get lost in the moment. All of that changed on Monday when I was given a brief glimpse of that long lost feeling.
Let me tell you something about Paige that you don’t know. I believe that she can be the change for the new generation of women’s wrestling. She is the daughter of two wrestlers, has been in the business since she’s been in diapers and, most importantly of all, can wrestle like only 5 current women on the roster can. Competently. If I were a fighting type, I would say that Paige is better than almost everyone currently on the roster. But that’s not important. Paige winning the Diva’s title was a big deal. But not in the way that you would think.
Paige is one of only two women in WWE history to win a title the same night she she debuted. The only other woman who did the same thing in WWE was Gail Kim. In 2003. Back in a time that many of us consider the golden age of women’s wrestling. Being the 2nd woman to make a statement the moment she walks in the door is a big, big deal.
Additionally, Paige is the 2nd woman in company history to ever be a woman and hold two of the companies women’s championships at the same time. The only other woman to do that was Michelle McCool and one of the titles was retired soon after. Paige, if you don’t know this already, is still the NXT women’s champion. One woman holding two belts at one time. It hasn’t been seen for years. Paige is just the kind of woman who should have both.
Hope is something I’ve forgotten to feel when it came to women’s wrestling in WWE. But deep down inside, I was waiting for this day. I was waiting for someone to debut and immediately get fans talking again. I was waiting for someone to step up and put the attention where it should be. Not at jealousy, botches, Total Divas, or any other place except where it counts. In the ring.
AJ Lee and Paige are two women who needed each other most. AJ desperately needed someone to take the title off of her, and Paige needed to make a big splash when she came up. Raw gave us just that. Paige is now the champion, and having a champion fully capable of wrestling and being awesome at doing so is putting a huge spotlight (and a lot of pressure) on Paige. But, if anybody can withstand it, it’s her. She was ready for the Main Roster at least 2 years ago, and now it’s time for her to show us what she’s got. At the very “least”, we will get a solid few weeks (month?) of AJ vengefully chasing after her precious title. At the most, Paige will wrestle in matches that will give the Diva’s title a meaning it has long needed.
Paige is not someone women’s wrestling fans will forget anytime soon. She’s young, talented, and knows what counts. Paige is guaranteed to take WWE women’s wrestling to high’s that we’ve been missing. Like Wrestlemania on Sunday and Raw from Monday, Paige is the future of the women’s division. She has all the time in the world to bring us back to the days of Trish vs Lita. And, depending on who comes after her title first, she very well could surpass the memories of wrestling that we hold so close.
I am ready for the future, and Paige as champion gives me hope for a women’s division that won’t make me ashamed. Paige is the woman wrestler the WWE needs to take it to the top.
It starts NOW.