COMMENTARY | Like everything in wrestling, the WWE women's division, currently known as the Divas, has experienced its share of highs and lows over the years. At its height in the mid-1980s, Cyndi Lauper, The Fabulous Moolah, and Wendi Richter fused pro wrestling, pop culture, and music videos to launch the WWE to heights the industry had never reached before.
Then in the Attitude Era, Vince McMahon pushed the envelope in how he marketed the WWE's female talent to bring in the 18-34 male demographic. But while some fans were fixated on the likes of Sable, Sunny, and Stacy Keibler, most WWE fans also respected female wrestlers like Chyna, Lita, and Trish Stratus for their outstanding athletic prowess and ability as technical wrestlers.
But in 2013, the WWE Divas division is at one of its lowest points ever. The Divas are not involved in any major storylines and when they do wrestle, their matches rarely last longer than five minutes, despite three hours of available WWE airtime on Raw and pay-per-views. Over the last couple of years, the only Divas to have major angles have been Eve and AJ Lee, and that's only because their characters were involved in storylines with male wrestlers.
Clearly, the WWE bookers and creative team recognize that they must make changes with respect to the Divas division and their new reality show on E!, "Total Divas," is certainly an attempt to shake things up and return their female wrestlers to prominence. The WWE has yet to announce a launch date for "Total Divas," but E! will begin airing the reality show sometime during the summer of 2013.
"Total Divas" will focus on Natalya, The Bella Twins, and The Funkadactyls. E! will combine footage of the Divas wrestling, traveling, and interacting in backstage segments. The WWE has no problem admitting its product is scripted entertainment, so look for "Total Divas" to combine elements of kayfabe and shoot interviews as viewers will be kept guessing what's real and what's entertainment.
Another element of "Total Divas" will be the common theme of past wrestling reality shows as two Divas attempt to earn WWE contracts. Eva Marie and Jo-Jo Offerman hope to be "Total Divas" by the time E!'s new show is finished airing. WWE has been vague with the details of this aspect of "Total Divas" so it remains to be seen how Marie and Offerman's roles in the venture play out on television.
One thing is virtually certain about "Total Divas." It will undoubtedly be a big hit for E! Network. I know non-wrestling fans don't like to hear this, but the top three wrestling shows on television, Raw, Smackdown, and TNA Impact, are each among the top-rated shows on their respective networks. Sports entertainment may not be as popular as it was 15 years ago, but it's still the best thing going for the networks fortunate enough to have wrestling in their lineups.
The larger question I posed in the title is whether "Total Divas" will increase interest and airtime for the WWE Divas on Raw and Smackdown. If the storylines and drama that develop on "Total Divas" translate into meaningful angles on WWE's main programming, then the venture will be a success. I believe that today's Divas are just as talented as any from the past and they simply need good storylines from the creative team to get over with WWE fans again.
My fear is that the Divas will become a fixture on the E! Network and will be seen even less on the USA and Syfy Networks. I'm also disappointed that AJ Lee will not be featured on "Total Divas." It makes the project look like a means for giving the mid-card WWE Divas airtime that they can't get on Raw and Smackdown. But if the E! reality show can launch meaningful angles for these Divas, then the project will serve its purpose.
WWE's female wrestlers are talented performers who deserve more than five minutes of fame each week. Hopefully, "Total Divas" on E! will help begin a new golden age of female wrestling in the WWE.
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of pro wrestling. Patrick's favorite wrestling promotion was Mid-South Wrestling back in the 1980s. Patrick's favorite wrestling angle of all-time was the NWO and his favorite wrestler is Roddy Piper. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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