Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Guest Article: The Women of WWE - Part 3 (Lily Lestrange)

As we've seen from parts one and two of this blog series, WWE's history books are full of women who have made some sort of impact on the industry and have paved the never-ending path to what women's wrestling is today. But it's time to stop dwindling on the past and start looking at the (mostly) present and future Divas of the WWE.

Spot that cheeky wee "mostly" tucked away in brackets in that last sentence? That's because this lady is sadly no longer involved in the WWE but her presence is still felt despite this. I tried to keep this blog as future-focused as I could but this wee one just had to slip through; if WWE aren't going to give her the recognition she deserves then I certainly will.

AJ Lee

Who else but AJ? I've never personally been a fan of her in the ring but her mic work was some of the best that we've ever seen in the women's division and her accomplishments - like all of the other women in this series - are so important when it comes to progress in that division. She was the one who decided that "Divas" were a complete omnishambles, that being just like them wasn't anything to be proud of; so she told them all to take a running fuck to themselves and stood against them on her own because she was an independent wee mental goth chick that didn't need no help from anyone. 

Sure, they dumped her with the "crazy chick" gimmick that they burden a lot of good wrestlers with but she ran with it and made it her own; you saw the character developing from that shy little girl who cost Daniel Bryan the World Heavyweight title to Sheamus at Wrestlemania 29 to this sadistic, manipulative woman who pushed CM Punk off the top rope and through a table. At Mania 29 she just wanted to kiss her man good luck... that night on RAW she was kissing CM Punk goodbye because she was done with his shit. All the kisses she was dishing out resulted in the black widow gimmick that she ran with for the rest of the time she spent with the WWE and it was brilliantly thought out, the lot of it. There hasn't been that much attention to detail given to a female character in the history of WWE, as far as my memory serves. You could see her character developing as time went on and that’s why she was as popular as she was; you can be the best wrestler in the world with the best mic skills ever but if your character is stale then people begin to lose interest very quickly.

It was a shame that things ended the way they did with her. She was the longest reigning Divas champion in history and she didn't get so much as a thank you or a proper send off when she left. They wrote her out of the history books by making Nikki Bella hold it for 6 days longer than her; a title reign that was nowhere near as interesting as AJ's. Despite this, AJ still holds the combined record with Eve Torres for the most title reigns with the Divas Championship.


Speaking about AJ ties in nicely with Paige, given that it was on her debut to the main roster that Paige defeated AJ for the Divas Championship. Asides from Gail Kim winning the Women's title in a battle royal (a battle bloody royal, some things never change eh?) no other woman has won a title via pinfall on their debut. An amazing achievement for her given that she was only 21, which makes her the youngest Diva's champion ever.

I'm going to cheat a bit here and gush on about her time in NXT, because this is where her best matches have all happened. Her time on the main roster has seen her garner a bigger fanbase but with time constraints she's not really been able to show off her true skills in any of the matches she's had. She's had a lot of decent matches but none worth noting. NXT is another story; her match with Emma on NXT ArRIVAL in February 2014 was, I believe, the first match that really got people's interests piqued in terms of women's matches in the WWE. Everything about that match was brilliant, from the storytelling to the visible emotion they both showed throughout it, it's a must-see for every wrestling fan. But after that match was when people started talking; it got people saying "aw here, these lassies actually CAN wrestle" and from there everyone's been in mutual agreement that

The women of NXT are, well, fucking brilliant. It's leading to more people giving a damn about what happens on the main roster now that a lot of the NXT women have been called up too, so the more buzz that's generated by that, the more that creative will see how much people care about the women's division and hopefully that leads to them paying more attention to their Divas.

Her wrestling skills aside, Paige has fallen from the same tree as AJ and Lita where she has never been afraid to be different and takes pride in being a pillar of hope for kids who have always felt like they've never fit in. It's touching to see young girls approach her with their stories about how she's inspired them to embrace who they are because it was the exact same for me back when I was a kid except it was Lita that we looked up to. It's heart-warming to see that the next generation of kids have someone like that to look up to in wrestling, especially someone as talented as her.


I've seen people flapping their gums about Charlotte a lot this past while so I felt that she was the most relevant of the Horsewomen to talk about for now. She's been getting a lot of flack from the IWC because they think that she's only achieved what she has because she's Ric Flair's daughter, when in reality that couldn't be farther from the truth. I mean don't get me wrong, I don't think she'd have gotten into NXT if it wasn't for her family but to say that her entire wrestling career is built on the basis of her being the kid of a Hall of Famer completely discredits everything she has achieved in the time that she's spent on NXT and the main roster. The mentality of a lot of wrestling fans is that if you've no previous experience in the industry then you've no right to be in the WWE. A lot of those same fans shit their knickers with joy when Enzo Amore comes out with Big Cass. Enzo was in the same boat, he joined WWE with no previous experience but there we go, that's the IWC for you.

Charlotte's journey through the ranks and her development as a wrestler has been an interesting one: she started out on NXT as Bayley's tag team partner then turned on her not long after to join Sasha Banks and Summer Rae as part of the BFFs. Whilst all of this was going on she was feuding with Paige for the title and when Paige was called up to the main roster (and when she won the Divas Championship) she was stripped of it, so a tournament was held to determine who would win the vacant title. Charlotte ended up winning after pinning Natalya and went on to successfully defend the title for another 258 days before losing it to Sasha Banks at NXT TakeOver: Rival. Before she lost the title, the matches she had where she was defending it weren't some mickey mouse squash matches; she got to demonstrate her wrestling abilities, her mic skills and her athletic prowess (and by god is she athletic) in all of the matches she had which is why she's drawn in a lot of fans amongst the people criticising her.

As expected when she was called up to the main roster along with Becky Lynch and Sasha, the storyline they were inserted into hasn't exactly been thrilling; I haven't watched RAW for a long time (and given the kinds of matches and story lines that not only the women but all of the wrestlers have been put into, I won't be inclined to watch it anytime soon) but the gist I got from it is that they all got put into different sororities (like they were high school teenagers) and got pitted against each other in teams of three, as per usual in some daft triple threat matches where you don't actually get to see anyone demonstrate their capabilities. It was Charlotte, Becky and Paige versus Naomi, Tamina and Sasha versus The Bellas and Alicia Fox versus... no-one gives a fuck. It was all the women thrown together and put in meaningless matches with no continuity. Aaaaanyway, regardless of all of the half-arsedness of their feuds, Charlotte ended up feuding with Nikki and after being cheated out of a win a few times, she finally defeated her at Night Of Champions to become the new and current Divas Champion.

Now this doesn't seem like a lot; the timeline of her career that I've just described sounds quite short, right? Well she's been with NXT for 3 years now, so it's really not. Given that she has previous athletic experience she's obviously picked this up quicker than what some model with no experience would *cough* Eva Marie *cough* and she's been working alongside some of the best coaches in the business to get where she is now, so it's got little do with who her dad is and more to do with the effort she's put in to get where she needs to be. Working her way up from nothing to become the NXT Womens Champion then the Divas Champion in that timescale is an amazing feat and it's well deserved.


And there we have it, the last instalment of my Women Of WWE blogs. I've -hopefully- covered the past, present and now future of the women's division sufficiently enough for you all to know and appreciate a bit more about it. Once again, I'm sorry I didn't get to cover all of the people that I wanted to in this one; Becky Lynch and in particular Sasha Banks have achieved great things in their careers and they should be recognised for it. I'll hopefully be covering more about these great ladies over on my own blog at some point in the future.

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