It’s beauty vs the beautiful beast at WWE’s Summerslam.
Tonight the oft-maligned Divas Division will be the focus as the Divas Champion Kelly Kelly (Barbie Blank) takes on Beth Phoenix (Beth Carolan) This could either usher in a new era for the Divas or put another nail in the coffin.
The Divas division has taken a hit in recent years with next to no TV time, the only exception being Michelle McCool (who just happens to be married to longtime WWE vet Mark “the Undertaker” Calaway). Even when McCool wasn’t champion (or “co-champ to continue to focus on McCool), all Divas storylines were centred around McCool. At the biggest PPV event Wrestlemania 27, Divas Champion Eve Torres was booked to flirt with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson while McCool received a high profile match with Jersey Shore’s Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi. Now that McCool has retired, the division is even worse. The belt seems to be shuffled around wily nily, with no real emphasis on fan reaction (save for the current champ, who was booked to win based on popular vote) or ability to perform. Veteran Diva Gail Kim has resorted to a series of unprofessional and childish Twitter rants in an attempt to leave the company based on the direction of the Divas & Torres has said in interviews that her “Many more reigns” will fix the division’s “struggling place.”
Tonight’s match will either make or break the division. Beth Phoenix, the self professed “Glamazon” is the founder of the “Pinup Strong” movement, where women can learn that strong IS sexy & her character objects to the “booty pooping” & the wrestling move “the stinkface” that women like Torres & Kelly employ. In the eyes of WWE, this make her and her partner Natalya Neidhart…evil.
This storyline is a reboot of a 2007 storyline where Phoenix challenged then Women’s Champion Candice Michelle (Beckman-Erhlich) because she was a weak little model. (Phoenix eventually bested Michelle for the title) This program was a continuation of Michelle’s previous storyline, where her character struggled for months to earn a title shot & suffered endless months of abuse & humiliation from her fellow Divas, as they refused to take her seriously. Kelly was awarded the title after a fan vote in a storyline with minimal buildup where the Bella Twins Brie & Nikki called her skinny.
Kelly’s character is “standing up for women” & reinforced these statements on Twitter. I guess women have the right to shake their butts & wiggle them in the faces of their enemies, but don’t you DARE think about being strong! This storyline is even more pathetic when you learn that off camera, the “booty popping” Torres teaches self defense for women.
I guess this works for men, but as a parent of three daughters, I struggle with the flawed logic. Phoenix wants to show women that it’s okay to be muscular, athletic & sexy. Kelly wants to wiggle her butt & shove it in people’s faces. How can WWE book Phoenix as a villain without coming off as sexist?
Kelly isn’t the first model turned champion. Trish Stratus & the previously mentioned Michelle have both managed to become credible performers despite their modeling background. But both of these women worked programs where they were humiliated & assaulted before finally reaching the top. Stratus worked to improve until she became arguably the greatest star in the history of the Division. The fans don’t have that investment in Kelly. When Stratus & Michelle went into their title matches, the fans had the emotional investment of watching them get dominated, beaten, & bruised while they got back up over again.
This isn’t a storyline of a poor little underdog trying to beat a bully. This is a storyline of a really strong underdog trying to show the world that you can be a beautiful bad ass. Beth Phoenix is fighting for the right to be a role model & as a parent I hope WWE allows her to become one. I’d rather have my daughters be Pinup Strong.