Image credit: WrestleTalk.com

Greetings good wrestling fans. I hope some autumn leaves have blessed your front lawns by this point! Fall is by far my favorite season of the year, and as far as wrestling goes, it brings us closer to 2019 and the illusion of new beginnings for WWE.

With Evolution looming, how are they rounding out the year? Not as promising as I would hope…

The Good
I am going to try something new and find a potential positive in something I’d previously discussed as problematic. In past editions of Nylons, I have said that WWE’s arbitrary creation of tag teams, stables, and alliances was a scapegoat strategy of getting more women on screen with less individual storyline development. While I still believe that to be true, there may be a method to the madness.

I specifically have the team of Asuka and Naomi in mind. Let me first say that not utilizing these women as singles competitors is a crime unto itself. Asuka had a years-long undefeated streak and Naomi is a former women’s champion — their in-ring successes speak for themselves. Their backstage segments have been forced and unfunny at best, and they still aren’t given the time in the ring that they should.

Image credit: wrestlinginc.com

But…for some odd reason, I kind of dig the pair of them together. Both women have indescribable auras that make them stand out in the ring and the entrance ramp. Their wrestling styles aren’t actually that different from one another either, with both Superstars making the most of their legs with dangerous kicks. Perhaps both women could elevate each other and re-legitimize themselves as serious competitors? Even better than that, WWE could eventually put them in contention for the yet-to-be-confirmed women’s tag team belts. All of the female pairings on WWE TV can’t just be for show; they must serve a long-term purpose — at least that’s my hope. Which leads me to…

The Bad
The bad this week is that I have no idea what WWE’s long term plans are for most of the women on the roster. Evolution is less than a month away, and outside of a handful of announced or heavily implied matches that will take place (Trish vs. Alexa assuming Alexa isn’t seriously injured, Lita vs. Mickie, likely Ronda vs. Nikki), fans are pretty much in the dark as far as what the rest of the card will look like.

It is not lost on me that we have heard more about the Australia and Saudi Arabia special events than Evolution. I suppose I can understand that to an extent, given that those are special events meant to appeal to very specific audiences overseas. Even still, with the start of October, the clock has already started ticking as far as storyline building for Evolution. It is truly a lost art, building carefully toward a climax of a feud; this is a general critique across the whole WWE product. But it is especially evident (and all the more crushing) when the builds must involve women.

A mere month before the first all-women’s pay-per-view and we had Bayley and Alicia Fox randomly stuck in the corners of two male Superstars for a throwaway match meant to do nothing more than promote the Mixed Match Challenge?

Image credit: WhatCulture.com

What. Is. The. Plan! Why is WWE not at least trying to pretend they care about building memorable storylines and intensely motivated female characters?

This is what I mean when I say that WWE’s feminism is just for PR. The gesture of creating the pay-per-view gets all of the cheap news coverage and applause from the folks that don’t tune in every week while the diehard fans see how indifferently WWE can sometimes treat their women the rest of the time.

The Thorny
Ah yes, the thing I’ve been itching all week to write about. Frankly, you readers are lucky that I did not write this edition of the blog immediately after last week’s Raw, because I could have written a dissertation on Brie Bella’s botch. I had several thoughts on this mishap as well as the Bellas in general, which you can read here, but I’ll try to summarize them in this post.

Image credit: cagesideseats.com

There is first the aspect of the botch itself. I feel it means everything when discussing this particular injury to Liv Morgan that we consider the performer that executed the kicks that gave Liv her concussion. Since Brie Bella has returned, she has almost landed on her head twice in the same match attempting suicide dives, stiffed Zelina Vega on Smackdown Live, executed a sloppy finish at Hell in a Cell with Maryse, and has now concussed Liv Morgan. Not to mention moments later in the same match, Brie stiffed Ruby Riott with a forearm that looked unexpected. Given all of the things that Brie has failed to do correctly in her short amount of time back on the roster, it is evident to me that comparisons cannot be made between her mess-up and say the mess-ups of performers like Seth Rollins or Sasha Banks. The latter two wrestlers are generally safe in the ring, and do not botch with nearly the frequency of Brie Bella in the last few weeks.

Fans of the Bella Twins have jumped down my and other wrestling fans’ throats for pointing out that this injury was Brie’s fault. In my opinion, intentional or not, it is absolutely the responsibility of the wrestler to be accountable for their actions. (Brie reportedly apologized numerous times to Liv backstage, but I feel the fan reaction is more important to discuss here.) We do not live in an alternate universe where if you accidentally drop someone you were carrying over a bed of coals and they hurt themselves, you try to blame the other person for being too heavy to carry or chalk it up to “well, that’s just what happens when you carry someone!”

Screenshots from Tumblr users in the aftermath of the botch.

No. You apologize and figure out where you went wrong, and how to prevent it happening in the future. Brie continually botches moves, and it is clear that she is a danger to not only herself but other people. It would behoove her to take a step back and train a little more before she does something much worse than give someone a concussion. And the same goes for every wrestler.

It is infuriating to watch fans of hers make excuses for her and imply that criticizing her is anti-feminist in some way. It could be argued that the defensiveness many fans are met with when criticizing the Bellas is a product of the brand that the sisters have built for themselves with WWE’s help. Their moneymaker is their likability, and if they lose that, both they and the McMahons lose money.

It is all a game of power, and it is clear that the Bellas are protected because of their net worth. I don’t believe any one person should hold so much power that they are above critique or being humbled by their own mistakes. I want the best for women’s wrestling, and it is regressive of WWE and fans alike to play a game of pretend for the sake of capitalistic gain.

Image should not be prioritized over safety. Feminism isn’t always about protecting women; many times it is learning how to not protect power.

***

I don’t have a witty sendoff this week. I’ll just be waiting for all of the women’s segments on RAW and SD Live to live up to the hype of Evolution.

Stay legit bossy,
AC

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