Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Short Note about Wanting to Ditch the Divas Division

Should women like Lee be left out in the cold just to save money? No, but Court Bauer disagrees
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Court Bauer, who is a creative consultant to Ring of Honor, suggested on the August 1 episode of his call-in show, that WWE should ditch the Divas and women's wrestling in order to save on its budgetary concerns right now. He said that the wrestlers don't sell any merch or push ratings, so the collective should be scrapped. I feel icky about calling for the firing of anyone from gainful employment, especially in this economy. But calling for the wholesale removal of an entire gender from the slate feels a special kind of wrong to me on several levels.

First, Bauer didn't cite numbers for whether the Divas moved ratings or merch. Furthermore, he cited a cost of salary that he "pulled out of his ass," which means he had no idea how it would affect the bottom line or the budget problems. If you're going to squelch the representation of an entire gender, you should probably have some kind of numbers to back it up, not that any finite number could be placed on eliminating an entire demographic. It's not like Bauer argued for removing a division like tag teams or a style like cruiserweight. He argued that women shouldn't be given the chance to wrestle.

Second, he generalized as to the fact that the women on the roster were not properly trained and "couldn't run ropes," which in some cases is true. He even cited that some wrestlers don't know how to drop a knee and injure other competitors, conveniently forgetting that Aksana, the perpetrator of that unfortunate accident, was released. Regardless, it was an accident, and if the wrestlers are untrained, that's the fault of the bosses, not the workers. Then again, unless Bauer is ready to say that men shouldn't wrestle because Roman Reigns keeps getting busted open or because Jack Swagger can't stop injuring people, maybe he shouldn't cite injuries, which happen.

But his point as to the division, by and large, being untrained is a lie. Nattie Neidhart, AJ Lee, Paige, Emma, Alicia Fox, Naomi, and a whole crop of women in NXT all are capable wrestlers who can do a lot more than run ropes. Whether or not they're good wrestlers is a matter of taste in some respects, but whether they're good or bad wrestlers feels like arguing for firing over a matter of personal taste. It's no better than saying WWE should fire Great Khali or R-Truth because they're not good according to some standard, no matter how universally acceptable said standard is.

And sure, women may not move ratings now, but outside of proven draws like John Cena, does anyone? I am legitimately asking, because the last time I looked at a ratings breakdown was like a year ago, and I am not terribly interested in using television ratings as a real metric for success in 2014. To my knowledge, the movements were erratic, and only a few people were steady raising or dropping the viewers.

The Divas may have been one of the steady droppers, but has the division ever been booked to the point where it could garner interest, other than right now? Lee vs. Paige and Stephanie McMahon vs. Brie Bella are both being given focus, something which hasn't been seen in a major wrestling company since the salad days of the Knockouts in TNA. That roster got big ratings, and when Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff came along and gutted it, the ratings dropped. Not a coincidence. Also, I'm not sure what numbers in merch are, but I see AJ Lee shirts all over the place. That is anecdotal, but Bauer doesn't have anything better.

I'm curious to why Bauer went right to the Divas first instead of attacking expensive talents who work sporadically, especially one in Rey Mysterio who is rumored to want his release. Or why he didn't go after other areas of production that have a lot of money poured into it. Or, the best option, why he didn't go after the McMahon family, Triple H, George Barrios, and other executives to reduce their own pay as a sign of good faith? I don't want to say that Bauer might have something he's not telling us about his feelings towards women at all, but a guy makes a specious argument using no real numbers that looks at disenfranchising an entire gender that is dissed in society at large, so should I not assume the argument at least is sexist?

And honestly, he works for a company in ROH that has a sad track record towards women itself. Maybe instead of worrying about WWE's finances, he should look inwardly. I get that a problem coming up brings out amateur repairmen, and human nature is to give suggestion, but the next time Bauer has a suggestion on how WWE can save some money, maybe he shouldn't be making such gross recommendations that are exclusionary towards half the population based on their gender.

ETA: I was misinformed as to Bauer's role in Ring of Honor. He's not an employed party to ROH or Sinclair, but a consultant.