By Jared "JJF" Jackson-Ferrans
When the WWE had initially announced plans for a reality show focused on the journey of the WWE Divas, many fans were excited to see this behind the scenes look at the life of a WWE Superstar, and how the Divas were treated behind the scenes. However, the show has been underwhelming, typically attracting the E! Network fans but turning off many of the WWE fans that were expected to take to the show.
With that said, allow me to outline some of the main issues that prevent Total Divas from being all it can be.
The cast of Total Divas has changed every season and often, with the Bellas and Eva Marie being the only constants on the program. With Divas leaving and joining every year, it makes it difficult to form attachments to the people behind the characters, and even the ones that stay on the show are typically the ones causing the most drama, rather than the most interesting or unique ones. This leads to the likes of ensemble darkhorses Becky Lynch, Charlotte and Emma not getting the focus, and keeping the spotlight on the largely unpopular Cameron, Eva Marie, and the divisive Bella Twins.
To some extent, all reality shows are scripted and manipulatively edited, and it's somewhat hypocritical to complain about scripting in a show about professional wrestling, but bear with me. The issue with Total Divas is not the fact that it is scripted, but the fact that it is so obvious about scripting it. It's hard to buy, for example, a 15 year couple suddenly breaking up over a minor argument and getting back together a few months later, as the show did with Natalya and Tyson Kidd. As well, we know that, for all her faults, Cameron isn't an awful in-ring perfomer, so seeing her screw up a simple headlock and coming off more incompetent than she did on Tough Enough comes off as ingenuous.
3. Breaking Ground
Frankly, I didn't have a major issue with Total Divas until seeing just how well it could have been done. Breaking Ground takes the original concept of Total Divas and applies it to NXT, following the young superstars on a quest for fame. With that said, they focus the concept on the actual talent rather than the fabricated drama, and treat the talent and show with respect. The addition of William Shatner as narrator allows the show a measure of class compared to Total Divas, and the show comes off realistically while compared to Total Divas. Sadly, the comparison is unavoidable, and Total Divas doesn't come off well in comparison.
4. Eva Marie
When bringing the show to fruition, the WWE hired two young women to show the struggle to make it on the main roster, and had they chosen talented workers who deserved the hiring, it may have been a huge boon to the series. Unfortunately, they chose Eva Marie and JoJo Offerman. While Offerman left the show quickly and has established herself as an interviewer and announcer on NXT, Eva Marie has yet to show growth or talent as an in ring performer and has struggled in other roles, including her short stint as a ring announcer. If the goal was to make one of these newcomers the face of the Divas division, then they chose the absolute wrong person.
5. The Divas Revolution...Oh God....
Total Divas' main purpose was to make the Divas division relevant in the WWE, and while the WWE attempted to do this, they created the "Divas Revolution", pitting 9 women (only 4 of which were even on the show) against each other in three teams, all competing over a single's title. The issue with it is that, with Total Divas jumping into the stories, the women come off as increasingly petty and childish, on both Total Divas and Raw. This not only holds Total Divas back, but keeps the WWE women from being taken seriously, as instead of being shown as athletes, they're treated as irratic and irrational.
The question is simple: How do we fix this?
To fix the current format, I'd switch from the typical overall cast style to focus on each Diva individually for an episode or two during the season, similar to the British series Skins, and focus on each woman's personality and life both in and away from the ring. In addition, I would keep the show seperate from the in ring storylines, similar to what is done with Breaking Ground. Finally, making the show exclusively on the WWE Network rather than E! would prevent the executive meddling that has already afflicted the program.
It may not be popular, but that's JJF's take.
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