Last night on Monday Night Raw, Paige and Charlotte were involved in a segment that has gotten quite a few people talking. In fact, Paige noted that she was trending on Twitter all night! I suppose that was the point and WWE got exactly what it wanted, so good for them. Not since Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella last year can I remember them giving the divas main event exposure on TV. It also happened to coincide with a UFC pay-per-view this past weekend that featured not one, but two women’s fights, one of which was the main event. Coincidence, I’m sure (or not).
All of that being said, what should have been a step in the right direction for their so-called “Divas Revolution” (I, myself, have argued for a divas match to headline Raw one week) turned very ugly in a desperate attempt to promote their Divas title match this Sunday at Survivor Series. During their contract signing, Charlotte brought up her late brother, Reid, and got emotional, stressing the fact that she wouldn’t be where she is right now were it not for him. To my knowledge, this is the first time her brother has openly been mentioned on Raw. I know that Charlotte has mentioned Reid elsewhere, including on the network’s Table for 3 show, but never in front of the company’s wider (yet slowly eroding) audience on Monday nights. She explained that she fights for him, to which Paige responded by suggesting that her baby brother (who died of a drug overdose) apparently didn’t have a lot of fight in him. A brawl ensued and the tepid crowd reaction in Greenville told the tale.
This is far from the first time in recent memory WWE has scripted some cringeworthy dialogue for the divas. Last year, we had Nikki Bella telling her sister that she wished she had died in the womb. Of course, that was merely bad television, reinforced further by the fact that the sisters were back together like nothing ever happened only a couple of months later. Using Reid’s death for cheap heel heat in the Carolinas is up there in the “bad ideas department” with WWE putting a distraught Melanie Pillman on TV the night after her husband was found dead in an attempt to pop a rating, or having Randy Orton tell Rey Mysterio that Eddie Guerrero was down in hell.
People seem to be very much divided on this one. Many, like I do, feel it was done in extremely poor taste. Charlotte and Reid’s mother, Beth, was very upset on Twitter and indicated that she was not warned about the angle in advance. You can certainly argue whether WWE has any sort of moral obligation to let her know something like that beforehand, and I don’t doubt it was something that Charlotte (and perhaps Ric himself) were okay with, but we’re talking about exploiting the woman’s dead child, so I don’t think the normal rules of engagement necessarily apply here. What bothers me, as a fan, even more is that the whole thing came off as desperate and completely unnecessary. Paige can be a fantastic heel, and I’m fine with Charlotte using her brother as her inspiration, but what could have been a seminal moment for the divas division (given a rare chance to close out the final Raw before the PPV) has turned into a black eye because they just couldn’t help but cross that line.
Predictably, you have those who are using the tired “PC police” argument for what’s wrong with wrestling. “This is why the Attitude Era would never work today,” is another absurd thing that I’ve heard. Not that it’s absurd the Attitude Era wouldn’t work today because it absolutely would not, not the way it did 15 years ago anyway… the world has changed and social media now makes it far easier for people to vent about these sorts of things… but it’s an argument that doesn’t apply here. I’m not denying that there is far too much political correctness today, or even the effect it has had on the wrestling business, but I can tell you that if they would have pulled something like this back then, I would’ve rolled my eyes just the same. Just like I did when Hawk would stumble down to the ring drunk and later fell from the TitanTron, or when Vince McMahon forced Trish Stratus to drop to her knees and bark like a dog. Not exactly my proudest moments of wrestling fandom. Despite how nostalgic everyone gets about those bygone days, let’s not kid ourselves into thinking everything WWE touched turned to gold. This has little to do with political correctness and everything to do with bad drama.
Whether or not the Flair family was fine with it (and at least one very prominent member clearly was not) doesn’t mean people do not have a right to be turned off by what they saw. It’s a shame because last night’s show was largely good, but it’s not about how you start, it’s how you finish. Last night’s finish left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. Here’s hoping they get back to what made the “Divas Revolution” so successful on NXT and apply that same formula here. Both Paige and Charlotte deserve better.
Jason Solomon is host of the “Solomonster Sounds Off” podcast, which can be heard weekly on thesolomonster.com, Stitcher Radio and iTunes.