The Pocket Volcano Erupts: The Future of the Divas Division

Hello faithful Rajah readers! I'm Pocket Volcano and I was given a chance to write for the website, so if all goes well you may see more of me. I have been a wrestling fan since 1999, starting with WWE, and now, while I still keep up with it, I watch more independent wrestling, and a lot more women's wrestling. Which, if you're inclined to seek out skilled, athletic women who can properly wrestle, there is a world out there beyond what you see on television. However, I wanted to write on what I feel is the future of the WWE Divas Division.

I'm sure many fans out there share my frustration with the division as it stands. There are several negatives at this point: the lack of proper character development for them (or even being given characters to develop), the limited time their matches are given (although, when some of the Divas are in the ring, this is more of a positive), and in general the lack of respect the women receive in general. For instance, the Divas match between Layla and Natalya on WWE RAW last week was interrupted beforehand by Vickie Guerrero, who said that she had an important announcement to make since "this {the match} wouldn't take long." Add to that her dismissive gestures, and Michael Cole noting she wasn't the only person yawning, and it tells you plenty on how low on the totem pole the Divas are.

However, if you are like me, and want to look at the positive side of things, there is still hope for the division. That hope currently resides in the residence formerly known as Florida Championship Wrestling, now NXT. Therein lie several well-trained athletes that, if given proper time and development when they are called up, could convince fans that there are women who are athletes on par with men. Let me introduce you to them.

*Emma. The Australian formerly known as Tenille Tayla officially debuted in 2002 when she was only thirteen years old. She was trained and wrestled at Pro Championship Wrestling from 2002 to 2005, competing under the name "Tilly May" at first before becoming "Valentine." Also in 2002 she debuted at Pro-Wrestling Alliance Melbourne, staying with them until 2008, as Valentine. It was during this stretch of time she traveled around Australia, wrestling at companies such as PWA - Sydney, PWA - Queensland, Showtime Wrestling Alliance Newcastle, and Wrestlerock Melbourne. However, in 2005 when she was 16, she suffered a severe shoulder injury that kept her limited to setting up the ring and helping out in other ways.

Between May to July 2008, Emma trained at Lance Storm's "Storm Wrestling Academy." It takes a lot of dedication to move halfway around the world to follow your dream but that's exactly what the young woman did. It must have made an impression, since in later 2009 she moved to Canada and started wrestling various places in North America, such as SHIMMER Women Athletes, Extreme (now Elite) Canadian Championship Wrestling, Stampede Wrestling and Prairie Wrestling Alliance. Before leaving Australia, however, she was the winner of the first ever "Queen of the Warriors" tournament in PWA Queensland in February 2009, beating out other rising stars such as Jessie McKay, Shazza McKenzie and Kellie Skater. It was in ECCW that she tasted gold for the first time, defeating Veronika Vice (then-champion) and Nicole Matthews on August 2nd, 2009 to become the SuperGirls Champion (the title was later re-named Women's Championship). Veronika took the title back in November, but in March 2010, Emma regained the title and held it for 224 days before losing it to Nicole Matthews in a tables match on October 29th.

Early 2011 saw her return to Lance's Academy for further training. It was during this time that she, along with nine other trainees, appeared on the first season of the reality show "World of Hurt" which featured a "behind the scenes" look at his training facility as well as a look at the trainees themselves. In March of the same year, she attended a FCW tryout camp and was reportedly offered a contract. Her last match in Australia was against Shazza McKenzie for Melbourne City Wrestling in July. Later that same month, she announced plans to have surgery on the shoulder that had been nagging her for years. She moved back to Australia for recovery and rehab. According to a tweet from Lance Storm in June 2012, WWE had not signed her officially before the surgery, one assumes to make sure she recovered 100%. However, once she was back to full health, they signed her up and later in June she moved to Tampa. Emma reported to FCW on July 16th and on the 28th made her debut in a battle royal between her, Audrey Marie, Paige, Raquel Diaz and Skylar Moon. After the reboot, turning FCW into NXT, she has yet to make her television debut wrestling, but has had several matches under the NXT brand at house shows. On the August 30th episode of NXT, she was among the people who came out to watch Seth Rollins become the first ever NXT Champion. This brief shot of the young blond is surely only the first to come.

Emma has the look, the passion, the drive and the in-ring skills to become a key player. There are few people who are willing to uproot themselves from their home and relocate halfway around the world to pursue a dream, yet she did so. Emma has the 'look' that WWE wants from the women they hire, but unlike the models they hired in past years, she comes with years of experience. Given a chance, she could help revitalize the Divas division. (Special thanks to Rhi of who gave me a ton of information for this!)

*Skylar Moon. This unique woman has only been wrestling since 2009 but has already turned quite a few heads, including those at WWE due to her look and style. She had a tryout match against AJ in January and was signed in mid-June, making her FCW debut on June 20th in a bikini contest. But before the Californian came to WWE, she was making waves in various promotions on the west coast as Buggy Nova.

Skylar was trained at the Santino Brothers Wrestling Academy in Bell Gardens, California. She began training in 2008 and made her professional debut in 2009. She wrestled at several different places such as Alternative Wrestling Show, National Wrestling Alliance Hollywood, Lucha Pro, Adrenaline Unleashed, Big Time Wrestling, Mach1 Wrestling, Pro-Wrestling Bushido, Vendetta Pro-Wrestling, Insane Wrestling League, and Pro-Wrestling Destination where she defeated Davina Rose on October 23rd, 2010 to become their women's champion. She held the title there until January 2011.

In October 2011, Skylar ventured to the mid-west, where she made her debut on the SHIMMER pre-show, SPARKLE. On October 1st, she teamed with SheNayNay and 'Bonesaw' Jessie Brooks to defeat Veda Scott, Kimberly Maddox and Su Yung. On SPARKLE the next day, her and December were pinned by Jett Riley and Kimberly. However, due to the amount of already scheduled talent that were on the main SHIMMER shows, Skylar unfortunately didn't get onto any of the volumes. For us in live attendance who had not seen her, like myself, she impressed with her charisma, wrestling skill and appearance. It was only a few months later that she had a tryout match and was signed. In addition, she also appeared alongside Lizzy Valentine in a commercial for K-Mart alongside Sheamus.

In addition to training to wrestle, she also has trained in Brazilian jiu jitsu and Muay Thai. Like Emma, she is young (22 years old), and despite still being somewhat new to the business, she has proven to be a quick learner. WWE can further her training and mold her style more easily into what they want their wrestlers to learn. Skylar has an alternative look but as proven can switch her look into something more softer. However, seeing as the current women on the main roster all have the same kind of look, they may choose to keep the raven haired lady as she is, piercings and all. Either way, people who have attended the NXT live events in Florida have been buzzing about her - time will tell if that buzz will translate into main roster success.

*Paige. This English hell raiser did not start out wanting to get into wrestling, despite her mother, father and two older brothers being wrestlers themselves. It was only through an accident that she got hooked - her father was short a person for a show when she was thirteen and since she knew some moves, she was able to fill in. She's been, in her words, "hooked ever since." Since her mother was "Saraya Knight" and her father 'Rowdy' "Ricky Knight", she took the name "Britani Knight" as a way to honor her country of Britain.

Paige started training under her parents at the promotion they own and run, World Association of Wrestling. She has also trained alongside the legendary Johnny Saint. For the first few years, she wrestled with another girl named Melodi as a tag team "The Norfolk Dolls." The duo made a name for themselves wrestling in WAW, their sister promotion World Association of Women's Wrestling (WAWW), Hertz and Essex Wrestling, and in 2007 when the internationally known tournament ChickFight moved from California to the United Kingdom, they gained more exposure when they were included as part of a bonus tag team match on the show. However in 2008, the Dolls split and aside from teaming with her mother from time to time, Paige began building her own reputation.

From 2009 onwards, as she grew more and more experienced, she racked up titles: she won the Hertz and Essex Wrestling Women's title (which she held for a little under a year), the WAWW British Ladies title (held until November 2011), the Real Quality Wrestling Women's title (held until November 2011), and the Real Deal Wrestling Women's title (held until November 2011). In 2010 she won the Premier Promotions Ladies Tag Team titles together with Saraya holding them for over a year. In 2011, she became a two time HEW Women's Champion, holding it from March until November of the same year. Paige also was the Swiss Championship Wrestling Ladies Champion from April to June 2011; and the first-ever Pro-Wrestling EVE champion, winning it also in April.

Granted that winning titles isn't always a sign of skill, but the fact that Paige held so many titles for good lengths of time at her age (from 17 to 19 years old) shows the trust that each company had in her abilities to be the face of their women's division (or, in the case of all female promotions such as WAWW and EVE, the face of their companies). Wrestling has been her passion since 2005 and she has pushed herself to her limits to grow into a well rounded athlete. As a fan who was in attendance for a HEW/WAWW double header show attests to, he saw Paige wrestle four times in one day (three times in a tournament for the WAWW British Ladies title) then come back later in the evening to wrestle in a tag team match that went, according to reports, for thirty minutes. This was in 2007 - only two years after entering the business.

Surprisingly, it was only in March 2011 that Paige, along with her mother, made their American debut. Together, with manager Rebecca Knox, they took the all-female wrestling promotion SHIMMER Women Athletes by storm. I was witness to their debut and I can safely attest that no one has ever made the instant impact that they did. Saraya was the scary, no-nonsense bruiser while Paige was the smart-mouthed, cocky technician. Together with Knox they made a lasting impression and were brought back to the next set of tapings in October of the same year. By this time, rumors were swirling that the youngest had been signed with WWE. Her final weekend in SHIMMER featured a growing split with her mother that ended in a wild no disqualification match between the two, which saw Paige get a hard fought victory. After a final weekend in November, wrestling at the WAWW return show and teaming with Saraya for the last time at WAW, she moved to Florida in January to start with FCW.

Since her debut, the British phenom has turned plenty of heads and received praise from both fans and veterans in the business, such as William Regal and Jim Ross. Along with Emma, she has the most experience in the ring and in developing a character. She has adapted quickly to the WWE style of wrestling. Her first appearance in FCW was helping out Seth Rollins but that angle was dropped in favor of teaming her up with Sofia Cortez as the "Anti-Divas" who refused to conform to the "Diva Standard" of the other women. The tag team was well received but was split up after a few months and, with Sofia's release, has left Paige to on her own. Not unlike how she started out with the Norfolk Dolls.

It could be argued that out of the current crop of women in NXT that Paige has the brightest future. There have been several reports that she is seen as a future star in WWE. In July, Channel 4 in Britain showed a documentary that had been filmed with the Knight family over the course of 2011. It showed how close the family is and how they reacted when Paige was signed, and their struggle to adapt to this life changing event. The documentary received rave reviews (it is up on YouTube if you wish to watch it; it's called "The Knights: Fighting with My Family"), and showed how deep her desire to succeed is. It is hard to believe she is only 20 years old but her youth, combined with her experience and passion for wrestling could be the very keys to her success in WWE.

There is one more name I could have written about but until wrestlers actually show up in NXT, nothing in guaranteed. Until then, I don't think it's fair to list her. Two that were recently signed, Ric Flair's daughter newly christened Charlotte, and the Russian Anya, have some prior training and no wrestling experience respectively, so only time will tell if they will fall or fly. There was a report recently about Triple H wanting to stop the signing of untrained models and focus on hiring wrestlers with experience, and all three of these women fit the bill. However, whether they succeed in boosting the Divas division isn't up to them ultimately - it is up to the powers that be to give them time in the ring, characters fans can care about, speaking time, and a real opportunity to change the mainstream fans' view that women's matches are bathroom breaks. It has been done before, in the early 2000s when WWE had a large and diverse women's division. It can be done again and these three women can help pave the way.

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