In an era that now seems all too long ago, the WWE had a women’s wrestling division graced by the likes of Victoria, Lita, Molly Holly and Trish Stratus.
As the era came to an end, the women’s division saw a shift in focus from contracting female wrestlers to hiring models and training them.
Somewhere along the way, women’s wrestling in WWE came to be known as the “Divas Division,” despite the lack of singing involved.
In 2008, the Divas Championship was created as SmackDown’s alternative of RAW’s prestigious Women’s Championship.
By 2010, the Women’s title had been retired, and the belt of glittery-pink-butterflies had become the sole female belt within the company.
This newly structured Divas division of 2010 was just barely held together by the tag-team LayCool which—although far from flawless—provided some sense of stability.
WWE’s Divas Division had its ups and downs in 2010, including the high of the first-ever Divas table match.
A Divas table match today seems entirely absurd.
From 2010 into 2011, the already-struggling division spiraled downwards to its lowest point in over a decade.
The John Cena of the Divas division, Mickie James, parted ways with the company and made the jump to TNA.
2011 saw the retirement of one of the company’s best female athletes, Michelle McCool, and Layla was forced out of action for a year due to injury.
LayCool—the one consistent aspect of the division throughout 2010—was no more.
Gail Kim also parted ways with the company during 2011 in favor of TNA.
Kharma’s arrival in the WWE brought a glimpse of light until she announced her pregnancy and took time off, quelling any hope that came with her.
With all of these departures, we were left with Kelly Kelly’s rise to the face of the division and her mediocre series of Divas title matches against Beth Phoenix throughout 2011.
By this stage, the division was next to dead. Divas hardly wrestled on RAW or SmackDown, and when they did, the matches were literally over within a minute or two.
Pay-per-view matches for the Divas were largely unadvertised. Frankly, there was little to advertise.
Looking back at 2011, it's clear to see that the division has significantly improved since then.
Not only has Kelly fallen from prominence, but she hasn’t even been on television for the past month, although her return is likely imminent.
2012 has also seen the departure of the Bella Twins, a pair of models many said should never have been given such prominence within the company.
Michelle McCool may still be in retirement with no plans to return, but Layla triumphantly returned from injury at Extreme Rules to reinvigorate the division.
Compared to Kelly as the division's face last year, Layla is an improvement in every way.
While Kelly openly ponders endeavors outside of the WWE, Layla remains completely dedicated to the company.
As for the PG environment, Layla maintains a decent reputation. This is compared to Kelly’s rumored backstage reputation, if you believe the words of Randy Orton.
Most importantly, Layla’s in-ring skills are far superior to Kelly’s.
Although many comparisons can be drawn between Kelly and Phoenix’s matches from last year and Layla and Phoenix’s from this year, this year’s series has been a much more solid collection of matches.
In fact, this year’s matches can actually be called “wrestling” and are the best we’ve seen from females in the WWE for several years.
Rumors have also been circulating that Kharma is ready to return, and the divas within the division are keen to welcome her back.
Not only is the onscreen state of the division far better than this time last year, but there is also a lot of hope for the future where previously there was only a dreary outlook.
We could very well be witnessing the revival of the Divas Division.
There is hope if WWE builds upon these new stars like Buggy Nova and Sara Del Ray, as well as effectively giving attention to their underutilized talent.
Tamina and the only female Hart Family Dungeon graduate, Natalya, need to be moved into prominence alongside Layla and Phoenix.
WrestleMania XXIX will be the telling factor of how the division continues to progress into 2013.
A female title hasn’t been defended on the grandest stage of them all since the Women’s title was contested at WrestleMania 23 in 2007.
Celebrity tag-team matches with journalists and reality stars, plus novelty battle royals, have plagued the Divas Division at WrestleMania for years.
When the Divas title is finally defended at WrestleMania for the first time, change will have truly come.
It’s about time the WWE honored their Divas through once again making the division centered on respectable wrestling, as it is in TNA.
Despite all of the pessimism and criticisms towards the Divas Division, it is comforting to know that despite the issues, things are looking up from this time last year.