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THE BROAD PERSPECTIVE
Girls Against Boys, WWE Style
May 7, 2004

by Erin Anderson
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Once the Smackdown! spoilers came in on Wednesday, a thread started on the OO Message Boards under the title, "Think Smackdown! Can't Get Any Worse?" The topic: Jacqueline's cruiserweight title win over Chavo Guerrero. Every single person who posted in reply thought that Jackie's win was a horrible idea, and pretty much trashed the angle outright without seeing how it looked on television first.

Some were surprised that it wasn't Jeff Hardy who showed up. Others bemoaned the lack of TV time for guys like Paul London. Most believed that Chavo losing on a fluke rollup undermined Chavo and the cruiserweight division in general.

Only two people posted to defend the angle, or at least said, "Hey, just wait until you see it on TV before calling it a sign of the impending Apocalypse." I was one of them, and the other was, not surprisingly, a female. I'll be the first to admit that I love the idea of a woman being cruiserweight champion, but is my gender the sole reason that I wasn't willing to hate the idea of Jackie as champion before I saw it happen?

I also caught a good deal of heat for asking if Jackie's win would be better received if she wrestled the same way she always does but looked more like one of the "hot chicks," i.e., a Torrie Wilson type. Perhaps I should have phrased that question differently: would Jackie be over if she were more attractive?
 

Jacqueline's Heat, or Lack Thereof

Sometimes a show can look better on TV than it does on paper. Other angles are so obviously bad that they can't possibly play out well on the airwaves. To the OO posters, Jackie's win fell under the latter category. The major reasons why: she has no crowd heat, no mic skills, and is a horrible wrestler. Only one poster took issue with a woman being cruiserweight champion, so I'll ignore that issue entirely here. The major issue was not that a woman won, but that Jackie won.

Crowd heat has always been a problem for Jackie, at least when she works as a babyface. I figured the unspoken reason for that was the fact that she's not exactly an attractive woman and has the most frighteningly large breast implants this side of Chyna. It's easier to cheer for the hot chick (more on that later). But Jackie has regularly competed against men, in singles matches, in her career. Why can she pull it off when a competent women's wrestler of similar stature like Trish Stratus can't? Maybe it's her black belt in karate, or the fact that she's abnormally powerful for her size -- Shaniqua aside, she's probably the strongest female on WWE's roster.

I will agree that Jackie mic skills are abysmal. Then again, that statement applies to most of the divas. If verbal ability had anything to do with a diva's crowd heat, then Ivory would be the women's champion right now.

And so, that leaves Jackie's ability in the ring in question. Is she a bad wrestler? This is more of a subjective question, but I say no. I think she's quite good. Venturing into an old thread in the Diva's section of the OO Forums, I found that a lot of the posters agree with that sentiment. Her physical strength, her martial arts training, her success in the ring against men, her position as a trainer on Tough Enough -- can any other current diva claim all of these things? Only when she defeated an Internet favorite in Chavo did anyone start shitting on her wrestling ability.
 

But Why Couldn't Another Wrestler Have That Spot?

So, you say Jackie has no heat? How about Paul London?

Most of the cruiserweights, Chavo and Mysterio aside, spend their time on Velocity, off the radar of most Smackdown! fans. A guy like London is best known by the casual fans as the kid who got destroyed by Brock Lesnar last year, if they remember him at all. And since the plan was the take the title off of Chavo, how much of a pop is a virtually unknown cruiserweight going to get for winning it? I guarantee that it won't be as big as the pop that a woman would get. And it wouldn't be as big as the pop that Tough Enough Matt, the competitor originally slated for the spot before he was killed by Bob Holly yet again, would have gotten.

Yes, new babyface wrestlers have had great success by challenging established heels and performing well. John Cena and Spanky got the crowd behind them in a big way when they faced Kurt Angle, for example. And just look at what it did for them! John Cena spent months as a generic vanilla baby face with… you guessed it… no heat. And Spanky? I'm sure he's doing well in Japan right now.

Also, Chavo is a fine wrestler, but he is not Kurt Angle. He doesn't have the same ability to make anybody look like a million bucks in the ring. And in the eyes of the fans, it's a much bigger accomplishment for a cruiserweight to beat Angle than it is to beat Chavo -- it isn't a fair comparison. Just as comparisons to Shelton Benjamin and Triple H would not be: Shelton had already established himself as a technically proficient wrestler with a few tag title reigns under his belt. He was not unknown to the fans.

As a rule, a new babyface debuting and impressing the crowd in his or her first big match will either bomb or drop off the face of the WWE planet until a heel turn is in the cards. Rocky Maivia as a face? Check. Gail Kim? Check. Spanky? Check. Randy Orton? Check.

A new wrestler has a much better chance of initial success if he or she is a heel, and for that reason I would not have had much faith in WWE's ability to get a new cruiserweight over as a babyface in a feud against Chavo. But Jackie, on the other hand, is a name we've all heard before and are familiar with, and has a chance to fill a role that women never get: a babyface badass. She has the ability, and last night, she gave the fans a reason to cheer for her.
 

But Doesn't this Demean Chavo and the CW Belt?

The cruiserweight belt is rarely given decent treatment, and a woman holding the belt doesn't make things any worse. The IWC has always been of the mentality that fluke rollups never help anyone. I only agree half of the time, because in the right context, a rollup pin is an effective storytelling device.

Chavo, despite popular opinion, was not hurt because of the way that he lost. He lost the belt because of his cockiness, which is completely in character for him and plays into his promo from last week. If anything, losing the title will give him more screen time for him and his father to bitch about the situation. More screen time for the two Chavos is always a good thing, and for the fans, it's a hell of a lot of fun to watch a girl get the best of a whiny heel. The crowd reaction last night proved that.

Besides, if anyone's ability is undermined by that match, it is Jackie's. A victory over someone like Nunzio next week can quicky remedy that, but if things look that bad, Chavo can simply destroy Jackie and regain his title with more heat than he had before last night. The nature of this storyline doesn't indicate a long title reign for whomever the winner was slated to be in the first place (refer to Gail Kim again), so to everyone who is up in arms about it: chill out. It's not the end of the world if things don't play out well.

The cruiserweight belt hasn't been given much attention lately on Smackdown! anyway, and a woman holding it will do nothing but put a spotlight on it and the division it represents. And the match, while short, looked no different than any Rey Mysterio contest against a heavyweight opponent. It's a new spin on the old Big Man v. Little Man dynamic, and I applaud WWE for taking a chance on it.

I may have jumped the gun earlier when I suggested that Jackie's lack of babyface pops had something to do with her looks: she simply was never given anything interesting to do in that role and wasn't able to get a "hot chick" pop to coast on. Last night she was given something to work with, and the crowd chanted her name before she even threw her first punch.

All of the divas should be so lucky.
  

E-MAIL ERIN
BROWSE THE BROAD'S ARCHIVES

Erin Anderson is an Atlanta native and a student at Georgia State University. Since writing about wrestling didn't go over too well with her English professors, she vents here at Online Onslaught.


  
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