Barring injury, it’s been a good two years for Melina dating back to her first comeback from injury in November 2008. The three-time Women’s Champion and two-time Divas Champion has spent most, if not all, of her run between November ’08 till Night of Champions last month at the top of the Divas division. That is, of course, excluding the 7 months Melina spent on the shelf between January and July this year.
A brief history lesson: Returning from her injury suffered in June 2008, Melina returned triumphant in November of that year, and chased Beth Phoenix for the Women’s Championship, putting the exclamation point on her comeback by winning the belt at Royal Rumble 2009. Next, Melina moved to SmackDown and began a months-long feud with Michelle McCool over the belt, including that Match of the Year winning bout at Night of Champions 2009. Traded back to Raw in October, Melina became the Divas Champion on her first night back and held the belt till her ACL injury in December. Returning in time for SummerSlam, she regained the Divas Championship only to lose it a month later in that high profile title unification match — and now here we are.
It’s not often that a Diva can command the spotlight for so long, so it seemed inevitable that the A-List Diva would join the queue of fellow former champions turned ‘another face in the crowd’ along with Eve, Alicia etc. following her loss against Michelle McCool at Night of Champions. That ‘face in the crowd’ status was further cemented by her and Gail Kim filling the usual Bella Twins spot of schmoozing with the guest host on Raw last Monday. But while it’s a breath of fresh air to see the likes of Natalya get a chance to shine, I can’t help but question… what is next for Melina?
You see, unlike an Eve or Alicia — who make sporadic appearances since losing their respective championships — I feel there’s more that can be done with Melina while she’s out of the title picture. Melina is one of the most tenured Divas in WWE, as well as one of the most experienced girls having wrestled the likes of Michelle, Beth Phoenix, Mickie James, Trish Stratus and more, plus she’s one of the most popular Divas in WWE and also, a great personality. In my opinion, she’s the perfect candidate for what seems to be a dreaded term when it comes to the Divas — a secondary feud.
Sadly, it seems WWE can barely write for one feud for the Divas, so it’s a rarity that we see two. But if we could ever have an exception to that rule, Melina should be it. Putting her in a secondary feud with one of the rising girls could help put them over and after all, aren’t we looking for new stars? Melina’s been blessed to have five title runs in WWE and has had a career that has spanned as many years, perhaps WWE could use this downtime in her own career to help put over one of the other girls. It beats standing around with Johnny Knoxville…
Heck, why not amp it up even more? After two years and three title runs as a babyface, it seems like it’s time to switch things up for Melina. Aside from Lay-Cool, the heel side in WWE is lacking depth and if there’s one Diva that has depth as a heel — it’s Melina. Look no further than her berating and slapping Maria. Don’t we miss that? Sure, smiley, happy Melina has been fun but it seems to have run its course. If Lay-Cool are the immature high school heels, well, Melina’s a college graduate. Sure, her heel act would need to be toned down for the current PG climate, but I’m confident that Melina could deliver the same sass in her performances without using the ‘B’ word.
With Natalya currently at the top of the division and Beth Phoenix’s return pending, Melina isn’t necessarily needed on the babyface side. After all, you also have Eve, Kelly and Gail Kim waiting in the wings and ready to be taken off the bench. The heel side? Aside from Lay-Cool, there’s no strong heels in the division at the moment. Maryse is off doing her thing with the Million Dollar Man and Tamina is more focused on Santino. Alicia Fox is the closest we have to a secondary heel aside from Layla and Michelle, but fans don’t seem to be too convinced by her. The return of heel Melina seems like a perfect fit right now.
Which brings me back to my earlier point of putting others over. Now you have a heel Melina, why not put her against someone like Eve Torres, who WWE loves and wants to get over? Or Kelly Kelly? Even if it is just on WWE Superstars, a secondary storyline with either of those up-and-coming girls will hopefully get them that much more ready for the title picture.
Of course, a key component to this working — and something WWE seems reluctant to give — is promo time. Aside from Lay-Cool, no other Divas are given regular promo time. What made Melina a great heel, and Trish Stratus before her, was that they were constantly talking. Like I say, even if it is on WWE Superstars, promo time and a match each week could go a long way. Putting Eve against Melina, and getting the crowd interested, could be a launch-pad for Eve to feud with Lay-Cool for the Unified Divas Championship.
But don’t get me wrong. I’m not calling time on Melina’s own career, by any means. Turning heel would probably give her a new lease on life too and she’d be waiting in the wings to take over from Lay-Cool when they run their course. Heel Melina vs babyface Beth for the belt? Or Natalya? In the meantime, give her a secondary feud and team her up with Lay-Cool on Raw when you do tag team matches.
There’s still a lot for Melina to offer the division, even if she isn’t in the title picture. Having her on the sidelines becoming another face in the crowd will do no one favours. WWE should take advantage of the asset that they have built up over the past five years and utilise her to strengthen the division by working with the likes of Eve, Kelly, Alicia, Tamina etc. in secondary programmes.
That’s just one writer’s take anyway.