If you normally read my column you know I am full of theories. I guess it comes from being an engineer, always trying to figure stuff out, always trying to see how things work. It’s kind of ironic because that is certainly not how I was raised. My dad couldn’t change a light bulb and just watched TV all day. My mom was a dancer and was always listening to show tunes (where is the couch Dr. Freud?) In any event somewhere along the line I got interested in science, eventually majoring in mathematics once I got to college. When I had to declare a minor I chose Classical Studies, because, you know, “Clash of the Titans” was a cool movie (the original, not the brutal remake). So, after 4 years of Nintendo, beer, and flag football, I graduated college as a deep thinker filled with numbers and Greek philosophy, perfect for analyzing and writing about women’s professional wrestling.
I have already shared with you several of my theories, such as my Kate Winslet Theory (Lay-Cool), my Beyonce Theory (Gail Kim) and my Sandra Bullock Theory (the Bella Twins). Each one more enlightening than the last. Well it’s time to reach even higher, to break through the intellectual clouds, and to share with you my latest and greatest brainwave. I hope you’re sitting down…
I give to you…my “Sarah Palin Theory”! *clap clap clap* You see, to me it is quite clear that Kelly Kelly is the Sarah Palin of the WWE.
Now, I could jump right into my analysis and immediately break this down, presenting the facts in an honest effort to convince you my theory is correct. But as you know by now there has to be a personal back story to all of my articles, so here we go (this is the point most of you stop reading…thanks for coming, don’t forget to tip the waiters…)
In 1969 my mom was the first runner-up to Pennsylvania’s Junior Miss (earlier that year she won the York County program to qualify for the state level). For those of you who don’t know what Junior Miss is, here is what it is NOT. It is not a beauty pageant. It is not Miss America. No bathing suits allowed (sorry David Hasselhoff). Rather it is a scholarship program for high school juniors who epitomize talent, grace, athleticism, and intelligence. The winner represents her county for the next year at public appearances and social events, serving as a role model for other young women. The experience was very inspirational for my mom, so much so that she came back the following year and started choreographing the York program. Within 3 years she was the Executive Director and President of York County’s Junior Miss. That was almost 40 years ago.
Junior Miss has been a part of my family since before I was born, and I am very proud of the work my mom has done for hundreds of young women who needed assistance reaching their academic goals. Today the York program awards close to $30,000 each year and has been named the top local program in the country four times. Quite an honor. I always enjoy going to the show, mostly because I know how much it means to my mom, how much she believes in what she is doing. (However it was REALLY cool when I was 10 years old and the Junior Miss girls would babysit me…oh my goodness, high school juniors! Let’s just say I was…impressed).
To honor my mom I flew to Oklahoma this past July to be a judge for their state program. This was my way of “giving back” since obviously I could never be IN the program (although I’m pretty sure my “Copacabana” would have killed the competition). The Oklahoma winner would then compete in Mobile, AL for the title of America’s Junior Miss and a chance at $50,000 in college scholarships. I was nervous because I figured most of the judges would have a lot more experience than I did (none), but when I got there it was pretty clear I was the most qualified simply because I’d been around the program my whole life. The other judges were nice folks but they really didn’t know Junior Miss from Junior Mints. (Thank you, thank you, I’ve been saving that one…)
During the actual program each girl performs a fitness routine, an individual talent, and several prepared monologues. The judges score each category, but the two most important categories are ones the audience never sees: high school grades and a personal interview. The judges conduct these interviews earlier in the day, with each girl spending 20 minutes answering random questions. The judges can’t show any emotion (insert your own Divas joke here…) and vary the questions to include topics such as politics, entertainment, and sports. Basically, we look for girls that are well-rounded and carry themselves with confidence. The answers don’t matter as much as their grace under pressure.
The interviews were going well until I asked one girl the following question: “Do you think Sarah Palin has helped or hurt the future of women in politics?”
The young woman stared at me, then smiled politely and said, “I’m sorry; I don’t have an answer for you at this time.”
To quote my favorite Smackdown consultant, “Excuse me?!”
I knew right then and there that she didn’t deserve to win this program (plus it was the third question in which she gave the same generic response…”I don’t have an answer for you at this time”…which sounded more rehearsed than “A Chorus Line”.) I wrote her off after that. Why? Because a 17 year old woman should have an opinion on Sarah Palin. (And for God’s sake, just say SOMETHING; make up an answer, whatever. In a professional interview you never say “nothing”. Ask me what it was like being pregnant and I could talk for 15 minutes about morning sickness…just roll with it!)
This is not an endorsement of Sarah Palin. This is not an admonishment of Sarah Palin. I don’t care what your views are about her because we are all entitled to our own opinion. I happen to like her as a person although I am not sure she is qualified to run our country. That’s a different discussion. BUT…I would be surprised if you didn’t have SOME opinion of her or her Vice Presidential candidacy in 2008. Is she smart? Is she hokey? Is she manipulative? Is she a role model? Is she qualified? Is she more qualified than our current president? Was she a good Governor? Is she a rock star? Is she a bad mom? Is she overexposed? (Sarah is like the original “Beverly Hills 90210”. In college no one admitted to watching the show, but it was awfully quiet every Wednesday night. No one will admit to liking her but thousands of people showed up at her recent book signing in Fairfax, VA. Fascinating.) I think Sarah Palin is the most polarizing figure in the news right now, and I believe a 17 year old woman, getting ready to pursue her own ambitions and dreams, should have an opinion of her. (Quick follow up: the girl didn’t win that night, although that was not the only reason).
Polarizing. Doesn’t that sound a lot like Kelly Kelly? Everybody has an opinion about Kelly. Can she wrestle? Is she championship material? Was she rushed too quickly? Some people love her. Some people hate her. Some readers even accuse Diva Dirt of having a personal axe to grind with her (ridiculous). More tweets and comments focus on Kelly than any girl in any promotion (with the possible exception of Michelle McCool, but let’s not go down that rabbit hole again…) In many ways Kelly exemplifies the modern “Divas” style wrestling which doesn’t sit well with more traditional fans. The “model hired to be a wrestler”. Certainly nobody will ever confuse her with Sherri Martel in the ring. Yet she gets pushed as the face of the WWE Divas because she has a marketable look (another Palin comparison: the “under-qualified but attractive” argument).
I’m on record as not being a big Kelly supporter…yet. I need to see more. I need to see improvement in the ring and gravity to her character that I feel is missing. Here is what I wrote about Kelly this past April when it was time for the annual WWE draft:
It’s not working for Kelly on RAW. The WWE obviously wants Kelly to be a star for the company (she was picked as the only Diva to be on a 7-11 SummerSlam cup last year?!? If I were Mickie that would…umm…tick me off) but RAW is not giving her the opportunity to develop a character. She has a long way to go in the ring, but even worse is the lack of improvement in her ability to tell a story. She’s very one-dimensional and I think moving to SD would help her like it helped Layla. It would add layers to her character and give her a chance to reach her potential. 2 minute pillow fights on RAW are killing her and her Nikes.
As you know Kelly was eventually drafted to Smackdown. How has it worked out? Has it boosted her career? It’s been over six months, more than enough time to start looking for some answers. In that same column I came up with 10 things I felt Kelly needed to work on to transform herself into a legit WWE star. Judging by my criteria, I thought her recent Superstars match vs. co-Divas champion Layla, which aired on Thursday October 14, 2010, was a solid performance and showed that Kelly is moving in the right direction. Let’s go to the scorecard.
- Get rid of the Farah Faucett haircut. Follow-up – I think Kelly’s look has definitely gotten better and she looked very stylish coming to the ring. Point (1 for 1).
- Ditch the Nikes. Follow-up – I liked Kelly’s ring outfit in this match. Very pretty pink and white wrestling gear with black boots and knee pads. She looked sexy and ready to wrestle. Point (2 for 2).
- Show some real emotion. Follow-up – I thought Kelly played the babyface well in this match. She showed a wider range of emotions than I’m accustomed to with her, selling Layla’s moves, reacting to Lay-Cool’s teasing, and showing fire during her comeback. Point (3 for 3).
- Learn to run the ropes. Kelly needs to be smoother in the ring. Follow-up: In general I think Kelly looked more comfortable in the ring. She is still soft when she hits the ropes and I’d like to see her project more power when she moves around the ring. I want her to “own” the ring like some of the other veterans. Partial point (3.5 for 4).
- Master some basic moves and then add in high spots. Follow-up: This match showed that Kelly has improved her ring work. Her basics were fine and I really liked the high cross body she attempted. She missed the move but she executed it well. She and Layla mixed in some nice mat work which provided a good change of pace to the action. The one negative was a very weak atomic drop which showed that Kelly still has room for improvement. Partial point (4 for 5)
- Perfect the “Kelly Killer”. Follow-up: Kelly wins this match but she doesn’t use the Kelly Killer for the pinfall. After Natalya distracts Layla, Kelly rolls her for the 1-2-3 (can we please ban that finish from professional wrestling…please?!) In other recent matches I still think she takes too long to set up the move and too often it doesn’t connect cleanly. No point (4 for 6).
- Interviews and promos help us feel more connected to the performer. I’m not really sure she has been given a chance to develop these skills on TV, although working on Friday nights may give her more of an opportunity. Follow-up: I think Beth Phoenix’s injury in May really hurt Kelly because she was just starting a good program with The Glamazon and Lay-Cool. Her “Smelly Kelly” storyline never took hold like the other Lay-Cool segments, and while Kelly is partly to blame for this, as is Lay-Cool, I’m giving her a pass here because (in my opinion) it was poorly developed and poorly written. However, in general I still think Kelly is too vanilla. I’d like to see her get a long interview like the one Eve was given a few weeks ago. Give the girl a chance to show some personality. No point (4 for 7).
- Stop yelling in the ring. Seriously. No more screaming. Follow-up: This has really improved and I thought Kelly played the “face” well in this match. She and Layla were good foils to each other. The screaming was used effectively as were her other emotions. Well done. Point (5 for 8).
- Find a catch phrase or SOMETHING that makes you unique. Follow-up: There is still some work to do here, but I will admit that the faces aren’t asked to develop characters with a lot of layers. So I guess what makes Kelly Kelly stand out is her All-American looks. That will have to do for now, but I’d still like to see more. Partial point (5.5 for 9)
- If Kelly does none of the above, I hope she does this one the most – she needs to take a steel chair and plant it squarely on the Glamazon’s head. This girl needs a heel turn more than I need my next McDonald’s iced coffee. Follow-up: I still think a heel turn would be an interesting storyline for Kelly, but given that they are working her face I’m OK with it because I do see her improving. Partial point (6 for 10).
6 for 10, not too bad considering it’s only been 6 months or so since I wrote the article. I am pleased with her improvement and actually enjoyed this match versus Layla.
But judging by the wide range of opinions we see every week on Diva Dirt, it’s safe to say that this is not the consensus. For Kelly, every match, every interview, every backstage segment generates a lot of buzz. Do I think Kelly is headed in the right direction? “You betcha!”
There is a good chance you disagree with me.
Kelly Kelly, the Sarah Palin of the WWE Divas. “All the mavericks in the house put your hands up!”
— Mr. Glamazon
PS – I still like Kelly’s theme song. “So all my girls in the back say hooooooo! Cause you know just how they dooooooo!” I’m getting ready to point at you and stand on a chair.
PPS – There are good impressions, there are great impressions, and then there is Tina Fey on SNL. Her Sarah Palin is one of the iconic performances in late-night TV history.
PPPS – Follow me on Twitter @dlb19338 and send in your mailbag questions to [email protected].