On the April 30th Smackdown, WWE Women’s Champion “The Glamazon” Beth Phoenix and Kelly Kelly defeated Michelle McCool and Layla. Read that sentence again, because I think it is THE turning point in Kelly Kelly’s career. I think it might be the most important match Kelly has ever wrestled. Teaming with the current women’s champion and picking up the victory over the hottest heel group in the company is a major step in the right direction for her. And the best part? Not a leprichaun, talking car, magician, or game show host anywhere in sight. Just a solid wrestling match that saw Kelly trade actual wrestling holds with girls who know what they’re doing. Heck, Beth even let her get the victory for her team.
Was Kelly great in this match? Hardly. Did Kelly do her “whirly-bird” flying head-scissors thing that looks really goofy? Take a guess. Did Kelly stumble through her “Kelly Killer” leg drop finisher? A big, big yes. Does Kelly have a lot of work to do to elevate herself to the class of Melina, Beth Phoenix, and Michelle McCool? Obviously. But she won’t have the chance to do that…to learn, grow, and improve…just wearing bathing suits on RAW. But here is the thing, we know (right or wrong) that the WWE is going to market this girl, to use her as one of the most prominent faces of the Divas. Therefore Kelly needed, repeat absolutely NEEDED, to move to Smackdown. The entire division will benefit from Kelly becoming a legit star and that can only happen on Friday night with this current group of writers. My fellow Diva Dirt writers and I don’t necessarily see eye to eye on this, but I felt it was the most critical move of the entire draft. (Please don’t stop reading, give me a few paragraphs to explain.) Along with Natayla (moving to RAW) and Mickie (moving to RAW), I felt these were the 3 most important “draft” picks of the year (well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad right?!) Miss you already Mickie…when’s the CD coming out? Here is what I wrote before the 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.
It’s no secret that I am not a fan of Kelly’s. It’s nothing personal…I can separate Barbie Jean Blank from her character Kelly Kelly, which is easy now that we know so much more about kayfabe and how the business works. A lot of kids used to think the Undertaker was truly one of the dead…but now everyone knows he is a regular guy with manliner and tattoos (I have proof, a friend of mine saw him once in a Las Vegas restroom…kind of levels the playing field if you know what I mean). So, I’m sure Barbie is a great person. As far as I know she saves kittens from trees and helps old people cross the street. Again, my comments are not directed at her per se. And I do concede how difficult it must have been for her to be plucked from a modeling agency and thrown into the ring at such a young age. I do think it is really funny a girl named Barbie changed her name to Kelly. For professional reasons it is usually the other way around (wink wink). Oh stop, I KNOW her name is Barbara but the joke isn’t as funny that way. Cut me some slack.
I’m not a fan of Kelly Kelly for a very basic reason…I don’t feel anything when she is in the ring. I don’t care about her character. I don’t feel her ups and downs. It is not a question of “is Kelly beautiful” or anything like that. Of course she is beautiful. She is magnificent to look at. Her 7-11 Cup is my favorite (although compared to HHH and John Cena, that’s not too hard. And it’s a good thing they didn’t make Glamazon cups or we would use them with our fine china.) But there are a LOT of pretty girls in sports entertainment. When you step into the ring, you must evoke emotion from the audience. See: Jericho, Chris or Michaels, Shawn in the WWE Encyclopedia. The HBK vs. Undertaker match at WrestleMania 25 is my gold standard. Wrestling is not just stringing together 1 move after the next until the referee tells you to finish the match. Divas such as Michelle McCool, Beth Phoenix, and Maryse understand this (yes THAT Maryse, a C+ in the ring but an A+ storyteller). PS – I wish I could buy “Maryse will wink at you” on eBay. Lordy!
I would now add Layla to this list because her recent run on Smackdown has transformed her career. Being paired with Michelle has placed her in high-profile storylines as both an in-ring and on-air talent. Her growth as an overall performer has been special to watch. And thank God we can now forget about her program with William Regal. Her wrestling is on point, her look is refined, and her persona is a great combination of different emotions. You may not like the LayCool “Mean Girls” routine but she has been given a character to play and she is killing it. (I am enjoying her so much lately I thought about changing my handle to Mr. LaylaEl…but then I ducked a lightning bolt from Glamazon Mountain and came to my senses.)
Kelly’s career has hit a plateau because she hasn’t demonstrated much improvement in the ring or much needed characterization. Ask yourself a serious question – can you remember 1 significant storyline, interesting moment, or exciting match that Kelly was part of in 2009? I can’t. And no, Baywatch matches don’t count. Before you say the same goes for Rosa, Katie Lea, etc. remember this is supposed to be one of the WWE’s main Divas of the future. But sadly Kelly has been losing steam for a while. I know Wikipedia is not always 100% accurate or authenticated, but Kelly’s entry has two full paragraphs on her ECW years (06-08) and only 1 paragraph on her RAW/Smackdown years (08-present). Ouch! That’s going in the wrong direction. I understand that ECW was a good place for Kelly to learn the business, but when she was called up to RAW in July of 2008 she should have then made a bigger impact over the next few years. Now, is this the writers’ fault? Maybe. Although I think she shoulders some of that responsibility as well. Talent will eventually rise above.
By the way, I love that she made her debut was as a stripper who was dating Mike Knox! That’s brutal!! But even better – imagine the ideas that the creative team DIDN’T use! I mean, really?!? “Dating Mike Knox” came up in an official meeting? Maybe Mike Knox was 100 lbs thinner and clean shaven back then, I don’t know, I wasn’t watching much. All I know is the last time I saw him in the ring he looked like the grizzly bear that lived in Bret Hart’s house when he was growing up in Calgary. That flying body block of his was a good move though.
So here are the 10 things I feel Kelly should work on to transform into a legit WWE star.
In no particular order:
1) Get rid of the Farah Faucett haircut. The featherly style worked great for Charlie’s Angels but it is time for an updated look.
2) Ditch the Nikes. Some people love them but real wrestlers wear boots.
3) Show some real emotion. Kelly smiles when she comes to the ring. Kelly smiles when she is introduced before a match. Kelly smiles when she gets hit with a Glam Slam. I want her face to tell me something about what she is feeling, to evoke sympathy or emotion or excitement. I love how Layla has become so much better at this.
4) Learn to run the ropes. Kelly needs to be smoother and more comfortable in the ring and this is never more evident than when she “bounces” off the ropes. Kelly goes into the ropes like she is afraid of hurting them. She should train with Gail Kim every single day. Now that girl hits the ropes hard!
5) Master some basic moves and then add in high spots. Master a headlock. Master an arm bar. Master a solid bodyslam. The Kelly Killer and “twirling head scissors thing” look out of place during a match because she doesn’t counter-balance them with solid mat wrestling and submission holds. Part of the problem here might be that RAW gives their girls 2 minute matches which doesn’t allow them to use slower, wear-down holds. That’s another reason Smackdown is going to be good for K2…longer matches.
6) Perfect the “Kelly Killer”. The finisher is OK but it doesn’t look like it does any damage (like the Faithbreaker, Glam Slam, or Eat Defeat (bad name Gail, but great move)). If Kelly got some air under her before she dropped the leg it would be fine. Right now the move is slow and visually ineffective. A great finisher is a must and can cover other weaknesses – just ask Maryse. Pourquoi?
7) Interviews and promos help us feel more connected to the performer. To say that Kelly needs work in this area is a slight understatement. 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. Looking good is one thing. Moving well in the ring is another. But if you can’t talk, you’re only going so far unless you do something SO well that your star can’t be stopped. (I would say the Ultimate Warrior qualifies here.) College students could study “The Rise of CM Punk in 2009” as a case study for cutting great, great promos.
8) Stop yelling in the ring. Seriously. No more screaming. It is distracting and misplaced during the match. If you need to tell the crowd to get fired up that is not a good sign. Kelly, we’ll start cheering and screaming when the work in the ring improves. This is not a “chicken and the egg” argument.
9) Find a catch phrase or SOMETHING that makes you unique. Maybe this will evolve as Kelly gets better on the mic, but she desperately needs something that makes her “special”. Looking great isn’t enough. The successful Divas don’t always have catch phrases (like the Rock, etc.) but they always have something about them that makes them stand out. In fairness to my lovely Beth, she isn’t amazing on the microphone but her powerful physique differentiates her. Maryse speaks French and has killer attitude. LayCool plays the “Mean Girls” routine to a tee. Gail has tremendous ring skills. Serena is Straight Edge. Even Jillian bless her heart tries to entertain us with her singing.
10) 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 up top the Glamazon’s head. This girl needs a heel turn more than I need my next McDonald’s iced coffee (which on a scale of 1-10 is a “54”). Do it Kelly. Rebel against the “good girl” image and make the switch…then you can stop smiling and pull the Maryse playbook off the shelf – which is only 3 pages long anyway, it’s a short read. A few hair pulls, a few slaps, and a finishing move. Copy her attitude (in English) and you could be the “Maryse of Friday nights”. Not a bad gig.
By the way, I do think Kelly should keep her theme song, I kind of like it. “So all my girls in the back say hooooooo! Cause you know just how they dooooooo!” I’m pointing at you right now and standing on a chair.
Earlier in the column I said Kelly moving to Friday night’s was the critical move of the draft for the Divas, and I think we are already seeing positive results for the entire division, especially on RAW. This could just be coincidence. It could be that aliens kidnapped the previous RAW writers and replaced them with better ones. I’m open to all possibilities. But with Kelly gone from Monday’s, EveThe Bellas were used as more than arm candy, Gail and Alicia may be setting up a program together, and even Jillian was given a decent spot with the guest host. I think with Kelly gone, all the other girls fell into place for the writers and a pecking order has been established. is now the clear #1 babyface and she has shown renewed confidence and aggressiveness in the ring. I think Eve has a good future because she combines beauty, stature, and athleticism with decent technique. (I am still amazed at the moonsault she “missed” a few weeks ago!) Eve and Maryse are putting together (gasp) a solid storyline over the Divas title and it has given the show a lift. Maryse’s “photoshoot” after blasting Eve with the title belt was classic, one of the truly funniest (and most effective) moments I have seen in months. Moreover, this past week on RAW every Diva was used on the show.
Smackdown is such a strong show right now that Kelly has been inserted into numerous angles right away and the show isn’t missing a beat. She is the “new girl in school” for LayCool and Vickie to pick on (“Smelly Kelly”…I think we each went to school with one of those…) and Beth can protect her from the bullies. She is teaming with Tiffany, which I asked for in my pre-draft column: “Keep Tiffany on Smackdown. She is working with solid pros and has shown marked improvement in the ring. I would piece her with Kelly Kelly and allow these girls to tag against veterans on the roster.” I liked this match for what it was, another step in the right direction. So in her first 2 weeks on Smackdown Kelly has teamed against Michelle and Layla twice and the writers seem intent on giving her purpose. Kelly fans rejoice! Heck, Kelly was even good in the backstage segment with LayCool this past week on Superstars where she called Vickie the “Official Cow of Smackdown!” I saw emotion!!! And while I don’t think Kelly will win any gold statues in the near future, the transformation has begun. (PS – could getting drafted to Smackdown actually be a good thing for Rosa too?!? What, a Rosa promo on Superstars?!? Maybe we should all grab a can opener and some soup and head to the basement, something wild and dangerous is happening…)
And 1 other thing – since Smackdown is a taped program, the editors can cover Kelly’s botches when needed which will make her look better in the ring. Her “back flip move” this past Friday night would have looked even worse on RAW and caused a riot on the Post RAW audio show. If you didn’t see it…it was a little off the mark. Yes, I’m being nice here. But, seriously, maybe Kelly will relax now that she isn’t live every week on TV.
I thought I was in a great mood lately because Beth Phoenix resumed her rightful place as leader of the free world…err, women’s champion. But I have come to realize it is because I am feeling much better about the entire WWE Divas division. Since the draft we have seen some consistency that has been severely missing the past year, and we have seen some girls used in more effective ways. It may not last. The RAW guest hosts could once again sabotage the show on a weekly basis and give the Divas more hot tub matches. But until that happens I am going to enjoy this. And to think, Kelly Kelly moving to Friday night’s seems to be at least partly responsible.
A last thought – I am really excited that Katie Lea is joining the staff here at Diva Dirt but it is a little bitter sweet because that means she isn’t working for WWE anymore. I wish she would have gotten a better shake these past few years. Just for fun go watch her ladder match on YouTube with Beth Phoenix from their OVW days, I thought it was a pretty good match!
Also, don’t forget Sunday is Mother’s Day…I hope all the moms out there have a great day with their families! This year I am giving my wife an Extreme Makeover. When I told her, she said: “What the hell is that?!?” I said, “Well, for starters, do we have an ironing board and some hairspray?” EXCUSE ME!!!
— Mr. Glamazon, one half of the Unified WWE Women’s Championship
PS – Like Beth, I was also pulled off of the recent Mexican tour…which is probably a good thing since tequila and I are not friends.