Saturday, October 23, 2021

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Saturday Supplement: How Long is Too Long?

saturdaysupplement

In the Saturday Supplement, the Diva Dirt team will aim to discuss a news story, a televised event or other relevant and current topics. The objective, like the average weekend newspaper, is to offer more indepth and lengthy discussion.

Some may have thought that the Women’s Championship match at Night of Champions signaled the end of the feud between Melina and Michelle McCool. Some may have even been hoping for that. However, for better or for worse, the feud isn’t stopping just yet. After upstaging the more hyped match last Sunday, Melina and Michelle are still showing the fire and intensity of a brand new feud, despite having been foes for nearly 3 months. They obviously haven’t had enough of each other just yet, but some fans aren’t feeling quite as content. Calls for its end or complaints about this “never-ending feud” have got me wondering: when it comes to Diva feuds, how long is too long?

The WWE has seen its fair share of extended feuds. The likes of Triple H, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, John Cena, and even Edge have participated in slow-burning feuds that spanned months and headlined PPV after PPV. But when it comes to Divas, those examples are few and far between. One could say that Lita and Trish Stratus feuded for quite some time, but with that we aren’t talking about a constantly-running feud. In between their battles were moments of comradery and truces, so I wouldn’t quite count that as a “long-running” feud, but more so a career-long love/hate relationship. So, what could be considered a long feud in Diva-dom? Read on and speculate with me.

Another feud, also connected to Trish Stratus, is the epic “obsessive fan” feud between her and Mickie James. It commenced on October 10th, 2005, and through the twists and turns, it lasted all the way until Backlash 2006, precisely April 30th, 2006. Doing the math, the feud lasted a total of 171 days. Now, it may not be fair to compare it to the Melina/Michelle feud, as this was a full-blown storyline, complete with the introduction of a brand new Diva, an awkward friendship, a slow heel turn, and finally commencing with a more standard heel/face feud at WrestleMania and Backlash. This was much more than a simple feud, and simply cannot be duplicated without some major groundwork being laid. In this day and age, with the WWE running on a surplus of Divas, I can’t see anything like that happening again in the near future. In fact, the feud only ended when Stratus dislocated her shoulder and was forced on to the disabled list. Who knows how long this could have gone without her injury?

A more comparable feud would be the one between Trish and Victoria (seeing the Trish connection here?). Again, the usage of an “unexplained connection” between the Divas was the basis of the feud – Victoria only hinted at a possible rift between the two in the past when they were both fitness models. Beyond that, most of the tension was in the here and now, with Victoria’s “pyscho” persona adding interest to the feud. The animosity ignited in July 2nd, 2002 when Victoria made her re-debut (remember her initial stint in the “Save the Hos” campaign?), having more of a war of words with Trish while she was also feuding with Molly Holly. Things kicked into high gear a few months later when Victoria defeated Trish in a hardcore match to win the Women’s Championship. This was at about the midpoint in the feud, which lasted until Victoria dropped the title to Trish at Wrestlemania XIX. All things factored, the feud clocked in at 271 days, exactly 100 days longer than Trish’s much more publicized with with Mickie. Its longevity is even more impressive given the fact that this feud wasn’t as complex as the one with Mickie – there were no in-your-face lesbian innuendo (if you don’t count Victoria licking people’s faces) and no flashy “Ashley in a box” tricks. The main connecting thread is the “psycho” factor, with both Mickie and victoria seemingly a little off their rockers. Is that what it takes to have a feud with staying power? Is that the only way the fans can find a Diva feud compelling, by adding in a dash of “Crazy Bitch”? I certainly hope not, because it doesn’t seem as though Michelle nor Melina have any budding mental disabilities, minus the blood curdling screams and over-inflated egos.

So, is it the Trish factor, then? Is the WWE’s most celebrated and popular Diva the only one who can handle a long-term feud, or is she the only one manage and trusted thus far to maintain the fans’ interest for that long? Keep in mind that Trish was constantly in the front of the division. When she finished one feud, she moved on to another, so it’s clear in that respect that the WWE had immense confidence in her to engage the audience and introduce new Divas to the WWE mainstream. Victoria and Mickie probably owe her some debt of gratitude, however small.

But when I think about it, there were a few non-Trish feuds that lasted the test of time. Remember the feud between Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie? That one went through the marriage of Torrie’s father and Dawn, a hotel room video, and a mind-burning shower scene. While the feud was very T&A heavy, it still had the staying power of more wrestling-oriented ones, lasting just about 108 days. Spanning from October 2002 to January 2003, the highlights included two PPV matches, one at No Mercy and the other at the Royal Rumble, a match which signified the end of the feud. Another Torrie feud, this time with WWE legend Sable had similar elements to it—plenty of bikinis and girl-on-girl action—ran significantly shorter, only approximately 56 days. Maybe without Torrie’s dad to seduce, Sable (and the WWE’s creative team) ran out of things to pull from her bag of tricks.

So, I think we’ve found the two mitigating factors in our experiment: lesbians and psychos. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your interests), the feud between Michelle and Melina has neither of those. They don’t even have that much of a history between each other. No petty jealousy or T&A either—just an intense desire to wear the gold. That makes it all the more impressive that their feud has lasted this long: approximately 71 days as of this article’s publishing. That doesn’t even scratch the surface of the feuds mentioned about, but in this era, that’s pretty impressive. Now, if it has the staying power of these lengthier feuds discussed above is another matter. Fans are already complaining about it getting boring or that we’re seeing “the same thing every week”. Don’t believe me? Read a few comments made in this post and tell me everyone’s peachy keen on the idea.

But, since this feud is continuing despite a bit of protest, what is the end point? Is it SummerSlam? It is the 2nd biggest PPV of the year, and it’s easy to see them aiming for a big blowoff match there. Hopefully it will be something out of the ordinary and special, befitting the amount of time the Divas have put into this feud. Perhaps an “I Quit” match? It certainly plays to their strengths—both Divas have a fondness for submissions and love to venture outside the ring during their matches—so it would make for a suitable “big feel” match to cap off this feud, if that truly will be the finish line. Other options, such a steel cage match, a “Falls Count Anywhere” match or (and I’m reaching here) a ladder match, are ones that often pop up in discussions about dream matches. While the Divas have had their fair share of the “Falls Count Anywhere ” match, the other two haven’t been explored at all (save for the Victoria/Lita cage match a few years ago). It’s clear, though, that the WWE isn’t planning on branching the Divas out into the more extreme, male-oriented gimmick matches, so unfortunately, I don’t see anything too radical taking place. Like I said, an “I Quit” match would be a perfect fit.

The weeks leading up to the PPV could emphasize the fact that both women aren’t going to let up—it has been a 3 month game of chicken, after all—and the only sensible recourse would be to finally have one of them admit defeat, thus the “I Quit” stipulation. It would be the ultimate humiliation, and the desire to embarrass the other would make for a great story. The tension, the intensity, and the determination could build up and explode in an epic, take-no-prisoners match that all of us Diva fans have been waiting for. Finally, this era of Divas would prove their worth.

But then again, it could all be nothing more than a pipe dream.. But hey, we’ve made it this far, haven’t we?

(After the writing of this article, reports had surfaced that Michelle may have suffered a sidelining injury at an untelevised event. Hopefully all is well and this feud can keep on chuggin’…)

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