Naomi’s Opportunities

What has she gotten, and what should she be getting?

OK so let’s look at the record here, going back to the beginning of the women’s revolution. Thanks to cagematch.net we can do just that. I looked for matches against who can be considered the most important women in the company – the 4 Horsewomen, Asuka, and Alexa Bliss. Forget wins and losses, how many singles matches has she even had against them? Televised matches, that is. As much as I love house shows the only people who see those are the people there that night. And I also threw out any of those super short matches (five minutes or less) because we’re talking about real opportunities here and not filling a spot on TV for part of an angle. So in five years, Naomi has gotten:

  • 4 matches with Alexa
  • 3 matches with Charlotte
  • 1 match with Asuka
  • 1 match with Bayley
  • 1 match with Sasha Banks

That’s 10 in five years, 2 of which were on a pay per view (Elimination Chamber 2015 with Bliss and Super Showdown 2020 with Bayley). Those two plus the match against Asuka are the only three title matches of the bunch. And zero matches with Becky Lynch. Expanding the list a bit there’s also three matches with Natalya and zero matches with Nia Jax. So in five years she’s had all of 13 matches against essentially the top 8 women in the company.

By contrast in one year Lacey Evans has gotten two solo pay per view title matches with Lynch and a solo title match with Bayley. In other words Evans has already worked more matches with Lynch in her first three months than Naomi has in five years, and I dare say she has yet to come out of a big singles match looking like it was worth putting her in it. I dare you to find one match of Naomi’s that would have been better had she been replaced with Evans or one singles match of Evans that wouldn’t have been better with Naomi. To say Evans should continue to get to hang around title contention or just get more TV time is based entirely on the hope and speculation that one day she’ll be able to handle the ring work that the top women in the company put in, and that her appeal on the character side will be enough until then to warrant being kept so visible. That’s a whole lot of hoping.

And from my observations and conversations with some of her biggest fans, what they’re asking for here is not a Bruno run with a women’s title but more consistent TV time, more matches against the top women in the company, the occasional pay per view title shot, and to not have her out her losing all the time to people who clearly don’t match up to her as a performer. In other words, book her like Natalya who gets to work with the top women regularly, gets a title match against the top woman every year and a feud that ends on a pay per view, all while also serving as a gatekeeper to up and coming women. Naomi gets to do the last part of that and not much else beyond spicing up the Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank every year.

Go back and watch those matches, and ask yourself is there any reason to not want more of those? They were all good and entertaining matches, and if one of those women is your favorite wouldn’t you rather get more of that than them having to try and make someone a lot lesser look credible in a big match? Or more of that and less of them working with each other all the time? I mean really now, what could possibly be bad about there being 40 of those matches instead of just 13? Am I missing something here? Is there a good reason to be fighting against that?

There’s no reason Naomi can’t be the Natalya of Smackdown, and I’d be willing to bet most of her fans would be fine with that. That’s a good spot to have to be honest. But yet even asking for that gets a bunch of responses from trolls and people who think that there’s some threshold of quality as a performer that she hasn’t crossed yet and thus does not warrant any bigger effort than she gets now from the man in charge. ‘She can do spots, but hasn’t gotten down the psychology yet’. First up 90 percent of the idiots who throw around ‘ring psychology’ as a some kind of trump card have no idea what they’re talking about. It’s a wikipedia phrase that they regurgitate to sound cool. How can you even make that judgement given the scant number of chances she’s gotten to show that? But you know what, for the sake of argument I’ll concede that point for a moment.

Let’s say that she’s a spot artist who can’t work long matches and she doesn’t cut a good promo. I seem to remember a man who was known as a spot artist who didn’t cut promos that well (for a long time he had a manager to do the talking for him) and yet he managed to be on TV all the time, work with all the big names and best workers, and even got to main event a pay per view where he beat the top guy in the company, all while not really shaking that reputation. Who is this guy?

Now if you’re gonna tell me that no, Rob Van Dam was considered more than that at the time I’m gonna call you an idiot and/or a liar because I was there and I do remember. People said the exact same things about him and yet he was the only Invasion guy who didn’t get booked like a goof and immediately got to work for the IC title after that angle was over. He was always on TV and got to work with everyone from HHH to Chris Jericho to that other Chris we won’t mention to Eddie Guerrero and even Brock Lesnar. He won tag team titles. He got to win Money in the Bank. He main evented a pay per view with HHH, and more importantly main evented one against John Cena and beat him for the WWE title. You’re telling me that she can’t get just a portion of that on the women’s side? Seriously?

You think I’m being blasphemous? Go back and watch his matches during that period. Then go watch the matches that made him a hot commodity in the first place, in the gimmicked up to all get out ECW, and please tell me where all these nuances that you claim to be so important can be found. Then go watch those two guys that work on Wednesday nights on TNT and tell me what they do that she can’t, and tell me how they get to help run a whole company based off of that (and got booked on top in other companies) and how oh no there’s no sexism or racism at play here. I mean seriously folks, a (white) man who does what she does gets to go to high places (in more ways than one for Mr. Van Dam). She gets called overrated and told to wait her turn. Yeah……..

Let’s put the straw men away. If you honestly think that what she’s getting now is right, what can you point to other than personal preference? What real empirical evidence can you point to, in comparison to other women in WWE and some of the men there as well, to suggest that putting over women who just aren’t going to get much further than they are no matter how many reboots they get is the best move here? If you call her limited while you continue to say (insert name here) deserves to get moved up the ladder despite what we see on tape, then I gotta sat you’re blind, biased, or maybe, just maybe…..

You calling me racist?

I don’t know, are you? Don’t take too long to answer now, ok?

Well Booker T said the same thing!!

Yeah let’s get to that. Booker has lost a whole lot of cool points over the last year with this and how easily he believed the whole ‘Sasha and Bayley crying on the floor’ story. When it comes time to talk about Black women in particular Booker sounds very much like the 55 year old Black man he is. What do I mean by that? Well, he talks a lot like the prejudiced and flat out racist crap he went through in his own career, both subtle and blatant, is stuff that you just have to deal with and never demand better. But not only that he said that those of us who pushed or supported the hashtag were wrong, too, as if fan support wasn’t a reason he finally got the run late in his career that he did.

If you don’t think prejudice and racism still play into who gets booked where on the card in the entire wrestling business, please wake up. Are things better today than any other time? Yes, but that’s as much an indicator of how far we have to as it is a sign of progress. And the shortcomings of today are not to just be chalked up to the struggle that we all go through. I know I grew up in a house where ‘I struggled so you won’t have to as much’ was the mantra. It’s time for our Black elders in the business to see that. One thing I’ve learned in 46 years is you get what you demand or that others demand for you and that meeting some checklist beforehand is rarely sufficient or even necessary. And finally the choices aren’t between sucking it up or walking out the door. She should get better than she’s gotten, her fans have every right to fight for it, and even people who aren’t fans should at least recognize that she brings a lot to the table worth promoting.

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