The actual story of WWE’s Women’s Revolution, especially the story surrounding the so-called “Four Horsewomen of NXT” is incredible. It is a story of four women who were told, repeatedly, “nobody cared” about women’s wrestling. Instead of letting that discourage them, they used it as their fuel to change that opinion. Building on the work of some incredible women before them, they made the Women’s Division in rookie-show NXT the star feature—no small feat when they were on shows with male stars who have since become main eventers on weekly WWE TV. It is a story of grit, of determination and of women building each other up.
So month after month it amazes me that Boom’s WWE series continues to fuck up while trying to tell the story. It literally fails on every level that the Horsewomen themselves succeeded in. Three issues in, reviewing the arc I was most excited about when it was announced has become a torture straight out of Dante. It is a Sisyphean task to get through and I’m ready to just lay down and let the boulder roll the hell over me.
As we progress through each issue I truly believe the creative team cares less and less about anything going into these stories. This issue, regular artist Serg Acuna shares duties with Kendall Goode. So, another creator was added to the mix, but it’s yet another guy. Rather than taking the chance to add a woman to the team, on the main story dealing with a women’s revolution, you put another guy in. And not the guy you should have put on this story, either. Distorted faces, boring action scenes, and anatomy rendering that would make Rob Liefeld insist you clean that shit up sprawl across every one of Goode’s pages. The result is that you’re already seeing so many flaws by the time you hit Acuna’s art that the latter is even less palatable than usual.
But the sloppy art is nothing compared to the story. In this issue, we open with Bayley—still the focus of the story—helping to train the other women in NXT. Triple H, the head of NXT, arrives and gives a supposedly inspiring speech. But Bayley knows what he’s really saying. “The only thing he really likes about me carrying this title is that somebody else is going to have to stand up and take it from me.” Yes, it appears that dastardly Triple H is again trying to sabotage Bayley’s career. We even see him later on, plotting with fellow evil authority figure William Regal, the general manager of NXT, to put Bayley in a match against powerhouse Nia Jax, sure that Bayley can’t succeed. Finally, they think, Bayley will be put in her place.
Oh, except this literally comes out of nowhere. Triple H has never shown any ill-will towards Bayley, unless you count him telling her she was staying in NXT because he didn’t want the audience to eat her alive. But it wasn’t cruel, it wasn’t to hurt her, it was a genuine concern at the time. Suddenly, Triple H is out to get her, and scheming with him is William Regal, who has never been portrayed as an evil authority figure in the comic, let alone in his time as the GM of NXT. Suddenly we have Powers That Be plotting against Bayley . . . the Powers That Be who originally put her and Sasha Banks in a history-making main event on an NXT special.
So it really shouldn’t surprise me that suddenly we’re seeing Bayley as a mess, strung out from “being forced” to defend her title all the time. She can’t even clean her apartment, throw away the cans from her protein drinks, or do her laundry because she’s having title matches all the time. Because all of a sudden evil Triple H has shown up to prove she’s not good enough to be on Raw. Or something. But she’s told that there’s a chance she’ll get &ldquocalled up” when the WWE holds a draft for talent in a few weeks.
When the draft rolls around, Bayley is resting in a kiddie pool full of ice in her apartment, drinking an Apple Juice box, because of course—let’s infantalize her as much as possible, right? She’s reacting to seeing her friends and foes being picked as they split up the rosters of Raw and Smackdown, every talent being regulated to one show going forward. Bayley sees several NXT talents being recruited but patiently waits for her name to be called. But instead of Bayley, it is Carmella, the girl Bayley was training at the beginning of the comic, whose name is called in the end. Bayley, angry at being passed over, throws her juice box at the TV, screaming “NO!”
Now, in a perfect world, when these drafts were happening, Bayley would have been with her other NXT talents, cheering on each person getting the chance to reach the main roster. And, since her friendship with Carmella was long-documented, she’d be right there cheering for her friend getting this opportunity. Imagine, Bayley sitting right beside Carmella, jumping up to hug her even before Carmella has processed she’s been chosen.
And what if there was footage of that moment? I think it would look something like this!
Wow, what an amazing visual that would have been. Too bad Bayley was at home, by herself, screaming at the TV when she didn’t get what she wanted.
Again, I hate to harp on “stick to what really happened” in wrestling. But for crying out loud, once again we have footage and proof of how it really went down. And the way the comic portrays it doesn’t add anything to the actual events, where you see Bayley hugging her friend but can make out a slight sadness that she’s still not main roster-bound—the complicated story where she’s supporting the other women she’s faced and helped grow, but also feeling a bit crushed that they’re getting these chances before her.
The comic’s portrayal instead makes Bayley look like she’s living proof of former commentator Jerry Lawler’s favorite observation about women in wrestling: “All women secretly hate each other.” Which I, for one, find super empowering in this story about women taking over the male-dominated world of the WWE.
And the painful part is that once again this could have been solved if you’d let women helm this project. Were you too afraid that putting a woman artist and a woman writer on this story would have held it up because they’d be too busy bickering? Because, y’know, all women secretly hate each other.
The only reward for getting through this main story is that the back-up story is the polar opposite. The story of Asuka’s time in NXT has been so beautifully told in such a minimal way that it’s even more frustrating to see the broader story get so many pages and fail to do anything nearly as significant as Tini Howard and Hyeonjin Kim can manage in a few panels. This time, in two pages, Asuka meets with a fictitious doctor because she is bored. It results in the doctor talking to her about being a big fish in a small pond, leading up to Asuka surrendering her NXT Women’s Title, undefeated, with plans to go the main roster for tougher competition.
In two short panels, we get the point of Asuka’s story in WWE, a story that even many of her fans failed to grasp. The doctor (who is drawn as a black woman, so score one for some subtle diversity!) says to Asuka, “Isn’t your job to be some sort of Supernatural Rainbow Space Alien Demon Queen?” And Asuka replies “No. My job is to fight.” The point is that Asuka doesn’t want to be unbeatable. Asuka doesn’t want more victories, Asuka wants tougher fights.
The truth is this story deserves better than to be put at the end of this issue. Readers and wrestling fans deserve better than what we are getting from the monthly book right now. And the real life women behind the revolution in WWE deserve better than someone turning their hard work and persistence into . . . whatever the hell this is supposed to be.