Later today the 2018 Mae Young Classic will be getting underway at Full Sail. There’s a lot of hype and excitement about this year’s edition and the smorgasbord of talent involved, but personally I am most excited to witness the comeback of former WWE Diva Kaitlyn.
Now that may sound pretty on brand for me, but let me tell you, three months ago I would not have been able to fathom saying such a thing.
Out of all the women of the Divas Era, Kaitlyn is the wrestler whom I have completely turned around on the most. I was never much of a fan when she was active, and rewatching her early years now, she was actually even worse than I remembered for a good while.
Now, I don’t blame Kaitlyn AT ALL for not being any good in the beginning, she was one of those girls who was thrown in the deep end and had to learn how to wrestle on live television. Who could possibly know what they were doing in their first ever match? It’s not her fault but still, I mean, at times you’ve almost never seen someone look so clueless in a wrestling ring. I say all this just to stress how down on her I was. By the time I sat through the eighth interminable Kaitlyn vs. Maxine match on NXT Redemption (which was about nine Kaitlyn vs. Maxine matches too many) I was at my wits’ end with this woman.
Fast forward a little and I’m sending out distress signals like this:
“Three days ago I would have stabbed my eyes out before I watched another six minute Kaitlyn match and now Kaitlyn is my favourite wrestler on the entire earth what is going on send help.”
It was a hell of a three days.
What I watched in those three days completely turned me around on Kaitlyn and I am more than happy to eat my words. She got RIDICULOUSLY good. Her improvement coincides with her push towards the Divas Title, in a storyline I like to call The Saga of the Blonde Wig, so gather ’round children, it’s story time.
First, some context.
The Divas Division for most of 2012 is a wasteland. Not because it’s bad per se, but because it is practically non-existent. It disappears. As soon as the New Year hits WWE forgets everything they were doing in 2011, just get complete amnesia about the whole women’s roster.
I mean, Tamina gets a title shot at Elimination Chamber and the storyline is that Beth Phoenix is excited to have a challenger because she’s so bored being champion of a dead division. That is the actual storyline! And it is a SHOOT. By the fall their biggest female stars – Kelly Kelly and the Bella Twins – had gone, and Beth had one foot out the door as well.
What was happening is that they were too busy putting women in prominent non-wrestling roles instead. Eve Torres does the thing with Zack Ryder, turns heel and ends up as Middle Management Eve with glasses. And of course AJ Lee goes from being Daniel Bryan’s abused girlfriend to being Crazy AJ in a love… well not exactly a love triangle (A love square? A love rhombus?) with Bryan, CM Punk and Kane. AJ is pretty ubiquitous on Raw over the summer of 2012, she’s all over the show in a lot of main event segments, and ends up as the Raw GM.
Apparently this stuff filled their quota of hot women on TV so they couldn’t be bothered booking the actual women’s division once they did AJ’s stuff. There are times where we go a month at a time without even having a women’s match on Raw or Smackdown. Because of all this, I was at my lowest point of interest in the entire project.
I don’t know if it was because WWE moved to three hour Raws full time and needed more content, or that the AJ stuff was winding down and the token women’s spot opened up, but after the summer they suddenly remembered that they had a women’s division! It begins when Kaitlyn wins a No. 1 Contender’s Battle Royal and is set to face Divas Champion Layla at Night of Champions. (Layla, by the way, hadn’t even defended the title in two months. They did not give a shit.)
But at Night of Champions, Kaitlyn is MYSTERIOUSLY ATTACKED backstage before her match by an UNKNOWN ASSAILANT. Oh no! Eve, the Smackdown Assistant GM, who currently has a fake nice girl act going on, is the one who finds her. She brings the news to Smackdown GM Booker T and, I guess because he doesn’t realise there’s a women’s division either, he just puts Eve in the match instead.
So Eve faces Layla, beats her and wins the Divas Title. Naturally, every sane person on earth thinks that Eve took out Kaitlyn to get her spot and her nice girl act is a façade. But Eve sticks to her nice girl persona and denies everything vociferously, so we have a bit of a mystery on our hands.
Kaitlyn comes back a couple weeks later on crutches and says she’s seen the security footage from the Boston Garden, and her MYSTERY ATTACKER was in fact, a blonde woman. Ooooh! Obviously this rules out Eve, a known brunette, and Eve immediately points the finger at Beth Phoenix, who happens to be standing next to her at the time and who is, in fact, a known blonde woman. But Beth had nothing to do with it either, and the mystery remains.
A couple of weeks later on Smackdown, there’s a backstage conversation where Teddy Long is trying to tell Booker T, that Kaitlyn and Layla are trying to tell him, that Aksana had told them… that she found a BLONDE WIG in Eve’s bag! Oooooh! Eve sticks to her denial and says it was planted there by Aksana. Then the babyfaces figure out that if Aksana had the wig then she’s probably the one who attacked Kaitlyn. So Kaitlyn and Layla end up with a working theory that Aksana was hired as a hitwoman by Eve, but no proof.
Then finally during the week before the Hell in a Cell PPV the whole thing unravels. Kaitlyn finds Eve’s iPad and reads the emails Eve sent to Aksana planning the attack (and takes pictures for proof because she’s not stupid) and even though Eve STILL hilariously tries to proclaim her innocence, the jig is well and truly up.
But at Hell in a Cell, Eve defends against both Kaitlyn and Layla in a triple threat, and escapes with the title in true heel fashion. In fact, all of this blonde wig nonsense is just the beginning of Kaitlyn’s long and arduous road to the Divas Title.
She gets a one-on-one title shot at Survivor Series and Eve fair dinkum TRIES THE SAME THING by having Aksana attack her backstage before the match (in a blonde wig and everything!) but this time Kaitlyn sees it coming. During the title match she beats the crap out of Eve for some much needed revenge, and honestly it turns into a damn good match, but Eve squeaks out another win.
At this point it’s clear that Eve does not want to fuck with Kaitlyn in a fair fight ever again, and does everything she can to stave off what feels like her inevitable reckoning at this woman’s hands.
At TLC Eve screws Kaitlyn out of winning a No. 1 Contender’s Battle Royal and defends against Naomi instead. Kaitlyn does get a shot on the live Smackdown special in December, and it’s another great title match that escalates to a point where you think Kaitlyn will SURELY win the title here, this is it… and then Eve just grabs the referee’s ankles and holds onto him until he disqualifies her. Like a complete ASSHOLE. I was so impressed with Kaitlyn’s performances and so invested in her title chase by this point that I HATED THIS. What a dick.
So because of that heel chicanery Kaitlyn is granted yet another chance at the title on a Monday Night Raw, now in January 2013. They have ANOTHER great title match and Kaitlyn is AGAIN surely about to finally win here… and then Eve just grabs the belt, hauls ass and gets counted out. Just when you think Eve has run out of ways to escape with this damn title. I have absolutely had it with this piece of shit right now.
But then finally, finally, FINALLY, the fates align. Next week is the 20th Anniversary of Raw special, and it is in Houston, Texas, which just happens to be Kaitlyn’s hometown. She has one final shot against Eve, and this time Eve can’t get disqualified or counted out or she’ll lose the title.
So Eve is cornered. Kaitlyn’s shirt says “Don’t Mess With Texas”. Her family is in the crowd. The stage is set.
Eve sells the hell out of all this and doesn’t even want to hand the title over before it starts. She can sense that once again, the jig is up. So they have their most epic match yet, the hometown crowd is behind Kaitlyn, they kick out of each other’s finishers, everything is happening… and then at the death Eve tosses Kaitlyn over the barricade and into the timekeeper’s area, trying to get her counted out. Oh come on, not MORE bullshit!?
But wait! As Eve gets back in the ring, she doesn’t see that Kaitlyn has recovered and snuck back in on the other side, she turns around into an ALMIGHTY SPEAR that kills her the fuck dead and finally, finally, FINALLY Kaitlyn pins Eve Torres in the middle of the ring and wins the Divas Championship of the World.
Kaitlyn cries her eyes out when that bell rings but trust me it ain’t half as much as I’m crying. I am a MESS. Who knew I could feel so many damn things for Kaitlyn?
Seriously, it is so rare in WWE for a storyline to go from A to B to C and be paid off this well in the end. Especially a women’s storyline. This was a beautiful, cathartic moment. (She also gave a sweet backstage interview after winning and I lost it all over again. Sometimes things are just nice.)
To bring it back to Kaitlyn the worker, I’m not even sure how to explain it but she seemed to just grow into this push week after week, getting better and better. I enjoyed her performances during the injury/whodunit storyline (she was always good in skits, going back to her soap opera days on NXT Redemption), and when she returned to the ring she was just a completely different Kaitlyn. That Survivor Series match was the moment it truly hit me, because it was a fantastic match and I didn’t feel like Eve carried her in any way. They had insane chemistry and all of their matches were really good.
Kaitlyn herself was working out of her skin. Suddenly she was chain wrestling and busting out holds and counters like a maestro. Suddenly her selling was off the charts good and she carried this entire title chase with her babyface fire. Suddenly she developed a great arsenal of impact moves that she would just kill people with – not just the Spear but all of her stuff got really stiff and awesome, like she finally figured out her own strength. It is deadset ridiculous just how good a wrestler Kaitlyn became in such a short space of time.
In mid-2012 I was dreading her every appearance – by the end of the year she was basically the best woman on the roster and carrying the likes of Aksana to good matches.
A hell of a three days, I tell ya.
This isn’t the last time I was mesmerised by a soap opera storyline involving Kaitlyn either, so stay tuned for the next Kaitlyn saga. I will also get around to Eve Torres herself, who was similarly working out of her skin in 2012 and went out a hell of a wrestler.
For now though, I hope Kaitlyn does put in a good showing at the Mae Young Classic, and I hope you’ll join me next week as I compose yet another love letter, this time to the woman who really started this whole thing for me.
Check It Out:
Eve vs. Kaitlyn – Divas Title (Raw, October 8th 2012)
Kaitlyn vs. Beth Phoenix (Superstars, October 18th 2012)
Eve vs. Kaitlyn vs. Layla – Divas Title (Hell in a Cell 2012)
Eve vs. Kaitlyn – Divas Title (Survivor Series 2012)
Kaitlyn vs. Aksana (Smackdown, December 14th 2012)
Eve vs. Kaitlyn – Divas Title (Smackdown, December 18th 2012)
Eve vs. Kaitlyn – Divas Title (Raw, January 7th 2013)
Eve vs. Kaitlyn – Divas Title (Raw, January 14th 2013)