As a fan of professional wrestling, I often imagine what the WWE would look like today if the male Superstars were promoted the same way as the female Divas.
If you follow the current storylines in the top-rated "RAW" and "Smackdown" series, there is a significant difference in how the two sexes are portrayed.
Consider this: Current WWE champion--and Chicago native--CM Punk is a tough-as-nails straight shooter who is one of the most popular wrestlers in the industry. He plays the part of an anti-establishment hero who thumbs his nose at authority. (This formula is what made"Stone Cold" Steve Austin so popular in the 1990s.)
On the other side of the glass ceiling you have WWE "Diva" Natalya Neidhart, the first female "third generation" wrestler with a pedigree that reaches back to the legendary Hart dynasty. She's a former women's champion and formidable athlete … with a flatulence problem.
Seriously, she once lost a match because she passed gas while applying her finishing move—"the Sharpshooter"--which she inherited from WWE Hall of Famer Bret "The Hitman" Hart. To have it nullified by something so ludicrous was disrespectful, not only to Neidhart but also to the Hart legacy.
What I don't understand is why the WWE, a company that is so progressive with its branding and social media strategies, finds it so difficult to develop its female wrestlers so they are more than just pin-up models or the butt (no pun intended) of bad jokes.
Does the WWE really believe the idea of a tough, female competitor is too much for modern wrestling audiences to accept? The success of action films starring women (i.e. "Underworld," "Resident Evil," "Haywire") would say otherwise.
Going back to my original question, how many T-shirts do you think the WWE would have sold if Stone Cold Steve Austin were saddled with the same gimmick? Would he have become the top Superstar of the 1990s if his catchphrase were "Austin 3:16 means I just passed gas"?
Yeah, that's what I thought.
Elliott Serrano is a RedEye special contributor.