Sunday 19 April 2015

The Total Diva

On the March 18 episode of NXT vignettes started airing for Dana Brooke. In these we were introduced to the woman born Ashley Sebera, a bodybuilder signed by WWE in June 2013. The videos presented her as a confident, bordering on arrogant, fitness fanatic keen to point out that she's worked hard to attain what she views as the perfect body. In other words, she was very clearly meant to be taken as a heel.

Dana Brooke there, looking like a
90's Scott Steiner valet.
The vignettes worked well. It was clear what we were meant to think of Brooke and what her character was all about. We also got to see her demonstrating her fitness background credentials, a good thing considering that is likely to be her defining attribute for the foreseeable future. The only thing that could really be considered negative the introduction was that Brooke's light blonde hair and black-pink colour scheme made her appear very similar to the more established Natalya. Not that looking like Natty is a bad thing, but it would have been better for Brooke to receive a completely fresh start. Long term the look will be changed, unless she gets promoted to the main roster as a massive Natalya mark who wants to become her idol. Which, actually, could be a pretty enjoyable story.

Not that a call-up is going to happen anytime soon. Brooke's first televised match against Leva 'Blue Pants' Bates is probably most kindly described as uninspiring. Aside from stomps and rope chokes Brooke didn't actually do much, although she did pull out a nice Samoan driver to close the match.

It's important to note that while Brooke didn't produce the greatest debut match ever she also avoided embarrassing herself. Things were kept basic there were no major botches. She's easily as good as Trish Stratus was after her first televised match, a comparison worth making because both women entered WWE with no prior wrestling experience from fitness backgrounds.

Stratus went on to become one of WWE's best female wrestlers ever. It would be idiotic to say that Brooke is on that same path after one match, but it's worth noting that it took Stratus to get comfortable and find her form in the ring. Also worth noting is that Brooke will benefit from a better training system than Stratus had access to. The Performance Centre and entire NXT setup is intended for people just like her. It's already taken the entirely green Charlotte and turned her into one of the best prospects the Divas division has had in a decade. There's no reason the same can't be done with 'The Total Diva'.

Time is on Dana Brooke's side. The quality of NXT has become so high that it's easy to forget that one of the objectives of the show is to give less experienced performers a platform to learn and one of the things that needs to be learned is how to wrestle for cameras. The influx of a bunch of great talent at once and a logical approach to booking have helped NXT become wrestling-heavy show. That's great, but we have to bear in mind that it's not the show's sole focus.

Brooke's background and look mean management are going to be keen to add her to the main roster sooner than the majority of her peers. As such she needs to gain experience working in TV setting, and that's what NXT is for. If expectations are kept realistic I think Brooke could end up being NXT's next major success story.

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