Wednesday 5 August 2015

Eva Marie for Champ

With the promotion of Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Becky Lynch to the main roster it's almost inevitable that the quality of the NXT women's division is going to take dip. Along with Bayley, Banks and Charlotte have been the core of the division since 2013 and Lynch has played a significant role over the last year. The main roster's gain is definitely developmental's loss. 

The best two workers left in the division once Banks and co leave for good (and that will surely happen within the next month or two) will be Bayley and Emma. No matter how good they are or how good they work together they won't be able to maintain the high level of quality alone. A large part of the reason for the division's success over the last year or two has been the variety of match-ups on offer. That's something two wrestlers can't provide. It doesn't help that they've been feuding since Emma's return to the show in January.

Dana's good but she's not the one (yet).
Emma and Bayley are, of course, not alone in the division but the rest of the crew have less experience and are less established as competent wrestlers. Dana Brooke has been quickly established as a heel, but the success of that is at least in part due to the regular Full Sail audience being all too willing to see her as undeserving and unprepared for the spot she's in. Cassie seems competent but has no discernible character beyond plucky babyface, and that simply won't cut it considering the calibre of the women she's replacing. The same goes for Jessie.

Alexa Bliss has been constantly improving and has seemed very capable in a number of matches, including a particularly good title challenge against Banks in February. But her management-slash-valet duties with the BAMF (a fittingly poor name for such a generic team) seem to be taking precedence right now. Carmella is similarly tied up being the second for Enzo and Cass, although she doesn't yet have any good matches to her name and it seems unlikely she's made the drastic improvement necessary to be an asset to the women's division since she last wrestled a singles match on TV.

There's a pleasant number of women signed to contracts who have yet to debut. Among them are Jasmin and Savelina 'Lina' Fanene. Without having seen them wrestle it's impossible to know how good they are, although the fact that they've not appeared on TV yet should indicate they're not near the level of Banks and Charlotte.

I think the best way to handle this new look women's division is to embrace the fact that the new roster is less revered (which is not to say they are less capable). And nobody on the NXT roster has that "less revered" tag more than Eva Marie. Personally I don't think she's looked bad during her recent run: she's avoided any major mistakes and has demonstrated a confidence she didn't have in her 2013 or '14 matches. But short of something miraculous occurring she will forever be known as the woman who was signed primarily to appear on Total Divas. Her status as a Total Divas cast member with little wrestling ability (no matter how inaccurate that perception of her may be) makes her ideal to play an "unworthy" champion.

Eva defeating the popular Sasha Banks for the championship would get her heat at any time. Doing it so soon into her first proper run as a full-time regular wrestler would increase that. As would her being the figurehead to follow on from the Charlotte-Banks era. Whether she's any good or not she won't be on the level of the women who have left yet and as such could be presented as an unworthy successor. Which would set her up nicely to play the arrogant lead heel.

This idea would rely on there being babyface challengers around who are clearly good enough to maintain the high standard set for women's champions in NXT. Bayley is the obvious person to point to there. She is very clearly the person best suited to beating Banks for the gold. If she failed, at Takeover: Brooklyn for example, only for Eva Marie to succeed in a fluke, at the following set of TV tapings perhaps, then she could continue to chase the title for a while longer. That's a role she's well-suited to.

The future of the NXT women's division?
Carmella isn't up to a Takeover title match yet but she could work challenging on a regular TV episode. Jessie and Cassie are still new enough to be steamrolled as a sacrifice to the almighty heel champ. The same would be true of Jasmin. It would be an exercise in time-killing, Eva very clearly ducking her one and only true test: Bayley.

This idea could work with Dana Brooke too. She's seen as undeserving, like Eva, and may actually have more heat on her right now, what with Eva seemingly having won over a portion of the NXT crowd with her botch-free match on the July 22 show. But Dana has less experience than Eva and is still learning to handle herself during her matches (part of the reason she's been paired up with Emma is so that Emma can help her through her matches). She also lacks the Total Divas tag, which I think could really turn the crowd on Eva Marie again if pushed right.

Sadly, I don't think this is something that's likely to happen. From what we've seen it seems as though WWE is keen to establish Eva as a babyface. She's been shown to be humble, earning herself a TV match by impressing William Regal, capable in the ring, and possessing a drive to become the best. The last may sound like a heelish trait but it's really not. Banks and Charlotte both exhibited it and they got over strongly enough that both hear cheers on the main roster.

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