Friday, June 5, 2015

On Eva Marie

You may be looking at the next big heel in NXT right here
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Eva Marie made her redebut back into WWE circulation not on the main roster, but in NXT. Her appearance at Takeover: Unstoppable was parlayed into an on-stage interview with Creepy Greg. Before she was even introduced, she was booed out of the building. One could say she was never given a chance by the NXT crowd, but at the same time, the track record that Ms. All Red Everything has isn't one that gives her a ton of leeway with any pro wrestling audience, especially one as rabid and passionate as the one at Full Sail. Of course, among those chants were allegedly some gross shit that had to be edited out, but you know my stance on that kind of thing.

While her promo was bad, like, nearly Genesis of McGillicutty bad, the interview went and achieved its intended purpose. She was trotted out in front of a live crowd to see what kind of reaction she'd get, and it was vociferously, passionately, raucously loud. In one moment, by just existing, Eva Marie became the top heel in the NXT Women's Division, just by being the avatar for the entire thing of which that set of wrestlers had become the antithesis. The crowd took her appearance the exact way that WWE wanted it to, or at least the exact way WWE SHOULD have wanted it to.

The story potential of the robotic and "entitled" Total Divas star making her way to NXT is off the charts, especially given the grassroots popularity of the current Four Horsewomen. Regardless of whether they're aligned as babyfaces or heels, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley, and Charlotte all have massive support from NXT crowds whether at Full Sail or on the road. Trying to push any of them, even Banks, as a heel against any one of the others seems futile at this point. Sure, they will produce outstanding matches that get the crowds hot, but if WWE is looking for a traditional dynamic, it needs someone to come in from the outside, someone whom the crowd will attack regardless.

Dana Brooke is the first one that comes to mind, but she's still an extremely raw talent. What is happening with her in NXT is needed for her growth and development. But Eva Marie has been doing this for a good while now, and she's even been preparing for a starring role by training with Brian Kendrick. Not everyone checks out her Instagram, but whenever she posts videos of her doing a cool move, she comes off looking like a natural wrestler instead of a robot who could barely run the ropes like she did in matches on the main roster used to promote Total Divas.

Additionally, while her interview on this past week's NXT was bad, like, really bad, she showed a few glimpses of "getting it" that will help her going forward. She's already got somewhat of a handle on crowd manipulation. Even though some of that may have been to let the boos run their course so she could be comfortable, it's a tool she could use in the future to help tame a crowd or at least whip it into a pattern that she can control. She's already proving that she's not a total lost case.

The problem then becomes that vociferous heat might dissipate if she shows any kind of aptitude above basic. As Brandon Stroud pointed out in this week's Best and Worst, NXT crowds love nothing more than being mildly impressed.  The groundwork that WWE is laying with Eva Marie right now might go to shit if/when she proves she too can go on the Nikki Bella Rapid Improvement Plan. But then again, is that problem really a problem? The second worst case scenario is that NXT has yet another standout performer in the women's division that it can showcase and provide depth for both weekly shows and Takeover specials. The obvious worst case scenario is that none of this sticks, and she flames out, but at this point, who but the insanely spiteful is rooting for that to happen?

It's easy to turn the Eva Marie debate into a reductive and annoying cacophony, but right now, her narrative has so many layers and variables that it can't help but be interesting. Her success or failure won't sink or buoy NXT by any means, but she now becomes the linchpin for an angle that could very well take the women's division to another, astronomically lofty level. In short, she has my attention.