Era ENding WIth Eva’s Exit
– Chris O’Mealy 8/14/17 – 8:24Pm
Eva Maria is gone, what’s next for her and the Women’s Division?
Eva Marie and WWE mutually parted ways this past week. For the majority of wrestling fans, it’s good riddance. For some fans, like my friend Chevon (who I know is reading this right now and will ask a question later) it’s terrible news, as he was a big Eva fan. Personally, I couldn’t possibly care less about her departure, as I always saw her as an insult to the business I love. I have zero respect for “talents” who try to get signed to WWE to simply become famous, without actually caring about the WWE or professional wrestling. Yes, I know there are powers that be who are at fault here too, and my respect level for them is just about equal. So the loss of Eva Marie didn’t cause me to have any negative emotions. She and the company cut their ties without any hostility, which is more than can be said for some WWE departures, but her time in WWE is over and no one has any hard feelings.
However, the loss of Eva Marie marks the end of an era in the WWE. It’s an era I’m willing to bet a lot fans forgot even existed, and one that most new fans never even witnessed. Indeed, Eva Marie exiting WWE is very important, and many people likely don’t realize why.
To explain, take a quick step backwards to the creation of E! Network’s reality show “Total Divas,” and the recent Divas Revolution that followed soon after, bringing women’s wrestling into a focal point on WWE television. Nattie Neidhart, the Bella Twins, and Naomi quickly became top names in WWE, while great wrestlers like AJ Lee and Paige continued to showcase the talents the girls possessed. Following the infamous thirty-second match on Raw, in which the Bella Twins vanquished Paige and Emma to a chorus of boos, the hashtag #GivaDivasAChance became a worldwide trend on Twitter. Almost instantaneously, several extremely talented female grapplers from NXT joined the main roster. Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch aligned with various trios, also encompassing Naomi, Tamina Snuka, Paige, the Bella Twins, and Alicia Fox. A divas revolution was born, and women’s matches began getting more attention than they ever had before. The crop of talents grew larger, and soon, WWE’s current women’s division became the best collection of female wrestlers in the world. They even arguably are better overall than those that competed in the glory days of Trish Stratus and Lita! That’s saying something!
PPV main events, stipulation matches never before used by women, and match of the year candidates soon followed, proving that WWE’s formula for women’s wrestling was correct. In the middle of all this was the human heat vacuum herself, Eva Marie, getting booed out of the building on a nightly basis, because she showcased showmanship and looks over actual wrestling talent. The fans treated her as a mega-heel, because of her lack of skills. She was coached into using this to her advantage, and really did get over as a villain. All Red Everything became huge in the WWE, in the same way someone like John Cena or Roman Reigns would get a gigantic reaction of mostly heat. However, unlike John and Roman, Eva couldn’t actually work a wrestling match.
Save your hate mail folks. John Cena and Roman Reigns ARE great workers, and I can prove it mathematically (Wubba Lubba Dub-Dub!)
With all that said, why exactly is Eva’s release so important, and what era is it ending? Well, when the women’s revolution happened, it ended a very long period of fashion models being hired and then taught to wrestle. Vince McMahon was even quoted once by saying he’d rather teach a model to wrestle than a wrestler to model. Then head of talent relations, John Laurinaitis, was quite fond of hiring pretty girls and then attempting to show them how to bump and run the ropes after. Granted, the girls DID have an excellent coach in David “Fit” Finlay, who showed endless patience and has been praised time and time over for molding these girls into athletes, but there’s only so much you can do with a model who just wants to be on camera and not get her hands dirty. The mid to late 2000’s were filled with tons of these girls, many of whom were nothing more than rejects on WWE’s Diva Search competition and never heard from again. A few of them were actual fans and did blossom into in-ring competitors, but many did not.
This time period in WWE turned a lot of fans off to the very idea of women’s wrestling. While lingerie matches were popular during the sex sells potion of the Attitude Era, in the 2000’s, it was just lame. Unless you were a horny teenage boy without an internet connection, there was no reason to watch these segments. The women’s matches became known as the “pay per view piss break” as fans would get up to use the facilities during what they considered to be the worst part of the show. This was common both at home and at the arena. Women’s wrestling was thriving on the indies and in the former TNA, but WWE simply wasn’t taking it seriously.
Thankfully that has all changed. WWE’s current crop of girls are some of the best ever, and the NXT group is just as good. WWE has an entire decade of ready-made female talent at their disposal. The only girl in the past couple of years who truly didn’t fit the mold was Eva Marie.
Eva was hired to be part of the Total Divas dynamic, of being a brand new rookie to the company, and to be mixed up with veteran talents who could be jealous of her position, which Brie and Nikki Bella played the part of. Eva came in with JoJo, who disappeared after one season of the show, but eventually transitioned into WWE’s new mainstay female ring announcer, a role she does very, very well. While JoJo reads names and follows buzzards (if you don’t know, look it up) Eva still got a push as a top talent in the women’s division. Although Eva did return to NXT and get some polishing, the simple fact is that she consonantly failed to come across as a person who knew what she was doing. She messed up so many basics that the fans retaliated, and the company used that heat to push her as a bad guy. As I mentioned earlier, the difference was that she wasn’t a bad guy who could back it up. She always looked out of place, because she was the epitome of the past era of models becoming wrestlers. Eva didn’t want to wrestle, she just wanted to be famous. She confirmed that numerous times, to the point that WWE made that a focal point on the reality show. With the women of the 2010’s becoming excellent grapplers that could put the male roster to shame at times, it was only natural for fans of true professional wrestling to reject the last actual model in the company.
Eva Marie leaving WWE means that officially, all the women who continue to work actually want to be there to work. The model era is dead. For now.
Maybe some of the girls aren’t great (Lana, did you even go to the Performance Center?) but they all seem to want to be there and be good. Which means there’s no stopping the women’s revolution anytime soon. The all red hinder is gone, and the only people sad to see her go are people with the same mindset as a dynamic dude or a bucky beaver toothed production guy.
Farewell, Eva Marie. WWE wishes you luck in all for future endeavors. May WWE’s women’s division continue to grow and shine.
And don’t get me started on Ariane “Cameron” Andrew. What was her favorite match again?
Question and Answer
Time to open up the ol’ mailbag and see what falls out. I am also allowing all questions that come my way to be about other topics I may enjoy discussing, not necessarily wrestling related. So have at it, dear listeners! Let’s get some broad questions for next week (nut not questions about broads)
Q: Why do so many NXT talents go uninjured while in NXT, but when they get to the main roster, injuries just start piling up? (@ThisIsChev via Twitter)
A: I think a lot of it has to do with the simple fact that the main roster works way more than the NXT crew does, thus creating a higher probability of injury. Another factor is the pressure of being scrutinized with literally everything you do, including how you look towards the camera but not at the camera. The travel is the biggest one I think. NXT tapes once a month, and then they do a handful of house shows. The main roster works four shows a week, sometimes five. There’s simply more room for error. WWE’s travel schedule is ridiculously grueling, and there’s no off season for nagging injuries to heal up and get better. As a result, more injuries happen.
Q: What is the most detrimental thing holding WWE back while NXT is so successful in the eyes of the fans? (Matt H. of pollinracingpodcast.podomatic.com)
A: The watchful eyes of Vince McMahon and the gnawing bucky teeth of his production buddy are constantly changing their minds and “giving up” on people, and overly scripting segments, that wrestlers can’t be themselves. NXT is an environment where the talents do the best they can, and are working extra hard to get that spot. I think it’s the same reason why college basketball is much more fun for me to watch than the NBA. I can watch inexperienced but hungry prospects work their butts off, without the high paying contracts that turn many of them into egomaniacal thugs. Wrestlers on the main roster still work hard, but sneeze the wrong way, and you could be taken off TV and repackaged. NXT also seems to push the wrestlers who get over organically, rather than those who the suits pick to be stars. Clearly that hasn’t backfired for anybody.
Q: What does WWE have against real tournaments? (Ala G1 Climax or anything like it). They are seemingly overwhelmingly popular and usually result with an interesting reward. WWE used to do this with the King of the Ring but don’t do it anymore. Do you think they could actually make a worthwhile tournament and make it a draw? (@Drkphoneix6913 via Twitter)
A: I love wrestling tournaments, and find it very frustrating as a fan that WWE rarely does them anymore. King of the Ring was a great spectacle that made a new star (almost) every single time! Maybe that’s a Vince & Beaver thing? I’m not sure, but G1 is amazing and the Cueto Cup going on right now in Lucha Underground as I write this has been exciting every week. I wish more tournaments would take place in mainstream wrestling, but I suppose to get our tourney fixes, we’ll have to stick to Japan and the independents. I’m not exactly complaining about that either.
Q: What are your thoughts on Magnum TA denied access to Magic Kingdom due to his personal Segway? (@Trel67 via Twitter)
A: Extremely unfortunate, but Disney did the right thing. As a former Disney cast member of six years, I know the parks have rules in place for safety reasons. Guests may not like that, but that’s what they’re there for. My own wife has had her foot run over by people on the electronic scooters guests can rent, and those are a nuisance in themselves. Magnum sadly couldn’t rent one, because Disney didn’t have an option for one to be steered by his left hand. I understand his Segway is for mobility purposes, but at the very least, he could’ve rented a wheelchair and had someone push him around. It’s not like he had zero options. Again, unfortunate, and I feel bad for the family to have to deal with it, but Disney’s rules must be followed under all circumstances.
Q: What is your opinion on Nia Jax being dangerous? (Renae via Facebook)
A: I don’t think she is. I do think some more time in NXT could have benefitted her, as I see her as less advanced than most of the main roster girls. I also think WWE is missing a major opportunity by casting her as the vicious large enforcer instead of a babyface using her plus size image to appeal to the girls in the crowd. But dangerous? Nah. People love to classify wrestlers as dangerous if they have a track history of hurting people, but in some cases, that person is a victim of bad luck because people tend to get hurt in matches they’re in (Seth Rollins) or they just tend to get hurt a bit more often than normal (Emma). Some people ARE dangerous, as documented (Ryback) but I don’t see Nia as one of them. Now, if I see her do something careless and drop Alexa Bliss or Sasha Banks on their heads, then yes, I’ll say she’s dangerous. But Bayley’s bump was more on her than Nia, so I can’t hold Nia accountable for that. Nor should anyone else.
Chris O’Mealy is a former indy wrestling promoter, ring announcer, manager and referee. Clearly, he is a big pro wrestling fan. He is the founder and moderator of the Club Kayfabe Creative Community, which you can like on Facebook and follow on Twitter. He hosts three podcasts (Club Kayfabe WrestleTalk, Talkin’ Talkies, and The Jersey Rain Hour) which can all be found on Facebook and Podomatic. He also writes for his own blog which you can read at http://comealy17.wordpress.com. He can be reached on Twitter @chrisomealy or emailed directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact him on Facebook (facebook.com/chrisomealy), but he will only accept a friend request if you introduce yourself to him first.