WWE fans were caught a bit off guard when Alexa Bliss won the number one contender’s spot for the Smackdown Women’s Championship two weeks ago. The former fitness model and Division I cheerleader signed with WWE three years ago. Those who make it to this stage without years of wrestling experience are often viewed as inferior to the independent wrestlers who do. Bliss had the athletic ability from day one, but needed time to develop the wrestling prowess, ring presence, and audience connection she now boasts.
Bliss was lost in the shuffle during her time in NXT. The Four Horsewomen were rotating the NXT Women’s Championship and she was used as little more than enhancement talent in the division. The 25-year old had a couple of shots at the NXT Women’s Championship, which were strong showings against Sasha Banks and Bayley, but was never featured as a legitimate contender.
She was given a role as Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy’s valet, and demonstrated a natural ability to play the heel. Together, the faction had one of the most unlikely runs showcasing Blake and Murphy as NXT Tag Team Champions.
Still, there wasn’t enough room for her to shine on her own. The diehard fans were surprised when she was called up to the Smackdown roster during the WWE draft. Why her and not Bayley? What’s so special about her, anyway?
Lest we forget, what happens in NXT doesn’t always dictate what happens on the main roster. Ask Bo Dallas and Tyler Breeze. With the call up to Smackdown, Bliss is presented with a clean slate. Now, she’s giving us two specific reasons as to why she deserved the promotion.
Improvement in the Ring
First and foremost, look at the tremendous strides she’s made in the ring. At one point, Bliss was somewhat of a liability in a match. Her work seemed to yield mixed results. Like any other wrestler trying to find his/her way, some stuff worked. Some didn’t. Her babyface persona always felt a bit too generic – simply too many sparkly, bubbly “divas” come across the television for any to stand out anymore. It wasn’t until she turned heel that she really started to set herself apart.
Backlash marked her first chance to prove herself on the larger WWE stage. When showcased, she held her own. She looked every bit as good as the established Nikki Bella, and held her own compared to proven workers Becky Lynch and Natalya.
No Mercy will be Bliss’ first one-on-one pay-per-view match, and opposite Lynch, we’ll get a much better measure of just how far she’s come.
The big breakthrough with Bliss occurred when she turned heel. Since then, her character development has been steady. She has great eyes that she fully utilizes by showing audiences just how disgusted and annoyed she is with them and how flabbergasted she is at the notion that someone may be better than her. Her facial expressions accurately convey an air of entitlement. Her strut portrays unwavering confidence. The promos could use some work, but she’s getting there. These things add up to make Bliss the most refreshing heel in women’s wrestling today.
All of this improvement can be used to further the crowd’s love for Lynch, provide “The Irish Lass Kicker” with a credible opponent, and ultimately, get the Smackdown Women’s Championship over.
Where Bliss takes it from there remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: we’re far removed from her being nothing more than a valet for Blake & Murphy and a side piece for HHH’s entrance at Wrestlemania XXX.
Stoney Keeley covers the WWE for WrestlingNews.co, covers the NFL’s Tennessee Titans for Pro Football Spot, and is the Editor of The SoBros Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley and the SPOT’s Tennessee Titans Twitter feed at @spot_titans.