In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past year and a half, you’re probably one of the millions of wrestling fans acknowledging a surge in the quality of women’s wrestling. See, there was thing last summer – called the ‘Divas Revolution’ if I recall correctly.
Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Bayley ushered in a new era of women’s wrestling. Any permutation of those four produced a fantastic match. Banks vs. Bayley at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn was considered by many to be the best wrestling match of 2015. Banks vs. Lynch at NXT Takeover: Unstoppable was considered by me to be the best wrestling match of 2015.
Banks and Bayley became the first women to headline a WWE Network special, when the two competed in a 30-minute Iron Woman match at NXT Takeover: Respect. Veterans like Natalya and Emma have seen career resurgences. NXT has introduced us to more promising talent in Nia Jax, Carmella, and Alexa Bliss, while veteran Asuka is having a tremendous run as NXT Women’s Champion. The WWE Women’s Championship match at Wrestlemania 32 even became one of the event’s feature bouts.
All of this is to try and frame a context as to why JBL has been repeatedly yelling, “I think we’re entering the greatest era in women’s wrestling,” loudly into his headset for the last 12 months.
In all likelihood, we are bearing witness to the greatest era of women’s wrestling.
Then, there’s Eva Marie. She can’t sell to save her life. She can’t cut a promo. Despite all the years she’s put into honing this craft, bless her heart, she just doesn’t seem to get it. Feel free to fall down the YouTube rabbit hole of Eva Marie botches. Trust me, it’s there. You won’t be disappointed.
Even The Brian Kendrick (who is apparently either the patron saint of giving things the old college try, or WWE paid him a ton of money to try and teach her how to wrestle) can’t coach her above mediocrity. There’s no fixing someone who forgets to kick out of a pinfall attempt after three years in the wrestling business.
Fans hate her because she represents a step back to the days when looks were all that mattered in the Divas division. That, and well, yeah – she’s just plain bad.
So, what is WWE to do? They have this beautiful vixen under contract. She is the prototype for what Vince McMahon wants to plaster all over posters and billboards. Someone better think of something, right?
The solution was probably the easiest one: own that she’s bad. Own that the crowd hates her. Turn her heel.
“All Red Everything” returned to NXT last year for further development and was unsurprisingly booed out of Full Sail University. I personally attended the first NXT show that came to Nashville, Tennessee last fall when the infamous “if Eva wins, we riot” sign was first on display.
I can honestly say that no one else received such a pure vitriolic reaction. In trying to make the best of what they had, they ended up with one of the greatest heels on the roster.
She was aligned with Nia Jax briefly for a feud against Bayley (Sidenote: I can’t write this without acknowledging that Eva Marie did indeed wrestle a fine match against Bayley. It’s not all dark clouds), and further played up the obnoxious entitlement.
Eva Marie was there because she was beautiful. The crowd knew that she was there because she was beautiful. They felt ripped off because they were seeing poor wrestling, and all the while, Eva Marie kept cashing paychecks.
If that’s not under-your-skin irritating, I don’t know what is.
Now, she’s on the main roster again – Smackdown, to be exact. She has a narrator voicing over her “All Red Everything” entrance, she’s faking injuries before matches, and is rumored to win Smackdown’s Women’s Championship.
WWE has to complete this masterpiece by showing the gumption to put the strap on Eva Marie. Talk about ballsy – that might be the best way for WWE to cause an actual riot.
Naysayers will point to the old good heat vs. bad heat debate. “Well, she’s not being booed for the right reasons. She’s not being booed because she’s being a good heel.”
Newsflash: good heels aren’t booed because they’re good heels anymore. Actually, good heels aren’t booed at all anymore. Kevin Owens never gets heat from the internet crowd. Seth Rollins is a virtual messiah to the smarks.
It’s 2016 – with a growing awareness and appreciation for the art of professional wrestling, this is the most effective way to draw a negative reaction.
Wrestling fans aren’t going anywhere. WWE is going to continue pushing wrestlers in this manner until the masses prove otherwise. In other words, until people start changing the channel when Eva Marie comes on, guess what! Eva Marie is going to continue to show up.
They know the diehard fan base is going to stick around through thick and thin. It’s all a part of a balancing act. We get just enough American Alpha to make us forget about Eva Marie. Really, as long as we’re talking about her, the WWE has done its job. This is a prime example of how you turn a negative into a positive.
At surface, it may appear as though Eva Marie has no place in today’s women’s wrestling revolution. Thanks to the fabulous booking of WWE’s creative staff, she’s ended up in the best possible place she can be in. “All Red Everything” is right where she belongs.
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.