I have returned to the A1 Blog with an entry that revolves around character development and storytelling in NXT. One of my favorite women currently in NXT is Emma. You will remember she had a short stint on the main roster. She began by being shown in the crowd at various RAWs and Smackdowns. She would be holding up signs that said things such as “EMMAzing”, “EMMAtainment”, and “EMMAlution”. She then somehow got paired with Santino Marella and became one half of a comedy duo.
Don’t get me wrong, they did try to showcase her wrestling ability early on with various matches. Emma would get her signature spots in, and was looking good in the process. Unfortunately, like with most other ‘divas’ on the roster, the wrestling is foregone for “entertainment”, and Emma became more about the comedy with Santino than she did for her wrestling.
Then a pair of unfortunate events occurred that would change the course of Emma’s career. First, Santino retired due to a series of injuries, and thus derailed the TV time for Emma. Secondly, Emma was arrested on June 30, 2014 for shoplifting. The charge was dismissed, after she performed community service and an online course. It initially led to WWE giving Emma the Future Endeavored treatment, but they reversed their decision a few hours later. It never was officially brought up, but the obvious reason was that wrestlers have committed more serious offenses than shoplifting yet retained their jobs.
For the remainder of 2014, Emma had random TV matches where she would win and lose the same amount. This falls in line with WWE’s current even-steven booking philosophy. There really wasn’t a story for her. She was just a female on TV that would win or lose at the flip of a coin. Some may say this was her “punishment” for the shoplifting incident instead of being fired.
As the page turned on 2014, and January 2015 rolled around, Emma appeared on an episode of NXT in a backstage interview, where she declared she was returning to NXT. She would go on to say this was because her initial run on the main roster “didn’t go as planned”. The following week, Emma lost to Carmella in her re-debut match. Then in March, Emma appeared in a backstage segment with probably the most over babyface woman in NXT, Bayley. Emma would go on to try to talk some sense into her about how she carries herself. This would be the beginning of a much-needed heel turn for Emma. It would begin Emma’s first quasi-feud with Bayley.
Now I was, and I am, completely in favor of a heel turn in this instance. I was under the impression that if successful, Emma would get a call up back to WWE, and perhaps align with her friend, Paige. Paige herself, is fresh from a recent heel turn, and since WWE struggles mightily when it comes to storylines, they could use one that practically writes itself.
Early in the summer of 2015, Paige then as babyface, was having her problems with the Bella Twins. Nikki was Divas champion, and in the middle of her lengthy reign as champion. Paige was trying to take down the “Bella Empire”, but was running into problems; namely “Twin Magic”. At one point, Paige tried rallying the rest of the Divas locker room, in an effort to gain a numbers advantage. Unfortunately, no one decided to take a stand against the “mighty” Bella Twins. In fact, Alicia Fox, actually joined the Bellas. This would begin “Team Bella”, even though Alicia is not a Bella. That nitpick aside, Paige would continue to have problems, as win or lose against any of the combination of Nikki, Brie, and Alicia, Paige would just get attacked after the match. Very few times would Creative actually book any payback for Paige.
This would be “handled” in July 2015, when Stephanie McMahon launched the “Divas Revolution”. Paige would get “numbers” from NXT in the form of Becky Lynch and Charlotte, leading to the awfully-named PCB (originally Submission Sorority, but nixed for its ties to the Adult Entertainment industry). Team B.A.D. would form when Sasha Banks joined ranks with Naomi and Tamina. This all came to fruition because of Stephanie McMahon.
However, the story should have been that since no one on the main roster would come to the aid of Paige, she would go back to her “roots” in NXT and recruit reinforcements that she knew would have her back. She could trust someone like Emma, because they had respect for each other, as they faced each other at the first Takeover event. Paige could also have recruited any of Becky, Charlotte, and Sasha. Bayley wasn’t an option, because she had a broken hand at the time.
None of that happened of course, and not only Bayley, but Emma was forgotten in the “Divas Revolution”. Back in NXT, Emma was honing her new heel persona, even stating that there would be no “Divas Revolution” without the match she had with Paige on NXT: Takeover. Emma aligned herself with Dana Brooke; who ironically goes by the “Total Diva” – even though she has nothing to do with “Total Divas” on E!. Anyway, as part of Emma’s new heel persona, she got a revised entrance theme that features a small part of her previous theme. She doesn’t do the “bubble dance” any longer, and she doesn’t pander to the fans either. In fact, she has a bit of a sexy vibe to her entrance, and an “all about me” attitude to match.
Now, originally it seemed like NXT creative didn’t have much of a story for her during her second go-around either. Emma would win a “high-profile” match at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, however it was by accident, and it wasn’t really capitalized on either. It wasn’t even a match that was televised on the NXT Live Special anyway. It was shown the following week, recorded from Brooklyn – and they STILL kept the mistake intact without editing.
In the weeks and months following the Brooklyn Takeover event, Creative would weave a story that would feature Emma eventually facing Asuka at the December Takeover show from London. In classic NXT fashion, it’s Pro Wrestling 101. Booking at it’s finest. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot more thought out than the “Divas Revolution” I can tell you that much. Including the Brooklyn show where Asuka made her debut against Dana Brooke, and all the way through Takeover: London, this story arc spans 18 weeks of TV Air Time. Over the course of those 18 weeks, Emma and/or Asuka were not shown on 2 of the episodes of NXT.
That’s some quality build, if you ask me. Even if you believe that Asuka will win over Emma in London, the build and story made it seem like Emma would be Asuka’s first real test and a serious threat.
My “concern” for Emma is after Takeover: London. Will she seek revenge on Asuka? Will she move on to another feud? Or will she finally get called back to the main roster? If she does go back to RAW/Smackdown, will she be another NXT “casualty” because creative up there ‘has nothing for her” to do. On the other hand, should she pull off the upset and defeat Asuka, that would [a] continue the feud, [b] give her something substantial for TV, and [c] delay any ‘burial’ on the main roster.
Time will tell.