It is quite possible Eva Marie may be one of the most hated pro wrestlers in recent history. But I ask the question, is that hate really justified? While the reasons may have been there once, I’m not sure they still are and after making my case for choosing her in our Can’t Pause This Draft a few weeks ago I wanted to go into my reasoning for that a bit more here.
Thus, I combat the popular opinion in defence of Eva Marie.
Exhibit A – Looks
Let’s start with the obvious Eva Marie is good looking.
Like really, really good looking. So good looking it’s a major part of her appeal and I’m not going to deny that for a moment. In fact I’m going to say that Marie has a rare combination of sex appeal, natural beauty and a unique look. The reality is, for better or worse, being physically attractive is very useful when it comes to being on television, particularly a television product that has associated merchandising certainly in WWE’s case. It also can’t be denied that Marie is in very good shape and looks the part of a professional athlete, something that’s still very helpful in today’s wrestling industry.
Exhibit B – In The Ring
A pro wrestler should never rely on looks alone though, I’m a firm believer in that and would never want a return to the days of models being signed up and thrown in the ring.
That’s maybe how Eva Marie started in the industry but I believe she’s moved past that point, thanks to the training and work she’s done in the last year. I have to confess when she made her WWE return, surfacing in NXT I actively disliked her and it was because of her matches. In her initial few matches, she looked terrible in the ring, moving like Bambi on ice and botching several moves. But gradually she improved with the major turning point coming in her title match against Bayley.
While many people expected it to be a disaster, the match was actually fairly good, with Marie looking solid and working her role as a heel versus Bayley’s mega-face. While you can say the quality of the match was possibly down to Bayley’s involvement, but that’s how less experienced people get better and get their best results; they work with the best people. After that match, together with some smart booking putting her in tag matches and battle royals,showcased on NXT Marie continued to put in improved performances, reaching the level of many of the other women on the roster.
Exhibit C – Performance
On debuting in NXT Marie got a bit of a rough reception. This was hardly surprising given that Eva Marie effectively represented everything the now established NXT isn’t; a reality TV model with questionable in-ring ability. While WWE tried to ignore at first and work through it, it became apparent that wouldn’t be an option when the strength of the negative reaction didn’t subside. So NXT booked her the smart way, they turned her heel, having her play the part of the self-absorbed, arrogant beauty and having her hide behind a new partner in the physically imposing Nia Jax. While initially you could say Marie was getting X-Pac heat, the kind of reaction of fans not wanting to see the performer, I believe it’s now genuine heel heat. Fans want to see Eva Marie lose, suffer and get her comeuppance and that is the sign of an effective heel and when you look at Marie’s performance this has greatly contributed to the change. Whether it’s her arrogant promos or swagger in the ring, it has all contributed to building a character that fans can direct their ire at.
Exhibit D – Mainstream Appeal
Mainstream coverage and acceptance is something WWE has always strived for throughout its history and with good reason. Getting coverage by major media outlets gives them access to the widest audience possible and thus the biggest market possible. In other words, more coverage means more people and more people means more money. How does this relate to Eva Marie? Well I’ll start with this excerpt from an interview she did with New You earlier this year:
“I think that I personally stand out because my end game and career goals are ones that any of the Divas have yet to achieve. Not only do I want to leave an impact on the WWE Universe as an entertainer but I also want to bridge the dynamics of the WWE and the mainstream world. For instance, I want to bring them [WWE] along to Paris fashion week, blockbuster movie premieres, red carpet events, and makeup aisles within major department stores. Being an entertainer is a huge part of who I am but there are many more facets to me. That is why it is important for me to distinguish myself in more ways as an entertainer within the WWE.”
To be totally honest, if I was Vince McMahon reading that, I would have to get some tissues. Those are high level, fantasy goals for WWE and Marie is right, there is a gulf in need of fulfilment there. WWE might get a mention on red carpets and blockbuster premieres but it’s often after the word “former” when talking about The Rock or Dave Bautista. Yes John Cena is at the kid’s choice awards and hosted the ESPY’s but he won’t appeal to all of the same groups and demographics that Marie does. In terms of fashion events, forget about it. But that’s where the major media are and many of these don’t give WWE the time of day. This is where Eva Marie comes in. Have her, someone who can fit seamlessly into that world but is a current WWE star, appear and that would have to change, getting WWE exposure in those areas of the market and additional publicity for Total Divas. This would make those major department store makeup ranges much more viable and suddenly WWE is making a real impact in a different area of the market. If she can come close to achieving those goals then she would be a true asset to the WWE brand.
It’s these reasons I’m interested to see how Eva Marie does back on the main roster having been drafted to Smackdown. I really believe she can carry on her progress from NXT and achieve something major in WWE. And if not there will always be the Calendars…