Naomi: Why the Funkadactyl Is the Best-Kept Secret in the Divas Division
While it may have been shambolic television, WWE's all-female season of NXT in 2010 was notable for producing several stars.
A.J. Lee, currently dominating storylines as a crazed valet, is the first name that springs to mind. Aksana and Kaitlyn also made their debut on the programme and have gone on to have considerable success in the company, with Kaitlyn emerging as one of the most popular Divas on the roster.
Of course, NXT's third season also showcased another talented woman: former Orlando Magic cheerleader Naomi, who amazed audiences with her first-rate athleticism.
While the show had more than its fair share of bad wrestling (the truly abysmal Kaitlyn/Maxine match being the worst offender), Naomi's spirited in-ring contributions were a highlight.
Indeed, out of all the women on that season of NXT, she was the only one who stood out as potentially turning into a very good wrestler.
Despite her talents, Naomi didn't win the competition, ultimately coming in second to Kaitlyn, who was promoted to the main roster right after.
Naomi's loss was a shame because it seemed to give management an excuse to send her back down to developmental.
While girls like A.J. and Aksana—neither of whom have anything close to Naomi's potential as a performer—were given spots on TV soon after the NXT ended, she spent all of 2011 on the sidelines.
Eventually, though, she was awarded a regular spot on the roster as a backup dancer to comedy act Brodus Clay.
Pairing with newcomer Cameron (better known as Ariane from Tough Enough), Naomi would dance enthusiastically alongside Clay for his wacky entrance as well as stand at ringside for his bouts.
(They're not really managers, though, with their actions during his matches pretty much being limited to looking concerned or happy, depending on whether he's winning or not.)
OK, sure, the act—which we are clearly not meant to take too seriously—is fun, with Clay's “Somebody Call My Momma” song being one of the catchiest WWE themes in recent times. And the kids in the crowd, who are often plucked from ringside and invited in to the ring to dance, seem to like it.
Do you think Naomi can be the face of the division?
But Naomi is capable, and deserving, of a much more prominent spot in the company.
We saw evidence of this too at WWE's last pay-per-view, TLC. Naomi, in her first televised match in well over two years, won the pre-show Battle Royale (via the company's official YouTube channel) for a shot at Eve's Divas Championship later on in the evening.
While the Battle Royale itself was too chaotic and botch-filled to be anything decent, Naomi's athleticism shone greatly, with her thrilling leap frogs and impressively high dropkicks serving as a highlight.
No other woman on the roster—even the more skilled ones like Eve and Layla—are capable of moving in such a way.
Of course, for all her talent, she's not a regular wrestler, something which we saw when she had her match with Eve later on.
Oh, the bout, which Eve won clean, was still a notch above most women's wrestling in the company, but Naomi's ring rust was evident, with the dancer being out of place for a few spots and not looking totally comfortable in there.
It didn't help that her title match was promptly forgotten the next evening.
Naomi was placed back with Clay and Cameron—coming out with them for Clay's short squash match with JTG—and focus was put firmly back on the Eve/Kaitlyn grudge feud. The PPV bout was barely mentioned. It's almost as if we're supposed to forget Naomi ever faced Eve in a match.
Of course, it's not totally hopeless.
After all, WWE put her in the ring in the first place, so they must have some plans to use her a full-time wrestler. Maybe TLC was meant to be a trial run for a future Divas Championship run?
Certainly, with A.J. Lee recently turning heel, the division needs a top babyface Diva. (WWE may be hoping to slot Kaitlyn in the role, but her flawed wrestling ability means it's probably not going to happen.)
Why can't it be Naomi? She's got the talent, the looks and, from what we saw on NXT, the attitude required for such a role.
Of course, if WWE are serious about potentially using her in a wrestler role, they have to let her gain some experience. Naomi will have to start working regularly on the house show circuit, ideally with talented wrestlers like Eve and Natayla in a bid to brush up her wrestling ability.
Naomi is still young after all (she's 25); she has plenty of time to learn and pick up the in-ring skills that could help her carry the division.
Come on, WWE. Give Naomi a shot. She's easily the most under-utilized girl you have.
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