WWE has a potential cornerstone of the Divas division in Emma, but has decided to instead use her as a a paperweight.
The company has failed to showcase her on TV consistently, hasn't given her storylines that would elevate her and has seemingly forgotten how fantastic she was at NXT.
Fans who watch WWE's developmental show had to be thrilled when two of its top Divas were promoted. That enthusiasm has suffered since.
The WWE creative team is letting a talented wrestler atrophy. She's simply not wresting enough. When she does get on TV, it's too often been as a means to inspire chuckling.
Somewhere Chavo Guerrero, who once played golf-playing white man Kerwin White, has to be saying, "I understand what you're going through."
One of the biggest issues with Emma has been how WWE has pulled the spotlight away after introducing her to the audience.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
WWE can't expect fans to get attached to Emma—or any wrestler—if she isn't on TV consistently. The audience needs to see a performer gain victories, make them laugh, fight valiantly in defeat and be a part of memorable moments.
Otherwise, one ends up in JTG territory with folks asking, "Do they still work for the company?"
At a crucial time in her career, WWE has kept Emma on the bench far too often. Not only is she not gaining experience, but she's not being allowed to do anything to win fans over.
You can't throw a touchdown from the sidelines.
Emma has missed the following recent shows:
- Main Event, June 17
- Raw, June 16
- SmackDown, June 13
- Main Event, June 10
- Raw, June 9
- SmackDown, June 6
- Main Event, June 3
- Raw, June 2
- SmackDown, May 30
- Main Event, May 27
The Divas division isn't always a featured part of WWE's programming, but that's far too long for a new addition to sit around. Some of her time off camera can be explained by her heading to Australia for promotion work, but it's not as if she was there this entire time.
She was still in Cincinnati on June 3 and back in Cleveland in time for the June 16 edition of Raw:
There are still some times she sat out before and after that. Besides, trekking around her home country doesn't prevent her from recording a promo or two for WWE to air while she's gone.
Moreover, WWE hadn't exactly been nailing her booking before her trip.
Bo Dallas has been winning matches on a consistent basis since debuting. WWE has showcased Alexander Rusev weekly.
Fans are then compelled to either begin to love or hate those performers. They are creating memories in the audience's mind, bolstering their win-loss record and at least being afforded an opportunity to advance.
That hasn't been true at all for Emma.
Aksana, who was just released, has had more on-air opportunities than her recently. NXT notwithstanding, the last time Emma was on TV, she was playing the role of someone else's catalyst.
Alicia Fox's unstable antics are entertaining. They have turned her from division filler to someone worth tuning in for. It's smart for WWE to add elements like these to its Divas.
Unfortunately, Emma isn't getting that kind of attention from the writers.
On May 26, Emma faced Fox in a match that was a showcase for the latter despite the Australian winning. Fox delivered the biggest blows, including a boot to the lips and a leg drop to the back of the head.
Emma took a beating and then earned a sneaky win. The victory was but an impetus for another Fox tantrum. The wild woman proceeded to attack Emma, slap around the production crew, clang the ring bell and give an lucky employee a wedgie.
The spotlight pointed on Fox, not Emma.
If someone were to ask a fan about the match, they would more likely say, "Fox went crazy afterward" than "Emma won." Fox is benefiting from this narrative. Emma is just a bit player standing in the background.
WWE has gone this route too often with her.
Emma and Fox clashed on the May 13 Main Event, and they played out the same scene. Emma won, leading to Fox melting down. Again, this was a way to elevate Fox while her bubbly foe didn't get much out of it.
Back in March, WWE put Emma in a 10-Diva tag match. Tamina Snuka and AJ Lee were the stars here, the former glaring at her foe after getting a pinfall and the latter giving her partner an awkward hug. Spotting Emma in that match was like playing a game of Where's Waldo?
Otherwise, WWE has paired Emma with Santino Marella, lumping her into the lifeless feud between him and Fandango.
Those matches were often even shorter than standard Divas matches, with the comedy-to-wrestling ratio leaning heavily to the silly side. In a match against Layla on April 21, she pulled out a version of Santino's cobra. The pink sock puppet got her the win.
Emma's personality and gimmick make adding some humor to her routine a logical move. Her diet on the main roster, though, has consisted of too much ridiculousness. Her ceiling is far higher than playing court jester.
It's better to balance the fun moments with the serious one, her bubblieness with her toughness. That's something WWE has done a far better job with while she's been at NXT.
The Blueprint Already Exists
On the April 3 edition of NXT, Emma showed off how compelling a babyface she can be. Sasha Banks smashed on her for much of the contest, snarling at her as she hit each stomp.
Emma looked truly hurt at times, grasping at her mouth, seemingly in tears. When it looked as if she couldn't hang on anymore, she pulled off the kind of comeback that is a pro wresting staple. She looked gutsy as she fought on, eventually snatching back control of the match and coming away the victor.
That's the kind of sequence that sticks in a fan's mind.
Plant enough images of her being valiant like that and the audience will begin to buy into her and root for her harder. The NXT crowd, familiar with her work there, was dancing and cheering at the end of this.
We've seen less enthusiastic responses once she hit the bigger stage.
That's partly because it takes a while to warm up to new wrestlers. A healthy portion of the blame, though, has to go to WWE for not portraying her in this way and offering her much shorter matches. Not even Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat could tell much of a story together in a two-minute contest.
Her feud with Summer Rae fizzled out without a real climax. She's been Fox's victim more than her rival.
While Summer and Layla take hold of the spotlight with their cat fights, who is Emma angry with? Who is getting in the way of her goals? Who is bringing out the best in her in the ring and the worst in her in terms of aggression?
There isn't a good answer for any of those questions, and that's a major problem.
At NXT, the answer was often Paige. Paige was the more brutish of the two—stronger, grittier. There was a great juxtaposition between them that is the stuff of top rivalries.
At NXT Arrival, they battled for the women's title. It was Paige's best match to date and showcased just how entertaining she can be in a fight.
Near-falls and hard strikes made Emma look like a warrior even in defeat. The final image of the bout is Paige wrenching her backward in the P.T.O. Emma shook her head in defiance, refusing to give up. By the time she did tap out, it was hard not to respect her more.
That's what's been missing in her tenure on the main roster.
The showmanship, wrestling acumen and charisma that it takes to be a top wrestler are all there, going unused since she left NXT. Fans who watched her compete at Full Sail University in Florida know that she's capable of far more than creating cheap laughs and too talented to be out of action for weeks at a time.
In Emma, WWE has a stick of dynamite in its hands and just hasn't decided to light it yet.