Nia Jax finally has a chance to live up to the hype.
Jax has been a focus of the WWE's women's division, mostly because of her size and strength. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, as many WWE Superstars have been booked in prominent roles for the same reasons over the years.
But eventually, everyone gets a day of reckoning. Jax's will come at No Mercy.
Hype is not enough, and potential must be realized. Tossing opponents around the ring is impressive, and throwing heavy hands is expected for a powerfully dominant Superstar. But the real test comes on the main event stage, under the bright lights when it matters the most.
This is Jax's time to prove she can get it done. She's been portrayed as the Braun Strowman of Monday Night Raw's women's division; now is the time to show she deserves that distinction. But though she has been used in such a high-profile spot for so long, the fact is she has yet to come into her own.
However, the clock is ticking for her now. Fans love the monster heels, and they love to watch those heels work. But it must be much more than just brutality at play or that heel becomes one-dimensional. That's been the case for Jax, whose character has indeed grown stale.
But what is her character?
Therein lies the problem. Much of the issue with her booking has been that fans just do not know who they're looking at. Is Jax the dangerous and punishing villain that the WWE wants fans to believe she is? Or is she the soft-spoken, smiling Superstar who comes up short in high-pressure situations?
Is she human, or is she something more?
Much of the mystique surrounding Strowman centers on his ability to deliver on the hype. If The Monster Among Men had only worked power matches against smaller opponents, then never stepped up against the main event stars, he would have failed. The WWE would surely not have him in a main event spot now and especially not against Brock Lesnar.
Being physically dominant would never been enough for him, and it's not enough for Jax either. Through no fault of her own, Jax has come up short when it counted. She's the powerhouse who can't channel her power into something substantial, and that has directly affected how fans perceive her.
She should be impressive. She should be feared. More importantly, she should be respected. That will only come when she's allowed to realize her full potential.
No Mercy on September 24 is the best place for that to happen. Jax is booked against Sasha Banks, Emma and Alexa Bliss in a Fatal 4-Way for the Raw Women's Championship. Emma is the dark horse, Banks is the former champ, and Bliss has the gold.
But Jax should walk away as the new titleholder. This is her night.
Not only should the WWE make this move for her career as a headliner now, the company should also be thinking about the future.
The Mae Young Classic featured several talents with MMA backgrounds including Jazzy Gabert and Shayna Baszler. If the WWE pursues this trend, then the women's divisions on Raw and SmackDown Live could radically change in the coming months. The competition will be tougher, the matches will be more intense, and fans will expect more than they ever have before.
Then there's Asuka, who is coming to Monday Night Raw.
Of all the current talents on the main roster right now, Jax is the one who could cement herself as the woman to beat. No one would be able to come in and steamroll over her. A shoot fighting background or an undefeated career would look good on paper but Jax would be the physically dominant champion who must be taken down and that would be a tall order indeed.
The alternative is a career mired in mediocrity, one that was full of hype and nothing more. Bliss can handle the loss. The same is true for Banks. Emma still has time as well. But Jax must break out now because her future depends on it.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, iHeart Radio, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com