The Curious Case of Emma's Poor Booking and WWE Creative's Shot at Redemption

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2017

Credit: WWE.com

When discussing the Women’s Revolution within World Wrestling Entertainment, the contributions to its foundation made by Emma are often overlooked and undervalued.

The Aussie, along with Paige, seized an opportunity presented by Triple H on the very first WWE Network live special, NXT Arrival, and proved women’s wrestling could connect with audiences. From there, that division became an integral part of the brand’s identity.

Because of Emma’s work, performers such as Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Bayley found themselves with a platform on which to ply their trade and showcase their skills.

As the so-called revolution enters its second year, the graduate of the Storm Wrestling Academy has been left behind, her credibility damaged by inconsistent and uneven WWE Creative.

Is it too late to salvage the once-promising career of a worker so vital to the evolution of women’s wrestling?

Booking Disasters

To determine whether or not Emma’s credibility can be rebuilt, one must first revisit the many missteps WWE’s crack writing team has made in regards to the character.

A fun-loving wrestler whose quirky dancing and bubble-popping got her over with NXT fans at Full Sail University, she appeared poised for big things ahead of her main roster debut. Unfortunately, WWE Creative’s inability to properly introduce to convey the character’s traits to the masses led to early failure.

When she was sent back to NXT to redevelop her on-screen persona, she did so as a heel. Disenfranchised with the fans after their reluctance to support her on Raw and SmackDown, she displayed a different, edgier attitude. Now a full-blown heel, she succeeded as the accomplice of the egotistical, unlikable Dana Brooke.

That switch allowed her to showcase her in-ring abilities without having to incorporate the goofy character work her last on-screen persona demanded. It should have led to success on the main roster the likes of which eluded her during her initial run in Vince McMahon’s traveling circus.

Injury struck and forced her to the sidelines. That is through no fault of WWE Creative, which had her position to enjoy a sustained rivalry with Becky Lynch. What was its fault, though, was the abomination of a character development that was to come next.

The fall of 2016 saw vignettes air hyping the return of Emma. Gone were the sunglasses, dark lipstick and attitude that had defined the character fans had become familiar with. In their place were beach locales and bikinis. Rebranded “Emmalina,” the character took on a more sexualized appearance. For weeks, her debut video packages aired, teasing fans with the character’s reappearance.

Then, months passed without her arrival.

Soon, Raw commentator Corey Graves openly mocked the packages, inadvertently killing Emmalina’s credibility before she had the chance to debut. Understanding the character was a dud before fans ever got a live glimpse of it, Emmalina was scrapped in grand fortune as the performer stepped through the curtain and onto the Raw stage, denouncing the new character and promising the return of her dangerous, villainous character.

Again, it took weeks for that persona to reappear, creating more jokes at the expense of the performer.

Now part of the Raw brand and embroiled in a blossoming C-level rivalry with former tag team partner Brooke, she has an opportunity to recover from years of poor booking.

A Shot at Redemption

Charlotte moving to SmackDown is, perhaps, the most beneficial thing to happen to Emma since returning. Gone is the most dominant heel in women’s wrestling, opening up opportunities for others to thrive on Monday nights.

The problem is the presence of Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss, both of whom appear to have the attention of WWE Creative as the summer approaches. Factor in the anticipated heel turn of Sasha Banks and you have a situation in which it will be difficult for Emma to gain traction.

A lack of credible babyfaces makes it even more difficult for her to find a secondary program away from the title picture. A series of matches with Mickie James would be fantastic from an in-ring standpoint but would lackluster and do nothing to elevate Emma in the eyes of the fans.

For the competitor to succeed, she must be treated with the respect she has been denied since coming up from NXT in 2014. Strong, convincing victories over legitimate competition will allow her to build momentum. Unfortunately, Dana Brooke does not carry that legitimacy, rendering a program between the two essentially useless to Emma’s journey back to relevancy.

Redemption will not be easy for Emma to achieve.

The setup on Raw does not appear to allow for it. A trip to SmackDown Live, perhaps in a trade, would do more to enhance her chances of regaining notoriety under the WWE umbrella. Otherwise, it will be up to WWE Creative to put her in a position to play the evil bully to Bayley’s lovable underdog. Or egotistical villainess to Sasha Banks’ Legit Boss.

Until WWE Creative itself invests in Emma, fans will not follow suit and one of the most untapped performers in recent history will have her potential wasted.


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