Advice for WWE Creative: Mistakes to Avoid Making with Eva Marie
Welcome to another edition of Advice to WWE Creative, which strives to give the writers some perspective from a fan's point of view while remaining as objective as possible.
Previous editions have revolved around saving Jeff Hardy's faltering career, what to do with R-Truth and the 24/7 Championship, making up for the recent talent releases and turning Hell in a Cell around from being a shell of its former self.
This time, let's shift the focus not to something that has already been a problem that needs fixing but an issue that looks like it's already heading toward trouble.
Eva Marie is back with WWE, and there are some warning signs this could be disastrous. So how can WWE Creative avoid making mistakes before they pop up? Let's take a look!
Addressing the Situation
Marie first came to WWE as part of Total Divas. She was the shiny new talent, along with JoJo, to represent the rookie side of the show.
Tracking Marie's journey toward becoming a WWE Superstar would have been more engaging if she had ever gotten a proper footing during her first run from 2013-16. A low point was a gimmick in 2016 where she would not wrestle and had wardrobe malfunctions, and shortly after, she would leave the company for several years.
Now, after vignettes that focused more on her modeling on top of a car, she's back with NXT UK's Piper Niven by her side, who is wrestling matches for Marie.
Without fans in attendance, it's hard to tell what the reception would have been on Monday Night Raw. She might have been met with massive boos, a cheerful pop to welcome her back or complete indifference.
Knowing WWE Creative's tendencies and track record, there are four main problems she may run into that the writers will have to be cognizant of avoiding. Otherwise, she'll fall into one of the following traps and quickly fail out of the company yet again.
Don't Go Down the Body-Shaming Route
There are only a finite amount of stories ever told in professional wrestling, but some of them have not aged too well. One of them that WWE will undoubtedly be tempted to do, but definitely shouldn't, is the body-shaming storyline.
We've seen it before with the Piggie James angle, the entire character of Otis (but especially when he was fawning over Mandy Rose) and many years ago with Bertha Faye. If someone is of a larger size, they'll inevitably do at least one story revolving around their weight.
Considering how much focus is on Eva Marie's fit body and her looks, it's low-hanging fruit to compare her to Piper Niven and make her bully her friend to gain heel heat. The intent would be to eventually turn Niven babyface when she gets revenge, much like Nia Jax did to Alexa Bliss, but it's not worth the negativity.
Niven has already addressed receiving this type of criticism from fans, and with the amount of bad publicity it will garner WWE, as well as emotional harm it will do to some viewers who will reflect this back on to themselves, WWE should try harder to avoid this altogether.
Marie can criticize Niven for losing matches, for example, but Niven's size shouldn't be a reason for belittlement.
The story's been played out a thousand times, so it's not innovative enough to justify the harm behind it.
Ditch the "Super Role Model" Catchphrase
There are always sporadic trends in the world. Sometimes, every fast-food chain seems to be selling a new kind of avocado sandwich, or zombie films become Hollywood's go-to vehicle.
For some reason, adopting the phrase "I'm a role model" has been a thing lately in women's sports entertainment.
Bayley has called herself one for over a year. She and Sasha Banks used the tag team name of The Golden Role Models. They've even had a spat on Twitter about stealing the moniker.
Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. is perpetually saying she's a role model for All Elite Wrestling and women everywhere.
In and of itself, the mixing of "supermodel" with "role model" to form "super role model" is catchy marketing, but it's not something that will translate to an effective heel character.
That's not going to get people to boo Marie. It will play out more as a slogan on a T-shirt than actual character work.
Calling yourself a role model has become played out already, and she's too late to the game. Once something's grown stale, trying to piggyback off it comes off worse than not doing it at all.
At the least, WWE should keep it as a minor part of her presentation, rather than something to lean into. The more vignettes and promos that revolve around her using that catchphrase, the more it will be exposed as nothing but a hollow expression.
It's Not Just About Looks
WWE Superstars are held to certain standards for their appearance. The men tend to be tasked with being "larger than life," while the women are often expected to be knockouts with perfect bodies.
There have always been exceptions to the rule, but if you have a great look, your foot is already in the door. The Great Khali had a world title reign and an entire career simply from his height, and many of the Divas Era performers were quite literally models who barely wrestled and were just eye-candy for dance competitions and bikini contests.
But times have been changing. It's no longer just about someone's looks, even in the women's division.
Fans have grown accustomed to wanting legitimate wrestlers who can cut a good promo. Having an intriguing appearance—either as a monster, a sculpted behemoth or a gorgeous bombshell—is a bonus, but not the sole driving force.
Marie has often been criticized about her lack of skills on the mic and in the ring.
Hopefully, she's been training with both and has improved dramatically. Otherwise, WWE cannot assume her looks alone will make up for her lack of talent elsewhere.
If that's the game plan, she doesn't serve much of a purpose. No wrestling skills means no one will want to watch her matches, and no verbal skills means she can't be a manager, either.
She needs to be more than just photoshoots on the latest WWE.com galleries taking advantage of her modeling abilities.
This is already her second chance. It's doubtful the WWE Universe will give her a third.
She Needs Direction and Growth
One of WWE's biggest problems in nearly all creative facets is a lack of foresight, planning and direction. It seems despite constant chatter about long-term storytelling being a goal, virtually no feuds have endgames in mind and WWE does random stuff week-to-week.
Not knowing where to go means nothing builds to a point. It just exists and fills up time until WWE gets tired of it and moves on to something else, dropping it and depriving fans of any return on their investment.
If Marie is going to be a success, WWE needs to think of somewhere to go with all this, and it needs to be decided now, not later.
Ideally, there should be plans for several upcoming feuds and an ultimate goal with backup plans in case people get injured, something else catches on or plans are forced to change.
What WWE can't do is coast by having Marie do the same thing she did this past week—where she is replaced in her match by Niven, only to gloat afterward that she won—for three months straight.
That's OK for a few weeks. Then, it will be annoying to watch, and it will be clear WWE is stalling and has no idea what to do with her.
Someone will need to force her to wrestle. She'll need to lose a match and react to it. An explanation will have to be given as to why she's partnered up with Niven and why the commentators were told to act as though she's an unknown entity, rather than an NXT UK Superstar we've known for years.
The longer it goes without any progression, the sooner the WWE Universe will stop caring about Marie, because everyone will know WWE Creative doesn't even care enough to think about where this is all going.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.