The incredible rise of women’s wrestling created the evolution that WWE coined as the term to describe the changes. Women from NXT had the first opportunity to showcase their skills and forced the main roster to adapt as well. WWE gave the women’s division minimal time and few storylines on the main roster to hold them back for many years. The change would see a huge philosophy shift with the women finally getting fair opportunities to break out.
We will look at both the success stories and the disappointments from the division during this change. Some ladies scored huge success by getting called up from NXT or just receiving more time after a long run on the main roster. Others failed to make the same impact and may have been better suited in the past. Find out which stories played out with five divas that disappointed in the women’s evolution along with five that impressed.
10 Disappointed: Cameron
Cameron was one of the models who was hired despite having minimal wrestling training ahead of the women's evolution. The main run in WWE for Cameron gave as part of the Funkadactyls dance team that took part in the dance routines with Brodus Clay.
WWE sent Cameron back down to NXT after realizing she couldn’t last with the new changes of the women’s evolution. The NXT stint disappointed as Cameron did not improve enough to stand out. WWE eventually released him to have the run end earlier than expected.
9 Impressed: Becky Lynch
The call-up of Becky Lynch with Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks played the biggest role in WWE starting this new push of the women’s division. Lynch received a smaller push than the other two call-ups, but she did a good job stepping up on the bigger stage.
The eventual brand split would see WWE build the Smackdown division around Becky to start it off right. Lynch would see huge changes come in recent years as The Man took over the women’s division. WWE now has Becky in a huge role as one of the faces of the company.
8 Disappointed: Dana Brooke
Dana Brooke had huge expectations during her time at the Performance Center due to her background in fitness competitions. Brooke's athleticism gave her a good start, but she never picked up the steam that the WWE hoped for.
Brooke would get called up to the main roster after a lackluster stint in NXT. The bigger stage would not see Dana improve fast enough to get a consistent spot. Brooke’s peak was playing the sidekick of Charlotte Flair for a few months. She is still struggling to get television time today.
7 Impressed: Nikki Bella
The polarizing reputation of Nikki Bella led to her having strong supporters and vocal critics. Nikki did a solid job keeping up with the new ladies as the huge changes came to the women’s division during her record-breaking reign as the Divas Champion.
Nikki's run in the new era featured her putting over Charlotte Flair to help her career get going. Nikki returned after the brand split and had a tremendous feud with Carmella to help put her on the map. Even the mixed tag feud of John Cena and Nikki vs The Miz and Maryse surpassed expectations.
6 Disappointed: Brie Bella
Brie Bella could not improve as much as her sister Nikki in the ring to be a strong part of the women’s evolution. The best work of Brie came in tag team matches when Nikki was able to be part of the matches as well.
WWE would see Brie struggle even more in her 2018 return with a few noticeable botches leading to scary injuries. Brie spent the final month of her career managing Nikki before announcing she was retiring from the squared circle to focus on outside projects.
5 Impressed: Charlotte Flair
The name value of Charlotte Flair gave her an advantage joining the main roster as the daughter of Ric Flair. WWE felt safest pushing Charlotte as she ended the Divas Championship reign of Nikki Bella. Charlotte turning heel would see her take off to become a major superstar in the company.
The matches with Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and others all played a role in Charlotte showing she could adapt to all styles. WWE essentially built the women’s evolution around Charlotte to great success. Flair won Women’s Championships ten times during her nearly five years on the main roster.
4 Disappointed: Paige
WWE once viewed Paige as the future face of the women’s division. Paige was called up at a young age from NXT to defeat AJ Lee for the Divas Championship on her first night on the main roster. The star power of Paige did bring her a strong fan base.
Things, however, started to decline during the women’s evolution when the new ladies passed Paige in the pecking order. The lack of improvement for Paige would see her fall behind and eventually start to deal with injury issues. We’ll never know if Paige could have improved with more time, but she did struggle in the women’s evolution.
3 Impressed: Naomi
Naomi's talents were being severely underutilized in the time before the women’s evolution. Naomi’s athleticism was second to none in the women’s division, but WWE primarily used her in the dancing role as part of the Funkadactyls dance team with Brodus Clay.
The women’s evolution allowed Naomi to finally break out and showcase her skills. Naomi had a strong run with Sasha Banks and Tamina in the Team BAD faction. However, the singles run was most important as Naomi won the Smackdown Women’s Championship twice for successful reigns.
2 Disappointed: Eva Marie
WWE invested a lot of time and money into pushing Eva Marie. The company strategically placed her on the Total Divas cast, viewing her as a future top star. Unfortunately, Eva struggled immensely in the ring and had a reputation for being one of the worst wrestlers in the world.
A decision was made to send Marie back to NXT where she did improve a little. WWE planned to push Eva in a major way following the brand split as the early signs of her character was shown. Unfortunately, a wellness policy violation led to her getting suspended and never returning to WWE again.
1 Impressed: Alexa Bliss
One name that was a surprising success story in the women's evolution was Alexa Bliss. Bliss' NXT run showcased some of potential, but she was never pushed at the top level. Bliss spent a solid portion of her NXT days managing Blake and Murphy instead of actually wrestling.
The 2016 Draft would see Bliss get called up and completely change the game. WWE trusted Alexa enough to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship from Becky Lynch a few months into her run. Bliss continued improving her star power as she’s been involved in at least one of the women’s title pictures since getting called up.