With a stale WWE product came the emergence of NXT. The developmental brand went from developmental to groundbreaking overnight it seems. Not only has it paved the way for a New Era but it has built countless amounts of stars, especially in the women’s division helping to revitalize the entire brand and landscape of women’s wrestling which seemed to be an afterthought.
NXT changed all of that and the women’s division is now loaded with talent in both the WWE and NXT ranks. In this article, we will take a look at how the talent stacks up in comparison to the current champion, Charlotte. We will take a look at who deserves to be pushed and who is in desperate need of a repackaging or even something as extreme as an inevitable release. Some worthy names that don’t make the list are still worth mentioning in the intro. Current NXT Champion Asuka is enjoying a formidable run at the moment and should continue to be pushed down in NXT for a while. Dana Brooke’s status remains up in the air, as she’s a solid worker, but with such a loaded talent pool at the moment, she’ll bounce around the win lose column for quite some time. This leaves Emma, who we really hope can get back to prominence once she gets back from injury. Her old school gimmick will serve quite the purpose in terms of depth to no matter which brand she ends up competing on.
Let’s now start the list and focus on which female Superstars should be pushed immediately or repacked/released, enjoy!
15 Push: Nia Jax
Since her NXT debut, you could sense that there was something unique in Nia Jax. From the prestigious Anoa’i family tree, Jax is quickly making a case for becoming one of the most dominant female wrestlers ever seen, in large part due to her overpowering in-ring presence and smooth technique.
Despite these obvious factors, the WWE hasn’t done the greatest job in taking advantage of her. Instead of booking Jax similar to the likes of Brock Lesnar, the company has instead opted to make her a heel that loses when it matters most. Her loss to Bayley was surprising, but understandable. However, once again losing a title match against Asuka in a convincing fashion hurt her credibility as a dominating force in the division. Looking at it in a long term perspective, Jax could have been salvaged by having won the match.
It remains to be seen how she will be booked in the future, but looking at her potential we can only hope that it will be similar to Samoa Joe and Finn Balor, that Jax will get her revenge and claim the championship setting up a dominant run that will later transcend onto the main roster. A push is an absolute must at this point.
14 Repackage: Alicia Fox
It's crazy to think that the recently turned 30 year old female wrestler signed a deal with the WWE way back in 2006. Just to put things into perspective, she was 20 at the time and reported to Ohio Valley Wrestling. So as you can imagine, she’s been around the block and back again.
Despite a sense of smoothness and veteran instincts in the ring, Fox has endured only one legitimate run as a singles competitor which took place back in June of 2010 when she won her first and only Divas Championship in a fatal-four-way match. Her accomplishment was noteworthy, as she became the first African American to win the Divas Championship. Her reign was actually quite long, spanning the entire summer before she would finally drop the title after 56 days losing to Melina at SummerSlam.
Today, Fox is mostly regarded as a Total Divas character with rare appearances on Raw since The Bella Army disbanded. Now, releasing her would be too extreme, as Fox is a solid worker that possess invaluable years of experience at the WWE level, something needed with so many fresh new faces. Though, with a brand split coming up, she definitely needs more of an identity. A new singles gimmick or partnering with Nikki Bella would help secure her company status for the upcoming years.
13 Push: Natalya
Known as the crazy cat lady to the Total Divas universe, Natalya was desperate for something new in the ring. With the need for a veteran talent to step up, Natalya was called upon to use her experience in order to put over Charlotte, the reigning WWE Women’s Champion. The storyline surprisingly lasted more than a couple of weeks and finally gave the New Era fans somewhat of a build up. The plan was executed perfectly and Charlotte came out on top, while Natalya was able to have some great exposure time that only helped her and put her in-ring gimmick back on the map.
Following the feud, the company smartly continued to keep the veteran relevant by having her once again work an angle as a heel in order to put over another young bright star, Becky Lynch.
Booking wise, we hope the company will take advantage of this ruthless Natalya, which is a side of her that we haven’t seen in what seems like forever. Before doing the job against Lynch, we hope to see her aggressive side dominate opponents on a weekly basis. Her veteran presence is invaluable at this point and will continue to serve its purpose during a brand extension.
12 Released: Tamina Snuka
Trained by the previously mentioned Anoa’i family pipeline, some may find it a little harsh to release the 38 year old, while others may agree that it’s time to move on. With a brand split coming up, veteran wrestlers are needed in order for the divisions to fully thrive, however Tamina at this point doesn’t seem to be an answer. Her career hasn’t budged or showed any signs of promise, as her gimmick seems stuck at this point due to her lack of charisma which plagued her WWE career. Her in-ring work doesn’t seem to fit the bill either.
For that matter, her memorable storylines include all gimmicks that took place outside of the ring like managing The Usos and AJ Lee. Not to mention her bizarre relationship with Santino. At this point, the WWE might be saving her for Naomi’s return, but really, does Naomi need Snuka by her side?
11 Push: Alexa Bliss
The way NXT managed to recreate her image speaks volume to how great the creative is down in developmental. Bliss went from an innocent cheerleader to a vicious in-ring heel who began as a tag team manager. Like most of the other NXT talents, the developmental brand took their time and built a tremendous story with Bliss, one that is still ongoing at this point.
Assessing her talents, Bliss looks to be getting better and better, while adding viciousness to her in-ring style. What stands out the most pertaining to the Ohio native is the fact that she is yet to hit the age of 25 and this factor certainly excites a lot of people down in NXT, especially Triple H who thrives on finding young gems.
Booking wise, Bliss can enjoy a Y2J like career, finding ruthless ways to win despite being smaller in stature compared to her opponents. By 2017, we hope to see Bliss on the main roster or holding a prominent spot amongst the other female NXT talents. Either way, a push is an absolute must and time is on her side, something that not many can say.
10 Repackage: Naomi
Her in-ring work has improved for the better, so let’s give her credit. Naomi has worked hard and deserves praise for the work she has put in. Naomi’s look is also marketable and the only thing holding her down at this point is her charisma, which doesn’t seem to be oozing out of her, in comparison to other women like Sasha Banks or Bayley.
The most unfortunate side of this is that Naomi was finally showing us some of that charisma, as it seemed like having Sasha Banks by her side really lit a fire under the Florida native. Though, as we’ve seen time and time again, her momentum was stopped after she was injured at one of the worst possible times.
Still only 28 and yet to achieve anything remotely important on a WWE stage, the curious case of Naomi is still worth exploring, especially when looking back at how much better she was performing before getting hurt. With some touch ups to her persona, look for Naomi to possibly thrive under a brand split.
9 Push: Carmella
Visually, she looks like a modern day Sunny, but the truth is there is so much more to Carmella apart from her career as a manger. The WWE also believed this was true and decided to keep her down in NXT when Enzo and Cass went up, seeing potential for growth as a singles competitor in a division that seems to be creating new stars every month.
Charisma oozes out of her amd this factor led the company to furthering her in-ring skills as a serious performer. Technically, she still needs some work in order to grow, especially with the level and standard at the moment. With this being said, she's already extremely over and is currently one of the top faces down in NXT.
In terms of booking, look for a similar style to the likes of Sami Zayn and Daniel Bryan. The company will give her high profile matches at some point which will result in losses, but this will only intensify the bond that will be formed between herself and the WWE Universe. With the right moves, Carmella can become a heroic underdog champion on either brand. Still only 28, the company has time to book this scenario properly.
8 Release: Summer Rae
Similar to her former partner Tyler Breeze, the company just bailed on Summer Rae, after a short term push which actually saw her defeat Paige in a shocking upset. Following the win, creatively the company did absolutely nothing and once again Summer was relegated to being a pretty face.
Although rough around the edges, with a little more experience, the New York native can thrive given a proper heel booking. Right now, however, it just doesn’t seem like she’ll get that opportunity on a WWE platform, which possesses such a competitive division.
It seems like a long shot, but Summer would benefit greatly by pulling a Cody Rhodes and augmenting her brand value on the independent scene by gaining in-ring experience. The question is how much does Summer really care about her legacy as an in-ring performer at this point in her career? It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for the FCW alumni.
7 Push: Nikki Bella
We tend to forget because she’s been away for so long, but 2015 was the year of Nikki Bella. The highly coveted PWI acknowledged her accomplishments as well, by ranking her as the number one Women’s Wrestler in the illustrious PWI’s Female top 50 of 2015.
What Nikki managed to do was add depth to the division, something that it kind of lacks today despite their being so many female talents in the company. Her gimmick appealed to a broader audience and helped to usher in new fans. Nikki’s rise to prominence was so apparent that E! has decided to give her own reality show, alongside Brie, called Total Bellas.
At the age of 32, her star power is peaking in the ring and outside of it right now. A return still seems to be far away, but with this in mind, the company must push the Bella twin as soon as she returns, preferably in an upper card feud with the title holder. An immediate push is absolutely necessary for Nikki.
6 Release: Lana
Some will disagree with this entry, while others might approve, but at the age of 31, her window to succeed on a WWE platform seems to be diminishing. The company decided to rush her into the ring at WrestleMania 32, only to see her not only lose the match, but later go back to being Rusev’s full time manager.
Her position as a valet is fine, but one must ask the question, at this point does Rusev really need Lana to get over? Similar to Marc Mero, Rusev almost fell victim to a similar circumstance which saw Lana’s star power emerge larger than it was initially intended too. With this in mind, and Rusev clearly being more talented than Mero ever was (no offense Marc, but really your were as stiff as a brick wall in your prime), the company separated the duo only to reunite them after a horrible character breaking image posted by Lana on her social media announcing the couple was engaged. She’s done more harm than good for Rusev as it seems, which begs the question, why is she still around?
5 Push: Bayley
Pegged as the next John Cena, the Bayley train just keeps chugging along down in NXT. Her talent is breathtaking to watch, as Bayley has thrived working in smooth matches, no matter who she is put up against. The California native can perform any type of match, from leading the way to taking a beating. At this point, her talents are well known and documented by every WWE executive.
The one factor that has held Bayley back thus far is her age, as she just turned 27 a couple of weeks ago. With this in mind, the company is well aware that Bayley will be relevant for a long long time in the WWE ranks, so rushing her at this point is not the way to go.
In doing so, the company has extended her NXT run, as she is now being plotted as the first ever two-time NXT Women’s Champion. We truly hope that the company does give her this honor and soon after finally call her up to the main roster. Her debut will surely receive a thunderous reaction and, match by match, her legacy will grow into one of the greatest New Era stars in the entire company.
4 Release: Eva Marie
The WWE continues to use the “it’s not you, it’s me” approach with Eva, still trying to make her succeed after all this time, despite many epic failures in and out of a WWE ring. At the age of 31, you’d think Eva would be hitting her prime at this point, but instead she is continuously regressing and constantly being pulled off of NXT television.
Let’s give her credit, as instead of walking away, she wanted to get better. After training with the great Brian Kendrick and starting a new arrogant type gimmick, her in-ring work still showed only minor signs of improvement. After some awkward matches that were clearly edited by the NXT production truck, Eva was relegated to a managerial role alongside Nia Jax.
Following this, she once again fled the scene. She is being repackaged into a duo with Mandy Rose as a team labelled to be called Red & Gold. The concept has potential and can add depth, but again, it desperately needs to thrive in the ring, something that seems unlikely looking at Eva’s track record. If this once again fails, as it likely will, the company should strongly consider moving on.
3 Push: Becky Lynch
The booking of Becky Lynch since joining the WWE ranks has been spot on by the company. She is the prototypical underdog face that the crowd loves to get behind. Having a babyface as over as Becky is very rare in this day and age, especially with the WWE crowds reacting to heels more than they do with babyfaces.
With her underdog mentality, comes a fantastic skill set which has put her over immensely. Not only is she talented, but Becky also possess similar qualities to Lita in terms of her “out there” in-ring work. Quite simply, Becky has all the tools to succeed.
In terms of booking, it's obvious the company is building her up like a Daniel Bryan. She’ll put on some incredible matches but fall short numerous times. Until, the inevitable will happen and the babyface will go over to a thunderous and emotional pop. The WWE has managed her perfectly at this point and we hope to see more of the same with a brand split on the horizon.
2 Repackage: Paige
We can make a separate article here on TheSportster for situations similar to Paige in regards to Superstars who were pushed way too fast. The likes of Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar immediately come to mind, as the two enjoyed phenomenal starts and later were terribly misused. Lesnar left the company, while Orton did years of soul searching before he once again became a prominent star for the company.
As of right now, it seems like Paige is suffering similar consequences, as she became the youngest Divas Champion in history, winning the title at just 21 years of age. It's disturbing to think that she’s referred to as a veteran despite being the youngest member of the entire WWE locker room at 23.
At this point, the company is well aware that slowing her down was necessary in order for the Norwich native to thrive in the long run. The time is now for Paige to repackage herself with a new identity and continue where she left off as a prominent face in a division that will need depth on both brands. Some have her pegged for a future alongside Bray and his Wyatt family. Though we can assume that probably won’t happen, we still hope she can recreate herself and use that tremendous charisma and draw value to her advantage with something new and refreshing. There's no better time to display this than with a brand split on the horizon.
1 Push: Sasha Banks
Most of us can agree that her time is now. At only 24, her age held her back from becoming the most prominent star in the WWE’s female division at first. The company is well aware that they can no longer hold Sasha Banks back and the time to push the future button is now. The WWE Universe has spoken.
You can’t find a women’s wrestler, or a male wrestler for that matter, more over than Sasha Banks at the moment. The company tried to make her a heel, but it’s obvious no matter what persona she plays, the crowds will cheer. Everything from her look, charisma, aggressiveness, technical abilities and draw value indicate that she is not only the future of the division, but future of the WWE. A push is obvious at this point, but it remains to be seen when and if she’ll lose a one on one match in the near future. She will emerge as a top star in the company and one day main event a WWE pay-per-view. It’s really all just a matter of time at this point.