WWE Superstar Spotlight: The New and Improved Emma | Smark Out Moment

WWE Superstar Spotlight: The New and Improved Emma

Posted by Gabriela Velasquez Monday, April 18, 2016
Welcome to SUPERSTAR SPOTLIGHT, a series of articles where we'll be taking an in-depth look at particular WWE superstars that are relevant at the moment. Currently, WWE's Women's Division is in the midst of a massive overhaul in both perception, given match time and in-ring expectations. For years, Divas were expected to fight, well, like Divas: pulling hair and slapping. But a generation of women from NXT began changing what it meant to be a female wrestler in WWE. One major player in this revolution was overlooked for a long time before a stunning attitude change brought her back to relevance: Emma.

WWE news and analysis
Emma's return to the main roster has been successful so far, as she defeated Paige in a match on RAW.

The 27-year-old Superstar was introduced to wrestling by her brother at a young age, training as a young teenager, eventually moving to Canada where she trained under Lance Storm. She returned to Australia in 2008, working the independent circuit before signing with Shimmer Women Athletes in 2009. She also worked in Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling during this time, capturing their Women's Championship twice between 2009 and 2011.

Emma signed with WWE in 2011, debuting on Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) in August. Soon after, FCW was rebranded into NXT, and Emma made her television debut on NXT in November of 2012. She began to gain momentum in 2013 with the introduction of her clutzy dancer gimmick, facing off against the likes of Bayley, Aksana, Summer Rae and Audrey Marie.

NXT women's division news
Emma faces Paige at NXT: ArRIVAL.

Emma squared off against Paige for the first NXT Women's Championship in July 2013 and lost before entering into a feud with Summer Rae and Sasha Banks. In February 2014, Emma once again challenged Paige for the NXT Women's Championship at NXT: ArRIVAL in an instant classic bout that is still considered one of the best women's matches in WWE history.

Soon after, Emma joined the main roster as a manager of sorts for Santino Marella, wrestling mainly on Superstars and Main Event. She made her WrestleMania debut in the Vickie Guerrero Invitational for the Diva's Championship at WrestleMania 30. She continued to perform in relatively small matches, including a tag team defeat with Paige against the Bella Twins that sparked the hashtag #GiveDivasAChance.

In January 2015, Emma returned to NXT with a new attitude, dropping the goofy dancing gimmick in favor of a new and bitter heel gimmick. She feuded with Bayley during the latter's push towards the NXT Women's Championship, forming an alliance with Dana Brooke. She and Brooke both feuded with Asuka, culminating in a hard-fought loss for Emma to the Japanese star at NXT Takeover: London.

Emma returned to the main roster in the buildup to WrestleMania 32, teaming up with Lana, Naomi, Tamina and Summer Rae against Paige, Natalya, Brie Bella, Eva Marie and Alicia Fox in a tag match at the WrestleMania kickoff show. In her second WrestleMania, Emma had perhaps the strongest showing in the match, delivering a brutal beatdown to Paige throughout.

Her winning streak continued following the Show of Shows, and she entered into a feud with Becky Lynch which looks to be culminating in a non-title grudge match at Payback.

WrestleMania and women's wrestling
Emma once again faces Paige at WrestleMania 32 in Dallas, Texas.

When given the chance, Emma is a blast to watch, especially after her heel turn. She fights with a punishing style that focuses on submission holds and blunt strikes. During matches, she often utilizes the ring itself, throwing opponents into the turnbuckle or trapping them against the ropes to wear them down. True to character, she most often targets the head with her strikes and kicks.

She has one of the coolest submission holds in the Women's Division, aptly named the Emma Lock (more widely known as a Muta lock), where she crosses her opponent's ankles and bridges over them to grab them by head for a painful lock. It's a unique move; the only other wrestler employed by WWE who is known for using it is Austin Aries.

While not exactly connecting with crowds once debuting on the main roster with her original gimmick, Emma's heel persona looks to make a much bigger impression. Motivated by jealousy and bitterness while still retaining extreme self-assurance, she is a perfect foil for the likes of Becky Lynch or Natalya, and even Bayley when she gets called up. She draws heat easily from crowds, antagonizing both her opponents and referees when things don't seem to be going her way.

Her look in itself isn't terribly unique, but the confidence with which she carries herself speaks for itself. Her slow and methodical entrance coupled with her aviator sunglasses and leather gloves speak volumes. She believes that she is hot stuff, and nobody will convince her otherwise.

Her future in a highly competitive Women's Division with limited time granted on television is unsure. She remains in the spotlight following WrestleMania with her budding rivalry with Becky Lynch, but with Sasha Banks looking to be positioned as the new Women's Champion and Bayley's eventual callup looming, it might be a while yet before we see the Australian Superstar holding the WWE Women's Championship. I can see her being an early challenger in Sasha's reign, but a reign itself is likely far away.

Emma and WWE Divas
Emma scouts her competition before a Fatal Four Way in Brooklyn.

That being said, if WWE is truly invested in elevating its female athletes, a distant shot at the title does not mean Emma's talent will go wasted. Her non-title rivalry with Lynch could prove to be a starting point for many more feuds based on pride or competitiveness alone. She already has a long history with former Divas Champion Paige and if recent matches between the two on Main Event and SmackDown are any indication, they can easily revive it at any time.

Those two are meant to be rivals, their clashing looks and attitudes blending with their work ethic in the ring to produce entertaining matches whether they are driven by a story or not. For evidence, just look at their match from April 8's episode of Main Event, a fifteen-minute bout with no impact on either wrestler's story. Paige and Emma got the crowd rallying behind them in no time, crafting a simple story of a fearless babyface able to endure punishment, and an arrogant heel willing to dish it out.

I can see Emma being the go-to heel for any babyface in the Women's Division to go up against in the way that Dolph Ziggler is a testing ground for heels. She remains competitive even in defeat, retaining credibility despite being but a stepping stool for Bayley and Asuka on NXT. Her no-nonsense offensive style is the perfect fit for a division working on rebuilding and rebranding itself following years of irrelevance.

The Women's Division cannot truly succeed until it has valid storylines centered around things other than the Women's Championship. It needs to flesh out its characters in organic ways, in the same way it fleshes out its male Superstars. Only then will someone like Emma truly flourish. As it stands,s he has the talent to make a real impact on the roster as a whole. WWE just needs to give her the chance.
THIS POST WRITTEN BY: GABRIELA VELASQUEZ

Gabby Velasquez is the owner of the pro wrestling site Girl Talk With Gabby. You can follow her on Twitter and her podcast on iTunes.

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