The last time we saw her was on SmackDown in August when a wardrobe malfunction led her to forfeit her match against Becky Lynch and allowed the now champion Alexa Bliss to debut in her spot. In fact, Nikki Bella also took her spot later that month during a six-woman tag team match at SummerSlam and went on to do the best work of her career. So that begs the question, is this unlikely release a signal that there may just no be room in WWE for performers like Eva Marie? Is this truly the end of the era of the Diva?
Let's be positive for a moment here. Eva Marie is fine. She's green in the ring, awkward at times, but was getting better. She can get massive heel heat, though she didn't know how to control it. She's beautiful and charismatic and certainly had potential. Had she gone through the program like everyone else, she might've found her voice and developed something special, and we would not be talking about her release today. But she didn't, and here we are.
A lot has changed since Eva Marie joined both WWE and the cast of Total Divas. I should know, as I started watching wrestling right as Total Divas debuted, and I watched this division change before my eyes. It's pretty well accepted, though no one can say for sure, that Eva was brought into the company for the explicit purpose of staring in the reality show and kicking up trouble. She did, kind of. A lot of it felt forced and contrived, but sure, not before long, the other Divas turned on her. Eva stood out, and as a result was offered plenty of photo shoots and appearances to fill up her schedule. The issue was, in the ring she didn't know what on earth she was doing. Eva was WWE's first stab at training-on-the-road. It went poorly. Maybe a trained wrestler from another promotion could learn the desired style and how to work cameras the WWE way on the road, but to start from scratch and try to mold a wrestler out of a charismatic fitness model was a mistake.
Realizing this mistake, they got her trained properly, but they didn't send her down to NXT like all the others. Instead, The Brian Kendrick trained her personally in Los Angeles, either on WWE's dollar or as a favor to them. While Eva was busy doing that—and getting plenty of heat on Total Divas for it—the "Divas Revolution" happened, and underneath the branding and the half-hearted promises, there really was a women's revolution. The Four Horsewomen ran NXT, Alexa Bliss was learning how to take bumps, and even the Bellas—the quintessential "Divas"—were training really hard and trying to do more. When Eva was drafted to SmackDown in July, she found herself in a division that was chock full of talent. It was led by Becky Lynch, had the veteran leadership of Natalya, and the bright, sparkly future of Alexa Bliss. It seems clear now that she no longer belonged.
As far as problem children go, Eva is pretty mild. Sure, she showed up with the red hair instead of the company-ordered blonde, she was suspended back in August along with several other superstars, and she is cunning, which is a trait that did not endear her to the rest of the women's locker room. But in comparison to some of the difficulties they've had with other performers (take Randy Orton for example) she really doesn't have that many demerits on her record. In fact, Eva's largest offense was that she accepted unfair advantages and opportunities.
And yet, WWE continued to give them. They saw how poorly she fledged on the road without paying her dues like all the others. They still gave her a personal trainer. They saw how badly that reflected on her in the eyes of women like Paige and Naomi who spent years in the process of developmental. They still put her back on TV. They heard the boos and the "you can't wrestle" chants booming through the Full Sail crowd and yet, and yet they gave her a title shot against Bayley that only served to highlight how woefully unprepared she was for the position.
Why do that for her, when beautiful and charismatic women are hardly a scarcity in WWE. Why put her under a spotlight when there were others waiting in line at the performance center? In many ways, Eva represents the Attitude to PG-Era way of doing things. Take a fitness model, teach her to wrestle. It's a system that comes with antiquated implications of a woman's role in a wrestling show, but for a while there, it worked. It took a lot of effort on the part of Triple H and his staff at the Performance Center, plus major outside pressure from the competition, for WWE to start to change its ways and focus on women as athletes. Even while women were stealing the show and main-eventing, they made a place for Eva. It could be that WWE was clinging to the concept of Divas, and even as the guard changed, they desperately wanted to prove the old system still worked.
Trish Stratus stands as this shining example that if you work hard, you can learn this, and you can become great. The problem is all of the other Divas—the ones plucked up for their good looks—who didn't become great. Though she was improving slowly, Eva did not seem to be on a path to greatness the way that some of her contemporaries are. She was not the Diva they hoped she would be. Now rumors are circulating that Emmalina was intended to replace the Eva Marie type of character, and whether or not that's true, the gimmick itself is evidence of an unwillingness to let the Diva go. All that time with those Instagram Girl vignettes, I kept waiting and waiting for a swerve that never came. She was just meant to be a Sable-style Diva. Where's the punch line? She was the punch line, which is probably why it fell on its face and they scrapped it all together. Maybe that was WWE finally accepting that when their audience knows what they're missing in Emma, they don't want Emmalina. When they can have Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, Natalya, and (this new and improved) Nikki Bella, they don't want an Eva Marie.
Again, it's not really Eva's fault. She falls into the same unfair situation as Roman Reigns. They're handing her what she wants, so what is she supposed to do, say no? Wrestling is hard. We've all seen the behind the scenes videos, and we all know that we don't have the slightest idea of what it takes to make it through the first day of training. To do this, especially when there are paths of less resistance open to you, you must love it. For sticking with it as long as she did and despite all the fan hate she received, I give her respect.
But maybe there isn't room anymore for Divas, capital D. That's a hard pill to swallow, both for WWE who has leaned on it for so long and for those of us who want there to be room for all types of women. From the beginning of this "Diva's Revolution," fans like myself didn't see it as a vendetta against wrestlers like the Bella Twins. We wanted them included in the revolution, lifted up alongside the Charlotte Flairs and the Asukas of the industry. The difference, though, is that the Bellas made the effort; they pushed and they stepped up. Eva didn't. There is still room for wrestlers who come with "beautiful" as part of the package, skimpy ring gear isn't going anywhere in a hurry, and looks will always play a role in the performance. The era of Divas as ornaments and sideshow attractions, however, has passed. Good riddance to that.
To Eva Marie, we wish her the best in the many projects she has coming down the line. She may never be the next female Rock, but she can be the first Eva Maire, outside of WWE, and we're looking forward to it.
Tell us below, are you sad to see Eva walk away?