This edition concentrates on one of the newest additions to the Raw roster—Ember Moon. The former NXT Women's Champion has made a noticeable impression since joining the red brand, as she is yet to be defeated and was the first person to qualify for the upcoming Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match.
However, with Raw bursting with valuable commodities including Ronda Rousey, Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks and the current Women's Champion Nia Jax, could Ember's fire be extinguished while others receive the star treatment? Or, will she rise like a phoenix to become a true trailblazer in the women's division?
If you're worried about getting burned out on fire-related puns, I'd turn away now. If not, then let's delve into the potential stock market value of Ember Moon.
While she is a new face to most fans of Raw, Ember Moon has a storied history in professional wrestling, making her debut way back in November 2007 for Professional Championship Wrestling.
Wrestling under the name Athena, Moon is probably best remembered for her stint in Shimmer, where she competed on numerous shows against people fans of WWE and NXT would soon become very familiar with, including Mia Yim, Mercedes Martinez and Candice LeRae.
Moon wrestled for several other promotions, including Women Superstars Uncensored, Pro Wrestling Alliance and Absolute Intense Wrestling, picking up a few championships along the way, before she reported to WWE's Performance Center in September 2015.
The Last 12 Months...
The majority of 2017 and the start of 2018 has been a rollercoaster for Ember Moon, who experienced soaring heights and the lowest of lows during her run in NXT. She suffered her first defeat at NXT TakeOver: Orlando, where she failed to capture the NXT Women's Championship from the also undefeated Asuka. Shortly after, she would suffer a shoulder injury that would rule her out of a further championship match.
Not to be deterred, Moon challenged Asuka again at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 3, and despite an excellent showing in a great match, the Empress of Tomorrow proved too resilient for the Shenom. It would take an unfortunate twist of fate for her to ascend to the top of the division, as Asuka's injury hastened her call-up to the main roster, and left the title vacant. Moon overcame Peyton Royce, Nikki Cross, and Kairi Sane to win the match and finally capture the NXT Women's Championship.
The remainder of Ember Moon's NXT run was spent embroiled in a heated feud over the title with Shayna Baszler. These fiery confrontations with the Queen of Spades produced some strong, physical matches, but sadly also exposed a lot of Moon's shortcomings, both on promos and as a character. Moon was defeated by Baszler at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, and she would debut on Raw the following night, teaming with Nia Jax to defeat Alexa Bliss and Mickie James.
It is difficult to effectively gauge the impact Ember Moon has left on both NXT and WWE. Her wrestling ability, unique entrance and insane finisher, The Eclipse, certainly caught the attention of fans quickly, and Moon has been heralded often for her wrestling ability. Nevertheless, as a character and personality Moon has fallen a little short, not having a powerful, pronounced character that lives up to her face-value presentation.
And, unfair as this may sound, her impact on NXT is muted by developing in the shadow of arguably the promotions biggest star male or female, Asuka. Moon's rise fell somewhat under the radar against the prestige of Asuka's celebrated reign and unmatched unbeaten streak. Whenever they met one-on-one, Moon always came up that little bit short, and even when she captured the NXT Women's Championship, she still felt firmly entrenched below Asuka, and her feud with Shayna Baszler went down a very similar road.
If NXT is any indication of her future in WWE, Ember Moon will be a reliable and spectacular hand in the ring, but not someone you can build a women's division around. Hopefully, the new scenery on Raw will change that opinion.
Win-Loss Record (NXT/Raw TV tapings and PPVs since TakeOver: Brooklyn 2)
NXT TakeOver/WWE PPV Results
TakeOver: Brooklyn 2 - Defeated Billie Kay (1.5*)
TakeOver: Orlando - Lost to Asuka (NXT Women's Championship, 4.25*)
TakeOver: Brooklyn 3 - Lost to Asuka (NXT Women's Championship, 4.5*)
TakeOver: WarGames - Defeated Kairi Sane, Peyton Royce and Nikki Cross (NXT Women's Championship, 3.25*)
TakeOver: Philadelphia - Defeated Shayna Baszler (NXT Women's Championship, 2.75*)
Royal Rumble - Lost Royal Rumble match, eliminated by Asuka (3.25*)
TakeOver: New Orleans - Lost to Shayna Baszler (NXT Women’s Championship, 3.25*)
Gimmick Potential & Look
As soon as Ember Moon arrived in NXT, she had a unique look and presence that set her apart from everybody else on the roster. Her character demonstrated a supernatural quality to it, and inspirations from anime heroines. The entrance is exceptionally good - the music is terrific, her motions to the ring all have purpose, the color in her contact lenses is striking. Moon's outfit and overall appearance is far different than most superstars in WWE at present.
However, the character is tinged by the fact that backstage or during promos, she is completely normal. It's a similar issue that I have with the likes of Finn Balor and Aleister Black - they have a look and style which makes them enigmatic compared to the rest of the roster, but once the entrance or match is over and they're talking to an interviewer or in the locker room, they just revert to being just a person.
Ember Moon for me is an example of a wrestler with an utterly unique look who has been crippled by generic booking and minimal character development.
Signature Moves & Ringwork
There's no two ways about it - Ember Moon is a fantastic wrestler. Encompassing both WWE and NXT's women's rosters, I would place her in my top five pure in-ring performers. She's explosive, agile and athletic, while having ability to tell strong stories and sell effectively. Moon incorporates a number of springboard moves that few other female performers utilize at present, meaning her matches always promise something different and can almost always hype up the audience.
Then, there is the Eclipse, unquestionably one of the most jaw-dropping finishers in WWE right now. Few people would be able to pull off a diving stunner with the same level of precision and theatricality as Ember Moon. That move alone could maintain her popularity for the remainder of her career - look at what the RKO did for Randy Orton...
Mic Skills & Charisma
This is where Ember Moon's rising stock faces a potential crash, and it is not entirely her fault. Her in-ring charisma is excellent, and she always feels like she belongs in a WWE ring. But, as comfortable as she looks in the ring, she looks equally uncomfortable on the microphone. She's very likable, positive and is a solid babyface, but she's quite bland. For someone with her presence, entrance and attire, having a bland personality stands out even more.
However, I feel the biggest issue is how WWE's writers will treat her. Following her qualification for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, she said this in a post-match interview:
"You know what? I'm over the moon. An underdog? You can say whatever you want. People have tried to put limits on me my entire life and you know what? I prove them wrong and rise to the challenge every time."
Really? Two moon puns in a few sentences. Now, me and Tony love a pun, but it just makes Moon feel like a joke character rather than a serious championship contender. With the name Ember Moon, I am convinced she'll have to endure scripts with fire and moon based puns for the remainder of her WWE run.
Ember Moon has already held the NXT Women's Championship, a title with one of the strongest lineages in the whole of WWE. I do not believe a single undeserving person has ever held that title, so to have held it at all lends instant credibility to a superstar. Yet, having followed Asuka, arguably the greatest ever champion, and not actually defeating her for it, hurt her credentials as champion, as did only having one meaningful feud after winning the title with Shayna Baszler.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing I feel Moon is unquestionably the weakest NXT Women's Champion in the title's five-year history, not only due to having the shortest reign, but not making her mark on the championship in the way that Paige, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, Bayley and Asuka accomplished before her.
NXT Takeover: WarGames (11/18/2017) – Fantastic Fourway
On this night, Ember Moon finally rose to the occasion. After being unable to break Asuka's once-fabled streak, a twist of fate gave her the opportunity she was waiting for, as the Empress of Tomorrow was forced to relinquish her title due to injury.
In her home state of Texas, Moon ascended to the summit of the NXT's women's division by defeating Nikki Cross, Peyton Royce and Kairi Sane on the same night to capture the coveted title for the first and only time.
NXT (5/3/2017) – Disarmed by Asuka
Fresh off of her tightly-fought defeat at the hands of Asuka at NXT TakeOver: Orlando, Ember Moon was placed in a Battle Royal to crown a new number one contender. Down to her, Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross, Asuka interfered to decimate all three performers, resulting in a no contest. This was designed to lead to a Fatal Fourway in Chicago.
Unfortunately, when Asuka threw Moon out of the ring, she suffered a shoulder injury, ruling her out of the match, and significantly cooling a lot of the momentum she had built up in the previous year. It didn't curtail her evolution entirely, but I think it cooled her reaction from the crowd for a period of time, and it required a classic performance with Asuka in Brooklyn to restore that standing.
- Extremely athletic
- High-flying, captivating performer
- Unique look and gimmick
- Great selling
- Spectacular finisher
- Championship credibility
- Bland promo ability
- Poor character development
- Weak NXT Women's Championship reign
- Could be victim of bad writing
- Crowded Raw women's division
So, is Ember Moon a risky investment, or a sure-fire success? As much as it pains me to say, because I am in awe of her in-ring ability, my gut instinct is that Moon is too much of a risk to place a ton of stock in going forward.
Between the ropes, Moon undoubtedly has all the tools to succeed and rise to the top of WWE. Yet, as Alexa Bliss, Carmella and Nia Jax have demonstrated recently, that doesn't have a great bearing on your prospects of future championships.
She unfortunately is part of an extremely crowded Raw women's division, and could easily be lost in the shuffle before long. Think about the competition - Ronda Rousey is a juggernaut of popularity and mainstream appeal, and through association this also elevates Mickie James and Natalya. Nia Jax is the current champion, the Riott Squad has a noticeable presence, Alexa Bliss will still be featured, while Bayley and Sasha Banks will continue their endless, horrible storyline.
Is there any room for Ember Moon in that clustered environment? Personally, I feel that beyond Money in the Bank she will regress to being fodder for the heels that will be challenging for championships going forward, and her opportunities at the Raw Women's Championship will be limited to multi-person matches and matches like Money in the Bank and the Royal Rumble.
However, if she does manage do grab the briefcase at Money in the Bank, Moon will be going a long way to proving me wrong.