Alexa Bliss will challenge Becky Lynch for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at WWE TLC Sunday in Dallas, but another member of the roster is hoping to get a title shot in the near future. Eva Marie is one of seven female wrestlers on “SmackDown Live,” and she’s hoping that her hard work helps her become the show’s top heel.
Eva officially joined the “SmackDown Live” roster after the WWE Draft on July 19, though she’s hasn’t appeared on WWE TV in months because of her filming schedule. Lynch became the first woman to hold the title this summer, and thus far, Bliss has been the only person to challenge for the belt.
The rest of the women on the roster all seem likely to get a title shot before Eva. Nikki Bella, Natalya, Naomi and Carmella all have more in-ring experience than Eva, who has been often criticized for her wrestling ability by fans. But it’s that criticism that could be the driving force for her future success as a champion in WWE.
Having joined the company with no wrestling background, she asked the powers that be in WWE if she could hone her craft at NXT in 2015. Eva was granted her wish, and she went to Orlando, Florida, to work with other wrestlers that were hoping to get the call to one of WWE’s two TV shows.
“It was the best decision I made,” Eva told International Business Times. “It was definitely a rough one because it was one of those things where I didn’t know if I was gonna get called back up. I didn’t know if I was gonna make the draft, I had no idea. All I knew was that when I came back from my surgery I asked Hunter [Triple H] and Vince [McMahon] if I could go back to NXT and learn the ropes, and they granted me that wish, which I was really happy about.”
The fans at NXT, as well as in WWE arenas, certainly didn’t make things easy on Eva. Because she had little in-ring experience and was viewed by many as a “Total Divas” reality TV star and not a wrestler, Eva was booed mercilessly at live events. Even when WWE tried to present her as a babyface, the fans still treated her like a heel.
While still working in NXT, Eva appeared on the episode of “Monday Night Raw” just prior to WrestleMania 32 in April. She was greeted with louder boos than arguably anyone on the show, and she received a similar reception when she competed in a match that featured 10 women at WrestleMania 32.
Initially bothered by the crowd reactions, Eva now embraces her role as the heel, hoping to become the most hated wrestler in WWE.
“The NXT crowd is no joke,” Eva told IBT. “Not only going out to those live crowds and those live audiences to work at those live events, not only my in-ring ability, but also to listen to the crowd and really play off of that emotion and their feelings and be able to give them a great show really helped me take it to the next level. It was a fantastic experience. Who can say that they get booed out of arenas on a daily basis?”
“I embrace it with open arms. Even top guys come up to me and they’re like, ‘You don’t understand. We would pay for that heat.’”
Eva had matches in NXT from the summer of 2015 up until she was put in a match at WrestleMania 32 on April 3. At that point, she was unaware if she would join WWE’s main roster or head back down to the developmental brand. More than three months after the biggest match of her career, Eva was called up, along with Carmella and Nia Jax.
Eva only appeared sparingly on “SmackDown Live” before her foray into movies, which has kept her out of the ring for an extended period of time. But she’s ready to show WWE fans what she can do when she makes her return in the near future.
“I'm really excited to bring everything that I had learned from NXT and put that into the character on ‘SmackDown Live’ and be one of the biggest if not best heels the company has ever seen.”