"First impressions are the most lasting."
~ American Proverb
After watching Emma on last night's (April 21, 2014) episode of Monday Night Raw, the importance of first impressions came to mind. WWE sometimes hits the nail on the head, and other times makes us wonder if the creative team running the main show ever watched an episode of the developmental show, NXT (see: Big E). Let's take a look at some of the recent talents that have made their way to the main stage.
Paige: She was brought out to a very friendly post-WrestleMania Raw crowd and received a hero's welcome. Even afterwards, Paige herself said "these people aren't supposed to know me" while crying tears of absolute joy. AJ Lee cut a vicious promo on her and Paige responded meekly. This led to a title match the rookie won clean, though it was brief and forgettable. Since then, she has survived Aksana, and put on a great match with Alicia Fox. Her primal scream and awesome submission "The Paige Closer" (an awful name thought up RIGHT HERE on Cageside Seats) have set her up really well with the fans.
Grade (I'll stick to my usual 1-5 rating): 4.5 - She beat AJ in her first match, looks like a champ, and has been booked appropriately and strongly.
Alexander Rusev w/ Lana: After a bunch of Lana talking and Rusev standing appearances, the Bulgarian brute has been hulk-smashing through the Sin Cara and R-Truth's of the world. The added wrinkle that Lana orders Rusev around has given this gimmick real potential. He's a boulder in the ring, and if that doesn't draw your eyes, Lana will.
Grade: 4 - He was brought along slowly but was booked incredibly strong. Lana is not only an attention grabber, but a fun character to watch develop. It will be interesting to see what happens when they take on some stronger competition.
Xavier Woods: He debuted last November, basically teaming up with R-Truth to steal away both Tons of Funk's music and the Funkadactyles. This led to a Tons of Funk break-up, where both guys are now in NXT, so thanks for that Xavier! Since then he's done nothing except get squashed. At Extreme Rules, he and R-Truth will have the honor of hearing Lana announce their impending doom. "Rusev ... crush."
Grade: 1.5 - He's decent in the ring, and quite good on commentary, but otherwise a bust. Putting him with R-Truth hasn't really done him any favors. That's nt to say he's a lost cause, but as a first impression, Xavier hasn't blown me away.
Emma: I was not on the Emma bandwagon before her promotion, but was open to her making me change my mind. She started out great with the "#EMMAtaining" signs, but then Santino Marella showed up. It's obvious Emma is different from most of the Divas, but she is not just a comedy act the way she's been portrayed. She can wrestle her ass off, but unfortunately they've focused more on goofy comedy, her being an awkward friend, and now her own stupid Cobra finisher. That was the final nail in the coffin, at least for as long as she's running with Santino.
Grade: 1 - Aside from debuting in the crowd, and her singles' matches with Summer Rae, it's been embarrassing. She's just been pigeonholed as a comedy act, and it's tough to get away from that without going away for a while, or a total repackaging. Creative has put Emma's dance, relationship, and silly-side ahead of her being a serious contender in the ring. Reverse this, WWE.
The next two haven't officially appeared yet, but I'll give quick thoughts on them anyways.
Bo Dallas: His gimmick is tricky, and it's unclear if the masses will get it at first. He has a chance to be a great success, but there's little reason to trust Creative with this one. There's always the Wyatt Family as a backup gimmick. Easy Bray promo; "Brother, you always say BO-lieve! Well I believe that you're family... join us..."
Grade: 2 - This is just a prediction, but I'm not expecting much. Hope I'm wrong, though.
Adam Rose: He is much easier to latch on to; he's a babyface who parties! Dance music is all the rage at the moment and the WWE crowd will definitely get hyped for his entrance. Honestly, I just want Adam Rose to last until WrestleMania, so he can crowd surf down that long ass aisle to the ring.
Grade: 3.5 - Long term I don't know if this gimmick will last (I think Bo has a better long-term outlook), but the first few months could be pretty fun, Rosebuds.
That's it for me. Cagesiders, chime in with your thoughts!