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I am sad for Tenille Dashwood

In case you missed it, WWE announced the first ever women’s Royal Rumble match will take place at the pay-per-view (PPV) of the same name in Philadelphia on Jan. 28.

Details are scarce, which makes it even more exciting than the obvious historic implications already do. In addition to the usual Rumble questions about entries, order, statistical achievements and winners, we don’t even know how many participants there will be. Then there are questions like if participants will only come from the two main roster brands or if NXT Superstars and Mae Young Classic competitors will be eligible, whether current champions will be included, and what effect Charlotte Flair or Alexa Bliss’ presence in the match would have on the usual Rumble prize of a WrestleMania title shot.

This is all great stuff for wrestlers and wrestling fans... but I can’t help experiencing a tinge of melancholy for Tenille Dashwood.

“Starting the Women’s Evolution” was more than just the Australian most of us knew as Emma’s last gimmick... she kind of did. Paige is rightfully taking a lot of credit for it on Raw now, but her first rival in NXT was Emma.

Rather than getting to debut on the main roster like Paige - immediately inserted into the then-Divas title picture - or called up with the wave of women in the “Divas Revolution”, Dashwood was placed in a mixed-tag comedy team with Santino Marella, using her ironic babyface dancing gimmick from developmental with no explanation. When that character unsurprisingly died a death, she went back to NXT and reinvented herself as a ‘Reality’ Era heel in partnership with Dana Brooke.

Injuries and a failed repackaging kept that character from ever taking off. She finally earned a spot in a PPV title match with a 5Way at No Mercy, but after doing the job as Asuka’s first main roster victim at TLC and the next night on Raw, Emma was released on Oct. 29.

Tenille undoubtedly deserves some of the blame for her issues in WWE, but if you followed her career, it’s impossible to deny her drive to be a wrestler (watch her brother’s 2011 video production chronicling said drive - embedded above - to see what I mean). She was never the star of any of the angles which pushed the women of The ‘E to the point where they deserved a Raw, SmackDown or PPV main event, or Hell in a Cell and Money in the Bank matches... but she was important to many, and never got to participate in any of them.

Now, three months after her release, WWE will present the first ever women’s Royal Rumble, and she’ll miss that too.

There are probably, hopefully, big things in Dashwood’s future. The importance of women’s wrestling to WWE has increased women wrestlers’ value across the business. Her work there has played a part in creating more opportunities for women on the independents and internationally, and she’ll reap the benefits now. It’s certainly not out of the question that Emma could return to WWE someday.

But we won’t hear one of her several-themes-of-varying-quality come through the loud speakers at Wells Fargo Arena after a countdown next month.

And that makes me sad.

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