Standard disclaimer: I am not a professional wrestler, and have never trained to be one.
But I’ve been watching this stuff for 40 years or so, and I feel confident posting this GIF from the Naomi & Lacey Evans’ match on SmackDown last night (July 31) under the headline above...
It certainly looks to this outsider’s eye like Evans hesitated and/or just failed to go through with the back flip required of someone taking a Canadian Destroyer. But I’m willing to be educated if that’s not what went wrong here.
Even if I’m right, I won’t absolve Naomi of blame. Mostly because I haven’t seen anything in Lacey’s career that would indicate she could pull off a spot like this, so Naomi and whichever producers & agents helped put together the match shouldn’t have even included this when laying it out.
Mostly, let’s just be glad nobody got hurt.
And probably also stop trying to make Lacey Evans: Wrestler happen*.
* Author’s Note: Many of you have rightfully called me out for the negative, smart-ass closing line. I apologize, and will attempt to positively re-frame an argument I stand behind.
Let’s try making Lacey Evans: Manager happen.
Despite failing to distinguish herself in NXT, shortly after her call-up Evans was thrust into the biggest program WWE had - Becky Lynch’s post-WrestleMania 35 rival. That program had a ton of issues, but Lacey was one of them. She’s continued to get opportunities since, and continued to fail to make a lasting impression. She’s one of the first people who comes to mind for me when discussions about who is and isn’t “deserving” of television time come up. For example, if the karaoke segment a few weeks back had been designed to push Carmella, Dana Brooke or some other under-utilized performer, I’m not sure #NaomiDeservesBetter starts trending.
In fact, and this is why the GIF from July 31 stood out to me (and I appreciate the comments breaking down the move, which does look more like an attempt at a new DDT-based signature move than a flip piledriver... again, not an expert), the main thing I remember about Lacey Evans: Wrestler are blown spots, phantom sells, and the like.
She’s clearly someone WWE thinks highly of, however. Evans (or I should say Macey Estrella-Kadlec) has an inspirational personal story and has utilized it as a spokesperson for the company. She’s also proven she’s not afraid of old school heel work, and can get real heat doing it. So why not let her do what she’s proven she is good at in the service of others rather than continually having her do something she doesn’t seem to be great at?
It works for Lana and Zelina Vega. I think it’s worth a shot with Lacey.