As long-time members of the Cageside Seat community, and anyone who’s been on the site in the last 18 or so hours, know — our Geno Mrosko is a very big fan of Eva Marie.
Perusing the comment sections underneath his posts about the ex-Total Divas star’s return to Raw last night (May 3) will show you that not everyone shares Geno’s opinion. You could also look on Twitter, where fan reaction was definitely more negative. Hell, those vibes weren’t contained strictly to fans...
— Mickie James~Aldis (@MickieJames) May 4, 2021
Geno and other Eva fans/lovers of chaos will tell you the outrage is the point. This kind of immediate, passionate response is what Nick Cage’s Inconceivable co-star brings to WWE that no one else can.
And, hey — I can’t argue with that. My position has always been that Eva herself contributes very little to cause that reaction. She seems like a good person, and has made strides to improve both in the ring and on the microphone during her years in the business. But hers is a particular brand of meta-heat. I’ve always wondered what someone who’s really good at pro wrestling could do with the reaction she gets*.
Problem is, I’m not sure it’s possible to recreate what went into making Eva Marie the most hated woman on the wrestle web. Some of that is because there’s no time machine to take us back to 2013, when WWE pushed a beyond-green performer on Raw at the same time she debuted on the company’s first reality show, just as AJ Lee & others were starting to create an appetite for something other than beauty & sex appeal from women in WWE. Or who they then thought they could turn babyface with a few training videos for a run in NXT just as that brand was starting to change people’s minds about whether women’s wrestling should be presented the same way as men’s.
Fortunately, that eventually turned into the program everyone points to as Eva’s masterpiece — the 2015 feud with Bayley in NXT. But we never found out if that could be replicated on the main roster, because a troll-tastic rollout on SmackDown was halted by a Wellness Suspension that she left the company before ever returning from.
So it absolutely makes sense for WWE to bring her back, because that’s the easiest way to put a character that loathed in your storytelling toolkit. Why aren’t I as excited as Geno then?
I just don’t trust them to know what to do with Eva, and I haven’t seen anything from her that leads me to believe she can turn the chickenshit they’ll likely give her into chicken salad.
While you won’t see me bust out a Breaking News banner over any of this, I do see some cause for optimism. I’m hesitant to believe this was deliberate for a few different reasons, but re-debuting Eva Marie in the wake of “Trash Bag Gate”, when a lot of fans who hate what she represents are already pissed off, is a good way to amplify the reaction her return gets.**
And as mentioned above, she did get better over the four years of her last run. She’s presumably been continuing to train and improve over at least the last six months since she reportedly re-signed. It was a pre-tape, and it’s hard to judge the material at this early stage, but her delivery last night sounded pretty good.
With that, and proper positioning by WWE (using her as a valet, manager, or anything that doesn’t require her to work anything more than the occasional five minute match), Eva could finally put it all together and do something to merit the effusive praise she gets from folks like the Batman to my Robin.
Now, if you’re upset that WWE is going to dedicate television time to Eva Marie when they’ve already been scrimping on minutes for the women... that’s the most legitimate concern. Hopefully some of whatever she’s booked to do on Raw will lead to more women on screen. Maybe they’ll actually use her heat for its traditional purpose — to elevate babyface stars.
Point is, if you’re not over the moon about Eva Marie’s return, you’re far from alone. That doesn’t mean you should boycott WWE, though. There are a lot better reasons to do that. Settle in, and hope for the best.
Pretty much nowhere.
* Heel Roman Reigns almost answers that. But because Eva is a totem for anger about how the business presented & treated all women — and because misogyny — there are elements to Eva hate that weren’t present in the “Anyone But Roman” movement.
** No, WWE didn’t release Mickie James or The IIconics in order to sign Eva Marie. There is no salary cap, she was brought back last fall, and the company is making record profits. Whatever led to their releases, Eva being on the roster didn’t factor into the decision.