Finding the Right Numbers

I began with a Google search for what I hoped would be a quick and easy investigation into which WWE wrestler holds the record for the highest cumulative number of eliminations during the Royal Rumble match (1988 - 2016). This was a figure that I was able to find in more than a few places, but I quickly realized that many sources didn't agree on the numbers. Ultimately, I decided I would need to count for myself.

I found that the Wikipedia pages for the yearly Royal Rumble events each had a list of entrants, in order, as well as who eliminated them, and the number of eliminations that they each scored during the match. After compiling the numbers, while some match those from official sources, not all do. Part of this is due to the way I tallied the eliminations. In my counting, I grouped eliminations as all those by the same performer. So, for my list, Kane, Isaac Yankem, and fake Diesel are all counted as the same individual- something the WWE is unlikely to recognize.

Even accounting for such differences in tabulation, the numbers still don't quite match up. I suspect this is due to differences in counting who gets credit for an elimination when more than one wrestler is involved. For example, using Kane again, WWE.com has an article crediting the Big Red Monster with 42 eliminations in 2014. By my method of ccounting, Kane would be credited with an additional 6 eliminations since then. This would give Kane a total of 48 according to WWE.com. However, my count, which is admittedly inflated by one due to an elimination by Isaac Yankem, only comes out to 44. No matter what, the numbers don't seem to match.

This is all a long-winded way of saying, these numbers have some flex to them. Sadly, I'm not aware of a more trustworthy source, so these are the numbers as they stand. You can click here to check out my full spreadsheet, listing all Royal Rumble participants and eliminations by year.

Finally, and the entire point to this endeavor, I wanted to make another infographic, this time memorializing those wrestlers with the greatest number of total eliminations. You'll note that the numbers on my graphic don't even match the numbers from my spreadsheet. The numbers on the infographic are from the Wikipedia general Royal Rumble page, which covers a series of Royal Rumble stats and facts, again without any strong sources that I could validate. Regardless, I guess the point here is this: don't fret the numbers too much. Just appreciate the greatness that we've been witness to over the course of the last 29 Royal Rumble matches and enjoy the infographic, below.

Royal Rumble: Most Cumulative Eliminations: 1988-2016

Doc Manson presents WWE Trends in Ticket Sales

As part of my ongoing look into the health of thee WWE as a company, I started collecting data from the annual financial reports available on the corporate WWE website. Although my first infographic gave a more complete picture of overall health, a request on Twitter suggested that there would be value in taking a deeper dive on various aspects of the WWE's current business. Today, I present my findings relating to the WWE's live event ticket sales, both domestically and internationally. Check out the new infographic, and stick around to read the good Doctor's expanded interpretation, below.

WWE Trends: Ticket Sales Infographic:

While I learned that my first infographic was entirely too long, and thus shortened this one, I did not learn my lesson regarding the overuse of graphs. Someday, I will figure out a more elegant way of expressing this information.

Live Event Attendance Analysis

As for the topic at hand, it is plain to see that the WWE is doing quite well overall when it comes to attracting audiences to their live events. Despite this, the international market isn't performing as well as it could be, as evidence by comparing recent average ticket sales to those in 2010 and earlier.

The exact reason for this downturn is not clear. The first year with a serious decrease in international attendance was 2011. This coincided with the end of the first brand extension, and it is tempting to conclude that, with the merging of talent into a single roster, the WWE was forced to offer less live events and thus saw lowered ticket sales. This conclusion is easily dismissed, however, as the number of international live events didn't begin to decrease until 2012.

It seems that either international fan interest simply began to decrease in 2011, or that the venues booked were smaller and therefore not capable of holding as many people as in previous years. Without a full list of the venues, and knowledge of the maximum capacities of each, a clear conclusion cannot be made from the data provided in the financial reports.

In either case, the financial reports suggest that the WWE needs to renew their focus on international markets, and, with the global expansion of the WWE Network, the WWE has done exactly that. Bringing in popular international talents, like A.J. Styles, Finn Balor, The Club, and Shinsuke Nakamura has all been done to help attract international interest. Further, the recent UK Championship Tournament and the company's commitment to an ongoing UK television product both demonstrate that the WWE is already acting upon the need to hold more international events. I suspect that international performance will only increase throughout 2017.

Longtime DDT Wrestling podcast listeners will know that DC and myself have little regard for the nay-saying, ratings-mongering mentality that seems so pervasive within online professional wrestling fan communities. Common knowledge seems to suggest that the WWE's television ratings are down versus where they were at the end of the attitude era, and that surely the company is doing much worse today than they were ten or fifteen years ago.

With these ideas in mind, my doctoral instincts kicked in and I poured over all of the available annual financial statements available on the WWE Corporate website (corporate.wwe.com). I collected a ton of relevant (and some not-so-relevant) data, put together a spreadsheet, and began sifting through the numbers to see what the real trends actually are.

Although I feel like the overly WWE-negative mindset has somewhat quieted within online communities over the course of the past year, I offer the infographic below as a final argument against that mentality. I cover a number of topics in what I hope is an approachable way, all the while showing the actual reported numbers as tallied by the WWE. Topics range from profits (net income), to TV ratings and revenue, live event ticket sales, WWE subscription revenue, and net revenue before expenses. Enjoy!

State of the WWE Infographic:

WWE Financials Infographic from Annual Reports

WWE Expense Analysis

The real issue with the WWE that I don't quite cover in the infographic is that it is an expense-heavy business. This is simply the reality of the business, given the need to tour and set up live events all over the world, and to continue to invest in the digital infrastructure which supports the WWE Network. 2014 is an excellent example of this, as you can see that annual revenue in 2014 was equal to the highest periods of the last ten years (excluding 2015. which saw the explosive success of the WWE Network in its second year of release).

In 2014, the investment into the WWE Network was so extensive that those near-record revenues were completely offset by expenses. At the time, a lot of energy was put into arguments that the sky was falling for the WWE's business plan, so much so that such people failed to notice that the WWE had provided guidance that such losses were to be expected that year. The fact that 2015 was considerable better, and that 2016 will likely be better still, is not surprising, given these numbers.

I look forward to the end of March 2017, when the 2016 annual financial report will be made available, and we can begin to see what performance we can expect out of the WWE Network longer-term now that its launch is beginning to enter into the more-distant past.

I don’t know if you got the memo, NAIborhood, but there are over 7,000 hours of content on WWE Network.  You might not have heard, I think WWE has been downplaying it. . .

With almost 300 full days worth of wrestling to watch, some of you must be wondering why in the world I am subjecting myself to viewing the early days of ECW TV.  Before Van Dam, before Heyman, before even Taz or Tommy Dreamer.

Well, part of it is the small bits of OCD inside of me that insist on doing these quests of mine completely - That means from the very first episode to the very last one, no matter what horrors await me.  (Yes, I know you’re there, Tank Abbott wearing the shirt with the nipples cut out. . . )

Another reason is because of the lessons and connections one can make between wrestling of the past and today’s sports entertainment.  In that vein, let’s begin another THRILLING edition of DC’s Network Diaries.

 

ECW Hardcore TV, Episode 2

Once again, the episode starts with Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert trying to insert himself into the commentary team, only to be met with opposition from one Terry Funk.  Now, I’m sure we’ll cover the future Chainsaw Charlie in much more detail as these episodes continue, but I want to focus on Gilbert right now.

Full disclosure - I know next to nothing about Eddie Gilbert.  I’ve read his name a bunch and seen him a handful of times in various promotions, but I am generally completely oblivious to Mr. Hot Stuff.  However, as I watch these early promos and interactions, I can see that he’s influenced a fair share of people.  I’d venture a guess that without Eddie Gilbert, the heel side of Chris Jericho would look a lot different.  There are similarities (albeit small ones) in terms of the use of inflection and cadence.  Now, I’m not saying that Gilbert is the originator of that, but it’s worth noting.  I look forward to seeing more Hot Stuff in the future…

That sounded bad… Speaking of uncomfortable names, let’s get to our first match.

 

Match 1 - Glen Osbourne vs. Johnny Hotbody

It’s a testament to the times that a wrestler who looks like Johnny does can get away with a name like Hotbody.  He’s not a Playboy Buddy Rose or Adrian Adonis, but he’s also nowhere near a Lex Luger, either.  For those who might only watch independent wrestling, though, I suppose he could qualify.

He is, however, my favorite ECW wrestler so far, which I know isn’t saying much, since I’m an episode in.  Regardless, Johnny Hotbody is a pretty good wrestler.  I keep getting Luke Harper comparisons in my mind when I watch him, though to be fair, that’s probably solely because of the combover.

That’s Luke Harper, the 2016 winner of the Triple H Ponytail Memorial DDT Award for best hair!  Be sure to listen to all three parts of our end of the year podcast-a-palooza!

I also see some Harper in Hotbody (awkwarddddd) because of the moveset.  Johnny breaks out a German suplex (back in 1993, Suplex City hadn’t been built yet), a suplex to the outside and then a pretty impressive shoulderblock from the apron to the floor.  Again, those aren’t moves to set the world on fire, but considers this was just about a quarter of a century ago, they were enough to make me sit up and take notice.

As for Osbourne. . . Well. . . He had a decent look.  Like if Tatanka met The Ascension.  And that’s about all I can say.

Tommy Cairo makes an appearance to seek revenge on Hotbody’s interference from the previous week, and Osbourne picks up the victory, despite having almost zero offense in the match.  That doesn’t stop it from cutting your typical tough guy promo, where he claims that Hotbody was “just the first victim” in his quest for the TV title.  Apparently Glen assumes we didn’t see the match.

 

Match 2 - Tony Stetson and Larry Winters vs. Chris Michaels and Samoan Warrior

Stetson and Winters, who we saw in singles action on the premiere episode, are the number one contenders to the ECW tag titles.  Just goes to show, NAIborhood, as bad as we might think the RAW and SDLive tag scene is, it could always be worse!  These two have pretty decent double team moves, which was fun, but other than that look very much like any random duo of jobbers you’ve seen.  Just to make you uncomfortable, here's an awkward picture of Larry Winters.

Billy Ray

I might be Billy Ray Cyrus, but I might not be...

Chris Michaels sees the majority of the in-ring action for the opposition, and my guess is his ring name comes from the fact that it looks like he stole the hair from Rockers-Era Shawn Michaels and stapled it to his head.  To be fair, this is not uncommon. . . The name thing, not the stapling thing…

Remember what we talked about in the last column, indie promoters used to fill their card with generic guys and then find a couple headliners to sell tickets.  However, if they could “trick” a very casual fan (or, perhaps, a casual fan’s grandmother) into believing there were headliners there who actually were not, so much the better.  I remember reading in PWI about a promotion where the headline match was Buck Hogan taking on King Kong Button, or something like that.  Up and down the card were names that looked somewhat similar to WWF names, but obviously were not.  Tricky promoters!

As for the Samoan Warrior (or, as Terry Funk called him, the Warrior from Sah-Moe-Ahhh), his best moves where when he gave himself bumps.  When you added another wrestler, things went bad fast.

Stetson and Winters get the victory here, and as usual, Terry Funk interviews them to try to put them over, to various levels of success.  I think he tries to quote the Jeffersons theme song and is then interrupted by Untalented Slick, who needs a lesson in talking into the microphone.

---

We get another look at Sandman and then the ECW champion is out to talk to Terry Funk.  He praises Funk and the fans, which is just hilarious when you consider his future of chain smoking and beer drinking.

 

Match 3 - Sandman vs. Kodiak Bear

Not surprisingly, Kodiak Bear is a 300 pound plus guy from Alaska, wearing the traditional Foley Flannel, albeit a couple years before Mick made it famous.  Even moreso than Johnny Hotbody, Bear looks like Luke Harper, provided Harper ate the Wyatt Family first.

The ring attendant is up on the apron, but Sandman just hangs his surfboard off the ringpost and apparently is going to wrestle in the faux wetsuit.  I swear, I am not making this up.  Actually, I mention the ring attendant because the commentary team spent a bunch of time this episode talking about how they couldn’t stop staring at the ring girls.  Classy move, gents.

Peaches (the name of the ring girl, and I assume the wife of Sandman) kisses the champion, then almost falls down the ring stairs.  Again, I’m not making any of this up.

After a quick match, Sandman wins with a missile dropkick, a slingshot shoulderblock and then a Cobra Clutch, which Stevie Wonderful dubs the Sandman Sleeper.  Now, perhaps he’ll prove me wrong as I keep watching, but I wasn’t aware that Sandman could do any of those moves.  I figured it was punches, kicks, Kendo Stick and then the White Russian legsweep (which is a pretty clever name for a move for an alcoholic gimmick.)

To celebrate his win, Terry Funk begins singing “Oh, Mr. Sandman”.  Not. Making. This. Up.

 

Match 4 - Eddie Gilbert vs. JT Smith

It’s our first in-ring look at Hotstuff (which is, apparently, one word) and not only does he give the ring announcer bunny ears, he does a pose which reminds me a bit of the “Drink It In, Mannnn” schtick.  Just saying.

Less than a minute into the match and we’re out among the crowd, and that’s after Gilbert hits Smith with a chair and bounces him off a table.  Apparently, disqualifications and count outs don’t apply here.  It’s also worth noting that the “barricade” which separates fans from the action looks like the same extendable seat belt things that banks use to signal how to line up.

JT Smith, another name from PWI lore, doesn’t do much in this match, though he has a nice fallaway slam and an impressive (albeit unsuccessful) moonsault.  Gilbert, having cheated the entire time, eventually picks up the win by hitting Smith with an international object.  Much offended, the play by play guy (whose name I still don’t know) runs out to inform the referee.  Imagine Mauro Ranallo doing that, or Michael Cole doing it as a babyface.

This serves as a good point to remind us all that this was once a thing.

To be fair, how many of us have biceps this good?

Match 5 - Tommy Cairo vs. Super Ninja

Another appearance by Ironman here as he picks up a quickish victory over Super Ninja with essentially what became a Deadlift German Suplex.  Super Ninja, according to Google, is indie wrestler Rick Michaels.  I only mention that because, on his Wikipedia page, is says he was signed by WWE in 2005, but as a tailor.  There’s a WWE Network series I want to see - The “Odd Jobs” of professional wrestling.  What is it like to be a tailor for WWE?  Do other former wrestlers do that?  What’s involved in the creation of wrestling gear?  I’m not kidding - I want this show!

Johnny Hotbody returns to continue his feud with Cairo, though he’s polite enough to run around the ring in a circle until Cairo gets the 3 count before attacking.  Chivalry is not dead, NAIborhood!  Cairo and Hotbody brawl “back to the dressing room”, which means they go up the stairs and onto the stage in this gymatorium.  (A gymatorium is a technical term in education for when small schools use a single space for both purposes.  I once worked in a school that had a cafegymatorium, where the physical education classes, assemblies AND lunches all took place.)

---

Terry Funk and Tod Gordon preview next week’s show, where we get the semifinals (and maybe the finals - Funk’s been wrong before) of the TV title tournament.  Terry also makes sure to shake Gordon’s hand. . . This is a big thing for the Funker; I’m guessing he feels like being seen shaking the hand of a talent is a sign of approval.  I do give him a lot of credit for adding his name and reputation to such a small promotion.

Overall, I found Episode 2 of ECW TV to be better than the pilot.  The matches were generally of a better caliber and now that I’m familiar with some of the talent, following the stories was fun.

Plus, come on, you gotta watch just to see Sandman wrestle in a faux wetsuit.

Cowabunga...

Thanks for spending some NAIstalgic time with me.  Until we meet again, my friends, I’ll see you around the NAIborhood.   

 

In case you’re a relative neophyte to the DDTWrestling experience, let’s take a minute for some education.  Doc Manson and DC Matthews began their online careers as writers, going back and forth in Google Docs.  If you can imagine a written version of our podcast, that was essentially it, only without any song parodies or food discussion.

As the podcast grew, the writing dwindled, to the point where I can’t even remember the last time I put fingers to keyboard, as it were.  This is a strange feeling - I’m not even sure I remember how to log into ddtpod.com!  This could be a disaster…

Regardless, while I didn’t sit down and scribe out resolutions for 2017, I did have a couple of goals in mind.  One of them was to dive back into the WWE Network archives.  Since the brand split, I haven’t had the time or the energy to watch anything other than the current WWE / NXT / 205 Live product.  On the most recent episode of Doc Talk, my partner in crime was effusive in praising my wrestle-nerd-dom, citing my perusal of “The Vault” as his prime example.  So, really, I have no choice in the matter.

Plus, Doc laid down the unspoken gamut by writing his own column about the puzzle that is the Emmalina booking.  Truthfully, I just think he was looking for a reason to post pictures of Miss Tenille without the Captain of the household (that would be Mrs. Manson, for those of you playing at home) questioning his motives.  Either way, though, now I feel like I need to contribute as well.  Thanks, Doc…

(Author’s Note: Another resolution for 2017 - To have my podcast vocabulary expand to as similar a level as possible as my written one.  I don’t feel like I use such expansive words aurally.  Perusal, effusive, gamut. . .  I’ve got to step my game up when it comes to my verbal verbosity.)

In an effort to mix the best of both worlds, let’s dust off the old “DC’s Network Diaries”, shall we?  As tempting as it was to head right back into the wonders of WCW, circa 1995 / 1996, I feel like I should start something new, especially if I’m going to be writing about it on the regular.

So, Mr. ECW, let us dance.   Michael Cole and Byron Saxton just LOVE bragging about how the “complete” ECW library is on WWE Network.  Now, that’s what Lewis Black would call a “Liar, liar, pants on fire situation”, since I don’t think I can find Marcus Cor Von or Kevin Thorn as much as I’d like to, but I do get what they’re saying.  Even WWE employees won’t count the Sci-Fi ECW as part of the canon.

Thus, our journey takes us back to April of 1993, and the first episode of EASTERN Championship Wrestling on TV.  Join us as we head into a high school gymnasium (though the announcers insist on calling it a college athletic center), won’t you?
ECW Hardcore TV: Episode 1

Before ECW was Extreme...

Our announcers are Terry Funk, Stevie Wonderful (a name worthy of every E-fed I was ever a part of as a kid) and . . . . Joey Sussi?  Jimmy Stewie?  Josh Suggi?  I don’t remember his name, but I do recall that he was doing as much as he could to look just like Sean Mooney from WWE, even down to the very gelled hairstyle.

We get a bit of banter between Funk, ECW President Tod Gordon (they weren’t making enough money to afford the second D, apparently) and Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert.  More on him later.

 

Match 1 - Super Destroyers (ECW Tag Champions) vs. The Hellryders (EZ and HD)

I don’t know what HD Ryder is supposed to mean, and I am too uncomfortable to ask.

The Super Destroyers, according to Google, peaked with this tag title run. I found nothing else of note for either of these two, masked or not.  Neither did the announce team, apparently, since most of the match is spent trying to figure out which Destroyer is which.

Which one is which? Does it matter?

I like the archives because even though this match happened likely before most of you were born, you can watch it and still make connections to modern day wrestling.  For example, the Super Destroyers make you wonder why in the world the Authors of Pain ever took the masks off.  Rule 368 of pro wrestling: Monster heels should not have baby faces, unless they are covered up by Strowman style facial hair.

The match ends with an assisted powerbomb and then a somersault senton, which was pretty impressive for what I was expecting.  A successful title defense from the Super Destroyers.

After the match, the manager of the Super Destroyers, who shall be known as “The Untalented Slick” cuts a promo, but his voice was so Urkelish I couldn’t understand what he was saying.

---

We are then treated to a promo package hyping the ECW Champion, The Sandman.  Now, if you’re expecting Metallica, kendo sticks and self-induced beer can injuries, think again.  Back in 1993, The Sandman was a surfer.

Why?  I have no idea.

 

Match 2 - “Wildman” Salvatore Bellomo vs. “Ironman” Tommy Cairo

This is what I love about the WWE Network archives.  Both Bellomo and Cairo are names that I recognize from my days avidly reading Pro Wrestling Illustrated.  For those Internet natives reading this, PWI was what we called a magazine.  Ask your parents for more information.

Sal Bellomo is dressed like a Roman centurion if said centurion didn’t have on any pants, and he is managed by Generic Grand Wizard Ripoff #3.  Tommy Cairo, on the other hand, is the first guy to step between the ropes who looks like he could actually pass as a legitimate wrestler.  Decent musculature, good look, fair to middling promo skills.  This takes nothing away from Bellomo, who actually had some good moves, but if he were in either WWF or WCW during this time, he’d be Norman the Lunatic or Mantaur.

Man. . . I miss Mantaur. . .

Wrestle Silly at its best...

The match ends when Johnny Hotbody, who apparently is feuding with Cairo, tries to interfere but messes up, and Cairo picks up the victory.

Did I mention that there’s a tournament going on for the ECW TV Title?  No?  Well, there is, and people are even ranked!  I love that!

Somewhere around this point we also get our first glimpse of Hat Guy, an ECW standard. Just thought I’d mention it.

 

Match 3 - Tony Stetson vs. Rockin’ Rebel

For my money, this was the match of the first show, as it could have been on Monday Night RAW in 1993 and fit in relatively well.  Rockin’ Rebel is another guy who “looked like a wrestler”.  Imagine if Luther Reigns (remember him?) had an Eddie Guerrero mullet and you have a pretty decent idea of what he looks like.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's Caucasian Guerrero!

I don’t have as much to say about this match because I actually wound up watching it without taking too many notes, which is usually how I know something is good.  Stetson looks like the progeny of the Brooklyn Brawler, but was a decent wrestler (to be fair, so was Steve Lombardi) and Rebel proved why he was the number one contender to the ECW title.

Following his victory, Rebel calls out Sandman, who must have been too busy hanging ten to respond.

 

Match 4 - Jimmy Snuka vs. Larry Winters

Back in the day, the key to these little independent wrestling promotions was to stuff your card full of no-name guys like the Hellryders and Tony Stetson (no offense), and then get one or two “big names” to sell tickets.  The ECW TV intro is proof positive of this, as guys like British Bulldog and Nikolai Volkoff are seen, along with a bunch of “other” talents.

Snuka comes out and, from what I could discern, cuts a typical face “shucks, it’s good to be here” promo, but then Eddie Gilbert returns to announce he has signed Snuka to join his stable, which may or may not be called Hot Stuff International.  (I know that was a stable of his, thanks to PWI, but not sure if that’s what he called it this time).

Superfly then goes on to have a heel match against Larry Winters, which is what Glacier’s real name would have been had WCW gone that way.  Actually, on second thought, it would have been Cole Winters…

Not surprisingly, Snuka wins (Even at 50 years old, that splash was still beautiful to watch), then does the very heelish thing of throwing his opponent out to the floor, but then doing nothing else with him.

 

Match 5 - Salvatore Bellomo vs. the Unnamed Caped Man

My guess is that the folks at ECW wound up needing to fill more time on their TV show, because Wildman Bellomo comes out to protest his loss and demands competition, and thankfully there is a teenager in a cape in the ring (for reasons, obviously), so Sal squashes him.

That’s pretty much the end of episode 1 of ECW TV, though Terry Funk makes a point of letting everyone know that this is new for all of them and so things will get better.  Admirable from the Funkster, but it doesn’t fill me with optimism, especially since he’s obviously not sure what matches are when and who the champions are.  We also get a sneak preview of other matches in the TV title tournament (using the same type of computer graphics I learned how to do during my single semester television and media course I took in high school), along with an appearance from World Champion Sandman.

---

All in all, it was a nostalgic hour of wrestling, which is what you say when something isn’t very good but you don’t want to insult it too badly.  I enjoyed the Stetson / Rebel match and it was nice putting faces to the names off of the PWI 500.  Is it something I recommend the NAIborhood watch?  No, not really, despite being educational and a bit fun to mock.  

In which case, actually, yes, I do recommend it.  Go watch it right this second, and stay tuned, because I’ve already started Episode 2, so I imagine there will be another edition of DC’s Network Diaries coming at you real soon.

Thanks for reading, and until we meet again, my friends, I’ll see you around the NAIborhood.

 

Since mid-October 2016, the WWE has been teasing the makeover of Emma to Emmalina, with a series of tantalizing vignettes promising that the debut will be "coming soon." Emma has been out of action for the majority of 2016, after sustaining a potentially career-threatening neck shortly after making her return to the main WWE roster.

The flurry of weekly teasing on Monday Night RAW is only increased by Emma herself, who is currently posting a series of glamour photos to her personal twitter account, @EmmaWWE. The publicity push has eager fans absolutely salivating for the superstar's in-ring return.

pic.twitter.com/oLYteBolHY

— EMMA (@EmmaWWE) October 14, 2016

With tweets like these, who can blame fans for demanding Emma's return to action?

Premiering soon... #RAW pic.twitter.com/N8Zh3oj3Lk

— EMMA (@EmmaWWE) October 25, 2016

Despite the hype, and after several months of WWE pushing the new "Emmalina" beauty model character, I can't help but suspect that this is a debut that is never going to materialize. This is not to say that Emma will not return to WWE television, as I'm convinced that she will. Rather, I'm beginning to suspect that the entire Emmalina character is a clever bit of misdirection story-telling.

The signs are all there that the Emmalina character is merely a facade, a farce constructed to ensure that, when Emma does return, that she returns to a villain's welcome. The issue is that Emma is a well-regarded wrestler in terms of athletic ability, and had been gaining a strongly positive crowd reaction in the months prior to her untimely injury. This runs counter to the WWE's wishes for Emma's character, which they would like to position as a "bad guy" in their somewhat heel-anemic women's division on RAW. If Emma were to simply return from injury now, she would be greeted with a hero's welcome, a defacto-face that might overshadow the crowd's reaction for the company's chosen faces, Bayley and Sasha Banks.

The WWE ran into a similar problem earlier in 2016 when the well-liked Seth Rollins returned from injury and was loudly cheered, despite the company wishing to continue Rollins' run as their chief villain. In my opinion, the WWE is now seeking to circumvent a similar scenario with Emma. It seems obvious that a debuting Emmalina would be the type of character that flaunts her beauty. Such a character would generate a predictably positive audience reaction, which could easily be turned negative through some variation of Emmalina presenting herself as being unattainable by those that desire her. Although a seemingly obvious choice, I think it is unlikely that Emmalina would utilize this gimmick, as a similar role is already well-played by Lana, another female member of the RAW cast.

The other possibility is that Emmalina could come into the company as a face. Although it is possible for this model-type character to be portrayed as a fan-favorite, by personifying beauty without conceit (e.g., Kelly Kelly), this does not play to Emma's strengths as a performer, nor to the company's need for another formidable villain. As I've already stated, I do not think that the WWE would want Emma to be cheered upon her return, so they must have some sort of plan that will ensure that she will be properly reviled. Certainly, Emma's tweets have become increasing contemptuous, and it is clear that there is little chance that she will handle herself in a face-like manner.

You'll see me when I'm ready for you to see me... For now I'll just chill! ? #RAW pic.twitter.com/FTI5IgL4lU

— EMMA (@EmmaWWE) November 15, 2016

In this business, we don't always get what we deserve! If we did, I would have been champion long before ANY of the #4horsewomen! #Roadblock pic.twitter.com/CsO6zcXgTu

— EMMA (@EmmaWWE) December 19, 2016

All you cared about were the #4Horsewomen...
Now I finally have your attention and I'm supposed to fall at your feet, yeah right! #Raw pic.twitter.com/f2d2c8US4E

— EMMA (@EmmaWWE) December 13, 2016

That last tweet is the one that I find most telling, and upon which I hang my theory for the returning star. Emma proclaims that she will not fall at our feet, which I take to mean that Emmalina will never materialize. The promise of a glamour model sets up certain expectations within certain demographics of the wrestling audience. By delaying Emmalina's debut, the audience continues to anticipate her arrival, and the potential positive initial response to her return only grows larger. WWE is intentionally feeding the audience this expectation, building anticipation for Emmalina. It is my opinion that when Emma does return, we will not be greeted by the glamorous model character promised in the tweets above, but rather by the following:

If true, this would be a clever bit of misdirection. The juxtaposition of Evil Emma stepping out in front of the audience would instantly dash the elevated expectations for the debuting Emmalina. The crowd, prepared to cheer the glamorous model, would turn on the returning star for denying them that which was promised. The long-drawn out series of return vignettes only fuels this response, through the perceptions of fans that feel as though their time has been somehow wasted. Emma, by side-stepping the Emmalina character entirely, will return and be embraced as the heel that RAW needs.

 

Now that that's over, let's focus on what's really important... Saving this #WomensRevolution with my premier, next week on #RAW! pic.twitter.com/tmZ9uAs4xm

— EMMA (@EmmaWWE) December 6, 2016

Agreed, Emma. Let's focus on what really matters; getting you into that main event.

podcast@ddtwrestling.com
DDT Wrestling. Copyright 2015-2021.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram