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.
— EMMA (@EmmaWWE) October 14, 2016
With tweets like these, who can blame fans for demanding Emma's return to action?
— 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.
— EMMA (@EmmaWWE) November 15, 2016
— EMMA (@EmmaWWE) December 19, 2016
— 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.
— EMMA (@EmmaWWE) December 6, 2016
Agreed, Emma. Let's focus on what really matters; getting you into that main event.