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

As Doc and I spoke about on DDT Wrestling this week, there’s not a whole lot I want to say about Superfly Jimmy Snuka.  I came into the wrestling world at the tail end of Snuka’s career, so anything I saw of his came later when I was watching old Coliseum videos sitting on the floor of my grandmother’s living room.  At that point, the wrestling world had changed, and his high flying was almost commonplace.

I also know next to nothing about the details regarding what happened in that hotel room, so I have no business talking about that either.  He was obviously a legend of his time, a trailblazer for the future, and a figure mired in controversy.

What’s important for this week’s ECW Hardcore TV is that the man made some funny faces, and that’s the theme for this week.

With that, let’s get going.

 

ECW Hardcore TV, Episode 7

We begin, as sadly expected, with Jay Sulli and Stevie Wonderful, previewing the upcoming hour of action.  Thankfully, they don’t get to talk much before Paul E. Dangerously saves the day, calling out ECW President Tod Gordon.  They jaw back and forth, and we’re treated to some great expressions.

Gordon talks tough until Magnificent Muraco makes his presence known, doing the high school bully trick of “accidentally” bumping into Tod multiple times while Dangerously tosses out a vile insult.

“The wrestling world needs you like a drowning man needs Ted Kennedy.”

Now, far be it from me to throw anything even remotely resembling shade at the great Paul Heyman, but that line was a bit out of place, even for 1993 standards.  The incident Paul is referencing took place in Chappaquiddick (a very fun word to both say and type) in 1969, some twenty four years before this promo, which makes it almost 50 years old for us watching today.  Needless to say, it doesn’t age well.

Once Gordon runs for cover, the Magnificent Muraco calls out ECW Champion The Sandman, claiming there is only room for one surfer in ECW…  I wasn’t aware there was a limit.

With that, Dangerously tells Sulli to earn his money, and Jay does a great job of cutting to our first match.

 

Well, technically, I’m not going to count this as Match 1, since this is, start to finish, a replay of the tag title change we saw from Episode 6, where Tony Stetson and Larry Winters beat the Super Destroyers.  Now, I get it, this is a show obviously trying to attract new viewers, so showing the title change again might prove to be something novel for any neophyte watchers.  (Bonus synonym points for me for that last sentence.)  However, for us who have seen all of the episodes, this was a little dreadful.  Thanks be to Fast Forward.

Following that, we get another “DC in his High School TV Media class” graphic…

I was really a little crestfallen that there were no typos in that graphic, if I’m being honest, but we did get the new stipulation of being crowned “King of Philly”.  Who knows what that’s about.

 

Match 1 - Jimmy Snuka and Eddie Gilbert vs. JT Smith and Max Thrasher

I know what you’re thinking.  “DC, this is the same match as last week, too. Why are you counting it?”  To be fair, this is at least a rematch, so the action is new, even if the participants are not.  

Dangerously introduces his charges as “Two guys not taking a flight to Atlanta” (a dig at Georgia based WCW), and here’s a gratuitous picture of Jimmy Snuka looking resplendent in his jungle best…

While last week’s match was a total squash, the babyface jobbers get a little offense in here, if only so Heyman can do some A+ manager selling at ringside…

This match ended in a very interesting way for me.  We are so used to seeing heel tag team partners have miscommunications and crash into each other, but in this instance, it was Smith and Thrasher that did it on two separate occasions, leading to Max turning on JT, leading to the inevitable Gilbert backbreaker to Snuka Splash for the victory.

In case you are curious, and of course you are, here’s a picture of new heel Max Thrasher…

---

Following the match, we’re back on the Double Cross Ranch with Terry Funk, who unlike previous interviews, is being very serious.  That’s one of the things that separates the good wrestlers from the great, in my opinion - Being able to do different types of promos extremely well.  Terry Funk, Ric Flair, Chris Jericho, John Cena - All talents who know how to take fans on multiple types of journeys.  They can make you laugh with joy or wince with pain, and not the Good Lucha Things type of pain either.  

Perhaps this is part of the problem people have with guys like Roman Reigns (note that I said PART of the problem, not the whole thing) - There’s not that depth of emotion there yet.  Roman does either the “Small Words - Big Stick” promo or the “I’m trying to be The Rock” promo, and that’s it.  He has yet, as far as I’ve seen, to really hook fans and take them on the same type of trip that others are able to, though I imagine he will in time.  You hear me, Roman Lovers?  I said he WILL - Don't @ me! 

Either way, Funk walks us through the chain match, giving us a little history on it and explaining that this will be unlike anything ECW fans have ever seen before, and by the end, you’re ready for this match to happen.  Mission accomplished for the Funkster.

Following that bout of seriousness, we get a promo on the other end of the spectrum, as the Suicide Blonds explain that due to their recent UK trip, they have been knighted by the Queen, making them Sir Jonathan Hotbody and Sir Christopher Candido.  Also, Hotbody is sticking with this whole “having brown hair despite calling himself a blond” thing.  It’s funny.

 

Match 2 - Suicide Blonds vs. Tony Stetson and Larry Winters

Yes, that’s right, we get ANOTHER match from Stetson and Winters, whom I will now be calling Vanilla and Blandy, against what I can only guess are our future ECW tag champions, Sir Christopher and Sir Jonathan.

DC’s Peccadilloes - How do either of these teams not have matching outfits already?  I get Vanilla and Blandy not matching, since this team is obviously not going to last very long, but Candido and Hotbody seem to me to be the presumptive “Team of 1993” for ECW.  They’ve got the team name, the sunglasses, the feather boas. . . Would it kill somebody backstage to make sure they have the same color tights???

Anyway, Chris Candido does some excellent overselling here…

It appears as if Sir Christopher is trying to communicate that his opponent pulled his tights to somebody stationed on the moon.

I apologize if I’m not giving you enough of the wrestling play by play that you might be hoping for with these articles.  It’s 1993 in what appears to be a high school gymnasium - There isn’t a lot of nonstop action here.  Jonathan Hotbody does do something interesting however.  He goes for what we now refer to as a spinning heel kick, but he turns his back to his opponent first, so he only needs to do a quarter spin as opposed to a full rotation.  It wasn’t a super great move or anything, but it was something I’ve never seen before.

I also apologize because I haven’t made nearly enough fun of Jay Sulli in this column as I should, so here goes.  At one point during this match, “Wildman” Salvatore Bellomo comes out wearing a mask and claiming to be Super Destroyer 3.  

Despite the outfit, size, and abundance of facial hair, Jay Sulli has no idea who this guy is.  So apparently, his schtick is that he is the single dumbest man on the face of the planet.

The fans are clued in, however, as Sal gives the camera a hint…

I know it’s a screenshot of a 25 year old piece of video, so in case you can’t decipher it, Sal has lifted the mask and shushed the camera.  Don’t spoil it, NAIborhood!

Following the match (I don’t recall how it ended), the four brawl to the back, showing us a great view of the entrance ramp…

Fun fact - My elementary school had a stage just like this.

 

Match 3 - Magnificent Muraco vs. Glen Osbourne

This match was awful - I’m not sure if it was a lack of communication or what, but there were a lot of awkward moments, so instead, let’s do a Jimmy Snuka Silly Face Gallery!


 

Well, that was fun!  Muraco won with a “front piledriver”, by the way.  Wasn’t known as a Tombstone around the world quite yet.

 

Match 4 - Sandman vs. Rockin’ Rebel

I feel like these two have wrestled each other a thousand times already, though this time Miss Peaches and Tigra are banned from ringside, so at least we won’t have that trouble to deal with. . . .

Rockin’ Rebel has his mullet braid going strong, and once again showcases that he is a pretty decent wrestler.  I’m surprised we never saw him on WCW Saturday Night or WWF Superstars, even as a jobber.

Also, since I enjoy sharing moments I’ve never seen with you, here’s another one…

At one point, in order to encourage the Rebel to fight him, Sandman lays down in the ring and invites him to attack.  Now, usually when we see this, the babyface on the mat has some sort of trick up his sleeve - Maybe an amateur style takedown or a kick to the face.  But no, in this instance, Rebel just runs over and kicks him in the head.  A little unusual, perhaps, but it does fall in line with who the Sandman becomes as ECW moves on, so I’ll allow it.

Shockingly and surprisingly, this match ends in a no-decision as Peaches and Tigra hit the ring within four seconds of each other, leading to yet another catfight.

Sigh.

---

With that, we’ve reached the end of our hour, and Sulli and Stevie try to wrap things up, only to be joined by Super Sal 3 once more, this time with some pizza.

Recipe for Wrestle Silly Success

Take one guy with a thick Italian accent and obviously recognizable physical features.

Put him in a mask.

Fill his mouth with pizza.

Let him talk a lot.

Also, have him reveal his identity 3 or 4 times.

That, my friends, is ECW right now.

 

---

 

Until we meet again, my friends, I’ll see you around the NAIborhood.

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.

NAIstalgia is a funny thing, my friends.  As Jason Moltov has said himself, it is nostalgia that is what keeps many of us WWE fans coming back for more, even when it’s not necessarily what we wish it would be.  We spend our time pining for the wrestling we remember, and as I’ve written about in each of the previous columns about ECW Hardcore TV, these small independent promotions used nostalgia to sell tickets.  

Consider the intro for ECW TV.  We see Jimmy Snuka, the British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart, Don Muraco, Nikolai Volkoff and Ivan Koloff, as if these six superstars are regulars on the show, despite the fact that the only one we’ve seen so far is Superfly, but that doesn’t matter.  If a fan saw the intro while flipping channels (and remember, back in 1993 it was much easier to do that), they might linger on the show in the hopes of seeing a running powerslam or. . . Whatever it was that Neidhart or Volkoff used as finishing moves.  If they watched more than one episode, as I did, they begin to get drawn in, starting to recognize names and faces.

 

ECW TV Episode 3

This is how our third episode begins, as I finally figure out the name of the Sean Mooney style play by play guy.  Jay Sulli is his name, joined as always by Stevie Wonderful, welcome us to another thrilling hour of television, and much the same as the previous weeks, out comes Hotstuff Eddie Gilbert, though this version is a bit more respectful and contrite when it comes to one Terry Funk.  Fans at ringside and at home immediately smell a rat, as they should.

 

Match 1 - Super Destroyers vs. Super Ninja and Wolfman

The ECW tag champions open the show, joined by their manager, yet another guy whose name I am now aware of.  He is Hunter Q Robbins III, so instead of Untalented Slick, we’ll call him the Illegitimate Son of Slick and Clarence Mason.  

While this is another squash for Super Destroyers, I must admit to being markedly impressed with their ring work.  Both talents, whomever they are, have some skill in the ring, and it makes me wish a bit that Konnor, Viktor, Akam and Rezar (or however you spell it) would take some time under the WWE Network learning tree.  These two, while the announcers still don’t know how to tell them apart, pull off the monster heel card very well.  I especially liked when one of them forced Wolfman (who looks exactly like his namesake except for the lack of hair on his head and the keg attached to his stomach) to tag in Super Ninja.

Following the victory (a nice side slam to senton combo), Terry Funk seeks an audience with Mr. Robbins III (or, as the Funkster called him, Turd), but in doing so, commits the cardinal sin of turning his back, which is what he promised not to do in the initial minutes of the episode.  He is then immediately attacked by a chair-wielding Gilbert.  We can all tell where this is going.

 

Match 2 - Jimmy Snuka vs. Tommy Cairo

Hotstuff remains at ringside, serving as advisor to Jimmy Snuka for this TV Title Semi-Final matchup.  He’s still wearing his PWI t-shirt (I wish I owned one of those) and he has obviously “borrowed” Terry Funk’s cowboy hat, as he is aping the Funkster on the ring apron.  He also, hilariously enough, begins doing commentary as Terry Funk, and sadly enough, it took me a minute or two to notice the difference.

The match itself starts out nicely enough but ends, to put it as Liam Stryker does, with one of those “5 paragraph endings”.  Gilbert tries to hold Cairo back, Snuka hits Gilbert, ref bump, Johnny Hotbody emerges, foreign objects change hands, and Snuka picks up the victory, advancing to the finals.

This entire episode has really been about Eddie Gilbert, who truly is a very entertaining heel to watch, unlike one Jimmy Snuka, who can’t seem to stop smiling most of the time (generally considered to be an unheel move).  Gilbert’s promo with Jay Sulli (who needs some on-air direction from Eddie on how to stand without completely blocking Snuka from camera view) basically announces ECW as Hotstuff International’s property.

 

Match 2 - Eddie Gilbert vs. Glenn Osbourne

Episode 3 of Hotstuff International Wrestling continues as Gilbert ditches the PWI shirt for his ring jacket to take on “The Madman from the Badlands” in the second semi-final matchup.  But first, another promo from Eddie, who tries to convince Osbourne to abandon the match now, saving himself from a Snuka beatdown later.  Gilbert claims that Glenn has 20 kids, which as we all know, is 2 and a half Heath Slaters’.

Like other Hotstuff matches, this one goes all over the place, with chairs and tables totally legal.  Sulli and Wonderful try their best to play Monsoon and Heenan here, but both seem like they are just blatantly reading lines from a script from Tuesday Night Titans or something.

We also learn that without HD, wrestling guys who wear face paint can look awfully awkward on TV.  There’s a lot of smearing, that’s all I’ll say.

Eddie Gilbert gets the win with a foreign object (just like last week), but once again, Jay Sulli leaves his post to inform the referee, who reverses the decision when the object is discovered.

So, in case you’re playing at home, Gilbert was allowed to use chairs and tables, including turning one over on Osbourne and standing on it like a surfboard. . . But the use of “brass knuckles” is a cause for DQ.

The tag line for ECW at this stage is “It’s not for everyone”, because some people demand logic and reason to their wrestling.   Not anyone I know, necessarily, but some people.

Understandably, Gilbert is upset, so he has words with Sulli, conveniently also turning his back.  Shockingly, Funk is back with his own chair, and the brawl is on!  Following a couple creative chair shots (holding the unfolded chair and smacking Gilbert into the seat end), Gilbert escapes to the back, and Terry Funk offers up a master class in promos, especially if you’re not given a script and are allowed to curse.

 

Match 3 - Rockin’ Rebel vs. Frank Cody

Rockin Rebel, the number one contender to Sandman’s ECW title, confronts Peaches the ring attendant, insisting on getting a kiss just like the champ got last week, but gets a slap for his trouble.  Incensed, he takes his fury out on Frank Cody (who doesn’t even get a namedrop by the announce team), winning in super quick fashion with a spinebuster.  Chasing Peaches down the aisle, Rebel brings her back by the hair, obviously intending on taking his kiss by force, but Sandman makes the save, only to be attacked by Tigra, the other ring attendant. (Attempts were made to find pictures of both Peaches and Tigra, but all searches wound up making me uncomfortable.)

Has any other promotion named their ring attendants?  Does WWE even have them anymore?

Taking advantage of the situation, Rebel smashes the surfboard over Sandman’s head, and we get one of my favorite wrestling tropes - “Generic Babyfaces in various states of street clothes running to the ring to help the fallen hero.”  Jay Sulli is very upset, claiming that Sandman might be dead, though since his body is about three feet from the announcer and he is obviously still breathing, maybe that proclamation was a bit premature.

Peaches goes to tend to the champ, but pretty much the first thing she does is cradle his head, and anyone trained in first aid will tell you that was a terrible move on her part.  You don’t know if Sandman’s neck is broken, Peaches???  STOP HURTING HIM!

(Fun and random DC Matthews fact - I spent a summer as a lifeguard and swim instructor.)

 

Match 4 - Jimmy Snuka vs. Glenn Osbourne for the TV title

Seriously, Eddie Gilbert has been out here for 80-90% of this TV episode.  Even Stephanie McMahon and Triple H aren’t THAT bad!

Having said that, I seriously love this guy.  Since Funk got hit with a chair and with Stevie Wonderful in the back checking on Sandman, Jay Sulli is joined by Tod Gordon at commentary.  Eddie Gilbert arrives and immediately tries to start negotiating his contract.  He then pretends to drive part of Sandman’s surfboard around ringside.  

No joke, I’m beginning to think WWF / WCW missed the boat not picking up Gilbert.  He’d have easily been another Jerry Lawler.

I’m guessing we all can predict how this match goes.  Ref bump, Gilbert shenanigans, the weakest backbreaker in history (I get it, Snuka is 50, but still . . .Geez), one Superfly Splash, and amazingly enough, the first ever ECW TV champion is the biggest star the company has.

---

Stevie Wonderful is backstage checking on Sandman, but apparently someone in graphics wanted to have a little fun. . . Or they were just confused.

 

Either way, Peaches answers the door and in her best Carmella impression, lets us know Sandman is hurt and she can’t talk right now.  She makes sure to say that about twelve times before shutting the door.  Wonderful assures us we’ll get an update on Sandman next week.

---

This was the weakest episode of ECW TV in terms of match quality, but it is worth watching alone just for the antics of Eddie Gilbert. Much like Matt Hardy did with TNA in 2016, Gilbert is doing his utmost to keep ECW alive, even in its relative infancy.

Will Sandman make a recovery?  Will Terry Funk step into the ring to settle his score with Gilbert?  Will Wolfman eat a large piece of meat on live TV?  We’ll find out next time on DC’s Network Diaries.

 

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.

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