Opinion: The Rise Of Nia Jax has been one of the most underrated stories in WWE recently
October 14th, 2015. A superstar whose likes we've never seen before made her debut on NXT, squashing a comparably tinier opponent named Evie(Who is now WWE superstar Dakota Kai). It was known that she was related to The Rock, and as we've seen before, instantly led to criticism that "she's only here because of her family".
She was pushed right off the bat and her appearance made her dominance in the ring believable. Within two months of her debut, she had a title match against then-NXT Women's Champion Bayley at NXT Takeover: London. Many questioned why she was pushed into the title picture right away, but her match with Bayley was met with great reaction.
Not only was the London crowd solidly behind Bayley, the biggest babyface on NXT, and they hated Nia Jax, which was the obviously desired reaction. The two told an incredible story in the ring and it was easily the most intense and anticipated match that night.
Nia would have a seven-month run in NXT after that, where she had another title match in June 2016 against then-champion NXT Women's Champion Asuka. Although she never won the gold on NXT, she was called up to RAW in the 2016 draft, being announced by Stephanie McMahon in one of the early rounds of the draft. Her reaction to it was priceless!
She came to RAW and didn't really get off to the best start. She was undefeated for a while but even so, didn't get much of a reaction at all. In fact, very little reaction altogether. She was added to the WrestleMania 33 RAW Women's Championship Fatal-4-Way Elimination match and was the first to get eliminated, with Bayley, Charlotte and Sasha Banks eliminating her with a triple powerbomb.
It had been months for Nia Jax where she didn't have much direction. While she was floating around, there were still too few women in the division for her to get forgotten. Somehow, she seemed to stay in the shuffle, and around August, Alexa Bliss won the RAW Women's Championship from Sasha Banks just 8 days after losing it to her.
Nia Jax was in an alliance with Alexa Bliss, so she came out to celebrate and turned on her, standing tall on RAW, with fans confused as to whether she turned face or Alexa Bliss had turned face. It seemed like both had remained heels, with them even having a random RAW match where Nia Jax won in comfortable fashion.
Weirdly enough, it was hardly a month later when Nia Jax was suddenly in cahoots with Alexa Bliss again. There was no explanation as to why they had paired up again, and WWE seemed to have wanted fans to forget that the split up ever happened in first place.
The decision itself was questionable because if they had planned for it to be a long-term story, why even pull the trigger in the first place. Luckily for WWE, fans seemed to have forgotten about it, and they were able to redeem themselves.
Nia had even been in a romance angle with Enzo Amore, and it was building up and building up until Enzo Amore had been publicly accused of sexual assault and subsequently fired from the company. Co-incidentally, that turned out to be the turning point of Nia Jax's WWE career. She briefly feuded with Asuka after the Royal Rumble and after two unsuccessful attempts at ending her streak turned face for the first time in her WWE career.
It was Alexa Bliss who body shamed her and insulted her personality, making Nia Jax the sympathetic babyface of the story. If you had asked fans just six months before that Nia Jax would have a successful face turn, they would laugh. But it worked, and how!
Perhaps the story of Nia Jax being body shamed made her character relatable to the general audience watching. Surely enough, she started getting bigger and better reactions, being accepted by live audiences. Maybe it was Kurt Angle telling Alexa Bliss "The RAW Women's Champion should be a role model, not a bully", or perhaps it was her interview a week after where Nia Jax took a stand and said "I'm not a goddess, I don't claim to be. I'm just me". Whatever it was, it humanised her in the eyes of the audience.
At WrestleMania, Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax had a singles match for the RAW Women's Championship. What followed in the match was the great, and correct payoff, with Nia Jax, the babyface, rightfully triumphing and becoming RAW Women's Champion. It was met with a great response by the WWE Universe at WrestleMania as well.
As she lifted the RAW Women's Championship from the ramp, over 75,000 fans cheered her on, and she was on the verge of tears, soaking in the moment. And it just felt right. The next night on RAW, she got "You deserve it" chants from the most hardcore of hardcore WWE fans gathered in one arena. This was truly the defining moment of her face turn and a clear sign that it had worked.
Now, she's the top dog of the red brand, and each week that she comes out, you can see her confidence increasing. It was something that happened organically. With so much happening at WrestleMania, it was truly one of the most overlooked moments of the entire weekend, and it's character progression at some of its finest.
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