The more of BOOM! Studios’ WWE comic series I read, the more I appreciate the delicate line they tread in balancing the reality and fantasy of the wrestling world. For the wrestling fans among us, that’s kayfabe: the art of fakery in professional wrestling. I’ve been fascinated with how BOOM! and its writers have handled kayfabe-ing the stories of WWE’s past, present, and future, and WWE #14 is no exception. What’s the reality behind the Women’s Evolution? What’s the fantasy? With two solid stories concerning the women of WWE and their interactions we see a little of both, filling in some gaps in the story told on-screen that the would greatly benefit the audience at large.
The main story concerns the real-life stable of women who made their mark in NXT: The Four Horsewomen. While they’ve been referred to as this on TV, the stable really solidified around their own friendship and in-ring rivalries. The comic revolves around the debut of three of the four women on WWE’s main roster in July 2015. Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch had all made names for themselves on the smaller NXT brand and were brought up to Raw and SmackDown Live in a bid to capitalize on both their popularity and the movement of women in professional sports. This part is real and the comic captures it well. Then, in full flashback mode, we see how each of the quartet met and how their training and work in the ring brought them together. This part is about half-real, half-kayfabe. It’s really something special to see the lines being crossed in the comic and how smoothly they rewrite tiny bits of history to make this real-life story fit the kayfabe world.
I did mention “Four” Horsewomen. The story is told from the point-of-view of the fourth member of the group, Bayley. Bayley was not called up to the mains along with her friends. Many observers of NXT wondered why such a popular superstar was left behind. Completely in character, NXT boss Triple H tells Bayley that he needs her to be the anchor for the NXT women’s division. Again, reality and kayfabe collide as this is most likely the actual truth of the matter, just told in-character. The story is good, Stephanie McMahon isn’t shown once (although her speech on the July 13, 2015 Raw is text-boxed for our enjoyment), and the art catches all of the women well. The most important part, however, is that we get a story about Bayley that is desperately needed at the main roster level. She’s the loveable underdog, sure, but she’s also the stable element, the one who can always be counted on and trusted. This is the story that the millions of WWE fans who never saw Bayley on NXT need to see if they are ever going to completely back her character.
The secondary story is another women’s division story about the debut in NXT of Japanese superstar, Asuka. It’s honestly nothing super in-depth or new, just a completely kayfabe telling of how the women of NXT met the currently still undefeated Empress of Tomorrow. I like the portrayals of Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax, but there’s not much meat to the story yet. It is listed as “Part One,” so I hope we’ll see more of how Asuka let the world know how no one is ready for her.
This is a fun comic in general, but seeing real crossover with fictional stories is getting better and better with each issue that passes. Focusing on the Women’s Evolution is not only timely — it also could help bring in more readers to the comic. The women of the WWE are blazing trails and standing up in a business that has long treated them as objects rather than true performers. Hopefully more stories like this will continue that trend.