Monday night, WWE seemingly suddenly remembered Sasha Banks is a premier talent, as Ronda Rousey praised her as an unsung hero and “true Cinderella story” in the women’s division, ultimately leading to a title shot for The Boss at the Royal Rumble. To get there, though, Sasha had to go through Nia Jax, who’s been making quite the name for herself lately — but not in a good way. The biggest obstacle wasn’t in-storyline, defeating the big, bad, former Women’s Champion. It was in real-life, trying to walk away from a match with Nia Jax unscathed.
Jax has recently earned the nickname “Facebreaker,” an attempt to kayfabe capitalize on a real-life mistake less than a week before Survivor Series, when Jax threw a legit punch at Becky Lynch’s face, breaking her nose and giving her a concussion serious enough to keep her out of action for a couple weeks and derailing one of the most anticipated matchups in WWE women’s history. This wasn’t an isolated incident, either — Jax injured Bayley’s shoulder, causing her to miss SummerSlam in 2017 (she very nearly caused the same injury to Charlotte). She gave Zelina Vega a concussion following a careless military press at Evolution.
After last night, we can add another scary moment to the list. When Sasha went for a hurricanrana on Nia from the ring apron to the outside, Nia just sort of…gave up halfway through and instead of protecting her opponent, which is a basic core principle of pro wrestling, sloppily dropped Sasha almost straight on her head. It was clear when Nia got called up from NXT that it was too soon, and since then, she’s been either unwilling or unable to improve at a fast enough clip to truly hang — not only in the current WWE women’s division, which contains some of the best athletes in the company, but in any wrestling locker room at all.
Unfortunately, her character is written just about as haphazardly as she performs in the ring. Every aspect of Nia Jax just seems at odds with another — she’s presented as a beautiful, glamorous woman (and she is), but at the same time as a violent bloodthirsty killer. Why does a “facebreaker” and a ruthless Samoan wear a dress and come out to a top 40-sounding pop song? One day she’s tearing up as she rallies against bullies, espousing body positivity and being yourself. The next she’s relentlessly bullying somebody else herself. Even if she was any good in the ring, it’s hard to get behind a character that turns more often than the Big Show.
Last night’s pre-match “Moment of Bliss” segment is another good example of Nia’s questionable character. The Sasha Banks of old came out, defiantly asking, “b*tch, what line?” after Nia told her to wait her turn. Instead of acting intimidated, provoked, or even the tiniest bit miffed at being disrespected like that, Nia laughed it off, rolled her eyes and rambled quietly to herself as Raw cut to commercial. This is a problem throughout WWE as a whole — where nearly every wrestler adopts the Kliq-style “who cares?” mockery in response to nearly every threat, instantly rendering said threat meaningless and making their opponent look stupid for even saying anything — but Nia perhaps best exemplifies it.
This isn’t to say Nia shouldn’t have a job. She clearly has a level of passion for the professional wrestling business and, if properly presented and used, could be a solid asset to the women’s division. For years, WWE treated plus size women as disgusting, smelly hicks ala Bertha Faye, so it makes a lot of sense for a company trying to rehabilitate its public image to have a plus size model presented as beautiful and athletic. But she just isn’t ready for Raw or SmackDown, and not just entertainment-wise — she’s a danger to herself and others. WWE has a developmental system to work out these kinds of problems. Hell, between their deals with the likes of PROGRESS and EVOLVE, WWE essentially has developmental systems for their developmental systems. And with a glut of talented, ready-to-go women just waiting for their moment, it’s as frustrating as it is baffling to see a dangerous worker remain at the top of the card.