Seeing how either everyone is writing about either the Royal Rumble or Vince McMahon, I wanted to talk about another story.
Hidden among the hot topics was the story of Ava Raine becoming the Assistant GM for NXT and appearing on Smackdown. The daughter of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and business mogul Danny Garcia has been featured more on TV in the last few weeks.
And for better or worse, it has been dissected and critiqued from different angles. Things could have gotten more heated, but the Vince McMahon drama nipped that in the butt.
However, I wanted to take a deep dive and figure out how to view the daughter of the Great One.
And when you dig deeper, the truth and fiction are more complicated than just “She is only 22” or “She is a product of nepotism”.
Let’s get this out of the way and nip the first criticism which is she is a product of nepotism. Of course, she is and in many ways that is the wrestling industry in a nutshell. It’s like NASCAR where many famous drivers have kids who get into the sport. Pro Wrestling for years has been built on family legacy because the kids understand the business.
Current WWE alone you have twenty-six WWE wrestlers on the roster who are sons or daughters of famous wrestlers. Many of them either trained under their parents or from friends of their parents before getting into the industry.
What Ava is doing for a craft and her position is no different than when Cody entered the business. Or Roman Reigns or Charlotte Flair or any other generational wrestler. It’s part of being in the industry and always has and always will be for pro wrestling
At the same time already at her young age it’s clear that she is not her father. Nothing wrong with that but she does not have his combination of athleticism and charisma.
It’s not her fault as its unrealistic that she would naturally be her dad and have all those traits. When he entered the business, her father had already been a prominent player on the Miami Hurricanes football team with Ray Lewis and Warren Sapp. He was a phenomenal natural athlete and had a natural charm and charisma about him.
By the time he got to the WWE he also was 24 years old and had wrestled in the USWA and was a college graduate.
Ava meanwhile has had a tumultuous career to date as she entered the pro wrestling scene at the tender age of 19 after suffering a knee injury which forced her to undergo three different surgeries on the same knee.
Speculation has been either a Torn ACL or MCL which means that the knee already can be a walking time bomb. Add to the fact that pro wrestling is strenuous on knees and legs and already she is behind the eight ball.
The bigger issue was her training, or you could argue the lack thereof in terms of experience. Unlike the old days, the territories are gone and dead for good. Even back when The Rock wrestled, WWE could send wrestlers to SMW, USWA or even OVW just to get them experience and matches.
Today while NXT has state of the art equipment and training, its heavily reliant on short matches, battle royals and tag team matches. Often talent will go weeks without being on TV or even wrestling matches.
To date, Ava Raine has competed in SIX matches in her entire career according to CageMatch.com. That includes three 8 man intergender matches, a tag match and two matches with Ivy Nile that lasted a grand total of 7 minutes.
Forget about rookie, Ava Raine is still a beginner in wrestling and has not had enough time to develop.
In a perfect world, she would not be in NXT but in a promotion like Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling or Al Snow’s OVW. Promotions where she could cut her teeth, get more matches under her belt and be able to develop without the world watching.
While NXT might have started out as a “developmental brand” its quickly becoming a third arm of the WWE. No longer can talent learn on the job with time in NXT as a feeder program. Now NXT is a brand that has more wrestlers than time spots.
Right now, they are having her on television as the NXT GM to get her over with the fans. Which is great in theory, but it highlights her lack of screen presence to date. It is expected from someone who has less than two years on television and has not developed.
I have no idea if she will be successful because I do not know if she has the charisma to pull this off. Most people lack the kind of charisma to naturally get over, especially in pro wrestling. You need to be able to tap in and be able to make people watch you with awe.
As stated before, in a perfect world she could develop on her own and then go to the WWE. Or even have a few years to find her character and grow naturally.
But with her father now on the board of directors of TKO and her being the NXT GM on CW, the calls of nepotism are going to get louder. The worry now is if it will ruin any momentum or goodwill with the fans.
The only advice I would give her is to ignore the noise and keep grinding.
Because right now for better or worse all eyes are going to be on her. And she is going to have to figure out quick or else the chirping and speculation is only going to get worse.
You can check out more interviews with athletes and sports reporters on www.lastcallpodcast.com or follow me on Twitter.com/LastCallwChrisC