No this isn’t a headline from a mid-90s issue of FHM, nor a confession that I rather my wife not see, this my Hooked On friends is a tribute and testimony to the most underappreciated member of WWE’s women’s division Miss Alexa Bliss.
It may sound ridiculous to call Alexa underappreciated when she has so recently been given her own WWE branded podcast – one with a nostalgia twist too, girl after my own heart – but when they tell the narrative of the women’s revolution/evolution in WWE, her name is never lauded in the same breath as the likes of Sasha, Bayley, Becky, Charlotte and co.
Taking nothing away from the Four Horsewomen or the emergence of Ronda Rousey as they are obviously pioneers of where the women’s division is in 2020, but I would argue that Alexa as a foil for those names and as standout performer in her own right has made her one of, if not THE leading lights among WWE’s female roster.
A little history
Lexi Kaufman debuted as Alexa Bliss in NXT in 2014. This was a period where NXT was still finding its feet, free of the gameshow like format that birthed Wade Barrett’s rise on the main roster and before the polished and entertaining product you see now. Which is why the first incarnation of Bliss’ character was the short-lived glitter fairy gimmick she debuted in a victory over Alicia Fox during an NXT Women’s Championship tournament, one she would eventually be eliminated from by Charlotte Flair.
After a short hiatus, Bliss returned to NXT in the Spring of 2015 with a character and attire which you could call the origins to the Alexa we see now. However, for most of her run at Full Sail she was intertwined in feuds in the tag team scene, alongside Wesley Blake and then real-life boyfriend Buddy Murphy and opposing predominately Carmella. Yes, there were title shots, but none where she was made to look like a legitimate contender and all were part of NXT television, never once making it on to a TakeOver card.
Just a look down on some comments on her matches in NXT just show her status at the time, where more is made of her obvious attraction then any praise for her in-ring ability or potential to be a legit WWE Superstar and/or champion.
Then came the 2016 WWE draft, as WWE decided to spilt their bloated roster into separate brands for the first time since 2011. Drafted as pick number 47 out of 59 and as one of six Superstars to move across from NXT,
Alexa was seen by most fans as a name to pad out the women’s roster on SmackDown – allowing the headline acts of Becky, Naomi and Natalya to shine at the top of the blue brand’s card. Yet, this opinion was not obviously shared in the back and very quickly Bliss, as the self-indulgent, snarky and calculated heel became a regular part of Tuesday nights.
Beating Becky Lynch on her debut night before being chosen as the one to dethrone The Lass-Kicker – and the inaugural SmackDown Women’s Champion – just five months into her main roster run.
This is a trend that has continued throughout Alexa’s WWE career.
That first SmackDown run saw two runs with the belt, the second of which saw her walk into WrestleMania 33 as the reigning champ. It also included a fun and underrated programme with a returning Mickie James, which gave the new champion some extra gravitas on screen and no doubt a sound hand off-screen too.
In April 2017 Alexa moved across to Raw and once again gold followed, defeating Bayley at Payback to become the first-ever Superstar to win both brand’s women’s titles. Three lengthy reigns with the strap followed, along with further accolades as she won the first-ever Women’s Elimination Chamber and became Miss Money In The Bank by winning the 2018 event and cashing-in later that night to extend her programme with Nia Jax.
More recently we’ve seen Alexa move to the tag team division, where a babyface turn saw her unlikely friendship with Nikki Cross spawn two Women’s Tag Team Title reigns and one of the company’s most popular acts.
Then there’s Alexa’s latest incarnation, tormented by a strange fascination with The Fiend, sending her into to hypnotic-like trances that has seen her character evolve yet again.
Even when she’s been side-lined by injury Alexa has been an integral part of WWE programming. She was chosen for hosting duties at last year’s WrestleMania – following in the footsteps of esteemed company like The Rock and The New Day – and has been given her own talk show A Moment of Bliss. Which, yes as hokey as it often can be, still sees Bliss performing in a prominent position on WWE TV.
Perhaps that is the biggest indication of where WWE see Alexa Bliss, she’s a constant. If she’s champion then the lead story is built around her and has been the perfect foe in the rise of babyface stories for Becky, Bayley, Nia and more. However, if she’s not a champion, then she’s always doing something. Even in 2020, where the women’s division is as good as it’s ever been, you don’t always find additional stories/segments for the female superstars outside the title feuds, but there’s always something for Alexa.
Now let me tell you why. Believability and consistency in her work and in her character. As a heel, Bliss manages to avoid the pitfalls of sounding like a character from Mean Girls – even if her own persona takes elements of that high-school bitch.
She’s calculated and blunt and like any good heel has an ego that truly believes she’s the best in the business.
Perhaps most importantly, she just doesn’t get phased and enjoys getting jeered by the crowd. So often characters like Alexa’s are still looking to get laughs, not Alexa. As a heel she wants to be despised, wants to control the room and wants all the attention on her. A perfect example of this was the way she battered off the tired ‘WHAT’ chants during her 2017 run. Few have done it more expertly than Little Miss Bliss.
The same can be said of whatever WWE have thrown at her over the years. Since turning face, she’s taken the credit earned from fans, toned down the mean streak and evolved into the girl everyone wants to hang out with, guys and girls.
Whether that’s discussing Disney films and N’SYNC, playing video games on Up, Up, Down or having a coffee with your best mate. Just like heel Alexa was a grown-up version of the evil prom queen, face Alexa is the grown-up version of the girl next-door who had a heart of gold and a bedroom full of comics. Both of which she portrays without going over the top and with ultimate belief in herself.
Yes, there’s been missteps. The ‘Bayley: This is Your Life’ segment won’t be one anyone wants to relive anytime soon and there were moments in her bullying storyline with Jax that toed the line in comfortableness, but those are rare in a character full of consistency and nuance.
Alexa knows how to tell a story through her work in the ring, she knows how to create and play a WWE Superstar with a defined character, and she knows how to make an entrance. Her hand gesture at the top of the ramp and unique pose with the belt behind her head have become iconic and copied by fans across the world.
All of this of course would be somewhat redundant if Alexa could not then back it in the ring, yet you don’t become a multi-time champion without the smarts between the ropes. Ok, we don’t go into an Alexa Bliss match expecting a clinic, but what we do expect is matches high in athleticism given her gymnastic background and high in quality through a variant of opponents.
The Twisted Bliss moonsault is one of the most impressive moves in all of WWE and The Goddess’ DDT would even make Jake Roberts grin in approval.
Perhaps my favourite in her arsenal, is the Glitz Flip, a standing moonsault and double knee drop that’s unique to her and always a showreel moment from an Alexa Bliss bout. What Bliss excels at through a match though, is story. Whether it’s through her selling, through her facials or her ability to craft out a narrative, there’s very little throwaway when watching Alexa in the ring.
All so important to not just being successful in WWE, but being a star in WWE, and Bliss is a Superstar.
That Superstar is now taking her character to new depths (in both senses of the word) with her association with Bray Wyatt’s ultimate creation The Fiend.
It’s a role where tone is key, where going too far comes across silly and cartoony and not going far enough wouldn’t make enough impact – a line that Wyatt himself has at points struggled with during his various incarnations.
Once again though, Alexa is nailing the portrayal. She’s making an arguably unbelievable character switch believable and given both herself and Bray even more layers to their gimmicks.
It has fans fully invested and most importantly the tone and tempo are bang on, making the storyline one of the standout programmes of SmackDown’s current offering. It remains to see where the story and character will go, but it’s a shift that only Alexa seems ideal to make work. For instance, could you really see one of The Four Horsewomen going rouge and stepping into Bray’s warped world?
It’s undoubtably been four eventful years for Alexa across WWE’s most celebrated brands and she’s packed in a plethora of standout moments, yet you feel there’s still so much more to come from her.
From champion to challenger, friend to femme fatal, presenter to podcaster, she’s done it all and deserves to be recognised as a true leader of WWE’s evolution and where we see women’s wrestling in 2020.
All hail the Goddess of WWE.