Don’t get me wrong – Natalya Neidhart is one of my favorite female superstars in the WWE stable, and the respect that she’s earned as an OG performer is more than deserved. I constantly complain to my family and friends who watch sports entertainment’s biggest spectacle that Natalya deserves more; much more than being a 1x Diva’s Champion (for just 70 days) and 1x SmackDown Women’s Champion (for 86 days). Hell, give her the 24/7 Champion belt for a week at this point. The versatile athlete and daughter of Jim Neidhart deserves other accolades on her resume and extra gold around her waist. But instead of WWE building upon the legacy of a fan favorite, they have Natayla co-starring in a going nowhere feud with Lacey Evans.
Lacey Evans was one of the most promising competitors in WWE’s former developmental territory NXT. She gained so much momentum, in fact, that she was called up to the main roster in December 2018; after less than three years in NXT. For months Vince McMahon and company promoted Evans with frequent walk outs and interruptions following her admirable showing during 2019’s Royal Rumble pay-per-view. Since then, she was embroiled in a moderate feud with Becky Lynch for the Raw Women’s Championship, and now she finds herself battling it out with Natayla Neidhart. As talented as Lacey is, and as glamorous as her gimmick may be, I don’t think fans ever gravitated towards the wrestler as much as WWE originally hoped.
So, why has the two women been going blow for blow for the last month and a half? Why did WWE choose to end the Natalya vs Sasha Banks feud prematurely, and instead put the veteran against The Woman’s Right? In my opinion, it boils down to the fact that Lacey Evans hasn’t lived up to the hype as much as producers were expecting. It’s been long understood that the former champion and member of the Hart Wrestling Family is so adaptable in the ring that she’s often used to help other wrestlers “get over” with the audience. In other words, underwhelming performers are often paired with Natalya so her star power can bring out their inner potential. It’s this belief, then, that WWE is using Natalya vs Lacey to open episodes of RAW and certain pay-per-views to boost Lacey up to the ranks and make her a major competitor.
But why continue to beat a dead horse with a stick? Watching the same match over and over again with slight variations is becoming monotonous. If Lacey Evans hasn’t hit it off with viewers at this point, retire her to the realm of jobbers and move on to something new. The Natalya vs Sasha Banks feud still needs a proper ending, and I’d love to see The Divas of Doom (with Beth Phoenix) re-enter the Women’s Tag Team picture now that the belts are with suitable partners. Honestly, the women’s division hit a lull after losing Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax after Wrestlemania. To keep things interesting, WWE needs to put faith in their competitors and come up with innovative story-lines, especially if it wants to keep AEW off its heels. I think Natalya is due for another championship reign, and I think Lacey needs a breakout performance that gets more people in her side of the ring.
But, hey, maybe this week’s episode of RAW will be the last Natayla vs Lacey battle and both women will move on to bigger and better things.