There seems to be some debate among the kind of people who earnestly debate these things about whether or Nia Jax has become a bully. While the arguments vary largely in degree as opposed to kind — meaning most have felt as though even if she isn’t a bully, what she did last week to Local Enhancement Talent was bullying — it feels important to contextualize this conversation in the world of “what we talk about when we talk about….” navelgazing. Ronda Rousey’s entire existence has enough gravity that it makes sense that she would bend space and time around her when it comes to her opponents, so Nia or anyone else may start acting differently around here essentially fits. Natalya has become less weird, Nia has become more paranoid and even Ronda has seemingly lost the ability to make any other face than this:
If she is playing a bully, Nia is playing a bully not just with pathos but ethos, as they made very clear with the intially cool, the ultimately kind of weird “when will this skit for the camp talent show end” kind of staredown over the injured Natalya.
This would continue later on in the show, backstage, as Ronda and Nia treated Natalya like the subject of a bet in a high school-based romantic comedy. Ladies, Natalya’s not a prize to be won, she’s a person with thoughts, feelings and a mind of her own. You best start treating her like it, or you’ll both lose her. And be forced to…. not shoehorn in a third person to inevitably screw over one or both of them the next time the opportunity arises.
Unlike Elias, there’s absolutely no question as to where on the card Braun Strowman is no matter when his match is. He’s the most top-shelf talent they have and showcases like this reinforce that. While most wrestling writing can have a tendency to feel like a recurring SNL character written into a Mad TV sketch, Braun manages to feel incredibly fresh essentially every single time he goes out there. Some of this is that he’s extremely well-protected by the writers, who seem very aware of the rocketship he’s on. But a lot of it is, counterintuitively, his opponents. They, understandably, have a real fear of his capabilities in any given circumstance and react accordingly.
His match with Bobby Roode serves as a proof of concept of, in particular, the ways in which his other performers are forced to clearly define themselves in contrast to his character. In much the same way a basketball or football team enters a contest as a massive underdog, most Strowman opponents must go into survival mode to even stay alive from the jump. And if they are lucky enough find themselves ahead at any point, they will find themselves moving on from only running the plays that have the highest rate of success to taking desperate measures once they believe the tide has may begin turning in Strowman’s favor. Sometimes, you get a situation like title match against Brock Lesnar, where one mistake allowed Brock to hit him hard enough to keep him down for three seconds. And sometimes, you end up like this: