Having been at the Raw half of the Superstar Shake-up last year (which was also, not to brag, the same show that Braun flipped over an ambulance on) I may be biased, but the SSU manages to the landscape of the company in a way that’s fun in the moment without the creeping sadness and fears of mismanagement that comes immediately after from RAWM NXT call-ups.
As is often the case with the WWE, those fears are not unfounded at least 50% of the time. Especially because, more often than not, they are based in the idea that the NXT version of the character — meaning, the thing they think they liked about the person in the first place — will be irreparably changed on the main roster. But not only is that pretty much inevitable… it’s happened to basically every single prominent performer in the history of wrestling. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was, as everyone is aware, Ted DiBiase’s Ringmaster before becoming literally the hottest star in the history of the company. But what they don’t think about is things like Cowboy Brett Hart eventually becoming a Hitman or Sterling Golden as the precursor to Hulk Hogan. Things change though and, when that happens, mad wrestlers rearrange, like the love Doctor Strange… sorry, I was just thinking about how much better Wyclef was in the Fugees and got stuck in a How Many Mics loop. ANYWAYS, Ember Moon did a pretty good job in her debut.
Nia did so in hers as Raw Women’s Champion, feeling more natural on camera as champion than she has at basically any point prior in her career. The championship fits her in quite the opposite to the way it does with Alexa. Alexa is elevated by the title of Women’s Champion, not because she isn’t talented. but because her character is performative even in Kayfabe (think, like, a double jump in Mario) making the symbolism of the title for her (and her willingness to do anything to retain, taking advantage of the so-called “champion’s advantage”) a meta-narrative for her character. She’s, essentially, running a con to continue to be champion and makes the question her story tries to answer “When?” will she lose the title For Nia, it’s “How” and “To whom?,” instead. Those aren’t necessarily better questions — though have two helps things stay interesting — but they are ones that elevate the title to the titleholder’s status, something we haven’t seen in the Raw women’s division since Charlotte was main eventing PPVs. Which definitely isn’t a bad thing.