When Vince McMahon has his mind set on something, it can go one of two ways. Either he books that superstar/storyline/angle without hesitation and shoves it down the fans throats regardless of their interest level or he quickly loses focus on what he wants and confuses everybody about the direction that specific person/angle is heading.
When it comes to Lacey Evans, it would appear he’s so high on her that he’s willing to book her in a big match despite some glaring issues in her ring work.
On the main roster, Evans has had a lot of exposure in random segments with her walking out, doing a turn and walking immediately back to the backstage area. This went on for seemingly months with no payout in sight. The reasoning for this was reportedly to keep Evans in the eyes of the WWE Universe without letting her look weak in the ring, either in terms of actual ability or as far as wins and losses go.
It’s distinctly possible this was done as a result of Evans performance in the Royal Rumble which features a plethora of botches in her first dose of exposure to the main roster. While this was far from encouraging, it’s possible that Evans’ mistakes occurred due to uncertainty about how the match was supposed to go.
Evans Didn’t Know What to Do in the Royal Rumble
In an interview on the Gorilla Position Podcast, Evans would detail that nobody had much of an idea about what was set to happen during the match.
“Well, as soon as I got there, we didn’t know much of anything. We didn’t know what was gonna happen. There was some speculation but I was told that I was going first and so obviously, the excitement and nerves took over immediately.
But I’m ready for this. NXT really prepped me for taking on any challenges so I just knew that I had an opportunity and I needed to make the best of it and then when I was told I had a promo, on top of being first, that really, I was like, ‘Lord, well. There’s only one thing I can do is say thank you and take the reigns and do the best that I can.’”
Not knowing what you’re supposed to do in a match definitely explains some of the errors and nerves that were evident throughout her time in the Rumble. The size of the event could also create a sizable amount of anxiety and nerves that would just compound the difficult Evans was put into this spot.
If we discount that performance from Evans, we can still look at two other matches that Evans has had since joining the main roster and see if she has what it takes to compete for the Raw Women’s Championship against Becky Lynch at Money in the Bank.
Evans Hasn’t Looked Comfortable on the Main Roster
Interestingly enough, WWE has booked both of Evans’ matches against Natalya (who, not-so-coincidentally, Evans also squared off with early in the Royal Rumble). This is likely a compliment to Natalya who is a veteran of the industry and who knows what it takes to put on a quality match every time she steps into the ring. She’s capable of carrying a match and limiting damage for a new Superstar on the roster.
In February, Evans and Natalya had a match on Main Event that looked remarkably better than the performance that WWE got out of Evans in the Rumble. She still looked comfortable and didn’t mess anything up in a way that was so glaring that it had to be mentioned. Still, the match was called by Natalya throughout and Evans’ time on the attack was limited. In essence, Natalya sheltered her well.
In her second match since the Rumble, Evans would compete against Natalya on Raw for the No. 1 contender spot for the Raw Women’s Championship. With Evans doing more work in the ring this time around, she looked stiffer with her move-set at times and struggled to make moves look believable in general.
Above all, the finish of this match saw Evans hit Natalya with an impressive moonsault that saw Evans springboard from the second ropes to the top rope, spinning 180 degrees and hitting the flip. While the move itself was impressive, stating that Evans ‘hit’ Natalya with the move was intentional as she would drill her knees into the veteran’s ribs, causing visible discomfort for Natalya as she took the pinfall loss.
Evans Has Shown Promise, but Needs Work
Evans has potential and she’s very athletic in general. She’s also shown in NXT that she’s capable of putting together a solid match against just about anybody with some of the most unique moves the women’s division has seen. For some reason, though, Evans has failed to prove that she can work on the main roster (in limited opportunity) and it’s curious that WWE is giving her a Women’s Championship opportunity so soon in her main roster career.
If they’re very high on her – as they seem to be, then it would make sense for them to give her an opportunity to succeed right away. Putting her in an angle with Lynch so soon probably isn’t the best spot for her, then, as it doesn’t allow her to build a name for herself on the roster while simultaneously gaining experience in the ring each and every week.
While Evans has a shot at being a very talented performer in the long-run, her short-term ability hasn’t been as promising as many may have expected. Time will tell if she can turn things around but the issue will probably only get resolved with more opportunities in the ring.