Alexa Bliss wrestled her first championship match on pay-per-view since August 2018 at Stomping Grounds, then was the subject of a spectacular edition of WWE 365 that looked at her recent concussion history, her journey back to the squared circle and her triumphant turn as hostess of WestleMania 35.
The exposure she received on WWE Network raised a compelling question that has not been visited enough since her arrival on the main roster: what exactly is Little Miss Bliss’ legacy in this women’s revolution?
As it turns out, it is not as clear-cut as you probably think.
Bliss was never meant to be a star.
During her days in NXT, she transitioned from dust-blowing fairy to vindictive valet but she was rarely utilized on television as an in-ring competitor. She never appeared in a single women’s TakeOver match, nor did she compete in many championship encounters. She had a role, she filled it well and that looked to be the extent of her journey in sports entertainment.
Then she was drafted to SmackDown Live in 2016 as part of the brand extension.
Seizing an opportunity she never sniffed in developmental, Bliss captured the attention of the WWE Universe and held it tightly in her cold, hard grip. She exploded out of obscurity and into the women’s title picture, defeating Becky Lynch to win the title within six months of her debut. From there, Bliss became the woman around whom entire divisions were built. Whether she was repping the blue brand or excelling on the flagship Raw show, Bliss demonstrated the ability to be a villainess around whom WWE Creative could book programs, and against whom they could elevate babyfaces to the next level.
Look no further than Naomi, who benefited exponentially from working with Bliss in that she finally became the lead heroine her athleticism and in-ring ability deserved.
Her sudden stardom did not come without a few bumps in the road, notably a horrifically bad This is Your Life segment with Bayley that nearly killed both of their heat dead, though the creative team certainly deserves their share of criticism for the failure of that promo. There were also times when Bliss’ lack of experience in high-profile matches reared its head but more times than not, she performed up to the level of competition and the matches excelled as a result.
The former fitness model and cheerleader evolved into an engaging character, a solid in-ring performer and a legitimate star for the biggest wrestling company in the world.
Significance to the Revolution
The women’s revolution started with Paige and Emma stealing shows and reminding fans that, at least in NXT, women’s wrestling was thriving on a grand stage. They ushered in the WWE Network with a sensational match at NXT Arrival, in which Paige successfully retained her women’s title.
From there, it grew and evolved as Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Bayley formed a nucleus for the sport that delivered superb in-ring content and proved women’s wrestlers could be more over than their male counterparts. They received the baton from Paige and Emma and carried it to greater heights, culminating in Bayley and Banks’ epic Iron Man match at TakeOver: Respect.
Bliss was not invited to that party. She was not someone Triple H and management pointed to as a performer deserving or capable of carrying the mantle for the sport, for whatever reason. What Bliss did, though, was gradually develop her character. Facial expressions, body language and confidence on the microphone became trademarks of her performance while she continued to develop and evolve her in-ring game. Driven by those around her, and with a chip on her shoulder due to the lack of opportunities thrown her way, she put together a package that allowed her to rise to the level of a Banks or Bayley on the main roster.
If not eclipse them.
Every one one the women that made up the foundation of the women’s revolution came from a sports entertainment background. They were either offspring of greats, indie darlings or rediscovering their passion for an industry that had previously competed in.
Bliss did not. She was a stranger in a strange land. She was thrown into the mix, given the tools but had to learn what to do with them, how to best utilize them to fit what she did well and produce because if she did not, there were any number of women ready to step up and take her spot.
So what is Bliss’ significance to the revolution?
Like or not, the five-time women’s champion and Money in the Bank winner has proven that the women’s revolution is not limited to those with rich histories in bingo halls around the country, nor should it be. Instead, it should be a land of opportunity for fierce, determined and motivated women who can adapt, grow, learn and excel when presented with a chance to make an impact.
Yes, the in-ring content will always be of great significance, as it should be. But if you can develop that area while putting in the work to develop a character and get over, you have a place in the revolution.
Like the Four Horsewomen, Paige and Emma before her, Bliss signed a developmental contract, underwent the same training in the Performance Center everyone else did and made the most of an opportunity.
Rather than being resentful or questioning whether she deserves the spot on the card Bliss has achieved, or crediting her rise to popularity and stature on the card to her looks, it is time fans recognize the success story that has unfolded with every passing week and applaud her for her unwillingness to quit and her drive to be better.
After all, a woman who is not passionate about the industry in which she finds herself would not deal with the agony of multiple concussions, the frustration of overcoming them and the disappointment when she cannot that Bliss has over the last year alone.
As her women’s title match against Bayley and her recent storyline with Nikki Cross has demonstrated, Bliss continues to make strides as both a wrestler and character. The more she continues to do that, the greater the chance she will continue to write her own legacy as one of the most unforeseen success stories in WWE history and revolutionary women the sport has seen.
Erik Beaston is a feature writer for Bleacher Report. You can find more of his work here.