Where do we begin? Shayna Baszler, resident bad*ss of Raw; former two-time NXT Women’s Champion and one-time domineer of the Elimination Chamber match-up is apparently pediophobic. What is pediophobia, you might ask? Per Healthline.com, pediophobia is the “fear of dolls”. A legitimate phobia which proves problematic to many, with the phobia typically bringing on bouts of intense anxiety; breathing difficulties; sweating and more. Who wasn’t fearful of Chucky or Goosebumps’ Slappy during their youth? If you were, then you, yourself, have experienced elements of pediophobia. Or even the more recent Anabelle, which has no doubt caused a sleepless night or two for thousands of would-be adult viewers of the hit horror movie anthology. Therefore, one might accept Baszler’s pediophobia as a perfectly normal and legitimate situation. Well, it’s not. It is also causing terminal damage to a character who is being completely mishandled on Raw. The current omnipotent and magical character of Alexa Bliss continues to prove problematic.
De-legitimizing Shayna Baszler Helps No One
Shayna Baszler is currently being booked to fear Alexa Bliss, or rather, the seemingly supernatural mystique of Alexa Bliss and her demon doll of death, Lilly. We recently published an article on why magic does not work in 21st century professional wrestling and it must be referred to here. There was a time in the 1980s, and even the 1990s, when magic in wrestling could be made to work; the smoke and mirrors translating well to an audience who had not yet gained access to the internet. Additionally, high-definition viewing was a fair way away, meaning that the “magic” was shrouded in protection by the lesser visual quality of the time. Now, the WWE has a significant majority of its audience able to access the internet with the touch of a cellphone screen. Entrances in the WWE have recently moved on from 4K cameras to 8K. Quite simply, everything is too glossy; the grit is gone and the “magic” is exposed. Also, the use of magic on Raw is overexposed by the lack of magic in NXT and SmackDown. Both shows offer pro wrestling as a sport, rather than a fictional, horror movie-inspired drama. Meaning that, for WWE viewers who often follow all three of its “A” shows, the difference between Raw and the other two is staggering most weeks. It actually leads to many accusing Raw of being shockingly bad television.
Alexa “welcomes” me?!? I invited myself. Laughable that anyone thinks I should be scared of little girls with dolls. That playground is set to be hit with a Hard Dose of #Reality….. #WWERaw
— Shayna Baszler (@QoSBaszler) June 6, 2021
Not only is the “magic” overexposed, but Baszler is completely de-legitimized by its usage. She is being made to openly fear something which we all know is make-believe. Within the universe of the show, the magic probably exists; it is canonical within Raw’s lore. However, WWE’s inconsistency with its storytelling completely undermines this. After all, this is the company that booked Seth Rollins to gouge out the eye of Rey Mysterio, only for Rey to magically regrow it later – no explanation given. No doubt, a year from now, the show will have moved on from this horror movie fest- with Alexa Bliss having reverted back to her normal self; magic on Raw once more being confounded to the dreams of Vince McMahon, at least until he decides to bring Vladimir Kozlov back to play a six-armed warlock of the sea. In short, Shayna acting fearful of a gimmick which will cease to exist in the near future does nothing but damage her. It also takes away a character which could have been a prominent player in the Raw women’s division; one which could both be used to dominate and/or elevate others.
It Is Going To Hit the Raw Women’s Division Soon, With Dire Consequences
It is coming. Whereas Alexa Bliss’ current, seemingly omnipotent character has so far tormented the women’s tag team division, it is only a matter of time until it hits the Raw women’s division. If Shayna Baszler can be booked to be terrified of a doll, you better believe Rhea Ripley can be, too. Only Charlotte Flair is safe from the role of tormented, as she no doubt negotiated a “must not be target of doll” clause years ago. The unstoppable Alexa Bliss gimmick arriving in the singles division – a small division which has been poorly booked over the past year – would be extremely problematic. A character which no mortal can defeat, one which has a win over no less than Randy Orton, is going to dominate that division. There is a reason why The Fiend was supposed to be Bliss’ next feud; he is the only one who has been booked to be believable against her as he, too, is seemingly invincible. A guy who came back from the dead after being burned alive is the best hope against Alexa and her doll. Unfortunately, with Bray Wyatt on indefinite leave, that was nixed – meaning the character the WWE has invested months of time and effort into has to turn to the Raw women’s division.
Fans Tend To Not React Well To These Kind of Gimmicks
It has been WWE tradition that gimmicks such as Alexa Bliss’ current have been unpopular in the WWE. As much as defenders of the current character wish to keep bringing up Undertaker and Kane, there is a flurry of superstars who failed as make-believe characters. Papa Shango casting voodoo hexes on the Ultimate Warrior did not work in the ’90s, so imagine how a 21st century crowd might have reacted to Bliss using her powers to make Baszler’s leg give up last month. Then there is Mordecai; one of the colossal failures of the Ruthless Aggression era because, despite being a magical and un-dead priest created to rival Undertaker, he was boring. He later returned as Kevin Thorn, an un-dead vampire, and he failed again. Even much of the Undertaker’s magic did not go down well – in fact, part of the reason he transitioned away from the “Phenom” persona to the “American Badass” was because fans had moved on from that type of character… in the late ’90s. Kane, too, went from un-dead and burned juggernaut with magical powers to the more realistic, near seven-foot monster who had no magic; just sheer presence. Whereas Bliss is a good actress and is well-liked by the WWE audience, it is a certainty that once fans return to arenas next month, her segments will be met with boos, “what?” chants and the occasional crickets. Having Bliss involved in the few segments the women’s division manages to get on Raw will mean that most of these segments will be met with negative reaction – further de-legitimizing the division and giving WWE creative reason to (wrongly) believe that the division is a failure, as opposed to their booking of the division.
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