Sunday, September 19, 2021

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Bobby’s Corner: Nidia – Underrated, Underutilized and Underappreciated

What’s up guys? Well, in case you’re a little lost with what’s going on here (to be honest, you should be since I’m pretty much winging it right now), welcome to the debut edition of my column, Bobby’s Corner. I’d like to give you a little more information about what this column will focus on, but to be honest I don’t really know. It’s going to basically just be me discussing something that pops into my mind and that I feel deserves to be talked about… wait, back up a second… I never even introduced myself!

I constantly feel the need to introduce myself because I always think most of you don’t know who I am unless you’ve been around the site for a few years (coincidentally, something I have in common with my topic for today). I am Bobby and basically all you need to know about me is that I enjoy the more humorous things in life. Five star classic Undertaker matches at WrestleMania? Sure, I enjoy them at the time. But what I remember more is that NXT Redemption (when it was converted to a show instead of a rookie/pro competition) is personally still the best brand to ever enter the WWE. I also remember a historical moment in 2004 that I like to call “Diss the Diva”, where my 11 year old world was rocked by foul mouths and misplaced censors. Another thing I so fondly recall is the duo that first got me interested in wrestling when I still thought “Sable” referred only to a car and “Chyna” solely to a country… guys, who else could I be talking about but Jamie Noble and Nidia?

When most people think of the all time greatest Divas, they usually run down the list of Lita, Trish, Torrie, Stacy, Chyna, Sable, Sunny… heck, even if you just think of that 2002-2004 era, you mostly come up with those first four aforementioned women as well as Jazz, Victoria, Gail Kim or Molly Holly. To me though, the first name that comes to mind is Nidia.

Now I’m not going to sit here and say Nidia was seen by the company as a pioneer for women’s wrestling (as much as I wish she would be looked upon as one) because for the most part, WWE booked her as a comedy character who would usually act as the foe to Torrie Wilson on SmackDown. No matter what role she was given though, this girl could take it, run with it and knock it out of the park.

Acting ability? Check.

Looks? Check.

Uniqueness? Check.

Comedic timing? Check.

Wrestling skill? Check.

Heck, she was even bilingual! All of those foreign markets she could have appealed to and it just wasn’t capitalized on. Since we’re discussing the Torrie/Nidia era though, I’d like to give you a brief moment to break and check out one of my all time favorite, underrated matches the two had. It was literally three minutes long (okay the video is seven because it has some pre-match segments), but it showed everything I love about her.

Now that was a dang good three minute match, and one that is barely even remembered anymore. It was aggressive, the crowd was invested, and more importantly, it told a story. Nidia wasn’t pleased that her man gave Torrie’s Playboy cover a second glance and thus she vowed to take Wilson down a peg in order to steer his eye back to her. Now granted, I know management was more into the Divas around that era and thus gave them more to work with, so this isn’t a knock comparing one of her matches to something of the current era. It’s more so comparing her performances to other females of the same era and begging the question of why her name is continually never put in the same sentence as they are.

Of course, like all good things, my dream pairing of Nidia and Jamie Noble eventually headed to splittsville. BUT it wasn’t a simple week or two built thing that eventually got dropped. These two had a huge storyline which involved Nidia being blinded by the previously unseen black mist of Tajiri when she sacrificed herself to stop Jamie from losing a singles match between the two. You can check out that historical and widely memorable moment (from my point of view) by skipping to 4:54 in the video below:

From there, Nidia was officially blind as a bat. She walked around in her expensive mink coat Jamie bought for her when his Aunt died and left them both her fortune, sure, but she also had to wear those big black glasses, use a cane, and be led around by her version of a seeing eye dog in Jamie. Unfortunately, Noble started to see that this could be used as an advantage and thus he began to make her his shield, using her to stop his opponents from attacking him and then making poor, blind Nidia think it was the opponents that were shoving her around. It was GENIUS! I loved it, I lived by it, and I would kill for it to be rehashed in today’s day and age involving Fandango and Summer Rae.

Nidia pulled out her finest wheelchair bound Linda McMahon work, eventually revealing to Jamie that she had her sight back sometime early on and only pretended to be blind in order to get one step ahead of him when she caught onto his tricks. She then committed the ultimate sin by shredding her one of a kind mink coat in a wood chipper (yes, I do still have nightmares about it) and facing off against Jamie at a pay per view boyfriend vs. girlfriend match. The catch though? Jamie was blindfolded. Ultimately, he would cheat and remove the blindfold behind the referee’s back in order to toss Nidia off the top rope and lock her in a choke that she was forced to submit to (I don’t even have a video to reference this, I just remember it because I rewatched the match so many times). This marked the end of her legacy on SmackDown with a bang as she was drafted to Raw in a night I’ll never forget.

The only Diva to be drafted on TV in the 2004 lottery, I had high hopes this meant they had huge plans in store for her after her impressive work on SmackDown. And to this day, it still pains me how wrong I was to ever get my hopes up. Nidia burst onto Raw with a win over Molly Holly, but that’s about all she got to do as she then became a mainstay on Sunday Night Heat. Her skills were better than ever as she would compete against the likes of Gail Kim, Jazz and Molly, but unfortunately it wasn’t on the center stage of Monday Night Raw for most of the viewers to see.

Oh, but yes… how can I forget the fact that she did get a Women’s Title match on Raw after all? Well, like the draft, I got my hopes up for something way more than we ultimately got after she scored the upset and defeated both Molly and Victoria in a triple threat contract on a pole match. Then champion, Trish Stratus, would proceed to walk inside the ring immediately following it and knock Nidia out with a cast she had covering a legitimately injured broken hand. From there, she covered and scored the three count which was used as Nidia’s one and only shot for gold from then on out. Unfortunately we saw her go right back to Sunday Night Heat again until she was released as part of the horrifying mass cuts of November 2004, which still sends a cold chill up my spine.

So that brings me to the question… why is Nidia so undervalued by not only the wrestling fanbase, but WWE itself? They rarely, if ever, mention her, and heck — she doesn’t even have a profile on their alumni section… for crying out loud, The Boogeyman and Ranjin Singh have an alumni profile!

Part of me wants to think that while she was there in a time where the female characters were given so much of the spotlight that we all clamor for them to receive nowadays, maybe that was also her downfall because the market was so full with well established, popular females. Nidia wasn’t your typical Diva in the sense that while she could turn it up for photoshoots, she wasn’t covering magazines like a Trish, a Torrie or a Stacy and she wasn’t as captivating-ly high flying as Lita. Her style was a bit more aggressive and rough for the first part of her career, before turning into a little more lucha mixed with mat based technique later on. Perhaps she simply slid through the cracks because she wasn’t as big as some of the top stars of that era.

You had Trish and Lita, the two iconic forces that still see their presence felt in a weekly fan debate of which is better.

Then you have Molly and Jazz who are seen as the true underrated pairing of that era that helped keep the division as impeccable as it was.

Jacqueline, Ivory and to a lesser extent on account of she wasn’t really active in ring during this era, Sable, are sort of the veterans from that time so they’re remembered more for their work earlier on in the attitude era.

Victoria and Gail Kim continued well beyond 2002-2004, and so while they’re remembered for parts of that time, they also see a lot of attention because as of 2013, they were still kicking ass on TV.

And then you have Torrie Wilson and Stacy Keibler who are viewed alongside Trish and Lita as sort of the secondary top faces because they were incredibly popular more for storylines and segments than matches (although I won’t discredit either because I think Torrie Wilson became a solid competitor and Stacy Keibler did any role she was given flawlessly even if she was never dead set on becoming a full time wrestler… it’s more of how WWE perceived them by always having them in bikini contests or bra and panties matches).

That leaves us with Nidia, Dawn Marie and Miss Jackie. Poor Miss Jackie could never really get past that infamous mixed tag, even though I loved her far beyond that and felt her role alongside Rico (as well as now husband, Charlie Haas) was great stuff. Dawn pretty much falls in the same boat as Nidia where she’s not particularly mentioned with the lot of the above names, but I still think she gets more credit than Nidia from what I’ve seen over the years, especially due to that huge storyline with Torrie Wilson.

Oh, and then there was Shaniqua and her dominatrix persona’d permanent chest swelling self. She scared me (in a… good way), and I wish she could’ve stayed longer but from what’s been said I guess she had other goals in mind so I don’t really think the fact that she doesn’t get much credit either is as jarring to me as Nidia’s.

Of course, while most of her more memorable moments came from SmackDown alongside Jamie, those previously mentioned Sunday Night Heat matches were where Nidia really got to show how skilled she had become. She got GOOD. And I’m not talking good for someone who came in through Tough Enough without a background in wrestling. I’m talking good for a wrestler period. Since most of the matches shown above were from her earlier days, I would like to select the following against Gail Kim from July 2004 as my example of how talented this girl got over time, no matter how unrecognized it went.

That’s not even one of her final matches (most have been unfortunately removed online by now), but I just don’t get it. I’ve never understood why they didn’t utilize her more when she was traded to Raw and then ultimately fired her not even a year later when she had done nothing but improve and become a skilled worker who could not only work a mic, but also take on both comedic and serious roles with nothing but good to great results.

It seems like every other Diva in that era is remembered from it for at least one huge storyline except Nidia (I would even argue Miss Jackie and Dawn Marie’s late 2004 affair angle was pretty big for Divas to get around that time). Sure, I remember her work like it was yesterday… but it’s not mentioned or looked back upon very much by many other people and I wish it would be because those later matches in particular are such great showings that deserve a bit more recognition from both fans and the company itself.

Nidia, you may not get the credit you deserve but I credit you with basically everything (Yes guys, in my mind Nidia created the WWE and WrestleMania). You and Jamie Noble are what got me to stop one Thursday night while I was channel flipping and become interested in wrestling. Not Brock Lesnar, not The Big Show, but you, your wacky, hilarious adventures and your kick ass ring skill. You will probably never read this, however; you may not have six action figures or twelve video game appearances, but you and Jamie are still my all time favorite wrestlers. And no matter if they tried to recreate you with Jimmy Wang Yang and Amy Zidian (don’t ask please it still hurts), you will never be replicated.

A LOT of things in wrestling may forever baffle me, but here we are almost ten years since she left the WWE… I can still say the under appreciation of Nidia ranks number one.

…And because you can’t conclude a reflection piece without a brilliant, moving tribute, please enjoy the following made by a kind soul named Manuel because I sure did:

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