Lacey Evans is one of six NXT superstars who will be called up to the main roster in the near future. The McMahons announced the call-ups as part of a “shake up” on Raw, but we can safely assume the six stars will be distributed across both brands. Nikki Cross, the only other woman named for promotion, will surely join her former stablemates Sanity on SmackDown LIVE.
Many fans have expressed disquiet at the prospect of the main roster calling anyone up from NXT, as many promising superstars have had their careers buried there. Sasha Banks and Bayley have been stuck in a rut for the better part of a year now. Asuka followed up a streak-ending loss to Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania 34 with an embarrassing feud with Carmella and a lackluster tag run with Naomi. She only just turned it around with a career-best performance in the main event at TLC. Her opponent Becky Lynch seemed to be an afterthought in the back of creative’s mind until her recent resurgence, and that was pure alchemy that nobody, least of all creative, saw coming.
But Lacey Evans seems the most likely of the new round of call-ups to thrive on the main roster. She’s already proven herself a capable in-ring performer, but she lacks narrative space to develop her character further. The NXT women’s division currently revolves around Shayna Baszler. Virtually the entire roster, including Evans herself, are locked in highly personal feuds with Baszler or out to claim her title. There’s simply no room in the spotlight for Evans, and drive-by feuds with Kairi Sane and Candice LeRae fizzled out immediately when bigger storylines came knocking.
Evans’ Southern belle gimmick as “the Lady of NXT” centers on a desire to clear out “societal trash” from women’s wrestling. “Societal trash” is a dogwhistle term that flirts with an overt racist characterisation – she’s mainly targeted non-white wrestlers like Dakota Kai and Kairi Sane – but leavens it by including “degenerate” white wrestlers like Nikki Cross and “failed” exemplars of womanhood like Candice LeRae. Without “trash” to fight, Evans has no narrative thrust propelling her forward, but the main roster is full of “trash” so-defined. Both brands have several non-white wrestlers: Raw has Sasha Banks, Bayley, Ember Moon, Alicia Fox, Tamina and Nia Jax, while SmackDown LIVE has Asuka, Naomi and Zelina Vega. For “degenerates”, she has her pick of the Riott Squad, Carmella and now Nikki Cross, and any married superstar could be written to “fail” Evans’ standards as a wife.
Regardless of which brand she ends up on – though I favor Raw – Evans will have plenty of opponents to feud with, very few of whom are already locked into long-term storylines. She will have incredible flexibility in finding the right partner to match her ring style. Both brands are full of superstars who could use an emotionally fraught feud to resuscitate them. Lacey Evans could be just the superstar to not just thrive on the main roster, but elevate it with her presence.