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Is the Funkadactyl Gimmick Holding Naomi Back?
Though valets and female managers have been present in WWE for decades, many of them were known primarily for their beauty and sexuality, as opposed to their in-ring skills. Some, like Sable, The Kat and Torrie Wilson, tried to wrestle but weren't really too good at it. Others, like Terri Runnels and Rosa Mendes, hardly tried to get in the ring, and when they did, the audience knew that they weren't about to witness a wrestling clinic by any stretch of the imagination. But now, with the unprecedented popularity of Total Divas, the WWE women's division has been thrust under a spotlight. This spotlight has served to further expose a girl who is currently performing as a valet, but would really achieve her true potential as an active competitor in the Divas division.
Naomi first appeared on WWE television as a contestant on the third season of NXT, where she placed second overall in the competition. Even in NXT, her athletic ability was undeniable. Years of dancing professionally for the Orlando Magic had endowed Naomi with a level of strength and athleticism that not many of the other girls in WWE at the time could boast. Her mic work as rookie was arguably better than any other diva from season 3, and even better than her NXT Pro, Kelly Kelly. During a "Diss the Divas" segment, Naomi took offense to some of Kaitlyn's comments from the previous week, and fearlessly got right in Kaitlyn's face. Her command of the microphone for someone who was just starting out was really something special; if she was intimidated by the crowd or by Kaitlyn, she didn't show it. This segment alone proved that Naomi could work as a mean, angry heel if given the opportunity. In her NXT video package, she spoke about her passion for performing and for sports. In the ring, she declared that "if this is about wrestling and entertainment, I have got all of these girls up here beat."
After NXT, Naomi reemerged in the WWE as one of the Funkadactyls, Brodus Clay's duo of dancing divas. Originally a good platform for reintroducing Naomi to the WWE Universe, the Funkadactyl act, while still entertaining, is now holding Naomi back. On Total Divas, she expressed disappointment at being cut from the WrestleMania card, and seemed more distraught than her partner Cameron was. Naomi is the one who is clearly more passionate about wrestling and performing, and as such, she should be allowed to break away from the Funkadactyls and expand on another gimmick. Cameron's in-ring work is not nearly as good as Naomi's; she is similar to many former valets who try to wrestle but aren't particularly convincing. Former WWE Superstar Lance Storm enjoys Naomi's work, and he has tweeted about her wrestling ability on more than one occasion. He has called himself a "big Naomi fan," and stated that she is a "great athlete with so much potential." This is high praise from someone like Storm, who is a technically sound performer and has his own wrestling school. Storm has even gone as far as to say that he wishes Naomi had "more good talent to work with."
Any time Naomi has been in the ring, whether in singles or tag matches, she has impressed with her moveset and athleticism. If someone like Storm has taken note, there is no doubt that the WWE brass knows the incredible talent they have on their hands. The next step is to allow Naomi to integrate fully into the Divas division by removing her from the Funkadactyl tag team and establishing her as a permanent singles competitor. One of the best ways to do this is to turn Naomi heel and have her attack Cameron. This storyline is ideal because it could be built around Naomi's frustration with Cameron's ringwork, or their win/loss record as a tag team. The dissension could culminate in a brawl reminiscent of the demise of LayCool, with Layla throwing Michelle over a table and both women striking passionately with hard shots. Naomi turning her back both on Cameron and Tons of Funk in pursuit of her own personal success would be a memorable end to the Funkadactyls. Frankly, it has to happen sooner or later. There isn't much else the Funkadactyls can do as a female tag team or as valets. An angry Naomi lashing out at Cameron, perhaps throwing her into the steel steps or the barricade, will cause the WWE Universe to take notice in an instant. Here is a fun-loving, dancing babyface valet absolutely snapping into a selfish, career-obsessed heel, one who wouldn't think twice of attacking her former friend. The concept is compelling and exciting, and with the Divas division on a recent upward trend, Naomi's heel turn would only serve to draw more interest to the division.
The chase for the Divas championship has circulated around AJ and Kaitlyn for the past few months. While their rivalry is personal and entertaining, it does need a few more characters inserted into the title picture before it gets stale. A new heel Naomi would be a fantastic addition, as would Layla. The Bella Twins, riding the wave of their increasing popularity due to Total Divas, could turn face. And who could forget Kharma, who tweeted weeks ago that she was preparing for a return to television? With Total Divas extended by another six episodes, perhaps the bickering between the Funkadactyls can begin there and then escalate on Raw. In the coming months, it will be interesting to see how the WWE progresses with Naomi. Keeping her as a valet isn't fair to her, or to women's wrestling fans who know what she would be capable of if she is given a free rein in the women's division. Due to her passion for wrestling and entertaining, and especially because her match was cut from this year's WrestleMania, it would be fantastic to see Naomi come full circle and defend the Diva's championship at next year's WrestleMania.
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