When Alexa Bliss was drafted to SmackDown Live last July, the collective response was a positive one. For the last year, Bliss had been impressing in NXT after a heel turn had seemingly unlocked a character full of personality and presence. What Bliss was doing in that time wasn’t really unique on paper, she was simply another bratty villainess but there was something about the way in which she did it that made her stand out from the pack. Whether it be with her now famous facial expressions or just general evilness, Bliss was a fun addition to what had become a progressive NXT women’s division. However for everything I just wrote, there wasn’t too many people expecting Bliss to be a women’s champion on the main roster for quite some time, and understandably so.
The truth was that as entertaining as Bliss had been throughout her NXT run, she was never really a major player. In fact, Bliss’ only ever appeared on a TakeOver event as the valet for then tag team champions Blake and Murphy and was rarely featured in the title picture barring a couple of time passing TV programmes. I’m not saying that the powers that be were missing out either, that’s simply where Bliss fit in at that time. She was a fun personality that made for good television but ultimately seemed to lack the grandeur and polish of her higher positioned counterparts. During the last couple of months of Bliss’ NXT run though, things seemed to be clicking and an ascension up the totem pole seemed inevitable.
That ascension would be taken from fans though when Bliss was pulled up to the main roster just as she began to hit her stride. Though Bliss had rounded out her NXT stint with some very impressive in-ring showings, it seemed unlikely that those opportunities would present themselves on SmackDown for quite some time. It was still undeniably a good call up regardless, with the talent pool admittedly thin, Bliss represented a young prospect with tons of potential that had enough personality to maximize what many expected to be her brief TV time. Very quickly though, as the rosters were completed and the shows began to progress, it was clear that Bliss would be much more than just a bit-part player in what initially seemed a hamstrung women’s division.
After some showcase moments in the six-pack elimination challenge at Backlash, Bliss would next become the number one contender to the newly crowned champion Becky Lynch. It was a refreshing clear babyface and heel clash and Bliss seemed the perfect fit for Lynch’s first challenger. It was expected that the two would make for some enjoyable television as well as some solid matches on the way to establishing Lynch as the division’s top star. However, as the weeks went by it was suddenly evident that this shouldn’t be just a feud to consolidate Lynch, but in fact one to elevate Bliss into the vacant spot of the division’s top heel. In front of our very eyes Bliss had grown into a polished and dynamic performer, and it showed every time she had a microphone in her hand.
Though the SmackDown women’s division seemed short on star power at first, Bliss and Lynch were good enough to get people invested purely with their promos and personality. Surprisingly, a title change now seemed inevitable and it came at TLC when Bliss won the belt after less than five months on the main roster. It had been a spectacular rise but Bliss’ progress wouldn’t stop there as she thrived in the champion role, regularly entertaining with classic heel shenanigans as Becky looked to regain her crown. The return of Mickie James would lead to a break from Bliss’ feud with Lynch as the champion moved onto a programme with a re-emerging Naomi. Just weeks later, Bliss would drop the title to Naomi in what seemed an out of left field move but in reality, was completely understandable.
In under seven months, Bliss had already reached a point in which she didn’t need the belt and that was crystal clear when she sat on Talking Smack so proudly listing her multiple ridiculous excuses. Sometimes there are characters with enough personality to keep themselves strong regardless of wins and losses and Bliss was now a quite rare example of that in the women’s division. Unfortunately, we’ll never know of the original direction (or at least I don’t think we will) as a Naomi injury forced her to relinquish her title. Only nine days after dropping the belt, Bliss had it again and as if there was any doubt before, had solidified her spot as the top heel in the fledgling SmackDown women’s division. Cunning, devious and genuinely hateable, that once vacant spot was now undeniably locked up.
It seems to have happened in an instant but in a mere matter of months, Alexa Bliss has gone from a supporting player in NXT to one of SmackDown’s centerpieces. No longer just an entertaining character capable of meme-worthy facial expressions, Bliss is now a heel that draws genuine heat and seems a level above the rest on the microphone. Whilst she may not be quite as good as some of her peers in the ring yet, Bliss’ progression is constant and more than that, it’s all of the minor details that appear in between the moves that really make her stand out. Everything is meticulously considered and her character commitment is frankly refreshing, constantly reacting and performing in way befitting of her bratty persona. A great example to all the current NXT talent, Bliss simply took the ball and ran with it, maximizing her opportunity immensely. Though maybe not the finished article quite yet, Alexa Bliss is a star that simply would not and could not be ignored.