Lacey Evans: The Importance of a First Impression

While it may feel like a distant memory now, Lacey Evans first graced the Monday Night RAW screen all the way back in December. Back then it was simply an introduction, a brief vignette spotlighting a call-up that frankly, hadn’t arrived with immense excitement or anticipation. Far from it in fact, with Evans still a relatively new face in a world filled familiar ones. 2018 had been a year of visible growth for Lacey regardless, establishing a genuine character and receiving TV time as a result.

That soon led Evans to her first program too, clashing with Kairi Sane in what proved a pivotal chapter in Lacey’s young career. Across a handful of TV showings, the feud allowed Evans to progress immensely, both in-ring and out. While Evans’ commitment to her character stood out immediately, her bell to bell performance was evolving quite dramatically. After somewhat forgettable showings initially, Evans swiftly began to thrive opposite Sane, leaning on her foe’s experience while showing incredibly encouraging instincts along the way.

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Lacey’s execution was promising but it was her overall approach that impressed me personally. Kairi’s brilliance is established but Evans brought her own package of palpable fire nonetheless. There was a rather refreshing aggression to her every move, a purpose that heightened her flashier offense which already stood out anyway. Evans’ moonsault looked stunning but the sheer spite she battled with was far more unique in my view. At that moment, Lacey’s ceiling demanded adjustment, quite obviously establishing herself as one to very much watch.

Well, that process was then accelerated, with Evans’ aforementioned vignette airing alongside a handful of other NXT call-ups. In truth, she was a part of an ill-advised group. The lack of planning was evident and the timing less than optimal. However, after appearing as the 2019 Royal Rumble’s first entrant, Lacey’s main roster role soon took shape. For now, it’d be a rather limited one, as Evans simply walked the stage, waving at fans and appearing without anything ever actually happening.

That allowed Evans a bridge though, a way to make it past WrestleMania without just becoming another women on the roster. She wasn’t losing each week to contenders and while no real impression had been made, Lacey remained visible nonetheless. As soon as ‘The Grandest Stage’ had come and gone though, that soon changed. Just one day after Becky Lynch’s two belt triumph, Evans stepped forward as her very first new challenger. It was a major spot but with just one right hand, Lacey swiftly looked at home.

Since arriving on the main roster, Lacey’s name had been surrounded by speculation and conjecture. While on TV, she’d only appeared briefly, her presence already resulted in contrasting viewpoints. Discussions of Evans’ future quickly commenced, with her supposedly becoming the latest of wrestling’s most nonsensically polarizing group: ‘Vince’s chosen ones.’ Realistically, our understanding of those discussions remain non-existent but right or wrong, that perception is one shrouded in negativity. Lacey wasn’t yet the case of a failed push though, she was actually a new face at the very start of one.

Whether she’ll succeed or not? Well that answer remains unclear but in just one month, she’s certainly silenced some of the initial doubters in my view. Evans is matched with one of wrestling’s biggest stars and with that, a range of new challenges have emerged. While she’s obviously benefited from the audience’s prior investment in Lynch, Lacey’s positioning has also demanded a real confidence and poise too. Without that, Evans would’ve drowned in these interactions, failing to project strongly enough when opposite one of the industry’s most assured personas.

That’s not been the case though and in fact, Lacey’s presence has been nothing short of admirable. She’s still a work in progress of course but transitioning to this stage is no easy task and thus far, Evans is standing tall and answering each question that comes her way. It’s hard to argue that this is a genuinely exciting prospect that with time, can become a pivotal piece of the constantly evolving women’s division. Frankly, that much is already clear. However, her place within that journey becomes much clearer on Sunday.

At Money in the Bank, Lacey has the opportunity to answer some of the biggest questions still remaining. That perception I mentioned earlier? Well it only becomes weakened if Evans delivers against Lynch once the bell finally rings. Prior to that moment, this is all just speculation. Some are ready to dismiss the upstart challenger while others feel more like myself, optimistic based on our admittedly limited understanding thus far. A range of factors could impact the final product but in truth, all eyes remain on Evans, fair or not.

When I see the response to her recent brawls with Lynch though, I can’t help but feel encouraged. There’s zero hesitation in Lacey’s performance, a natural fire and aggression that reminds me of those showings opposite Sane. Those matches may not have been classics or even ones that remain in every fan’s memory but until I see otherwise, I’ll maintain that they represented real potential. Technically, Evans’ skill-set will be constantly analyzed in the coming weeks and months but if she can keep this confidence throughout, Lacey’s title contention will likely be far from short-lived.

Lacey Evans’ presence is about to divide people and the debate’s intensity will only heighten from here. Right now, that shouldn’t be the focus though. This story is about opportunity, one talent’s chance to immediately establish herself at the top. Evans is facing a genuine challenge here and her performance thus far has matched it all the way. If that trend doesn’t continue Sunday though, this whole experiment could be swiftly stalled. That’s an interesting story in itself but for now, its meaning remains a mystery.

Either this is the start of a cornerstone’s ascension or it’s a brief moment in time before plans were changed so to speak. The beauty of it is, that decision will likely be made by Evans herself, both this Sunday and in the pivotal weeks that’ll follow it. The truth will become clear soon enough and once it does, this division’s future may be shifted as a result.

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