Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss and My Own Inevitable Heel Turn

I like the current feud between Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax.

I know this is not the popular opinion. Well, not popular in the circles I tend to be part of. But the point of my writing isn’t to carry out some kind of specific group agenda. It is to be honest about my own opinions and feelings, and I can’t feel like I’m really doing that unless I speak up with an opinion that might not sit well with my regular readers.

You might consider this my heel turn. I’m poised behind you with a steel chair ready to strike and afterwards you’ll wonder how I could ever do such a thing. I’ll try to make your trip through the barbershop window as comfortable as possible. Here are my responses to the criticisms of the build towards Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax at Wrestlemania.

Alexa’s behavior is awful. It is bratty, nasty and outright cruel. I have seen a lot of people get upset over it because of Alexa’s own history with body-shaming in real life. But the thing I am asking you to remember is that we’re not dealing with the real life Lexi Kaufman. We’re dealing with the fictional Alexa Bliss. And she’s the bad guy here.

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I usually hate the dismissal of “well, of course a heel will act like a heel.” Very often it undercuts the actual issues being discussed. The problem in a lot of cases isn’t that the heel is doing bad things, it’s what’s going on behind the curtain that causes the problems. No, a man shouldn’t have grabbed that briefcase. There’s no excuse for your heel champion to be grossly racist towards his opponent. Mocking someone over a sibling’s suicide for the sake of a wrestling feud is way too far.

There’s reason to be concerned about that in this case. After all, WWE doesn’t have the best track record with storylines centered around women’s weight. Molly Holly and Vickie Guerrero have both been targets of this sort of thing, with the justification being that both were heels. It was okay to insult them because they were villains. This is, of course, ridiculous, both of them were able to get plenty of heel heat without going after their appearance.

But the most glaring and obvious example that has been brought up lately is the Piggy James angle. Mickie James, the face in the scenario, was mocked mercilessly by Lay-Cool over her size. This is, on the surface, just heels doing heel things. Except, none of the Piggy James bits actually got heel heat for Michelle and Layla. But then again, they weren’t supposed to.  The actual point of the angle was to punish James for her body and because she was doing more and more with her country music career outside of WWE.

This has actually been brought up in connection with the Nia Jax storyline because of Mickie being Alexa’s back-up. The argument from people is “why would Mickie side with Alexa to fat-shame Nia when Mickie was fat-shamed herself?”

Because this story is painfully honest. Which is why I’ll argue that it actually works.

Now, the original segment that aired on Raw with Mickie and Alexa mocking Nia was painful because it just kept going. I can’t defend that at all. You could have achieved the exact same thing with 1/4 of what we were shown. If the backstage segment had ended after Alexa’s comments on Nia only being useful for carrying her bags at the airport it would have been more than enough.

But if you rewatch it, immediately after Alexa and Mickie are told Nia’s heard everything they said, the footage cuts back to Nia heading up the ramp. You distinctly hear someone yell “GO GET HER!” before Nia begins running, with the crowd cheering behind her. During her rampage in the locker room I had this fear she was going to attack Charly Caruso, but instead Nia took out her rage on Alexa’s belongings. It ended with her letting out a scream, her face twisted in rage and hurt, before looking like she was going to cry. Nia was allowed to be complicated.

Since then, Nia has been getting the biggest crowd reactions of her career. The crowd wants to see her get her hands on Bliss. They want to see Bliss get her comeuppance.

Which is also important because Alexa Bliss is The Heel. I’ve gone on time and time again about how I don’t think the crowd really gets that Bliss is supposed to be the bad guy. But in this case it’s clear and Alexa is getting soundly booed for her treatment of her supposed friend. The same types of crowds that chanted “YOU DESERVE IT!” at Alexa are now wanting to see her get ripped in half.

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To be honest, I think this is some of the problem a lot of people are having on a subconscious level. Alexa has been the “YAS QUEEN!” heel to a lot of fans, it’s been fun to see her be snarky and nasty and succeed despite not being what a wrestler is considered to be.

But she’s now turned her lens on someone who’s done nothing but support her, side with her and cheer her, utterly unrepentant about her treatment of Nia. Because for anyone who’s supported her from the audience you suddenly have to face a harsh truth: no matter how often you’re there for her, no matter how many times you celebrate her victories, she doesn’t really care. And you don’t even having to do something “wrong.” She’s not the popular girl who hangs out with someone you wouldn’t expect because she likes them deep down, she’s every stereotype you wanted her to defy and she’s duped you.

Honestly, that’s part of why Mickie’s involvement makes sense to me. Yeah, Alexa was terrible to you before, but now there’s someone worse and you can get yourself back into The Orbit of the Self-Proclaimed Goddess.  Also, it challenges this idea that women who have been fat-shamed themselves can’t or won’t fat shame others. We want to believe that someone who’s felt the hurt of being mocked for their weight would stand up for others who deal with the same.

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But that’s not true. And in Mickie’s case I assume we’re seeing on of the mindsets that leads to it. It was wrong to fat-shame Mickie because she wasn’t really fat. She didn’t deserve it because her body was perfectly fine. But to Mickie, it’s okay to mock Nia’s weight because she is bigger. It’s not rude, it’s just honest.

It’s pointing a finger and yelling “Hey, at least I’m not HER!”

I am trying to figure out the best way to make my big point here, and I’m afraid that doing so is going to end up insulting people I don’t really want to insult. But I think a lot of people in certain wrestling circles forget what an echo chamber we exist in. We curate and cull our list of readers, followers and friends to a point where you can almost forget there are plenty of people out there with really awful opinions and takes. I’m not saying we need to expose ourselves to the worst of those. But I think we do need to realize how often we’re wanking academically about opinions that aren’t realistic and ideals that aren’t humanly possible.

Sometimes, we have to remember what’s real. And wrestling is the only real thing in the world. Everything else is kayfabe.

As always, if you enjoy what you’ve read here please consider contributing to my Patreon.

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