WWF Tough Enough Update: Nidia's Career So Farby Dale Sherman -- 07/10/2002
As mentioned by Mike in his recap of Episode Six, we have an update on Nidia, our second winner from Tough Enough 1. Originally this was going to be a part of my second Quarterly Report, but it grew in size to the point that it deserved its own attention as a separate article. Watch tomorrow for the Report.
Both Nidia and Maven appeared on Smackdown in the weeks after the TE contest concluded, with Nidia’s activities on the show essentially cast as escort/cheerleader for Maven and Al before disappearing from the shows. Both Maven and Nidia then moved to the developmental promotions the WWF uses to help those wrestlers under contract, the OVW (Ohio Valley Wrestling, out of Louisville, Kentucky) and HWA (Heartland Wrestling Association, out of Cincinnati, Ohio). This, as some of you remember, was part of the developmental deal the two winners received when they signed with the WWF, as there was no guarantee that either would be moved up to the WWF permanently, only that they would get a chance to move up.
In the case of Maven, he steadily became a fixture on Smackdown (which makes sense, since the Tough Enough series is shown immediately following Smackdown on Thursday nights). He still had to train and still does train at HWA, but the public can readily see Maven’s progression on a national scale. Nidia, however, has been slowly starting to work her way into the OVW shows.
Nidia, in fact, made few appearances for OVW outside of special autograph sessions and one-off unannounced matches here and there, until a storyline was finally created within the past three months for her true introduction into the weekly OVW television program. The storyline was pretty straightforward and timeless for those used to the workings of wrestling promotions. In this case, the heel manager, Synn (referred to by Jim Cornette during a television commentary as the “Wicked Witch of Kentucky”) had a vendetta against Nidia due to all the attention Nidia had earned since winning, as Synn called Tough Enoughin her promo, “a game show! A GAME SHOW!!!”
In typical fashion, such slurs led to Nidia jumping Synn and beating on her during a match featuring the “Disciples of Synn” against Shelton Benjamin and Redd Dogg (hey, I just report it, I don’t make it up). After weeks of build-up – including a surprise appearance of Synn mouthing off to Nidia at the official WWF Access fan-convention held in Toronto before WrestleMania this year – the storyline lead to a six-person tag-team match at OVW’s Summer Break-Out. This was a wrestling event held on April 5 at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, Kentucky. The show featured most of the OVW stars, along with guest appearances by WWF wrestler Mark Henry and the major attraction of the Nature Boy, Ric Flair, teaming up with his son, David Flair, in a tag-team match. Surprisingly enough, Paulina from the first season of TE was also there, but as a guest and not as a performer.
Nidia was joined in the match by Redd Dogg and Benjamin against Synn and her “disciples.” (Ironically, Benjamin’s stake in the storyline was that the Disciples had cost him his previous partner due to “injuries” and he wanted revenge. Who was his partner? Brock Lesnar. Gee, I wondered whatever became of him . . .?) The build-up in the previous weeks to the match worked well, with OVW’s best heel (i.e. villain, bad person, you get the idea), Synn, picking on Nidia for weeks and pushing the audience into Nidia’s corner. In episode after episode of the television program, Nidia pretty much had her butt handed to her by Synn. Now it was time for payback, and the audience was pretty much eating out of Nidia’s hands when she came to the ring that night. The cheers for Nidia were pretty deafening, with Synn obviously relishing an opportunity to egg the audience on.
But what about the match itself? Well, it was really a tag-team match between the Disciples of Synn and Benjamin & Redd Dogg, with Nidia and Synn being tagged-in every so often to go after each other. When Nidia did hit the ring, she did well in playing up the bumps she took and holding up her end when it came to defensive moves. On the downside, however, Nidia had very little chance for offensive moves against Synn or the other wrestlers, with the exception of a few forearms to the head and one nicely-placed jump over Synn that almost led to a pin for the win early on. Instead, Synn got the best offensive moves in, climaxing with an beautiful moonsault from the top ropes. That move lead to Nidia scurrying out of the way before Synn hit the mat and Nidia pinned the barely conscious Synn for the win. The crowd went wild and Redd Dogg and Benjamin put Nidia on their shoulders for a quick march around the ring, as the Disciples pulled Synn away from the action.
From an audience perspective, the match was great – a known babyface (i.e. hero, good guy, etc.) made a major match appearance and the bad guys lost. Everyone enjoyed it, and make no mistake about it, Nidia and OVW accomplished what they set out to do – showcase Nidia and get her over. Yet, while I was happy to see her finally getting out from behind the autograph-table and into the ring, I wish I could have seen a more pro-active, offensive match from her. This was the opportunity for Nidia to show her stuff to the crowd and really “wow” them with her moves. For this reason, it should have been Nidia doing that moonsault at the end of the match instead of Synn (no matter how impressive Synn was when performing it). Instead, Nidia wins with a simple pin over Synn due to Synn’s own miscalculation of the moonsault.
There could be all kinds of speculation as to why Nidia was introduced in such a fashion and in a six-person tag-team event instead of a singles match. Most probably it was done to get her over with the audience by pairing her with a couple of babyfaces, while also battling head-to-head with one of the most hated heels in the promotion. It was also her first BIG public wrestling appearance (beyond some house show matches -- I believe -- and her brief match with Taylor at WWF Access in March), so the thinking could be to warm her up a bit by having a team around her when showcasing her. Due to this, the feeling may have been to not let her do too much in order to “sell the sizzle, not the steak.” In other words, the audience was already behind Nidia, so there was no need for her to overexert her performance that night.
Any way you look at it, however, Nidia has been in OVW for several months now and to see so little of her in this match was a bit frustrating. Maybe that is a good thing, as we want to see more of her now, so perhaps Nidia and OVW know exactly what they’re doing.
I am concerned about the progression of her character in the promotion (and since TE2 seems so concerned about “character” perhaps it is just as well we discuss this here). One of the major drawbacks of the TE series is that we get to know these individuals through their real-life personalities and backgrounds. We know Nidia was the “dark horse” of the show; we saw the emotions she had in winning the contest and wishing Taylor the best; we know about her history and determination. And, as with Maven, the audience already has a predetermined “character” in mind for these winners – they are the MTV Tough Enough winners. Period. End of story. Here’s the good guys, fresh off of MTV!
Which may be detrimental to the development of their talent in the promotion. With Maven, it worked – he became the green, new kid who is wowing them with his earnestness, sincerity and ability. Due to skill and good fortune, he was able to make such a character work. But what about Nidia? After all, we can’t all be the Honeynut Cheerio Bee. (Heh, small MST3K joke there.)
In OVW, she has been having to work with this albatross around her neck of being “MTV Tough Enough winner, NIDIA!!” She HAS to be the babyface and likable kid in the promotion. Which is a shame as she has been confined to being “the nice kid who wants to prove herself” and her promos, appearances, etc. have been based around this conception of her wrestling character. Why a shame? Because the week before this match, Nidia gave a promo after once again being beaten up by Synn and this time she was no longer the “cute kid” but a fiery, angry so-and-so, yelling and screaming about how she was going to take care of Synn at Spring Break-Out.
And, you know what? That worked! She was great in such a role and I now honestly feel that OVW and the WWF missed the boat by not turning Nidia “heel” early on. She could have easily been introduced as Maven’s partner during those early matches on WWF and then had her turn on Maven at a pivotal point in one of his matches. Just think – Nidia turns against Maven because he’s getting all the attention, while she has to just sit at the side of the ring and “cheer him on.” THEN, she could have been “sent down” to the developmental promotion in the storyline due to her attitude, whereupon she could have been brought in as a heel that thinks the OVW is “beneath her” (after all she IS “MTV Tough Enough winner, Nidia!!!”). It would have allowed Nidia to find a character different than that of Maven’s role and made her a separate entity. From there they could then rebuild her character into one that exists outside of the MTV show and really could have gotten her career jumpstarted.
That didn’t happen, and all my thoughts now are really just “Monday morning quarterbacking.” I believe without a doubt that Nidia will continue and develop through the promotion. I’ve grown to like her and would like to see her succeed. She certainly has moments shinning through in the OVW where I feel positive in her development up through the ranks. I do feel, however, that they missed the boat in getting her career off to the right start and that has held her back, unfortunately.
For those of you who are interested in seeing Nidia in action from the weekly television show, check out the OVW website at http://www.ovwrestling.com/. If you go to “Shop OVW” you can order a month’s worth of television episodes on a tape and keep up with Nidia’s progression. You also get a lot of other great up-and-coming stars, and earlier tapes give you a chance to see such new WWF Superstars like Brock Lesnar, Rico Constantino, Randy Orton, and Ron H20 Waterman – not to mention special appearances by wrestlers like Ric Flair, Rhyno, Big Show, the Hardy Boys, Mark Henry, Chris Benoit and many more. Well worth checking out if you’re a fan of wrestling.
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