The WWE Universe got sincerely surprising news on Thursday when WWE announced that former “Diva” Mickie James would be returning to the company to face Asuka at NXT TakeOver: Toronto.
This can simply be a one-off by the female performer and the company. Without details emerging as far as the scope of the deal, it is as easy to assume she’s being brought in to help with only the TakeOver event as much as it is to think she’ll be heading to NXT to help bolster its women’s division.
Regardless of how long she’s destined to stay, this is a good move by the WWE. With most — if not nearly all, save for Asuka — of NXT’s relevant female wrestlers recently being called up to the main roster, the division has been left in a place of a complete rebuild.
James is still a name-ish talent. While her reach and scope in the WWE Universe has certainly been dimmed since she departed the company in 2010, people still know who she is. This isn’t like bringing back Bastion Booger. To be fair to the brightness, or lack thereof, of her star, a stint in the forever fledgling TNA will do that to a person. That said, people still (mostly) know who she is.
Furthermore, Asuka needs someone to beat up at TakeOver. Save for Ember Moon, who is not in a position to be fed to Asuka, there isn’t a woman on the NXT roster talented enough (at least not yet) to step inside the squared circle with the champion.
Here is where things get slightly, but only ever so, tricky.
James was never known as a tear-the-house-down with her in-ring work type of wrestler. To be fair to her, however, she also competed in the WWE when the company was far more interested in the looks of its female talent than it was with giving them a platform to show of their athletic prowess.
But she is (or at least was) very athletic. She showcased that in her often odd angles involving Trish Stratus and the matches that followed. While those feuds were often a bit disturbing (they would result in two different kidnappings) it was a moment in James’ career when she went from a random female talent on the WWE roster to that of a legitimate superstar.
In fact, it can be argued that her championship match against Stratus at WrestleMania 22 is one of the best women’s matches in the history of the WWE.
So, yes, she is bringing with her at least some name recognition and a bit more credibility than some would admit from a surface level standpoint.
There can be — at least in theory — more to it than that.
If the WWE wants to bring her back as an NXT worker, even if only part-time and mostly as a backstage agent, she can add a veteran presence to what is mostly a very green women’s division. With now nearly a decade’s worth of experience under her belt, James can share her wisdom with the NXT talent. Not only from a business standpoint, but even as far as to how they can garner crowd reaction.
The above is only if she is actually coming back. As already noted, this can simply be a one-off. However, if it is more than that, and it works out well, we can expect the WWE to do similar things for NXT in the future. After all, as it has with the men, it’s done similar things in the past — such as bringing back Rhyno, but he was a rather short stay on the developmental roster.
However one feels about James’ first run with the WWE, which was a mixed-bag if you take it all into account, adding a veteran to an incredibly young stable of performers is never a bad thing.