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Welcome once again to the NXT TRACKER, where I pick an NXT talent, assess their progression to this point and make bold, sure-to-look-hilarious-in-retrospect predictions about their future prospects. Today I’m going to cover one of the year’s big success stories, Lacey Evans.
Oh, also be sure to check out the weekly “PWT Talks NXT” PWTorch Livecast podcast every Wednesday night where I’m joined by several cohosts to discuss that night’s NXT TV show and the latest NXT news and future events.
Lacey Evans – whose real name is Macey Estrella (her sister’s given name was Lacey Evans, in case you want to be completely confused) – has had a very interesting life. I initially was pretty hard on her on the PWT Talks NXT podcast in the early days, but if I had known half of her life story, I probably would have been among those cheering loudest for her success. Evans lost her father to a drug overdose and grew up in a very difficult environment. It was during her time in the Marines that she got into wrestling, and it was this military background that would serve to both inspire and convolute her packaging throughout her first couple of years in NXT. She wrestled as Macey Estrella on TV for a short while before ending up with her current name in May 2017.
Signature Wins in NXT
Like the Iconic Duo before her, Evans has been in a position to lose a lot of matches to babyfaces. Also like the Iconics, she’s created a character that is somewhat bulletproof and can now retain her heat simply by being so snotty leading up to every match. On May 23rd of this year, she won the middle match of a three-match feud with Kairi Sane that was probably her highest profile win to date, in a mini-feud that I think accomplished some character goals for both. On July 11th she beat Dakota Kai, which may or may not be a high profile win depending on where they’re headed with the Kai character.
It took some time, but Lacey is really getting the desired heel reactions. Her moveset and music (which has been largely tweaked) both always felt more suited to a heel, making her bland military babyface presentation all the more perplexing. Once she turned, she found her footing in a big way and the announce team backed off of her service to the US, allowing her to generate heat. She’s also held up her end of the bargain on the mic, where she was once a liability but now does dismissiveness as artfully as anyone on the NXT roster, save for maybe Shayna Baszler. As her character has become more defined, so has the audience reaction.
Lacey was seemingly given no help in this regard. It’s comparatively rare for the NXT brand to be so undecided about a character’s direction, but at times I really thought they were throwing everything against the wall to see what would stick. At the nadir for the character, she was being touted by Mauro Ranallo for her service as she was wrestling a cruel, clearly heelish match in the ring. I literally didn’t know what the company wanted me to think of her, and it colored my feelings for her act in a negative way that now seems long in the past, given her clear hard work and dedication to finding her ring voice.
The Future and Predictions
In the ring, Lacey Evans is starting to get pretty good at working a heel match. I look forward to her appearances and nod in appreciation as she keeps making strides. I feel like this is something I say too often on the podcast, but I like her as a future Miz-style heel, who can hang around title contention if needed, but even when not doing so, is a very valuable jerk for babyfaces to take care of in between title shots. The sky may be the limit if she goes up soon.
I do think, with hopefully a good many years ahead of her in the ring, that Evans is going to be a future champion on the main roster. I would not have said this six months ago or so, but if there’s one thing I love, it’s when a wrestler ends up proving me wrong.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: NXT TRACKER – Lars Sullivan: Assessing and predicting the prospects of NXT wrestlers’ main roster future