Wrestlers are often praised for their ability to continually adapt their characters and personas, keeping themselves interesting and fresh for the audience, with the likes of Chris Jericho, The Undertaker and Kurt Angle all being praised for having this trait.
But one wrestler who hasn’t received the adulation for their ability to adapt and evolve their act is former Smackdown Women’s champion, Carmella. Although Carmella has not had a career comparable to the stars previously mentioned, she has shown that she can comfortably play any role in the company and develop to what she has been asked to do.
Carmella first appeared on WWE television alongside Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy (Big Cass), portraying a hairdresser before making her debut against Blue Pants (Leva Bates) just two weeks later. Enzo and Cass became incredibly popular on NXT, and that popularity would carry over when they moved to the main roster, but it would be Carmella who would go on to be the most successful member of the group.
Carmella would eventually be drafted to Smackdown where her ‘Princess of Staten Island’ persona would begin to develop, giving her a unique personality as the moonwalking, trash-talking superstar, and winning the inaugural Women’s Money in the Bank only further catalyzed her success.
Carmella’s victory although, rightly, considered controversial, gave her instant heat with the fans and strengthened her heel persona. Carmella would hold onto the briefcase for 287 days, the longest of any Money in the Bank winner, before cashing in on Charlotte Flair to become Smackdown women’s champion.
In just two years of being on the main roster, Carmella went from a valet to Smackdown Women’s Champion, with her character continually evolving along the way.
Many criticised her in-ring abilities at this time, with many annoyed at her beating seasoned veterans such as Asuka and Flair, but by the end of her reign, she began to more than hold her own in the ring, putting on an excellent performance in her Triple Threat match against Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch at Summerslam.
Carmella had played the ‘Princess of Staten Island’ character for two years on Smackdown, but the end of her title reign signalled the time for change once again. The Women’s title scene at this point was heavily occupied, with the likes of Flair, Lynch, Ronda Rousey, Asuka and Sasha Banks all vying for the gold.
This saw the beginning of her partnership with R-Truth, with Carmella turning face and helping Truth to retain and continually regain the 24/7 Championship.
This also saw the introduction of the Dance Break. Although you may roll your eyes at that now, at the time it was over with the fans, and the duo would continually play a strong comedic duo on screen despite the unlikely pairing.
The Fabulous Truth, as they were known, would go on to win the Mixed Match Challenge, earning them both the number 30 spot in their respective Royal Rumbles, although R-Truth would be jumped by Nia Jax to lose his place. The partnership began to wear thin after Wrestlemania 35, with the Dance Break before the main event matches earning a groan from an already tired crowd.
Carmella would become less and less prominent on TV, seemingly making up the numbers for the Women’s Division on Smackdown during the pandemic era, going off television after failing to win the Money in the Bank ladder match at Titan Towers. Carmella’s face persona had run its course and was never being to be a serious contender for the title at this point, so it was clearly time for another change.
The new ‘Untouchable’ character of Carmella fired her straight back into the title picture, with a new look and new attitude making her a believable threat to Sasha Banks as she chases the Smackdown Women’s Championship. There may have been a temptation to return to being the Princess of Staten Island, but this new persona feels fresh and sees her pitted as a more credible threat to Banks.
If Carmella were put into a feud with Banks in her previous face role, no one would have believed her to be a credible contender, but the adaption to her character has once again made her a threat. That, paired with her new entrance makes her feel much more important than she did before.
It is unlikely that Carmella will beat Banks and feels more of a filler feud for the Boss as she heads towards Wrestlemania, but something that would have been a certainty five months ago is anything but at this stage.
Carmella’s new character is unlikely to live forever, but she has shown us that she will have no problem in developing her character and remaining fresh.