Summer Rae isn’t doing too badly for herself, is she? As well as being the first of the NXT Diva crop to make it to WWE TV, she was successful in her debut match, which also happened to be on pay-per-view. In that match, she and Fandango defeated Natalya and The Great Khali in a mixed tag, where the women were the better workers. This Sunday, Summer is one of the seven women taking on the Total Divas cast at the Survivor Series PPV – an impressive feat, considering former Divas Champion Layla is not part of the septet.
It seems that the 29-year old has some big supporters in WWE, and for good reason. This week’s Wrestling Observer reports that there are three acts that the company is high on – Roman Reigns from The Shield, Intercontinental Champion Big E Langston and our Summer. Considering she has only been part of the wrestling business for around two years, it’s an enviable progression…
Before signing with World Wrestling Entertainment in November 2011, Danielle Moinet was no stranger to contact sports in small amounts of clothing. As team captain and cornerback for the Chicago Bliss in the Lingerie Football League, her shining moment was being one of two Bliss players to make it to the LFL All-Star Game. Getting stuck into wrestling life very quickly, she debuted on Florida Championship Wrestling a month after reporting to Tampa by managing Abraham Washington and becoming the show’s ring announcer. In March 2012, she had her first run-in with new face Paige but ascended to the General Manager position the following week. The following month, she made her wrestling debut in a triple threat involving Paige and Sofia Cortez (Ivelisse Velez), which was won by the Puerto Rican spitfire.
Rae continued her ring announcing duties when NXT relaunched at Full Sail University in Winter Park in June, but while she was wrestling the odd match here and there, her launchpad was when Paige – victorious in a match – accidentally backed into her and saw Summer hit the Brit from behind and leave the ringside area. From there, Summer became a cocky, self-absorbed heel and also got the first win in their feud, which gave her some immediate credibility by way of defeating her more-experienced opponent and ending Paige’s unbeaten streak in NXT. Her momentum continued and saw her notch up wins over Emma and Natalya, and by the time the Women’s Title tournament kicked off in May, she was a favourite to snare the title – or at least have to face her British enemy in the final. As it turned out, after progressing to the semi final by beating Sasha Banks, she was upset by Emma – though got in a few shots after the result before Paige made the save. As the summer continued, Rae divided her interests between champion Paige and the happy-go-lucky Australian, which shows WWE’s confidence in her working multiple feuds at the same time. However by then, Summer was not just working between feuds – she was also working both WWE and NXT.
Rae replaced college student/dance instructor Andrea Lynn as Fandango’s dance partner in April of this year – and while her steps weren’t that polished at the start, she soon found her feet. She started in an angle involving Chris Jericho and faked an injury in a dance-off to allow Fandango to attack the former Undisputed Champion. The pair’s attention soon switched to Khali and Natalya which saw Rae make her in ring debut live on PPV with a victory, and then she had her first match on Raw the following night in a losing effort against Mrs Tyson Kidd.
Her most recent Raw antics were on Monday’s episode where she was part of the musical chairs game which saw the Divas and Total Divas size up to each other, leading to the match announcement of AJ Lee, Kaitlyn, Rosa Mendes, Aksana, Tamina Snuka, Alicia Fox and Summer against Natalya, Eva Marie, Jojo, Cameron, Naomi, and Nikki & Brie Bella. With two consecutive PPV appearances, you could convincingly call her a full-blown Diva now, but her time in NXT isn’t over yet.
Back in Winter Park, Rae is part of a triumvirate known as the Beautiful Fierce Females which also includes Banks and Charlotte, who turned on fangirl Bayley on last week’s show to become part of the group. Sasha turned heel after losing a Women’s Title challenge to Paige, attacking the champion after bell following Summer getting into the ear of Banks’ ear before the match. Essentially playing two different characters in the same promotion, Summer is very busy in a very unique position, though busy is good. She’s certainly being given every opportunity to succeed.
Standing 5’10” with long blonde hair and possessing a very convincing heel swagger, Summer Rae immediately draws comparisons with former Diva Maryse, and with good reason. However, Rae is already a better wrestler, and has a huge amount of scope to develop even further. While her age may be a sticking point in the future, should she get over huge very quickly, she could be set for a long time. Congratulations to her though – while the Fandango dance partnership may have been a case of being in the right place at the right time, she has certainly taken full advantage of the situation and deserves the success, and in NXT, she is positioned as the top heel with her cohorts in tow. Even though she didn’t come from a wrestling background, she is proof that the right people with the right attitude and desire can be successfully developed.
– Lee Burton
– Photos by WWE, Chicago Bliss