By now you know that Paige returned to Raw on Monday night, and brought NXT’s Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose with her to flatten most of the Women’s Division and establish themselves as a violent heel faction to be reckoned with. Or maybe a tweener faction, considering they went full Eleanor Shellstrop on Alexa Bliss, beating her up too when she tried to cozy up to them. Either way, they’re kicking ass and taking names and looking great doing it.
Since the moment it happened, much of the wrestling internet has been deep in a discussion about who should have been called up to accompany Paige instead of Sonya and Mandy. After all (go the arguments), Sonya’s barely done anything in NXT and Mandy has only wrestled on TV twice (although she’s apparently been doing great work at house shows).
Everyone wants to see their favorite NXT women on the main roster, so I understand being disappointed that this debut wasn’t the Iconic Duo or Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross. Believe me, I love all of them, too. But when you think about it, any of those women would have been the wrong choice, whereas Sonya and Mandy actually work perfectly.
First off, bringing in Peyton Royce and Billie Kay as Paige’s friends would destroy what’s so great about them. The defining trait of the Iconic Duo, if you haven’t noticed, is that they love each other and hate everyone else in the world. They couldn’t even team with Sonya for one match without betraying her and making an enemy. When they finally come up to the main roster, they absolutely must do so as a duo, not two-thirds of a trio. Not to mention, we have a pure babyface NXT Women’s Champion now, and they may need to keep some strong female heels down there for a while.
Then there’s Ruby Riot. Despite her punk persona and rowdy style, she’s a hero at heart, and it would be a shame to see her suddenly drafted into a heel faction. Not to mention, the sort of fans who are inclined to dismiss her already see her as a replacement Paige (because you can have 30 conventionally-hot tan girls but only one punky alt-girl, I guess) and making her literally Paige’s sidekick wouldn’t help.
Nikki Cross makes even less sense. Her current persona is working incredibly well right now, and that persona is inextricably linked to SAnitY. Pulling her out of that faction to do something else rather than letting the four of them come up together when it’s time would be a huge mistake. Saying she should be Paige’s lackey is less insulting than saying she should be Sister Abigail (which we also heard a lot for a while), but that’s a low bar. Plus, Nikki and Ruby have an ongoing “friends or foes” storyline, which it would be a shame to abandon.
With Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose, you get two women with sketched-out characters, but no strong alliances or storylines. They work well together (and are best friends in real life), but they’re also very distinct from each other, and neither of them resembles Paige. They may not be the most “ready” of all the women at NXT, but they’re well-positioned to leave, and working with the Raw women’s roster will lead them to improve that much more quickly.
There’s one more reason I love seeing these three together. I doubt it’s intentional, but it works regardless. Russ Meyer’s 1965 cult classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! established the perfect dynamic for a badass three-woman criminal gang. In that film, the group is led by Varla, a tough-as-nails woman with black hair and plenty of eyeliner, who dresses all in black with no shortage of cleavage. Varla’s right-hand woman is Rosie, a hardened, queer-coded Italian with no patience for nonsense. Rounding out the trio is Billie, a blonde glamour-girl who almost seems too sweet and femme for this party, but she’s there by choice.
I assume I don’t even need to explain that Paige and friends fit these archetypes perfectly, with Paige as Varla, Sonya as Rosie, and Mandy as Billie. I’m not saying they should kidnap Alexa Bliss and escape into the desert in hot rods, but on the other hand, let’s be honest, that’s a WWE Studios movie I’d definitely watch.