Travelling the world as Tenille
Tenille Dashwood has been exposed to the world of professional wrestling from as early as the age of 13. For the entirety of her teenage years, she was training and performing in her home country of Australia.
At the young age of 18, Tenille set her sights on future development when she flew to Canada where she enrolled at the Storm Wrestling Academy in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. She trained under the tutelage of in-ring technician Lance Storm, who is known to be one of the best technical wrestlers produced by the country.
Her training paid off as she became a hit in the independent circuit wrestling under various regional promotions, as well as the Shimmer Women Athletes promotion under the name Tenille Williams. At 22, she had already gone back and forth through Canada, the United States, and her home country of Australia at such a ripe age.
It was quite a journey for a very young Dashwood which did not fall on blind eyes as the WWE took notice and signed her to a developmental deal in 2011.
WWE beginnings as Emma and the NXT women's division
Dashwood chose to sit out the majority of her first year under her WWE developmental deal as she recuperated from a lurking shoulder injury she had undergone surgery for. She then utilized the time to study the character aspect of wrestling which was lacking during her days back in the indies.
She finally debuted under the ring name Emma on one of the final shows of WWE’s developmental territory Florida Championship Wrestling. The promotion merged with then weekly sideshow NXT to create an entire developmental brand.
As Emma, she had a goofy dancer gimmick but happened to be in the top half of NXT’s women’s division together with Summer Rae and Aksana who were spending time on the main roster as well. Paige was the division’s champion back then and Emma was a clear-cut contender at that time, challenging for the NXT Women’s Title twice but losing both matches.
It was during this time that she and Paige were tearing it down for the at Full Sail while the Four Horsewomen, namely Bayley, Sasha Banks, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch, were still in the process of developing their own unique characters.
First stint on the main roster
Emma debuted on the main roster as a planted fan as she was paired alongside Santino Marella. The run was cut short though when Marella announced his retirement from in-ring competition.
She continued to wrestle on the main roster trading wins and losses with the division’s mid-carders such as Alicia Fox, Summer Rae, and Cameron but lost to top-level competitors such as Paige and the Bella Twins (Nikki and Brie).
Though she was alternating time on both the main roster and NXT, Emma was sent back down full-time for further enhancement as her character had not really stuck on the main roster.
A change in landscape
When Emma returned to NXT, the landscape of the women’s division had changed by leaps and bounds. The Four Horsewomen were now the four top stars in the division, and it was no easy task to break into that mix.
She then aligned herself Dana Brooke who was in an angle with Bayley and Charlotte Flair at that time while Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch feuded over the NXT Women’s Title. They then feuded with Asuka later on before Brooke got injured and Emma was called back up to the main roster.
While her period back in NXT didn't lead to a title reign, it allowed Emma to solidify her character and prepare for a re-debut on the main roster.
Women’s Revolution and another setback
It was in Emma’s second stint on the main roster that the women’s revolution started. During that time, three of the four horsewomen were called up.
Emma, along with Natalya, was significantly excluded from the three teams created to start the said revolution. It wasn’t until the Four Horsewomen feuded around the title that Emma and Natalya were inserted back into the storylines.
The current cast of Total Divas, namely the Bella Twins, Natalya, Paige, and Eva Marie faced the team of Emma, Naomi, Tamina, Summer Rae, and Lana in the pre-show of WrestleMania 32. Though Emma’s team lost, the future looked bright for her after WrestleMania.
She feuded with Becky Lynch and was starting to gain momentum as she defeated Lynch in singles competition. The feud became more interesting when she reunited with Dana Brooke on the main roster.
Unfortunately for Emma, injury struck again when she sustained a back injury which kept her out of action for almost five months.
The makeover to Emmalina and vice versa
While Emma was recovering from her injury, a series of vignettes aired showing pictures of Emma from various photo shoots. The character portrayed was that of a gorgeous diva who likes to flaunt her beauty, and it appeared very similar to the character Summer Rae had been using.
After months worth of these vignettes being aired every week, Emmalina finally appeared Raw in February only to announce that she would undergo another makeover back to Emma. Some members of the WWE Universe were disappointed due to the hype, while others were relieved as they'd not felt Emma fit the new character.
Backstage reports were that Emma did not fit into the gimmick well which is why they switched her back to “Villain Emma”.
So what happened to Emma?
Basically, Emma became a victim of bad luck and poor booking. She definitely has the in-ring ability as evidenced by her classics with Paige back when the two were the cornerstone of NXT’s women’s division.
Her history with injuries may also have been a factor since it would be a huge risk putting an injury prone superstar in a high-profile match. Her injuries do not happen to occur in the middle of her performances, meaning it isn't botches that puts her on the sidelines.
Another thing may be that Emma has portrayed three different roles already which makes it hard to find a specific one to market. The inability to pull off the Emmalina character may have proven that point.
It is interesting to note however that Emma has debuted a new theme recently on Raw and followed it up with a win over Mickie James. It seems like the WWE has found the perfect angle to mix with Emma’s villainous gimmick.
Is this finally Emma’s time?
The WWE Universe are still high on Emma as her looks could stun anyone watching but it’s time to give her credit for her work as well. Provided she can stay healthy, Emma could definitely be able to pull off the same quality of performances like she had on NXT.
It’s too early to tell if it’s indeed Emma’s time at the moment as this is probably the first time she will be put in a significant storyline on the main roster. What makes it significant is the fact that after the whole “I started the Women’s Revolution” angle, she is now in the mix for the title hunt.
Currently, Emma’s push is still in its infancy but given what we saw last Monday on Raw, it seems like signs are pointing to her favor. Emma will be the underdog in the Fatal 5-Way Women’s Championship match at No Mercy but is no sleeper as well.
Emma will get to showcase the wrestling skill she has been hiding all these years. She now has the chance to catch up with the likes of Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, and even Nia Jax.
Given the current landscape of Raw's women’s division, it’s safe to say that Emma’s time will indeed come. It’s just a matter of how soon though and let's just hope creative books her strong in her title match at No Mercy.
How do you feel about the way Emma has been used? Let us know in the comments below!