|Dana has EVOLVED...and we couldn't be more proud of her!|
Photo credit: WWE.com
Evolution: the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.
This weekend's WWE pay-per-view titled WWE Evolution is exactly that. What felt like a dream for fans of the female superstars in WWE is now a reality. For the first time in WWE history, the female superstars get their own pay-per-view. No, we're not stupid, things could have been a TAD bit better in building the event, but the fact that it's even happening in the first place is a big win for the women. While a lot of people have talked about the evolution of the division and some of its top stars, we want to take a little time to focus on someone who we feel is underrated and underappreciated by the wrestling fans and wrestling world as a whole...someone we consider one of our own, Dana Brooke.
Real name Ashley Sebera, Dana will be competing in the Evolution Battle Royal, featuring former champions (Asuka, Nia Jax, Ember Moon), rising stars (such as Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, the IIconics) and former competitors (such as Ivory, Kelly Kelly, and Michelle McCool) with the opportunity at a future Women's Championship down the line. While obviously we hope Dana wins, we want to take some time to mention why as we focus on Dana's OWN Evolution.
Dana begin her journey to WWE as an aspiring gymnast (part of the Junior Olympics, last we checked) and unfortunately injuries and surguries took her out of actively pursuing that further. She went into diving and was pretty damn good at it, but in her own words, "there was nowhere to go for her" in terms of diving, and let's be real, there wasn't. From there, she discovered the bodybuilding world, more spefically the bikini division. While that was cool for her...she wanted more because of her own competitive nature. From there she decided to enter the fitness division and found her niche. She would end up competing in the National Physique Committee (NPC) for a short time before competing as a pro in the International Federaion of Bodybuilders (IFBB). While she never competed on the Olympia stage, she ended up being good enough to compete on the Arnold stage (which is invite-only) two times. While competing at the Arnold multiple times is an honor in itself, it's the fact that she is the first (and as of now only) person (male or female) to do it while under a WWE contract. She did it in 2015 while in NXT, and she did it last year on the main roster. In fact, it was during her time in the fitness division where WWE would discover her.
Dana began her WWE journey at the Performance Center in July 2013 and would make her NXT debut shortly after. We do have to be honest, her debut was definitely less an ideal, but that was to be expected with most of her class having prior wrestling experienece in the indies and Dana having none before coming to the Performance Center. She definitely posessed one of the best finishers of any woman to come out of NXT up to that point, the Samoan Driver, and it got her quite a few victories, including one over one of the Four Horsewomen, Bayley. During her short time in NXT, she aligned herself with Emma and both ladies benefitted from it for a bit. It would end up benefitting Emma moreso than Dana in a way, as unfortunately Dana would suffer an injury that would limit her time in NXT as a competitor. In fact her last televised NXT match was at NXT Takeover: Respect against the debuting Asuka, who pretty much beat Dana handily that night. Everyone focuses on Asuka while no one seemed to have given Dana any credit for hanging with a Japanese legend, but as Dana would soon find out...it would be the story of her career in WWE thus far.
In May 2016, after healing from her injuries, Dana would make her main roster debut rejoining her buddy Emma, but this time with the name EnD (Emma and Dana). It lookes like they were going to attept to recreate or even surpass their NXT run, but injuries plaged it again, but THIS time, it was Emma would be sidelined, leading to Dana being directionness, until Extreme Rules 2016 where Dana showed up dressed as Ric Flair to distract Natalya and help Charlotte retain the Raw Women's Championship. Dana and Charlotte would end up being a pretty cool duo with Charlotte as the champion (and would begin her Queen transformation during that time) and Dana as the protege/lackey). Their relationship strained to the point where we THOUGHT there would be a breakup at some point but it weirdly disappeared. Then it came back for a bit and then broke up shortly before Wrestlemania 33, where they had one match against each other, Charlotte won, and it didn't go any further than that for whatever reason. Emma would return from injury and thought she would have Dana back as her buddy, but Dana was fed up with alliances so she declined the team-up. It looked like it was going to be a feud between Emma and Dana but once again...nothing came out of it. For some odd reason, at some point, it looked like a partnership was brewing between Dana and Mickie James, but again...nothing came out of it. In 2017, she was used sparringly in matches but showed improvements in her matches. After arguably the most embarrasing match (if you want to call it a match) of her career with a blink-of-an-eye defeat by the hands of Asuka, she joined Titus and Apollo (Titus Worldwide) as their statician. In all honestly, THAT went nowhere for her as she spent most of her time accompnaying them to the ring in secretary outfits holding a clipboard. Not even getting physically involved, just...well...holding a damn clipboard.
For someone with her skills, it was bothersome to see someone like Dana being wasted like this. Hell, up until recent, she was used LESS this year in matches than in 2017 despite, again, making serious improvements since her NXT days. We don't understand the logic of WWE of not using Dana in the best way possible, especially as someone who has not been shy of wanting to be in the ring more and wanting to work with children. But one thing no one, not even her haters and detractors, can deny is that Dana does her best to make due with what she has. She never makes excuses for what the cards bring in her life. That was never more clear than when she lost her boyfriend Dallas McCarver last year and she took minimum time off of WWE to mourn and came back and dedicated her matches for the remainer of 2017 and her matches this year, especially the first-ever Women's Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania Battle Royal, to Dallas (Click here to check out her touching tribute to Dallas during the Royal Rumble this year) Thankfully she has finally found love again in big-time WWE fan and current center for the New York Knicks, Enes Kanter, who is on his own path to making a name for himself in the sports world.
|A thankless individual in the wrestling world|
Photo credit: WWE.com
Throughout it all, good and bad, thick and thin, we have seen Dana evolve from to the NPC/IFBB to NXT and Breaking Ground to the main roster in WWE. She has suffered more loss than wins, but it has not lessen her as a person or a performer. In fact, it has made her stronger than ever before. To us, she is the most underrated WWE performer no one is talking about, and that's fine. It will make her eventual rise to the top that much sweeter. We've rooted for you for years, Dana, and we're not about to stop now. In fact, we're more in your corner now than ever before. Which is why a win at Evolution will truly be the defining win of not only her career but her life.
In her own words...PLAYTIME...IS OVER!!!!
Follow Dana at the following links:
Make sure to buy her merchandise at WWE Custom Tees: https://customtees.wwe.com/collections/raw/dana-brooke?sort_by=
Also, check out videos from UpUpDownDown to get to know the woman behind the character:
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCcwZncNVLE
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR98S2RtN-Q
Check out our other articles about Dana here:
Our thoughts on her NXT debut: http://fitgems.blogspot.com/2015/04/our-take-on-dana-brookes-debut-on-nxt.html
Why Dana competing at the Arnold is significant: http://fitgems.blogspot.com/2017/02/why-wwes-dana-brooke-competing-at.html