These two were the prime candidates by WWE officials to be the next big thing in the post-Fab Four era of WWE. But, due to a myriad of mishaps, it never came to light. Who was the bigger missed opportunity for the women's division: Lana or Eva Marie?
Rumors circulated in 2015 that WWE was looking to position Eva Marie and/or Lana as future stars in the women's division in the coming years. After husband Rusev's initial push for the United States Championship had dissipated at WrestleMania 31, Lana's character would become more of a focal point in the summer that followed, as she was paired with Dolph Ziggler and turned babyface. The plan was for Lana to be 'Americanized' and be known as "CJ"; a hot, blonde bombshell character. A big blow-off/coming out party for Lana was planned at SummerSlam 2015 between her and Dolph against Rusev and Summer Rae would be cancelled after Lana sustained an injury in training and (allegedly) contacted TMZ in regards to her and Rusev's in-real life engagement, which irritated officials and ultimately led to Lana being placed back with Rusev again. She has intermittently flirted with active in-ring competition since then, even competing for the SmackDown Women's Championship and in the Money in the Bank Ladder match in consecutive years, but no real overtures have been made since in regards to positioning her any higher or making her an act separate from Rusev.
Alternatively, Eva Marie was sent back down to WWE's developmental territory, NXT, following WrestleMania 31 and two seasons of featuring on E!'s Total Divas. Enlisting the likes of Brian Kendrick for private training (which was ultimately brought up as a focal point of the Total Divas arc in Season 4), Eva Marie returned to NXT ready to wow... but, she didn't. Instead, a unique archetype was re-introduced in which her mere appearance created controversy-- a beautiful woman with a lot of corporate backing, but little physical ability. This gimmick parlayed her into a Women's Championship match on NXT TV and a lot of hype for a main roster transition of the gimmick following the brand extension of 2016, which inevitably wouldn't happen due to a Wellness policy violation and an irate husband-ger leading her every move.
With the backing of The Rock and Henry Cavill's management company, Eva left the WWE to pursue a career in film, or in fashion, or in modeling, or in makeup, or in YouTube, or in podcasting, or in motivational speaking, or in psuedo-celebrity status, or in having a different hair color. Whichever came first. Meanwhile, Lana holds the fort down as a part of Rusev's "Rusev Day" act, the peak of her husband's marketability within their collective tenure in WWE.
With all things considered and their respective appeals, who was the bigger loss for the company? Does Lana still have a chance to reach a bigger peak within the women's division?