WWE has given up its women’s division.
The group that has been one of the company’s biggest strengths over the past five years is starting to become a victim of questionable reservations, less convincing creativity, and a lack of new flagship event stars. While issues have plagued SmackDown’s women’s roster less recently, it can be made the case that the talented performers in the division are not used and shown as they should.
Let’s start with Asuka. She has not defended her Raw Women’s title since November 23 against Lana, a win by stripping. Her last clean wins as the Women’s Raw Champion came when she presented Zelina Vega – who has since been fired by WWE – at Clash of Champions on September 20, 2020, and the following night on “Monday Night Raw.” Asuka’s last singles win came against China Päsler in Raw on December 7 and is 1-5-2 overall so far in 2021.
Since then, Asuka has entered the female tag team championship image. First with Lana before finally teaming up with Charlotte to win belts from Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax – only to lose them a little over a month later as fourth wheel in a story between Charlotte, Ric Flair and Lacey Evans.
Asuka was supposed to put the Raw Women’s title to the test against Evans at Elimination Chamber, but the match is canceled with Evans pregnant in real life. Evans secured the championship title by winning a match again Charlotte as part of a bigger story in which she was involved in a relationship with Ric Flair with some sexual overtones.
The whole angle has been about the more tense relationship between The Flairs than ever about Evans. It also means that the creative design of the original title match in Elimination Chamber has little to do with Asuka – unless he’d put a corner with her and with Flair. No alternative opponent was found for her that night. Asuka is one of the best WWE actors in the ring and has been one of the most prominent personalities during the pandemic. It hasn’t been dealt with this way recently.
Makes you wonder if WWE is just buying time for WrestleMania 37 for a match between Asuka and Flair. Maybe new mom Becky Lynch will return the next night on Raw to start a show with the winner. Things seem to be going this way as Flair looked disgusted and turned down after he accidentally hit Asuka and cost them a match against Basler and Jax in Raw last week.
The lack of new competitors also makes it all the more urgent that WWE hit with Ria Ripley, who has all the tools to be a legit superstar. Advertised for Raw, Ripley needs to win and keep winning until she is ready for a title.
The situation around Asuka is linked to the issue facing the women’s label division. The titles have been used, mostly, to keep top-level singles stars on TV when they’re out of the main event picture. While there were exceptions – IIconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce), Nikki Cross, and Kairi Sane – former singles stars or main event co-stars Asuka, Flair, Baszler, Jax, Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Alexa Bliss have played major roles in Hold card belts.
While it is easy to understand the desire to keep your stars on TV, it should also be used to level up other talents or create stories for the tag division. We just had a very good team breakup story with Banks and Bailey. It must be some time before we can see that again. Instead, we also see ultimate WrestleMania opponents, Bianca Belair and Banks team up and lose at Elimination Chamber. (On a side note, WWE didn’t take the time to mention on SmackDown that Belair could also have picked NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai.)
Banks, who should look strong on their way to WrestleMania, took a pin in the Elimination Chamber after Carmella’s bartender, Reginald, tried to help. At worst, it could have done on SmackDown where the pay-per-view match goes to a real team in the department.
Why not give Robbie Riott and Liv Morgan much improved running belts after all these years or Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke. Lana has had three different partners in recent months from Natalia to Asuka so far a very good pairing with Naomi. Why not give them a deserved moment in the sun? Natalia does a lot to help other female wrestlers. Take advantage of real life and give it the protections you’re trying to set up to win belts. This could be what they’re doing with Tamina or trying to get a monster heel ready for either Banks or Biller.
Jax and Baszler are two of the dominant forces that WWE could attempt to build an underdog story for one of these teams that is already put together this way. Naomi and Lana beating them would complete Lana’s story, but perhaps the climax for that would be over.
It all shows a disturbing pattern of WWE that does not place talented women in the best position for success. It’s something that could start to be repaired in a big way by WrestleMania if WWE were indeed showing their time. But as of now, WWE is ditching its women’s division in a major way.