ViRTUE's RAGE: Has WWE's Women's Division Devolved? Submitted by Virtue on 08/23/2020 at 01:42 PM
August 23, 2020
Let me clarify myself right out of the shoot with the title of this article. I do realize the Women’s Division of WWE has evolved since the so-called Diva’s era. The matches on TV are longer, more females are on the talent roster, and they have made the main event on occasion. The women are also making more money than they ever have, especially the ones who have performed at the main event level of some major events. However, I feel it has taken a major step back since the Ronda Rousey Vs Charlotte Flair Vs Becky Lynch main event at WrestleMania 35. I was there live in New Jersey and the atmosphere felt euphoric. All three women felt like they belonged there that night. But what has happened since the departure of Rousey? The only time WWE has held an all-female PPV event was when Rousey was on the roster. Not only has she been absent from the company since WM35, but recently Becky has departed indefinitely on maternity leave, and Charlotte is currently on hiatus. That is a major blow to the evolution of the Women’s Division.
When spots open, WWE has what they think are
suitable replacements to fill the recently left voids. In late 2019 into 2020 those heavily pushed to the top of the Women’s Division have been Asuka, Sasha Banks, and Bayley. I like to deem these three as the NXT darlings because that is the last time they consistently felt important to me, which is not their faults. I will also sprinkle Shayna Baszler in the mix a little bit later. Sure, Asuka once won the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match, but then she went on to WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans to lose to none other than Charlotte. Asuka did have a run with the SmackDown Women’s title and beat Becky at Royal Rumble 2019. However, Becky went on to win the Royal Rumble match, and the title ended up on Charlotte as she became part of the Rousey feud for WM35. Meanwhile, Bayley did end up winning the SmackDown Women’s title via Money in the Bank cash-in against Charlotte and swapped it back and forth with her. By this time that title already seemed inferior to the Raw Women’s title because Becky was running with the Raw title as The Man. Previously to Becky holding the title, Rousey had it. As for Sasha, she may have had several Raw Women’s title reigns, but they were all very short reigns that did not even last a month. Prior to the pandemic, the WWE Women’s Division clearly belonged to Becky, Charlotte, and Rousey. I would even suggest that Alexa Bliss was booked stronger than Sasha, Bayley, and Asuka during this time, when she was not injured.
Even before the pandemic, I felt like the Women’s Division was taking a step back in 2020. I could easily blame it on Bayley, Sasha, and Asuka not having the same type of star power that Rousey, Becky, and Charlotte have. However, I want to go beyond that. The women are not getting the same main event time they were when Rousey was around, if any at all. I am still waiting for WWE to announce the next all female PPV event. This October, it will officially be two years since Evolution. There is my checkmate for this article. Of course, I will explain further about the issues I have noticed in 2020. Charlotte won the second ever all-female Royal Rumble match in January. But the significance of that all went out the window by WWE not having Charlotte challenge Becky for the Raw Women’s title for Mania, especially based on the finish of the triple threat main event from last year’s Mania when Charlotte lost without actually getting pinned or submitted by Becky. That story basically wrote itself, but WWE was more worried about NXT going head to head against AEW on Wednesday nights, they decided to have Rhea Ripley (the developmental women’s champ) challenge Charlotte for Mania. It was no surprise that Charlotte defeated Ripley for the title at Mania. WWE pretty much had to do this to save face on Charlotte winning the Rumble. However, I still cannot believe WWE diminished Charlotte’s Rumble win in this way. Wait a second, yes, I can. If they were going that route all along, Shayna Baszler should have won the Royal Rumble match instead and that is how she got to challenge Becky for the Raw Women’s title at Mania. Charlotte could have still accepted Ripley’s reverse challenge without having won the Royal Rumble match. As in typically WWE fashion, they used the Elimination Chamber to make Baszler look strong and earn her shot at Becky for Mania. But I honestly think they screwed that up when they did not have Baszler win the title from Becky. Again, that potential story would have written itself If Rousey ever returns. Shayna beat Becky, but Rousey did not. Too late now. Perhaps Rousey got her WWE fix and is officially done with the business.
As I mentioned earlier, Bayley, Sasha, and Asuka were all booked to feel important for an extended period while in NXT. The same can be said for Baszler. Collectively, they had more dominance and memories in NXT than did Charlotte and Becky. Try not to think about that too long and hard because it is true. Now during this pandemic, Bayley, Sasha, and Asuka are all that is left of big match feel on the main roster regarding female talent. Why are we supposed to believe they should be main event level like Charlotte and Becky were with Rousey? Just go back and look how Bayley, Sasha, and Asuka were all booked when Rousey, Charlotte, and Becky were headlining Mania. Other than Asuka’s SmackDown Women’s title reign and win against Becky at Royal Rumble, they were all booked like afterthoughts during what was supposed to be the evolution of women’s wrestling in WWE. Asuka dropped the title to Charlotte just before Mania and was delegated to a battle royal that she did not win to kickoff the show. Meanwhile, Bayley and Sasha lost the Women’s tag titles to the Iiconics and Sasha supposedly threw fits backstage and went on a hiatus. If these three ladies are the faces of the WWE’s Women Division today, WWE has not done their due diligence to make them feel more main event level important. Again, it is not necessarily the talents’ faults and I want to give them all the benefit of the doubt that they are making the most of their opportunities.
Going into SummerSlam tonight, Asuka is challenging Bayley for the SmackDown Women’s title as well as challenging Sasha for the Raw Women’s title. Baszler is not even in the title mix at this point. With no Becky for an indefinite time, no certainty that Rousey will ever return, and no Charlotte, the WWE Women’s Division has unfortunately taken a step back into the mid-card as what seems like card filler to me. The WWE machine is making sure we all know the hype for Randy Orton Vs Drew McIntyre for the WWE title, The Fiend Vs Braun Strowman for the Universal title, and even Seth Rollins Vs Dominik Mysterio in a Street Fight. I even believe they are making a bigger deal out of Mandy Rose Vs Sonya Deville in a NoDQ, Loser Leaves WWE match than they are the main Women’s title matches. Poor Bayley has been jobbing left and right in non-title matches lately on TV. Would WWE have booked Becky or Charlotte this way if they were in Bayley’s spot? I am pretty sure that is a big, fat nope. While it is encouraging to see three women’s matches on this year’s SummerSlam card, I will still stick to my guns that I believe WWE’s Women’s Division has devolved since the departures and absences of the women that headlined WrestleMania 35. If you think I am going overboard with this take, you all know how to reach me.
Thanks for reading Virtue’s Rage and I WILL BE BACK…