It’s safe to say that the WWE Women’s Division, and especially Monday Night Raw’s Women’s Division have been carried by the successful run of Becky Lynch in the past twelve months and probably longer since Lynch’s rise on Smackdown started around SummerSlam 2018. It’s no secret that from early 2019 to the Royal Rumble and eventually Wrestlemania cemented Lynch as the most dominant female wrestler in the modern era. That’s no throwaway remark either, as had Ronda Rousey stuck around, I firmly believe Lynch’s monumental run would have been in severe danger from the former UFC Champion. But, hindsight is 20/20 and Rousey decided to stay at home while Becky established herself at the top of the tree.
Becky then continued her dominance for the remainder of 2019 and up until a couple of weeks ago, was still the Raw Women’s Champion – and at no point in that twelve-month span did she ever look in danger of losing her title. I saw 2020 being more of the same for her. Lynch had a brief dalliance with Shayna Baszler, but for whatever reason, that particular feud didn’t seem to ignite like I and many others, thought it would. The culmination being an underwhelming match at this year’s Wrestlemania, although through no fault of either competitor, I felt it could and possibly should have been better than it was.
In case you weren’t pay attention earlier this month, Lynch’s reign as Raw Women’s Champion ended at 373 days when she announced her pregnancy on Raw on May 11. The baby is due in December. Lynch may wrestle again in 2021 at some point, but it may be tough for her to do it as a full timer ever again. That’s to be determined in the future, of course.
If Baszler wasn’t the answer, then Asuka seems to be, for now at least. I’ve gone on record many times about my respect and admiration for the Japanese superstar and I fully believe she’ll be a great Raw Women’s Champion going forward. With Bayley still holding the Smackdown Women’s Title, and with Becky Lynch absent for the foreseeable future, how will the Women’s Division hold up for the rest of 2020? I want to take a look at some of the main players.
Charlotte Flair – Criticized by some fans as only being top of the card due to her name and dad, I disagree in that Charlotte backs up her words with actions in the ring. I was very surprised that she emerged from Wrestlemania with the NXT Women’s Title. Flair is one of the best athletes in the division and a credible champion, however I believe she only thrives when faced with stiff competition. She’s too good to go against enhancement talent or unrealistic challengers and her best matches are always with peers who can hold their own against her. I believe she’ll really help the women in NXT over the coming months, bringing a wealth of experience to them, but in Lynch’s absence, I expect her be featured more heavily on Raw sooner rather than later.
Sasha Banks – Banks hasn’t had the right opportunities in the last year and it shows. She’s been unlucky with injuries and when fit, she is on the periphery of the main event, usually waiting in the wings for a title match that never comes. I think Sasha suffers from the same issue as Seth Rollins and Charlotte Flair in that she’s way better as a heel than a face. The trouble being that Bayley, the champion, is a heel and heel vs. heel matches don’t work all that well most of the time. I don’t think this will be the end for Banks as a challenger, but perhaps she will get her chance in the coming months as a face when she challenges Bayley.
Nia Jax – WWE is firmly behind Jax since her return from injury, yet she continues to create issues for her colleagues, due to her uncanny knack of injuring them. Look, wrestling is certainly not going to be 100% safe, but someone in the office must have to ask questions if she is continually injuring her opponents. I don’t believe it’s a malicious thing, more unfortunate accidents, but considering the size and weight difference between Nia Jax and her leaner, smaller opponents, accidents are bound to happen. WWE’s insistence on pushing her despite this obvious problem could be detrimental in the long run. Fans aren’t stupid and if she injures a top star like Asuka for a considerable length of time, I just can’t see WWE instilling her as a viable long-term option with a championship.
Shayna Baszler – I feel bad for Baszler considering she did everything asked of her and did it well, right up to her title match with Becky Lynch at Wrestlemania. She was booked like a dominant heel, beat the crap out of all of her opponents in the Elimination Chamber, all to no avail. Her stable was gaining momentum too, with her aligning herself with former MMA wrestlers but again, that has petered out into nothing. Baszler has all the makings of being a great champion in WWE, but seems to have dropped down the pecking order for more ‘safe’ hands like Asuka, Bayley and Flair. Hopefully she can return more dominant in the coming months.
Bianca Belair – After a stunning showing at the 2020 Royal Rumble, I fully believed that performance would light the touch paper for her to be utilized in a bigger way on Raw or Smackdown. Belair is a tremendous talent who did very well in NXT, but outgrew the yellow brand and needs to be utilized more as a regular on Raw. What frustrates me about how WWE is handling Belair is that she clearly has more to offer than others on the main roster. WWE has tried to push Lacey Evans to no avail and other spots are taken up by the likes of Tamina when a young, hungry talent like Belair should be in those spots. Hopefully she’ll be featured more on Raw sooner rather than later.
Natalya – I understand and agree that WWE uses the more experienced stars like Natalya as good opponents for the younger talent and entrust them to carry them through difficult matches like Royal Rumbles, but I’ve always thought WWE are missing a trick by not utilizing the likes of Natalya and Mickie James as wily veterans who use their vast knowledge and experience to defeat the younger women. Perhaps not for the Raw and Smackdown Titles (although that would be cool to see), but certainly for the Tag Titles where a solid veteran team can really develop and showcase the belts and not have them used in promos or as side-pieces in PPVs. Speaking of the Tag Titles…
Alexa Bliss – Bliss was top of the division for a good while, and a popular champion. Do I think she is a good choice for the Tag Titles? Yes, as a start to help establish them, and also to give her partner Nikki Cross a boost up the ladder. I appreciate that recent injuries have curtained her somewhat, but given that the only realistic opponents out there at the moment are the IIconics (sigh), I’m happy she’s keeping one half of the titles now. In regards to the IIconics, I just personally don’t care for them or their gimmick. I appreciate they’re both talented wrestlers, but they don’t come across well to me; they whine more than they wrestle and it grates on me. If putting Alexa Bliss back into a title feud meant them winning the titles, then I’d be fine with it.
Outside of the titles, I’m happy to see Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville involved in a storyline, no matter how silly it is. Both women came across really well on Total Divas, and I’ve always thought WWE should be doing more with Deville at least. She’s a niche performer and this angle does appear to have some stamina. Perhaps it could lead to development of her character going forward and she may benefit from being visible to the fan base regularly and could find herself pushed up the card.
All in all, the Women’s Division looks to be in safe hands without Becky Lynch. I don’t see a star that will take her place in the hearts of the fans, but there is some serious talent on display and anything is possible. Remember, Becky Lynch started out as the Irish-dancing wrestler on NXT not so long ago and rapidly became ‘The Man’ in only a few short months.
Circumstance, timing and luck play a huge part in the success or failure of a WWE superstar and perhaps one of the women on the roster will get an opportunity to fill the huge void left by Lynch. Maybe even someone who I haven’t mentioned? Who knows?