Welcome everyone. This is going to be a departure from my usual Reaction columns. With the upcoming WWE Draft, I wanted to take a look at five new Women’s Title contenders for the two main roster titles (Raw and Smackdown). This means only women that haven’t held a main Women’s Title on Raw or Smackdown. For example, Mickie James hasn’t been a Raw or Smackdown Women’s Champion, but she was a Women’s and Divas Champion. I can’t pick her a former champion like Naomi, Alexa Bliss, Natalya or anybody else that has held gold on Raw or Smackdown. Some of these women have held titles in NXT, but that’s not the same as on Raw or Smackdown.
I think NXT does a pretty good job at rotating the contenders around while Raw and Smackdown have been dominated by the likes of Bayley, Asuka and Sasha Banks. So, let take a look in no particular order.
The EST of NXT got the coveted night after WrestleMania callup to help out The Street Profits against Zelina Vega’s Job Squad and then promptly forgotten about until Liv Morgan was unavailable to help Ruby Riott against The IIconics. Now that Liv is back, Bianca is paired up again with The Street Profits to go continue the feud with Vega’s Job Squad. She has shown great promise and is a future Woman’s champion. Her power is almost unmatched in the ring. Bianca has a decent gimmick that works for her. She can go at it alone or help out The Street Profits when needed. Bianca just turned back up on TV to continue perhaps a singles feud with Vega and tag up with The Riott Squad to mix in The IIconics. Either way, more exposure on TV is only going to be beneficial to brighten her star.
Since the Horsewoman vs. Horsewoman match is not happening any time soon, Shayna should slot in perfectly with her MMA background. She is one of only two women to hold the NXT Women’s Championship twice and was the first one to do so. Her second reign lasted over a year. Shayna has the tools to succeed as a champion on the main roster. Problem is, reports indicate that Vince has soured on her and her push got cut short.
The new Raw Underground concept could be leveraged to build Shayna back up as a beast and restore her lost credibility. Maybe pair her back up with Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir to recreate the unstoppable monster that was in NXT. Becky Lynch wanted to drop the title to Shayna at WrestleMania, so that’s a good vote of confidence right there. I think Shayna could be one of those long term dominant champions that are needed from time to time.
Lacey’s face gimmick had very workable possibilities. She was a mother and veteran, which are qualities that the everyday fan could relate to. Lacey was called up about a year or so too soon, so she’s had to fine-tune her ring skills on the main roster instead of down in NXT. She has gotten better in the ring, but I think not having a live crowd right now hurts getting the gimmick over. With the recent move to the WWE Thunderdome, that may provide the opportunity to get the character over and be able to fine tune the little details. If you can make Lacey more relatable to the audience, you can make a worthy competitor for the fans to root for in a title match. I do think if they flip Lacey back heel (like they have done recently against Naomi), it might diminish her chances as a title contender. Her heel character didn’t have that relatable feel that her face character did. Perhaps she can get to that title level as a heel too. It’s just a matter of getting experience as a performer.
Yes, I’m surprised she’s on this list, too. With the break up of Fire and Desire, I had Sonya as the Jannetty of the team. How wrong I was. Sonya has outshined Mandy, both in the ring and on the mic. Her initial promo to solidify the break up/heel turn was far better than I would have ever given her credit for. Sonya’s ring work has been really good and, like Shayna, has an MMA background that can be incorporated into her moveset. Like NXT’s Tegan Nox, she is openly a lesbian and I’m sure at some point the WWE is going to want to check that box. While some could call her title reign a PR move, it would be a well-deserved honor that Sonya would have earned by putting the work in.
With her recent loser leaves WWE loss, likely due to recent real-life events, I think she will take this time off to reincorporate some of these elements to tweak her character a bit to move on to the next step.
I wanted to include someone from NXT on the list and it came down to Rhea Ripley or Tegan Nox. I think Tegan is ready and has all of the tools to be a champion in WWE. She was very impressive against Io Shairi in their title match, but I feel like Tegan is destined for tag title gold with Shotzi Blackheart in the more immediate future. I believe Tegan is a future Women’s Champion, though.
This brings us to Rhea Ripley. We all know that she is going to be the first Grand Slam Singles Champion (NXT, NXT UK, Raw, Smackdown). I don’t think Toni Storm will get that achievement first. Rhea is young and not yet in her prime. She’s beaten everybody down in NXT, so a change of scenery could offer up fresh feuds and more title opportunities. Charlotte Flair can give Rhea her win back up on the main roster instead of back down in NXT. Rhea is the type of talent you could build the division off of. I could see Rhea being the face of the WWE Women’s Division for many years, akin to John Cena being the face of the WWE during the height of his career since she’s only 23 years old (24 in October). I believe that she could handle being in that spotlight and flourishing in the role. Rhea just feels like she has that it that very few people come around with.
There’s my list. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.