The Women’s Division in WWE: A Stark Contrast Between Brands – by Mike Sanchez

After watching back both Raw and Smackdown this week, it’s difficult for me to imagine that the biggest concern I had with the Superstar Shake-Up (at least in regards to the Women’s Division) was the switch from Raw to Smackdown Live for Charlotte Flair. I really didn’t understand that move and I quite honestly feared for her. There she was, the hottest heel in WWE, on top form each and every week, a real heel champion on the flagship show and then she was switched? It didn’t register with me, but as time has passed, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Charlotte was undoubtedly the focal point on Raw when it came to the Women’s Division. She was the biggest presence, the better talker and likely the better worker than 90% of the Women’s roster. She was the star and nobody could deny it. Bayley couldn’t dent Charlotte’s star power and no amount of Sasha Banks was ever going to usurp the Queen. More about Sasha later.

Charlotte ends up on Smackdown, but instead of assuming her role right at the top of the division once more, she’s taken a role in which equality matters. See, Charlotte is now playing on a level playing field. Her colleagues on Smackdown Live have equal star power, a similar work ethic and can put on damn good matches. Perhaps Charlotte found her groove here, no longer the figurehead but happy to be part of a team. A lot of pressure to carry the division left her shoulders when she switched brands and I can honestly see a more relaxed attitude in her promos, her work and her persona. Good for her.

Charlotte’s colleagues on Smackdown Live are a truly talented bunch who are being booked absolutely perfectly.

Naomi – One of the most improved performers I’ve seen in WWE in recent memory. An amazing look, incredible work ethic and a deserving champion. She is so good.

Carmella – I used to play darts twice a week, and one day our team captain told me “If you’re the best player on the team, it’s time to change teams”. Simply put, you should surround yourself with your betters in any field. Their hard work and talent will rub off on you if you put in the effort. Carmella has improved in the last twelve months, steadily but surely. Working with the plethora of talent around her will only help. Ellsworth needs to go though.

Natalya – Class act. One can only imagine the influence she has on the women. Being a Hart and wrestling like a Hart shows her true quality. Simply superb addition to the division.

Tamina – Largely in the background in recent years, she’s emerged from the shadows and showing a tough quality in the ring. A larger competitor, she’s no Nia Jax and works extremely well as part of the team.

Becky Lynch – Becky Lynch is awesome. Awesome. Words cannot describe…. Awesome.

With the first Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match due this month, it’s hard to see past the five competitors (those listed above with the exception of Naomi). But then again……

While Smackdown seems to be finding its feet once more after a bump in the road, Raw’s treatment of their Women’s Division is going from bad to worse. This week’s horrendous ‘This Is Your Life’ segment bombed like nothing I’ve seen before. I felt so bad for the usually excellent Alexa Bliss trying to salvage something from the segment. It was awful.

While this may have worked in years gone by in the now infamous sketch involving The Rock and Mick Foley (now that was a thing of beauty), it sadly couldn’t reach the same dizzying heights with Bliss and Bayley. Even the payoff was wrong. Bayley let all that crap happen in the ring only to come out and get her ass whooped by Bliss. It didn’t make any sense and didn’t further the angle in the slightest.

Bliss has stepped into Charlotte’s shoes on the flagship show, and it does make sense to not have two good heels on the same brand, but the rest of the Raw Women’s Division are badly let down by the writing and the contrast is even starker considering how well the ladies are performing on Smackdown Live. Let’s take a look at the Raw women:

Alexa Bliss – As stated, she’s the champ and doing well. She’s just jumped brands and swapped belts and that awful segment aside, has done ok.

Bayley – Her character is being slowly strangled to death on Raw. The innocent but seriously tough fangirl we saw on NXT has been diluted to a vanilla goody-two-shoes that’s becoming stale. She needs a spark and quick.

Sasha Banks – I’m a massive fan of Sasha, but she too has suffered the same dilution as Bayley. Think back to the passion, determination and character both women showed in their epic NXT Takeover match and look at them now. Shadows of their former selves with little direction. Sasha needs to be a heel soon.

Mickie James –Oh man, I feel so bad for Mickie. You just know she’d be a perfect sixth entrant for the Smackdown MITB. Tons of experience, over with the crowd and just superb, she’s been left to languish on Raw with little writing support to push her. Mickie is a big deal and should be battling for the belt. I’d put her back on Smackdown Live tomorrow and within days she’d show us what she’s capable of.

Nia Jax – Best friends with Alexa Bliss? That’s all they could come up with? Seriously, Jax should be the Braun Strowman of the Women’s Division, dominating and destroying the competition. She hasn’t even been on TV for a few weeks.

Dana Brooke & Alicia Fox – Relegated to bit-part players with no storyline development other than being a quiet bystander and a valet. Disappointing.

If I were a female wrestler in WWE or NXT right now, Smackdown Live is the only place I’d want to be. There they’re given weekly airtime on TV, pushed as individuals and have regular matches. They’re trusted to push women’s wrestling onto the next level and they’re draws. Over on Raw, it’s sad to see such talent squandered and left with little investment in them as talent or interesting people. I hope WWE gets its act together and starts utilising their female talent in the right way; pushing their storylines, using their amazing talent and making the Women’s Division one of the stand-out elements of WWE Programming.

What do you think? Has Raw dropped the ball with the Women’s Division? Are the Smackdown women the best on the roster? Who’s improved for you? Should Mickie James be switched back to the blue brand? Isn’t Becky Lynch awesome? As always, thanks for reading.