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WWE Listened to Fans by Restoring the Credibility of Championships, So What's Next?

Erik BeastonDecember 4, 2022

The SmackDown women's division must be the next fix on Triple H's agenda.
Credit: WWE.com

In his run as head of WWE Creative, Triple H has restored credibility to championships through ultracompetitive matches and concentrated efforts to present them as the centerpiece and coveted prizes that they were not under the previous regime.

No longer just props to justify two competitors wrestling on any given show, they are once again the lifeblood of the top feuds, rivalries and programs, not to mention the motivating factor for top stars on the men's and women's rosters.

Now that The King of Kings has righted that wrong, there is a glaring area of need in regard to his creative efforts that should be addressed sooner than later: the SmackDown women's division.


The Issues

The two most glaring issues facing the SmackDown women's division are a fairly obvious lack of developed characters and the inconsistency with which the competitors themselves are booked.

First, fans are introduced to the likes of Shotzi, Raquel Rodriguez and even the newly returned Tegan Nox, and they are almost expected to know who they are and all about their backstories.

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TEGAN NOX IS BACK!!!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SmackDown?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SmackDown</a> <a href="https://t.co/jgyoY8W3O6">pic.twitter.com/jgyoY8W3O6</a>

Shotzi was turned from babyface to heel, then back again, without any explanation. Rodriguez was called up with no character development to speak of, as if her strength, size and smile were intended to forge the ever-important emotional connection with the audience.

That has to change.

Triple H and those creative forces around him cannot assume everyone watching was loyal to NXT and knows all that there is to know about the women on Friday nights. Introduce them, but then put in the work to establish who they are so fans care enough to get behind them, rather than watching quietly as they cycle into and out of storylines without rhyme or reason.

This brings us to the second issue involving the inconsistent booking of the talent in question.

Recently, we saw Shotzi earn a shot at Ronda Rousey's SmackDown Women's Championship by beating five other women in a Six-Pack Challenge. Except, she was never properly built into a credible challenger who could believably dethrone The Baddest Woman on the Planet. As a result, a career-altering opportunity was met by a quieter crowd in Boston at Survivor Series: WarGames.

There is Lacey Evans, who underwent a character change over the spring, then disappeared from television except for sporadic appearances and, as revealed Friday on SmackDown, is now undergoing yet another repackaging.

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Shayna Baszler let Rousey question her killer instinct and, now just weeks after realigning herself with the champ, is suddenly back to being a badass after a solid year of irrelevance. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Sonya Deville, who developed into one of the most over heels on the show by hiding behind her time as a WWE official, only to be inexplicably absent from television.

None has been more head-scratching that Liv Morgan, who went from being champion to unhinged in one of the more interesting storylines in the company. A few beatdowns of Deville, which earned her the crowd reaction so many had hoped for when she was the titleholder, were not followed up on and she disappeared from television until returning Friday night.

To confront Damage CTRL.

A faction she had nothing to do with until that point.

Yes, Triple H is still trying to find his footing as the head of WWE Creative. He is one man trying to change the culture and erase the bad habits of a guy who reigned over the company with an iron fist and detachment from culture. Not everything will be easy and there is no quick fix for much of what he faces.

Luckily for him, the division has plenty going for it despite its creative shortcomings.


The Positives

The division is full of diverse talents of different in-ring styles and backgrounds.

There are those who developed their skills and personalities on the independent scene before heading to NXT, like Shotzi, Baszler and Nox.

There are others whose primary development came during their time with the black-and-gold brand, such as Rodriguez, Evans and Morgan. There are former MMA competitors, one of whom paved the way for women to excel in that sport en route to a Hall of Fame induction (Rousey).

As strange as it sounds considering it is also one of the issues facing the brand, the lack of creative that has been put into so many of the competitors may have a silver lining in that Triple H has the opportunity to start with blank canvases.

He can take a Shotzi, Nox or Rodriguez and mold them into the characters he sees them excelling as. For those who do have an established relationship with the audience, he can fine-tune the character traits that have created emotional investment and ensure they do not grow old and stale.

The key will be doing so consistently and not cycling talent in and out so they never have an opportunity to gain any traction with the audience. It is a formula Tony Khan has tried with All Elite Wrestling to little success, as too many of the competitors on Dynamite or Rampage have had the opportunity to grow and evolve.

Preventing himself and the brand from falling into that trap and instead taking his time to carefully present the women rather than randomly selecting them to feed to Rousey as the opponent of the month will be the real key to success.

There is no reason to believe he cannot make the changes necessary for that to happen. He has reinvigorated a WWE product that badly needed it and won fans over for it. Now, it is time he focuses on the women that he has always been a large proponent of, dating back to his time as the booker of NXT.