Booking Sasha Banks in NJPW, Heel Alexa Bliss, Fixing WWE Raw, More Quick Takes
Even in its final few weeks, 2022 continues to be a wildly newsworthy year for wrestling with Sasha Banks seemingly set for an appearance at New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Wrestle Kingdom event on Jan. 4, per Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com.
Adding fuel to the fire was the latest report from Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio that Banks is indeed done with WWE and will soon enter free agency if she hasn't already. If true, this could be a massive turning point for WWE, NJPW and potentially All Elite Wrestling for a number of reasons.
In absence of The Boss from WWE programming, Alexa Bliss has been the latest star to ascend the ranks of Raw's women's division. If she can become the new No. 1 contender to the Raw Women's Championship by beating Bayley, she should resume her role as the brand's top female heel.
A Bliss vs. Bianca Belair feud would help inject much-needed new life into Raw and hopefully play a part in getting the show out of the recent rut it's been in creatively.
This installment of Quick Takes will tackle how Raw can be made interesting again en route to the Royal Rumble, if The Bloodline's betrayal of Sami Zayn is finally on the horizon, AEW toning down its focus on Ring of Honor content, and more.
Sasha Banks Can Strengthen Her Worth to WWE with Runs in NJPW and AEW
Sasha Banks was already one of WWE's biggest stars, male or female, before walking out in May alongside Naomi. She'll become an even hotter commodity with what she's seemingly about to do next.
Having been gone from WWE TV for the better part of the year, The Boss has kept fans guessing what her wrestling future holds. There had been unconfirmed rumors on and off for months that she was still signed to WWE, but come the onset of 2023, we may get a better idea of what her status is exactly with the company and where she'll taking her talents to instead.
The Wrestle Kingdom appearance could be massive for Banks, who has long expressed interest competing in Japan and facing all-new International Wrestling Grand Prix women's champion Kairi Sane. That would provide the perfect gateway into AEW if she so chooses.
No one can take the AEW's women's division to new heights until the booking improves, but Banks joining the promotion would surely force Tony Khan to make women more of a priority on AEW programming given her star power.
As excellent of a fit as she was in WWE, she has nothing left to prove, having held every active title, faced all the top names and headlined WrestleMania. Leaving WWE for a short time will make her that much more valuable to the company when she inevitably returns.
AEW Will Benefit from Focusing Less on Ring of Honor
Tony Khan's purchase of Ring of Honor this year was universally praised by fans, but it immediately became a question of what he'd do with the promotion.
After months of inactivity, ROH was quietly and gradually relaunched with titles being integrated into AEW programming and defended on Dynamite and Rampage. However, with the brand lacking a proper platform, it felt pointless to prioritize anything relating to ROH over AEW stars and storylines.
AEW already has an issue of not having enough television time to showcase its own talent, let alone those signed to ROH. Keeping the two properties separate will be what's best for both brands and allow fans to pick and choose what they want to watch and get invested in.
It's ideal timing for AEW as the beginning of the new year should mark a clean slate for the company with fresh faces and feuds that are exclusive to them.
Raw Is Quickly Reverting to Its Old Ways and Needs a Shot in the Arm
Triple H taking over as the head of WWE Creative made fans optimistic for the future of the product. Although SmackDown has improved immensely since then, whatever goodwill Raw built up with the audience is all but gone coming off a recent string of boring shows.
The red brand may never again reach the lows it did when Vince McMahon was in charge, but it's not as if the last few shows have been drastically better, either. The Game must avoid continuing this trend of subpar programming or risk running off any returning fans who decided to give Raw another chance after McMahon retired.
The Royal Rumble not being until late January and there being no major events until then doesn't help, along with the upcoming holidays likely affecting the ratings. Despite all that, Triple H can still put forth a strong effort to make the three hours more bearable to endure by filling them with more meaningful content.
Kicking off new rivalries, delivering excellent matches and making the most of the current roster will go a long way in keeping the audience engaged. Raw was exciting again from August to October, so going back to what worked during those months shouldn't be a tall task.
Fans shouldn't lose hope for Raw just yet, though it is astounding to compare its quality to SmackDown on Fridays and realize how much stronger of a show that is being produced by the same company.
The Bloodline's Betrayal of Sami Zayn Must Come When Fans Least Expect It
All of The Bloodline, including Sami Zayn, appeared to be on cloud nine following their WarGames victory at Survivor Series, but it was always more a matter of when than if Bloodline would betray Zayn.
That moment could be coming as soon as Friday night if Jey Uso's ominous message to Zayn last week on SmackDown was any indication.
Bloodline and Zayn have been very successful since getting back on the same page, and that's exactly when the brutal beatdown of Zayn should happen. It will be much more impactful at a time when it's completely unexpected.
Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens teased splitting up for months before Owens dropped the boom on Jericho out of nowhere in February 2017. Bloodline need to follow that same formula, but it might be too obvious for it to go down this Friday on SmackDown depending on how it's handled.
WWE can easily get another month or two out of Zayn being in Bloodline given how entertaining he's been in the role, but regardless of when they execute his exile, it's imperative it's booked to perfection to ensure it elicits the biggest possible reason.
Heel Alexa Bliss Is an Ideal Opponent for Bianca Belair Right Now
Monday's Raw will determine Raw women's champion Bianca Belair's next challenger when Bayley goes one-on-one with Alexa Bliss. Of course, Bliss winning is the only outcome that makes sense with Bayley already having lost to Belair twice on pay-per-view this year.
Belair vs. Bliss is not only a fresh match but one that's many months in the making. Bliss originally staked her claim at a title shot over the summer, and her having to wait this long after fighting Belair's battles with Damage CTRL can be a part of the story they're trying to tell.
Bliss has largely been uninteresting as a babyface since returning in the spring, but a heel turn can easily put her back on the right track.
As was acknowledged last week on Raw, it's been four years since Bliss was last a singles champion in WWE. Although she shouldn't be the one to dethrone Belair, there's no reason why she can't be prominently positioned as a top heel in the Raw women's division right now.
This filler feud will keep Belair busy through the Royal Rumble, and from there, she can shift her focus to either Rhea Ripley or Charlotte Flair heading into WrestleMania 39.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.