Fixing the Failing Women's Division on WWE Raw and SmackDown

Philip LindseyContributor IOctober 28, 2020

Fixing the Failing Women's Division on WWE Raw and SmackDown

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    Photo credit: WWE.com

    On Sunday, Bayley and Sasha Banks proved what the WWE women's division is capable of at its best in an amazing SmackDown Women's Championship match at Hell in a Cell.

    When given the time and an engaging story, stars such as Banks, Bayley, and Asuka have knocked it out of the park. However, the company hasn't exactly utilized the women on Raw and SmackDown well.  

    The blue brand has been in search of a top protagonist for over a year. The Legit Boss will probably assume that role now as champion, but there aren't many legitimate contenders for her title. And WWE's flagship show has a similar problem as there aren't many credible threats to Asuka's second reign.

    The company has a bit of a problem on its hands because both divisions are struggling. Outside of a handful of women, WWE hasn't taken the time to showcase just how good its current roster is. Honestly, that's inexcusable because this is the deepest and most diverse collection of women in the history of WWE.

    With that in mind, it's hard to understand why so many talented women on Raw and SmackDown seem so directionless. There has to be more WWE can do to capitalize on the popularity of women's wrestling and the wealth of talent at its disposal.

    Let's take a look at some ways it can improve the women's division on Raw and SmackDown. 

WWE Must Book Better Secondary Feuds for Women’s Roster

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    First and foremost, WWE has to produce some compelling storylines outside of the main title programs.

    This is an issue that has plagued the company for decades. It was even worse when there was only one prize at stake, so one would assume there would be more opportunities now that there are three women's championships.

    On the surface, there are more possibilities than ever before thanks to the brand split and the introduction of various stipulation matches for women to compete in for the first time. However, it's hard to invest in anyone who isn't in contention for a title, because WWE doesn't have a consistent midcard for these performers. 

    In fact, that's the biggest problem at the moment, because it makes it difficult to give anyone a chance to develop a character or enough support from the fans to move up the card.

    Many hoped that establishing the women's tag titles would help remedy this issue, but it has instead created a new one.

The WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Should Feel Important

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    Speaking of the Women's Tag Team Championship, WWE has done a poor job making these titles feel significant.

    This December, the company will celebrate the two-year anniversary since Vince McMahon announced the reintroduction of the secondary belts on the Christmas episode of Raw. 

    The Boss 'n' Hug Connection, Bayley and Sasha Banks, became the inaugural champions at Elimination Chamber in 2019, but the titles have had varying degrees of success since. 

    There have been five sets of champions so far, and most of them delivered some great matches during their tenure. However, there hasn't been a memorable rivalry to define the division yet. Think about what iconic feuds like The Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian or DIY vs. The Revival did for their respective divisions. 

    WWE hasn't produced any storylines or series of matches in the same vein to legitimize women's tag team wrestling. As such, many fans see it as a novelty, and it doesn't help that the company keeps splitting up established teams such as The IIconics. 

    The women's tag division needs one team to step up, make a real impact as its flag-bearers and commit to being a team for the long haul. Otherwise, the tag titles will always feel like a stepping stone or a demotion as opposed to a vital part of WWE's product. 

WWE Needs to Call Up Some Women from NXT

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    The SmackDown women's division is surprisingly thin in comparison to its counterpart on Raw. There are 10 performers on the blue brand and around 13 on Monday nights.

    That's not a big difference on paper, but it's abundantly clear when you consider how much more visible the women are on the red brand most of the time. This was also obvious during Bayley's 380-day reign as SmackDown women's champion, when she often defended her title against the same opponents or someone from Raw. 

    On the other hand, the black-and-gold brand boasts a stacked division that is twice the size of SmackDown's. There are currently 21 women on the NXT roster and it's becoming overcrowded. More to the point, several stars like Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae, and Mercedes Martinez could use a change of scenery. 

    However, SmackDown particularly could use some fresh faces. Bianca Belair will thrive there after moving from Raw, but WWE needs to make a concerted effort to develop more than one contender at once.

WWE Must Do More to Differentiate Raw and SmackDown’s Women’s Divisions

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    The brand split can be hit or miss for many reasons. Still, it undeniably gives more WWE Superstar a chance to get screen time, which should force the company to rely on more than one big name.

    In theory, this should also make it easier for WWE to create new stars, but that rarely happens. For that matter, the company has recently used workarounds or plot devices to use the same star on more than one show. 

    For example, Charlotte Flair appeared on all three brands as NXT champion, and Bayley and Sasha Banks did the same with the tag titles. The Golden Role Models' wildly entertaining run over the summer made it worthwhile, but there should be different matchups and distinct characters on each show. 

    After all, why would anyone bother to watch both Raw and SmackDown if they are just tuning in to see the same conflicts play out? 

WWE Women’s Divisions Need More Dynamic and Nuanced Characters

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    That brings us to the underlying issue with the women's division. Besides some exceptions, it has become a bit formulaic because most of the on-screen characters have the same motives and stilted means of achieving them. 

    Of course, most of their goals should center around the women's championship because it indicates who is the best. However, there should be varied reasons and emotions behind one's drive to be considered the head of the division because that is the story. 

    Banks vs. Bayley at Hell in a Cell was so unique because The Legit Boss didn't challenge her for the title for prestige. She already knows she's the best, but she wanted to win the title and take it away from her longtime friend because it meant so much to her. That's storytelling.

    For that same reason, the other women should be allowed to develop wants and personality traits that aren't dictated by the main title or mean-girl tropes. As noted earlier, some performers should strive to be tag team specialists or just the best in-ring competitors. Whatever the case, their motivation should be clear.

    The Man gained steam and became so popular because Becky Lynch had a different presentation and way of doing things than fans usually see from women on WWE programming. Alexa Bliss' current character works for the same reason.

    We need to see more of this from unestablished stars because that's what will make them memorable.