Ranking Every WWE Raw Women's Champion 5 Years After Title's Debut

Philip LindseyContributor IApril 3, 2021

Ranking Every WWE Raw Women's Champion 5 Years After Title's Debut

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    Photo credit: WWE.com

    Women's wrestling has become a linchpin for WWE, with performers like Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks becoming two of the biggest Superstars on the roster. At the height of her popularity, The Man could have been considered the face of the company. Moreover, these two former Raw women's champions are a part of the most talented collection of wrestlers in the history of the division.

    On July 13, 2015, Lynch, Banks and Charlotte Flair debuted on Raw to kick off the Women's Revolution. Over the past five-and-a-half years, these seminal stars have had a lasting impact on WWE and the industry as a whole. In April 2016, the company officially ended the Divas Era when it reintroduced the Women's Championship at WrestleMania 32.

    The original women's title had a long and tumultuous history that spanned across five decades. So it was gratifying to see a new version replace the heavily criticized butterfly-shaped belt and the Divas moniker. WWE finally removed many of the limitations placed on the division, and the new championship, which looked similar to the men's world title belts, signified a much-needed push toward equality.

    On the Sept. 5, 2016, episode of Raw, the title became exclusive to WWE's flagship show after the creation of the SmackDown Women's Championship.

    As Saturday marks the fifth anniversary of the event where Lita unveiled the title at AT&T Stadium, let's rank every WWE Raw women's champion.

8. Nia Jax

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    Nia Jax had the makings of a dominant champion, and WWE actually crafted a compelling story about body shaming and bullying around her title match at WrestleMania 34. Her unexpected face turn and Alexa Bliss' betrayal effectively made her a role model.

    At The Show of Shows, Jax defeated her former best friend to become the Raw women's champion for the first time in her career. It was an emotional win for The Irresistible Force, but she was back to her old ways by the time she feuded with Ronda Rousey the following month.

    At Money in the Bank 2018, Bliss cashed in the contract she won earlier on the show to reclaim her title. Jax only held the title for 70 days, and it was a largely uneventful reign.

    One has to wonder what could have been if she didn't turn heel again and accept a match with The Baddest Woman on the Planet. She was destined to lose once the match became official, and that's a shame because she never had the opportunity to develop as a protagonist.

7. Bayley

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    When Bayley finally made the jump to Raw from NXT, her fellow Horsewomen had already established themselves on the main roster. However, the Californian benefitted from a strong reign as black-and-gold brand's women's champion, so many assumed she would become the next big star on Monday nights.

    Instead, WWE botched her initial push and made her look like more of a sidekick than a determined underdog. In the fall of 2016, The Hugger entered a feud with Charlotte Flair for the Raw Women's Championship. Bayley lost her first few attempts, but she defeated Flair with the help of best friend Sasha Banks on the Feb. 13, 2017, episode of Raw.

    Although Flair was an antagonist and often cheated, this set up a perception that the new champion couldn't win on her own. This continued at Fastlane, where Bayley broke The Queen's undefeated pay-per-view streak with an assist from The Boss. In the weeks that followed, Flair and Stephanie McMahon attempted to convince her to vacate the title because she's a role model for young women and she shouldn't want to win in that manner.

    This was a bafflingly counterproductive way to build up the new champion, and it made it hard for the fans who didn't watch NXT to get behind her. Bayley finally successfully defended her title on her own in a Fatal 4-Way elimination match at WrestleMania 33, but it was too little too late. As a result, her 76-day reign didn't elevate her as it should have, and her rivalry with Alexa Bliss ruined her babyface persona.

6. Asuka

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    Asuka is the best in-ring competitor in the Raw women's division and possibly the greatest NXT champion of all time. Her dominant run on the developmental brand made her a feared competitor with an incredible undefeated streak.

    Although The Empress of Tomorrow has accomplished a lot on the main roster, she has yet to duplicate the mystique she once enjoyed. To that end, her disappointing SmackDown women's title reign left many fans hoping she would find success on Raw. It looked like they would get their wish when became Ms. Money in the Bank in 2020 and set her sights on Becky Lynch.

    To the surprise of the viewers at home and Asuka, Lynch opened Raw the next evening and revealed that she was forfeiting the title because she was pregnant. This was a poignant moment that will likely be one of the lasting images from the pandemic era, but the announcement overshadowed the Japanese star's Money in the Bank triumph.

    The Man passed on her title to Asuka, but it didn't cement her place in the division as it should have. More to the point, she never achieved a big-enough win after that to make up for it.

    Instead, many of her title defenses ended in count-outs or anticlimactically. Asuka finally defeated Charlotte Flair on the June 17 episode of Raw to retain the championship, but Nia Jax injured the challenger before the match. Then Sasha Banks stole the belt after an inconclusive ending at Extreme Rules and won it outright because of, you guessed it, a count-out.

    The Empress of Tomorrow avenged Kairi Sane at SummerSlam, pulling double duty and regaining her title. Unfortunately, her second reign hasn't been much better because WWE hasn't given her a worthy opponent or a storyline.

    The common trend here is that Asuka has played second fiddle at every turn as champion. That's how her first reign started. Then she got pulled into Banks and Bayley's storyline and later became a part of Lana's rivalry with Jax, which led to a pedestrian tag team with Flair.

    She hasn't defended the Raw Women's Championship on a pay-per-view since September. As such, she has been a forgettable titleholder, and that's sad because has proved she can carry a division when booked well.

5. Sasha Banks

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    No. 5 seems low for one of the women who helped to lay the foundation for the new Women's Championship. After all, Sasha Banks competed in the first title match in its history at WrestleMania 32, and her legendary feud with Charlotte Flair put the belt on the map.

    However, it's hard to look past the fact that the five-time Raw women's champion has never successfully defended it. Banks holds the record for the most reigns, but none of them lasted more than 30 days. In fact, her fourth tenure with the title was only eight days, making it the shortest reign to date.

    Nevertheless, The Boss undeniably helped to build the legacy of the championship, winning it for the first time on the July 25, 2016, episode of Raw. Banks dropped it back to Flair following their phenomenal showdown at SummerSlam, but she regained it in October ahead of the first women's Hell in a Cell match.

    Although The Blueprint managed to put on a strong showing in her hometown, The Queen reclaimed the title at the event. In perhaps her most noteworthy win, the 29-year-old used an inventive Bank Statement to defeat her in a Falls Count Anywhere match on the Nov. 28, 2016, episode of Raw. But Flair continued her undefeated pay-per-view streak when she regained the championship at Roadblock in a sudden-death victory after she tied the score in their 30-minute Iron Woman match.

    Last year, Banks became the first five-time Raw women's champion when Bayley distracted Asuka to cause a count-out win July 20. In the process, she also became the first titleholder to hold the title and the women's tag team gold concurrently.

4. Alexa Bliss

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    When Alexa Bliss joined Raw via the Superstar Shake-up in April 2017, she quickly rose to the top of the women's division as its most engaging character. After she defeated Bayley at Payback, she became the first woman to win both brands' women's titles and anointed herself The Goddess of WWE.

    Her feud with The Hugger did irreparable damage to a character that should have been money, but it cemented her as the best heel champion on this list. Bliss' biggest detractors may not be able to buy into her diminutive stature or her in-ring ability, but she more than made up for that with great character and promo work.

    At SummerSlam, Sasha Bank ended her 112-day reign, but Bliss derided The Boss for being incapable of defending the title the next day. In their rematch a week later, Bliss regained the title and humiliated her most infamous opponent in the process. Of her three reigns as champion, her second is the most successful, as she remained on top for 222 days.

    Nia Jax dethroned her at WrestleMania 34, but the second women's Triple Crown champion got the last laugh when she cashed in her Money in the Bank contract at the titular event. Little Miss Bliss then held the title for 63 days before losing it to Ronda Rousey at SummerSlam.

3. Ronda Rousey

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    Speaking of Rousey, she was invaluable for the WWE in her rookie year. The former MMA fighter won her first pro wrestling championship SummerSlam 2018.

    At the Biggest Party of the Summer, Rousey got revenge on Alexa Bliss, who attacked her at Money in the Bank, forcing her to tap out. As Raw women's champion, The Baddest Woman on the Planet brought more mainstream attention to the title than ever before as an international megastar. Her groundbreaking run with the UFC also gave her the credibility to help legitimize the red brand's women's division.

    The star power Rowdy brought to the table gave WWE the confidence to book its first all-female pay-per-view event, Evolution. Even more, she had strong matches against all of the Four Horsewomen as champion. Rousey's contest with Charlotte Flair at Survivor Series is a standout, but her match with Sasha Banks at the 2019 Royal Rumble is the highlight of her reign.

    Most importantly, she was the first woman to defend the Raw Women's Championship in the main event of WrestleMania. Rousey may not boast as many reigns as some of the champions ranked below her or as many combined days with the title, but her sole tenure as Raw's flag-bearer was more important. It's telling that WWE hasn't put as much focus on women's wrestling since she went on hiatus.

2. Charlotte Flair

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    Many fans could make a strong case that the inaugural Raw women's champion should be No. 1 on this list because her initial run with the title was instrumental to its growth and success. Before Rousey entered the fray, Charlotte Flair was the face of the red brand's division.

    Her feud with Sasha Banks minted the new championship in its infancy, as they delivered several stellar pay-per-view matches. To that end, Flair's undefeated streak at pay-per-views added a gravitas to her title matches that was sorely lacking during the Divas title era. The Queen made the belt feel like a world title again because she introduced prestige and high-quality bouts as champion.

    The first match for the new title at WrestleMania 32 was such a potent display of what women's wrestling could be, and Flair continued to up the ante as a champion and challenger throughout 2016. The second-generation star held the mantle for 113 days before Banks defeated her on the July 25, 2016, episode of Raw. By the end of their six-month rivalry, The Queen was the first four-time Raw women's champion.

    One could argue flipping the title back and forth between Flair and Banks did more harm than good. But their feud over the championship will still go down as one of the greatest rivalries in company history, and you can't downplay its significance to this era of women's wrestling and the new top prize.

    It's a little surreal that The Queen hasn't held the title since 2017, but her impact on it is still visible. That's why she remains a threat to anyone who holds it to this day.

1. Becky Lynch

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    Becky Lynch is probably more synonymous with the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship as its inaugural holder. It's also the title she won at the beginning of her run as The Man.

    However, her record-breaking reign as Raw women's champion is just as significant. Lynch won the 2019 women's Royal Rumble and challenged Ronda Rousey to what would become the Winner Take All match at WrestleMania 35. On The Grandest Stage of Them All, The Man handed The Baddest Woman on the Planet her first loss with WWE and became a double champion.

    This historic win was enough to define her sole tenure with the title, but she didn't stop there. The Irish star had quite the challenge ahead of her because Rousey decimated the division as champion and didn't rest on her laurels. Lynch used her time on top to help rebuild the division.

    In fact, you could make the case that she did more to elevate her challengers than anyone else on this list, and that's part of what made her reign so special. Lacey Evans, Natalya and Asuka all benefited from working with Lynch. Sasha Banks' return to WWE to feud with The Man after she spent months calling her out for leaving was also a high point that led to the second women's Hell in a Cell match.

    The Man's 398-day reign makes her the longest-reigning Raw women's champion, and her single reign is more meaningful than any other tenure to date. Furthermore, she never lost the title, as she was forced to vacate it after she announced that she was pregnant. That makes her the unquestionable choice for the greatest titleholder in its five-year history.