Wrestling

Why Names Matter More In WWE’s Women’s Revolution Than Competence

Why ScreenCritics Shaun believes WWE has misjudged fans appetite for the Raw Women’s Match at Wrestlemania.

When WWE announced that the Smackdown Women’s match at Wrestlemania was being slammed into the kickoff show, the social media reaction was almost instantaneous. Within hours the hashtag ‘‘ was trending on Twitter, fans taking to the platform to vent their anger at the situation. Given how prevalent the women’s revolution has been on WWE programming this year, it’s understandable why this sucks for fans.

While I personally don’t care much for the bigger notion behind this anger (WWE treats its Kickoff show very much as apart of Wrestlemania these days, versus its pre-Network era) there is something disappointing about the way this has ultimately played out. Almost as if WWE are more interested in getting the names on the show more than the talent.

It’s not the Raw women’s fault – the Raw Women’s Division has been a shambles for months now. An awkward mess that WWE seems reluctant to dive into and fix. For months the only active feud was the endless tug-of-war between Sasha and Charlotte – which arguably did more damage to the Raw Women’s Title than anything else. Fans grew fatigued with the pairs seemingly never-ending feud and WWE seemed to throwing match stipulations at the pair more as an excuse to make headlines than for story reason.

Bayley’s introduction didn’t really fix things – if anything it only made more obvious the issues within WWE’s Creative process. Her main event run has been a stop-start affair. She seemed to be in line for something more back at Survivor Series but was parked awkwardly on the bench for two months while Sasha and Charlotte concluded their rivalry. Even outside of this, NXT’s confident Bayley has been replaced by a version of the character who’s struggled to connect with the wider Raw audience. Her big moment already came at Fastlane not a month ago – there’s little excitement left in the tank for her at this point.

The problem with the Raw Women’s match being included on the main card is that it feels almost entirely contrived. Put simply, Raw’s women haven’t earned that spot when compared the careful work being done over on Smackdown Live. There, multiple feuds have allowed all of its women to shine. Nikki Bella and Nattie’s feud started slow, but eventually found momentum as the pair were given the creative outlet to develop a proper storyline. The division had layers and managed to get fans invested.

Alexa Bliss’s rise from newbie to main heel has been carefully crafted, with WWE giving the opportunity for new stars outside of the Four Horsewomen to have the spotlight. Yes Becky Lynch was the first Smackdown Live Women’s Champion – but her role since dropping the Championship has been to elevate Alexa Bliss, not hinder her rise to the top. On Raw, where have the new Superstars come from? Unless you were a Horsewomen heading in, no one else has been given a chance to shine on Monday Nights.

Part of the reason I suspect WWE has done this is because they value the name of Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks over the hard work over Smackdown’s women. It’s easier to sell The Rock’s cousin challenging for a Championship at Wrestlemania than it is to make non-fans care about Alexa Bliss. Most people who tune in to Wrestlemania won’t be as jaded to the endless toils of Sasha and Charlotte because there are more casual eyes on the product. Therefor on paper, having a three-time Raw Women’s Champion facing off against a four-time Raw Women’s Champion sounds like a dream match. Never mind the fact that Sasha Banks hasn’t once successfully defended the Championship.

It points to the imbalance in WWE right now. Raw is very much the A-Show, even if most of WWE’s hardcore fans prefer the Smackdown offerings. It doesn’t matter that the storyline bringing Raw’s women into Wrestlemania is so tired and drawn out – so long as WWE can produce a video package that shines and shows off all the women involved – they don’t care.

At the end of the discussion, it speaks more of how awkward WWE’s relationship with fans is than anything else. The fact that they talk about a Women’s Revolution but stick the more interesting match on the pre-show indicates that when it comes to the Women’s Revolution, it’s only for the select few that it really matters. I’m personally OK with the fact Smackdown Women’s match is on the Kickoff show – if only because it guarantees it won’t be bumped for Kid Rock’s insanely ill-advised concert.

Fans know where the real excitement is in the Women’s Revolution.

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