Alexa Bliss might only be five feet tall, a bit of a diva and not on the brand that many expected would have the strong Women’s Division (with Paige, and three of the ‘Four Horsewomen’ being on Raw). Weeks ago many pessimists might have considered her somewhat doomed, and it would definitely have been an injustice. Luckily, WWE are doing a fantastic job with the women on SmackDown.
WWE Backlash was a heck of a lot better than many expected, with most of the show being of great importance, and a great solidifier of the brand. AJ Styles won the singles title. Dolph Ziggler and The Miz had a fantastic fight for the Intercontinental Championship – arguably the best 1-vs-1 match on that division in years. Heath Slater was finally signed to SmackDown when he and Rhyno won the tag team title (in a tournament that led to a heel turn for The Usos).
However, it was the establishment of the SmackDown Women’s Championship that did most to show off the talent. There was a lot of pressure on WWE and the wrestlers here, as in two big battles (six women at Backlash for the title, and the remaining five on the following SmackDown for the next No.1 Contender) they needed to make the division worthwhile of everybody’s attention, and make a championship worth fighting hard for. In little programming, and with just six women on the card (at the moment) SmackDown managed to establish the most solid women’s division that the main roster has seen in a very long time.
Title Feud: Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss
The booking of the women on Raw is based primarily on figuring out which face will eventually take Charlotte’s title. As a result, SmackDown made the right choice of being the opposite – having a face champion, under threat from the heels. For this reason, Becky Lynch couldn’t be much more ideal. Before the brand division, I was hoping that she would slowly rise to the top as everyone’s favourite adorable figure (as Bayley did during her time at NXT), but this will work just fine.
Her current feud is also the best choice. “Five feet of fury” Alexa Bliss is easily the most exciting figure in the women’s roster – athletic and fantastic on the mic. Being the first eliminated in the ‘Six-Pack’ match at WWE Backlash, only to be the winner on the Fatal 5-Way on the following SmackDown goes to show that WWE are making a point of giving all of the women some exposure. She has had a re-design, having appeared in Harley Quinn-style gear, though we’re yet to find out whether that is permanent. It might be a desperate jump on the Suicide Squad bandwagon, but either way, viewers are loving it.
It is quite possible that Bliss will fail to win the title at No Mercy, but nonetheless it was a great choice to make her the first main heel, rather than wasting it established figures that do not need it, such as Natalya and Nikki Bella. Speaking of whom…
Mid-Card: Nikki Bella vs. Carmella
Looking at who she is alongside in the SmackDown line-up, this is a situation that many thought they would never see – Nikki Bella is currently in the mid-card. And she’s booked as a face. And it’s actually working. In fact, it seems bizarre enough that there even is such a thing as a women’s mid-card, especially considering WWE had trouble managing more than one simultaneous feud in the Women’s Division before the brand split.
In a similar vein to Alexa Bliss, Carmella is being given her first main roster feud as a heel, coming across as more threatening than many might have expected who remember her best as Enzo & Cass’ “hot as hell (and you can’t teach that…)” cheerleader. This is just the kind of push that she needs, as without a unique image like Bayley, Becky Lynch and Naomi, there wasn’t much hope of her getting positive attention with little more character than a pleasant and attractive ‘diva’.
This feud is well under way referred to in both the Six-Pack and 5-Way matches. Nikki and Carmella don’t like each other, and the feud seems solid enough that it’s probable that whoever succeeds will be the next No.1 Contender for the SmackDown title.
As a character, Naomi hasn’t yet stood out, however she has no doubt progressed in her image. Before, she was the most stereotypical ‘Diva’, who closed conversations on “girl-bye!” and closed matches with the Rear View (a hip strike). Now, she has lightened up a lot more, in more ways that one. She is a party animal with a unique UV and glow-stick entrance. I think that this is a brilliant idea, getting her a lot of attention before even being engaged in a feud. Considering their focus on each other, it is possible that Naomi is due to be feuding with Natalya, who in spite of being well established, bizarrely appears to be the least noteworthy in booking. This is the one and only big problem that stands out as yet.
That said, they had a brilliant scrap in the Fatal 5-Way on SmackDown indicating that whether it signifies anything, or is filler, that they are at least doing something. It is good for them not to just be put into hibernation or jobber roles.
There’s just one sad thing missing, heading for Raw…
Fingers crossed that WWE keeps this up, and that Raw will follow suit soon.