March to WrestleMania 36: Exploring the Raw & SmackDown Women’s Championship Scenes

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Welcome another edition of the March to WrestleMania 36, breaking down the environment around all the championships heading into the biggest show of the year to set the tone for 1) recapping how we got to this point, 2) discussing possible plans for WrestleMania and 3) guessing where this all going to end up once WrestleMania has concluded.

For this post, I’ll be doubling it up by talking about both of the top titles for the women’s division by breaking down the Raw Women’s Championship situation briefly before getting into the more up in the air SmackDown Women’s Championship scene with a little bit of the NXT Women’s Championship situation mixed in.

Note: Obviously, the coronavirus has left WrestleMania up in the air. This series assumes that it will still happen (as WWE continues to advertise it) and exists to bring casual viewers up to speed with information they’ve missed out on by not watching recent events.

Without further ado, let’s get the more obvious one out of the way first…



THE RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP

Who is the current champion?

Becky Lynch won both the Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championship last year at WrestleMania 35 when she defeated Charlotte Flair (then SmackDown champion) and Ronda Rousey (then Raw champion) in a Winner Takes All match.

She quickly lost the blue brand’s belt at the next event, but has held strong to being the top of the food chain on Monday nights over the past year.

The Man has beaten everyone in her path, including Asuka, but failed to come out on top at Survivor Series against Shayna Baszler (and Bayley, but she’s not important here).


Who will challenge for the title at WrestleMania?

Baszler dropped the NXT Women’s Championship in December in order to come up to the main roster to seemingly win the Royal Rumble. Then, she didn’t. Instead, Charlotte Flair did, but WWE decided to go with her challenging for the NXT Women’s Championship instead, meaning she’ll face Rhea Ripley, who beat Baszler for the title. Sidetrack!


WWE needed another means for The Queen of Spades to earn a title shot, so they had her bite The Man’s neck and then enter the Elimination Chamber, wherein she decimated her five opponents. Baszler eliminated every single person in the match, which more than asserted her dominance.

What happens at and after WrestleMania?

It isn’t a certainty that Baszler wins the title. She’s the most credible person to fight Becky, for sure, but that doesn’t mean she gets the job done.

Rumors have gone around since Survivor Series that Vince McMahon has perpetually not been impressed with Baszler’s performances. If that’s the case, they may not want to build the flagship show’s division around her. It’s possible WWE sees her as marketable for the build to the big show, but not someone to continue to rely on after that point.

If that’s the case, Lynch will retain and I have no idea what they will do. I doubt they even have any idea, other than hoping that Rousey could return or something like that. But hoping isn’t a game plan and if WWE does have one other than “keep it on Lynch and we’ll figure it out in May”, I have to assume it’s to put the belt on Baszler.

Then, she’ll probably steamroll everyone in her path until Flair takes the title from her at SummerSlam, Survivor Series or next year’s WrestleMania.


THE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP

Who is the current champion?

Bayley has been SmackDown women’s champion since beating Flair on the SmackDown after Hell in a Cell (when Flair beat Bayley…who had beaten Flair at Money in the Bank…who had beaten Becky Lynch. It’s been a very one-track kind of year).

Since then, she’s beaten literally every single possible challenger on the blue brand. Lacey Evans, Carmella, Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross, Naomi, Dana Brooke….they’ve all failed.


In my personal opinion, it’s still been an extremely lackluster reign, though. She hasn’t looked dominant in beating those people. Her partnership with Sasha Banks has been tepid due to a massive amount of time The Boss spent off-camera. Bayley’s heel turn was good for the initial moment it happened, but her aesthetic has been underwhelming, as have her promos.

It’s been time to crown a new champion for a while, but WWE just hasn’t done it.

Who will challenge for the title at WrestleMania?

We have no idea.


Some rumors say there will be a Six-Pack Challenge just to cram in a bunch of the people who have already lost their title opportunities. That would be a lazy scenario, as it means WWE didn’t want to bother setting up a proper challenger and felt like resting on the laurels of quantity would come off as quality. Basically, “look at all the people in this match. Isn’t it important?” being the game plan, hoping people looked at the sum of its parts rather than the individual weak links.

Part of me still thinks Bayley and Banks are going to team up to fight Trish Stratus and Lita while the title won’t even be defended. That sounds crazy, particularly as Trish supposedly wrestled her retirement match at SummerSlam, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Many people have wrestled their last match only to wrestle again. Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker…Terry Funk made a career out of it. Trish also has said in the past she wanted to work with Banks. On one episode of SmackDown, The Boss n Hug Connection talked about how they should be a team going into the Hall of Fame and nobody could touch them. That stood out as an odd potential setup to me.

Another possibility is Paige, who was supposed to show up on SmackDown this past week, but didn’t due to travel issues with the coronavirus. There’s a slight chance she was cleared to compete, even though I don’t buy it.

Yet another possibility is Nia Jax. Bayley has talked a lot about being a role model and with Jax set to return soon, it wouldn’t surprise me if WWE wanted to put her in a storyline where she was positioned as a better role model for body positivity or something along those lines.

What happens at and after WrestleMania?

Frankly, I don’t think WWE has a clue what they’re doing for Mania, let alone what is happening afterward. I genuinely think even before this coronavirus stuff happened, they still had no solid plans they were building toward. Now, with Mania itself up in the air, I’d imagine they’re even less likely to have settled on something.

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