This week’s episode of SmackDown saw Naomi relinquish the SmackDown Women’s Championship due to an injury she suffered during the same match at Elimination Chamber where she won the title from Alexa Bliss.
Two weeks ago, this injury was brought up and it was announced that Alexa would get her rematch for the title this week, meaning WWE at least had some hope Naomi would heal up in time, yet the decision to have her forfeit the championship must mean it’s more serious than originally suspected.
Oddly enough, this is the second time in the past few months where the winners of a match with title implications had to give up their spot and pass it along to someone else. During the battle royal to determine the #1 contenders to The Wyatt Family’s SmackDown Tag Team Championship, Zack Ryder’s injury cost The Hype Bros their title opportunity. It worked out well for American Alpha and in this situation, Naomi’s injury worked out well for Alexa Bliss.
Obviously, this was not the direction WWE had planned to go with the title, so now the question is how they will be responding to this change and how it will affect plans for WrestleMania and onward.
Thankfully, nothing was set in stone as far as building something up for the championship at WrestleMania. This isn’t like the Seth Rollins and Triple H feud where there really don’t appear to be many backup options that wouldn’t scream “last minute replacement” like what will happen of Rollins isn’t cleared in time.
While it’s clear WWE is going with the idea of having Nikki Bella and John Cena team up to face Maryse and The Miz, every other woman on the SmackDown roster was just lingering around and busying themselves until something more concrete was imagined as far as their booking ideas for what they’ll do in Orlando. All we know now is that Naomi will most likely not be making an appearance on the card, but there still might be at least a modicum of hope that she’ll heal up in time to step in the ring. What’s in store for everyone else, though?
Eva Marie is currently either in rehab or quietly released from the company or possibly both at the same time, so she’s out of the picture, but that still leaves Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, Carmella, Mickie James, Natalya and Tamina Snuka.
We’ve already seen multiple matches for a handful of months between Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss, so the idea of a singles championship defense between the two seems like it’s underwhelming enough that it might as well not even be on the card. There are just too many other matches that need to find time at WrestleMania and something repetitive like that simply isn’t necessary, despite how immensely talented both women are.
It’s also easy to assume Alexa won’t be defending the championship against Carmella or Natalya unless it’s in some sort of multi-woman match similar to the rumored Fatal 4-Way that might happen on the Raw side of things. That, actually, could happen with SmackDown’s roster as well, with something like Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, Becky Lynch and Natalya going at it for the title and Natalya taking the pin from Bliss.
An unknown element, though, is Tamina Snuka. I had been working under the assumption she would come back as a heel rather than a babyface, but when you look at the women’s division on SmackDown, another face could be needed. Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella and an injured Naomi are all they have while there are 4 heels if you count Maryse, 5 if you count Eva Marie. If Tamina comes back as a heel, that would put things at a 2-on-6 disadvantage and if the rumors are true that Nikki Bella may be retiring soon after WrestleMania, we’re down to ONE babyface woman on the SmackDown roster. The division simply can’t survive like that.
Then again, would a match between Tamina and Alexa really get the crowd on their feet at WrestleMania? Tamina’s been out of the limelight for so long and was never really the most popular at any point throughout her career, so if anything, she’s in need of a career rehab rather than being trusted to help save a division’s path by being thrust into the title hunt.
An unknown element that WWE could use as a mercy plan on two levels is if they ditch the whole “Emmalina to Emma” transition and instead, move her over to SmackDown as a babyface. If she’s not good enough to play the heel character they want her to play and they felt the need to change her character up from her version of a heel she tried and failed at before, just cut your losses, give the gimmick to Kelly Kelly as rumored, and start over with Emma. The best way to start over is to give her a change of scenery and moving to SmackDown would be the most beneficial thing for her.
Making the change isn’t even a hard one, either. Emma can simply come out and say that over on Raw, they were trying to force her to be someone she isn’t and it was bringing out the worst in her. She didn’t like that, so she switched over to SmackDown where she’ll be given an opportunity to be herself. Alexa Bliss comes out to tout that the sob story is great and everything, but there’s only so far Emma can go because Bliss is at the top and that’s where she’s going to stay.
That easily, Emma is now in a prime position to turn the trajectory of her career from an awful one with the false start of the Emmalina character into a positive one not just for herself, but the SmackDown show in general. If you want to have a Fatal 4-Way at WrestleMania, you can still include Becky Lynch and Mickie James, making it an even 2 heels against 2 babyfaces scenario. It sucks for Natalya and Carmella as well as Tamina (who may not even return until after WrestleMania anyway) but hey, not everybody can win all the time, and its doubtful those three would make that much of a difference in comparison anyway.
Of course, if WWE isn’t willing to do something like this and are looking for the absolute easiest way to do the least amount of work possible, the simplest solution for WrestleMania is to have a triple threat match between Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch and Mickie James, who would have to start having some tension with Bliss so it doesn’t turn into a 2-on-1 situation. Perhaps that can even lead to a true Mickie James vs. Alexa Bliss feud, which I’m sure we’ll see at one point and I’m quite excited to watch.