WWE Should Merge Its Women’s Division, Become SmackDown-Exclusive


Two Women’s rosters in WWE isn’t as helpful to the wrestlers as some might think.

Currently, WWE’s women’s division is split in two, one for each of the major brands. Each show has its own Women’s Champion and top feuds. The idea here is for the women’s rosters to be identical to the men’s: two shows, two distinct, rosters, two top champions. Furthermore, WWE wants the women of both brands to become equal stars, just like the men’s world championship on each roster.

But this isn’t working. Despite having the best intentions, splitting WWE’s women’s roster in two has been a mixed bag, at best. RAW and SmackDown have a combined 20 women’s wrestlers between them, compared to RAW’s 49 male wrestlers (which includes 16 Cruiserweights) and SmackDown’s 35 male wrestlers.

These higher numbers allow both main shows to diversify the male wrestlers seen on a weekly basis. This same diversity cannot be achieved on either RAW or SmackDown due to the limitations brought about by having so few women.

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It’s even worse when you consider injuries and inexperience among these women. On RAW, Emma, Paige and Summer Raw are all sidelined with injuries. On SmackDown, Eva Marie’s status with WWE is uncertain and Nikki Bella’s taking an indefinite time off from wrestling.

This leaves RAW with only seven active women (since Maryse is only a valet and doesn’t wrestle regularly), and SmackDown with only six (since Lana’s still a rookie with very little in-ring experience).

How can either women’s division be expected to grow and create new stars when the same wrestlers are in the same spots each week? Why should the fans care about the Women’s Championships (especially the SmackDown one) when the competition is so stale and the in-ring action leaves a lot to be desired?

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The SmackDown Women’s Championship match at WrestleMania 33 was a ‘bathroom break’ match for a good reason. There wasn’t enough interest in it for fans to care. Try as they might, WWE cannot simply create a new championship and expect people to care about it from the very beginning.

A championship, and the division around it, both need to be built up through varied and exciting matches, meaningful storylines and long-term and carefully-planned booking. Apart from a few matches since the end of 2016, we haven’t gotten any of this in either women’s division.

So, what’s the best solution to these woes plaguing WWE’s women? To merge them into one unified brand that’s SmackDown-exclusive.

Last year, the central women’s rivalry on RAW was the one between Charlotte and Sasha Banks. For months, these two women waged war on each other and put on some genuinely-fantastic matches. They showed that, with proper storytelling and faith from the powers-that-be, women’s wrestling can headline WWE shows.

On SmackDown, however, things weren’t as rosy. Like its male counterpart, the SmackDown women’s roster was much smaller than RAW’s. This meant that more pressure was on fewer women to try and achieve the same level of success as RAW.

But this didn’t work; try as she might, Becky Lynch simply couldn’t carry the division on her shoulders, and the rivalry between Natalya and Nikki Bella was more about John Cena than it was about women’s wrestling.

Even now, both women’s rosters aren’t as interesting as they could be. The championships don’t mean as much, mainly because the top storylines surrounding their holders aren’t exciting. Alexa Bliss’s promos are good, but her in-ring abilities aren’t at a high enough level for someone that’s meant to be the best in that division. Naomi, meanwhile, lacks fresh competition, and hasn’t gotten her ‘Horsewoman moment’, i.e. one whereby she had few limitations as possible to show what she can do.

If WWE were to merge the divisions into one and make it SmackDown-exclusive, there would be many benefits over their current model. First, it would give fans another incentive to watch SmackDown. RAW has the entire cruiserweight division to itself, and that alone is a reason to watch RAW (questionable booking aside).

A lot of fans tune in to see the women wrestle, and many see the women as their heroes. Yet for the sake of basic marketing and viewer enticement, it would make more sense to have them on one brand. That way, the sight of women’s wrestling doesn’t get oversaturated as quickly, and it gives both RAW and SmackDown something unique that would allow both shows to actually compete with one another.

Secondly, a single women’s division would allow for more depth and competition. Having all twenty active women on one show would allow for match combos that might not have been seen before. This can only help the women, as many of them are stuck facing the same people over and over again on either brand because of how few of them there are on each show.

Thirdly, it could lead to more storylines involving the women that go beyond the simplistic ones that have plagued the division for years. A lot of women’s storylines have been centered on petty issues and relationships for years, especially on RAW. It seems the RAW writers are less-inclined to portray the women as pure athletes as the SmackDown creative team (with the exception of Sasha Banks and Charlotte).

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By putting the entire division on one show, it would have more of a unified identity and proper writing, instead of the two shows taking going in opposite directions in terms of writing. This would only benefit the active women now, as many of them are more interested in being wrestlers as oppose to being shoe-horned into romance storylines that don’t get over anyway.

Fourthly, it would get the women as far away from the RAW writing staff as possible. There’s no denying that SmackDown is the superior WWE show in terms of writing and in-ring action. This is because its writers are given more freedom and aren’t pressured so much by the top power-brokers of WWE to sprinkle ‘sports entertainment’ everywhere.

The week-to-week writing on RAW has been bad for a long time, with many wrestlers, both male and female, stuck in purgatory due to the dreaded 50/50 booking. This doesn’t happen as much on SmackDown. Storylines on the blue brand are more linear and develop in a better way than on RAW, which leads to fresh match-ups and more interesting storylines.

There is, of course, a concern that all the women on one roster would lead to some of them being lost in the shuffle. This is true, but it’s also a necessity. Some people on SmackDown right now are simply not ready for such a high-profile environment, while others are also struggling on RAW.

With one single division and one championship, the best wrestlers in the division would rise to the top as title challengers/holders, while those with less skill would hone their craft over time in lesser feuds. This way, the roster’s weaknesses aren’t as exposed as they are now, and the women that do have all the right attributes would have better competition and would be able to put on better matches with their peers.

If WWE can make the Cruiserweight Division RAW-exclusive (not counting the ads for 205 Live that appear on SmackDown), they can make the women’s division SmackDown-exclusive. As much as Vince McMahon sees RAW as the flagship show, more and more fans see it as the more tiresome and less-exciting show as well.

If a program is so long and convoluted that the commentators have to replay the opening segment several times throughout the same broadcast, something’s clearly wrong there.

The Women’s division in WWE needs to be unified because the two separate divisions existing now are both struggling. SmackDown has very few women overall, and RAW’s division lacks truly interesting feuds and good writing.

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If both were under the SmackDown banner, it would be a win-win for everyone. RAW gets more time for its other storylines, the Cruiserweights get more time, and fans have another reason to watch SmackDown. After all, having more viewers for both shows is the ultimate goal, isn’t it?