WWE: Will Naomi’s win over Bayley lead to anything?

Naomi, WWE SmackDown Feb 14. Credit: WWE.com
Naomi, WWE SmackDown Feb 14. Credit: WWE.com /

Fans who have wanted to see Naomi receive a push were happy to see her score a clean win over the SmackDown Women’s Champion, but will it go anywhere?

For months, fans have clamored to see long-tenured WWE star Naomi receive a prominent push in the SmackDown women’s division — a movement that has culminated in the GiveNaomiAChance hashtag on social media.

The Aug. 21 episode of SmackDown may have offered some hope in that regard. On said broadcast, the former SmackDown Women’s Champion challenged WWE’s Two-Woman Power Trip, Bayley and Sasha Banks, to respective singles matches in what would become a Beat The Clock Challenge to determine who would wrestle Asuka — the number one contender to Bayley’s SmackDown Women’s Title and Banks’ RAW Women’s Championship — first at SummerSlam.

While Naomi fell prey to Banks’ Bank Statement crossface, she fared much better against “The Boss'” WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship partner immediately after, picking up the win after delivering the Rear View. So, does this signify a push for the 11-year veteran?

WWE’s history makes Naomi’s situation unclear

If WWE were booked like a normal promotion, the answer would be yes. But in a company where, kayfabe-wise, wins and losses are as valuable as an expired coupon, it’s fair to wonder if they only gave Naomi a win to artificially assuage those who want to see Naomi get a legitimate shot in a prominent spot on the card while furthering potential issues between Banks and Bayley.

Given that WWE had no problem using a future Hall of Famer’s return match as a backdrop for a feud between Seth Rollins and a color commentator, them simply ignoring Naomi’s win and booking her in matches against Lacey Evans until the sun dies out would be standard operating procedure for the promotion. Even if Naomi were to enter a title program with Bayley — or Asuka, should she beat Bayley for the SmackDown Women’s belt — WWE would probably limit it to a “challenger of the month” narrative and move on to the next feud once Naomi eats the pin.

WWE’s history indicates that they will likely go in this direction — while mocking those who want to see Naomi presented as a top star — but one thing may force WWE to choose a different course: the company’s lack of credible female babyfaces.

Aside from Asuka and Bianca Belair — and Shayna Baszler(?) — the list of distaff protagonists who could realistically pass as viable championship contenders is thinner than a piece of looseleaf paper, an astounding feat considering the wealth of talented women in the company.

WWE needs to push Naomi as a top babyface

The company’s propensity to push only a handful of wrestlers at a time while leaving everyone else on the parity booking carousel has come at the cost of star power to the point where the creative team placed one woman in two singles title bouts for the company’s second-biggest pay-per-view.

WWE can get away with that now, but eventually, they will have to start pushing strong babyfaces. Sure, a face turn by Banks or Bayley would help, but that will only paper over the issue for so long.

In Naomi, WWE has someone who can cut good promos, have good matches with the right opponent (e.g.: not Lacey Evans), and is someone who possesses a natural connection with the audience, particularly with Black fans who want to see more of wrestlers who look like them featured on WWE television. Outside of a willful obtuseness of her popularity and a dogged dedication to its Eurocentric impulses when it comes to its booking choices, there’s no reason not to slot her in as a top babyface.

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Her win over Bayley could be the springboard to that push. Or WWE could do what they always do while wondering why no one takes its babyfaces seriously. It seems like an obvious choice, but with WWE, you never know.