On Raw, Zelina Vega confronted Raw Women’s Champion Asuka and expressed her intentions to challenge for the title. But is she up to the challenge?
Following a successful title defense against Mickie James, WWE Raw Women’s Champion Asuka didn’t have to wait too long to find out who her next potential challenger was. However, the woman who stepped up to demand the next title match wasn’t a seasoned technician like Natalya, a powerhouse like Nia Jax, a rugged grappler like Shayna Baszler, or even an intriguing upstart like Bianca Belair.
Instead, fans witnessed Zelina Vega — Andrade and Angel Garza’s former business manager — mosey down to the ring after Asuka’s match with James on the Sep. 14 Raw to disavow her former charges and alert “The Empress of Tomorrow” of her plans to take the belt, which she punctuated with a slap across the champion’s face.
Given that Night of Champions is less than two weeks away, one can assume this was the first step in getting to a Vega vs. Asuka match on that show. But WWE will have some work to do in that brief time to convince viewers that Vega has even the slightest shot of hanging with the champ for an extended period of time, let alone winning outright (at least the company isn’t shying away from this plothole).
While Vega has proven to be a solid hand whenever she’s gotten a chance to wrestle, WWE hasn’t exactly presented her as a world-beater. Since joining WWE in 2017, she has tallied a grand total of two singles wins, both coming against Lana, one of the few women on the roster who is scripted as a less effective wrestler than her.
Zelina Vega’s talent can overcome a lack of a winning résumé
Does this sound like a viable challenger to the Raw Women’s Championship? Sure, WWE often ignores wins and losses when deciding who should become top contenders for championships, and it wouldn’t be the first time WWE tried to elevate a lower mid-card worker overnight (see: Mahal, Jinder and Layfield, John). But with that microwave push comes the risk that the promotion won’t get the wrestler hot enough in time for the pay-per-view.
But, assuming she gets the title shot, Vega’s talent could overcome that. She can cut compelling promos, so she wouldn’t have much trouble selling the match on the microphone. And her in-ring CV is light enough that a few wins would quickly change the narrative of her as a lackluster competitor, at least to the point where anything other than a quick win for Asuka isn’t seen as completely preposterous.
The writers wouldn’t even need to book Vega as Asuka’s equal; just have her win some matches using underhanded means and let the announcers drive the point home that she could score the upset if Asuka doesn’t take her seriously.
Still, two weeks probably isn’t enough time to make this work, especially when you’re asking an erratic — to put it kindly — WWE creative team to conjure up that magic. Preferably, you would want Vega to pick up victories for at least two months before slotting her in as the number one contender, but the startling lack of depth in the women’s division has forced WWE to turn to a moderately unknown commodity in a somewhat big spot, and the results could range from fruitful to disastrous.
No matter how it turns out, though, it’s great to see WWE cycling a relatively fresh face into the women’s title picture. If nothing else, Vega will do everything she can to make this program enthralling — as will Asuka. Hopefully, the Raw writers are up for the challenge, too.