Hot Takes w/The Chairman: Do RAW and Smackdown Need Separate Championships?
As many of you know, I’ve been binge watching the old catalog of WWE and finally reached 2002. 2002 is a big year in WWE for many reasons. Most remember it because it’s the year that perhaps the greatest class of graduates arrived to Raw and Smackdown with Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Batista, and John Cena all making their debuts. Few may remember it’s the year they changed the name from World Wrestling Federation to World Wrestling Entertainment starting the Get the “F” out campaign thanks to the World Wildlife Fund. It’s also known as the year of the first ever brand split. After WWE acquired talent from WCW and ECW in 2001 along with the influx of developmental talent, WWE had to split the rosters of Raw and Smackdown to get the majority of their roster on television.
You probably are wondering where I’m going with this, but originally there was only one undisputed champion for both Raw and Smackdown. There was only one women’s champion and there were only one pair of tag team championships. The Undisputed Champion and Women’s Champion were free to appear on both shows, but some reason not the Tag Team Championship? This made for some exciting wrestling in the spring of 2002 because everybody on both shows wanted the Undisputed Champion. Obviously over time, both Raw and Smackdown ended up with their own major championships so that changed things. But what if WWE never brought seperate titles to both shows and there was only one Undisputed Champion all these years? Eventually the brand split came to an end and the titles were unified. There was only one major WWE Championship again, but fast forward to 2016. The brand split returned and both Raw and Smackdown ended up with their own championships in the men’s division, women’s division, and tag team division.
There are pros and cons to the Raw and Smackdown brand split, but one of the cons is the amount of championships in WWE. Does there really need to be a WWE Champion on Raw and a Universal Champion on Smackdown? Do we really need a Women’s Championship and Tag Team Championship for both shows? My hot take here is when they redid the brand split in 2016, they never introduced the Universal Championship and kept only one pair of Tag Team Championship belts and one Women’s Championship. Today I’m going to break down just the women’s championships and eventually I’ll tackle the Tag Team Divisions and the WWE Championship/Universal Championship.
WWE Raw and Smackdown Women’s Championship
Let’s dive into the history of the Women’s Championship titles since the brand split occurred. First I’m going to give everyone a brief lesson on who has held the titles on Raw and Smackdown and at the end discuss why it’s not a good idea to have a title for each show.
At Wrestlemania 32, Charlotte Flair defeated Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks to win the WWE Women’s Championship retiring the WWE Divas Championship. Charlotte of course walked in as the Divas Champion and walked out with the new WWE Women’s Championship. When the brand split occurred later that year, this belt was exclusive to Raw therefore leading Smackdown to create their own. Charlotte and Sasha would flip flop the title several times in the summer/fall of 2016. When it was all said and done Charlotte was a four time champion and Sasha a three time champion and this belt has only been active a few months. Bayley managed to get a reign in early 2017, but dropped it to Alexa Bliss a few months later. Sasha managed to get her fourth reign, but in typical Sasha fashion, the reign was short-lived. Bliss then had a lengthy 223 day reign. However Nia Jax became the next champion, but Bliss got it back for her third reign with a Money in the Bank cash in. Ronda Rousey of course had to get her long 231 day reign in there before she dropped it to Becky Lynch at Wrestlemania 35 and Becky has dominated since with a reign over 400 days.
While the early booking of this title was definitely questionable with the flip flops between Charlotte and Sasha, there have been some length reigns as well. The question now is does Becky have any worthy competitors left to defeat her for the Raw Women’s Championship? Charlotte is the current NXT Champion. Bayley is the Smackdown Women’s Champion and other former Raw Women’s Champions Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss are also on the Smackdown roster. Ronda has been away from WWE since dropping the title at Wrestlemania 35 and Nia Jax has just returned from a major injury.
The Raw roster is lacking competition for Becky. She’s already conquered Asuka and Kairi Sane. Bianca Belair just arrived from NXT. Billie Kay and Peyton Royce haven’t been seen in months. Lana, enough said. Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott need to get majorly built up to be considered which is a shame because Liv is popular with fans and Ruby had a great run in NXT despite never holding the title. Zelina Vega is more of a manager these days and Natalya is just a solid veteran presence, but probably not the one to stop a lengthy title reign. Shayna Baszler was speculated to beat Becky at Wrestlemania, but Becky even conquered her. Let’s look over real quick at the Smackdown Women’s Championship history.
Becky was the first ever Smackdown Women’s Champion, but Alexa Bliss managed to defeat her a few months later. Bliss survived a few months until Naomi won the title. Naomi had to vacate the title because of a knee injury using the thirty day defense clause that seems to only come and go when WWE wants to bring it up. Bliss got the title back and then flipped it right back to Naomi at Wrestlemania 33. Even Natalya got to call herself champion for a while. Charlotte Flair then got her hands on the title and survived until Carmella cashed in Money in the Bank on her. Charlotte eventually got the title back from Carmella, but Charlotte’s reign was short-lived as Becky managed to beat her. Becky’s rival Asuka took the title and then Charlotte with another short reign appeared. Becky then won the title at Wrestlemania 35, but Charlotte again won it a month later at Money in the Bank. Charlotte of course lost it immediately to Bayley when she cashed in Money in the Bank. Charlotte got the title back for a whole four days a few months later, but Bayley won it the following Smackdown after Hell in a Cell and has held the title since. Everyone laughs at Sasha, but Charlotte has some pretty sad and short title reigns as well.
Charlotte Flair is a five time WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion. Throw in her Raw Women Championship reigns of four and Diva’s Championship and she’s a ten time champion. Add those two NXT Championship reigns and you have twelve major title reigns in six years. Kind of ridiculous and unnecessary. Charlotte could easily wrestler for a number of years yet and absolutely smash her father’s sixteen World Championships out of the park. The question remains to be asked: did she really need some of those short meaningless reigns? You could cut Charlotte’s Raw/Smackdown title reigns in half and she would still have five reigns in five years since being on Raw/Smackdown. Sasha Banks already has four reigns as well, but most of her domination came in the early part of her run on Raw. While she still hasn’t captured the Smackdown Women’s Championship, it’s only a matter of time one would assume. Plus who knows what other title reigns she could’ve had if she didn’t disappear for the majority of 2019. Her Four Horsewomen partner in crime Bayley may have been the last of them to arrive on Raw/Smackdown, but she has three title reigns to her name. Bayley has been dominating Smackdown with no end in sight and they’re literally throwing anything at her just to get a match at this point. Becky Lynch has four reigns since joining Raw/Smackdown and she was the only Four Horsewomen not to win the NXT Women’s Championship. Becky of course is on a record breaking reign on Raw at the moment again with no end in sight and conquering all comers. If you do the math, that is twenty Women Championship reigns between the Four Horsewomen on Raw and Smackdown in just under five years and Bayley didn’t join the Raw/Smackdown roster until later.
Here’s the rest of the women. Alexa Bliss was a popular title holder in the early stages of the brand split with three Raw reigns and two Smackdown reigns giving her five total. Of course Alexa’s last title run was in 2018. Injuries have derailed her and now she’s a mainstay in the women’s tag team division with Nikki Cross. Cross is one of many talented wrestlers who had a great run in NXT, but has never had the same success on Raw/Smackdown. The only other wrestlers besides the Horsewomen and Alexa Bliss to hold the Raw Championship are Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey. Nia of course has one reign and it’s the shortest reign. Rousey had a dominant reign, but Becky of course beat her and surpassed her reign. The only others on Smackdown to hold the Smackdown Women’s Championship are Naomi with two reigns, Natalya with one, Carmella with one, and Asuka with one. Naomi, Natalya, and Carmella were featured in the title scene heavily in the early stages of the Smackdown brand split, but haven’t been able to sniff the gold since. Asuka, like Bliss, has been more focused in the tag team division with Kairi Sane. Asuka did have opportunities against Becky this winter, but Becky conquered her rival. So non Horsewomen title reigns add up to twelve and take Bliss out it’s seven.
Throw in the fact we’re getting championship matches and opportunities with wrestlers such as Tamina and Dana Brooke makes you question, does there really need to be two championships? There’s only one Royal Rumble winner, there’s only one Money in the Bank briefcase, there really should only be one title. If there is only one title for the women to fight for, it would make the Women Tag Team Championship more important opposed to being an afterthought. The Four Horsewomen are dominating the title scene, but imagine how much better the competition would be if there was only one single title opposed to two? We for sure wouldn’t be getting Bayley vs Tamina for a title on a major pay per view. No longer would there be those participation multi women matches just to get one of the titles on the pay per view. Asuka should’ve been more dominant in the women’s division than she has been because of what she did in NXT and same with Shayna Baszler. Sure Baszler has just arrived from NXT, but it almost seems like she’s becoming an afterthought already. Former NXT Women Champions Kairi Sane and Ember Moon (when healthy) have been afterthoughts since leaving NXT.
Some would argue yes we would be better off with two divisions, but I just don’t think the creative teams on Raw and Smackdown can justify it. If the champion was free to roam on both rosters, championship matches would matter more. We wouldn’t be getting as many C level title feuds like we have gotten. Remember Becky vs Lacey Evans last year? However I will say Evans has improved tremendously as a character since last year. However women like Ruby Riott, Nikki Cross, Liv Morgan, etc need to be built up as threats. The Four Horsewomen have run wild for so long now it’s going to be hard to make any fans believe anyone else can beat them. There’s a stacked roster in NXT right now of women that Charlotte is buzz-sawing through because she’s already conquered everything on Raw and Smackdown. Becky Lynch is taking a leave of absence claiming she’s beat everybody. This is not good at all. Between the mass amount of title reigns acquired in such a short period of time to the Four Horsewomen, we definitely need a title unification match.
So my question to all of you wrestling fans. Do you think there should be a Women’s Championship for both Raw and Smackdown or just one Women’s Championship for both shows??? Let us know at Hot Tag Wrestling and thanks for reading.