That's especially true of the women's division, which many speculated would be exclusive to one show, but was split 7 Raw / 6 SmackDown. Both teams talked a big game about building a women's division, but only five women were drafted on the televised show.
Still, the increased "elbow room" might serve the division well if they are given more to do, not less. Let's take a look at some of the biggest opportunities for the division now that the draft is finished.
|Charlotte's excited to be draft pick #3 to Monday Night Raw|
1. One word: Midcard
There are many bad decisions that could be made in regards to the women's division—bra and panties matches comes to mind—but one of the worst decisions at this fragile moment is to make it too crowded at the top. It can be far too easy for WWE to slip into a pattern where the only thing that matters is the title picture. Sure, that can happen with only one superstar on top of the mountain, but it's going to be more tempting when the Women's Championship picture looks like WrestleMania 32.
Obviously, I'm not opposed to more matches like that one. What I want to see is for that star power and commitment to carry over to the middle of the women's pack. When someone like Paige isn't in the title hunt, she should still get substantial and interesting matches that go somewhere. The midcard, or at least the non-title stories, still have to mean something.
|Paige and Summer could butt heads some more on Raw|
Carmella could fit in nicely to this plan, though her draft was a shock. She's a good worker who can look good in the ring, or help put someone else over. One day, she'll make a good transitional champion. For competitors like her, Summer Rae, and Alicia Fox, this could be a massive opportunity to show they're not just there to take the pin. They're fighters.
To show a commitment to the entire women's division, they should introduce a new midcard belt. I know, I know, there are so many new titles being added, but this one really is needed. First off, SmackDown doesn't have a female champion, and that's a problem for Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan. Second, the title gives those midcard matches stakes and the competitors something to achieve before they take on the Women's Champion.
2. Alexa Bliss' Debut
This was quite possibly one of the best uses of the six NXT spots. I've sung my praises of Alexa before, and while I was wrong about her being the next NXT Women's Champion, this is the best place for her. Again, WWE needs to fill out that midcard for the women, and Alexa can do that in a totally unique way. She has a brighter future than maybe Carmella, easily becoming champion in the next few years, but until then she can be the annoyance of the women's division.
|Alexa Bliss has an incredible kind of confidence|
With the Women's Championship out of her reach on SmackDown, and there being several competitors ahead of her should a #1 contendership come their way (Becky, Natalya, Naomi), Alexa is going to be frustrated. Which is when her character shines. She's strong in the ring, but her inexperience will be a disadvantage against the vets. Instead of just buckling down and working hard, like Carmella will when faced with the same road block, Alexa has a perfect character to throw a fit. If she can't be champion, she's going to get in the way of everyone else. You could build months of programming around her picking fights and reeking havoc.
3. Free Agents
Not everyone was drafted last night, injured superstars were noticeably kept off the list. Specifically, Tamina, Emma, and Nikki Bella have not been placed on a brand and won't be until they return to competition. It's tricky when we're dealing with real world injuries that can't magically be cured because it fits into a story. We do know that Nikki has been on the road to recovery and should be able to return to the ring once all is well, but the other two are unknown.
For each of them, and all of the undrafted male superstars, it will be interesting to see how WWE handles free agents in the brand extension. Nikki's time at the top of that mountain has probably passed, but I believe that the title of Longest Reigning Divas Champion means something, and she has a valuable role to play as a gatekeeper to the title picture. For that reason, she needs to be presented with a strong stock, and she's a hard worker who's earned a quick "hottest free agent" angle. It only has to last a week or two, but letting Steph and Shane fight over her a bit is important. If the plan is to bring her back as a face (as her Slammy acceptance speech would suggest), having a nice moment between her and her brother-in-law, Daniel Bryan, could solidify that before she chooses SmackDown.
|Nikki Bella asks Paige to stay while she accepts her Slammy|
Emma and Tamina aren't going to have a hero's welcome, but that's alright. For their stories, it actually makes a lot more sense. Emma in particular would benefit from having to fight her way back into the show. Maybe they could try to further the sports connection and have her "working out with Raw this week." With a try-out scenario, Emma can destroy her opponent and come out looking strong. Even better if she's able to come back at the same time as Nikki, giving her even more reason to be furious.
The hottest free agent WWE might see in the next few weeks, however, is the one and only Bayley. Let's be real, she's quite possibly the biggest babyface in the division, if not the entire company. So why didn't she get drafted? Well, as disappointing as it was when Mick Foley made all of that noise just to draft Chris Jericho (of all people) and not the darling of NXT, maybe it was for the better.
No one came out to accept their Raw/SmackDown placement, for the sake of time they played the music and video packages, and moved on. When Bayley debuts on the main roster, the energy in the crowd is going to be electric. That's better saved for when they can use it, such as this Sunday at Battleground. I know the reports are that Sasha will not have Bayley as a partner, but I'm skeptical of them since she didn't get called up Tuesday night.
|We can expect a huge entrance for Bayley|
Regardless of when Bayley debuts, it's going to be a very big deal, and she works best as the ultimate underdog. What's harder than watching three less accomplished competitors get drafted when you don't? She's going to have to work harder than ever, and when she finally gets put on one the brands, it will be a much bigger pay off.
So what do you think is the biggest opportunity for the women's division? Let us know in the comments.