Top Contenders for the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship | Smark Out Moment

Top Contenders for the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship

Posted by Jordan Chaffiotte Thursday, August 25, 2016
With only a handful of female wrestlers, it seemed risky for WWE to split them between two brands. Some feared the divisions would be too small to have an impact. However, in the past month we've seen incredible bouts between Sasha Banks and Charlotte, and quite a bit of character building from the ladies of SmackDown. For having only six women able to compete for the new SmackDown Women's Championship, SmackDown has managed to create a tense environment where it feels like everyone is putting up a fight. We've seen newcomers Alexa Bliss and Carmella make serious waves by taking on seasoned veterans. Nikki Bella's signing to SmackDown also provides extra competition, as the longest reigning Divas champion will surely want a shot at the new title. Although some candidates are clearly higher up on the list than others, there's a sense that anything could happen during the six pack challenge at Backlash. Let's take a look at some front runners.

Becky Lynch, Nikki Bella, and SmackDown Women's division

Becky Lynch

Becky is the obvious choice. If the fans at SmackDown were any indication—who were loud with their Becky Lynch chants—she is an early favorite. As the only Four Horsewoman on the brand, Becky holds an important role. She's a brilliant wrestler, and a plucky underdog who the fans are dying to see as a champion.

Becky Lynch Lass-Kicker entrance

Pros: Becky Lynch has captured the hearts of a huge majority of the fans, they know she's underrated and they want to see her succeed. Assuming Charlotte will hold onto the other women's championship for some time, it would be refreshing to have a babyface champ. She knows her stuff in the ring, and has a scrappy, mat-based offense that conveys her character flawlessly. Not to mention she's tough as nails. In WWE 24 Women's Evolution, the Bella Twins ask her how many stitches she had to get around her eye. Becky Lynch responds nonchalantly, "only seven." Continuing to work her as an underdog, she can struggle to hang on to the title, but ultimately prevail each time because she's willing to take those risks. It's a compelling narrative to have her not only be the "Irish Lass-Kicker" but also the toughest woman in the division.

Cons: It's expected. The crowd is behind it, but they're also waiting for it to happen. How will she maintain the underdog persona if she's also the favorite to win? If this were a tournament or built some other way to a one on one match, it might be more engaging. She'd have to work up to it, and she could have a few close calls. With the six pack challenge, however, seeing Becky Lynch get the Dis-Arm-Her on Alexa Bliss or Carmella feels just a little underwhelming. Chances are the match is not going to get enough time to convey that Becky Lynch is still an underdog. It puts her in a weird situation, where she might have to drop that central part of her character. Much as we would all love to see her win some gold for once, she might benefit more from a long term feud for it.

Naomi

The division's most athletic female competitor has gotten passed up for the belt so many times over the past few years. She looked like she was on the verge of a push when Paige was on her first reign, and then again during Nikki Bella's record-breaking reign. Neither time she was successful, and her fan base started getting pretty frustrated. With her recent face turn and her very cool new entrance, she might just get it done this time.


Pros: It's not expected. We're not waiting for her to get the pin, and we're not saying it's obviously going to be her. So seeing her come out of the match victorious for once, after years of watching her get passed over, would be really gratifying. The locker room seems to be in agreement that Naomi is the most athletic woman they've ever seen. While she was working heel she had to put a lot of the high-flying, gymnastics inspired moves on the shelf, but now she seems to be a face again. That opens up a lot of opportunities for her to play to the crowd and show off a really unique move set. Matched up against Becky Lynch, they're complete opposites. Against Bliss they're two sides of the same coin. She also has a history with both Natalya and Nikki Bella, so there are plenty of storylines that could take her through her reign.

Cons: The crowd might just riot, simply because she's not Becky Lynch. As a face, that could really hinder her reign by making her deal with boos instead of cheers. She's popular, but not nearly as over as her SummerSlam tag-team partner. She can get there, no doubt, but it could take some time to build up, especially since we only saw her new persona last week.  The new look and entrance is very, very cool, but beyond that we don't really know who she is right now. Just like with Becky Lynch, the six pack challenge set up could make it difficult to tell a clear story. Without that, she'll have trouble getting fans behind her, even if they're invested in her as a competitor. She still needs to get the fans behind her as a character. The last thing that SmackDown needs is for the inaugural Women's Champion to have a lukewarm reception. The clear cut booing for a heel is way better than the uncertain, half-hearted cheers for a face.

Nikki Bella

Nikki Bella will forever hold one title: the longest reigning Diva's Champion. She returned to a big face pop at SummerSlam. Considering that her injury could easily have retired her, it's impressive she returned at all. The Bellas came into the division at a rough time, and their influence and success have been dismissed for years. This might be a chance for her to fully participate in the revolution.

Nikki Bella becomes the longest reigning Divas Champion

Pros: Whatever your opinion of the Bellas, the company is still very much behind them. The same WWE 24 gave a lot of credit for the path that they paved. They were referred to in the same category as Natalya and Beth Phoenix, as being "ready for the revolution before the revolution was ready for them." Whether or not that's necessarily true, Nikki is undeniably a hard worker. There were paths of less resistance for her, but she was dedicated to this and came back better than ever. She's powerful in the ring, easily able to dominate any opponent. It's also incredibly important to maintain that the Diva's Championship and the history of the division meant something. It should still be a big deal that Nikki was the longest reigning champ. This should be a constant part of her stories, after all, who wouldn't want to step up to take her down?

Cons: The crowd will almost definitely riot. Here we go again, the Bellas getting pushed before everyone else. Even if everyone was excited to see Nikki again after so many months away, that feeling might not last long. If the response is resentment that she's being unduly pushed before other deserving competitors, that will color the victory. With her appearing to work face after that attack from Carmella, we could be looking at the same situation as Naomi, except much worse. It might be that not everything that is said about her is true, but those perceptions become what everyone sees. That's why she's worked so well as a heel in the past, it's easy for her to just become a classic mean girl rather than try to push against that narrative. Her tenure as a face has been "100%" hit or miss. Nikki Bella as a face champion could be a difficult one to sell.

So who are you pulling for to win the brand new SmackDown Women's Championship at Backlash? Is it one of the three on our list, or are you getting behind the Queen of Hearts? New girls Carmella or Alexa Bliss? Let us know in the comments.
THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY JORDAN CHAFFIOTTE

Jordan Chaffiotte is a writer and blogger on a variety of channels and is an alum of Her Campus. Her long-term love of writing has been matched recently by a new love for professional wrestling. You can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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