It's been a busy couple of weeks for WWE. Since the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view on February 12th, WWE has crowned no less than four new champions. The first was SmackDown's Women's Champion, Naomi, only to have an injury force her out of action this past week. Relinquishing the title, the crown fell once again on the head of Alexa Bliss as she beat out Becky Lynch for it. Later in the Elimination Chamber, Bray Wyatt outlasted his opponents to end John Cena's record-tying run after only two weeks. Finally, Monday Night Raw saw Bayley take on Charlotte and with a little help from Sasha Banks, she became the last of the Four Horsewomen to hold a Women's Championship on the main roster. Let's take a closer look at these title changes and what it means for the road to WrestleMania.
Question 1:While she didn't quite best Finn Balor's 24 hour record, Naomi was forced to relinquish the SmackDown Women's Title after only 8 days. It was heartbreaking for her fans to watch Alexa Bliss walk out of SmackDown as a two-time champion, but was it the right move for the division? Where do we go from here?
CHAFFIOTTE: Fair? Nothing in wrestling is fair. In almost 4 years of watching, I've yet to see a rule be consistently enforced. So yes, it's demoralizing that Naomi had to relinquish the title over this injury, and someone should really tell Brock Lesnar about this whole 30-day defense clause. But is it the right move? Yeah, it is. Any other time I'd say they could work around it, but WrestleMania is around the corner and they need to have a champion who can compete. It looks like that champion will be Alexa Bliss, who, while still incredibly inexperienced, has proven she can carry that division on her back. She also was fantastic this week, the line "you know me, heart of gold," was just so perfectly in-character, I have a hard time being mad about her holding the belt again.
At the same time, I thought Becky being her opponent was a disappointing decision. They could've had Mickie come out to drive a wedge between their partnership, or introduced a surprise call up from NXT, or brought out the recently cleared Tamina to bring the title home to her family. Since they did none of these much more interesting options, I'm fully expecting Becky to take on Alexa again at WrestleMania, possibly in a triple threat with Mickie. I think it'll be a good match, just one that could have more going for it than it does.
GUEST: Before I get into the reasons she shouldn't have won the title, I really like Naomi. She has been a great member of the division for a long time now and should be a multiple time champion already. But this is not the time for her to be champ. I'm a huge fan of Alexa Bliss and everything she has done since the brand split, she has been the best woman on the mic and possibly in the ring for the past few months and her run wasn't getting stale or boring, so there was no need to take the title off her. It's heartbreaking to see Naomi have the title taken off of her like this, but ultimately, I'm glad Bliss is getting another run. If Naomi is back in time for WrestleMania then I expect to see her beat Bliss for the title in her hometown, but I don't think it's best for the company right now. If Naomi isn't back in time, Bliss vs Mickie James is the perfect feud to go with, have Mickie lose to Becky Lynch, turn face and go after Alexa.
WIGGINS: To be honest I wasn't a huge fan of Naomi winning the title when she did. Her athleticism, tenure and outstanding entrance would have unquestionably earned her the SmackDown's Women's Championship down the road. But it was pretty abrupt for her to take it away from Alexa Bliss when she was enjoying such a compelling run. Still, it is gutting for her, but I do hope she holds the title again during the summer.
They definitely made the right choice putting the title back on Bliss, as I think she's becoming a stronger character than any other superstar in the women's roster, RAW or SmackDown. She's the second biggest heel on SmackDown after The Miz and no matter her next challenger it will be an intriguing story. It will probably be Becky Lynch again to challenge, especially as I don't think the title will be defended on the main WrestleMania card, but I'd personally like to see Natalya get a shot after defeating Nikki Bella in their feud just to make that victory feel more meaningful.
Question 2: Given the double elimination of the number one contender's match, we could be looking at any number of matches at WrestleMania. Bray Wyatt vs. AJ Styles, Bray Wyatt vs. AJ Styles vs. Luke Harper, even Bray Wyatt vs. AJ Styles vs. Luke Harper vs. Randy Orton. Which match do you want to see at this point and what's your ideal outcome?
CHAFFIOTTE: First of all, AJ Styles deserves a spot on that card. That spot should not be in the Andre Memorial Battle Royal, it should not be against Shane McMahon, but it also shouldn't be here. It just doesn't make any sense. Double down on the Wyatt Family Affair, and give the contendership to Luke. I'm sure Randy can find a way to wiggle himself back into the match to protect Bray from Luke, and that gives us a triple threat for the title, which I feel like more than a few people want to see.
In terms of the ending, I'll admit that what I want is probably not what's going to happen. Here's the thing, Luke Harper is easily the best technical worker in the Wyatt Family. That's been true since the original iteration and now is only rivaled by the uber-talented Randy Orton. Bray Wyatt is good, a lot better than people give him credit for, but Luke really knows his stuff. He also has one of the most expressive faces in the company and can tell a complex story with one look. Basically, Luke Harper deserves it. He doesn't have to hold it for long, but he should get a run. It would be the most interesting and unexpected thing that WWE could do with this match.
GUEST: I love what they're doing with The Wyatt Family right now. I think I've said this a lot on various platforms, but my perfect situation would be to have Randy Orton lie down for Bray at Mania and have the Wyatt's dominate for a few months. The Luke Harper situation threatens that idea, but could lead to a good triple threat match, which is never a bad thing. I would still like Orton to stay loyal to Bray though and maybe have Harper and Orton learn to work together and have several matches where they learn to respect each other, like Cesaro and Sheamus had. I don't think AJ Styles is going to be in the mix and I expect him to go into a feud with Shane McMahon soon after this, or maybe even with something happening during this match to start that feud. Randy Orton doesn't need to be involved in the match, but I think the 2-on-1 element could make it very interesting.
WIGGINS: It has to be the Wyatt Family Triple Threat match. AJ Styles has been the MVP of the past year in every respect, but he should not be forced into this story. Is a match with Shane McMahon worthy of his spell of dominance? Yes and no - it won't be wrestling classic but it might prove the most memorable match on the whole card. Or, he could end up facing Shinsuke Nakamura instead, and I think most people would be okay with that.
The Wyatt Family breakdown has been interesting, the only downside being that I currently can't envisage Luke Harper winning the WWE Championship. There's still plenty of weeks of build to go to build that possibility, but at the moment it feels like too much of a leap of faith. Harper would need to beat Styles clean next SmackDown, then beat Randy Orton in the lead-in to WrestleMania to at least sow the seed of doubt in the minds of fans. Stranger things have happened...
Question 3: Bayley has always been the little engine that could, but now that she actually has, what's next? Do you believe that her rise to glory was rushed, and are you on board with her change in attitude and being alright with a tainted victory?
CHAFFIOTTE: Yes and no. I know some think it's been a total disaster, and I agree it wasn't as well thought-out as it could've been. However, I actually really like Bayley's less-perfect victory. She's so over as the ultimate pure babyface, but that could get stale just as easily as anyone else. This gives her a bit of depth, she's changing and growing as a character. That doesn't make her a heel, just a human being who sometimes makes imperfect choices. Plus, I giggled with joy when she said "hell no!" It's like hearing your parents curse, somehow more humanizing and endearing than her saying "heck no!"
My issue here is that the way that the segment unfolded just didn't make the most sense. If the concept is the less-perfect face in Sasha Banks has corrupted Bayley a little bit, they didn't drive that home. If it's that Bayley was considering it, just to change her mind, it's not exactly the most dignified move in history. A better story would have been for Bayley to admit the victory wasn't 100% fair and square. That's true, she shouldn't avoid it. But, rematch clauses are a thing, aren't they? Charlotte's owed a rematch and Bayley would be more than happy to give it to her right then right there. She'd even give up the champion's advantage to make good. This setup gives WWE two great options: Charlotte gets Dana to come down and attack her, making Bayley lose by disqualification and regaining her title off of Bayley's good faith. Or alternatively, Bayley could win here, retain her title and eliminate the issue of Charlotte needing to win on pay-per-view. Either way, we get to know more about who Bayley is now that she has the championship and Charlotte's rematch is out of the way.
I have a hard time believing Bayley will walk out of Fastlane as Champion, but if she does, possibly with help from Sasha, there's a lot that can happen. We've seen Charlotte as the dominant women's champion for the better part of 2016, it's time to move on. I see her having to deal with Nia Jax at WrestleMania as she realizes the title goes through Charlotte. That leaves the match we all wanted, Sasha Banks vs. Bayley at WrestleMania. At first, it seems like a friendly competition between best friends, but that doesn't last long. When Bayley retains, Sasha goes full heel and lays her out in the ring, and the seeds are sowed for a rivalry that lasts throughout the year. Charlotte/Sasha would've been better if they left it and came back over the course of a longer period of time, so do that here instead. WrestleMania 34, Sasha vs. Bayley 2 will be the most hyped match on the entire card.
GUEST: I think I want Charlotte's first pay-per-view loss to come at WrestleMania, but I'm also torn over whether there should be a singles match or a fatal 4-way. Bayley, Sasha Banks, Charlotte and possible Nia Jax all deserve a decent title reign and I think WWE are struggling to decide who should have a long run next. As much as everyone will hate it I think Charlotte should get the title back at Fastlane. But where they go after that, I really can't make my mind up. Bayley is a great choice though and any of these four women could run the division for a long time, so I'm not too worried about the future. They managed to have Sasha lose several matches and not look weak, so I have faith they know what they're doing. I'm really unsure about how the Raw women's division should be booked, but they seem to have two dominant heels in Charlotte and Nia Jax, a dominant babyface in Bayley and arguably the best in the division, Sasha, who can switch between roles seamlessly. I'm trying to be positive about what's happening, but it seems like WWE don't know what they're doing, and that doesn't give me much hope.
WIGGINS: There's so much to unpack about the current RAW Women's Championship situation and roster in general. I agree with many that the moment was emotional, especially for a long-time Bayley fan like myself, the match was exceptional and I'm okay with it happening on RAW rather than WrestleMania.
Here's the thing, though, are WWE really going to have Charlotte's PPV winning streak end at Fastlane? I think Sasha Banks will end up in the match after beating Charlotte on RAW, which allows Bayley to retain and enter WrestleMania with the belt without sacrificing Charlotte's record. Bayley and Sasha in a feud is brewing down the road, but I don't think they'll truly turn on each other until post-WrestleMania.
As for accepting the tainted victory, it sadly goes against everything the Bayley character stands for. You could have had Sasha step in to stop Bayley surrendering it without the champion then saying she was never going to give it up anyway. Bayley should stand for fairness and sportsmanship, and while Dana Brooke interfered on Charlotte's behalf in the title match, I think relinquishing the title would have been better for her character than what she ended up doing.
Also, this feud is really exposing how thin RAW's women's roster is right now - seeing the same three women regularly swap the belt isn't helping and reinforcements are desperately needed. Someone get Emma on the phone! Or should that be Emmalina… or is she Emma again… oh forget it just call Summer Rae instead.
Those are our thoughts on the issue, but where do you stand?
Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments below!