There are no female mid-carders in the WWE. Where traditionally, wrestling has been a three-tier system — main event, midcard, and lower card — the simple lack of female competitors on each show, added to the lack of titles for them to feud over, has created a two-tier system where one is either a main eventer or a scrub with nothing in between. This is not an attempt to denigrate the talent of any of the women on the Raw, SmackDown Live, NXT, or NXT UK brands. Instead, I want to explore options that could elevate performers in the eyes of fans on a consistent basis, rather than only when they are involved in main event matches.
Let’s start with the titles: four titles across four shows. Each roster is made up of around 12-14 women with the exception of NXT UK, which has between 6-8 on the overall smaller roster. For the sake of this discussion, I will focus only on the top three shows simply due to roster depth and will include the UK women in the NXT count. So, three women’s titles and no real discernible ladder of contenders. Often, the focus of women’s matches is the fight for the title, leaving little for the other women to fight over. With no long-term stakes in programs, women’s wrestling fares similarly to lower card men’s matches: team-ups or random matches that go nowhere and serve no purpose other than to fill time on the card. This does little for the women involved in those matches and does nothing to expand the idea that any woman on the roster has the ability required to challenge for the title. If they aren’t good enough to fight for the lone title on their brand, why are they there at all? Grudge matches help, as seen by the recent Natalya/Ruby Riott bouts, but there still are no long-term improvements for these characters until one is suddenly elevated to the title picture. What would solve this problem? Here’s a few thoughts:
Women’s Tag Team Titles
The thin rosters would never support three separate tag titles, but a single pair that could rotate between the shows would be a huge benefit to anyone on the roster, similar to the men’s side. Sheamus and Cesaro were afterthoughts until they teamed up as The Bar after their best of seven series. There are already established duos/trios on each roster who could fight for the right to hold the titles and then go from show to show defending them. Tag teams could form to work their way into a title match opportunity at the next PPV event. This could elevate some NXT women who need that extra bump and show the importance of NXT to the overall WWE brand by bringing main roster champions down to Florida once a month or so for an appearance or a beatdown. This could instantly take Bayley/Sasha, The Riott Squad, Asuka/Naomi, The IIconics, Sonya/Mandy, and even Tamina/Nia into matches that meant something beyond the immediate and improve the recognition for teams like Io Shirai/Kairi Sane and others still trying to find their place in NXT.
Women’s Mid-card Title
While this would dilute the already thin talent pool a bit, introducing two mid-card titles (one to Raw and one to SmackDown) analogous to the Intercontinental and US titles could give some weight behind the matches happening now. Traditionally, the men’s mid-card titles are used to showcase wrestlers who have the talent but maybe not the character to quite make the main event yet. Except for Ultimate Warrior and Santino Marella. That’s character over talent any day. But, an Intercontinental Women’s title could give a few stars like Ruby Riott or Sonya Deville a place to earn some real credibility with the wider audience rather than languishing waiting for a shot at one of the top 3-4 women. It could also help bring Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Asuka back into serious conversation.
Larger rosters on Raw and Smackdown
This certainly is not the best fix, but it could make a real difference in creating a mid-tier women’s division on both shows. If there are 3-4 women who can truly be said to be main event level on each show, they need people to squash on occasion. And if a Naomi or Natalya have to fill that spot due to lack of depth, they aren’t credible later. Bringing up a few women to both Raw and SmackDown would allow some room to grow mid-carders, grooming them for eventual main event shots, rather than treating everyone as either the top or the bottom. It might seem early to bring up folks like Bianca Belair or Nikki Cross, but establishing larger rosters will make it easier to shuffle people around without feeling like anyone is treading water.
In the end, it is clear that the women’s division in all of WWE is on the verge of a breathtaking mainstream breakout. A main event spot at WrestleMania seems possible not just for 2019, but for the foreseeable future as stars like Lynch, Flair, Rousey, Bliss, and more take their craft to new heights. The only question that remains is how WWE can help the rest of the roster earn as many high profile opportunities as possible.