The wrestling business can be kind of funny, as last week there was absolutely nothing worth talking about for a column, but this week there is one topic that is screaming for a closer look. That is because on Monday, Naomi and Sasha Banks walked out on Monday Night Raw, causing the show to be changed on the fly, with a completely different main event (because they were going to be in the main event) to be set up. So yeah, I think we’re covered for a topic this week.
Before we get into the specifics, let’s get a few things out of the way. First of all, there is a chance that this is some kind of a worked shoot story. I don’t think it is, but that is always a chance in wrestling. For the sake of simplicity, we’re going to assume that it is 100% a shoot, even if it might be turned into an angle later. Second, keep in mind that we do not know exactly what happened. We have an idea from what people have said, but there are so many different versions and details that you can’t get a completely accurate picture. I’ll be going off a mixture of stories, but there are a lot of tweaks to each version that has been told.
So what happened? Well the gist of the story seems to be that Banks and Naomi were supposed to be part of a Six Pack Challenge, with the winner facing Bianca Belair for the Raw Women’s Title at Hell In A Cell. This much was advertised at the start of the show so we know that it was at least the original plan. After that, things get a little more hazy but the core seems to be the same.
The plan seems to be the Naomi would win the match, possibly (emphasis on that word) pinning Banks and teasing tension between the two. Banks would have then gone on to challenge Ronda Rousey for the SmackDown Women’s Title, with the Tag Team Titles being put on the back burner for the next few months as the champions go after singles gold to go with the titles they already have. This didn’t sit well with Banks, who wanted more of a focus on the Tag Team Titles and walked out, with Naomi joining here, presumably in solidarity.
At the same time, WWE put out a statement saying something to the effect of Banks and Naomi didn’t feel safe wrestling in the match and left their titles behind as they left. The statement more or less blamed them for the whole thing and pretty much trashed them, with nothing being mentioned about when or if the two will be back. There is also no mention of what is going on with the titles.
That is a lot to unpack and there are several questions that need to be answered. What matters though is that Banks and Naomi walked out, leaving WWE to make a change at the last minute. To say this is going to make things quite the mess, at least for a little while, is an understatement and now we are going to take a bit of a closer look at what happened and perhaps why.
This took place two days ago and it still feels like a rather strange hill for Banks to die on. It seems that she really cares about the Women’s Tag Team Titles, as this is the second time that she has (allegedly) lost her mind over the things and left. I get that they’re important to her, but that is where what she is complaining about and what seems to be happening goes in different directions.
First and foremost, Naomi and Banks aren’t some mega all time legendary team. Their current run teaming together started less than two months when they (like many other teams in the division) were thrown together and announced that they would be going after the titles. No real build, no real story. Just one night Naomi said she and Banks were a team. Then they won the titles and have defended them twice, all in the span of about seven weeks. This includes a title defense last Friday on SmackDown.
So in theory, this comes down to the next few weeks, as the story would see Banks and Naomi going after singles titles instead of working as a team. If that’s what has Banks so upset, I’m not sure what to tell her. They would be heading off to what would be one of the biggest matches of both of their careers where they could steal the show. Yeah they would probably lose, but that doesn’t devalue their Tag Team Titles. They’re the best when they’re together. How does it hurt them when they lose separately?
Instead, Naomi and Banks were getting singles title programs and that is the case for one simple reason: there is nowhere near enough depth in the women’s division to support the amount of titles that the company promotes. This has been obvious for the Tag Team Titles for a LONG time now, but it is getting even more obvious after the huge bloodletting of roster in the last year and a half.
Here’s the underlying problem with WWE’s women’s division: at the moment, counting everyone on the main roster, there are 24 women, and that includes people like Doudrop, Lacey Evans and Queen Zelina, some of whom barely wrestle these days (between the three of them: one match in the last month). Those 24 women compete for five titles on the main roster (two singles titles, two tag titles, 24/7 Title). When you need 4 of those 24 women to have one Tag Team Title match and 3 more of them are running around with the 24/7 Title at the moment, how is this supposed to be viable for more than a few weeks at most?
In short, Banks and Naomi were put into the singles title picture because there is no one else to do it. Charlotte is on hiatus, Becky Lynch just left it, a bunch of the women are nowhere near close enough to being a serious threat to Belair or Rousey, and bringing someone up from NXT is a total crap shoot at best. Banks and Naomi were about the only options around and now that they’re gone, the division is even thinner, leaving us with about 21 active names (again, including people like Zelina, Shotzi and Evans, who barely wrestle) to fight over the titles.
The only two solutions to this are A, bring in A LOT more women or B, drop some of the titles. The division is stretched far, far too thin at the moment and it is showing badly. I still see no need to have the Women’s Tag Team Titles other than saying they exist, as it is one makeshift team after another going after them with an occasional long(ish) term team mixed in. Right now, who is challenging Banks and Naomi? Doudrop and Ash? The team they beat last week? And now the team that didn’t even make TV because Banks and Naomi walked?
All in all, this is a huge mess and I don’t know how it gets resolved. The idea of Banks and Naomi wanting to stand up for something and make it better is noble, but right now there is no saving the Women’s Tag Team Titles. WWE doesn’t have the division to support them and that shows more and more every week. The Women’s Revolution has come a long, long way but that doesn’t mean they have equal everything with the men. There is some incredible talent in the women’s division, but they simply do not have the same numbers. If WWE fixes that then maybe, but for now, the walk out is just making the problem worse.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 60,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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