World Wrestling Entertainment’s storylines often feature its Superstars in battles against backstage authorities. However, the tension between talent and “the office” became very real on May 16. WWE women’s tag team champions Naomi and Sasha Banks were set to take part in a six woman match, the night’s main event, to determine the contender for Bianca Belair’s Monday Night Raw women’s championship. However, Banks and Naomi walked out of the venue after taking issue with creative plans. Although the record still hasn’t officially been set straight on what the pair’s issues were, WWE made no secret of the walk out during the remainder of Raw’s broadcast and released a strongly worded statement about their actions.
While everyone from Road Dogg to Raw color commentator Jimmy Smith have given their take on the situation, not much is confirmed. However, if it is true that Banks and Naomi took issue with their booking in the Six Pack challenge match and beyond, it can hardly be wondered at. The WWE women’s tag team belt is a championship that has been in booking trouble for quite some time.
Trending Towards Impernanence
WWE’s women’s division has seen some popular and massively talented tag team pairings in recent years. Inaugural champs Banks and Bayley dominated 2020 in their second reign, and their rivals Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler were also a dominant force during WWE’s ThunderDome days. However, the division has lately been trending towards impermanence. Singles performers are perfunctorily brought together as a team, and then just as abruptly split up.
After a run as Raw women’s champion, Rhea Ripley was paired in a tag team with Nikki A.S.H. A.S.H’s superhero gimmick was popular and resonating with young fans. The two gained the tag team championship in autumn 2021, but their team split up in an out-of-left-field heel turn for A.S.H in early 2022.
Natalya and Tamina’s tag team championship reign in 2021 was also well received. Fans were delighted by Tamina’s growth as a wrestler, the chemistry between her and Natalya, and all of the WWE/WWF history called to mind by their respective family histories in pro wrestling. However, after losing the championship their tag team was unceremoniously ended by drafting Natalya and Tamina to different brands.
The WWE women’s tag team field has a narrow line-up to begin with. When a team does emerge and claim the top title, their reigns usually end with a contrived storyline of tension within the team that leads to a heel turn and a brief feud. WWE’s own statement suggests that Banks and Naomi didn’t feel their work as a team and status as champions were being properly respected. Perhaps they didn’t want their team to fall prey to such a hackneyed pattern.
Should New Titles Be Created?
May 20th’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown will see the culmination of RK-Bro’s feud with the Usos, with a winner-takes-all match that will unify the Raw and SmackDown tag titles. However, what the equivalent title for the women’s division may need is the opposite. If Raw and SmackDown both had their own respective women’s tag team championships, it would widen the field of competitors. The Usos have crossed WWE’s brand lines to feud with the likes of the New Day and RK-Bro. Similar cross-brand feuds in the women’s division would also be possible with two separate titles. This would also lead to the creation of teams the audience could invest in on both shows, rather than the current ephemeral pairings placed together for a short time. While splitting one consummate title into two titles housed on different brands would initially seem to create a gulf between Raw’s and SmackDown’s female tag team performers, it would actually create a bigger division with more possibilities for matches and long-term storylines. Splitting the title into two may actually give more integrity to women’s tag team wrestling in WWE.
Only time will tell just what led to Sasha Banks’s and Naomi’s walk out, or what the consequences will be. It could lead to larger consequences for the WWE Women’s tag team championship, a relatively young title whose recent reigns have been marked by impermanence.
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