It’s time for the second match in my week of PPV Spotlights in the build-up to Wrestlemania 33! This time round, I’m looking at a match the features two competitors who were in my match of the night at last year’s Wrestlemania. It’s also probably the single biggest missed opportunity of the night. I’m talking about the Raw Women’s Championship match between Nia Jax, Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Bayley.
It’s such a missed opportunity because Bayley should have been crowned champion on Sunday night. I think we all know that by now, I just hope WWE realises that. It was a great Raw moment, don’t get me wrong, but the moment itself and the significance of Bayley’s subsequent title run would have been so much more had it been saved for Wrestlemania. But, I still think it can be saved.
It’s possible they didn’t go down that route because they are going to be doing something similar with the Raw Tag Team Championships and Enzo & Cass. It’s also possible that they didn’t see where else to go after having played out Charlotte vs Sasha Banks in the second half of 2016, and had they waited they would have had to have involved Bayley and Charlotte in the same match multiple times too. So what is the money, fresh program for Raw’s women’s division coming out of money? I only see one option – Bayley chasing the belt, against the heel champion: Sasha Banks.
There have been hints of a Sasha heel turn for months – “unlike some people, I’m not satisfied with losing” anyone? Charlotte has been making the valid point that Bayley only has the title at the minute because of Sasha, and both Charlotte and Stephanie McMahon have been trying to play Sasha against Bayley. So far that has worked in the storyline, because 1) heels lie, and 2) heels should be trying to come up with any excuse possible to why they lost, and why that isn’t fair.
But what if Sasha somehow screws Bayley out of the title at Wrestlemania? What if she turns round the next night and says that Charlotte and Stephanie were right all along? What if Sasha got jealous at being overshadowed by Bayley since she got to the main roster, got bitter at crowds like Glasgow last November giving Bayley all the attention over her? What if Sasha has never forgiven Bayley for taking her title back in NXT?
Plus there is the factor that faces tend to be better when chasing a championship instead of holding it. Even more so in the case of a character like Bayley, whose likeability and sympathy levels go through the roof as they get screwed out of what they are good enough to achieve. Bayley would be popular enough without shenanigans, but she’s the kind of character that can go for months without winning the belt and fans will stick by her – that’s quite rare today. It’s all too easy to find a shiny new toy to play with, but Bayley is so universally loved I can’t see that happening any time soon.
But let’s not forget the other participants in the match, because after all, the destination of the championship affects all four women’s post-Wrestlemania directions. Nia Jax looked like a major threat on Raw, standing tall having laid out all three of her competitors this Sunday. That’s how she should look, and I’d expect her to look strong this weekend, but I also expect her to be the first eliminated.
She has to look strong, that’s just the way it is. So if she’s not going to win, which I would think is extremely unlikely (in fact, out of the four I currently have her as the least likely to win despite how strong she has looked), it should take all three of the other women to eliminate her. It should take a back-stabber, a big boot or a Natural Selection and then a Bayley-to-belly to get rid of her. After Mania, in all honesty, I’m not sure what happens with her. Maybe they go back to squash matches for a little while, maybe they put her in a short program with the newly-face Dana Brooke, or maybe they have her go up against a returning Emma. Who knows really?
And it’s a similar problem when it comes to Charlotte, only for her I have a solution that for me would be better than it would be for Nia. Before I say it, there is also the possibility of a double turn at Mania. If Sasha turns heel, it’s not outwith the realms of possibility that Jax or Charlotte turns face. I wouldn’t do it, because Jax’s character is that of a monster, and it’s very difficult to keep that a face for too long. And Charlotte’s heel work has been absolutely stellar over 2016 into 2017, so it would be a waste of her to turn face right now. Charlotte could also feud with a returning Emma, possibly aligned with her former partner and Charlotte’s former protégé Dana Brooke to give it a backstory, and legs. But I would absolutely love to see the Queen of WWE’s female superstars, go head to head with the longest reigning champion in NXT history, Asuka.
I think it would be fascinating to watch. Asuka’s English isn’t great, but Charlotte has proven over the last year that if any women in WWE is capable of single-handedly carrying the promos in a rivalry then she is the one to do it. And Asuka’s gimmick is this unstoppable force, so it would be the first time we’d see real doubt in Charlotte, the first time we see that confidence shaken. That would be interesting from a character development perspective, how she copes with just not being able to beat someone. The match quality would be right up there from these two, and if this is the plan for the next couple of months it may go some way to explaining why they chose to switch the title from Charlotte seemingly too early, so that she wouldn’t be having her rematches once Wrestlemania season comes to a close.
But back to the Wrestlemania match this Sunday. I’m expecting big things from the women involved here. As I said before, I think Nia Jax is the least likely to win, but that doesn’t mean she can’t look, strong in the process. I think Charlotte is the second least likely to win to move her out of the title picture for a while (see The New Day) but for me her winning is the second best outcome from a story perspective. That would be if Sasha doesn’t win, but turns heel by attacking Bayley afterwards and Charlotte picks up the pieces.
I think Bayley is the second favourite to retain her belt, but for me would be the third best outcome creatively. I just don’t see how you can turn Sasha heel, with it having the maximum impact, while having Bayley win. You could have Sasha attack her afterwards, but then Bayley is probably still too strong having held on to the championship. I also don’t see where you would go next if Bayley wins, because if you’re going with a heel Sasha vs a face Bayley I think Bayley needs to be chasing.
The best, and for me most likely outcome, is for Sasha to turn heel and walk out as champion. They’ve been hinting at the turn for months, now is the right time. And what could follow in the next couple of months with Sasha vs Bayley could be magical.