Almost immediately after the last time I addressed the state of the WWE Women's Revolution I was forced to eat crow as they went on to have the best week the division had ever had. The week of June 26 RAW, SmackDown Live and NXT all had women main events and that was when the Revolution finally landed.
RAW’s show that week saw Sasha Banks winning the first ever women's gauntlet match that opened my eyes and forced me to realize what WWE had been doing all along. Sasha was being booked as a people's champion, not unlike John Cena on the male side of the roster. I may be the only person who hadn't come to this conclusion before this but you'll need to forgive me as I was blinded by the talent of "The Queen," Charlotte Flair. I never believed anyone was good enough to take the title from Charlotte and it took WWE moving her to SmackDown Live for me to get a real appreciation for Sasha’s role. Many of the company and sport’s die hard fans love Banks’ heel work from NXT and pine for WWE to bring that back. Eventually we may see that but for now I think we will have to rely on replays on the WWE network to satisfy us because it's not in the company's best interests. In the big picture Sasha is much bigger than that heel we all came to love. Even though Banks keeps losing her title at every defense, her “never give up” attitude is what endears her to the mainstream audience and gets the kids tuning in week after week. This equality in booking her like a traditional Everyman champ in and of itself is evident that company no longer sees the women as gimmick.
SmackDown Live the following night had a rematch of the pitiful Money in the Bank match from the pay per view of the same name featuring Carmella, Natalya, Tamina, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte Flair. This match was everything that the original should have been. The length of the match and level of physicality all the competitors brought were all perfect, everyone got a chance to shine and the spots were really fun throughout. It really made me wonder why they even had the original sham of a match unfold the way it did. Regardless, I appreciated that the heel kept the prized briefcase and look forward to seeing how it will play out seeing as how Carmella has still yet to cash it in. The possibility of her using it is my favorite aspect of the blue brand’s women’s division right now.
My favorite match of the three and of the entire week took place on NXT when the the Empress of Tomorrow, Asuka, took on Nikki Cross and brought the house down. The match was the first ever Last Woman standing match and both superstars put everything they had into their performances and it showed. Fighting all over the Full Sail University studio they gave us a level of brutality usually reserved for the likes of Mick Foley or the Hardy Boys. The story telling displayed in Cross’ vicious attempts to break her opponent and frustration expressed every time Asuka got to her feet rivaled anything I've seen from WWE all year and set a standard for women's wrestling in the company and that will be hard to top.
Unfortunately since that week the division has come back down to earth and has been booked in a way I and a lot of fans I know disagree with. After careful consideration and gaining some perspective however, I don't know that this is inherently bad. Part of being a WWE fan is being an armchair Booker who thinks they can do better than a multi million dollar company. We can't. With the division falling back into mediocrity, as I eluded to in my previous piece, the Mae Young Classic was going to be a true test of the future of the division, and it's safe to say there is a lot of hope.
The 32 women tournament concluded on Tuesday live in Las Vegas and had some really great things beyond the wrestling: Jim Ross’ temporary return to announcing, the first female referee and even Lillian Garcia at the finale! In the squared circle the tournament had its own booking issues but for the most part was actually very entertaining. It served its intended purpose, it showcased talents many had not seen on the sport's biggest stage. Every match with Kairi Sane was great from start to finish. Fans were exposed to fantastic characters and athletes; women like Bianca Belair, Dakota Kai and Mercedes Martinez. The company even got to expand its brand to fans of other combat sports by incorporating retired UFC fighter Shayna Baszler. The final match between Sane and Baszler was a great watch even if it was not the best of the tournament. I can say had the final result been any different this piece would have had a different tone but luckily Triple H and Stephanie McMahon did not disappoint.
The Mae Young classic is currently streaming on the WWE network and its 8 episodes are all in the top ten viewed shows of the month. Hopefully this kind of support will be enough to keep the WWE promoting and investing in this talent. Going forward I know I'm going to disagree with a lot of the creative decisions regarding this division but for the first time since the launch of the women's revolution I actually believe it is in good hands and I'm anxious to see what WWE has in store for us. We already know that Asuka will be taking her undefeated streak to Raw and Sane will be joining the budding stars on NXT. I hope in addition to those moves there are future plans for the better women from the tournament to be infused into both Raw and SmackDown Live to give the divisions some fresh air. Even if that is not what they have drawn up and they only decide to make the tournament a yearly thing I know I'll watch again and that is already an improvement to the bleak outlook I had coming out of Money in the Bank. Bravo WWE.
A lot of little girls will watch this and say they want to do it, and that pot of gold is now there in a way never existed before.