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Why SmackDown Live has better women’s division

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On SmackDown Live, women’s title changes mean something. There are no hot-potato shenanigans to try to create buzz. From the time Becky Lynch first won her six-pack elimination challenge all the way to Charlotte’s emotional victory Tuesday night, every title change means something and makes both wrestlers better.

While Raw seems to put its women in limbo with 50-50 results and losses that take down the credibility of a monster like Nia Jax, SmackDown takes the scraps and builds stars.

Look at Alexa Bliss, who was so much of an afterthought in NXT that she valeted for a defunct tag team while the “Four Horsewomen” ran the place. Alexa Bliss would not be RAW’s goddess or the hottest women’s act in the company without the SmackDown women’s division that gave her a voice and a fan base.

Look at Naomi and Natalia, a pair of stellar women’s wrestlers that could have have been pushed out the door when the next generation arrived on the main roster. Instead, both are bigger stars than ever. Naomi went from dancing valet to winning a championship in her home town at WrestleMania. Natalia went from a farting gimmick and Tyson Kidd antagonist to women’s champion.

Look at Becky Lynch, whose real emotion when she became the final horsewoman to win a champion was contagious. Lynch has the same American Dream story as dozens of international male wrestlers, but did not have her “I made it” moment until SmackDown Live gave her the chance. From quitting the business to flight attendant to champion. Awesome.

The apex of the SmackDown women’s division, however came on Tuesday. Not only did Charlotte and Nattty tear down another house, but the Nature Boy’s surprise return ranks up there with Macho Man’s engagement and the WrestleMania XX hug as organic tear-jerkers.

Meanwhile on Monday Night Raw, long-time fans of women’s wrestling have more questions than answers. Asuka debuts, with years of domination, and it takes her nine minutes of back-and-forth to defeat Emma? Emma, who got nothing out of the match but her release from the company, put in as much offense on Asuka as Mickie James or Bayley or Nia Jax did in their NXT matches. What does that say about the women’s wrestlers still on Raw that need to look like title contenders? To get a superstar as a genuinely lovable as Bayley consistent boos during per promo segments is the perfect example. On SmackDown, the bad guys get boos and good guys receive the support and merchandise sales from the fan base. That is harder than it sounds  in the modern landscape.

The frustrating part comes when you think about the details. Raw has a full hour more per week where it can feature some of the best women on the planet. Instead of reminding us what happened 15 minutes ago, spotlight some more of your roster.

Of course, when we look at storylines and the two women’s matches on tap for Survivor Series, Monday Night Raw will be hard to beat on a team that includes Nia Jax AND Asuka. Because of Charlotte’s emotional win, Team Blue loses its best counter punch to Jax and Asuka.

By the way, speaking of great storytelling. Hey Queen Charlotte, watch out for the Princess of Staten Island on Sunday.

Sam Hellman spends his work hours as a college football and basketball writer with 247Sports on the CBS Sports network. A product of the Attitude Era, Hellman has been a life-long follower of professional wrestling and is proud to put his thoughts to print on the FRS Slam platform.

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