Every WWE Raw & Smackdown Women’s Champion Ranked

While it certainly happened a lot later than we all would’ve liked it to, over the past 5 years, WWE has finally allowed women’s wrestling to take its place as the featured attraction we’ve always wanted it to be. While things still aren’t perfect, women’s wrestling is largely treated as being on par with – and sometimes greater than – whatever the men are doing.

While the depth of the women’s division is a huge factor in this becoming the case, a good indicator for how the women’s division has been treated in recent years is to look at the championships. Since the horribly named, horribly designed, and horribly horrible Diva’s Championship was abolished in 2016, there have been 11 different women to hold either the Raw or Smackdown Women’s Championship at least once. Today, I’m going to rank these women based on what they did during their time as champion.

There are a number of things that play into it. First of all, the pure numbers. How many times have they won a championship, and how many days did they hold it? However, you also have to consider other factors like the calibre of opponents they faced with the belt, or the more subjective factors, like were their storylines and matches any good? Then, lastly, I’ll throw in a little personal bias and we’ve got ourselves a list.

Let’s get ranking.

11 – Natalya

Number of Reigns: Raw – 0; Smackdown – 1
Total Days as Champion: Raw – 0; Smackdown – 86

I honestly forgot Natalya had even won a women’s title, which isn’t a great sign.

Truth be told, I really can’t stand Natalya as a wrestler. I think her promo style is lifeless and boring, and I think her style in the ring is lacking any kind of special shine. Sure, she was one of the best wrestlers during the ‘Diva’s’ era, when there were very few legitimate wrestlers on the roster, but I think that time has passed her by and she can’t compete with the incredibly talented women of WWE today.

Unfortunately, Natalya’s time as champion was equally boring. She won the title from Naomi at Summerslam 2017 in a 10-minute match that was ok. She retained the title on Smackdown a few weeks later in a 7-minute match that was also just ok. Then Charlotte Flair stepped into the picture and the writing was on the walls. They had a match at Hell in a Cell where Natalya deliberately got herself disqualified, which will always be a super lame finish. Then, with Survivor Series on the horizon and a champion vs champion match against Alexa Bliss on the card, she lost the title to Charlotte clean as a whistle in 12 minutes.

Natalya had her rematch against Charlotte at Clash of Champions, lost, and that was that. Natalya would never sniff the title scene again. It did nothing to elevate Natalya, or even Charlotte, as she was already the biggest thing in the women’s division by that point. It didn’t even serve as a nice “thank you” present for Natalya’s decade of serivce to WWE because she was made to look weak and ineffective at almost every turn. None of her storylines were interesting and all of her matches were average in quality, not what you want from your top woman.

10 – Naomi

Number of Reigns: Raw – 0; Smackdown – 2
Total Days as Champion: Raw – 0; Smackdown – 148

I feel bad putting Naomi this low because I remember really rooting for her at the time, but when you look at her time with the title, there really isn’t a lot to shout about.

In the build to her title win, Naomi was a good foil for Alexa Bliss. She’s very easy to love, and her personality clashed with Alexa’s in such a way that I enjoyed the build. Their match at Elimination Chamber should’ve been better than it was, but unfortunately, it was only given 8 minutes, which is not enough time to have the amazing match they were able to. However, it was ok, because Wrestlemania was on the horizon, and it was happening in Naomi’s hometown, so that’s where the real money match could happen, right?

No, of course it didn’t.

Sadly, Naomi suffered an injury and would have to relinquish her title after just 9 days, making it unlikely she would be able to compete at Wrestlemania 33 that year. As it happened, Naomi’s injury wasn’t too severe and she was healed in time for Wrestlemania, but it was so late that she has to be awkwardly crowbarred into the plans WWE had already made. This meant that instead of a big one-on-one match with Alexa, Naomi won the title for the second time in a Six-Pack Challenge. What’s worse is the match was only given 5 minutes and was slotted in between the two main events of the evening, so the exhausted crowd couldn’t have cared less.

Naomi’s second title reign was much longer, at 137 days, but it was no more interesting. She had a rematch with Alexa Bliss that was ok, and a 9-minute match with Charlotte that ended in a no contest. Then, things fell off a cliff and WWE decided they were going to push Lana as a title contender. Lana would have three matches with Naomi. One was a 7-minute snooze fest that consisted of Naomi desperately trying to get something out of Lana, and failing. The second was a 1-minute squash match, and the third was a 10 SECOND squash match. To put it plainly, it was shit.

Then she had a fairly boring feud with Natalya, lost the title and that was that.

As much as I love Naomi, she pretty much only avoids the bottom spot because she held her title for more days than Natalya. What sucks is that I don’t think many of the issues with her reign were her fault. Her matches were constantly being put in bad spots and being given nowhere near enough time on shows. Then, she got thrown in there with Lana, a competitor who even the best of the best would struggle to get a decent match out of.

Here’s hoping she gets a proper chance to shine in the years to come.

9 – Carmella

Number of Reigns: Raw – 0; Smackdown – 1
Total Days as Champion: Raw – 0; Smackdown – 130

Carmella is another woman that I hope gets another chance to run with the title someday because her first go-around wasn’t as good as I believe it could’ve been.

Things started about as well as they possibly can start. Cashing in her first-ever women’s Money in the Bank contract, Carmella rode a wave of momentum into the start of her title reign. She’d cashed-in and taken the title away from Charlotte just two days after Charlotte had ended Asuka’s undefeated streak and pissed everyone off. The problems started to rear their heads right away, however, as her character started to lose the unique charm she had before winning the title. Almost immediately she fell into the template of any heel champion who won thanks to the green & gold briefcase, which didn’t make for exciting TV.

She beat Charlotte cleanly in the title rematch, which sounds like a good thing, but it actually felt pretty underwhelming, especially considering Charlotte left for a while almost immediately afterwards. Next, she entered a feud with Asuka, which seemed specifically crafted to make the unstoppable Asuka look like as much of a chump as is humanly possible. In every instance, Carmella only retained thanks to interference from James Ellsworth, a man who WWE presented as the single most pathetic human being to ever live. It was a nice twist the first time it happened, but quickly became played out and horrendously boring.

Before we knew it, the time had arrived for Carmella to lose the title. This is the most historically significant part of Carmella’s reign, but not because of anything Carmella did. When Charlotte beat Carmella & Becky Lynch to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship at Summerslam, it set in motion the chain of events that would lead to the insane rise of Becky Lynch. I’d love to Carmella’s role in the story some credit for this, but she really didn’t make a difference. It could’ve been any heel champion in that role and it would’ve worked out just the same. Charlotte still would’ve been unnecessarily crowbarred into the match, and Becky Lynch still would’ve ‘turned heel’ only for the fans to cheer her as they’ve never cheered anyone since Daniel Bryan in 2013/14. Carmella was just the spare part.

She rises a few places from the bottom purely through the virtue of having a couple of memorable moments under her belt, but there was sadly very little to enjoy during her one and only title reign.

8 – Nia Jax

Number of Reigns: Raw – 1; Smackdown – 0
Total Days as Champion: Raw – 70; Smackdown – 0

While the numbers aren’t in Nia’s favour, what she did during her run as champion was a lot better than I think many remember.

The story going into Wrestlemania 34 between Nia & Alexa was an odd one. They pressed pretty hard on the anti-bullying stuff, but it always felt pretty disingenuous. The writing wasn’t very nuanced and it felt like they were just trying really hard to make Nia into this amazing role model for little girls. Of course, having role models for little girls isn’t a bad thing, but when you try to force it with a woman like Nia, who is SO much better as a villain, it tends to fall flat. It wasn’t all bad though, the fact remained that Alexa Bliss was an incredible heel, so her work was good enough to make the sympathy roll Nia’s way.

The problem comes in with her matches. The Wrestlemania match was mostly just Nia beating Alexa down with her huge size advantage, which didn’t exactly make her seem like a sympathetic bullying victim. Still, the moment where she won the title was a good one, and the emotion on Nia’s face made the whole thing feel extremely heartfelt. The feud didn’t need to continue from there, but it did, and it was boring. Thankfully, once it was out of the way, we got to the highlight of Nia’s title reign, her match with Ronda Rousey.

Nia has never been the most incredible wrestler, in fact, I find very little to enjoy in the majority of her matches. Her match with Ronda Rousey, however, was an exception. It was, interesting, impactful and an all-round joy to watch. I finally felt like I was seeing Nia’s true potential, and it was an amazing showcase for Rousey too. Things ended in excitement as well, as Alexa Bliss would show up with the Money in the Bank contract she had won mere hours ago, and challenge for the title. A Money in the Bank cash-in is one of those events in wrestling that is always exciting, even when something you don’t like is happening because of it. Bliss won the title back from Nia and that was the end of it.

Her reign wasn’t all that long and didn’t make a lasting impact on the women’s division as a whole (hence why it’s low), but it did begin and end in rather spectacular fashion, which counts for something.

7 – Sasha Banks

Number of Reigns: Raw – 5; Smackdown – 1
Total Days as Champion: Raw – 106; Smackdown – 20+

By far the weakest ranking of any of the four horsewomen, Sasha has always got the raw end of the deal when it comes to title success. Sure, five title reigns is an impressive number, but when you consider that the longest of these reigns was a pathetic 34 days, you’ve got to realise something is wrong.

Her first three title reigns all came and went within the space of 5 months, as it was during her extended feud with Charlotte. These two would hot-potato the title like no-one ever had, with things averaging two title changes every month. The pattern that played out on our screens for half a year was that Sasha would win the title on an episode of Raw at some point during the month, then when the Pay-Per-View rolled around, Charlotte would win it back. I was an extremely odd decision that didn’t do a great deal to raise the stock of either woman, however, it did create a lot of good-great matches.

That’s the thing with Sasha’s title reigns. They were often short and somewhat pointless, but they were almost always surrounded by either good matches or good stories, which I personally value more than the pure numbers.

After Bayley debuted on Raw, Sasha would play a supporting role for the next 6-8 months, backing up Bayley in whatever her endeavours were. One such endeavour was a feud with Alexa Bliss, in which fortune would favour Sasha. The original plan for the match at Summerslam was to be Bayley vs Alexa Bliss, however, Bayley suffered an injury during the month, so Banks was substituted in as a replacement. As WWE always like to pull for shock value Sasha was given the title for no reason. I can prove that it was for no reason too, as Banks would lose the title back to Alexa just 8 days later on Raw.

Banks wouldn’t sniff the title scene again for almost three years, however, her alliance and subsequent heel turn with Bayley turned her fortunes around. Banks & Bayley had already banded together to claim tag team gold, and after the two had spent most of the year ruling the roost over on Smackdown, they set their sites on Raw Women’s Champion, Asuka. The storyline surrounding this was great. Although the duo has recently broken up as of the time of writing, their run as ‘schoolyard bully’ style heels has been one of the biggest highlights to come out of the WWE product this year.

The title win wasn’t perfect though, as it happened in a weird finish where Bayley put on a referee shirt and counted the pin, then a week later, Stephanie McMahon rescheduled the match, and Sasha won the title anyway. Next up was Summerslam, and there, Sasha continued her pattern of not being able to successfully defend a title and lost it back to Asuka. However, Bayley betrayed Sasha at the start of the autumn and this led to what has to be her strongest title win yet. As the reign is still less than a month old, I can’t really judge it very much, but given that she’s already successfully defended the title on Smackdown, it seems she may have finally shaken her curse and is in for a fantastic reign.

Ultimately, Sasha Banks did a lot of great things surrounding her time as champion, however, she held the belt so briefly in almost every title reign, that they don’t feel very meaningful or prestigious.

6 – Asuka

Number of Reigns: Raw – 2; Smackdown – 1
Total Days as Champion: Raw – 154+; Smackdown – 99

For many years, it felt like Asuka was yet another NXT star that got totally destroyed by creative on Raw & Smackdown, but eventually, it seemed like WWE came to appreciate what they have with her, and are finally running with it.

Asuka’s first title reign began in extremely grand fashion. Coming at the tail end of Becky Lynch’s feud with Charlotte Flair, Asuka found her way into a TLC match for the Smackdown Women’s championship. To put it simply, this match was excellent, and most certainly one of the best WWE produced that year. The finish came when Becky & Charlotte were atop a ladder, ready to grab the gold, when Ronda Rousey came down to the ring, pushing the ladder over and allowing Asuka to win her first title. Many would say this cheapened Asuka’s win, as she didn’t do it all herself, but given that the Becky/Ronda/Charlotte story was the hottest thing in the company during that time, I’d say it just amplified the spotlight.

Asuka had several strong defences against, Mandy Rose & Naomi, but her biggest was against Becky Lynch at the Royal Rumble. This was the night that Becky would eventually win the rumble and stake her claim for Ronda Rousey’s title, so for Asuka to get a 100% clean win over Lynch that night was HUGE. Sadly, things would end in disappointment, as Charlotte would beat Asuka for the title in March, as WWE wanted to promote the Becky/Ronda/Charlotte triple threat match at Wrestlemania as being for both belts.

Fast forward a year and a bit to 2020, and things in the world are going a bit mental, and WWE followed suit. Asuka won the Money in the Bank briefcase in a match that I’m still not entirely sure wasn’t some weird fever dream I had, and things seemed to be exciting going forward for Asuka. However, the next night, things took a shocking turn. The champion Becky Lynch appeared on Raw with Asuka’s Money in the Bank briefcase in tow, during a promo, she revealed that she was relinquishing the Raw Women’s Championship, and handing it over to Asuka voluntarily. After some moments of confusion, Becky Lynch would reveal she was pregnant in an extraordinarily heartwarming moment.

Asuka’s title reign following this wasn’t the strongest, but she did get clean wins at almost every turn. Sadly, her first title defence Nia Jax wasn’t one of these, as it ended in a double countout, but Asuka would later defeat both Nia Jax & Charlotte Flair clean as a whistle. In the summer, she entered a feud with the duo of Bayley and Sasha Banks which produced some great matches, even if there was a small case of overbooking here and there. Sadly, moving into the autumn, Asuka has almost vanished completely from WWE TV. She had a short match at Clash of Champions against Zelina Vega, defended the title on Raw in 2-minutes against Lana and then missed Hell in a Cell completely. Her reign is still going strong, there just doesn’t seem to be a lot going on for her right now.

5 – Alexa Bliss

Number of Reigns: Raw – 3; Smackdown – 2
Total Days as Champion: Raw – 396; Smackdown – 109

When the ‘women’s revolution’ kicked into gear around 2015, there were certain women that were virtually guaranteed for stardom. The four horsewomen come to mind for this, and others like Asuka & Nia Jax held qualities that WWE would very clearly value in a main event talent. Alexa Bliss wasn’t one of these women, but she went ahead and did it anyway.

Alexa Bliss wasn’t a huge star in NXT. Her biggest accomplishment on the yellow brand was being the most entertaining member of the Blake & Murphy tag team. This meant that when she was drafted to Smackdown in the 2016 brand-split, I don’t think I was alone in thinking she wasn’t going to go super far. However, Smackdown branded itself as the land of opportunity, and it proved time and time again in 2016 that it was true. Case-in-point: Alexa Bliss.

Bliss wasn’t treated as much of a threat to Becky Lynch’s title reign in 2016, but the somewhat lucky (but ultimately, clean) circumstances surrounding a tables match gave Bliss the title. Bliss then proceeded to show everyone that she could hang with the best. She cut promos like few other women could at the time and created a truly despicable heel persona. Her two reigns with the Smackdown Women’s Title aren’t very significant in the grand scheme of things, but they served as a platform for her to establish herself as a real player in the division by the time she moved to Raw.

After switching the Raw in 2017’s Superstar Shakeup, Bliss wasted no time establishing dominance, beating Bayley for the title at Payback almost immediately. This feud was critically panned for some horrible segments like “Bayley: This is Your Life” and a match at Extreme Rules where Bayley lost because she was scared of a stick, however, you can’t deny that Bliss looked dominant during all of this. Bliss moved onto a feud with Sasha Banks, losing via Count-out at Great Balls of Fire, before losing the title the next month at Summerslam.

It wasn’t over for Bliss though, as she won the title back just 8 days later. Her 2nd run with the Raw title would be her longest, and she beat a great variety of opponents during this time. Defending the title in all sorts of different matches, including five-ways and even the very first Women’s Elimination Chamber match. Bliss felt virtually untouchable during this period, but it’s worth mentioning that for various reasons – including Survivor Series & Royal Rumble getting in the way – Bliss didn’t defend the title at all during November, December or January during this reign, which is a large contributor to her dropping a few places on this list.

She would eventually lose the title to Nia Jax at Wrestlemania 34. She did win it back later that year, but it’s barely worth talking about, as she only won it so Ronda Rousey had a heel to destroy at Summerslam.

At the end of the day, Bliss is the biggest example of someone breaking free of their low expectations and turning themselves into a star. Although it’s been a good few years since Bliss won a singles title, she’s always a feature-player of WWE’s women’s division and will go down as one of the greats.

4 – Charlotte Flair

Number of Reigns: Raw – 4; Smackdown – 5
Total Days as Champion: Raw – 242; Smackdown – 189

I can understand how some may see this as an odd placement. It’s always felt like Charlotte has been CONSTANTLY sniffing around the title scene since her main roster debut. It’s true that she has the most title reigns out of everyone on this list, and her contributions to the women’s revolution in WWE can never be denied. However, when you actually look at the content of her title reigns, it’s not as impressive as you might think.

For one thing, despite having almost double the number of title reigns as Alexa Bliss, she’s spent less total days as champion by quite the margin. Arguably her best title reign was her first one, especially if you include her time as Diva’s Champion before the new women’s title was introduced. Winning the title in what was inarguably the best match of Wrestlemania 32, Charlotte was a ready-made star from that moment onwards. She continued to retain the title with the help of her father, putting away Natalya on several occasions (including a rehash of the Montreal Screwjob, because Bret Hart was in the building).

Come mid-2016, it was time for the brand split to begin anew, and Charlotte’s epic feud with Sasha Banks began. As I’ve already discussed, these two traded the title A LOT, bringing Charlotte’s total number of reigns with the championship to 4. After many excellent matches, Charlotte came away as the winner, cementing her place at the top of the food chain, only for Bayley to come sniffing at her heels. She successfully repelled Bayley at the Royal Rumble, but wasn’t so lucky in their rematch, losing the title for what – as of the time of release – would be the final time.

In 2017’s Superstar Shakeup, Charlotte was traded to Smackdown. It took her a good chunk of the year, but she would eventually win the Smackdown Women’s Championship in November, and here she would have an excellent run with it. She spent a large chunk of the reign feuding with Natalya again, which could’ve been better, but it ended on a high. Then, after tearing through Ruby Riott at Fastlane, she would face down with the then-undefeated Asuka at Wrestlemania 34, and she came out victorious. I and many others view this as a horrible booking decision, but for the purposes of this list, it works in Charlotte’s favour, as the match was amazing & the queen of WWE gained a huge amount of prestige from the win.

Then two nights later, Carmella cashed-in the Money in the Bank briefcase and she lost the title. This is where Charlotte drops some places, as despite winning the title four more times past this point, they were reigns with absolutely no substance.

She won the title back from Carmella at Summerslam, but lost it to Becky Lynch a month later, won the title from Asuka next March, but lost it just two WEEKS later at Wrestlemania 35 (in a match where her presence arguably took away from the quality). Following Wrestlemania, Charlotte beat Becky to get the title back (after Becky had already fought a match against Lacey Evans) and this time, she would lose the title in less than five minutes thanks to Bayley cashing-in her newly won Money in the Bank contract. October rolled around and it was time for Charlotte to win the title back – this time at Hell in a Cell – where she managed to hold onto it for a whopping 5 days before losing it back to Bayley.

During only one of those title reigns did she ever eke out a successful defence of the title, and even that felt more like a formality than a proper feud.

Charlotte seems to exist purely to lose titles to people to get them over. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can get quite tiresome after it’s been going on for so long, and really puts a downer on Charlotte’s status as one of the best.

3 – Ronda Rousey

Number of Reigns: Raw – 1; Smackdown – 0
Total Days as Champion: Raw – 231; Smackdown – 0

I’m sure the internet will want to crucify me for making this placement, and it looks like the numbers don’t support it. However, the cold, hard fact of the matter is that Ronda Rousey’s title reign did more for Becky Lynch, the women’s division, and even WWE as a whole than anyone outside of the company is ever willing to admit. The main event of Wrestlemania 35 would not have been a women’s match for the first time ever without Ronda Rousey’s involvement. There, I said it.

After putting on the best match of Wrestlemania 34, and a match at Money in the Bank that was far better than anyone expected, it was time for Ronda to be crowned champion like everyone knew was going to happen. Her dismantling of Alexa Bliss was expected and did the necessary job of establishing her as a very dominant champion. Plus, after Bliss had been a very despicable heel for the past couple of years, it was good to see someone properly pick her apart for a change.

Rousey dispatched of Bliss again at Hell in a Cell, and then the Evolution Pay-Per-View rolled around. The first (and to date, only) WWE PPV to run only women’s matches. You don’t need me to tell you how big a deal this was, and while it probably would’ve gone ahead anyway, Rousey’s huge star power was a big factor in bringing it to life. There, Rousey faced Nikki Bella, the woman who, to many, was the distillation of everything that was wrong with the ‘Diva’s era’ which held women’s wrestling back in WWE for over a decade. The match wasn’t incredible, but it was still good, and better than people like me thought it was going to be, and it established Rousey as a huge face of WWE’s women’s division.

Rousey was set to compete against Becky Lynch at Survivor Series, but unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately, if you look at the larger picture) Nia Jax broke Lynch’s nose and Charlotte Flair was swapped in instead. This lead to what I believe to be Rousey’s best one-on-one match she ever had in WWE. It told a brilliant story with some brilliant wrestling, and the DQ finish only built the desire to see the match happen again later down the line.

From November through until March Rousey tore through the Raw women’s division. She put away Mickie James, Natalya, Nia Jax, Ruby Riott & Dana Brooke in matches that weren’t a huge deal, but were a lot of fun. She also had some featured matches with both Sasha Banks & Bayley, both of which told extremely compelling stories and were a joy to watch.

Finally, there was the climax to her story, Wrestlemania 35. The build was flawed, but none of that was Rousey’s fault, and even though there were flaws, I still thought it was really cool, and a lot of fun. She took the loss and passed her title onto Becky Lynch in a Wrestlemania moment that will live on in time immemorial. The first women’s match to ever main event a Wrestlemania is a huge deal, and Ronda Rousey was a huge part of what made that possible. Not just through her name value, but through the work, she put in over her 8 months as champion to build up an aura of an untouchable badass, butting heads with a cool character like Becky Lynch to create lightning in a bottle.

2 – Bayley

Number of Reigns: Raw – 1; Smackdown – 2
Total Days as Champion: Raw – 75; Smackdown – 520

For the longest time, Bayley seemed like a hopeless case on the main roster. After being easily the biggest star the NXT women’s division had ever produced up until that point, Bayley absolutely floundered for her first couple of years on Raw.

Her first title win came and went in a flash. It held some good moments but is sadly only remembered for the bad. Beating Charlotte Flair on an episode of Raw in early February, Bayley defended the title on two occasions. The first was a rematch against Charlotte which is barely worth talking about, while the second was at Wrestlemania 33 in 4 way match against Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Nia Jax. The Wrestlemania match was fine, but it was far from the best thing on the show, so it’s sadly been forgotten by history. Then, before we knew it, Bayley had lost the title to Alexa Bliss. Then, in the rematch, Bayley lost again because she was scared of a stick. I’m never letting that go…unlike how Bayley let go of the stick.

For the rest of 2017 and all of 2018, nothing interesting happened with Bayley. The only thing I even vaguely remember from that time was Bayley screaming “You ain’t shit!” in Sasha Banks’ face, and then going to couples therapy with her. 2019 is when things started to turn around. Her & Banks became the first-ever WWE Women’s Tag Team titles…and then lost them a couple of months later. This wasn’t a good thing, but it turned into a great moment for Bayley just one month later at Money in the Bank, where she won the titular briefcase.

Bayley cashed-in that briefcase mere hours later, taking advantage of a worn-out Charlotte and crowned herself Smackdown Women’s Champion, and getting wildly cheered by the audience for the first time in ages. Bayley took that momentum and ran with it. Her face persona suddenly felt renewed and she capitalized on it by reigniting her old feud with Alexa Bliss, this time coming out on top. She defended the title again against Ember Moon at Summerslam, then again against Charlotte at Clash of Champions. Then, things looked like they were going to get a lot worse. In yet another rematch with Charlotte at Hell in a Cell, Bayley lost and was without a title once again…

…for 5 days.

To the shock & relief of many, Bayley regained the championship from Charlotte on Smackdown. However, that wasn’t all. She also turned heel for the first time in her WWE career. Helped by old friend Sasha Banks, the two of them thoroughly beat the shit out of Charlotte and began the most incredible run of Bayley’s career. Alongside Sasha Banks, Bayley created a heel persona that has been wildly entertaining to watch for almost a year now. Dubbing herself a role model and acting like an annoying school-yard bully (in the best way possible), Bayley has beaten everyone there is to beat.

Not only did she tear through ever women on the Smackdown women’s roster over a year, but she even went over to Raw and beat their champion while she was at it. She added to her collection by regaining the Women’s Tag Team Championships and helped Sasha Banks win (and then lose) the Raw Women’s Championship. Her sudden but inevitable betrayal of Sasha Banks came at the start of the Autumn, which led to her losing her title at Hell in a Cell, in one of the best matches on the show.

To put it simply, Bayley has been second only to Becky Lynch over the past year on WWE TV, and after Lynch left in the spring, she stepped up and proved that she could carry the entire company on her own if she needed to. For so long it seemed as if all hope was lost with Bayley, but the past year of her career has undone all of the damage and then some. She tore down every barrier in her way and created really entertaining television along the way, what more could you ask for?

1 – Becky Lynch

Number of Reigns: Raw – 1; Smackdown – 3
Total Days as Champion: Raw – 398; Smackdown – 216

A lot of times with these lists, I try to avoid the ‘obvious’ number 1 pick. I try to give a new perspective and offer a view you might not have considered. However, there’s absolutely no way I could argue anyone being ranked higher on this list than Lynch. When you look at the pure facts, there’s a pretty clear parallel to be drawn between Lynch & Bayley’s career paths. Starting out with a lot of lows, but eventually reaching incredible highs. What separates them is the fact that Lynch’s highs were so, SO much higher.

Becky’s first run at the gold wasn’t anything worth talking about. While she always can lay claim to being the first-ever Smackdown Women’s Champion, she only successfully defended the title once in that reign, and it wasn’t even on Pay-Per-View. Lynch lost the title to Alexa Bliss in 2016, and for almost two years, there was nothing worth talking about in regards to Becky Lynch.

2018 rolled around and it seemed like things weren’t going to turn around for her anytime soon. Then, on Smackdown she started winning on a fairly regular basis. She wasn’t involved in any major storylines, but she was having good-great matches and winning week in and week out, and the fans took notice. In the build to Summerslam 2018, Lynch was announced as Carmella’s opponents and people were very excited to see Lynch inevitably be crowned champion. Then Charlotte returned suddenly and was thrust into the match. People were not happy about this, but it would surely be ok as long as Becky still won, right?

Charlotte won…oh dear.

After the match is when history was made, as Becky Lynch attacked Charlotte in what was supposed to be a heel turn (no matter what Road Dogg claims). However, it was met by mammoth cheers from the crowds, who were sick of Charlotte ‘being shoved down their throats’ (even though, as we’ve already covered, she wasn’t, but that’s not the point). Becky completely transformed her look & persona into that of an absolute badass and people loved it, no matter how much she tried to insult them.

Lynch eventually won the title back from Charlotte. She would then successfully defend the title against Charlotte…three times in a row. It got a bit tedious after a while, but the matches were almost always great, especially their Last Woman Standing match at Evolution, which was a far better match than I gave it credit for at the time. During this reign, Lynch would continue to build her persona and get more and more over with the audience, but she was yet to reach her peak.

In the build to Survivor Series that year, Lynch was gearing up to fight Ronda Rousey in a champion vs champion match that everyone was very excited for. Here is where Lynch reached the white-hot level that she would maintain for the next 6-months or so. Lynch tore into Rousey at every available opportunity and could banter with the best of them. Lynch would school Rousey on the daily over on Twitter, and the pops just kept getting bigger and bigger. In a cruel twist of fate, however, we never got to see that match. A stray punch from Nia Jax broke Becky’s nose and caused her to have to pull out of the event, however, it would turn into a blessing in disguise, as the image of Becky standing up in the rafters, standing tall with a bloody face has lasted in the memory for a long time since.

Lynch was back in action very soon after Survivor Series and lost the Smackdown Women’s Championship to Asuka at TLC. However, there was no stopping Becky’s momentum by this point, especially with Wrestlemania 35 on the horizon. Lynch wasn’t just the most popular female wrestler in the company by this point, she was the single most popular wrestler, gender was irrelevant. She won the Royal Rumble that January in yet another epic moment for her career and the match was set between her & Ronda Rousey at Wrestlemania 35.

Then Charlotte showed up again.

The storyline in the build to this match wasn’t anywhere near as good as it could’ve been, but it was still great. Charlotte’s presence was unnecessary, but I don’t think it detracted too heavily from what was going on. In the end, that match would become the main event of Wrestlemania 35, and while I put a huge chunk of the credit for that on Rousey’s involvement, Becky Lynch was the wrestler who put that epic story on the table. So it was done, and Lynch walked out of Wrestlemania that year with BOTH the Raw & Smackdown Women’s Championships over her shoulders.

The next year belonged to Becky Lynch. She lost the Smackdown Women’s Championship fairly quickly, but she held onto the Raw Women’s Championship for very nearly 400 days and did loads of great things in that time. She had a feud with Lacey Evans that put Evans on the map, had a feud with Sasha Banks that re-established Sasha as one of the best, and had an extended feud with Asuka that made for rivetting TV. Even though she had to vacate the title, how she did it was still extremely memorable, announcing her pregnancy before passing the title on to Asuka.

Lynch has become a truly iconic wrestler over the past couple of years, giving us some incredible memories along the way. Whenever she returns (if she decides to do so) I’m sure her star will only rise even further with more amazing moments & matches.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this list. Please, let me know what you think of these women’s title reigns, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back here this time next Saturday, where I’ll be covering WWE Survivor Series!

WWE Backlash 2020: Predictions & Analysis

It turns out, the wrestling world’s response to a pandemic was just to do even more wrestling! This is the third major show in only four weeks, and earlier this week, New Japan Pro Wrestling announced they’re going to start to run shows again. There’s just a hell of a lot going on right now. Still, I’m glad we can cap this madness off with what WWE had promised us will be The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever™. More on that later.

In reality, I see very little to get excited about on this show. The build to every match has been generic and boring across both shows. Being realistic, I only see one match here that has any real potential to be amazing…

Jeff Hardy vs Sheamus

…and this isn’t it.

Admittedly, I think if any match is going to surpass my expectations and turn out to be good, it’s this one, but my hopes aren’t very high.

The build to this one has been peculiar. It’s always uncomfortable when WWE plays off of a wrestler’s real-life issues with substance abuse, especially making light of Hardy’s constant relapses. The bit that annoyed most people was Hardy potentially driving under the influence and running Elias down with a car. Ironically, this is the only part I’m okay with because it’s so evident this is a frame-job. All of the witnesses said they just saw “someone wearing all-black” and the rental car papers just happened to be lying out in the open with Hardy’s name on them. To me, it’s incredibly obvious that someone knocked Hardy loopy and poured a bunch of alcohol on him to incriminate him.

What baffles me is why they haven’t been playing this up more. It’s a perfectly packaged whodunit story where half the Smackdown roster had some sort of motivation to do it. Speaking of, I don’t think it was Sheamus that did it. While it would be the most obvious person, it would seem like an odd choice to have this happen just a few weeks out from the match. Not much stands to be gained from it.

This whole situation plays into my prediction for the match. As I think Sheamus will win after the real culprit gets involved and costs Hardy the match. As to who that will be, probably either Corbin or Styles, but who knows? Maybe it’ll be someone weird and interesting. Maybe the Smackdown hacker will get involved, that’d be fun. I also think giving Sheamus the win is fine. It’s not like Hardy needs it, he’s at the point where he’s such a legendary name that no amount of losses will hurt him. Meanwhile, Sheamus has done nothing but lose since his big return at the start of the year, and I think he could really do with a win.

Apollo Crews(c) vs Andrade
(United States Championship)

Despite having a good-length reign with the US title, Andrade managed to do absolutely nothing with it during his time as champion.

This was in-part thanks to poorly timed short-term injuries and suspensions, but I can’t help but feel like even if those things hadn’t happened, the booking never would’ve come around to help him do anything of interest. He barely defended to defend the title at Wrestlemania, remember, even before he got injured. So instead Apollo Crews won the title on a random episode of Raw after losing to Andrade & Garza for a good month, or so…and WWE wonders why no-one gives a shit about their secondary titles anymore. Mind you, at least the United States Championship is being defended on Sunday…

Provided this match gets the time of day, I think we could be in for an unexpected treat. It’s been easy to forget given his booking for the past 3-4 years, but Apollo Crews is a great wrestler, and Andrade is more than capable of putting on exciting matches. My main worry is this match not going longer than 10 minutes. I shall choose to remain optimistic (I’ve got to be excited about SOMETHING about this show) but who knows?

As for a winner, it would seem ill-advised to start hot-shotting the title, thus decreasing interest in it even further. Admittedly, WWE is very close to the “every champion is a face champion” problem that I spoke about with AEW a few weeks ago, but if Apollo Crews doesn’t retain, then it would be a foolish decision.

Bayley & Sasha Banks(c) vs The IIconics vs Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)

No HERE’S a match I can get excited thinking about. It’s a multi-team tag match featuring six of the best women’s wrestlers WWE has to offer right now, what’s not to love?

Between this match and the previous one, it seems like WWE has decided that doing a title change has now become a way to start a feud, instead of end it…which seems backwards. I’ve got no problem with Bayley & Banks winning the tag titles; I think they’ll be good for the belts’ credibility. That said, couldn’t they have saved the title change for the PPV, instead of switching the belts on Smackdown and making the PPV match supremely predictable?

May as well cut to the chase here, I think Bayley & Sasha Banks will retain their titles. The whole ‘dual champion’ thing is perfect for Bayley’s arrogant persona and having to divide her attention between defending both of her titles will be a good pitfall for her to fall into in the coming months. Hopefully, that fact will also help grow the tension between Bayley & Banks, so we can finally get that match we’ve been hoping for all year. I think The IIconics could pick the titles back up, but given how they were treated as a total afterthought last time they held the titles, I doubt it.

The match should be good, though. There’s plenty of opportunity for chaos and shenanigans that make for an enjoyable time.

Braun Strowman(c) vs The Miz & John Morrison
(Universal Championship)
(2 on 1 Handicap)

Oh…yay…more handicap matches for titles…who thinks they’re entertaining? Seriously, who?

I honestly couldn’t give less of a shit about this match if I tried. The build to this has been ridiculous in the worst way possible. Miz & Morrison started with some decent promos, but since then they’ve just become nuisances, doing stupid things like…watching Braun on a monitor and giggling at him like they’re 14-year-old schoolgirls? If that doesn’t get you hype for a world title match then, I don’t know what will. It doesn’t help that Braun has been presented as the world’s most boring and generic champion ever, despite looking like he does. You would think Braun as champion would be the easiest thing to book in the world, but no, he’s just like everyone else. It’s almost like WWE never intended for Braun to win the title…

The match will likely be boring as well. Remember the Braun vs Artist’s Collective handicap match from earlier in the year? I imagine this match will more or less be a copy/paste of that. Miz & Morrison will try some sneaky stuff and beat Braun down early on until Braun eventually makes a comeback and destroys them both. Speaking of, Braun Strowman is going to win, because of course he is. There is absolutely no way either The Miz or John Morrison is going to win a world title, let alone on the most minor show of the whole year.

Asuka (c) vs Nia Jax
(Raw Women’s Championship)

The booking surrounding the Raw Women’s title this month has been bizarre. Despite being the NXT Women’s Champion, Charlotte has seemingly made a point of continuing to show up on Raw every week just to continually remind everyone that she’s better than everyone else on Raw. It sounds like it’s good heel work, but in reality, it’s undercut Asuka’s reign as champion.

Luckily, Asuka was able to avoid looking weak from just being handed the championship, since she did have to win Money in the Bank to get it, but I can’t help but feel like always being in Charlotte’s shadow and losing to her all the time can’t help. All I can say is that I hope this goes somewhere and they play up how Asuka can’t be beat Charlotte. At least then it’ll be a worthwhile story.

Now, you might’ve noticed that I’m on my third paragraph of this section and I’m yet to mention Nia Jax’s name. That’s because she’s been quite the non-factor in this feud. As I’ve said, WWE has done a better job building Asuka vs Charlotte than Asuka vs Jax. To put it bluntly, I’m not a fan of Nia. It’s got nothing to do with the injuries she may or may not have caused (depending on who you ask) I just don’t think she’s even remotely interesting as a performer. Plus, she can’t cut a promo to save her life.

Will she win here? Maybe. The logic dictates that Asuka should win. This is her first major title defence, she got the nod from Becky Lynch, who has dominated the Raw women’s division for the past year and everyone seems to love her. On the other hand, given that it’s unlikely WWE ever actually intended to make Asuka champion before Becky announced her pregnancy, I think they might just want to take the title off of her. I honestly think that having Nia take the title from Becky might’ve been the original plan anyway. It just fits with how they’ve built Nia up as a total monster since she’s returned. I think Becky probably would’ve got the title back from Nia eventually, but Nia winning it in a shock victory sounds like something WWE would do.

I’ve gone back and forth on this a bunch now, and in the end, I’m settling with Asuka, mainly because I think they’ll want to pull the trigger on the Charlotte vs Asuka rematch over the bulk of the summer. Although this is undoubtedly the pick that I’m the least confident about.

Drew McIntyre(c) vs Bobby Lashley
(WWE Championship)

Again, I feel like this past month has done a better job of building Drew vs MVP than Drew vs Lashley.

To be fair, MVP has been absolutely killing it with his work building this match. It’s put Drew in a position where he doesn’t have to do much talking. He just has to react to what MVP is saying, and it works. Drew is a great talker anyway, but merely coming in with the odd counterpoint where he threatens violence has made him seem like quite the formidable champion. I’m not the biggest fan of him getting beaten down every week, but he keeps coming back with more and more fire, and it’s a good look for the top guy in the company.

That said, I’m not overly excited about the match. I’ve never bought into Lashley as a wrestler. He’s had a couple of good matches since his return, but nothing that surprised me or blew me away with how good it was. However, maybe Sunday will be the night. I can’t deny that Lashley has seemingly found a new lease of life since pairing with MVP and a big ‘clash of titans’ so to speak might be the perfect match for him to flourish.

While I’m confident that Drew McIntyre is going to retain the title, I’ll admit I think there’s a minuscule chance they could switch it to Lashley. I think it would be a terrible idea, and I hope they don’t do it, but I have this weird feeling in my gut that they might. I’m sticking with Drew because it’s the correct choice, but until the referee’s hand hits three, that tiny little worry is going to sit in the back of my mind.

Edge vs Randy Orton

Fuck this.

Honestly, I just don’t care. I hated their Wrestlemania match, and I don’t see how this is going to be any different. The fact that they’re billing it as ‘The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever’ is utterly ridiculous and turns me off to the match more than it does make me want to watch it. Seriously, who is going to see the marketing for this show and think to themselves: “Oh, well I wasn’t going to buy this unimportant, B-show Pay-Per-View, but if they’ve said this match is going to be the greatest ever…how can I refuse?” Do WWE think that low of their audience. Even Edge thought it was a joke when he first heard about it.

More importantly, there are so many better things Edge could be doing right now. I understand why Orton was chosen for his return. They have loads of history, Orton’s a safe worker, and I imagine the two of them are good friends in real life. Why do another one, though? The storyline justification Orton gave for it is flat-out dumb. They may as well have come out and said: “We think we can milk this feud for a little longer”.

Edge is going to win. Purely because if Orton wins, that means we have to do a tie-break and I just don’t want that to happen. I want Edge to be wrestling with the young guys, all of whom could put on fantastic matches with him. Not to mention, where has it even got to go following this? They’ve already done the hardcore match, and now they’re doing a standard match. Hell in a Cell? Three Stages of Hell? I sure as shit don’t want to see either of them. There is just no reason for Orton to win and I can only hope that Edge goes on to better things following this match.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. What do you think will happen on Sunday? Please, let me know what you think either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure you come back here this time on Monday, where I’ll be reviewing the show by ranking every match!

WWE Wrestlemania 36: Predictions & Analysis

Ok…ok. Let’s all just take a second to breathe…

We all nice and calm? Yes? Good. Now WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!

I mean, obviously, we know what’s going with the world as a whole, but as to what WWE are doing with this show…I honestly don’t have the words. First, there was talk of it getting postponed until June, then they announced they were going to do it from the Performance Center with no crowd, then suddenly it was a two-night event and now it turns out it’s technically already happened because they TAPED it last week and NOW there’s a whole bunch of confusion over who actually is and isn’t wrestling on the show. A bunch of reports came out about Asuka, The Miz & Cesaro all refusing to wrestle, but apparently, that might’ve been WWE leaking some fake info to throw people off the scent? I honestly have no idea what going on, but it sure it WILD.

The real kicker is that despite all of this craziness, I can’t help but feel incredibly underwhelmed.

I know, of course, it’s not WWE’s fault. No-one could’ve seen this coming and given the circumstances, there is honestly no “right way” to go about this. Running the show at the PC has its downsides, but rescheduling for June, when we don’t know if the current global crisis will be over by then is arguably just as bad of a decision. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m not nearly as excited for this show as I was a month ago and I honestly don’t think it’s going to be as good as it could’ve been. Again, not WWE’s fault in the slightest, but it’s still true.

Still, I’m not going to go in with the mindset of hating it, I’m going to do my best to give it a chance since, on paper, almost all of these matches promise great things. It’s true that the lack of a crowd will take something major away from the matches, but they could still be fun to watch.

So let’s get predicting.

OH and just to clarify, I haven’t seen any spoilers from last week’s tapings of this show because that would defeat the point.

Aleister Black vs Bobby Lashley

Oh goodie, it’s a “we need to fill two nights” kind of match.

It’s hard to be critical of a match like this because we’re all well aware that it wouldn’t be happening if the current situation wasn’t as it is; or at the very least, we would’ve got some build to it if the circumstances were normal.  I think it could be a pretty good match, Lashley can pretty selectively put on surprisingly good matches so if everything comes together between these two we might be spending Monday talking about how we were pleasantly surprised by this one.

Aleister Black has got to win though, for the same reasons he’s had to win every PPV match he’s had over the past year or so. I’m really hoping that this match ends the “match for the sake of giving Black a win” phase of his story and we actually give him something with a bit of meat to it next. Still, as far as high-profile wins go, I think beating Lashley is a good one.

Elias vs King Corbin

Ironically, this is a match I’m pretty certain would’ve happened regardless of the circumstances and yet I care so much less about it.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Elias and Corbin’s ok, but I’m just not buying the animosity between these two. The upside of Corbin’s character is that all he has to do is say a few mean words and you can understand the other guy wanting him to take him down a few notches, but I really think that both of these guys could’ve been doing something a little more interesting. Then again, we’re not getting another Corbin vs Reigns match, so I guess I should be happy about it.

I’m pretty certain King Corbin is going to win this one. He’s spent the past few months losing to Roman Reigns over and over again and it’s not like WWE have ever cared about building Elias up as a legitimate star. I imagine Elias will use Gronk’s help to get one over on Corbin after the bell, but I’m fully expecting the actual win to go to Corbin.

Otis vs Dolph Ziggler

I really didn’t think this would get this far, but good on everyone involved for making it work.

I’ve made it clear before that I’m not really digging Otis as a personality, I think he falls just on the wrong side of silly for me. That said, I’ve actually been relatively invested in this storyline, I think it’s been well-written for the most part and has served its purpose of building Heavy Machinery up and stopped them from being “just another tag team” which so many pairings are right now.

I’m not overly invested in the outcome of this one, but I think if they get the level of shenanigans right, then I’ll come away from it having an enjoyable time at the very least. I’ve got to go with Otis on this one though, otherwise, this whole thing will have been for nothing in my view, it’s not like Dolph Ziggler needs the win and after this whole saga, I think we all just want to see the happy ending where the guy gets the girl…and then the girl’s friend starts beating the shit out her.

The Street Profits(c) vs Austin Theory & Angel Garza
(Raw Tag Team Championships)

I mean…ok?

I know there have been plenty of weird decisions made in the build to Wrestlemania this year, but this strikes me as one of the weirdest. At least when Andrade was in the match I could say it made some amount of sense and if he got injured then fair enough on finding a replacement but…why Austin Theory?

Don’t get me wrong, I like Theory, I think he’s a great wrestler, but out of everyone on the whole roster they could’ve picked to fill this role…why him? There’s no rationale behind this as far as I can tell and I don’t just mean in storyline, I mean in general. Admittedly, I certainly can’t think of anyone better to put in that spot, but it still feels weird.

Regardless of the strangeness surrounding it, I’m pretty confident this will be a good match. I have very little negative to say about any of these 4 men when it comes to their in-ring work and provided this gets a decent amount of time, this could be the sleeper hit of the weekend. The Street Profits should win this one because Theory & Garza winning would be stupid and they’d probably only hold the belts for about a week.

The Kabuki Warriors(c) vs Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)

Alexa Bliss! I remember her.

I don’t mean to poke fun, but it really feels like Alexa has been away from the ring for ages now thanks to various injury scares and it’s almost like I’ve forgotten who she is to some extent. Her character is in this weird limbo where she hasn’t quite found her feet as a face yet outside of being Nikki Cross’ friend because everyone loves Nikki Cross.

Once again, I think the match will probably be a really fun one to watch, but I can’t say I’m all the invested in it. The Kabuki Warriors feel like they’ve been champions forever and I totally forgot that Bliss & Cross are actually who they won the titles from in the first place. It wouldn’t surprise me if we saw some form of character surprise here, with someone turning on their partner, although I couldn’t pick who. I don’t have any reason or justification behind that claim other than a gut feeling though, so who knows?

Picking a winner is a bit of dilemma too because I don’t feel like there’s much else for Asuka & Kairi to do with the titles. Which is extra weird when you consider they haven’t been defended for ages because Asuka’s been tied up with Becky and Shayna since January. On the other hand, I also don’t see any value in Bliss & Cross winning the titles back from the women they originally lost them too. I might be overthinking this, but I’m going with Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross to win the titles since Bliss has only recently returned to the ring. In addition to this, I can see Asuka & Kairi getting much more prominent roles as singles competitors to take on Shayna throughout the summer. I also think that Alexa’s already done all there is to do as a single star (at least until there’s a new crop of female talent on Raw & Smackdown), so the tag belts feel like the right move for her & Nikki Cross right now.

The Miz & John Morrison(c) vs The Usos vs The New Day
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
(Ladder Match)

Now, THIS is the kind of thing that gives me life. Crowd or no crowd, crazy ladder spots always look cool…assuming this match really is happening…

I honestly don’t know what else to say about this match other than it’s got a 99.9% chance of being brilliant. We already know that The Usos & The New Day have some of the greatest in-ring chemistry currently in the WWE, so you pile on top of that ladders upon ladders AND a wonderfully heelish tag team for both of them to be trying to take down and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a brilliant match.

Not only will it be a brilliant watch, but I’m also pretty even when it comes to picking a winner. I don’t think it will be The New Day and they’re the former champions, but between the other two teams, I think it could go either way. On the one hand, Miz & Morrison are still pretty hot as a team right now and they haven’t had a long enough reign to really show their true potential for what they can do with the belts in the modern-day. Then on the other, you have The Usos, who feel like they’ve been inches away from taking back the Tag Titles ever since they returned late last year. In the end, I think I’m going to have to go with The Miz & John Morrison because I’m picking a lot of face wins and a lot of title changes on this show, so this is a nice heelish win (probably achieved through sneaky methods) to balance things out.

Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins

How long has this match been building now? Since about Survivor Series?

I’m not complaining too much, as I actually think Rollins’ heel turn and character change has been very entertaining for the past few months, but this feud has in some way been a part of Raw for so long that it’s going to feel weird without it. Assuming this is their only match…which it almost certainly won’t be, but that’s not important.

This match seems like a sure-fire hit to me. Both of these guys are brilliant wrestlers who seem to know each other quite well and I’m sure they’ll put on something fantastic to watch. I imagine they’ll be shenanigans galore involving AOP, Viking Raiders & Buddy Murphy in one way or another, but I don’t think it’ll take anything away from the match. Ultimately, the only thing that could potentially drag this match down is the same thing that could potentially ruin every match for the next two nights, which is the lack of a crowd.

This is one of the matches I’m least confident about picking a winner for. Both guys haven’t had many major wins recently and both arguably need them. I think Owens has the potential to be one of the biggest babyfaces in recent memory if his rise is booked well enough, but on the other hand, I think WWE are really high on Rollins’ new gimmick right now and I fully expect him to be the first challenger for the WWE title following Wrestlemania. I genuinely went back and forth on this one so much, this is actually the second time I’ve had to rewrite this section this week because of how much I’ve been flip-flopping. I’m going with Kevin Owens, I think he’s got the most to gain from this win and it’s not like it will hurt Seth all that much to lose after the year he’s had. Not to mention, with one member of AOP being out of action again, it seems like his group might be falling apart sooner than expected.

Sami Zayn(c) vs Daniel Bryan

Yes, yes, ALL the way yes, hook this match directly into my veins.

Since I first started watching NXT in late 2014, this is the match I’ve wanted to see. If you’ve ever read any of my wrestling-based posts before then you’ll know how much I adore Daniel Bryan as a competitor and I feel a very similar way about NXT Sami Zayn. Now, admittedly, this isn’t NXT Sami Zayn, but I still think it’s going to be just as great, if not better. I was very much against Zayn winning the title from Strowman last month, but seeing the direction his character has gone in since winning it and how truly insufferable he’s become, I take it all back, this is brilliant.

There’s so many moving parts in this story too. I had no idea that Bryan vs Gulak would lead to them forming this student/mentor relationship, where the veteran Daniel Bryan is the student, but by God is it entertaining. Then there is the additional factor of Nakamura & Cesaro as “The Artist’s Collective” which is as good of a name as I suppose and we’ve got ourselves 5 of the greatest in-ring technicians of this generation involved in this match.

I’m also quite in the air about the winner. Zayn’s barely had a cup of coffee with the belt and given how amazing of a character he’s been, it’d be a shame for him to lose the title so soon. Then again, that’s also what I thought about Strowman’s run with the title and look what happened there. Not to mention Daniel Bryan with the Intercontinental Championship will inevitably lead to another run similar to Seth Rollins’ time with the title a couple of years ago where every match he has with it is amazing. I’ve also realised that Bryan winning the IC title is pretty much the only logical way to progress this story Bryan has going on with Gulak right now. So for all of those reasons, I’m picking Daniel Bryan to win this one.

Bayley(c) vs Sasha Banks vs Lacey Evans vs Tamina vs Naomi
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)
(Elimination Match)

I’ve not been a fan of how the Smackdown Women’s title has been treated so far this year. This match is just another mark that goes to show how bad of a job WWE has done of building the Smackdown women’s roster to a point where there’s a legitimate contender for Bayley come Wrestlemania; especially when she’s been tearing the house down as a character for well over 6 months now.

If this gets given a good amount of time (and with two nights, it bloody well better) I think this could be a lot of fun. Multi-wrestler matches are always able to keep up a much more frantic pace and the elimination stipulation adds for lots of story potential in order to keep everything ticking over nicely. Four out of five of these women are good-to-great wrestlers and I’m optimistic at what they could put together here given the opportunity.

When looking towards the result, that’s a little more tricky. I think there are two competitors with a pretty good chance and one more with an outside chance, those women being Bayley, Sasha Banks and Naomi respectively. Bayley vs Sasha is something we’ve all been begging to see for literally years, but since her big return last September, Sasha’s got no major wins at all. So here’s how I think the final three will go down:
– We’ll be left with Bayley, Sasha and Naomi
– Bayley & Sasha will try to double team Naomi, but she’ll break through it
– Some sort of situation will happen where Naomi lays Sasha out, but Bayley immediately shit-cans her out of the ring, leaving Bayley and an unconscious Sasha in the ring
– At which point, Bayley will pin Sasha to eliminate her, going on to use some sort of underhanded tactic to defeat Naomi too.

I’m picking Bayley to retain for a couple of reasons. One, because I think she’s doing fantastic as champion and I don’t want to see it end. Two, I’m predicting a lot of title changes on this show, especially with the major men’s and women’s titles and this is the only one I can see not changing hands. Finally, if a Sasha face turn is where this is leading, then I think it makes more sense for Sasha to be chasing the belt for the next couple of months instead of Bayley and Bayley deliberately eliminating Sasha from this match will give her some legitimate beef to build off of.

Rhea Ripley(c) vs Charlotte Flair
(NXT Women’s Championship)

When Charlotte Flair won the Royal Rumble, I (and I think many others) was a little worried that we were going to end up with Charlotte vs Bayley, a match we’ve seen plenty of times by now and don’t need to see again. However, rather uncharacteristically, when faced with two bad options, WWE managed to pick a third option that was better in literally every way and now Rhea Ripley gets to be the absolute star she deserves to be.

As much as I ragged on WWE for mishandling the Smackdown women’s division, the NXT & Raw women’s division have both been on fire for a long time now and that goes double for NXT. Over Survivor Series weekend, Ripley went from a fairly popular babyface to the single most over wrestler on the NXT roster and her title win against Baszler last December is easily one of my favourite WWE moments from last year.

I don’t think Ripley could’ve got a better opponent than Charlotte either. Not only is Charlotte a masterful technical wrestler, but her character and attitude are the polar opposite to everything Rhea Ripley is known for. It creates this perfect underdog story where the rough-around-the-edges personality of Ripley is attempting to prove that she’s on the level of arguably the most successful female wrestler of all time.

I’m picking Rhea Ripley to win here because she just HAS to. Not only is she still incredibly over with the NXT fanbase, but she’s riding such a strong wave of momentum that losing to Charlotte could be catastrophic to her career trajectory. On top of that, how weird would it be if Charlotte was NXT Women’s Champion? I know we’re supposed to see NXT as an equal third brand now, but I just can’t picture Charlotte holding that title and going up against wrestlers like Dakota Kai, Bianca Belair and Io Shirai on a monthly basis, as brilliant as that would probably be.

John Cena vs The Fiend Bray Wyatt
(Firefly Fun House Match)

Well, not a bad consolation prize for Wyatt, admittedly.

In a twist that I don’t think many saw coming, this feud has weirdly benefitted from the lack of a crowd these past few weeks. Wyatt’s always had a much more sinister delivery style, but the total silence of the room he’s in adds so much to that feeling that it genuinely felt extremely creepy. Cena’s done a brilliant job – like he always does – of building up the hype for this match too. He’s playing more into Wyatt’s promo style and presenting himself as a slightly edgier version of himself than normal too. The verbiage Cena’s been using recently as he runs down Wyatt is a little bit of pulling back the curtain, but I think it works for the story that they’re trying to tell.

I honestly don’t know what this match is going to be like, but I feel confident in saying that it’ll be a good one. Wyatt’s brought something unique to the ring every time he’s wrestled as The Fiend and Cena hasn’t put on a bad match since about 2015, so I’m confident they can pull this one-off.

The Fiend Bray Wyatt has to win here. I know I stressed that it was vital for Ripley to win, but I’d argue Wyatt getting the win over Cena is even more important. After being made to look like a total chump against Goldberg at Super ShowDown, The Fiend is on the cusp of going the way of every other unique wrestling character from the past decade. That is to say, absolutely nowhere for the rest of time. If Wyatt loses to Cena, then it’s over, not just for The Fiend but for Wyatt as a whole in the WWE, there’s simply nowhere else for him to go. HOWEVER, a win over Cena will be the perfect way for The Fiend to regain his credibility and it might just be enough for WWE to pull out of this nosedive they’ve taken the character on since February. So this one really needs to happen.

The Undertaker vs AJ Styles
(Boneyard Match)

I’m looking forward to this one, but I’m also a little bit wary of it.

When The Undertaker wrestles a match these days, it’s impossible to tell whether it’s going to be a total shitshow (see Taker vs Goldberg) or surprisingly great (see Taker & Roman vs Drew & Shane) but this is AJ Styles we’re talking about and he can carry just about anyone to a 4-star match. I mean come on, if he can carry Shane McMahon to a surprisingly great Wrestlemania match, he can do the same with The Undertaker, no problem. That said, the idea of a “Boneyard Match” seems a bit weird and one of those situations that’s only happening because of the circumstances. I remain optimistic that it’ll be something unique and interesting, but I’m mostly expecting it to be reminiscent of the House of Horrors; a nice little oddity, but not all that good.

The story for this one’s been a little bit weird as it’s mostly just consisted of Undertaker repeatedly laying AJ out and many people have been criticising this for making people not care about the match, but I wholly disagree, all I ever needed to be fully invested in this match was the sentence: “The Undertaker versus AJ Styles.”

I’d love to say AJ will get the win here, but there’s simply no way that’s happening. There’s no way AJ is going to be getting another world title reign anytime soon and let’s be honest, that’s the only other place to go after you beat The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. The Undertaker is going to walk away with the win here following what was hopefully a really good 20-minute match.

Edge vs Randy Orton
(Last Man Standing)

Another match taking place on-location and I don’t exactly see how this one is going to work. Are they just going to have a ring in a different place from the PC? Or is this actually going to be taking place in someone’s backyard or something? At least with the Boneyard Match, I can picture the kind of atmosphere they’re going for, but this seems a little odd.

That said, it’s Edge’s big return match, so I’ve got very little to complain about. Just looking at that match graphic still fills me with excitement at Edge finally being able to return to the ring. As I didn’t become a wrestling fan until 2013, Edge was already retired by the time I start watching and it’s exciting to be a part of a brand-new match of his that actually stands a chance of being pretty good, unlike many other returning legend’s matches.

I know, it’s a weapons match, involving Randy Orton, which are usually my two biggest turn-offs when it comes to a big match, but there’s so much intensity between these two and such a brilliant story, that I honestly think this could be one hell of a match. Not to mention, since this is Edge’s big return match, I’d say odds are pretty good he’s going to go all-out to prove he’s still got it, which I’m sure he does. Edge is going to win this one because come on…how could he not?

Goldberg(c) vs Braun Strowman
(Universal Championship)

Welp, there goes everything I’d already written about this match.

Despite the question decisions leading up to it, I was actually quite looking forward to Goldberg vs Roman Reigns. I thought it had some real star power behind it and had an outside chance to be a really fun match, in a car-crash sort of way. However, circumstances change and Roman Reigns pulled out of the match due to health concerns(which is 100% a fair decision and people having a go at him for it are just being arseholes. The man had a leukaemia scare last year you heartless wankers).

So now, with about as much ceremony as you’d expect given the situation, Braun Strowman has been inserted in to fight Goldberg instead and…ok? Maybe if WWE were in a position to give us some build for this then I’d be more excited to see it, but as it stands, just seeing these two guys slapped next to each other and being told to fight doesn’t do anything for me. I could sit here and speculate over whether or not I think this will be a good match, but I don’t think much more effort will go into this than the usual Goldberg affair.

As for a winner, I guess it could be seen as up in the air a bit. Goldberg was very obviously supposed to lose the title here to Roman, so they might just go through with that, plus WWE love to “surprise” us with the last-minute replacement winning (although, since they do it almost every time, it’s not much of a surprise). There’s also the fact that I doubt Goldberg will actually be able to lift Strowman up for a Jackhammer, but they can work around that. Despite all that, I’m still going with Goldberg to retain. Once all this is over, Roman is winning that Universal title one way or another and we’ve already seen Roman vs Braun far too much for it to be exciting. There’s also the fact that WWE has shown zero evidence that it’s ever been willing to get behind Braun as a top guy (even though they should) they’ve had so many opportunities over the past three years and they’ve backed away from it every single time.

I certainly wouldn’t be upset if Braun won the title, but I’m still leaning towards Goldberg retaining at the right move here.

Becky Lynch(c) vs Shayna Baszler
(Raw Women’s Championship)

Ohhh, it’s so close I can almost taste it and it tasted wonderful.

This is easily the match I’m most excited in seeing on this show, mostly because of how long it’s been rumoured and how long we’ve had to wait to see if it was actually going to happen, but here we are and I’m hyped.

While many people have seen their interesting waning in Becky Lynch recently, I entirely disagree with that viewpoint. After dispatching of Asuka I think she’s taken a really interesting character turn of not taking any threat seriously and I love that. She’s spent a year on top of the Raw women’s division and has beaten literally everybody, why should she take this upstart seriously? If the match leans into this story as well, then I think we could be in for a brilliant story-heavy match, which tend to be the kinds of matches were Baszler really shines. Her heel-work is outstanding and in order for the audience to buy-in to her big time, she needs to let it flow in every way possible.

As you can probably tell from how much I’m gushing, I think this match is going to be great. Both of these women have already proven themselves time and time again to be two of the best women’s wrestlers on the planet – Shayna in NXT and Becky over the past 18 months on Raw & Smackdown – and seeing them clash like this is bound to be something special and is likely to launch the Raw women’s division into a new era.

As you’ve probably guessed, that “new era” entailed Shayna Baszler taking Becky down and walking away with her championship. Not only would a loss here be potentially devastating for Baszler’s career, knocking her down way too soon in the same way Asuka got knocked down at Wrestlemania 34, but also if Becky did retain, where would she go from here? There’s no-one left for her to fight, even if they did a shake-up, the only wrestler from Smackdown on her level that she hasn’t had a high-profile match with yet is Bayley and she’s tied up in a different storyline. We need fresh matchups and fresh faces at the top of the Raw women’s division to prevent it from stagnating this year and having Shayna at the helm will be the perfect way to do that. Not to mention it could lead to an Okada-Esque downward spiral for Becky that could make for a very interesting story.

Brock Lesnar(c) vs Drew Mcintyre
(WWE Championship)

I honestly didn’t think we were ever going to see this. For the past year, I’ve felt like WWE were never going to get behind Drew like they should. He kept taking really major losses to guys like Ricochet and Dolph Ziggler when he really needed to be winning on a regular basis. Then suddenly, 2020 began and it’s like something totally switched in the minds of creative and they decided Drew needed to be the biggest badass the world has ever seen. Beating Orton & Styles in a triple threat match, eliminating Lesnar from the Royal Rumble and then winning the damn thing after Roman seemed the sure-fire winner and suddenly he’s the most legit title contender Brock’s had in years.

For the longest time, I’d believed Drew was at his best when he was a heel who could destroy just about anyone, but since he’s turned face I’ve been so much more into him as a character because aside from being a wonderful man in real life, he’s transformed into this tough-guy, good-guy that gets what he wants seemingly through sheer force of will and I’m totally behind him now.

I think this will be a great match too. When Brock’s enjoying working with someone, he will go all-out to put on a good match with them, just look at his matches with Styles, Bryan & Rollins for proof of that and from what I’ve seen between these two interacting on TV and what Drew’s been saying in interviews, it’s clear Brock is loving working with Drew. I’m expecting this to be a mega-hoss fight in the best possible way, we’re going to see these two men try to destroy each other in just about every way possible and I think it’s going to be amazing.

I’m always hesitant to pick against Brock, especially considering Vince can lose interest in his pet-projects at any moment, but I’m sticking to my guns and saying Drew Mcintyre is coming away with the title here. Everything about the build to this match just feels like it’s his moment and I really hope it comes to fruition. I don’t often get patriotic, but if this Wrestlemania gives us the first-ever UK-born WWE Champion, it will have a place in my heart forever.

So there you have it! Those are my predictions for the hot-mess that will likely be Wrestlemania 36! Let me know what you think is going to happen, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. As this event is running over two nights, I’m going to wait until Monday and review both nights as a whole, ranking every match across both nights in one big article. So I hope to see you there!

WWE Elimination Chamber 2020: Predictions & Analysis

No rest for the wicked and this is WWE so…

Once again, the Saudi Arabia shows have a weird knock-on effect, because despite the fact that this happens EVERY TIME and we end up building to two PPVs right next to one another, WWE never learn their lesson and schedule their shows just a little bit further apart for once, do they?

As it stands, this is looking up to be a pretty inconsequential show. The only match that promises to have a direct effect on the Wrestlemania card is arguably the easiest to predict on the whole show and everything else is just wheel spinning. At the very least, I’m confident that at least a few of the matches will be good ones to watch, so at least it might not be a total waste of time.

Daniel Bryan vs Drew Gualk

Well, if it gets Gulak on Pay-Per-View, I suppose I can’t argue.

I’m not entirely certain what the point of this story is. Are we finally trying to get Gulak over as a serious competitor, or are we just reminding everyone that Daniel Bryan exists ahead of Wrestlemania? I know Bryan has reportedly been pushing for some of the guys lower down the totem pole to get some feature matches, so is this a part of that?

Regardless of the motivation behind it, the match should be brilliant, even if it only lasts 10 minutes or so. I stand firm in the belief that Gulak is the best technical wrestler WWE’s revived Cruiserweight division ever saw and I’ve made my feelings about Daniel Bryan very clear of the years, so these two technical masters meeting in the ring should be a real treat.

Given that it’s a fresh storyline, there’s a chance that some shenanigans will happen here in order to set something up for Wrestlemania, but I’m leaning more towards this being a stop-gap for something bigger that WWE has in store for Bryan, maybe an Intercontinental title match? Please? Either way, I’m pretty confident that Daniel Bryan is going to come away with the win on this one.

Aleister Black vs AJ Styles
(No Disqualification)

This is a bad idea.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore both of these wrestlers and I’m sure that given the chance they could put on a match of the year contender, but this is just such a bad time to have them clash like this and I really don’t see a positive outcome here. Styles has a match with The Undertaker on the horizon and needs to look good, but Black has barely had room to breathe on Raw and a loss here could totally destroy his credibility and start a long descent into Cedric Alexander territory.

I’m not even sure they’ll be given all that much of an opportunity to show their stuff in this match either. The no DQ stipulation likely means Black will be fighting off Gallows & Anderson the whole time and the match will be generally much slower than it needs to be in order to play to the strengths of these two.

For a winner, I’m picking Aleister Black, but it’s not going to be clean. I think the most likely scenario is that The Undertaker gets involved somehow, maybe physically, but it’s more likely that towards the end of the match, a gong will go off, which will distract Styles and let Black get the win. This whole thing isn’t an ideal scenario, but I think that’s the circumstance that lets both men get away with as little damage to their credibility as possible.

Andrade(c) vs Humberto Carrillo
(United States Championship)

Want a United States title opportunity? It’s easy! Just lose a match on Pay-Per-View and it’s yours!

I like Humberto Carrillo, I honestly do, but I really think it’d be a mistake to have him win the title here. Not only has Carrillo already lost to Andrade at Royal Rumble, but he also lost just over a week ago to Angel Garza, a wrestler who is much more deserving of this opportunity at the present time.

Hopefully, the match will be pretty good as long as it doesn’t get dumped on the pre-show. These two have proved before that they can work extremely well together and I have every faith in them that they’ll make the most of whatever time they get to put on a compelling contest. I’m not too sure on the winner, but Andrade retaining feels right to me, especially going into Wrestlemania, where I think it’s likely we’ll have some sort of multi-man affair, hopefully in ladder form.

The Street Profits(c) vs Seth Rollins & Murphy
(Raw Tag Team Championships)

Oh…I’ll be honest, I thought the Rollins & Murphy thing was going somewhere.

WWE have really done their job of compressing this feud into basically no time at all. I thought it was likely that we’d see this match again on this show, but I certainly didn’t expect The Street Profits to be walking in as champions. It’s nice that they’ve won the titles, but I’m not entirely sure it was the right move for the story, especially if they’re just going to drop the titles right back again.

As much as I think The Street Profits are great, the story and the momentum is with Rollins & Murphy right now. I know that he’s likely going to finally get his big singles match with Owens going into Wrestlemania, but I thought it would’ve been cool with Rollins & Murphy still had the titles during that time.

If Rollins weren’t about to be fighting Owens, then I’d pick him & Murphy to win, however, I think The Street Profits are going to slip away with the titles in this one. I’m not sure what they’re going to do with the belts and I have a horrible feeling that the titles are going to return to their status as the least important belts in the entire company, but at least this match will probably be a good one.

Braun Strowman(c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura & Sami Zayn & Cesaro
(Intercontinental Championship)
(3 on 1 Handicap)

Oh boy, time to make three of the best wrestlers on the planet look totally worthless.

From a story standpoint, I’ve mostly enjoyed this stuff with Nakamura & Zayn. It’s a bit weird how Cesaro had been thrown in with little explanation, but Zayn is easily one of the best managers we’ve seen in WWE for a long time and as for Nakamura, it’s just nice to see him on TV regularly for a change.

In terms of quality, I’m not sure which way this match will go. If it’s a bit of a clusterfuck with Cesaro, Zayn & Nakamura constantly moving in for the kill while Strowman desperately tries to fend them off from all angles, it could actually be a lot of fun and something we don’t see very often. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to be that interesting. I think what’s more likely is the trio use the numbers advantage to pummel Strowman for a while until he makes a comeback, destroys all three of them before probably pinning them all at once.

Speaking of, Braun Strowman is absolutely retaining his title here, not only has he not had any chance to do anything with the title yet, but it’s one of those situations where the odds have been stacked SO heavily against him if he didn’t win it’d seem like a gigantic anti-climax. While I’m not happy about having Nakamura, Zayn & Cesaro treated like chumps, if this is what we have to go through in order to get Strowman into a credible position for a great Wrestlemania match (hopefully against Daniel Bryan), then I think I’m willing to make that sacrifice.

The Miz & John Morrison(c) vs The New Day vs The Usos vs Heavy Machinery vs Dolph Ziggler & Bobby Roode vs Lucha House Party
(Smackdown Tag Tema Championships)
(Elimination Chamber)

I always think these tag team chamber matches are going to be confusing messes, but then they never are.

I’m actually quite excited to see how this one plays out, New Day, Usos and Niz & Morrison are all great in-ring tag teams and the other three teams are certainly nothing to turn your nose up at either. There are a nice few interlinking stories going into this one too. The Usos have been trying to get up in The New Day’s grill the past couple of weeks, while New Day seek revenge for Miz & Morrison stealing their titles. Add on top of that the surprisingly compelling stuff between Otis & Ziggler and we’ve got a recipe for a very entertaining match ahead of us. Oh, and Lucha House Party are also there I guess.

As entertaining as this should be, I don’t think there’s much argument to be made about the winner. The Miz & John Morrison only won the titles 9 days ago and they’ve still got so much that they can do with the belts going into Wrestlemania. It would make no sense if they lost the titles this soon, so I think they’re going to find a way to sneak of the chamber still champions.

Asuka vs Shayna Baszler vs Liv Morgan vs Ruby Riott vs Natalya vs Sarah Logan
(Winner faces Becky Lynch at Wrestlemania)
(Elimination Chamber)

Look, I know it was always going to be obvious, but it would’ve been nice if WWE had at least pretended someone other than Shayna stands a chance of winning this.

I don’t think many people will disagree with me when I say that this match’s only purpose is to show off how much of a beast Shayna Baszler is ahead of her Wrestlemania match with Becky. Hopefully, we’ll get a little bit of action between the three former Riott Squad members, but the spotlight here should be firmly on Shayna as she rips everyone apart.

In case you hadn’t already worked it out I think Shayna Baszler is going to win this one. As much as I love them, Riott, Morgan & logan just haven’t been built even nearly enough to have a featured Wrestlemania spot against WWE’s most popular star. Natalya & Asuka would both be legitimate contenders, however, they’ve already had big matches with Becky over the past year, so they’re out. Baszler is white-hot, has already started talking to Becky like she’s got the match and still had outstanding beef with Becky from Survivor Series, everything points to her and nothing will convince me otherwise.

So there you have! Thank you very much for taking the time to read these predictions, please, let me know what you think is going to happen on Sunday, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back on Monday, where I’ll be recapping the show!

WWE Royal Rumble 2020: Every Match Ranked

The Road to Wrestlemania is officially underway and if it’s going to be anything like this show last night, it’s a road I’m very excited to be going down!

Everyone who’s ever used the internet has said it at some point over the past week, but Royal Rumbles are always so much fun to watch and this year was no exceptions, with two Rumble matches that were among the better ones as far as I’m concerned. Even better than that is that the Rumbles weren’t the only thing to write home about, as many of the other matches on the show were quality watches too.

Let’s not waste any more time getting into it and breakdown Royal Rumble 2020 match-by-match!

8 – Roman Reigns def. King Corbin
(Falls Count Anywhere)

No prizes for guessing this one would be last.

Quite simply, this match had everything that I hate about Falls Count Anywhere matches all rolled into one. The action was extremely samey the whole way through (the portaloo spot notwithstanding) as almost the whole thing consisted of Reigns & Corbin wandering around, occasionally hitting each other and throwing each other into the nearest, vaguely solid object.

Even when Roode, Ziggler & The Usos showed up, I still didn’t find myself getting excited, the spot where one of The Usos launched themselves from one of the stands was cool looking, but given that none of the four men involved in that spot were actually a part of the match, I just couldn’t find a reason to care. Also, the camerawork was just plain awful, I don’t know whether the cameramen were being told to shake the camera vigorously throughout all the action, or whether they were just bad at their jobs, but I almost got motion sickness from watching the action at one point.

It certainly wasn’t the most boring match ever and I’d rank it above the match that these two had at TLC, but that’s not exactly saying much. At least the right man won

7 – Sheamus def. Shorty G
(Kickoff Show)

Not much to say on this one, other than it was a lot more competitive than I was expecting it to be. I have no idea where creative are going with this storyline for Sheamus, but I’m happy to wait and see where it goes and that included not having much worth saying about this match. It’s nice that Shorty G wasn’t just annihilated like I thought he would be, but I honestly think watching him get slaughtered by Sheamus might’ve been a bit more fun to watch.

Like almost any pre-show match, it was perfectly acceptable, but not something I’m going to be talking about for very long after the fact.

6 – Andrade(c) def. Humberto Carrillo
(United States Championship)
(Kickoff Show)

Much like Sheamus vs Shorty G, this match was perfectly fine and the only reason this one goes above that match in my rankings is because it lasted slightly longer.

The dynamic between the two was quite different to Sheamus & Shorty G’s though, as these two men have very similar in-ring styles and it felt much more like the new kid on the block trying to get a feel for one of the older fighters, in order to find a weakness. Unfortunately for Carrillo, that weakness never presented itself and while I wouldn’t say Andrade dominated him in this match, he certainly seemed to get a lot more offence in than Carrillo did.

This match wasn’t as exciting as the match these two had at TLC last month, but I still thought it was a decent showing for a pre-show match where, ultimately, everyone knew the outcome going in.

5 –  Bayley(c) def. Lacey Evans
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

I think this is the match that I was the most pleasantly surprised by because, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t expecting much going in.

Bayley’s Pay-Per-View matches this past year have, for the most part, been rather underwhelming and I’m still not much of a Lacey Evans fan, but I think the two did a great job at putting on a well-paced and enjoyable match. For one thing, Lacey’s daughter is ADORABLE and her smile just seemed to instantly brighten my mood, but I also thought there was a lot of good action between the two.

I wouldn’t have thought Lacey could work that well as a face, but I found myself getting behind her as the match went on, thanks in large part to Bayley’s great ability to work as a heel. Watching this match it’s clear just how much Evans has come on as a wrestler, especially when you compare it to something like her matches against Becky Lynch from last May.

Admittedly, this wasn’t some super exciting match to set the world on fire, but I think these two women did an admirable job and made me finally see the potential in Lacey Evans’ new character direction, and more generally as a performer, so I’d rate that a success.

4 – Charlotte Flair won the 30 Woman Royal Rumble Match

With each year that goes by, I think the women’s Royal Rumble match keeps getting better and better. As WWE hires more and more credible female competitors, it no longer feels like the match is relying on the nostalgia pops and thread-bare action in order to get the crowd interested, finally putting it on par with the booking philosophies of the men’s incarnation of the match.

For the past two years, the downfall of the women’s Royal Rumble has been the first half but that wasn’t a problem here because I thought the first half of this match was the best portion of the whole thing. I wouldn’t have thought that Bianca Belair would be the one to get the rub of dominating the early portions but I absolutely loved how it played out. There was a good mix of everything in there, from the serious to the comical and it kept the action flowing at a good pace.

From when Charlotte entered through until Shayna Baszler showed up wasn’t all that interesting, but I still had a good time seeing people like Beth Pheonix & Shotzi Blackheart showing up and briefly kicking arse, even if blood somehow started POURING out of the back of Beth’s head.

While I’m a bit disappointed Shayna Baszler didn’t win the match, I’m not mad about it. While she is absolutely a ready-made star, I can understand why people think it might be a bit too early to give her a rub like winning the Royal Rumble and, let’s be honest, Charlotte was always going to have to win one of these eventually. Not to mention that sequence towards the end where Baszler just decided she’d had enough of this shit and eliminated EVERYONE still in the ring in space of about a minute was great to watch.

While it wasn’t perfect, it was undoubtedly the best of the women’s Royal Rumble matches we’ve had so far and I can honestly say I’d happily watch it again and have a good time doing so.

3 – Becky Lynch(c) def. Asuka
(Raw Women’s Championship)

This is one of those situations where I think a disinterested crowd took away from a match that was a lot better than the reactions it was getting. I don’t blame the crowd, however, if I had already gone through 3 hours of action and knew there was a Royal Rumble match immediately after this one, I’d try and conserve my energy too, but it doesn’t stop it taking away from the match somewhat.

Still, there was a lot of solid wrestling to this match and I don’t think we should let a muted crowd take away too much from that fact. These two have clear chemistry in the ring together and if I’m being entirely honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing another clash between them in front of a more lively crowd. Asuka did a good job of striking a balance between heelishly slowing down the action but keeping things relatively exciting and tense as she worked her magic.

Meanwhile, Becky did was Becky does and it was as much fun to watch as it always is. She’s so good at making herself look just about beatable, before striking out with the comebacks and sneaking away with the win. I especially liked the finishing sequence where both women were escaping each other’s submission manoeuvres and I’m happy that Becky finally got her win back.

2 – The Fiend Bray Wyatt(c) def. Daniel Bryan
(Universal Championship)
(Strap Match)

Told you they’d make it work.

If I’m being honest, I was starting to lose faith that we’d ever see a really great Fiend match, his character didn’t seem to leave much room for competitive matches, however, I was thankfully proved wrong last night as I thought this was a great way to go about it.

Strap matches usually tend to restrict the performers in the ring, but that wasn’t the case here as they were able to get some really impressive action in and still feature the strap heavily in most of their spots. Throughout the match, I really got the feeling that Daniel Bryan was finally able to get a feel of The Fiend and had plenty of counters prepared for the erratic offence The Fiend threw his way.

It was a little slow to start, but that was necessary to get the damage in on Bryan and lend a lot more drama to his comeback, which definitely worked. Every now and then Bryan would get a little advantage over The Fiend and each time he managed it, he kept the momentum going for just a little bit longer. Unfortunately, the fact that it was extremely obvious going in that Bryan wasn’t going to win sapped a bit of the drama out of the final LeBell Lock, but I still came away from the match having had a great time watching some great wrestling, so I can’t complain.

 1 – Drew McIntyre won the 30 Man Royal Rumble Match

Well, I sure didn’t see that one coming.

This was very clearly a Rumble of two halves and I think that both halves were as entertaining as each other, but in different ways. The first half where Brock was eliminating everyone was so fun to watch, it could’ve lost its novelty pretty quickly, but there was enough variation in both the entrants and the method by which they fought that kept it entertaining and it was clear from his face that Brock was having a great time, which helps LOADS.

My personal favourite moment in that first half was when Shelton Benjamin came out and Brock greeted him as an old friend because we knew that turn was coming, but Brock was so uncharacteristically cheery that I couldn’t help but chuckle. The drama was there too, with Kofi, Big E and Rey did their best to take on the Beast, it’s a bit disappointing that Kofi didn’t get his moment, but when the three of them prepared an attack on the outside, I felt the drama of it. Also, honourable mention to Brock bopping to MVP’s music.

Eventually, Drew came out at 17 and things went off the chain. Ricochet giving Brock the low-blow was a nice bit of poetry and the Claymore Drew hit to eliminate Brock was brilliant and Brock sold it like death to boot. As the ring filled up with people we got the more standard Rumble action and thanks to the calibre of the guys involved it was all great stuff.

Edge’s return was brilliant, even if a lot of us sort of knew it was probably going to happen. I became a wrestling fan not too long after Edge retired, but I’ve seen so much of his stuff since then and that look on his face as he walked out – pumped and ready to fight, but also on the brink of crying tears of joy – that hit me right in the feels and it was a wonderful moment. On top of that, he got a great showing, Spearing everyone in sight and giving us a cheeky little Rated RKO reunion for our troubles.

As I mentioned in my predictions, while Roman wasn’t the person I necessarily wanted to win, I would’ve been happy if he did and I’d come to accept the fact that it was just how it was going to happen. So when Drew threw Roman over the top and won I was genuinely shocked and overjoyed. I never would’ve picked Drew to win, but now the prospect of Drew vs Brock is in front of me I am GAGGING for it, make that man the first-ever UK-Born WWE Champion, I need that in my life.

As far as a Royal Rumble match goes, this was a resounding success on all fronts and it easily up there with many of the better Rumble matches to ever take place.

And that’s it! Those are my thoughts of Royal Rumble 2020! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, let me know what you thought of the show, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back on Saturday where I’ll be running down Doctor Who Series 5!