Given the fact that WWE is desperately trying to have Charlotte Flair beat her father’s 16-time world champion record, there’s a strong possibility that the second-generation superstar could drop the WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion on Friday to pad out her record. However, Flair will likely be a part of the biggest show of the year, and the chances of her entering WrestleMania as champion are actually pretty high. This list will examine the five women who should dethrone “The Queen” at the biggest show of the year.
In late 2019/early 2020, Rhea Ripley was one of the hottest young stars of the company. The NXT Women’s Champion was in the midst of an incredible journey throughout the developmental brand until Charlotte Flair put that to a screeching halt. Now, I’m not blaming Charlotte Flair for killing Ripley’s momentum as it was clearly the creative team that chose this direction. To make matters worse, Flair’s time in NXT was a bust as she didn’t do much to make any new stars nor did her appearances on the brand bring in any ratings. Fast forward to WrestleMania 37, where Ripley beats Asuka for the RAW Women’s title; however, it was clear that her title reign was a holding pattern until the second-generation star got her hands on it. It’s time this company stars treating Ripley like a top star and the first step is by having Ripley avenge her losses against Flair. The story is already there for a compelling WrestleMania feud. Booking Ripley as the underdog automatically creates suspense for their potential match-up, essentially given the rumors surrounding the treatment of Charlotte Flair. It’s time Ripley got her much-deserved win back.
Another character whose career was stunted by odd booking choices. Look, I do understand that the former Nikki Cross came up with the Almost a Super Hero moniker; however, it’s time to pull the plug on this failed experiment. Part of the reason that this gimmick failed is due to the fact that the company never treated Nikki A.S.H. as a star. The former RAW Women’s Champion was booked as a joke during her brief title reign and has floundered since dropping the belt at Summerslam. Now that Nikki A.S.H. is done with the WWE Women’s Tag Team titles, the company can easily pen a redemption arc for her character leading up to her Charlotte Flair rematch. I do understand that Nikki recently turned heel, and it’s possible that the writers can transform her back into the crazy and vicious Nikki Cross, which would also be a good step in trying to rebuild the RAW star as a top-level act.
Shirai hasn’t been ruined on the main roster yet, though it’s clear that she’s no longer needed in NXT. Shirai has some ties with Charlotte Flair, as she was the woman to beat the multi-time women’s champion at NXT TakeOver: In Your House. Even then, you don’t particularly need the backstory to build a compelling feud between the top female athletes. Shirai has the look and talent to carry the division forward. Shirai is a former Wonder of Stardom, High Speed, and SWA World Champion, so she can also be a great ring general for new coming talents who are still a bit green. Yes, the language barrier is still an issue, but it’s time that companies like WWE start bringing in translators to help with their foreign talent. Otherwise, what’s the point in hiring foreign talent if you don’t plan on using them because of the language barrier.
Raquel Gonzalez has been a surprising force down in NXT. Originally the bodyguard for Dakota Kai, the 6’0 wrestler managed to get quickly out of the shadows of her protege and is currently one of the best female talents on the roster. Gonzalez just dropped the belt to Mandy Rose and officially ended her feud with Dakota Kai, thus it’s time for her to move on up to the blue brand. Smackdown desperately needs some new female faces and Gonzalez would perfectly fit that bill. Hell, the company can make her the heel monster that they love so much, and Kai will stand out greatly because she’s the only woman on the roster that’s 6’0 tall. There’s plenty of directions to go with the former NXT Women’s Champion, it’s just matters if the company does a decent job of booking her.
Kai pretty much fits in the same mold as Io Shirai and Raquel Gonzalez in that there’s nothing much else for her to do in NXT. Sure, the former NXT Women’s Tag Team Champion can always go on a journey to capture the NXT Women’s title, but Smackdown desperately needs new female faces. Kai can play both babyface and heel tremendously well, plus she’s also one of the best talents on the microphone. Again, it just comes down to the way Vince McMahon and company book the NXT star. Kai has all the potential in the world, but if she’s given the same treatment as Shotzi, Toni Storm, and Tegan Nox, then she’s doomed to fail on Smackdown.
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