The SmackDown Women’s Championship was introduced on August 23, a little over a month after the brand extension, as the equivalent to the title on RAW. The first champion was then crowned on September 11 at Backlash, the first SmackDown-exclusive pay-per-view after the brand split. And following Elimination Chamber on Sunday night, there have now been three different SmackDown Women’s Champions since the title’s inception.
Backlash was also the venue for the inauguration of the SmackDown Tag Team Championships. Three days later, we witnessed TJ Perkins win the Cruiserweight Classic, giving the WWE nine championships on its main roster. RAW and SmackDown now each have their own world title, mid-card championship, tag team belts and a women’s championship. The Cruiserweight Championship is exclusive to the flagship show and 205 Live.
With WrestleMania approaching, it’s not uncommon for fans and journalists to predict the show’s card. And with nine championships in the company, it leaves little room for much else. Or perhaps it could be the other way around. As of this writing, there only appear to be two SmackDown-exclusive matches set in stone for the big show in Orlando.
Randy Orton is set to take on Bray Wyatt for the WWE Championship, and John Cena will team up with Nikki Bella to take on The Miz and Maryse in a mixed tag team match. Everything else concerning the SmackDown brand is still yet to be finalized.
We know that Goldberg is facing Brock Lesnar, presumably for the Universal Championship. If Seth Rollins is cleared in time, he’ll be taking on Triple H. Big Show is set to square off with Shaquille O’Neal. Roman Reigns will have the honor of facing the Undertaker. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho are in line to compete for the United States Championship. And Charlotte, Bayley, Sasha Banks and Nia Jax are poised to fight over the RAW Women’s Championship in a fatal four-way match.
That’s eight matches already, and we haven’t even brought up five title belts, three of which currently reside on SmackDown. The Cruiserweight Championship, in all likelihood, will be defended by Neville against a returning Austin Aries. The RAW Tag Team Championship match could have multiple teams involved. The Intercontinental Championship will either be a multi-man match or a singles bout between Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin. The most likely challenger for American Alpha’s SmackDown Tag Team Championships is The Usos.
But as far as the SmackDown Women’s Championship is concerned, it appears as if it will not be defended at WrestleMania, according to a recent report from SportsKeeda. Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss at Elimination Chamber Sunday night to become the third woman to hold the title, but current plans do not call for her to put it on the line on the grand stage in April.
Originally, Nikki Bella was slated to compete for the championship at WrestleMania, but because her career appears to be winding down, she wanted a marquee match with John Cena. Nikki is the most marketable and recognizable woman on the SmackDown roster and her absence from the title scene leaves a void that WWE’s creative team decided not to fill with another match for the championship.
The company did not want to have another multi-woman match like the RAW brand is doing, so instead, we’ll likely see a tag team match between Naomi and Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James. There has not been a women’s singles match at WrestleMania since 2007, and it looks like that trend will continue in 2017. Even that match at WrestleMania 23 between Melina and Ashley was a Lumberjack match, and it lasted less than four minutes.
The reason to put the SmackDown Women’s Championship on Naomi is, in part, because she is from Florida, and with WrestleMania emanating from Orlando, there is hope that she’ll generate buzz as the champion, even though she won’t be defending it.
On Sunday night’s Talking Smack, Daniel Bryan and Renee Young did allude to the fact that there is still seven weeks until WrestleMania several times. This could mean that the title may change hands again, especially considering Alexa is entitled a rematch. But for now, the plan is to have Naomi carry it into WrestleMania, but not defend it there.
[Featured Image by WWE]