Naomi became the thirad SmackDown Women’s Champion since the WWE initiated the brand extension last July. She was preceded by Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss, the latter of whom Naomi defeated to become champion last week at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. Like many of the first-time champions we’ve seen crowned this past year, it was a dream come true for a scratch-and-claw superstar met with “You deserve it!” chants from the live crowd.
Unfortunately, Naomi’s first-ever championship reign lasted all of nine days. Originally, she was going to defend the title against Alexa on SmackDown, which would have been the brand’s first show after Elimination Chamber. Naomi was legitimately injured, though, and the match was pushed back a week as WWE officials tried to determine the next course of action.
Fast forward a week later to this past Tuesday, and again, there was no rematch. This time, Naomi was forced to relinquish the SmackDown Women’s Championship in a very emotional show-opening segment with Daniel Bryan. Bryan then booked a title match with Alexa and Becky Lynch immediately afterwards, which Alexa won to become a two-time champion. Naomi disappeared, but not before promising that she’d be back, and back gunning for the belt.
Clearly, if WWE officials knew the severity of Naomi’s injury last week, they would have forced her to give up the title at the time, rather than delay the inevitable a week. At the time, it was not clear how bad her knee was hurt or when she suffered the injury and there were some within WWE that legitimately thought she would be cleared within a week and thus the storyline that transpired.
There is new information this Thursday, stemming from a report confirming that Naomi suffered the injury during her match with Alexa at Elimination Chamber. More specifically, she was hurt during the finishing sequence where Naomi hit the split-legged moonsault to get the victory. As could be expected considering the writing staff’s approach to the angle last week, the injury is considered worse than previously expected.
At this time, Naomi’s anticipated recovery time is around two months, which would keep her out of action for WrestleMania 33 on April 2. Interestingly enough, however, it’s believed that Naomi’s injury is very similar to the one that Seth Rollins suffered on RAW a couple of weeks ago. Rollins is scheduled to appear this coming Monday in an interview to shed more light on his status for WrestleMania.
It should be noted that Naomi’s WrestleMania status is still not confirmed at this point, though as mentioned, the recovery time would keep her out if that’s deemed accurate. At the very least, she was going to be out for 30 days, unable to defend the championship, so the company stripped her of it. Naomi is an Orlando native and even though her entering ‘Mania as champion would have created some extra buzz, the belt was not expected to be defended on the card.
WWE officials, instead, were planning on a tag team match (most likely on the kickoff show) between Naomi and Becky Lynch against Alexa and Mickie James. Obviously, that would be scrapped now too in light of the injury news, though it’s unclear if they’ve decided on a revision yet. It definitely should be noted that the company has been reaching out to former female stars for a WrestleMania appearance, so we’ll see if they’re used in a match or program with the blue-brand women.
The feud between Mickie and Becky will seemingly continue as James ran in to attack Becky at the conclusion of the championship match on Tuesday. Becky addressed Mickie again afterwards on Talking Smack, but that leaves Alexa without a clear opponent heading into WrestleMania with Naomi out and Nikki Bella set to work with John Cena, The Miz and Maryse. The one other name that has been brought up recently has been Tamina Snuka who has just been recently cleared to wrestle on house shows.
[Featured Image by WWE]