Eva Marie is the latest WWE Superstar to receive a suspension for violating the WWE’s Wellness Policy. This news came just days after both Paige and Alberto Del Rio were suspended for the same reason. Many people are upset that part-time WWE Superstar Brock Lesnar isn’t held to the same standard as full-time talent like Eva Marie, Paige, and Del Rio. Either way, Eva Marie’s suspension will directly impact her match at WWE SummerSlam 2016 as part of the SmackDown Live brand. WWE acknowledges the conflict and will apparently allow the suspension to play into to the storyline surrounding Eva Marie’s repeatedly delayed in-ring debut.
Representing the Monday Night Raw Women’s Division will be champion Sasha Banks against former champion Charlotte. Thanks to Sasha’s recent victory over Dana Brooke, Charlotte will compete at SummerSlam without her protégé at ringside. Charlotte is hoping that the beat-down she and Dana gave The Boss on Raw will be enough to soften Banks up for their match on Sunday.
As the women of SmackDown try to prove that they are worthy of a championship on the blue brand, Sasha Banks and Charlotte will show the WWE Universe why Raw made them the two top female picks in the recent WWE Draft. Even though this year’s event will be the twenty-ninth edition of WWE’s biggest party of the summer, just sixteen matches featuring female competitors have taken place at SummerSlam in the past. With that in mind, how will the history of women’s wrestling at WWE SummerSlam inform predictions for this year’s event?
Technically, the first women’s match officially scheduled for a SummerSlam card was Queen Sherri Martel vs. Sapphire in 1990. The WWF Women’s Championship had been deactivated earlier that year, so the title wasn’t even an issue. The match ended in a forfeit victory for Sherri, however, when Sapphire never showed up. It would be revealed later in the evening that Sapphire, who had been acting as a valet for Dusty Rhodes, had aligned herself with Ted DiBiase after being persuaded by his lavish gifts.
The WWF Women’s Championship was reactivated in December of 1993, and Alundra Blayze would go on to be part of the first and second women’s title matches at SummerSlam.
1994: Alundra Blayze vs. Bull Nakano — WWF Women’s Championship
Alundra Blayze may be best known for the time she showed up on WCW Monday Nitro and threw the WWF Women’s Championship in the garbage. The infamous Nitro segment was during Blayze’s third reign as champion and wouldn’t happen until 1995. At WWF SummerSlam 1994, Blayze was in the midst of her first reign as champion. Having already lost to Alundra on multiple occasions, Luna introduced Japanese women’s wrestler Bull Nakano to the WWF. Alundra defeated Bull at SummerSlam, but the feud was far from over. Nakano would win the title a few months later, but it was back around the waist of Alundra Blayze before SummerSlam 1995.
1995: Alundra Blayze vs. Bertha Faye — WWF Women’s Championship
In the summer of 1995, WWF was beginning to feel the pressure from WCW. Vince McMahon’s attempt at creating a Women’s Division wasn’t connecting with his audience. One great example was Harvey Wippleman’s on-screen romance with Bertha Faye. She was introduced to the WWF audience as the unknown assailant who attacked Alundra Blayze moments after she regained her title from Bull Nakano. Faye got the clean win at SummerSlam, and Blayze would take the title back in October.
In December of 1995, the WWF’s Women Division was essentially dissolved when Blayze showed up on Nitro. It would be four years before women competed again at SummerSlam.
1999: Ivory vs. Tori — WWF Women’s Championship
Less than a month after SummerSlam 1998, the WWF reintroduced their Women’s Championship. The division was a mix of veteran wrestlers like Jacqueline and Ivory and more diva-like competitors, such as Sable and Debra. Tori, who is remembered best as one of several women who was married to WWE Superstar Kane over the years, was given a shot at Ivory’s WWF Women’s Championship. Ivory retained her title in what would be the last time a women’s belt would be defended at SummerSlam until 2008.
2000: Chyna, Trish Stratus, And A “Stinkface” Match
Before SummerSlam 2000, the Women’s Championship would be held by everyone from The Fabulous Moolah and The Kat to Harvey Wippleman and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley. However, less than a week before SummerSlam, Lita captured the title from McMahon on Monday Night Raw. The Women’s Championship wouldn’t be a part of the weekend’s festivities, however. Instead, fans of the WWE Women’s Division were treated to an intergender tag team match (Chyna and Eddie Guerrero vs. Trish Stratus and Val Venis) in which the WWE Intercontinental Championship was on the line. In the end, Chyna pinned Stratus, taking Val’s IC title.
Later in the show, truly representing WWE’s “Attitude Era,” The Kat defeated Terri Runnels in a Stinkface Match. No championships were on the line.
2001: WWE Vs. Alliance — Sunday Night Heat
A year later, WWF had acquired both World Championship Wrestling and Extreme Championship Wrestling. From a storyline perspective, the collective alliance of WCW and ECW were at war with WWF. Despite winning the Women’s Championship at WrestleMania X-Seven and still holding the title in August, Chyna and the belt were left out of SummerSlam. Instead, in a match that aired on Sunday Night Heat prior to the event, Lita, Jacqueline, and Molly Holly of Team WWE defeated Torrie Wilson, Stacy Keibler, and Ivory of Team Alliance. When Chyna left the company in November, the title was vacated.
Despite the fact that the Women’s Championship would remain active until it was merged with the WWE Divas Championship in 2010, the title wouldn’t be defended at SummerSlam again until 2008.
2007: 12-Diva Battle Royal
Rather than having WWE Women’s Champion Candace Michelle defend the strap at WWE SummerSlam 2007, they had an inter-promotional battle royal featuring women from the Raw, SmackDown, and ECW brands. Beth Phoenix would become the No. 1 contender with the win, and she began her first reign as champion in October. The battle royal included up-and-coming Divas like Maria, Layla, and Kelly Kelly, but they had yet to really establish themselves as legitimate competitors.
2008: Intergender Tag Team Match For Two Titles
Both members of Glamarella — “The Glamazon” Beth Phoenix and Santino Marella — began their second title reigns at SummerSlam 2008 after a Winners Take All intergender tag team match. Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston and WWE Women’s Champion Mickie James were forced to put up their titles in a tag team match that ended when Phoenix hit James with the Glam Slam and picked up the pinfall victory.
Michelle McCool, who had become the first WWE Divas Champion a month before SummerSlam, wasn’t featured on the card at all. This would be the last time that the WWE Women’s Championship would be defended at SummerSlam. This year, however, the title returns to WWE’s annual August spectacular, with the WWE Divas Championship having been retired at WrestleMania 32.
2009: 15-Diva Battle Royal — Dark Match
With Chavo Guerrero acting as a special guest referee, the fans in attendance at SummerSlam 2009 were treated to a dark match battle royal featuring fifteen of the WWE’s female competitors, including Mickie James, who was the WWE Divas Champion at the time. The WWE Women’s Champion, Michelle McCool, was not involved. Phoenix won when she eliminated both Eve Torres and Kelly Kelly at the same time. It also marked the SummerSlam debut of women wrestlers like Natalya, Rosa Mendes, Alicia Fox, and the Bella Twins, Nikki and Brie.
2010: Alicia Fox Vs. Melina — WWE Divas Championship
Melina’s first reign as WWE Divas Champion ended prematurely when she suffered a legitimate ACL injury. When she returned to action, she immediately went after the title for which she was never defeated. After taking the title from Alicia Fox at SummerSlam, she lost to Michelle McCool in a title unification at Night of Champions, putting the Women’s Championship to rest until 2016.
2011: Kelly Kelly Vs. Beth Phoenix — WWE Divas Championship
Beth Phoenix was the most dominant female on WWE programming since Chyna. Kelly Kelly, on the other hand, was one of the most Barbie-esque women on the roster. With Eve Torres in her corner, Kelly Kelly successfully defended her title against Phoenix after being dominated for most of the match. A few months later, at WWE Hell in a Cell, Kelly would not be so lucky. Beth’s only reign as Divas Champion would end after more than 200 days when Nikki Bella captured her first Divas title.
After Kelly Kelly’s victory over Beth Phoenix, the WWE Divas Championship wouldn’t be defended at SummerSlam again until the women’s division was revitalized by superstars like AJ Lee and Paige.
2013: Total Divas Drama — Natalya Vs. Brie Bella
Maria Menounos was a guest at WWE SummerSlam as she was somewhat involved in the drama between Natalya and the Bella Twins related to their reality show Total Divas. Natalya was flanked by the Funkadactyls (Naomi and Cameron) while Brie was accompanied by sister Nikki and Eva Marie. Natalya would get the victory after Brie tapped to the Sharpshooter. This was a precursor to AJ Lee’s eventual feud with the stars of Total Divas, which would be a big part of the #GiveDivasAChance movement and the so-called “Divas Revolution.”
2013: Another Intergender Match
Rather than defending the WWE Divas Championship, AJ Lee was teamed up with Big E to take on their former ally Dolph Ziggler, who was teaming with Kaitlyn as a face. The decision came when Dolph hit Big E with the Zig Zag and scored the pinfall victory. Kaitlyn wasn’t ever able to defeat AJ for the title, leaving the WWE before she was able to accomplish the feat. AJ would retain the title until the day after WrestleMania 30.
2014: AJ Lee vs. Paige — WWE Divas Championship
After making huge waves in the NXT women’s division, Paige was called up to the main roster to work a program with AJ Lee. In her WWE debut match the day after WrestleMania, Paige took the Divas Championship from AJ. The two would trade the title back and forth a total of four times, including Paige reclaiming the title at SummerSlam 2014. Less than a year later, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch would all be called up from NXT to completely change the dynamic of the WWE women’s division.
2014: Brie Bella Vs. Stephanie McMahon
Echoing the feud between Daniel Bryan and Triple H, Brie Bella found herself feuding with her boss, not unlike Steve Austin and Vince McMahon in the Attitude Era. In Stephanie’s first match in over ten years, it took interference from Triple H and a betrayal by Nikki Bella for her to get the victory over Daniel Bryan’s real-life wife.
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2015: Divas Revolution
Last year, during Nikki Bella’s record-setting 301-day reign as WWE Divas Champion, the influx of women’s talent from NXT had developed into a three-way faction feud. Nikki was the unofficial leader of Team Bella, which also included Brie and Alicia Fox. Paige teamed up with Charlotte and Becky Lynch to form Team PCB, while Sasha Banks joined Naomi and Tamina as part of Team B.A.D. In arguably the most highly-anticipated women’s match in SummerSlam history, Brie Bella eliminated Team B.A.D. from the contest by pinning Tamina. Becky Lynch would go on to pin Brie, however, giving the victory to Team PCB.
2016: Sasha Banks Vs. Charlotte — WWE Women’s Championship
One year ago, Sasha Banks competed against Bayley at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn for the NXT Women’s Championship in what was one of the best matches of the year on any show by either gender. It was so good that they were allowed to headline the next TakeOver event with a 30-minute Iron-Man Match. This year, Triple H hopes Sasha Banks can capture that magic again as she defends the WWE Women’s Championship against Charlotte.
Since 1994, a woman has defended her title at SummerSlam on just seven occasions. Four times, a new champion was crowned. Charlotte’s lengthy run as WWE Women’s Champion (an extension of her reign as the final WWE Divas Champion) just recently ended, however, and it doesn’t seem likely that WWE wants Banks to drop the title already. Sasha Banks is likely to retain her title against Charlotte on Sunday.
2016: Becky Lynch, Carmella, And Naomi Vs. Natalya, Alexa Bliss, And TBD
WWE still hasn’t announced what they will do with the six-woman tag team match that was announced just two days before one of the competitors was suspended for violating the WWE’s Wellness Policy. With Eva Marie unable to compete and yet to make her debut since being drafted to SmackDown Live, it remains unclear whether WWE will make this a Handicap Match or brings in a substitute for Eva.
It’s rare that a heel team goes into a match on the short end of a handicap stipulation. With both Nikki Bella and Brie Bella cleared for in-ring action, it’s possible that one (or both) of the Bellas could show up to help fill the void. There’s also an extensive NXT roster that will be in town for TakeOver: Brooklyn II, so someone could certainly be pulled from the developmental promotion. With Sasha Banks likely to get the win as a face in the Women’s Championship Match, look for whatever the heels have up their sleeves to get the victory for Alexa Bliss and Natalya’s team from SmackDown Live.
Where To Watch SummerSlam
WWE SummerSlam 2016 is set for Sunday, August 21. It will air exclusively on the WWE Network at 7/6 p.m. Central. The SummerSlam Kick-Off Show will begin at 5/4 p.m. Central, and it is also available exclusively on the WWE Network.
[Image via WWE]