Natalya is the new number one contender to the SmackDown Women’s Championship, and that’s a perfectly fine result. Charlotte Flair didn’t win the match, and neither did Becky Lynch, but that’s also perfectly fine. It’s not much of a women’s revolution if only four women find any success in it, and SmackDown’s continued insistence that women outside of that foursome not only exist but are also talented is one of their continual high points, even now during something of a rut for the Tuesday show.
Becky Lynch was the first SmackDown Women’s champ, so let’s not pretend like she’s never found success on the show. She’s also constantly portrayed as an amazing babyface who will get her moment again someday. SmackDown has also spent time finally giving Naomi her time in the spotlight, though, raising Alexa Bliss up from NXT into a champion and a top performer on both SmackDown and RAW, and making the Carmella push finally work this summer after persisting for months where she was ignored or derided for not being part of the ready-made inner circle.
Natalya winning is an extension of that: she’s been on WWE’s main roster since debuting in early 2008, and yet, she’s only held a women’s title with the promotion on one occasion: she lost the inaugural Diva’s title match to Michelle McCool in 2008, won that same belt in 2010, and hasn’t touched a title since. Natalya, a long-standing and recognizable part of WWE’s women’s division, getting a shot at the championship at a premier event like SummerSlam is a fine choice.
This is especially true when you consider that there are other things for Charlotte and Becky to do. They could feud with each other. They could team with each other against other women in the division. They could use SummerSlam as a setup for something large and memorable in the near future — Becky sure has been interacting with MMA folks a lot of late, and there is a Charlotte/Ronda Rousey rumor floating around out there, too.
Charlotte and Becky don’t need to win everything, much the same way that Bayley and Sasha don’t have to on RAW: between the four of them, they already make up nine of the 14 reigns between the women’s belt on each show, and three of the foursome were NXT Women’s Champions as well. Building depth is important — Naomi vs. Natalya will help with that, especially since it’s a matchup of a true face against a true heel — and leaving Charlotte and Becky out there to be put into another story is a positive for the division, and maybe even for SummerSlam.
- Andrew Swift did not like Battleground. I liked parts of it, but the parts I did not like, well, you can just read about all of that.
- The Great Khali returned to help Jinder Mahal defeat Randy Orton and honestly I don’t know if that made the match better or worse, but at least it made it end.
- Sami Zayn overcame the power of love, which seems an odd choice for so early in the Kanellis’ run, but maybe we’ll see them up their game on Tuesday.
- Super Patriot John Cena defeated Rusev in a match that was a lot more fun once it left the ring. Not quite enough fun to overcome the horrible undertones and the lingering suspicion that America is the bad guy, but fun all the same.
- Kevin Owens won the United States Championship back from AJ Styles in a match that, despite the two performers in it, was middling at best even before the weird finish that made little sense and completely ignored the ref bump and Styles’ shoulder injury.
- Shinsuke Nakamura and Baron Corbin wrestled in a match that made it pretty obvious WWE isn’t using the former right at all. There has to be a happy medium between Brock Lesnaring him so he’s rarely on TV and having him sleepwalk through matches once or twice per week.
- Don’t worry, not everything is negative: the New Day defeating the Usos for the SmackDown Tag titles was wonderful, and that’s coming from someone who wants those three to be Freebirding a singles title instead of tagging.
- In non-Battleground news, we’ve got a rumor that Finn Balor’s surgically repaired shoulder is banged up, but it won’t cause him to miss time.
- Sasha Banks has an idea that would get WWE to a full 30 women in a Royal Rumble match.
- There is more wrestling to watch this week besides Battleground! That should be good news, just so we’re clear, I’m not threatening you with additional wrestling.
- Scarlett Harris wonders if the body diversity of the NXT’s women will make its way to WWE’s main roster.
- Here is a tribute to Great Khali’s incomparable Instagram account, compiled by old friend Bill Hanstock.