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WWE pretty much ditched women’s wrestling this week

WWE Women’s Tag Team champions The IIconics did not appear on television this week. They got some online exclusive videos from promos they cut during commercial breaks on Raw and SmackDown. But that’s it.

Not terribly surprising. As much as I enjoy them, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay are presented as comedy heels carrying belts the company often acts like they didn’t want to debut (and that many critics argued they don’t have the roster depth to support).

Champ champ Becky Lynch showed up on the Mon., May 6 show to brawl with the #1 contender for her Raw title, Lacey Evans. Evans also handed out some peachy invitations and squashed a local talent type. That and some arguing among the Money in the Bank ladder match participants who received Lacey’s invites made up approximately five minutes of the three hour show.

Lynch didn’t appear on SmackDown, as she was en route to today’s house show in Belfast. Neither did her challenger for that brand’s belt, Charlotte Flair. An announced six woman tag match with Flair and Bayley became a two-on-two affair, pitting Ember Moon & Carmella against Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville, despite those two Horsewomen being at the taping. Paige and her team of Kairi Sane & Asuka stood on stage. The whole thing took up less the five minutes of the two hour episode.

Some of this can be explained away by the logistics of getting the old Raw roster (the Superstar Shake-up, such as it is in our current Wild Card world, hasn’t fully taken effect on the house show circuit yet) on their way to Northern Ireland for the start of the European tour. There’s also talk of this being a strategic decision on the part of WWE brass. Future weeks may be mostly women’s wrestling, the thinking allegedly goes, so they can see which attracts more viewers and better ratings.

But travel is no excuse for how little time the women were given. And if the ratings experiment reasoning is correct, it’s dumb. After the investment in women’s wrestling represented by the WrestleMania 35 main event spot, and the subsequent decision to promote two Becky matches at Money in the Bank, this is the exact wrong time to cool them off by testing a formula which involves not putting them on television. It tells folks in the audience who do want to see the women that the company doesn’t value them, so don’t tune in expecting to see them. And viewers who aren’t convinced they should care about women’s wrestling get the message that they’re right to have doubts, because the decision-makers aren’t convinced either.

It’s the roster-wide equivalent of start-stop booking. And we’ve seen how well that works out for wrestlers.

WWE’s been getting bad numbers amidst bad news of late, and they understandably are trying different things to hit on the best solution. That they continue to try stupid roster tricks or playing half-hearted covers of their greatest hits instead of focusing on character and story continues to be the most maddening thing.

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