WWE appears to be at it again. After months of having one or two teams at their disposal on the main roster, the company decided to heat up it’s Women’s Tag Team Division heading into WrestleMania 38. Many people, including myself, feared that they we’re only doing this as a way to get as many women on the card as possible. The end result ended up being a highly entertaining Fatal 4-Way match, that saw Sasha Banks and Naomi walk out with the gold.
Ok, great! I’m all for Sasha Banks getting her first win at WrestleMania. You could see on her face just how much getting that 3-count meant to her after going 0-6 in her previous matches on the Grandest Stage of Them All. And while her pairing with Naomi was a bit random at the time, this Team Bad reunion has worked out really nicely.
The questions is, what now?
Unfortunately, the answer appears to be more of what we’ve grown accustomed to with the Women’s Tag Team Division in the past year. Queen Zelina and Carmella had a falling out on RAW this past Monday and became the fifth consecutive team to split after dropping the Titles.
Let me say that one more time. Queen Zelina and Carmella became the FIFTH consecutive Women’s Tag Team to break up or to be broken up almost immediately after losing the Championships. In a bubble, this particular split makes sense. Carmella will be taking an undisclosed amount of time off for her wedding and honeymoon (Congrats to her and Corey!) and ending her partnership with Zelina will presumably keep both The Queen and the tag belts on TV.
However, this is a division that badly needs teams right now. There are three active tag teams left and one may be done sooner rather than later.
I’ll admit it. When Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan were first paired together, I rolled my eyes. Shoe-horning two singles competitors together just to make sure creative had something for them to do at WrestleMania, is not exactly ideal booking. Especially considering that Rhea was just coming off another make-shift tag team run with Nikki A.S.H.
But much like the talent themselves, I quickly learned to love this pairing and began rooting for them as they started rooting for each other.
“She’s been working so extremely hard for so extremely long and she always gets to the point, but then she just misses out. So, I really want to help her just get over that wall,” Rhea Ripley said about Liv Morgan. “Even if we have the tag team championships, and then we move on to other things separately, I just wanna see her exceed and excel in this business because she works so extremely hard and people don’t understand that. And I don’t think people give her enough credit for it.”
I had the chance to chat with Rhea Ripley in Dallas for the Bleav in Pro Wrestling Podcast and even she admitted to having some reservations about being apart of another team so soon. But it didn’t take the traditionally lone wolf performer long at all to realize the chemistry that existed between herself and Liv Morgan.
“She’s a great human. She definitely does put a smile on my face, which is something that I try to hide when I’m out there. But she just, I don’t know. It’s something about her. She just gets to me, you know? And we go out there and we just have fun.”
Rhea followed that up with a funny story about Liv asking if she wanted to wear her shirt before their first match together, which included a SPOT ON impersonation (See clip below). Ripley new from about that point on, that this partnership had potential. And as you can see, Liv Morgan felt the same way.
These two may love working with one another, but that love wasn’t felt this past Monday on RAW when Rhea gave Liv the cold shoulder following an unsuccessful attempt to earn a Women’s Tag Team Title opportunity.
Despite the loss however, Rhea somehow talked Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville into giving Liv for Brutality at shot at Sasha Banks and Naomi on next week’s Monday Night RAW. So for now, everything appears to be ok. But we’ve seen this exact same scenario play out before. In fact, we saw it very recently with Nikki A.S.H.
The Almost Super Hero lost a number of matches for her team, which ultimately led to Rhea asking to just be friends, not partners, and a subsequent heel turn for Nikki. So, if you couple Monday’s events with recent reports about Rhea Ripley’s future, then the writing is clearly on the wall for Liv for Brutality.
Rumors indicate Rhea Ripley could soon be channeling her inner darkness and aligning herself with Edge and Damian Priest. Nothing is set in stone until it actually happens, but The Nightmare would be a natural fit for this, apparently, growing faction. Not only that, but it’s probably what’s in the best interest for Rhea.
The 25-year-old has all the makings of a future top star, not just in the Women’s Division, but in all of WWE. Her in-ring work is impeccable. She has a wonderful personality and great mic skills (if WWE would allow her to actually showcase those every now and again). She also has the all important connection with the audience.
The only thing that’s been lacking is completely out of her control, and that’s her booking. Much like the stock of Damian Priest, her positioning on the Red Brand would instantly rise if she were paired alongside Edge. A heel turn and a prominent position in a high profile group led by a WWE Hall of Famer, would make Ripley a prime candidate to challenge Bianca Belair for her newly won RAW Women’s Championship.
That’s a title that the Nightmare has held before, but she never really got a chance to get comfortable with the gold around her waist. She told me last week that she will definitely be better equipped to handle it the second time around.
“One thing that I definitely learned the most (from her first Title run), is to be calm and just in the moment. And to not only hold the championship, but show everyone that you are the champion. That’s something that I didn’t really do. I was so nervous, because I was so new to RAW and I was a little bit nervous going out there every time I did. And I didn’t feel like the champion that everyone was looking at me, like I was.”
Ever since dropping the Title to Charlotte at Money in the Bank last year, Ripley has just flat out been lost in the shuffle at times. In large part, due to the booking of the Women’s Tag Team Division. Rhea and Nikki A.S.H. would have had a much better chance at sustained success, had they actually had any teams to defend the Women’s Tag Team Championships against.
They spent more time watching John Morrison stretching backstage, than actually defending the gold. Ripley herself even told Phil Strum on Under the Ring, that the tag belts just don’t get the love that they deserve.
“The Women’s Tag Team Championships, they sort of get looked down upon by a lot of people. I see it on social media all the time, and I get it. We don’t really get good positions on the show, and our matches are very, very quick. So I think that it is important to put it on WrestleMania and remind everyone exactly what we can do, and how much these titles do truly mean.”
The match at WrestleMania ended up being a tremendous showcase of what the Women’s Tag Team Division can be, when WWE choses to highlight it.
However, my worry is with WrestleMania in the rear view mirror, WWE won’t have highlighting that division high on it’s priority list. Then again, maybe I’m wrong. The last time those titles we’re heavily showcased on a regular basis, one of them rested on the shoulder of Sasha Banks. That said, it doesn’t matter who the belts are on, if there is no one to defend them against.
The foundation for a strong Women’s Tag Division is currently there. The Boss and Glow Connection, along with Liv for Brutality, are two foundational blocks that WWE should be building upon. Not immediately tearing down.
Rhea Ripley alongside Edge would be really cool and great for her career, but the argument could be made that the Women’s Division would be healthier as a whole by keeping her with Liv Morgan.
WWE really is in a win-win situation with Ripley. When you look at the creative fork in the road they find themselves in with Rhea, all paths lead to success. The reason I hate the idea of splitting her from her new tag team partner, is that Morgan doesn’t deserve yet ANOTHER change in creative direction.
So allow me to propose a solution here. If Rhea Ripley is set to join the ranks of the followers atop the mountain of omnipotence, why can’t Liv Morgan just go along with her?
Edge’s new faction should be comprised of talented superstars in dire need of elevation, veteran guidance and a clear direction. After years onboard the WWE creative rollercoaster, does anyone fit that description more than Liv Morgan? She has worked incredibly hard to earn an opportunity just like this one and should be heavily considered for the group.
This faction, which I’ve theorized will be called the “Grand Jury” based off the language of Edge’s promos, Priest’s new ‘Punishment for the Guilty’ nickname and a recent WWE trademark filing, already has it’s leader (Edge) and it’s enforcer (Priest). Common sense dictates that a tag team could be next, but who says it has to be a male team?
The seeds were sown a year ago. pic.twitter.com/Fp4gsmNrul— Adam (Edge) Copeland (@EdgeRatedR) April 5, 2022
The Viking Raiders could certainly use some rehabilitation and a new creative outlet in WWE, but I really hope the company breaks from the mold here and adds a female team instead. Please, dare to be a little bold and let this promising pairing of Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan flourish.
Again, my thought process here is all about building a viable Women’s Tag Team Division, centered around Boss and Glow, and Liv for Brutality. Of course, additional teams will need to be added to insure sustained success. A pairing of Nikki A.S.H and Doudrop has been teased and makes a ton of sense. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing that group being led by a crazed Becky Lynch, desperate to regain her hold of the thing she covets most - her precious RAW Women’s Championship.
Natalya and Shayna Baszler could certainly continue to be utilized and there is no shortage of talent in NXT that could soon get some opportunities on the main roster as well.
The possibilities are there to build something special, should WWE chose to go that route. They could certainly elevate Rhea Ripley by aligning her with the Rated R Superstar, or they could help lift up an entire division. The future certainly seems bright for Ripley, if these latest reports come to fruition. But again I ask, if they split up Liv for Brutality... what happens to Liv Morgan? If anyone has earned some solid creative footing for a while, it’s her. I really hope that there is a solid plan in place.