Survival of the Fittest: Sizing Up the Raw Women’s Team Ahead of Survivor Series

Raw Women's Team
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If the Raw brand had its own theme ahead of the yearly Survivor Series event, in which Raw and Smackdown superstars come face to face and clash for dominance, “Land of Confusion” by Genesis would not be amiss. The men’s team is a motley crew: free spirited newcomer Riddle, the belligerent Celtic Warrior Sheamus, the suave and articulate Limitless One Keith Lee, and the Monster, Braun Strowman, who are all at least agreed that A.J. Styles is not their captain. The women’s team has been similarly fraught with conflict and chaos. Especially in light of the last-minute edition of Bayley to the Blue Team, do the women of Raw stand a chance?

Not once. Not twice. Not three times…but 9. That is how many times one-half of the reigning Raw Women’s tag team championship holders, Nia Jax, has put her Team Raw teammate Lana through the announce desk. While breaking Thunderdome props, Jax and Lana’s bit has also broken the internet, with viral attention on the gimmick and speculation about where it is heading. For weeks now, Lana has been positioned as the weak link of any group dynamic: her tag team partner Natalya washed her hands of her, and former Team Raw teammates Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke did not appreciate her interference in a match with Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax in a possible bid for the Raw Women’s Tag Team Championship, which Baszler and Jax retained.

While Lana has been positioned as well-meaning, determined to prove herself, and the victim of bullying by Baszler and Jax, none of these attributes are empowering, nor have they framed Lana as an asset or threat. Her presence on the team has fueled doubt and conflict, as even the more sympathetic Rose and Brooke have little faith that she’s got the right stuff.

Rose was benched after a shoulder injury inflicted at the hands of Jax, and her partner, Brooke, was attacked by Reckoning of Mustafa Ali’s menacing, post-apocalyptically garbed RETRIBUTION outfit, and both have been replaced on the women’s lineup for the Red Brand. Peyton Royce, formerly of the disbanded tag team The Iiconics, and Smackdown draftee Lacey Evans were tapped to fill out the roster. This leaves the women’s Team Raw anchored by the indomitable terminators Baszler and Jax, but surrounded by shakier players. Both Royce and Evans failed to earn spots in previous qualifying matches. Royce is finding her sea legs as a solo athlete, and Evans is a comedic delight with real athletic power, but she has yet to prove herself a decisively dominant force.

The Weakest Link: It would be too easy to say Lana, here. She’s one to watch. Survivor Series could prove to be a baptism by fire for Lana, who will be facing off against her former partner, Natalya, who won a spot on Team Blue against Tamina on the November 20 episode of Smackdown. Will she come through on the big day, have vindication over Natalya, earn Nia’s respect, and emerge a bonafide Babyface? The Weakest Link title instead goes to Lacey Evans, who has plenty of potential, and great presence, but inconsistent delivery.

The Top Dog: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler are the hunter-killers of the women’s division. The pressure they applied to the dynamic duo of Bayley and Sasha Banks broke the pair’s spirits even before they captured the tag team title from them. Each has proved too hard to handle for Bayley in the past, and the EST of WWE, Bianca Belair, Team Blue’s other best bet, is untried against their precisely guided aggression.

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