When will it end? Shayna Baszler lost (again) on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw. Last week, she was the victim of a voodoo assault from Alexa Bliss and her demented demon doll of death, Lilly. This week, teaming with Nia Jax against Tamina and Natalya, she managed to lock in the Kirifuda Clutch on Nattie before what was dubbed as a “pyro malfunction” caused a distraction – leading to her being pinned. That same “pyro malfunction” was, of course, more evil, magical involvement from Bliss – who now appears to be actively targeting Baszler. Whereas some might argue that Shayna Baszler’s involvement in a prominently featured storyline is something of an improvement on her recent booking, this does not appear to be the case. Let’s explore why.
The Feud De-Legitimizes Shayna Baszler
This has been said plenty over the years but it serves the point of debate: Shayna is a legitimate badass. The women’s divisions across all three brands are now loaded with talent but of them all, Baszler is potentially the most legitimate. Boasting an impressive MMA background rounded off by her sheer presence in the ring (adding to the fact that she is also a terrific pro wrestler), she is someone who should be booked prominently as a threat to all. In Ronda Rousey‘s absence, she is the closest thing to a female Brock Lesnar within the WWE. That being said, she is not booked this way. Whereas she initially debuted on Raw in dominant fashion – drawing blood from Becky Lynch‘s neck with her teeth – she has gradually fallen down the card and has become the pinfall taker of her team with Nia Jax. In recent weeks, with the return of Alexa Bliss to the Raw women’s division, she has become involved in a feud she can’t win. Shayna is armed with two fists, fierce kicks and near-unrivaled wrestling skills in her division, but what does that matter when her opponent possesses powers presumably granted by Beelzebub himself? Her chances in this feud are, frankly, slim.
It is Being Done to Elevate Alexa Bliss
It goes without saying: this feud (if it is indeed a feud) between Bliss and Baszler is a tool to elevate Alexa Bliss. What better way to establish Alexa Bliss as a dominant, immortal monster of the roster than for her to dominate the formerly dominant, mortal monster of the roster? No matter how impressive Shayna is, Alexa has magic on her side. There is simply no way for Shayna to look strong in this feud. Not only that, but the magic is not believable – it does not translate to Raw in 2021 in the same way it translated to Raw in 1991. Times have changed. Once more, this is the same company which is doing a tremendous job with Roman Reigns as the Tribal Chief. He does not require smoke and mirrors to achieve his acclaim; he has relied on his talents. Alexa Bliss is a highly talented performer and she does not need smoke and mirrors, either. She has been a prominently featured superstar on the main roster for five years now; she has won WWE Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championships. She does not require her Female Fiend persona to elevate her and she certainly does not need to dominate Shayna Baszler, either.
It Devalues the Raw Women’s Division
The Raw women’s division is one which, for all its talent, is regularly booked poorly. There have been instances where, for reasons unknown, the Raw Women’s Champion will be kept off TV for weeks on end – most noticeably with Asuka during her most recent run. Often, they will run the same feuds for the Raw Women’s Championship, an example being the typical “they’re opponents but can they work together?” angle, such as when Charlotte Flair and Asuka captured the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships despite being past and present rivals. For whatever reason, it is a division often overlooked and pushed aside and it has been for much of its existence. The magic angle with Alexa Bliss and The Fiend does it no favors. Having someone with almost omnipotent power in a division loaded with fifty-fifty booking is asking for trouble; it makes Bliss stand out so far and beyond everyone else that she will appear unbeatable. Not only that, the magic devalues the division with how unbelievable it is. A more layered, better booked division might survive such a character, but not one that only gets one or two matches and segments on the show weekly. It is a thinly spread division which will no doubt suffer with Bliss’ dominance.
Shayna Baszler Deserves Better
Honestly, Shayna might not mind her booking on Raw. Many professional wrestlers are more than happy to put younger stars over at their own expense – it is a shameless act of giving something back to the business. If Shayna is happy, then good for her. However, right now, she deserves better. Baszler is not yet in the position where she needs to start losing so regularly. Again, just over a year ago, she was dominating in Eliminator Chamber matches; battling the arguable face of the company at WrestleMania and just generally resembling more the badass who was the undisputed Queen of NXT for years. Nowadays, she is being embarrassed in a feud where she need not be. Nia Jax is somehow being protected – she is yet to be the one to take the fall since Bliss’ involvement. Why must Shayna constantly be the one to do so? Something needs to change because right now, Shayna Baszler has never felt so unimportant. Shayna Baszler deserves better.
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