Did Queen’s Crown Come Too Late?

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October 8’s Friday Night SmackDown kicked off Night One of the King of the Ring tournament, Some of World Wrestling Entertainment’s greatest performers, like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Booker T, and Owen Hart, used winning the tournament to enhance their gimmicks and their presences on the roster. This is the first KOTR held since 2019, before the global pandemic ushered in WWE’s crowdless era. However, it was also night one of a highly anticipated, long campaigned-for event. Both WWE fans and WWE Superstars like Sasha Banks have long pushed for a “Queen of the Ring” tournament-now, it’s here, ahead of Crown Jewel, the Queen’s Crown Tournament-but, did it arrive past its due date?

The Queen’s Crown

The 2015 Revamp of the Women’s Division

Pushed by the #GiveDivasaChance movement that erupted in 2015, WWE revamped its Divas division into a more serious, athletically driven, true women’s division, led by the “Four Horsewomen:” Bayley, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte Flair. Former UFC bantamweight Ronda Rousey also joined the fray, and the vanguard of the new women’s division delivered game-changing moments like the first all-women’s pay-per-view, the first women’s match to headline WrestleMania, the first women’s Hell in a Cell, the first Iron Woman match, etc. In the years that followed, NXT funneled more exciting female talent to the main roster, such as Asuka, Shayna Baszler, and Alexa Bliss.

However, in recent months, women’s matches at WWE have once again been shorter and gimmicky. Whilst some of these gimmicks have been delightful, such as breakout fan-favorite Doudrop’s comic feud with Eva Marie, others, like Nia Jax’s infatuation with Reginald and Bliss’s demonic possession, have worn viewers’ patience thin in 2020 and 2021. Worse yet, talented NXT call-ups Shotzi Blackheart, Tegan Nox, and Toni Storm haven’t had much opportunity to showcase their talents since being called up to SmackDown. Throughout latter 2020 and 2021 so far, the women’s division has been an unevenly booked division, where the very top tier of its performers, the likes of Lynch, Flair, Banks, and Bianca Belair can of course expect decent tv time, while its mid-card, like Liv Morgan, Zelina Vega, Storm, Nox, and Blackheart are underdeveloped and underutilized.

The Queen’s Crown & Its Middling Momentum

This left the history-making Queen’s Crown with little momentum to build or capitalize on heading into October 8. On night one, Vega, in a fun, scene-stealing cosplay villainess mode defeated Storm, whilst Carmella defeated Liv Morgan. Morgan’s and Carmella’s match was a continuation of their feud for the last few months, which started with Morgan’s offense at Carmella declaring herself “the most beautiful woman in WWE”, and now centers on Carmella safeguarding her beautiful face from Morgan, who broke her nose.

Is it funny? Sure. But, the WWE women’s division had once ceased to be a joke.

Anyone who has seen Shotzi Blackheart, Tegan Nox, and Toni Storm in action on NXT knows what they can do, and how much screen time they should be receiving on SmackDown. Anyone who has seen Morgan’s WWE Network documentary, “Liv Forever,” knows how much substance and potential she has that WWE has never properly tapped into. And anyone who has had an eye on WWE’s booking of its women’s division in the past nine months can’t help but wonder, sadly, if the Queen’s Crown tournament is not a shadow of what it could have been, if held at the height of the women’s evolution in 2016.

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