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Is Cena WrestleMania story engaging?
By Captain Fox
So John Cena has been looking for a "path" to WM for the last month or so. After losing his title match on SD's Fastlane he has now gone on to calling out Gun enthusiast and senior citizen, Mark "The Undertaker" Calloway to a match at WM. This self-proclaimed "dream match" according to Cena is one everyone (certainly not me) has been waiting for, but I just can't get into it. It all reads a tad too... Corny. Cena lacks all the edge, swag, and cultural appropriation he had when he first went against Taker in his Thuganomics era. He was gone forever prior to showing up and wanting to be on the card. And then you have Taker who is way past his peak and would much rather be shooting his semi or his nine out at blac... The gun range. But what do you guys think: Are you liking what Cena and the WWE team is putting out?
Worst reign of terror?
Long title reigns can really help build the prestige and honor one receives after finally dethroning a champion. However, for a linear WWE women's division in which multi-layered storylines and consistently protected protagonists are few and far in between, these attempts to build up a title through a champion are questionable in their effectiveness.
While there have been plenty of multi-month runs with women's championships in the past decade, I've narrowed it down to the five that are the most referenced and relevant in the current landscape of the WWE's women's division. Now, it's up to you all to decide which one was the worst.
Charlotte Flair as WWE Divas, and subsequently WWE Women's Champion, September 20th, 2015 to July 25th, 2016
Two years ago, the wheels were set into place. With Charlotte Flair fresh off of defeating the longest reigning Divas Champion in history, Nikki Bella (we'll get to her) in the fall, WWE looked to capitalize on the extended focus on their Divas division by dropping the term 'Diva' altogether at WrestleMania 32 and debuting a new iteration of the WWE Women's Championship. Charlotte would defeat her fellow Horsewomen Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks at the event in the originally billed Divas Championship match to become the new Women's Championship, spending a whopping 309 consecutive days as the only female champion in the WWE (this is not officially recognized, as falls between two separate championships and already surpassed Bella's previously established record of 301 days atop the division).
Though Charlotte faced a plethora of opponents ranging from rematches with Bella, Paige, Becky Lynch and Natalya before finally falling to Banks in the summer, at the time, Charlotte felt too forced. After failing to get over as a babyface while rivaling her much more popular heel adversaries, Charlotte was made into heel by the beginning of 2016 and became accompanied by her legendary father, Ric Flair. Flair was dropped by the spring, and Charlotte's heater became Dana Brooke, freshly called up with little to no real experience as her senior, Emma, had fallen to a back injury. While the two were entertaining, much hotter and more promising acts such as Becky Lynch, Naomi and Sasha Banks were kept on the backburner until Flair's defeat at the introduction of the brand split, which would mean more opportunities for these stars as well as the introduction of a new women's championship.
Asuka as the NXT Women's Champion, April 1st, 2016 to August 24th, 2017
Following easily one of the best matches in NXT and recent history in Bayley and Sasha Banks' clash at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, Bayley's reign as champion that emerged following that match would be ended by the next generation of NXT match-of-the-night generator; Asuka.
A charismatic joshi star whose appeal transcended language barriers (poor Alexa Bliss), following her feud with Emma and Dana Brooke, the undefeated Asuka would vanquish Bayley at NXT Takeover: Dallas and become the new NXT Women's Champion. What was to follow was the longest reign in NXT history, male or female, and the only of these reigns to surpass a calendar year-- five hundred and ten days as the only female champion in NXT, all while also remaining undefeated in singles competition.
During this time, just about every major female act in NXT got a shot and lost to Asuka. From Bayley, Ember Moon, the Iconic Duo, Nikki Cross, Ruby Riott and even a returning Mickie James, no one could feasibly defeat Asuka, something fans saw as a detriment to the credibility of these women going forward when Asuka finally left the division to join the main roster, all while still retaining the undefeated streak that remains to this day. One that apparently extends to mixed tag team matches where Asuka is not even competing, yet her streak is on the line. *sigh*
Nikki Bella as the WWE Divas Champion, November 23rd, 2014 to September 20th, 2015
We remember it like it was yesterday. Following dirty laundry, appearances on Jerry Springer, Daniel Bryan cosplays and this next entry wishing her twin sister had died in the womb, the unbelievable happened-- The Bellas reconciled. With a shocking kiss to the lips of AJ Lee, Brie Bella ensured that Nikki Bella would easily squash the once undefeatable Lee to capture her second Divas Championship (the first one being only a week long before the Bellas originally departed from WWE). With a year of Total Divas momentum behind her and being the first cast member to win WWE's sole women's championship at the time, Nikki Bella seemed bigger than ever before and she was ready to take on all comers for the Divas Championship.
It just didn't seem like management thought the same.
Following AJ Lee's second hiatus and Paige's face turn, The Bellas would feud with Paige for the better part of SEVEN MONTHS for the Divas Championship. Other women served as interchangeable and quite literally background characters for The Bellas' extended feud with Paige that lasted beyond the culmination of the Fab Four's 2014 with a tag team match at WrestleMania, which would be AJ's final outing at the Show of Shows. Though one exception to the rule would be Naomi, whose sudden heel turn would suddenly turn the villainous Bellas into babyfaces for, well, a month while Paige finished shooting a movie. While Nikki Bella would ultimately surpass her rival AJ's reign as Divas Champion by the end before falling to Charlotte and the onset of the "Divas Revolution", her reign with the championship was another extension of a championship, while ridiculed by fans, was made prestigious through the passion and determination of its holder. Sort of like this championship reign...
AJ Lee as Divas Champion, June 16th, 2013 to April 7th, 2014
Perhaps this reign was the one that started them all. In June 2013, in what would become home turf for a female rising star intertwined with Chicago native, CM Punk, AJ Lee would capture her first championship in WWE by defeating Kaitlyn for the Divas Championship in a widely-acclaimed match. What was more controversial afterward, however, was the length of the championship campaign AJ would hold after that historic encounter. For 295 days, AJ Lee ruled atop the then still re-developing Divas division, aided by the return of the Bella Twins, the in-ring debuts of the Funkadactyls and the resurgence of Natalya as Total Divas, a reality show focused solely on select women within the WWE, was introduced into the fray. After the departures of division mainstays such as Kelly Kelly, Beth Phoenix, Eve Torres and Michelle McCool in the past two years, the Divas division had faced a much understandable identity crisis in 2012-- the year when AJ would concurrently become the biggest female star, all without the championship. It was when she did finally fixate her attention on the title over main event Superstars is when the Divas Championship felt more coveted than ever before.
Forever hotly contested on the servers of Heartbreakers.me, with fans debating as to whether it'd be the up-and-coming Naomi or the now bigger than ever before Bella Twins as to who would dethrone AJ, a plot twist of the century came after AJ had literally defeated every woman in the division at WrestleMania 30, when Paige would make her main roster debut on the RAW after WrestleMania and defeat AJ for the Divas Championship, in a moment even more iconic than when AJ first netted the butterfly title. And though the beginning and ends of this story are memorable, the middle part is up for contention. Constantly taking losses to her challengers before always defeating them on pay-per-view, as well as the feud between AJ and Total Divas lasting the entirety of her reign, it was difficult for acts unaffiliated with either party to get a head start. Veteran, but capable ring performers were left out of the narrative, while even Kaitlyn, who AJ had defeated for the championship, became an afterthought before quietly retiring months after. While the reign did well for the prestige of the Divas Championship, it may remain contested until the end-of-time as to whether it truly benefited the concurrent women of the division or not.
Alexa Bliss as Raw Women's Champion between two non-consecutive reigns, April 30th, 2017 to August 20th, 2017 and August 28th, 2017 to the present
Yep. With the exception of a mere eight days that comprise Sasha Banks' fourth reign as the Raw Women's Champion, Alexa Bliss has held the red, white and gold for a combined total of 313 days. With twenty days until WrestleMania 30 where Bliss is currently penned to defend the championship against rival Nia Jax, a final total of 333 combined days (which won't be recognized by WWE, due to again, an eight days' difference ) is likely for Little Miss Bliss. But that's if she loses.
Despite coming in hot from SmackDown's efficient handling of her character, a sassy, quipping primadonna that'd obviously studied out of Trish Stratus' heel playbook, the only thing this pint-sized pay-per-view staple is serving Trish in is in the long ass reign department. Unlike Trish and unlike the rest of the entries on this list, Bliss has been juxtaposed by another women's championship throughout the entirety of her run on Raw, with SmackDown Live's women taking some attention and sting away with the first (two) ever Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match(es) and three separate reigns with the SmackDown Women's Championship in the past calendar year, from Naomi, to Natalya and now to Charlotte Flair. Unlike the other entries, the point of contention isn't in other women's opportunities being denied (Women's Royal Rumble, Women's Elimination Chamber). It's that Alexa Bliss isn't the main character in her own story anymore.
Acts such as the previously mentioned Asuka, Jax and Banks have all withheld stronger support and interest from the crowd in their respective endeavors, and an honorable mention to the brief return of Paige that introduced Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose onto the roster. With at least four viable acts on Raw in addition to the unsung ballads of Mickie James and Bayley who received staggering losses of crowd support following how handily Bliss would defeat them in their respective feuds, the question lies as to why these women are all over the place position-wise where Alexa quietly and comfortably took a backseat towards the end of last year while these women were at the top of their game. Though the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be emerging, it's been a cold, dark and scary ride through, to say the least.
So, which of these infamous reigns do you believe was the most unbearable for you or the most detrimental to their contemporary division?