Ever since its inception, there’s no question that the WWE Women’s Tag Team division has had its fair share of issues in properly establishing an identity and getting itself off the ground. Initially established to better manage the company’s bloated women’s roster and provide the chance for more storylines involving women outside the main title pictures, the initial premise for this division never felt like it was a priority for anyone booking it.
While crowning inaugural champions Sasha Banks & Bayley was a genuinely smart move, the division never properly followed up on what was the strongest start it could arguably ever ask for. A mixture of backstage politics, uneven & cluttered booking, severe lack of focus and constantly rotating door of random talent has taken us to a position where we must ask… Do we keep it, or scrap it?
How Did We Get Here?
WWE’s aim to put together a women’s tag team division was initially announced on the 2018 Christmas Eve edition of Monday Night RAW, by jolly old Saint Nick himself “secretly” masquerading as WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon. At the time it was an exciting concept, one that signified the company’s dedication to expanding on women’s wrestling. It also allowed a larger talent pool to keep themselves busy outside the main singles or title feuds.
In its earlier stages, this did feel like something that at the very least could be a solid vehicle to better establish talent that was on the up-and-coming or utilize persisting veterans rather than seating them on the sidelines. The likes of Sasha Banks, Bayley, Nia Jax, Carmella, Naomi, Tamina, Liv Morgan, and Mandy Rose were among the few who were involved in its early matches. Each of those mentioned took part in the initial match to crown the first-ever WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions at the 2019 Elimination Chamber event. The match did feel like a big deal, compiled with emotion and an immensely satisfying ending seeing NXT alumni competing in the match and being the victors.
All of this was a welcome start to what could have been the start of an even greater expansion of women’s wrestling, which sadly lost steam fairly quickly. Shortly after their reign began, it came to an abrupt halt. Banks & Bayley would go on to lose their titles a mere 49 days after securing them, to The IIconics at WrestleMania. A decision that to this day feels underdeveloped, rushed, and executed for the sake of shock value above anything meaningful this could have ended up being.
In all honesty, nothing really came out of the division in the years that followed. WWE did place some emphasis on the titles from time to time, yet these moments felt few and far between. Notably the reign of The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane) stands as one of the few defining moments of the division since they brought quality in-ring action and storytelling to the table, on top of being massively popular with the general audience.
Additionally, we did see some highlights from the reigns of Shayna Baszler & Ronda Rousey, or Damage CTRL in the past year. But otherwise, any key developments in the division have remained stagnant. Ironically the most attention these titles received was the departure of both Sasha Banks & Naomi from the WWE entirely, another ordeal that tanked any momentum that this division had managed to build up. Every time this division seemed like it was moving out of second gear, somehow it creatively grinds to a halt before anything of meaning occurs.
What Changes Can Be Made?
Tell A Story
As much as the glitz, glamour, lights, stage, sound, flips, dives, and spots are crammed onto hundreds of highlight reels nowadays, professional wrestling is and always has been about storytelling. Without a strong story, the in-ring action rarely rises to something truly memorable in the eyes of the general audience and hardcore fans.
Beyond any other issue, this is where the women’s tag division has fallen onto its own face the hardest. Nearly every team that has ever existed demonstrates impressive in-ring skills, but they often fall short in creating genuine tension within their storylines, which pales in comparison to what is around them. While men and even the Women’s Title scene are handed at least some substantial screentime, the women’s tag team scene feels like an afterthought.
While stories like the reign of the Kabuki Warriors, Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross’ unique dynamic, and Ronda Rousey’s team-up with Shayna Baszler all are standouts, a common theme exists between all of them… The titles meaning almost nothing. Each team just mentioned did in some capacity do something interesting, yet the follow-up and focus did nothing of impact. To truly create a championship that matters, and teams that the audience truly invests in, we need a stronger hook to the stories being presented.
Consistency Over Everything
Nobody can convince an audience how important a championship or being on top of the division is when your creativity quite clearly has more vital matters to tend to. A championship, just like the very best professional wrestlers to lace up a pair of boots, needs consistency to be more than the average fan’s obligatory “bathroom break” on any WWE event. The harsh reality is this is what the Women’s tag team division feels like; a brief nap that features on otherwise stacked cards.
In all fairness, we have seen some ups, which I mentioned earlier. But we’ve also seen a great deal of downs that unevenly balance this entire situation. One good tag team every six to nine months doesn’t draw in eyes the same way consistently entertaining acts or storylines do. That’s because there is something to actually invest time into.
WWE has committed the cardinal sin of rushing to the finish line too quickly in the past, more so recently. This time round it’s resulted in the entire division feeling like it was written out over a single afternoon. For every moment that manages to work, the following eight leave next to no impact on anyone. With a more consistent record, eagerness to actually establish new stars, and handing these talented women some meaningful TV time, maybe this division can become something more than just a position that needs to be filled.
Between The Ropes
That’s right, a few moments ago I did state that everything in wrestling is essentially about storytelling at the end of the day. However, much like any industry on the planet, it’s a game of balance.
As much as storytelling can dictate the possible success of what transpires on a given show, the in-ring action must be on par with the narrative being sold. Despite a tricky start, NXT 2.0 quickly transformed itself from a brand losing steam into one with an absurd consistency to its programming week in and week out. Stories may be simple, but they’re effective. Most importantly, a large number of their feuds result in captivating in-ring work that highlights its story, while also allowing each star involved to stand on their own. Exciting storytelling might be a tough bar to reach at times, but is squandered when a good story leads to an uneventful match or series of matches.
Considering the array of women the WWE has to play around with, what hurts this division’s overall excitement is the lack of actual memorable in-ring moments throughout its short history. Pushing aside a small handful of matches, can anyone in the general audience truly say there’s been a single match hosted that truly captivated them across the board?
The sample size is small, and some could argue non-existent to most. 2019 did have some highlights to look back on, yet what followed has extinguished the very brief flame these women were given. A consistent feeling of these matches feeling like breathers for something larger within the same card has tarnished any tension these matches may have had for a while. It doesn’t help that in 2023 alone the titles have been defended a single time on a major WWE card with any significance to it, and once again received no substantial follow-up.
Perhaps giving these women something more meaningful in the ring is the way to go. But considering the state of the division adding a bit of extra in-ring time seems like an overly simplistic solution to a complex problem.
Make Things Matter
When was the last time a Women’s Tag Team Championship match actually meant something
to the general audience? When was the last time a title match received a stellar build, backing from the company to give it adequate TV time, and ended up in a match that is genuinely talked about after the bell rings?
From this writer’s perspective, the last genuinely great match in this division spans back all the way to TLC 2019. It was a Tables, Ladders & Chairs match featuring The Kabuki Warriors facing off against both Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair. Remaining one of the few spectacles in the championship’s history, it was a spectacle that followed a good story, executed with brilliant in-ring action, and culminated in establishing new faces in the division for some time to come. This was what we needed at the time, yet never got it in the aftermath.
Currently, matches receive minimal time to barely touch 2nd gear, leave no lasting impact on the audience in-person or at home. Rather than craft teams and stories that stand on their own, most stories of any interest end up separating teammates that take them on paths away from these championships. The division never musters up one storyline or moment that leaves a mark, almost everything goes out on a whimper. An element that is in desperate need of change.
The Verdict: SCRAP
WWE’s Tag Team division is one of the few times my optimism can’t break through the overwhelming problems that have faced the division booking since 2020. A compilation of revolving talent, mismanaged storytelling, rushed angles, forgettable matches and a severe absence of urgency from WWE’s own creative have all but buried what was once a promising expansion of their female talent.
As a result of this domino effect, fans have either checked out or are on the verge of doing so completely. We’re simply not given enough as fans to pour energy into the outcome of anything happening under this division. Not only do most segments involving any of these teams feel like a mandated slot needing to be filled, but it’s also almost an insult to the talented women who are sent out there to try and make all of this credible.
A waste of time, a waste of talent, and a waste of investment, WWE’s Women’s Tag Team division is one of their largest fumbles in recent memory.