When WWE reinstated the brand split in mid-2016, they made an enormous variation in the SmackDown's schedule. The company decided to air the show live on Tuesday nights instead of taping the episodes. The reason behind that action was the downwards trend of the show ratings. The fans used to find out the spoilers online and a lot of them would not tune it to watch the episode.
As the then ‘B’ show got its own roster in 2016, the WWE creative team put a lot of effort to make the best use of it. In fact, a majority of the WWE Universe believes that in the 2016-17 season, SmackDown Live and not Raw was the ‘A’ show of WWE.
Two years later, the product became stale because of the Wild Card rule which compelled WWE to organize another draft. Now that the show has moved to Friday nights on Fox, the fans can say that the era of SmackDown Live is headed towards the peak.
The then SmackDown commissioner and General Manager Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan had introduced the SmackDown Women’s Championship as the premier crown of the women’s segment of their brand. Since then, eight Superstars have managed to seize that Championship during the three years of SmackDown Live.
Here is every SmackDown Women’s Champion, who headed the division on Tuesday nights, ranked from worst to best.
The Queen of Hearts, Natalya won her only SmackDown Women’s Championship at SummerSlam 2017 after defeating Naomi via submission. However, the Canadian Superstar could not live up to the prospects. During her title regime, she defended the SmackDown Women’s Championship on just one pay-per-view.
Her feud with Charlotte Flair did not gain much traction as the creative team had booked a disqualification finish for their contest at Hell in a Cell 2017. Also, Natalya was supposed to meet the then RAW Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss in a Champion vs Champion match at Survivor Series but, WWE ended her reign just five nights before the event by having her fall to Charlotte on the go-home SmackDown show.
Post that defeat, she even failed to lead the Blue brand to a win in the 5-on-5 traditional Survivor Series tag team match. Additionally, her rivalry with Charlotte had a tepid end as the two Superstars collided in a Lumberjack match at Clash of Champions which ended in Charlotte’s favor.
So, this championship reign did no good to Natalya, as well as the SmackDown women’s division.
The Princess of Staten Island, Carmella had made her main roster debut on the first episode of SmackDown Live and she has evolved as a Superstar ever since. In 2017, Carmella emerged as the winner of the first ever women’s Money in the Bank ladder match and later, she successfully cashed in her contract on SmackDown Live right after WrestleMania 34 to pick up her first SmackDown Women’s Championship.
As she had pinned Charlotte Flair to win the title, she had had a brief conflict with 'The Queen' for the Championship. In a stunning decision, WWE allowed her to beat Charlotte at the Backlash pay-per-view.
Asuka challenged Carmella next for the championship. This feud had a lot of potential but the creative team’s decision to bring James Ellsworth back ruined Carmella’s title reign. Though she attracted a portion of heel heat, she could not prove herself enough inside the ring because of Ellsworth’s presence.
She defeated Asuka twice but, she could not retain her title at SummerSlam 2017 when she was pitted against Charlotte and Becky Lynch in a triple threat match. This bout ended with Charlotte securing the title and Lynch finally turning heel. Amidst all this, a little attention was paid to the former Ms. Money in the Bank.
The former 2-time SmackDown Women’s Champion, Naomi was one of the Superstars who benefited the most because of the brand split. She grew into the biggest face of the SmackDown Women’s section heading into the 2017-18 season. While Naomi’s initial title reign had ended because of an injury, she came back stronger at WrestleMania 33 to reclaim the title that she had never lost.
The former Team B.A.D. member held the championship for 140 days before losing it to Natalya. She was supposed to carry the role of a kind babyface and she did her job to perfection. Naomi’s gimmick even connected with the fans because of her glowing entrance, in-ring athleticism and the storylines she received.
While Naomi got a huge pop from the WWE Universe at WrestleMania 33, the creative team did not book her in enthralling feuds following the PPV. Her biggest rivalry was with Lana who was a novice in the ring back then.
WWE had even booked her in a feud with the Welcoming Committee where she teamed up with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair to take on Tamina Snuka, Natalya, and Carmella.
Nevertheless, the fans still loved Naomi’s run at the top and they won’t mind much if she is involved in the title picture once again.
Bayley won her maiden SmackDown Women’s Championship at the Money in the Bank show of 2019. She had earned the Money in the Bank contract earlier in the night before she chose to cash it in on Charlotte Flair who was celebrating her Championship win over Becky Lynch.
The former RAW Women’s Champion then established herself as the face of the SmackDown Women’s division with fights against Alexa Bliss, Ember Moon, and Charlotte Flair.
While her feuds with Bliss and Moon were short, she had good title matches against the two female Superstars. WWE did not pull the trigger on either of the feuds because their intention was to turn Bayley heel when Sasha Banks would return.
Their strategy succeeded as the NXT graduate turned heel on an episode of RAW following Banks' return. She then retained her Championship in a heelish manner against Charlotte at Clash of Champions before losing it to her at the Hell in a Cell show.
Since the Fox era kicked off during the reign of Bayley, this rank has been awarded on the basis of her work till the end of the SmackDown Live era.
The Empress of Tomorrow, Asuka grabbed the SmackDown Women’s Championship at a point when the entire focus of the WWE Universe was on the women’s division. The feud between Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch had reached the next level but amid all the tensions, the Japanese superstar, Asuka won her first title on the main roster.
Despite having a massive undefeated streak during the initial stage of her career, Asuka was never booked to win a Championship until then. Her time finally arrived at TLC 2018 where she beat the two megastars of the women’s division, Charlotte and Becky to take the title home.
She then had an outstanding match with Becky Lynch at the Royal Rumble pay-per-view which was followed by a short feud with Mandy Rose. The only sour thing about Asuka’s title reign was the way it concluded.
With the intent of adding higher stakes to the WrestleMania 35 main event, WWE decided to end Asuka’s reign abruptly at the hands of Flair who then lost the title to Becky Lynch, and Asuka never got her rematch.
Currently, Asuka is holding the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships along with Kairi Sane.
#3 Alexa Bliss
Just like Carmella, Alexa Bliss too had made her main roster debut on the first episode of SmackDown Live in July 2016 but it took her just four months to win the SmackDown Women’s Championship. She had fascinated everybody with her mic skills and her in-ring performance was satisfactory. Bliss had aligned herself with the veteran Mickie James to establish herself as the leading heel of the women’s division.
Speaking about her title reigns, she won the SmackDown Women’s Champion twice. Her first reign kicked off at the TLC pay-per-view where she conquered Becky Lynch in a tables match to pick up the title. Though Little Miss Bliss did not have a significant pay-per-view victory during her championship reign, she had successfully defended her championship against Lynch in a Steel Cage match on SmackDown Live.
Bliss dropped the Championship to Naomi at Elimination Chamber before regaining it next week on SmackDown Live. However, her second reign proved out to be a transitional one as she lost the belt to Naomi once again in a six-pack challenge at WrestleMania 33.
Looking at the position at which she stands today, the fans can tell that these two Championship regimes played a notable role in her progress.
#2 Charlotte Flair
It is no secret that WWE wants Charlotte Flair to crush her father’s record of most Championship reigns and therefore, the company prefers to put her in the title picture now and then. Her first reign was quite entertaining as Flair had held the championship for 147 days and her rivalries with Ruby Riott, Natalya and Asuka were good to watch. Because of Flair, the undercard talents like Riott got the attention of the WWE Universe.
She lost the title to Carmella and went on a hiatus before returning in summer. Charlotte sneaked into the SmackDown Women’s Championship which was originally supposed to feature Carmella and Becky Lynch only. As mentioned earlier in the article, Flair won that match and her best friend Becky brutalized her to begin an epic feud.
The Queen lost her title to the Man at Hell in a Cell 2018 and she has had very short title runs since that defeat. Her third title reign lasted only two weeks. In fact, Charlotte won the SmackDown Women’s Champion for the fourth time, she could not even hold it for an hour.
Recently, she had won the SmackDown Women’s title at Hell in a Cell 2019 and lost it in less than a week before moving to RAW. Although she has been phenomenal inside the ring and on the mic, WWE did not give her longer title reigns as a Champion. As a result, she has finished on the second rank in this list.
#1 Becky Lynch
Becky Lynch was the first female Superstar to win the SmackDown Women’s Championship after winning the multi-woman match at Backlash 2016 to secure her first title win on the main roster. The Man used to play the gimmick of a good-natured babyface back then and since her gimmick was pretty one-dimensional, she got lost in the mix for a while.
She worked on her character before returning to the title picture once again in 2018 and her hard work ensured that she becomes the most popular Superstar of the company by the end of the year. Lynch won her second SmackDown Women’s Championship at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view and then feuded with the then Raw Women’s Champion, Ronda Rousey.
During that course she defended the title across the world as the rivalry between her and Charlotte made the headlines every month. They locked horns for the title at Super Showdown in Australia and then met in a ‘Last Woman Standing’ bout at Evolution 2018. Lynch’s title reign culminated at TLC 2018 but she had earned the respect of each and every member of the wrestling community by then.
Her last reign as the SmackDown Women’s Champion began at WrestleMania 35 but as the creative team wanted to her to be on RAW, she lost her title to Charlotte Flair soon.