Looking to the Future – 2016 In Womens Wrestling

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Hello All. So with 2015 closed, i had the chance to talk everything that went down in the world of the Knockouts and Divas in the particular year, highlighting the moments that made it a (at times) fabulous year. With 2016 now here, i give out predictions on who i believe will make 2016 theres, excel to the top and even take that brass ring so to say. So these are the women who i expect will excel their respective divisions in the year to come..

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1. Becky Lynch
To Some the “Maiden Ireland” Lass-kicking Becky Lynch was seen as a underutilized dark horse in PCB, sat in between the fray as Paige and Charlotte ignited a several month rivalry, but heading into 2016, the NXT Alumni seemed to step up and pick up from where Paige left off in exploiting the new found tactics of the twos former friend and current divas champion Charlotte. After weeks of taking brutal beat-downs and even losses, some accidental, the cracks have begun to further between the longtime friends of Becky and Charlotte, and Charlotte’s hesitance to even help her own friend in her time of need further proves Paige’s accusations of Charlotte being a “Dirty Playa”. While Becky is more than set for a possible divas championship match at the Royal Rumble with the Nature Boys Daughter, it remains to be seen where the Irish Maiden is being taken should she lose, especially if a Charlotte vs Sasha Match is Penned for WrestleMania. Becky is Incredibly talented, enough shown at NXT Takeover Unstoppable where her breakout match came about against an equally talented Sasha Banks, but Becky’s acceleration can only come from useful creative work, as both herself and Sasha are far too good to be misused.

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2. Charlotte
Theres no doubting that when through one look, you already know Charlotte is the face of the divas division heading into 2016, only the poster face than an actual babyface, carrying about a Divas Title she managed to capture back at 2015’s Night of Champions Pay Per View, and additionally breaking a record breaking record by defeating Nikki Bella, the previous champion, and closing her reign at over 300 days, and additionally carrying a new attitude and persona later on only reflective of her early pre and during her NXT Women’s Title Reign. Using dirty tactics such as exposed turnbuckles, roll ups after faking injury and even using her own father with equally as villainous tactics to escape matches unscathed and undefeated, its a tactic that became exploited by Paige and most recently Charlotte’s On Screen Best Friend Becky Lynch, who has stepped up to possibly be a new challenger for Charlotte’s title heading into the start of 2016. If there’s one thing i can say, Charlotte is nowhere near done in her title reign, and if booking is going how me and other fans think its going, Charlotte’s One Loss will emanate at WrestleMania, at the hands of her equally superior NXT Alumni Sasha Banks. With extra backing, Charlotte is sure to duplicate Nikki Bella or Paige following then with extra title shots, or dare i say it, feud with Ronda Rousey, but its a star studded 2016 for the Genetically Superior Current Champion of the Division.

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3. Brie Bella
Now I’m a bit iffy on the 3rd choice but this is wholly because i feel Brie isn’t being given her dues as an equally talented member of Team Bella. Brie has been taking pins quite a few times during 2015, even despite the Bella Dominance, and since Nikki’s injury came to light, both herself and Alicia have been switching from heel to face for constant in ring battles with the currently pushed crop of divas basically because WWE have no other babyfaces to submit to the rising crop, and if they do have any, they cant take pins as they are of significant importance. On an Interesting Note, i couldn’t help but ponder Brie wanting to gun for the title in a recent Total Divas promo, which we all know could have been something taped months ago, but while we all know Sasha vs Charlotte could be a wrestlemania lock, what if it ended up being Brie vs Nikki for the title instead as Bries last match? Sure its a long shot considering WWE want the ever so marketable twins in the company for as long as possible, notified as the stars of Total Divas, but Brie is LONG Overdue a title reign, and was at one point, the top babyface female of the company in the light of a huge career making feud with Stephanie McMahon. They could even have a huge summer feud where Stephanie sets divas on Brie to “write her off” to make Nikki pay for her “cocky antics” over the year to set up Nikki vs Stephanie. Okay Sure im babbling on too long now, but lets face it, the Brie that confronted Stephanie near week in, week out, lit up the crowds in additional main event segments, is surely missed upon the fanbase.

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4. Asuka
If Theres anyone at the height of Bayley in ring wise, if there’s one person sure to further revolutionize the NXT Women’s Division alongside Bayley, its the standout NXT signing of 2015, Asuka. Formerly The Japanese Athlete Kana of SHIMMER and many other leagues, the Silent Assassin of NXT was caught in a storm of coverage following a small appearance at a Takeover show, with many reports hinting she had signed a deal with WWE, something even myself wouldn’t have seen a year prior. That was confirmed true as WWE took to social media to confirm the signing sometime later, and it didn’t take long for NXTs well established creative team to find a way to place Asuka in the spotlight, placing her in a program with NXTs rising diva Dana Brooke and a returning NXT veteran, Emma. Since then, Asuka, both cheerful and vicious, has gone on to work two Takeover shows, NXT Takeover Respect vs Dana Brooke, who worked well against Asukas Stealthy Offense and lets not forget NXT Takeover London most recently vs Emma in what was surely Emma’s best match since the two NXT Women’s Championship Clashes she had with Paige. Looking into 2016, based on popularity, impression and amazing ring skill, Asuka is a sure lock to hold the NXT Women’s Championship, but its a matter of how and when, and in addition, may be another test for a fellow NXT arrival, Nia Jax per a tease from Takeover London. There is no way Asuka will be shadowed from the spotlight in 2016.

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5. Nia Jax
After months of fans wondering where the previously named Zada/Lina Fanene was going to show up on NXT Television, the Cousin of the Rock arrived on Television Screens late in 2015, packaged as a monster heel, cementing her status with strong squash matches before being centered into a at-first-unexpected feud with NXT Women’s Champion Bayley to close out 2015, something fans took as a warning sign at first due to Nia not being as outstanding in ring wise as those who have worked Takeover Specials beforehand, and even though Jax’s undefeated streak closed this very day at Takeover London, protection from being lost in the shuffle and acceleration appears the case for her per a tease of a segment with Asuka the same night. Everyone can expect Nia to “break more toys” and enhance her ring work in 2016, and work against an incredible athlete in Asuka, who has helped bring out the best of fellow divas abilities upon her arrival. But we cant throw off the alignment with Eva Marie that is now deemed questionable, and where boths losses will take them, but regardless they are another duo on Asuka’s hit list. Will Nia be NXT Womens Champion in 2016? Not Sure. Maybe to close out the year but gold is surely in her future.

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6. Sasha Banks
Alongside Charlotte and Bayley, Sasha was one to accelerate the NXT Women’s Division to its highest levels in 2015, picking up where her once Beautiful Fierce Female Comrade turned main roster addition Charlotte left off. Capturing her 1st NXT Gold at NXT Takeover Rival in one heck of a Fatal 4 way featuring the then defending champion Charlotte as well as Bayley and Banks Partner at the time, Becky Lynch, Sasha went on to have numerous defenses, notably against Charlotte, Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch and most importantly Bayley, whom she would drop the title to at NXT Takeover Brooklyn in front of a ecstatic crowd in one of the most critically acclaimed matches of the year. It was then that Triple H and the rest of the NXT Officials decided to take the twos great in ring work to even higher levels by placing the two not only in a rematch at NXT Takeover Respect in October, but they gave the women the deserved main event slot, and the stipulation that came to be a 30 Minute Iron Man Match, a particular match that validated Bayley as the champion ready to carry a division without Banks, who was promoted to the main roster. Leaving her home of NXT with some expected tears, Sasha transferred her skills to the main roster, placing herself alongside the aligned duo of Naomi and Tamina, who immediately meshed as they placed themselves under the name of Team BAD. Though Team BAD have come under some plot-holes with the dissipation of the faction battles that came to be a part of the professed Divas Revolution, one can note that Sasha is on her way to a formula for success, currently undefeated, unpinned for a sure reason, and with no interactions with Charlotte having happened yet, surely the program is due at the 32nd overall WrestleMania, where i believe will be Sasha’s Main Roster crowning glory. But if the creative team can step up, enough to protect Sasha, they can go the extra mile and hopefully unleash a Sasha vs Naomi program to follow up that hopeful moment, to allow Naomi her own crowning glory that has been taken from her two years in a row. To Sum it up overall, 2016 is the Year of The BO$$.

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7. Alexa Bliss
2015 became a year where Alexa ditched her kiddy-ish but lovable gimmick of Princess Pixie and abandoned it for the colors of Black and Red, synonymous of evil. After being slapped by Carmella backstage in May midway through a feud between Carmella’s Boys Enzo and Cass, Alexa sought revenge and the heel teases began to show when Alexa blew a kiss to Blake and Murphy, following a victory over the Professed Princess of Staten Island. Sometime later at NXT Takeover Unstoppable, Alexa cemented her place alongside the then NXT Tag Team Champions of Blake and Real Life Boyfriend Murphy, attacking Carmella during the underway NXT Tag Title Match, and additionally pushing Enzo off the top rope midway through an executed distraction, allowing “her boys” to retain and continue a reign of dominance cut by the impressive duo of the Vaudevillains months later at NXT Takeover Brooklyn. Fading out for a short time, Alexa and the overthrown duo re-emerged towards the end of 2015 as Alexa presented herself in a short term feud with NXT Women’s Champion Bayley, and the fiery charismatic villainess that Bliss had become had her match made, but was overall unsuccessful, further losing out on her chance of championship glory when Eva Marie and Nia Jax began to make moves on Bayley and certify their place in the title picture, meaning Alexa was moved into the managerial spot, watching Blake and Murphy unfortunately lose on two occasions. Though Alexa proves the star attraction currently for the duo, 2016 opens questions on whether Alexa will abandon the undoubtful chemistry with Blake and Murphy to chase the title alone, or get called up with the former champions to try create a path of destruction and dominance that the main rosters creative team had flatlined the Ascension from doing. Based on own thoughts, id say 2016 is bright for Alexa, her arsenal being extended, other championship matches to possibly look forward to if shes not just an enhancement for the likes of Asuka. But Alexa provides the full package in the division upon coming into her own as a heel, ring work, charisma, mic skills and looks and when you literally have this eras version of Trish Stratus circa 2000, you cant fail to use her.

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8. Bayley
After years of both victories and defeats, shortcomings and bright prospects, in 2015, Bayley, shying away a little from her bubbly lets-be-friends-and-hug gimmick to present herself as more of a future made champion created to be respected, finally achieved the life long dream of holding WWE gold, overthrowing the 3rd overall NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks to begin a reign that may have not even happen had Sasha not been promoted. Bayley used NXT Takeover Brooklyn to embrace the highlight moment before becoming a target to the rest of the division, including Sasha, who despite promotion, could make time for a rematch that wasn’t just any rematch, but a created 30 minute iron man main event at NXT Takeover Respect, a platform for Bayley to prove her dream of a title win wasn’t just a one night moment created out of luck. Bayley went on to retain, and became further targets now at her lonesome with the rest of the Four Horsewoman (Becky, Charlotte and Sasha) gone, for Alexa Bliss, Eva Marie and Nia Jax. 2016 promises more title defenses for the lone standout, who currently carries a division of great talent and up and comers. Having recently overthrown a beastly Nia Jax as well as an incredibly confident (but also incredibly booed) Eva Marie, Bayleys next title defense is yet to be known or solidified but one cant rule out Eva Marie taking the next shot while Asuka deals with Nia Jax, or even a four way to come. In addition, Bayleys 2016 could ring out with a promotion, dropping to Asuka and allowing her to pick up where Bayley leaves off. But anyone whose anyone knows Bayley is sure comfortable in her current position and has much more to give for the critically acclaimed NXT.

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9. Jade
Indy Wrestler Mia Yim, now donning the name of Jade, is no stranger to the TNA ring, having battled in it on three separate occasions away from her current run, working the Knockouts Knockdown One Night Only Pay Per Views. Yim officially joined TNA in March as part of an originally 2 piece faction named the Dollhouse, made up of herself and Marti Bell, before expanding with the swerve addition of then Knockouts Champion Taryn Terrell, and then Rebel inexplainably in Autumn. Praised for her ring work in more ways than one, Jade is surely getting title shots in 2016, and even overthrowing the reigning champion Gail Kim, a match that is a dream scenario to some fantasy bookers. I, for one, would see Taryn vs Jade as the highlight feud of 2016 should Jade capture the title Taryn had overly obsessed over alongside her villainous BFFs the year prior, using Marti and Jade to protect the title at all costs before Gail Kim’s return lead to the faction racking up losses and the vocal leader, Taryn, disappearing from the ring, scheming elsewhere with the expanded Dollhouse faction who are sure to break off this year. I’m not sure where 2016 will lead Marti, but if Taryn is surely on her way out, if its true that is, i believe Jade will be the last hurdle for the heel, a match formed out of increased jealousy if Jade becomes the top woman of the Knockouts Division. But to Me, Jade is indeed running a sure to be expanded division this year, and im equally excited to see where this leads various Dollhouse members, because if PCB was anything to note, then there is always jealousy amongst a proposed group of friends when one is accelerated over the other.

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10. Rebel
In 2015, Rebel, took her talents to the ring alongside her Menagerie Group Members, Crazy Steve and Knux, though the group quietly disbanded, and the excellent mic worker of Knux also left TNA, leaving Rebel without a program and thus, disappeared from Television for a while. The Split came sudden, as i myself wanted Knux and Rebel to go heel as a couple to expand Rebels work as a manager while Knux was an additional great mouthpiece and stronghold. Working on perfecting her craft as a wrestler, Rebel eventually returned and joined Brooke for a tag team match against TNAs Knockouts Stable, the Dollhouse. The pair ended up defeated, and Rebel then was savagely attacked by the pair of Jade and Marti backstage. Rebel faded from Television again, eventually returning in September for what looked like an attempt to save Taryn’s newest rival, Velvet Sky, from the Dollhouse, but instead, unexplainably floored Velvet alongside the Dollhouse and took her place as the newest member, something teased prior by an injured Taryn, who sent Rebel, Jade and Marti to do her dirty work in the meantime. The Chaos caused by the Dollhouse lead to a Beautiful People reunion, and the famous trio were brought down to two as Angelina was written off injured by a backstage attack from Jade, though in originality Angelina was announced as a few weeks pregnant. The Dollhouse closed 2015 with a handicap victory over the Beautiful People per Rebels outside assistance, allowing Rebel to prove her worth alongside the sneaky but still strong faction and hopefully, while TNA missed that chance to explain Rebels turn on Velvet, 2016 should surely be a year to develop Rebels Character alongside the other Dollhouse members, especially since most of the Knockouts have characters differentiated from each other, and because there’s barely any Knockouts to push, meaning all Knockouts can easily be worked on each other. Rebels addition surely did appear rushed, a factor in a rumored departure from Taryn that was soon thrown off, but through 2016, Rebel, to me, not only gets to show her in ring skill to another level, but even set out to do what shes tweeted about, becoming Knockouts Champion. So the addition to the Dollhouse, as rushed as it appeared, may just be a blessing in disguise.

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11. Peyton Royce
2015 snagged NXT two Australian Signees, Billie Kay, formerly well known Indy Wrestler Jessie McKay and Peyton Royce, formerly KC Cassidy who also worked the Indy Circuit as Kay had. Both Ladies hit 2015 as mere enhancements to the likes of Sasha Banks, Emma and Eva Marie to name a few, but heading into late 2015, both began to work on character development, and in October, Peyton seemed to cement her status as a heel by competing against NXT Women’s Champion Bayley with a gimmick dubbed the “Venus Flytrap of NXT”. While Billie may have also found her niche, completing her character on live events by being managed by Sylvestor Lefort under what seems to be a masquerade gimmick, Peyton’s gimmick seems to have already translated to TV with possible early Victoria vibes, and if complete as it appears, Peyton, whose already an in ring standout, could easily become one of NXTs next top heels. I’m already a fan of the gimmick, but the entrance music needs a clear overhaul.

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12. Dana Brooke and Emma
This is another iffy selection for me because even though i feel Dana is sure to be an NXT Women’s Champion during or even later than 2016, im not too sure about Emma’s placement amongst a duo that has come into its own in recent months. Emma came back to NXT in 2015 after a main roster career fell to pieces, not just with the retirement of her manager, Santino, but with Emma not getting any needed feuds or something to work on, just being thrown out to submit to the “current thing going”. Luckily, NXT worked magic on Emma like it had with a various few careers, and Emma began to transition into a heel by working a program with Bayley while finding herself a partner in the recently debuted Dana Brooke, becoming two meddlesome foes to Bayley, and then eventually Asuka, who they both ended up falling to in standout matches. There is so much that could happen for NXT in 2016, Dana and/or Nia becoming Champion, Asuka becoming Champion, Asuka vs Nia, Blake and Murphy becoming champions again (Off topic but I WISH) so why not capitalize on that long time chemistry and allow Emma vs Bayley for the Championship, especially if Asuka already has a feud on her hands heading into the Next Takeover? Heck, unless Emma is headed back to the main roster for a reason, maybe to align with Paige, then the still troublesome duo of Emma and Dana could expand their villainous circle with Peyton Royce or Billie Kay or other up and comers? I Do see Emma either doing so or heading back to the main roster, hopefully with a worthy output, or continuing the NXT run to showcase her missed-out-on-the-main-roster talents further.

So There you have it. Theres my standout prospects for both the WWE and TNA for this year, even if i am flat out wrong like me guessing Maryse coming back last year (LOL). Its No Journalistic piece for sure, but im excited to see what these mentioned women and more bring for their respective promotions during 2016.

– Catherine

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