WWE is ready to push a former tag team performer to the moon.
According to Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com (h/t WrestlingNews.co), WWE split up The IIconics on this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw in order to give a big push to Peyton Royce: “I was told by several people that Peyton Royce is earmarked for a singles push, they’ve decided that they wanted to push her, and this is not a case of Billie Kay leaving the company or anything like that.”
Royce and Kay lost a tag team match to Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott, a.k.a. The Riott Squad, on Raw in which the losing tag was forced to disband, a surprising booking move that seemed to come like an RKO out of nowhere. The IIconics had been teaming together for the majority of their WWE careers, having first joined forces in NXT in 2015, and the biggest moment of their run as a duo came at WrestleMania 35 when they dethroned Bayley and Sasha Banks to become just the second-ever WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions.
But their tag team is done following their shocking defeat at the hands of The Riott Squad, and though Kay’s future is up in the air, Royce figures to benefit from that change in the immediate future.
Johnson elaborated, “I was told that it’s just they want to push Peyton Royce and try and go in a different direction with her. As you noticed, Bille Kay kind of got wiped out on Raw Underground, so my guess perhaps they are going to take her off TV, or put her on SmackDown or somewhere else, but I am told that the reason this happened was not some immediate punishment or immediate issue. The decision was made that Peyton Royce was one of the people who was going to be pushed going further, and this was their means to an end.”
It was recently reported that Vince McMahon was a big fan of three female stars, and Royce, of course, is one of them, with the other two being Bianca Belair and Bayley. While Bayley has been prominently featured across Raw and SmackDown over the past several months as both the SmackDown Women’s and one half of the Tag Team Champions, the same hasn’t been true of Belair, who has gotten lost in the shuffle since being promoted to Raw in May. Much like Belair, the booking of Royce—as well as her partner Kay—has been all over the place on the main roster.
A decent push as the tag team titleholders was about as good as it got for the duo, but for the most part, The IIconics were used to lose to other more strongly pushed teams over the past couple of years. Earlier this year, Royce and Kay were removed from TV amid reports that they were set to be repackaged, but nothing substantial ever came of it. They returned to TV in May of this year after a lengthy layoff without any significant character changes, and aside from a brief tease of a split months ago, there hadn’t really been any solid indicators of a breakup or any buildup to that move.
But McMahon is reportedly anxious to create new stars, a move that especially makes sense for the women’s division, which is currently without top names like Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey—perhaps the three biggest female stars in the company. WWE has focused heavily on the talents its usually pushes as of late, like Banks, Bayley, Asuka and Alexa Bliss, and a change is clearly needed at the top of the card, with fresh faces finally getting their shot at establishing themselves as main eventers.
Despite being given limited opportunities, Royce has demonstrated tremendous potential to be a future women’s world champion, and there is little doubt that she has the talent to get to that level.
The only real question is whether WWE will truly stick with her push.