Welcome to this week’s round up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. Another long one this week as the shows focused on building to PPVs. NXT TakeOver Chicago was last night, and Backlash is tonight, so we have the breakdown and preview for those on top of the usual action to discuss. So settle in and let’s start with RAW.
Sasha Banks vs Alicia Fox
A rematch from last week’s RAW, set because of the debate as to whether Fox’ shoulders were up before the three count last week. For this match Alicia Fox was accompanied to the ring by Noam Dar. She’s been valeting for him, so I guess that’s fair.
I like this pairing, their styles seem to complement each other, they both have that slightly reckless feel to them.
The match ended with Alicia Fox landing a scissor kick for the pin. I guess their technically one all now, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the same again next week. Unfortunately we seem to be back to three minute matches which do little to showcase the performances, or to drive the storylines. I know it’s a secondary feud, but it would be much nicer to be able to see them really build a story and play it out through decent length matches.
After the match Noam Dar carried Fox around on his shoulder in celebration. It was a sweet gesture, which would have been even sweeter if it didn’t look like he was struggling quite so much.
Alexa Bliss took to the ring for a talking segment. She started by insulting the town they were in and the crowd, then moved on to bigging herself up. To be honest, it wasn’t one of her best promos. It came across as stilted and awkward. Thankfully, Bayley interrupted.
After her entrance, she told Bliss that she was uncomfortable with the whole goddess title Bliss had given herself (she’s not the only one) but that she is more interested in the title around Bliss’ waist. Then she informed her that she is invoking her rematch clause at Extreme Rules.
Bliss told her that she didn’t think Bayley really knew what extreme rules meant. She patronised Bayley and treated her like a child, told her that she would never get extreme. That she was a ‘good girl’, she should go back and sit at the kiddie table where she belongs and leave the championships to the adults.
Bayley shoved her, then dropkicked her out of the ring. She tried to pull Bliss back up onto the apron and into the ring, but Bliss reversed the momentum and pulled Bayley face first into the ropes.
While Bliss was out of the ring she found a kendo stick under the ring and grabbed it. She managed to get back in without Bayley seeing the stick, and hit her from behind with it. Bayley rolled out of the ring and the segment ended with Bliss standing sneering in the ring, while Bayley writhed on the outside in agony.
Later in the show Kurt Angle checked on Bayley backstage. She had ice strapped to her while they spoke. He reassured her that her match at Extreme Rules would be a standard wrestling match. Bayley said that wasn’t fair. Bliss caused her pain, mocked her family and called her a child, and Bayley wants to get her own back.
Kurt Angle set the match as a Kendo stick on a pole match. I thought he was joking for a minute, but apparently not.
Carmella def Naomi
With Backlash this weekend, we got a contract signing for the six-woman tag match. Shane McMahon hosted proceedings. After he’d introduced them all they each got a chance on the mic before signing the contract.
Natalya went first. She called the other team pathetic and told Becky Lynch she had her chance to join them but it was too late. Tamina signed without comment, as did Carmella, then it was on to the other side. Becky Lynch said it would be the first time the Welcoming Committee would be facing even numbers and she can’t wait to slap the faces off all of them. Naomi said she was looking forward to snatching all of them, especially Ellsworth, bald. Charlotte Flair said the Welcoming Committee have had a problem with her since she arrived. They moaned and complained and on Sunday they’re going to solve their problems. Then she turned to Naomi and said that after they’d beaten them, the queen was coming for her crown. Naomi smiled and made an ok gesture, and Charlotte Flair signed.
The segment went badly wrong for me when James Ellsworth got hold of a microphone. He suggested that Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Naomi were attracted to him. Then told Naomi that Carmella would eventually take her title. Naomi grabbed him, and Carmella slammed her face first into the table. Shane McMahon held Naomi back, then set a match between her and Carmella.
Naomi vs Carmella – non-title match
As everyone was in the ring when the match was set, Naomi had Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair in her corner, and Carmella had Natalya, Tamina and James Ellsworth. A couple of minutes into the match Naomi went for the Rear View and Ellsworth pulled Carmella out of the ring to protect her. Happily, the ref spotted the interference and ejected Ellsworth from ringside.
The match was ok. It was as much about the people on the outside as in the ring at times, but that’s to be expected. There was a lot of kicking. There’s always a lot of kicking with Naomi, and Carmella seems to want to prove she can out-kick her. She can’t, although I’m not a fan of the barrage of kicks Naomi does. I think they look slightly odd and ineffective and I’ve never seen her drop anyone with them.
Tamina and Natalya got caught sneaking up to knock Naomi off the top turnbuckle, and the ref ejected them too. Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair taunted them as they walked away, so they ran back and it all broke down. Naomi got distracted by the goings on on the outside and kicked Tamina in the back when she got too close to the ring. Carmella took advantage of the distraction, rolled Naomi up and got the pin. It’s the second time she has pinned the champion.
Naomi, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair appeared on Talking Smack. Charlotte Flair and Naomi agreed they still have unfinished business, but they have to take out the Welcoming Committee first. In response to being asked if they could work together, Becky Lynch said they were all on the same page because working as a team is what they need to do in order to win. Lynch said she would never have teamed up with the Welcoming Committee because they’re all snakes and each one of them has attacked her in the past. Naomi said she has Flair’s back, and Flair better have hers. Charlotte Flair’s response was ‘we’ve bonded’.
Sonya Deville def Lacey Evans
Asuka was interviewed on this week’s NXT ahead of her TakeOver title defence. She refused to answer any questions and snappily asked if the interview was over. She was then shown posing and smiling for fans, taking a selfie with them behind her, before rolling her eyes and huffing as she walked away.
Lacey Evans vs Sonya Deville
It was really good to see a women’s match the didn’t feature Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Liv Morgan or Aliyah. That’s nothing against any of those women, but they’re the only people we seem to have seen outside of the main title picture.
Deville is an ex-MMA fighter and Evans is an ex-marine, so we’re dealing with a different style of wrestler here, and the variety can only improve the division. It was a typically short NXT match, I wish they’d go to an hour and a half now, the roster is deep enough and it would improve the matches. That said, these are two of the hottest prospects in the performance centre, and live show regulars, and they took the opportunity to show everyone why they’re so highly thought of.
This time round, Sonya Deville was victorious via a step-up kick. I really hope we see more of them, together, and integrated with everyone else. NXT’s women’s division is finally starting to sort itself out now, there is a real diversity of characters and styles, we just need to see them mix in a bit more.
Nia Jax def Dana Brooke
A women’s division match on Main Event, and a pretty good one at that. Dana Brooke is probably the most powerful women on RAW’s roster after Nia Jax, but the gap is still huge. Brooke has come a long way in recent months and she displayed some decent skills here. She still tried to outpower Jax, like she’s used to doing with other opponents, but it was good to see her utilising other stuff as well.
A couple of times in this match Brooke tried to pick Jax up for one move or another, and she nearly managed it, nearly. She did get Jax off her feet, and got a couple of pin attempts in. Jax looked almost vulnerable once or twice. The result was predictable though. Jax hit the Samoan drop on Dana Brooke, and got the three count.
NXT TakeOver Chicago
Asuka def Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot
What a match this turned out to be. Originally scheduled as a fatal four-way match, until an injury to Ember Moon forced a change of plan, Chicago got to see three of the biggest characters on the NXT women’s division show everyone what they could do.
The match was fast, frantic, brutal in places, untidy at a couple of points and technical in others. Both Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross proved themselves as worthy contenders for the title. It will be interesting to see if either of them get a one on one shot as a result of this. I hope so, although Cross vs Riot will almost certainly be the major feud to be played out.
Asuka has been dominant for such a long time now that it’s difficult to see how she’ll be dethroned. These two, along with the injured Ember Moon, are the closest we’ve seen to closing the gap.
The finish of the match involved all three competitors. Nikki Cross went for a fisherman’s neckbreaker on Ruby Riot. Riot countered with a Pele kick and went for the pin attempt. Cross kicked out just as Asuka came in with a knee strike on Ruby Riot. Asuka landed on the pair, and pinned both challengers to retain her title.
On a side note – there now seems to be some confusion over the severity of the injury to Ember Moon. On NXT we were told she had a fairly minor shoulder sprain and would be out for a few weeks. On the TakeOver pre-show Moon mentioned how grateful she was that she was only going to be out for six months. It’s not unusual for WWE to play around with expected return dates to make injuries fit the storylines, but it would be interesting to know the truth of the matter.
Backlash -preview and prediction
Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Naomi vs Natalya, Carmella and Tamina
Once again SmackDown have managed to get the entire active women’s roster into their PPV. Ok, so a six-woman tag match possibly isn’t ideal, but this three on three feud is being used really well, not only for its immediate impact, but also to tease the set up of future feuds once it’s over.
This match has come about because Natalya and friends – the Welcoming Committee – took offence at Charlotte Flair being given a title shot so soon after her arrival on SmackDown Live. They maintain that they are the ones who deserve the title opportunities and the Flair hadn’t earned it. There is some in-fighting about exactly which one of them deserves the opportunities the most, that could be a factor in the match but will probably not become a problem until later.
Naomi became an ally in the battle against the Welcoming Committee after Natalya and friends attacked her as well during her match against Flair. The Welcoming Committee tried to recruit Becky Lynch to join them, but she chose to side with Flair and Naomi, and unified them into some kind of alliance to take the Committee down. It’s a loose alliance born of necessity rather than choice, and time will tell if it will last long enough to get through the match at Backlash.
It’s always toughest to call multi-person matches. The Welcoming Committee seem like a more coherent team, at the moment anyway, and I think that might be the difference maker for this match. My only hope is that someone gets a chance to knock James Ellsworth out.
Prediction: Natalya, Tamina and Carmella
All done for another week. Enjoy Backlash and I’ll be back next week to discuss the result, along with the fallout from TakeOver and all the usual action from WWE’s women’s divisions. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover, or anything you’d like to discuss, tweet me @manda_why.