Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It’s a special week this week, it’s time for the Superstar Shake-up. As Stephanie McMahon announced in RAW’s opening segment, ‘Every part of the roster is subject to change’.
Bayley & Naomi def. The IIconics
Becky Lynch def. Ruby Riott
Lacey Evans def. Natalya
Zelina Vega arrived on RAW as Andrade’s business partner. She’ll probably wrestle, I do hope so.
Alexa Bliss hosted a Moment of Bliss with Sami Zayn. She teased the possibility of her heading over to SmackDown before she brought him out, but she didn’t get much input into the rest of it. Zayn danced to his own theme three times, manipulated the crowd with call and response chants, got them singing, then berated and belittled them to Bliss for a while. Loves the city, hates the people etc. Bliss told him he was being rude and tried to ask him if he was trying to say his people were the problem because he’s so perfect. He said they’re not his people, and left.
Naomi was introduced as Bayley’s surprise partner. It came about after a backstage segment with the IIconics where Bayley was shown being unable to get hold of Sasha Banks on the phone (Banks’ future with WWE looked uncertain at that time, all we really knew was she wasn’t there. It’s still not clear what will happen). Billie Kay suggested they’d be there for Bayley if she needed someone to talk to as she couldn’t get hold of her partner and wasn’t getting her titles back anytime soon. Bayley told them not to talk about Sasha, but if they’re looking for another fight then she’ll find a partner and meet them in the ring.
Bayley & Naomi vs The IIconics
Naomi’s arrival would have been a bigger shock had The Usos not already arrived on the show. Banks was mentioned at the start, Renee mentioned Banks’ ‘cryptic tweets’, Corey Graves said Banks lost her ball and quit the game.
Bayley was showing her aggressive side again, it suits her and it looks like it’s staying. Not that she had much to do in the incredibly short match. She pounded on Billie Kay for a few moments at the start and cleared Peyton Royce from the ring with a Bayley to Belly so Naomi could pin Kay with a split-legged moonsault.
I know it’s essentially a tradition for transfers to win on their debut matches in the Shake-up, but it’s not a great look to have your new tag champs lose to a makeshift team.
Becky Lynch vs Ruby Riott
Becky Lynch started the match the way you’d expect a woman trying to keep hold of two titles to, hard. Despite Riott being one of the biggest threats on the roster, it looked like it might be a straightforward night for Lynch, until The Riott Squad started to get involved.
Liv Morgan jumped on the apron as Becky Lynch returned to the ring from a trip to the outside, which was just enough for Ruby Riott to gain the advantage.
Lynch has just got too much momentum at the moment though. Nothing Riott did kept her down, even top rope senton only got two. Ruby Riott went to the top again, but Lynch moved as she came down and got her in the Dis-Arm-Her. Logan and Morgan dragged Riott from the ring so Becky Lynch launched herself off the apron to take them down.
Back in the ring, Lynch locked Ruby Riott into another Dis-Arm-Her and Riott tapped. Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan attacked her while she was celebrating but they were dispatched without fuss.
Becky Lynch stayed in the ring after the match. They kept her there through an entire backstage interview before Natalya finally came out to talk to her, then left them both there through an ad break.
Before she got down to business Natalya offered her congratulations to the champ. She has dreamed of being in a WrestleMania main event but Lynch actually did it. Lynch, Rousey and Flair turned dreams into reality and she’s very proud of them for that. Lynch was the first woman to pin the baddest woman on the planet and the first woman in history to win both belts on the same night.
Last week Lynch talked about having to sleep with one eye open because all the women on the locker rooms would be coming after her. Natalya was there to look her in the eye, face to face, and let her know, ‘I am the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be and I’m coming after the RAW Women’s Championship’.
Lynch said she’s spent years in the trenches with a lot of overlooked and underappreciated women, like she was, like Natalya is. The second she held her two titles over her head she knew those women were going to try to hunt her down, just like she hunted down Rousey and Flair. That’s the nature of the business to take over the world you have to take down the person on top. They travelled around the world together as teenagers trying to fight anyone anywhere just to get their foot in the door of WWE, and look at them now. Natalya helped build the revolution from the ground up so it would be a pleasure…
Lacey Evans chose that moment to interrupt. On her way to the ring, she told Natalya that she admired her determination, but the RAW Women’s Championship couldn’t possibly be around the waist of a classless has-been like her. They need to stop discussing a possible title match between themselves because a lady knows how to curry favour and use her influence to get exactly what she wants. And now that she’s an official RAW superstar, what she wants is the RAW Women’s Championship.
As proof of concept, the McMahon family had sanctioned a match between her and Natalya to decide who would face Becky Lynch for the RAW Women’s Championship.
Natalya vs Lacey Evans
Good match, very methodical so it played to both their strengths. Evans uses the power-based offence you’d expect from someone of her background and build, but she can pull out the athletic stuff when required. Just a reminder because it’s been so damned long since we saw her wrestle.
She got to show off her strength when Natalya had her in the Sharpshooter. Twice she crawled from the centre of the ring to the ropes. Natalya pulled her back the first time, but she got a hand to the ropes the second and slipped out of the ring.
Natalya followed her out and powered her into the barricade then rolled her back into the ring. When Natalya got back in and grabbed her, Evans landed the Woman’s Right. Natalya didn’t move at all while Evans went to the top turnbuckle, so the moonsault for the pin was largely ornamental.
Charlotte Flair def. Carmella Bayley, Ember Moon, Asuka & Kairi Sane def. The IIconics, Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose
Charlotte Flair vs Carmella
Carmella and R-Truth did their entrance routine, they have so much fun I love them together.
Flair was in a rotten mood, unsurprisingly. She felt the need to tell the crowd she hates Canada. Carmella superkicked Flair in the face, after Flair missed with a big boot, and almost got the pin but Flair kicked out and slid out of the ring.
They fought near the battle royal trophy, just to keep it in shot, then Flair slammed Carmella’s back into the barricade. Carmella climbed on the barricade and launched herself onto Flair then threw her back into the ring. The pin only got two though.
Carmella took a bunch of chops then flung Flair face first into the corner. She was looking in control until moments before Flair kicked her off the apron to the floor.
When we came back from the ads, Charlotte Flair was in charge and posing. She took to shoving Carmella’s head while Carmella was on her knees, Carmella got up, slammed Flair into the canvas, and started a short-lived fightback. Short-lived because Flair caught a kick, dragged Carmella’s leg onto the ropes and sent her crashing to the floor holding her knee.
On the outside again, Flair threw Carmella into the barricade, then climbed on it to moonsault off. Carmella moved and caught her with a superkick, but made her knee worse in the process.
Carmella rolled Flair back into the ring, but Flair chop blocked her and wrapped in the figure four. As soon as she bridged into the Figure Eight, Carmella tapped.
Lars Sullivan came out after the match and attacked R-Truth. Truth did ok for a very short time then took a Freak Accident. Sullivan advanced on Carmella, but the ref helped her out of the ring while Sullivan laughed. Sullivan punctuated his point with a powerbomb to R-Truth.
Becky Lynch pulled double duty again this week. She said nothing focuses the mind more than the Superstar Shake-up. Last night she was watching all the potential challengers prowl around, and the same tonight. But it reminded her quickly once again what her job is. Job number one is to run right through Lacey Evans, and then Becky two belts is here to break new ground, win new battles and slap new heads. She doesn’t care who they bring in or who they put in front of her she will batter every single one of those dopes. Because her two shiny titles are her passport to pick fights with anyone on either brand just because she can.
Ember Moon arrived, a fabulous Shake-up acquisition for SmackDown. She told Becky Lynch she’d better get used to seeing her because the Shenom is on SmackDown Live.
Lynch said, ‘Ember Moon, what a talent, but I’d advise you not to interrupt The Man again’.
Moon said, luckily, she wasn’t out there for advice. She’s there to make a name for herself and what better way to do it than to step up to the woman who beat Ronda Rousey in the main event of WrestleMania.
Bayley came out next. This is, potentially, an awesome move for her. For some reason, she got booed by the crowd, possibly something to do with the rumours about her wanting out of WWE along with Sasha Banks. She said this is exciting and what the Superstar Shake-up is all about. She too has joined SmackDown Live.
Becky Lynch asked her if she wanted a hug or something. Bayley said no, she’s ok, she got all her hugs out on RAW. It’s been a long time since they’ve seen each other and a lot has changed. The past year she’s willed the woman’s tag titles into existence and with her partner, Sasha Banks, became the first tag team champions.
Now, as special as those titles are to her, now she’s on SmackDown Live as a single’s competitor she got her eyes on two other titles.
The IIconics came out next, talking about belts, they’ve got two, Becky Lynch has two, and Bayley and Ember Moon have none. When they got to the ring and reminded Bayley they took her titles, and now she hasn’t got Naomi to back her up. Apparently, their belts are better than Lynch’s because theirs are IIconic.
Finally, Paige came out to bring her new tag team out. She told the IIconics they look like they’re having a great time wearing those titles, but the audience would have more fun if they defended them. Before she could bring out her team, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville came out.
Rose told Paige they need no introduction. Deville said SmackDown Live has waited long enough for the reunion of Absolution.
Paige said they’re going to have to wait even longer because she wasn’t there to introduce them. She’s there to represent two brand-new, revolutionary, women. The next WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions.
The first was Asuka, which was a bit of a surprise especially as she’s not remotely new. The second was Kairi Sane. They’ve split the Sky Pirates up. It’s interesting, and not necessarily a bad thing. Especially as it puts Io Shirai one step up the ladder towards the NXT Women’s Championship.
Paige said if you’re going to make a debut you have to make an impact, and sent Sane and Asuka to the ring.
The brawl broke out, with Becky Lynch getting slowly out of the ring and just watching. Bayley, Ember Moon, Asuka, and Kairi Sane cleared the ring going into the break. Of course, with all those women in the ring, an eight-woman tag broke out.
Bayley, Ember Moon, Asuka & Kairi Sane vs The IIconics, Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville
In a match with four Shake-up arrivals versus four existing roster members, on Shake-up night, was only going to end one way. There were a few points of interest though.
Bayley has definitely brought some edge with her to SmackDown Live. I wonder if the Bayley Buddies might be a thing of the past now because she didn’t have them as part of her entrance. She tagged herself into the match aggressively on Ember Moon, which didn’t go down well. I think I’d enjoy that feud.
Asuka and Kairi Sane showed of some double team work, they really are going to be fantastic together.
Ember Moon led us into the break by diving off the top turnbuckle onto all four members of the other team, slightly one-upping Bayley who had just delivered a suicide dive to Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville.
Peyton Royce knocked Ember Moon off the apron before Bayley tagged Asuka in. Asuka hip-attacked Deville and Billie Kay off the apron with one well-placed butt.
Asuka had Royce reeling, then there was a little chaos break where everyone got to show off a bit before Asuka tagged her new partner and Kairi Sane delivered the Insane Elbow to Peyton Royce for the win.
Super-interesting to have your new tag champs lose two nights running. There wasn’t really any need for Royce to take the pin there.
We got to the end of the Shake-up and there was still no mention of Nikki Cross. We need to know where she’s going. Actually, I’m hoping she’ll randomly turn up on both brands, either that or go back to NXT and become the NXT Women’s Champion she should have been. Ember Moon and Bayley to SmackDown is potentially great, especially if Bayley turns into the badass she’s been hinting at for a few weeks now.
Asuka being shoved into a tag team is possibly a bit of an admission they don’t know what else to do with her, but at least they’re doing something. They should make one hell of a team and giving them Paige as a guide/mouthpiece isn’t a bad idea either, although, I’ve always enjoyed Asuka’s woman of few words promos.
In shock news, to me anyway, Liv Morgan was announced as a SmackDown Live superstar after the show had gone off air. The Riott Squad is no more. I’m a little surprised that it was Morgan they moved out on her own, I would have expected Ruby Riott to split off and leave Logan and Morgan as a tag team. Sarah Logan’s husband (Ivar of The Viking Experience, formerly Hanson of War Raiders) arrived on RAW as part of the Shake-up, so it was unlikely she would be going anywhere. Mickie James has also been moved over to SmackDown, which will get her away from being Alexa Bliss’ sidekick if nothing else. WWE’s full list of who went where can be found here.
Shayna Baszler def. Kairi Sane
While the main roster Shake-up was this week, the results of it won’t really be seen on NXT for a few weeks because the taping had already happened. Kairi Sane’s call-up made the stipulation for this week’s main event match a bit anticlimactic though. The match was Shayna Baszler versus Kairi Sane for the NXT Women’s Championship, with the stipulation that if Sane loses she can never compete for the title again. Much more of a threat if she was sticking around. They even mentioned her call-up in a Shake-up round-up during the show.
Vanessa Borne and Aliyah ranted about Aliyah’s loss to Candice LeRae in New York. LeRae got lucky because they were in no condition to compete. They were dining and shopping and living the New York life. They weren’t ready then but they’ll be ready next week. Borne suggested LeRae find ‘another lower’ and meet them in the ring, and told her to choose wisely.
Shayna Baszler (C) vs Kairi Sane – NXT Women’s Championship match
I really liked this match. They’ve had such a great storyline together and this was the final chapter, for now anyway. They made the most of it. Shayna Baszler brought Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir to the ring with her, so there was a constant threat to Sane from the outset. Kairi Sane opted to come alone.
No need for any kind of feeling out process for Baszler and Sane. Kairi Sane took the early advantage and the first near fall, but Baszler kicked out and quickly took control. Sane was forced to kick out of two pin attempts and an attempted Kirifuda before she managed to create some breathing space with a spear.
Kairi Sane got the Anchor submission locked in and Baszler had to crawl for the ropes. Sane held on for the whole of the ref’s break count and followed up with an InSane Elbow to Baszler’s back. She went up for a second, but Baszler kicked her in the head and followed her up. A headbutt knocked Baszler backwards into the perfect position for a double stomp, and Baszler rolled to the outside.
Sane launched herself off the apron onto Baszler and that’s where it all started to go wrong for her. She missed and smacked her elbow on the barricade, giving Baszler a target limb.
Once Shayna Baszler has an injured limb to work with, her opponent is invariably in trouble, and pain. She manipulated Sane’s arm until Kairi Sane was forced to drag herself to the ropes to force a break and roll out of the ring.
The ref called a medic who tried to talk Sane out of continuing. Io Shirai ran down to talk her out of continuing. Shayna Baszler reached through the ropes and dragged Sane back into the ring by her head and the back of her top. She was about to stomp on Sane’s elbow when Io Shirai invaded the ring and shoved Baszler away, costing Sane the match but saving her from injury.
Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir dragged Shirai out of the ring and smashed her into the barricade and apron before holding her still and making her watch as Baszler stomped the elbow anyway.
Shirai rushed to care for Kairi Sane as Baszler, Duke, and Shafir left. The final shots of the show were of a furious Io Shirai glaring at them on the stage while Kairi Sane lay sobbing on the mat.
An oddly emotional and unsatisfying end to Sane’s NXT run if that’s the last we see of her.
Rhea Ripley def. Kacy Catanzaro
Rhea Ripley vs Kacy Catanzaro
Kacy Catanzaro’s welcome to NXT UK was a Mae Young Classic rematch against Rhea Ripley. Catanzaro gave Ripley a much harder time than she expected in that one, and it was the same again.
If Ripley could get hold of Catanzaro there was nothing Catanzaro could do about it, Ripley’s just too strong. The problem was trying to keep hold of her.
Ripley did catch her, after a spirited start, and had control for the majority of the match. Catanzaro had a chance with an inside cradle, but Ripley got free and the Riptide finished the job.
After the match, Ripley came back to apply her submission hold to Kacy Catanzaro, just for fun.
Backstage, Rhea Ripley approached Catanzaro and told her this is what happens when you step into my division, you end up in medical. Viper stepped in and Ripley shut up and left.
Jinny was approached to talk about her loss to Toni Storm, but her only response was a death stare.
Dana Brooke def. Tamina
Main Event not only had a match this week, they had an incident. Sam Roberts joined commentary, and his current character of ‘deeply unpleasant, rude, and ignorant voice of the basement dwellers’ struck again. This time the target was Dana Brooke.
Dana Brooke vs Tamina
Sam Roberts’ comments actually started during the entrances in response to Renee Young asking him if Dana Brooke really didn’t impress him at WrestleMania (she impressed her). He said Brooke didn’t impress him at all. She’s been begging for opportunities and every one has been futile. He didn’t see this match being any different. Later he said that he’d be as annoyed as Tamina looked if he was returning to single’s action against Dana Brooke, and implied she has inadequate skills. All through the match, he belittled Brooke.
As it goes, the match was ok. Tamina is not the smoothest. Dana Brooke has put in a tremendous amount of work and I’m fully behind her being given more ring time and better opponents.
Brooke got the pin with a roll-up after wriggling out from a Samoan drop set up and even that was met with a disparaging comment from Roberts.
Main Event also covered Natalya vs Lacey Evans from RAW.
That’s the end of one of the busiest feeling weeks of the year. I love the period just after the Superstar Shake-up, while everything feels full of potential, until it all settles down again. I’ll be back next week to see how everyone is settling into their new locker rooms. In the meantime, connect with me on twitter @manda_why and let’s talk wrestling. Make sure you’re following @RearViewReviews so you never miss a review.