Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. The build for Money in the Bank is in full force. We now know who the competitors in the ladder matches will be. That said, it’s not been the busiest week for WWE’s women and we still have one major unanswered question – Where the hell is Nikki Cross?
Naomi def. Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss revealed RAW’s Money in the Bank match participants this week in two separate Moment of Bliss segments. The men’s announcements came in the opening segment of the show. Drew McIntyre, Braun Strowman, Baron Corbin, and Ricochet will be RAW’s male entrants. In the second Moment of Bliss, Natalya was brought out first. Natalya said she’s never been RAW Women’s Champion before but after she wins the briefcase that’s going to change. Dana Brooke was next. She’s very excited about the opportunity. She’s sick of being told to wait her turn (I hope her inclusion isn’t just a placeholder for someone else). Brooke and Natalya started to get into it when Natalya asked if Brooke was accusing her of holding her back. Bliss shut them up to announce competitor number three, Naomi.
After Naomi ran through her credentials and aims – unsurprisingly she wants to win to become champion as well – they all started arguing.
Bliss shamed them for taking time away from the fourth competitor, making her wait to find out if her name has been picked, then she revealed herself to be the fourth competitor.
Naomi challenged Bliss to a match. Bliss declined because she didn’t want to and pointed out she wasn’t even dressed to wrestle. Naomi goaded her and Bliss accepted.
Naomi vs Alexa Bliss
Bliss’ complaints that she wasn’t in wrestling gear dominated the short match, or at least her shoelaces did because she kept stopping to tie them. Naomi was thoroughly dominant for the early part of the match, which the laces will no doubt get the blame for.
Bliss had a good middle sector of the match. She kept Naomi grounded and stayed in control, but didn’t really do anything with it. She started trash-talking, which obviously fired Naomi up, and Bliss kicked her out of the ring.
Naomi took the control back as soon as she got back in the ring, but somehow managed to pull both Bliss’ shoes off while trying to move her. Bliss retreated into the corner then sent Naomi face first into the turnbuckle when she came after her and went to collect her shoes from the ref.
Alexa Bliss was busy arguing the ref and turned her attention back to Naomi just in time to take a Rear View. Naomi followed it up with a split-legged moonsault that was lovely, but purely ornamental. Bliss was already down for the count.
Becky Lynch had an in-ring interview with Charly Caruso, who asked her why she decided to defend both her titles at Money in the Bank. Lynch said there was nothing impulsive about the decision. She has two options, she can either try to protect all that she has, or she can fight all, and she only knows how to fight. Caruso tried to ask about odds, but Lynch cut her off by saying she wouldn’t be standing there as double champion if she cared about odds. A year ago, nobody thought she could main event WrestleMania, but she did. A month ago, Ronda Rousey, the so called ‘baddest woman on the planet’ was unbeaten, and many thought she was unbeatable, until she beat her to become Becky Two Belts.
Her whole career has been a long shot but nothing she has done has been by accident. For months she ran her mouth about Charlotte Flair holding the division hostage and holding titles hostage, so there is no way she is doing that now, even if it puts her at a huge disadvantage. She didn’t make history by dodging anybody, she made it by beating everybody. So bring on her opponents. Flair still has the pedigree, the championship DNA, she still has all the tools, but Lynch still has her number. Lacey Evans is a plank, and a tremendous athlete with a great right hand, but she’s making a huge mistake punching someone who actually likes it. She never knows when Evans’ sneak attacks are coming, but she knows when Evans will get her beating, at Money in the Bank.
Charly Caruso showed Lynch footage of Evans attacking her last week and asked if that might be a preview of what we see at Money in the Bank. Lynch said it wasn’t a preview it was a reminder, and took Caruso’s mic off her.
Becky Lynch called out Lacey Evans and Lacey Evans obliged. It looked like all Evans was going to do was talk, until she ripped her skirt off and ran to the ring. Lynch met her at ringside and they had a pull-apart brawl. Several officials had to try to pull them apart and they failed spectacularly a few times before Lynch got up on the apron to yell at Lacey Evans the whole time she was being ushered up the ramp.
Becky Lynch def. Bayley
Kairi Sane & Asuka def. Local Competitors
Bayley vs Becky Lynch
Quick rant of the week. WWE really need to stop saying matches are first time ever if they happened on NXT. They pick and choose which NXT stuff counts and what doesn’t. Asuka’s undefeated streak counted, but matches don’t. If they mean first time on the main roster, say first time on the main roster. It’s especially annoying now they acknowledge NXT runs and have crossover appearances. Michael Cole did have the grace to qualify with, on SmackDown, but the build to the match didn’t.
Anyway, this match, which is the first time on the main roster, was really good. Bayley was back to bright colours and Bayley Buddies. She was also announced, during her entrance, as a Money in the Bank competitor. Becky Lynch was there to fight instead of talk, which was nice. I’m loving Lynch’s current run, but there have been a lot of long promos.
Good as it was, there isn’t a lot to say. Neither managed anything like a dominant performance, and there’s clearly mileage in a feud. Becky Lynch got the competition she wanted, Bayley got the opportunity she wanted, and she came really close. Her best chance also turned out to be her undoing. Bayley suplexed Lynch, but instead of covering she went up for the elbow drop. Becky Lynch got her knees up then locked in the Dis-Arm-Her and Bayley tapped out.
As Lynch stood up after releasing the hold, she turned straight into a big boot from Charlotte Flair. Lynch rolled out of the ring and Flair grabbed Bayley and launched her shoulder-first into the post and out of the ring.
Kairi Sane & Asuka vs ‘Local Competitors’
The IIconics joined commentary for the match, which was thankfully short because there was a lot of screeching. A squash match, anyone who has read this column before will know my feelings on squash matches. Yeah, ok, it gave Sane and Asuka a chance to display some of their teamwork, but I don’t see what it achieved that couldn’t have been achieved in a match with actual members of the roster.
The two ‘enhancement talents’ were Queen Aminata and Jaylee (as identified by Casey Michael in this tweet. If you care about women’s wrestling, you really should be following him). They didn’t even get names for the match. Even the results section of wwe.com lists them as ‘local competitors’. That seems unnecessarily dismissive.
Regardless, it was a squash match and Kairi Sane showed off the InSane elbow to make the pin. After it was done The IIconics yelled at Sane and Asuka from the commentary desk.
In the locker room Sonya Deville was watching the match when Mandy Rose came in looking excited. She’d been told that one of them would be given an opportunity in the Money in the Bank match, and it seemed they had to decide. She started by saying Deville should be the one because she’s more skilled and talented. Deville interrupted and said she knows what Rose was trying to do, she was trying to flatter her so she’ll say Rose deserves the shot. But that’s ok because she does think Rose deserves the shot. Rose came close to winning the title once and Deville wants her to finish the job.
The final two female SmackDown Money in the Bank competitors were revealed in a backstage interview segment. The first was Ember Moon. She said she’s had many names, but she has yet to make a name for herself and that’s going to change. The Money in the Bank ladder match changes careers and she intends to seize that moment. She’s going to climb to the top of the ladder, she’s going to grab the contract, and she’s going to be known as Miss Money in the Bank.
The last competitor announced herself at that point. It’s Carmella. She thinks the contract is hers, she won the first two Money in the Bank matches. Strangely, she was not keen on Ember Moon bringing up any detail of how she won. But Moon is right, the contract changes lives and Carmella will do whatever it takes to get it. She held onto the contract for 287 days because she wanted to make it count. And that’s exactly what she did when she cashed in her contract and became SmackDown Women’s Champion. At Money in the Bank she’s going to remind everyone why Mella is Money.
The finalised line-up for the women’s Money in the Bank ladder match is Alexa Bliss, Natalya, Naomi, Dana Brooke, Bayley, Mandy Rose, Ember Moon, and Carmella. That should make for a good match. I’d love to see Ember Moon or Dana Brooke do it, or maybe Naomi. I’m a little disappointed that Ruby Riott didn’t make the cut for RAW, and I was hoping that there might have been the smallest chance of Nikki Cross being in the match.
Disappointingly, there was no women’s division match on NXT this week. No discernible reason for it either. Kushida debuted in the main event, but there were two other matches besides and it was a short episode this week. There were a couple of segments featuring the women though.
Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, and Marina Shafir were approached by Cathy Kelley on their way into the building. She asked if she had any regrets about attacking Kairi Sane. Baszler and friends found that funny. When Kelley asked if attacking Io Shirai, when she came to help Sane, was strategy because Shirai has pinned Baszler but Baszler has never pinned Shirai, the laughing stopped. Shayna Baszler took off her sunglasses, gave Cathy Kelley a death-stare, knocked the microphone out of her hand, and walked away.
A confrontation between Mia Yim and Bianca Belair at the Performance Center was caught on camera. They yelled at each other while Robby Brookside tried to make them stop, then Belair flounced off. They have a match next week. That should be awesome.
Piper Niven def. Reina Gonzalez
Xia Brookside got a promo segment from the UK Performance Center. She acknowledged her loss to Rhea Ripley but said she’s going to train hard and invited everyone to come along on her journey with her. It was a very childlike and innocent promo, very successful in making you want her to do well.
The Nina Samuels show is ready for its highly anticipated revival in NXT UK. She’s going to move from chorus girl to leading lady, apparently. She’s been amassing a string of victories and now she wants the NXT UK Women’s Championship. She’s going after Toni Storm.
Piper Niven vs Reina Gonzalez
Piper Niven said she wanted to prove she’s the new dominant force in the NXT UK women’s division. Reina Gonzalez is a good test for that. Both women are used to being able to out-power their opponents, and neither could here.
The strength advantage just about went to Reina Gonzalez and she used it to full effect in the early part of the match. Niven spent a long time trying to fight her way back into things.
Gonzalez worked over Niven’s lower back repeatedly, which paid off when Niven tried to pick her up and couldn’t. Niven finally caught a break when she managed to dump Gonzalez over the top to the floor.
Piper Niven took a moment to recover while she waited for Gonzalez to get back in the ring, then they went blow for blow in the centre. Niven finally took Gonzalez down with a crossbody and followed it up with a senton, but it was only worth two.
Niven didn’t give Reina Gonzalez time to recover. She scooped her up and delivered a Michinoku driver for the win.
The IIconics def. Alicia Fox & Tamina
Alicia Fox & Tamina vs The IIconics
The IIconics spent most of the allotted time for the match talking trash about the town they were in. Tamina and Fox is a strange pairing, to say the least, and neither of the IIconics wanted to face Tamina. They spent the first minute after the bell tagging in and out without ever making contact with her. It was probably a good plan because Tamina put them both down within seconds.
Alicia Fox tagged herself in while Tamina was celebrating. Judging by the look on Tamina’s face, this team isn’t going to last long. Finally, we got some wrestling, or we got Peyton Royce struggling to contain Alicia Fox, then tagging in Kay for the double team and posing.
Kay was in the ring when Tamina came back in. Tamina caught her by the hair while she was trying to escape, smacked her in the face then knocked Peyton Royce off the apron.
Royce came back in just in time to save Kay from a Samoan drop and knocked Fox off the apron before Tamina grabbed her and threw her out of the ring. Billie Kay nearly capitalised with a roll-up but Tamina kicked out.
After struggling free from another Samoan drop Billie Kay tagged out then caught Tamina with a big boot. While Tamina was down, Kay held her still for Peyton Royce to knee her in the face and pick up the win.
Bianca Belair won the Women’s Battle Royal
It was Battle Royal week on Worlds Collide this week. One for the men and one for the women, and that was the show. I enjoyed it a lot. Toni Storm was included, which was a bit of a surprise.
Women’s Battle Royal featuring Bianca Belair, Taynara Conti, Kacy Catanzaro, Deonna Purrazzo, Io Shirai, Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir, Jessie, Lacey Lane, Xia Li, Kavita Devi, Kay Lee Ray, Mia Yim, Piper Niven, Reina Gonzalez, Vanessa Borne, Aliyah, and Toni Storm
Kay Lee Ray made the first move of the match, grabbing Deonna Purrazzo, and a split-second later, all was chaos. Such an interesting mix of superstars, but there was a lot of people sticking with their own brand to start with. Piper Niven and Kay Lee Ray were in one corner. Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke eliminated Lacey Lane over another. Duke and Shafir also eliminated Jessie.
Kay Lee Ray and Jessamyn Duke looks like it could be a fun match, they had a bit of an exchange that didn’t go anywhere. Piper Niven eliminated Kay Lee Ray, so I guess they’ll be picking things up on NXT UK. Deonna Purrazzo eliminated Xia Li. Kacy Catanzaro was eliminated by Reina Gonzalez when she tried to get too clever. Io Shirai pitched Purrazzo over the top rope to the floor.
Mia Yim took the opportunity to work out some of her issues with Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir. That ended with Yim crumpled in the corner, rather than any eliminations.
Reina Gonzalez eliminated Kavita Devi. Marina Shafir accidentally eliminated Jessamyn Duke while aiming for Mia Yim, then eliminated Yim moments later. Duke seemed to forgive her and told her, ‘you got this’, before she left.
Taynara Conti, who had been either on top of or the wrong side of the top rope for most of the match, was finally eliminated by Io Shirai. Marina Shafir was eliminated by Bianca Belair.
Vanessa Borne and Aliyah took turns chopping Piper Niven to no effect. Niven gave them one each in return then took them both down with a cross body. They eliminated her when she tried rebounding off the ropes, then got tipped over the top rope themselves, by Toni Storm and Io Shirai, while they were gloating. Piper Niven Chased them out of the arena.
The final four were Toni Storm, Reina Gonzalez, Bianca Belair, and Io Shirai. Gonzalez was the first to go, courtesy of Io Shirai. Toni Storm was thrown over the top by Bianca Belair. So we were left with the two top contenders in the NXT women’s division.
After a short but intense battle, Bianca Belair pressed Io Shirai over her head and dumped her out to the floor.
That’s it for another week. It definitely feels like we’re in the post-WrestleMania and Superstar Shake-up lull now, but things will pick up sooner or later. I’ll be back next week to let you know if it’s sooner.