Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. No small talk intro this week, we’ve got WrestleMania and everything that came after to talk about.
Carmella won the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal
The IIconics def. The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection, Nia Jax & Tamina, and Beth Phoenix & Natalya
Becky Lynch def. Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair
WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal – Mickie James, Dana Brooke, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan, Carmella, Naomi, Nikki Cross, Zelina Vega, Maria Kanellis, Kairi Sane, Ember Moon, Lana, Candice LeRae, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Asuka – Kickoff Show
Naomi and Asuka were the only ones who got separate entrances, everyone else just filed in and waited in the ring. Candice LeRae, Maria Kanellis, Kairi Sane, and Ember Moon were the surprise entrants. Good to see Ember Moon back from injury, that was the first highlight of the night.
Nikki Cross got things going, swinging her jacket around then screaming at the rest of the women. She chased Maria Kanellis across the ring and Ember Moon made Kanellis the first elimination. Asuka quickly eliminated Candice LeRae and Nikki Cross a few moments later by hip-attacking them off opposite aprons.
Ember Moon and Naomi gave us a taster of how good a feud between them could be before Moon eliminated Naomi, ensuring a new winner. Lana eliminated Ember Moon then got into a confrontation with Kairi Sane before being eliminated by Sarah Logan.
Logan took an InSane Elbow from Kairi Sane, who was then eliminated by Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan.
The Riott Squad worked together until Dana Brooke eliminated Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan in quick succession. Which is good because their revenge attempts should ensure Brooke at least a couple of tv matches.
Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville threw Zelina Vega out by working together, then Dana Brooke. Mickie James eliminated Mandy Rose then got eliminated by Sonya Deville.
With just Sarah Logan, Sonya Deville, and Asuka in the ring, it turned into a fight, albeit a short one. Sonya Deville was taken by Asuka, who then followed her courtesy of Sarah Logan.
Sarah Logan thought she’d won when she tossed Asuka over the top rope, but Carmella appeared behind her having never been eliminated. Logan put Carmella on her shoulder and tried to pitch her over the top rope, but Carmella wriggled free, got Logan over the top rope and superkicked her off the apron after a struggle.
Alexa Bliss didn’t have much to do as WrestleMania host. She made a brief appearance on the Kickoff Show. She opened the show and brought out Hulk Hogan. Hogan talked, they posed together, then got interrupted by Paul Heyman storming to the ring. She spoke to Michael Che and Colin Jost in the trainer’s room after their André The Giant Battle Royal ordeal on the Kickoff Show. She advertised Daniel Bryan collectors’ edition shirts celebrating his win – he lost – with The B-Team. Finally, she came out before the main event to announce the attendance figures. Has there ever been a year where there wasn’t some kind of attendance record broken? She also introduced R-Truth and Carmella to do an extra-long dance break, something absolutely no one wanted six and three-quarter hours (including the Kickoff Show) into a seven and a half hour show.
Lacey Evans got to do her catwalk thing on the grandest stage of them all.
The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection vs Nia Jax & Tamina vs The IIconics vs Natalya & Beth Phoenix – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match
Paige joined commentary for the match. Bret Hart joined Natalya and Phoenix on the stage.
Standard, two teams in the ring at any one time, set up. Bayley and Tamina got things underway. Tamina’s tactic was to try to knock all the other competitors off the apron, which led to the first breakdown of the match and Nia Jax being launched into the steps by Beth Phoenix and Natalya. In the meantime, Peyton Royce tagged herself in when Tamina went flying into the ringpost and Bayley tagged in Sasha Banks.
The IIconics kept control of things for a while. They knocked Bayley to the floor to stop Banks tagging her, but she was soon back and back in the ring against Beth Phoenix, who had tagged herself in on Royce… until Billie Kay tagged herself in and reduced the tag champs to watching the action.
Royce and Kay took a double suplex from Phoenix and Billie Kay took a Hart Attack as well. Bayley had to come in to save the match and Banks tagged in on Kay. Banks tried to tap Phoenix out with the Bank Statement, but Beth Phoenix wouldn’t give up and Banks found herself rolling out of an attempted Glam Slam.
Natalya put both members of The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection in a Sharpshooter, but a kick in the head from Tamina made her let go. Phoenix charged in to deal with Tamina and got levelled by Nia Jax then took double headbutts from Jax and Tamina. The IIconics tried to ambush Jax and Tamina while they were posing, having thrown Phoenix from the ring, and took simultaneous Samoan drops.
Bayley and Sasha Banks were about to take simultaneous splashes when Beth Phoenix knocked Nia Jax from the top turnbuckle to the floor. Tamina got down and ran around, only to get flattened by Natalya and Phoenix. They turned around to double knees from the apron from Sasha Banks.
Bayley landed an elbow on Phoenix, Banks followed with a frogsplash, but Beth Phoenix kicked out. Natalya took Sasha Banks out of the equation with a powerbomb. Phoenix brought Bayley down to the canvas with a Glam Slam from the top rope. While she was covering her, Peyton Royce grabbed Phoenix by the hair and threw her out of the ring while Billie Kay pinned Bayley for the win.
It was a beautifully emotional moment for The IIconics, the culmination of a long journey for them. Love a WrestleMania moment. It was also one of the strangest decisions WWE have made in a while. There is a long list of reasons Bayley and Sasha Banks were the right choices to keep holding the new titles, not least of which is the prestige difference between facing two of WWE’s Four Horsewomen and facing two women who just aren’t ready to be the top of the pile yet. I’ve got a lot of time for The IIconics, screeching aside. Peyton Royce, especially, has stepped up so hard in the last couple of years, and they have the best tag work on the main roster. They’re just not the team to build the reputation of brand-new titles on, yet.
It seems I’m not the only one who thinks so. The rumour mill, and Sasha Banks’ Twitter account, suggest Banks and Bayley are severely upset with the situation. Banks is currently having a few days off, but the speculation is that one or both may leave WWE sooner rather than later. That would be a shame for WWE fans, there are years worth of stories to tell with both of them.
One person we definitely won’t be seeing in a WWE ring for a while is Nia Jax. She tweeted, stating that she needs ACL repair surgery on both knees. That’s got to be around the nine months out mark, possibly longer. Hopefully, it turns out straightforward and her recovery goes well.
Natalya also got to stand with her Uncle, Bret Hart, representing her father, Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart, in the Hall of Fame class of 2019. She had been onstage with Hart when he was tackled by a fan at the Hall of Fame ceremony and was pulled from the chaos there by New Day.
Ronda Rousey (C) vs Charlotte Flair (C) vs Becky Lynch – RAW and SmackDown Women’s Championship match – Winner Take All
Charlotte Flair got a helicopter entrance. Her dad apparently did the same thing in a show I’m supposed to remember but don’t. She had plenty of time to walk into and through the arena while Joan Jett and the Blackhearts played Ronda Rousey in. Becky Lynch just got a normal entrance, which was a nice reinforcement of the storyline dynamics.
There was a brief standoff after the bell rang, then they all moved at once and Flair stepped back to let Rousey and Lynch go at it. Rousey was not playing. She went back and forth between Lynch and Flair, beating on them inside then outside the ring. A shove into the ringpost from Lynch followed by a suplex from Flair stopped her eventually.
That left Lynch and Flair to have their WrestleMania moment alone, just not for long. Lynch and Flair worked together briefly, to deal with Rousey. Becky Lynch’s dropkick, while Rousey had Flair hung up in the ropes, sent Ronda Rousey crashing awkwardly to the floor via a nasty looking bump on the apron.
Amazingly, Rousey was back within a minute or so. The fall looked like it should have kept her down longer than that. She broke up Lynch’s Dis-Arm-Her on Flair, then Flair had to prevent Rousey locking an armbar on Lynch. A double Natural Selection only got Flair a two count, and she dumped Lynch out of the ring to deal with Rousey.
They went strike for strike until Flair worked Rousey into a submission, then Lynch returned. Becky Lynch delivered a Bex-ploder to Flair from the top rope, then Rousey tentatively launched herself off the top turnbuckle onto them.
Rousey went for a double armbar, got powerbombed but held on, and got powerbombed twice more. Flair threw Lynch out of the ring and tried to pin Rousey, but Rousey kicked out.
Flair rolled out of the ring, with a bit of help from Becky Lynch after nearly getting pinned and Lynch got Rousey in a Dis-Arm-Her but Rousey got to the ropes and used them to pull herself up. Lynch had another go while she was sat on the turnbuckle and Rousey was stood on the apron, but a kick from Flair put paid to that and Flair delivered a Spanish Fly to Becky Lynch. It was still only worth two.
Another attempt at a Dis-Arm-Her, this time on Flair, saw Lynch sent headfirst into the turnbuckle and kicked out of the ring. Flair started to work over Rousey’s heavily bruised knee in preparation for the Figure Eight. A figure four around the ringpost was kicked apart by Lynch, who then met the barrier courtesy of Flair.
Rousey nearly got the pin on Flair from a roll-up. Flair might have made Rousey submit in the Figure Eight if Becky Lynch’s leg hadn’t landed on her abdomen. Then Becky Lynch brought out a table.
She set it up in the centre of the ring and was immediately smashed into it and laid on it by Flair. Flair went to the top, Rousey pushed her to the floor then flipped the table over. That interaction was halted by a double spear from Flair. Charlotte Flair set the table up in the corner and bounced Rousey’s head off it. Rousey and Lynch worked together for just long enough to put Flair through the table.
The finish was abrupt and odd. Becky Lynch pinned Ronda Rousey with a crucifix as a reversal of Piper’s pit, but Rousey’s shoulders weren’t on the mat for the entire count. It appears that may have been referee error, and there was talk of him being fined after the match, but rumours are exactly that. It would also appear the Ronda Rousey may have broken her hand during the match. Becky Lynch looking for her mam in the crowd was a lovely post-match moment.
Alexa Bliss def. Bayley
Alexa Bliss vs Bayley
Alexa Bliss challenged either Sasha Banks or Bayley to a match via social media. She got Bayley because Banks is on ‘holiday’. Bliss decided the best way to start things off would be taunting Bayley about losing the tag titles. She was wrong, Bayley forearmed her in the face and started to take her frustrations out on Bliss.
That didn’t last long, just until Bliss pulled Bayley out of the ring by her feet and punched her in the face. Bliss had the best of it for a while but Bayley’s fightback showed a more ruthless side to her. She cheated, or tried to, by holding the ropes while attempting to pin Bliss. The ref saw and halted it, but the kick in the face that followed and the way she flipped Bliss into the turnbuckle suggested she was working out some anger.
Bliss rolled out of the ring after the impact with the turnbuckle and following her was Bayley’s undoing. The first time she tried to get back in the ring Bliss kicked her in the face. The second time, Bliss delivered a DDT and pinned her.
Not great, especially with the ever-strengthening rumours that either Banks, Bayley, or both, could be leaving the company. I’m hoping that it’s just a lead-in to a tag team attitude change. We’ll see.
Brand new RAW and SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch visited RAW to celebrate. The first thing she told the crowd was that nine years ago she worked in a bar not far from the arena. Then she had to wait for a wave of, ‘You Deserve It’, chants to die out and said, ‘Thank you guys, we did it. Becky Two Belts.’
For months now, Ronnie and Ric’s daughter went hoarse talking about how their resumés were too strong for her, but at WrestleMania the woman who walked in with nothing left with everything. She knows she’s not the strongest, fastest, most athletic person in the company, but she has a good theme song – the crowd were singing it – leaving home at fifteen to fight around the world taught her to be a master of survival. She will always persist, she will always overcome and she will always find a way to win in the end. She laid out a challenge to Rousey for a rematch, well she offered to slap the empty head off her shoulders and called her a little weirdo again. And she said the McMahon family would probably hand Flair the tag team titles to help her get over losing to her again.
As for right here right now, she knows that women in both divisions have seen what’s possible and they want that for themselves. She respects that. She knows she’s a marked woman. But just remember, she’s the redhead in leather with two shiny titles ready to slap the heads off them all.
As Lynch was leaving the ring, Lacey Evans appeared to do her catwalk bit. She walked straight up to Becky Lynch and the two stared each other down. Instead of walking away when she turned, as expected, Lacey Evans swung back and gave Becky Lynch the Woman’s Right.
Becky Lynch wasn’t taking that. She charged up the ramp after her and it turned into a proper brawl, all punches and handfuls of hair until they got to the stage. Becky Lynch got Evans in a Dis-Arm-Her and officials tried to split them up, but Evans managed to slip away and off the stage.
Dana Brooke commandeered a backstage segment to send her congratulations to Becky Lynch. She also said she can see there is a line forming to get to Lynch and while she may not be at the front of it, she’s not at the back anymore. If there is an opportunity for her in the title picture, she will seize the moment. She finished by sending her congratulations to Becky Lynch again.
The IIconics def. Karissa & Kristen – The Brooklyn Belles
The IIconics vs Karissa & Kristen – The Brooklyn Belles
Before their match, the brand-new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions talked about defying the odds to win the titles and shrieked a lot. They’re going to be fighting champions, and they’ll defend their titles at any time against any team. In that spirit, they had invited along ‘the best tag team they could find in Brooklyn’, or local enhancement talent as they’re otherwise known. The authority on these things (@ifyouseekcasey) identified them as Karissa Rivera and Kris Statlander.
Unsurprisingly, The IIconics won the match. To be honest, it wasn’t significantly shorter than some of the recent regular women’s division matches.
Paige was shown watching backstage and got an interview after the match. She has announced she’ll be bringing a new tag team to the Superstar Shake-up. It’s widely assumed to be The Sky Pirates, Kairi Sane and Io Shirai, which would make sense. I’d really like it if it wasn’t. Sane and Shirai totally deserve main roster spots and I know that NXT needing them doesn’t factor into the decision making, but NXT needs them. That said, the main roster tag division may just need them more. There are three options I’d like to see Paige bring up, none of which I think are likely – Lacey Lane & Kacy Catanzaro, Vanessa Borne & Aliyah, and Kay Lee Ray and Piper Niven. I just think any of those pairings leaving would hurt their respective brands less, but I could see them all stepping into main roster life under Paige’s guidance, especially Lane and Catanzaro.
Becky Lynch was on SmackDown as well as RAW. She’s going to be busy with two titles. She said that on Sunday she did exactly what she said she’d do and overcame Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair in the main event of WrestleMania. In doing so, she became the first ever women’s dual champion, the champ champ, Becky Two Belts. She thinks that sounds like cause for celebration, which is what she tried to do on RAW, then she showed footage of Lacey Evans punching her and the ensuing brawl.
She said Lacey Evans finally decided to get her gloves dirty and hit her with a rocket of a right hand. That punch reminded her that she is holding two big targets. And even though the Superstar Shake-up is next week, as long as she’s holding two shiny titles, she’ll be pulling double duty. She knows there is a tsunami of challenges coming for The Man and to that she says, ‘Bring on every last one of them’. Because she wants to make this the most talked about run in all of WWE, so if she has to beat everyone in the locker room, if she has to take more beatings, if she has to sleep with one eye open for the rest of her career, she will. She has walked through hell to get those titles so anyone trying to take them away from her will meet a red-headed devil.
Lacey Evans came out and attacked Becky Lynch while she faced the crowd from the stage, with a Woman’s Right that sent Lynch sprawling down the ramp. Evans just stood there looking distastefully as Lynch struggled to get back to her feet.
Candice LeRae def. Aliyah
Candice LeRae vs Aliyah
I was really excited when Candice LeRae arrived in NXT, and very disappointed with how much of her time was spent being Mrs Johnny Gargano. It’s definitely time for her to step up and stake her claim to the title picture. Commentary said Aliyah has been in NXT for five years. I had no idea it was so long, I hope this is the character that finally sticks for her.
The match opened the show so, if they were shown in the order filmed, Candice LeRae was in both the opening and closing moments of NXT TakeOver: New York.
It was fairly even at the start until Aliyah spent too much time posing in the corner and got dropkicked out of the ring. Vanessa Borne distracted LeRae on the outside when she followed, and Aliyah bounced her midsection off the ropes as she tried to get back in the ring.
Aliyah had a great few minutes after that, but she spends way too much time showing off. She had a few close two counts, but her frustration started to show when she asked LeRae who she thought she was and slapped her.
Candice LeRae decided to show her. Aliyah didn’t get another offensive move in before LeRae dispatched her with a springboard moonsault.
As this was the NXT after TakeOver, we saw Shayna Baszler’s post-match interview. Baszler said it doesn’t matter who they put in front of her or how many girls out of the locker room they want to throw at her she’s taking them all out and she’s never losing the title.
Piper Niven def. Killer Kelly Toni Storm def. Jinny
NXT UK feels like it’s been left out of the whole WrestleMania weekend hype. The World’s Collide tournament was filmed, but the only NXT UK match over the weekend was Pete Dunne losing the WWE UK Championship to WALTER at TakeOver. The women’s division took focus this week though, we got a title match and another women’s division match.
The pre-credits for the show was a hype package for Toni Storm’s title match against Jinny. They showed tiny snippets of their Progress matches as well as NXT UK and Mae Young Classic footage. It’s a bit of a shame they couldn’t have devoted more time to it, there is a wealth of history between them to draw on.
Piper Niven vs Killer Kelly
This was Piper Niven’s official debut, so I think we knew how it was going to be. At least it was a proper match with a proper member of the roster, much more respectful than a meaningless squash.
Killer Kelly has proved herself to be a formidable opponent, but she got only token offence mid-way through the match. Her attempt to suplex Niven was unsuccessful, but when Niven picked her up she turned it into a sleeper. That didn’t work either and it was her last half-chance. Piper Niven slammed her into the mat and pinned her shortly after.
Rhea Ripley tried to sneak attack Niven after the match but retreated quickly when she got caught.
Toni Storm (C) vs Jinny – NXT UK Women’s Championship match
The main event of the evening. It’s always good when these two fight. It’s a long time since they had to hold anything back against each other. They flew at each other when the bell rang, but it was Toni Storm who got the early advantage and Jinny found herself crawling to the ropes to break a submission.
Tables turn fast though and it wasn’t long before Storm was battling to get out of back to back submission holds from Jinny, until she reversed one and had Jinny crawling for the ropes again.
It got vicious when the submission attempts were over and Jinny started working on Storm’s lower back, where she’s had previous injuries. Jinny had her best portion of the match with near falls and Storm looked to be in trouble.
Inevitably, Toni Storm fought her way back in with a trio of suplexes, although it took two attempts to get the third one. Jinny fought out of Storm Zero and DDT’d Storm in the corner. Storm barely managed to get her foot on the ropes.
Jinny attempting the Storm Zero earned her a headbutt from Storm and they punched it out in the centre of the ring until Jinny swung Toni Storm’s head into her knee.
Toni Storm decided enough was enough. Powerbomb, Storm Zero, And Still…
No original women’s division action on Main Event this week, but plenty of Becky Lynch. We got highlights of her appearance on RAW, including Lacey Evans’ attack.
That’s it for a very long week of wrestling. WrestleMania is over but it’s onwards and upwards and there’s always another PPV around the corner. I’ll be back next week as we start the build towards it.