Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It doesn’t seem like five minutes since the last go home show week, but here we are again. Elimination Chamber looks pretty good on the whole, but the highlight is definitely going to be the chamber match to award the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships. Of course, Elimination Chamber is but a mere stepping stone on the Road to WrestleMania, and that was the big focus for more of the week than you’d expect from the go home’s for a different PPV.
Nia Jax & Tamina def. The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection, and The Riott Squad
Ruby Riott def. Nikki Cross
Becky Lynch was the main storyline on RAW this week. That’s right, the suspended SmackDown superstar got the opening and closing segments, and several mini-segments throughout the show. Weird, but there you go. I’ve put the storyline together because it’s easier that way, but it dominated the show.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon opened RAW and hyped Elimination Chamber before showing footage of Becky Lynch’s antics from last week, punching McMahon and slapping Triple H. They said that over the weekend Becky Lynch saw her own doctors over the weekend, and started to introduce her, but Lynch came out before they could finish.
Becky Lynch said it was nice to be there and to see them looking so well, and that the swelling on Steph’s face had gone down. She’ll hit her harder next time.
Triple H said the whole thing escalated really quickly but it’s time to put it behind them. The things he said to Lynch last week crossed the line and he wants to apologise. Lynch saw her own doctors, not theirs, but WWE doctors have agreed that there are no tears and no structural damage to Lynch’s knee. She needs a couple of weeks rehab, then she’ll be cleared. So as of that moment, the suspension is lifted and the WrestleMania match is on.
Stephanie McMahon hyped the match up then said the match would take place if Becky Lynch could do one little thing. Lynch is a role model to girls and women everywhere are every action has a consequence. Triple H told Lynch that all she has to do is apologise for her actions. They’d apologised to her, now she had to do the same.
Becky Lynch didn’t seem to think she had anything to apologise for. She said they told her to go and see a doctor, she went and saw a doctor. She doesn’t trust them, the whole family has been screwing people over for decades. They tried to take something from her and no one is stealing her opportunity. She’ll fight anyone to get to where she wants to, even Vince McMahon, but apologise, hell no. She told them to stick their apology up their arse and tried to leave. Stephanie stood in front of her and they yelled at each other until Triple H stopped them.
He told Lynch this is not the hill she wants to die on, and to calm down. Think clearly and put her pride and stubbornness behind her. Does she want to fight there, or at WrestleMania? Does she want everything she’s ever fought and clawed for, or does she want to throw it all away right there? If telling her is the problem, then he isn’t telling her anything, he’s giving her a choice. But by the end of the night he needs her to come out and make that choice. Will she go to WrestleMania and fight Ronda Rousey and show everyone she’s The Man, or will she throw it all away? The choice is hers.
At the end of the segment, there could have been a lovely moment. Sasha Banks and Bayley came out for their match while Lynch was still in the ring, but there was no real interaction between them, aside from the briefest of acknowledgements, she just left when they got there.
Becky Lynch was featured in several backstage snippets through the show as she tried to make her decision.
The first one was a conversation with Finn Balor, which was used to interrupt Elias. Balor told her he knows a bit about being too proud for your own good. Pride is what got her here, don’t let it get the better of her. When Lio Rush and Lashley run their mouths, he wants to slap them but what good would that do. Bide your time. When the whole world is watching he’s going to take Lashley’s Intercontinental Championship. She asked him if he was saying she should apologise, he said he won’t tell her what to do. But he’s seen pride get the better of many a man, don’t let it get the better of The Man. She thanked him and complimented him on his abs.
The next was an interview when Charly Caruso asked her what she would tell the fans who have supported her if she refuses to apologise and loses her WrestleMania match. Lynch told her it was none of her business.
The third was a conversation with Ronda Rousey (during the Riott/Cross match). Rousey asked Lynch what was more important, making history or her ego. The match is bigger than them, they could break ground for women everywhere if Lynch stops cradling her pride like a baby. Rousey put her hand on Becky Lynch’s arm to tell her it’s time for The Man to man up. Apologise, even if she doesn’t mean it. If she goes out there and says anything other than sorry, she’s admitting to the world she’s too scared to face her at WrestleMania.
Finally, Alexa Bliss threw her opinion in, but her advice was different. She said as soon as Lynch apologises, she shows weakness and a lot of them really look up to her and wish they were more like her. Becky Lynch is not stupid and called Bliss on just wanting the WrestleMania place that would be freed up. Bliss, obviously, denied it and said she just wants Lynch to be true to herself. When Lynch refused to believe her, she turned and said, fine, apologise but no one will see her as The Man anymore, just the Irish girl who sold out. Lynch told her, if she does apologies then the only thing she’ll be selling out is WrestleMania, and walked away.
Becky Lynch kicked off the closing segment, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon joined her in the ring. On a side note, has anyone else noticed how McMahon-heavy this new era is?
Stephanie McMahon said it’s been a long night for all of them and asked if they were going to let cooler heads prevail, and if Lynch was going on to live her dream at WrestleMania. Triple H said, whether she believes them or not, they want this match to happen. McMahon reiterated that it could be the biggest match in WrestleMania history, but actions have consequences. They’ve apologised to her, will she do the same?
Lynch still looked conflicted and looked to the crowd. Triple H told her to shut them out, their opinions don’t matter, what does she want, does she want WrestleMania?
She said she still thinks they want her nowhere near the match and she doesn’t trust them. Yes, she got angry when she thought her opportunity was being taken away. Yes, the crowd were chanting knock them out, so she punched Stephanie and slapped Triple H, but if all that’s keeping her away from her dream is two little words – the crowd chanted, ‘suck it’, and it looked like she was tempted – she’s sorry.
As soon as it was done she turned back to them as said, now they have a deal, her path to WrestleMania and getting her hands on Ronda Rousey is clear, because if anyone tried to steal her dream away from her they would find themselves in the fight of their lives. No one is taking her dream away from her.
Triple H said he wouldn’t have it any other way. Congratulations, she’s going to WrestleMania. He and McMahon shook her hand and started to leave the ring. Lynch double checked, and Triple H confirmed, she’s going to WrestleMania.
Becky Lynch started cutting a promo on Ronda Rousey and Rousey strode down to the ring to hear it in person. She’d barely stepped in the ring when Vince McMahon came to the stage.
He said Stephanie is right, it could be one of the greatest main events of all time. It could be. But he thinks Becky Lynch thinks she’s bigger than WWE, she’s got a bad attitude and so has Rousey. Lynch isn’t The Man, Vince McMahon is the man, and sometimes the man has to make difficult decisions. He’s not accepting her apology and he suspended her for 60 day, which takes us to five days after WrestleMania.
They need someone to take her place. Someone with charisma and charm. Someone who knows their lane and they stay in it. Someone who’s going to take Ronda Rousey to the absolute limit. They need… Charlotte Flair.
Flair came out and told Rousey to get used to seeing this, because it’s what she’d be seeing at the end of the WrestleMania match, new RAW women’s champion, Charlotte Flair. He raised Flair’s arm to end the show.
People got very cross online. Fair enough, if this is the WrestleMania match we actually end up with, I’ll be upset as well. But WrestleMania is the beginning of April and we’re still in February. It’s more than a bit too early to get all worked up about it yet. It does significantly raise the probability of a triple-threat instead of the one on one we actually need to see, but it will be weeks before we know exactly what’s going to happen.
The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection vs The Riott Squad vs Nia Jax & Tamina
This was the first match of the night and had Elimination Chamber implications. The losing team will start the chamber match against a SmackDown team to be decided in the same way on SmackDown.
During Banks and Bayley’s entrance, their Elimination Chamber promo was played in a little box. They talked about their fallings out and how strong it had made them. Nothing can break them, now they just have to live their dreams and win the tag titles. Nia Jax and Tamina got theirs as well. They just believe they’re going to win because they’re the biggest and strongest. After Sunday, they say the Elimination Chamber will need to be renamed the Samoan Slaughterhouse.
Sasha Banks and Nia Jax started things off, kind of anyway. Banks slapped Jax’ face then tagged in Liv Morgan and got out of the ring. When Morgan tried to tag either Banks or Bayley back in, they both jumped off the apron. Sarah Logan had her teammates back though, so she came in to take the punishment on her behalf.
When Jax tagged Tamina in, The Riott Squad briefly overpowered her, or Logan did anyway. When Morgan came back in Tamina got the control back by slamming her into the mat.
Bayley and Sasha Banks were happily staying out of it, which would have been their best bet. After all, it was the losing team that received a disadvantage, there was no advantage for the winners other than bragging rights. Regardless, Bayley tagged herself in when Liv Morgan had managed to get Nia Jax to her knees, and that’s where it all went wrong for The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection. While Nia Jax was bulldozing Bayley in the ring, Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan were taking Banks down and out at ringside. It was a knee in the face from Sarah Logan, while Banks was against the barricade, that put her down, and she didn’t get up. She was later led from the arena by medics.
That left the other two teams versus Bayley, at least until Bayley managed to give herself a bit of respite by tagging in an unwitting Liv Morgan. The Riott Squad used quick tags to double team and keep Tamina down, which worked for them for a while, but Tamina fought back enough to tag in Jax, and Sarah Logan was in trouble.
For reasons best known to herself, Bayley not only got back on the apron but tagged herself in on a struggling Tamina. To her credit, she was fired up and taking on all comers, fighting both Tamina and Liv Morgan at one point, and taking down Ruby Riott on the outside. She landed the elbow drop on Morgan, but it was broken up by Sarah Logan. She also delivered a Bayley to Belly to Liv Morgan, which was broken up by a superkick from Tamina.
That gave Tamina a choice. Bayley and Liv Morgan were the two legal competitors, and they were both down. She dragged Morgan to her corner so Jax could tag herself in, and a Samoan drop to Bayley secured the victory, and put The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection into the chamber first.
Nikki Cross vs Ruby Riott
I was so happy to see this match, Riott and Cross are so much fun in the ring together. Sadly, some of the match was missed due to a cutaway to the conversation between Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey.
Cross’ chaotic aggression marks her as different, and it works for her for the most part. She had the better of Ruby Riott for significant chunks of the match and got to run through a few of her signature moves, like catching Riott up in the ring skirt.
Ruby Riott lost a significant number of her hair extensions through the match, not sure what was going on there, but you could see the ref collecting them up just before Cross dropped Riott on the apron then launched herself onto her.
The end came suddenly and while Cross was in full flow. She went to the top turnbuckle but Riott sent her crashing to the mat with a kick to her leg, dragged her up and delivered a Riott kick for the win.
It’s a shame that Cross is coming in on something of a losing streak, but she didn’t look remotely weak for it in this match, and a loss for Riott a few days before Elimination Chamber would have been a bad look.
The IIconics’ Elimination Chamber interview was also shown as a segment on RAW. They said winning the title would make everything they’ve been through for the last fourteen years, worth it.
Fabulous Glow def. Fire & Desire, and The IIconics
The Vince McMahon segment that closed RAW was used to open SmackDown this week before Charlotte Flair came to the ring.
She said, ‘since day one I told you that this was my destiny. I really want to tell you that my heart breaks for Becky, but it doesn’t’. She joined in the ‘Becky’ chant. She thought she taught her better than to be dumb enough to get suspended, but here we are. Just like before Survivor Series when she attacked the RAW superstars, got injured and dropped the ball. Who did she choose to replace her in the match against Rousey? She chose Flair so the myth of The Man could remain intact and The Queen could go to battle. No one wants to admit it, but everyone, including Becky Lynch, knows that Flair is the backbone of the division, the franchise player, and she is a winner.
Everyone thinks Vince McMahon chose her because she’s his favourite. No, he made a smart business decision. He chose a future Hall of Famer instead of someone who’s had a few good months. In response to the crowd chanting for Lynch, Flair did a big pantomime saying maybe if she points at the sign and chants Becky, she’ll come out. She didn’t, so she continued. Mr McMahon chose her because the main event of WrestleMania is the biggest match of the year and you’re not going to risk it on a flash in the pan like Becky Lynch.
We may not be happy with Mr McMahon’s decision, but she promises that WrestleMania is going to be like every other PPV she has main evented. That everyone will be standing on their feet chanting, ‘This is Awesome’. So boo her now, we’re welcome. She wants to dedicate this history-making WrestleMania victory she’s going to have, to her best friend, Becky Lynch.
The crowd started chanting ‘you suck’ and Flair replied ‘what’ a few times then said she’s main-eventing WrestleMania. She spoke to camera with a message for Rousey, she’s got a front row seat for her Elimination Chamber match against Ruby Riott. She’s just scouting, she promises not to interfere. Maybe Riott will win and she’ll get a new WrestleMania opponent.
Fabulous Glow vs Fire & Desire vs The IIconics
The same match as last week, and the same format as the match on RAW – loser is the first team into the chamber. No problem with that, but it does make me question whether last week’s match was useful. I’ve gone with the tag team names here, WWE don’t seem to be consistent with them. One minute they’re in use, the next they’re not.
The Elimination Chamber promos for the three teams were played before the match started. The IIconics’ was the interview showed on RAW. Fire & Desire said they’ve been making history since they arrived and, apart from Sasha and Bayley, they’re the only ones who have been inside an Elimination Chamber. It just makes sense for them to become the first champions. Fabulous Glow said the fact they’re a new tag team is their advantage, no one knows what to expect from them.
The match itself was decent. Of course, the storyline within the storyline was everyone waiting for Naomi to get her hands on Mandy Rose again. It happened not too long into the match when Deville tagged her in and Naomi tagged herself in on Carmella. Rose wanted nothing to do with Naomi. She ran away, then tried tagging in one of the IIconics, but both jumped off the apron, then ran away again. Carmella intercepted her and stopped her running around the ring, and Naomi flew over the top rope and took her down.
The IIconics got to stand on the apron and watch the match, watch their competition beat each other down, and save themselves for Sunday. It’s a good strategy when the loser gets a penalty and the winners get nothing, just stay out of it.
After a stint of Carmella and Deville, it was back to Mandy Rose and Naomi. Naomi was extra fired up because Rose had just knocked her off the apron, and she launched herself off the top rope to re-enter the match.
She soon had Rose reeling and Deville tried to make the save. Naomi tipped her over the top rope to the apron, and Carmella superkicked her off. One split-legged moonsault later, Naomi finally got the pin on Mandy Rose to put Rose and Deville into the Elimination Chamber first.
While Naomi and Carmella were celebrating, The IIconics attacked them from behind and put a solid beatdown on them, leaving them laying at ringside.
After the structure of the Elimination Chamber match was discussed – two teams start, the other teams are in pods and released at regular intervals – there were recorded promos from the RAW teams, or most of them.
Bayley’s was from backstage after her match, so she was on her own. She said she’s never met anyone with as much heart and passion as Sasha Banks. The injury won’t stop her, she will be there because they have each other’s backs.
Nia Jax and Tamina, mainly Nia Jax because she kept talking over Tamina, seem to be working with a put everyone down until they can’t get up anymore style strategy. It’s a good strategy for them.
Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan will do anything to protect each other. Their loyalty knows no bounds. They’ll do whatever it takes to protect each other and come out with the tag team titles.
One quick question – where the hell is Asuka? This is the second week where she hasn’t even been mentioned. She’s the SmackDown women’s champion and she hasn’t got a match for Elimination Chamber, or even a suggestion of an opponent for WrestleMania. What’s going on with that?
Aliyah def. Taynara Conti
We got to see Io Shirai and Kairi Sane’s post-match interview from last week. Shirai said she’s proved she can beat Shayna Baszler and she’s coming for the NXT Women’s Championship. Kairi Sane was in the middle of saying they were both coming for it when they were interrupted by Bianca Belair.
Belair said it was cool Io pinned Shayna that night, and she has no problem with either of them, But, before Shirai pinned her, she’s the one who had Baszler beaten in that match and at TakeOver. They need to fall back, the title is hers because she’s un-de-fea-ted.
Taynara Conti vs Aliyah
I described Aliyah’s current incarnation as a cross between Carmella and Jinny, and I don’t think that’s far off. At least it’s been consistent for a while now. Taynara Conti is just as she was, she just needs to be used more.
Vanessa Borne made her way to ringside early in the match and just stood watching. Aliyah has cultivated a vicious streak that really suits her. Conti still relies heavily on her martial arts background, which made for an interesting stylistic mix.
Aliyah had the best of the offence until Conti sent her face first into the turnbuckle and took control. But it was Borne who was the deciding factor in the match. She grabbed Conti’s leg as she climbed the turnbuckle and Taynara Conti didn’t have time to recover. Aliyah dragged her off the turnbuckle by her hair and slammed her into the mat then submitted her with a combination of submission hold and repeated kicks to the head.
After the match, Borne got into the ring and made sure Aliyah knew she’d helped her. She raised Aliyah’s arm, then Shayna Baszler’s music hit and they scattered. They backed up the ramp but only made it a few paces before Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir attacked them from behind and threw them back into the ring. Baszler took down Aliyah, Duke and Shafir dealt with Borne, then Baszler too out Conti too. She grabbed a mic and said, ‘This is your reality now. Do not get in our way, do not question us, and absolutely do not piss us off.’
Jinny def. Mia Yim
A Toni Storm in-ring promo started this week’s NXT UK. She said she didn’t think it could get much better than winning the Mae Young Classic, but then she went to NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool and became the women’s champion. She knew the second she won that Rhea Ripley would be after her rematch and that’s fine. But what’s not fine is the way Ripley acts and the way she treats people. She’s nothing more than a bully. A lot of people say they’ll be a fighting champion, that’s not just words for Storm, because she’s already kicked Rhea Ripley’s arse and she will happily kick her arse again.
Rhea Ripley came out then and said at NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool Storm got lucky. She is the first ever NXT UK women’s champion. And she is sick and tired of everyone comparing her to Storm when they should be comparing Storm to her. She hates Toni Storm, her hair, her face, but most of all, the fact she has her championship. But she has her rematch.
Toni Storm said that’s nice but doesn’t she think they’ve talked enough, then dived at her. Ripley barely got a blow in before she rolled out of the ring. As she backed up the ramp she told Storm she has her rematch and Storm won’t have her title for much longer.
The match takes place on next week’s show.
Mia Yim vs Jinny
I’ve been looking forward to this match. I’m a big fan of both women, but I don’t necessarily think NXT UK has seen the best of Jinny.
They started with an interesting mix of technical exchange and hair pulling (by Jinny) with the addition of fingernails scraped down an arm (also by Jinny).
Yim cartwheeled out of Jinny’s hurricanrana. Jinny got to the ropes on Yim’s armbar attempt. Driving Yim’s face into the turnbuckle gave Jinny a two count, but she couldn’t make it stick. She’d built a bit of momentum and worked on Mia Yim’s back while trash-talking and belittling her.
Yim got to the ropes, just barely, to avoid being submitted and caught Jinny up in the ropes with a submission to give herself some breathing space.
It was Yim’s turn to build some momentum, which she did with a series of strikes and a cannonball in the corner. A knee to the face almost pulled it back for Jinny, but Yim suplexed her into the corner and Jinny rolled out of the ring. Mia Yim followed her and caught a kick to the face when she got back in. That, and Jinny’s feet on the ropes, were all it took to finish the match in Jinny’s favour.
I’d like to see a match between the two of them with more time to develop than it’s possible to give them on a one hour show.
There was no original women’s division action on Main Event this week. They did explain the rules of the women’s tag team elimination chamber match though. They also covered RAW’s opening and closing segments and SmackDown’s opening segment.
Elimination Chamber – Preview and Prediction
Ronda Rousey (C) vs Ruby Riott – RAW Women’s Championship match
The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection vs The Riott Squad vs Nia Jax & Tamina vs Fire & Desire vs The IIconics vs Fabulous Glow – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match
The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection vs The Riott Squad vs Nia Jax & Tamina vs Fire & Desire vs The IIconics vs Fabulous Glow – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match
I have no idea if I’m honest. I could build a reasonable case in favour of most of the teams. It would be lovely to see The IIconics validate 14 years of struggle. The Riott Squad have been so good since their formation, they would be more than worthy champions. Nia Jax and Tamina have a clear power advantage over all of their opponents. Naomi and Carmella are both former single’s champions, as are Bayley and Sasha Banks.
Of all the teams, it’s The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection that makes the most sense. Except, they’re in first, so would have to outlast everyone else, and WWE seem to still be teasing that all might not be completely right with them. Sasha Banks hasn’t wrestled on RAW the last couple of weeks, although she’s technically been part of matches, and she was led from the arena this week by medics. There is clearly supposed to be questions surrounding her fitness.
I’m still inclined to go with The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection, even if I’d actually rather see The Riott Squad win it. This isn’t just about moving the storylines forward, after all, we haven’t yet been told how title defences will work with the titles being cross-brand. The Elimination Chamber match is about history. The first owners of this incarnation of Women’s Tag Team Championships. Does that accolade go to the newer stars, marking the future of the division, or does it go to the established stars who are stacking up history-making moments on their way to future Hall of Fame entries?
I’m hoping to be surprised by the result, but for the purposes of prediction, I’ll go with my gut feeling.
Prediction: The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection
Ronda Rousey (C) vs Ruby Riott – RAW Women’s Championship match
Ronda Rousey is not losing the title before WrestleMania. It will be a great match and I’m very happy to see Riott making a brief visitation to the title picture, but she’s not winning even if Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan lend a hand. I’m hoping they won’t, they’ve got the Elimination Chamber match to worry about and it would be good to see Riott fly solo like she did with Nikki Cross this week. Hopefully, the next title match she’s in will be less of a foregone conclusion.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey
Enjoy Elimination Chamber. I’ll be back next week with all the results and fallout from the PPV and everything else affecting WWE’s women’s divisions. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover or anything you want to chat about, tweet me @manda_why.