Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. We’re continuing our progress along the Road to WrestleMania with another big stop on the route. Elimination Chamber kicked off the week with the crowning of the new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions.
The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection won the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships
Ronda Rousey def. Ruby Riott
Nothing much to report from the Kickoff show. The Riott Squad got a nice promo segment, which was interrupted by Charlotte Flair. Flair wanted to give Riott a pep talk, telling her to channel all her aggression to beat Rousey and face her at WrestleMania.
Alexa Bliss had a promo segment as well. She called herself the lucky charm of the women’s division because of the number of historic firsts that have happened since her debut. She also took a shot at Becky Lynch by saying maybe she’d still be talking about selling out WrestleMania if she’d taken her advice. Finally, she got round to endorsing Nia Jax and Tamina as her pick to win the tag titles.
Mark Henry predicted a win for The IIconics.
The Boss ‘N’ Hug connection vs The IIconics vs Fire & Desire vs Nia Jax & Tamina vs Naomi & Carmella vs The Riott Squad – Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships
This match has been added to my match of the year contender list. I really thought it was that good. Earlier in the day, the rumour had been that the match would headline the show, but in the end it was the opener and it ran around 35 minutes bell to bell. If I ran through all the highlights, this column would end up novel-length, so I’ll keep it brief.
As determined by the previous week’s RAW and SmackDown matches, The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection and Fire & Desire were the two teams to start the match. They’re also the only two teams to have previous experience of the chamber. They beat each other up pretty good in the opening stint, but there were no eliminations before The Riott Squad joined the party.
The women always take advantage of any props they get to play with, like there is still a novelty value in being allowed to use them now. The chain link of the structure, the pods, and the (covered) metal grates surrounding the ring came into play a lot.
The compulsory mega-tower of doom spot came during this segment. It involved, Rose and Deville trying to suplex Bayley off the turnbuckle, and Logan and Morgan getting underneath them. Bayley was at the top so she took the brunt of it, but everyone was down when the next pod opened (Sasha Banks was motionless next to one of the pods).
The IIconics were out next and they tried unsuccessfully to pin everyone. They settled into working over Banks, who was in a bad way and holding her kinesio taped arm and shoulder. They hadn’t managed to make any headway by the time Naomi and Carmella brought the number of women in the chamber to ten.
The next few minutes were just a beautiful continuous exchange of moves. Everyone took something from someone at some point and it left everyone laying. Carmella nearly got Deville to tap to the Code of Silence, but Mandy Rose broke the pin then had to deal with Naomi. Unfortunately, Naomi celebrated after hitting Rose with the Rear View and she got rolled up and held down by Royce and Kay. Naomi and Carmella became the first elimination.
Nia Jax and Tamina were let out of their pod just as the rest of the teams were about to take down The IIconics, and all hell broke loose.
For some reason, The IIconics hid in one of the glass pods, completely unable to escape as Jax and Tamina approached from either side, prised it open, pulled an IIconic each out by the hair, and swung them into the chainlink. Royce and Kay’s suffering was short-lived though. Jax and Tamina threw them into the ring and eliminated them with synchronised Samoan drops.
The Riott squad climbed on top of a pod. Jax and Tamina approached from opposite sides but got caught up fighting Rose and Deville until Logan and Morgan launched themselves off the pod onto one fighting duo each.
Jax caught hold of Morgan’s leg as she tried to climb a pod again and delivered a Samoan drop from the second turnbuckle. Tamina followed that up with a splash from the top turnbuckle to both Logan and Morgan, and the Riott Squad were eliminated.
Down to three teams, Bayley and Banks went straight for Jax and Tamina, with limited success. Jax threw them around a bit then charged at Bayley. Bayley moved and Nia Jax hit the pod so hard one of the panes cracked. She was motionless as the other four women in the ring banded together to eliminate Tamina, by each taking a shot at her then all piling on top for the pin.
So, we finished with the two teams we started with, only in significantly worse shape after nearly half an hour in the chamber. The pin nearly came quickly after Rose took a knee to the face from Banks before Banks and Bayley delivered the backstabber into Bayley to Belly combination to Deville. Rose just barely broke it up in time.
In a call-back to last year, Banks and Bayley ended up on top of a pod together, with Mandy Rose. A look passed between them as Banks helped Bayley up, and commentary speculated that Banks would kick Bayley down like last year because that’s what commentary is there for. Obviously, she didn’t. It looked like they were going to throw Rose off the top, but Deville climbed up, and Bayley kicking her down gave Rose chance to knock Bayley off the pod.
When Bayley landed, Deville drove her back first into the steel structure of the pod. Bayley was down and out, so Sasha Banks was on her own. She took out Deville by flinging her into the side of the chamber, then took a finisher from Mandy Rose and kicked out, twice.
Rose kept up the punishment, and Deville recovered. Mandy Rose held Banks still for Deville’s spear, but Banks wrenched herself free and Deville speared Rose.
Sasha Banks got the Bank Statement on Deville, but her shoulder was too damaged to lock it in. She modified it using her leg and Sonya Deville tapped out.
Bayley and Banks were interviewed post-match, but it was mainly them crying while the crowd chanted ‘you deserve it’. Banks eventually said she was lost for words. Nobody knows how hard they worked to get those titles. They don’t just do this for themselves, or us, they do it for everyone in the women’s division. And this is just the beginning of more change to come. They’re here for a purpose and they are going to continue to do what they love and what they do best. That’s why they’re The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection, our new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions.
The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection were the right choice for the first tag team champions of this era. The Four Horsewomen of WWE are the storied careers of the moment. Whatever your opinion on their relative merits, you can’t discount their contributions.
Before the Rousey match, they showed footage of Becky Lynch attacking Charlotte Flair at a live event the previous night, then happened to mention that Becky Lynch left on crutches. WWE loves its foreshadowing.
Flair got an entrance to watch the match and an in-ring interview where she was asked how her taking Lynch’s WrestleMania spot came about. She said life is good if you’re Charlotte Flair because she’s going to WrestleMania and last night she got to do what she loves best, humiliate and decimate The Man. She thought Becky Lynch would have learned by now. She got herself suspended and she can’t let it go. Becky panders for the audience attention, she needs audience approval. Flair doesn’t. Her reflection gives her all the love and approval she needs because she knows in her heart and soul that she’s the very best on RAW, SmackDown, and the whole WWE. She’s going to sit and find out whether Ronda Rousey or Ruby Riott will be main-eventing WrestleMania with The Queen.
Ronda Rousey (C) vs Ruby Riott – RAW Women’s Championship match
Ruby Riott did come to the ring alone, which I loved. She’s great as the leader of The Riott Squad, but she’s more than strong enough to stand alone when she needs to.
Sadly, that was the only good thing. It was little more than a squash and lasted one minute forty-one seconds, bell to bell. I can’t remember the last time I was so angry about a match. To show that level of disrespect to Ruby Riott is indefensible.
Charlotte Flair got into the ring after the match and squared up to Rousey. Becky Lynch came through the crowd on crutches and rolled into the ring, struggling to get up, while Flair and Rousey watched. Lynch came closer, threw Flair a crutch then hit her with the other one, a lot.
You know how crutches disintegrate after a few blows whenever they’re used as a weapon? Well, people need to get them from wherever Lynch got hers. Those things were indestructible, and she really, really, tried.
Rousey just stood and watched while Lynch was beating on Flair, but she picked up the other crutch when Lynch turned to her. Becky Lynch gestured to Flair, offering Rousey the chance for some revenge for Flair’s kendo stick attack at Survivor Series. As Rousey advanced on Flair, Becky Lynch attacked Rousey and had a really good try at breaking the indestructible crutch over her as well.
Officials finally arrived and Lynch was escorted back through the crowd by security. Ronda Rousey was bleeding from the temple from one of Lynch’s shots.
Bizarrely, between the Braun Strowman versus Baron Corbin match and the men’s Elimination Chamber match, Lacey Evans came out and walked down the ramp, then turned around and left again.
Ronda Rousey def. Ruby Riott
Triple H did the opening segment this week. It was a Road to WrestleMania hype segment and the introduction of some of the NXT guys who worked RAW and SmackDown this week (Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa, Ricochet, and Aleister Black for the interested). He mentioned Bayley and Sasha Banks’ historic win and talked a little about Becky Lynch invading the PPV. On that subject, he said that corporately he has to say that if she does it again she will be arrested and charged – This was later confirmed as official by Michael Cole, after a huge recap of recent events. Lynch will be charged with criminal trespass among other things – but personally, he thought it was pretty cool. He also revealed that D-Generation X are going into the Hall of Fame this year, including Chyna.
There was a brief Natalya sighting. She was in conversation with Triple H backstage, but we didn’t even get to hear what they were discussing.
Lacey Evans also made a brief and somewhat confusing appearance. She arrived during Heavy Machinery’s onstage interview and did her catwalk bit again. This time, when she got back to the stage, Heavy Machinery’s music played, and they strutted their stuff down the ramp and back as well. Evans smiled approvingly at them while they Bushwhacker walked around her, and that was that.
The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection got an in-ring celebration of their brand-new tag titles. They thanked the crowd for the ‘you deserve it’, chants and talked about how emotional they were still feeling about the win. It still feels like a dream, but it’s not, it’s here because we all did this. They’ve come such a long way from NXT to now and they’ve done it all together. They’ve gone from hating each other to loving each other. They have the same dreams, visions, and goals, and they can’t imagine doing it with anyone else. They are not afraid, they were born to do this. It took them going to war with each other for them to realise that it’s together they’re changing the world. This is just the beginning. They’re taking over the world and they’re planning to be champs for a very long time. They put their hearts and souls into helping create the tag team women’s division, so they plan on defending the titles against anybody, past, present, or future, on RAW, SmackDown, and even NXT. Most importantly, they know and respect how important the titles are, not just to them but to the entire women’s evolution. There is no stronger connection than the Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection, and you can bank on that.
Nia Jax and Tamina had the good grace to wait until Banks and Bayley were posing at the end of their speech before making an entrance. Jax told them to stop because nobody wants to sit in on the nauseating lovefest they’ve got going on. She did congratulate them, then insulted them. She said everyone knows Sasha Banks only cares about Sasha Banks, and history has taught us that she always loses titles on the first defence. Tamina said that last night they got lucky, but tonight their luck has run out. They rushed the ring, but Banks and Bayley were ready to kick them away. Jax tried again and Tamina had to rescue her from an attempted Bank Statement.
Looks like The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection’s first RAW based challengers have declared themselves.
Ronda Rousey (C) vs Ruby Riott
This was the main event of the evening, and the match Ruby Riott should have been given on the PPV. She had Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan with her this time, and they provided a lot more than moral support during the match.
Rousey was clearly not at full strength, but after the beating she got from Becky Lynch that’s not surprising. She still tried to finish this match as fast as the first. This time when Riott took a break on the outside, it was with her squad. They clearly gave her confidence because she took over the match when she got back into the ring.
While we were on an ad break, Sarah Logan kneed Rousey in the head on the outside, which explained why Riott was still in control when we came back. She almost pinned Rousey with a spear, but Rousey kicked out at two.
Rousey did the attitude change thing and built herself a little momentum, but Riott halted that by smashing her into the turnbuckle. The senton from the second turnbuckle only got Riott another two count though. Ronda Rousey also kicked out of a Riott Kick.
Rousey failed to capitalise after slamming Rousey to the canvas. Instead, she climbed to the top, only to be distracted by Logan and Morgan. The distraction gave Ruby Riott the opportunity to kick her in the head, drag her out of the corner and deliver another Riott Kick. Rousey kicked out and Riott looked distraught.
As Riott jumped off the top turnbuckle, Rousey moved and got her in an armbar. Logan and Morgan saved her by pulling her from the ring, but Rousey launched herself from the top onto them.
Logan and Morgan were still down when Ronda Rousey flipped Ruby Riott over her head and smashed her face into the turnbuckle, then took her down into an armbar. Riott tapped.
After the match, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan tried to attack Rousey, but they were quickly dispatched.
Mandy Rose def. Asuka
Asuka was given an in-ring interview. Surprisingly, the fact she’s been missing for weeks wasn’t mentioned. Kayla Braxton asked her if she felt lost in the shuffle with all the focus being on Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch. Asuka said she feels ready for a new challenge. She beat Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch, she made Becky tap out. She doesn’t want to talk about Becky and Charlotte, she wants to know who’s ready for Asuka right now.
That would be Mandy Rose, accompanied by Sonya Deville. Rose said Asuka should take some notes from God’s greatest creation. Rose thinks she’s the most irresistible, magnetic, and talked about superstar in WWE, so if anyone is ready for Asuka, it’s her.
Asuka vs Mandy Rose
Lacey Evans music hit when the match was just getting started, and she did her catwalk thing again. Presumably, we’ll get to find out what that’s all about eventually. Sonya Deville saw her off and Mandy Rose shoved Asuka from behind while Asuka was watching Evans and sent her into the turnbuckle. All it really achieved was to annoy Asuka, and Rose took a break from the ring.
One thing Rose isn’t short of is self-belief. She got back in the ring and took it straight to Asuka with a couple of knees to the gut. Asuka threw Rose back out of the ring as we went to a break and we got back just in time to watch Asuka take over with a submission attempt.
Rose got to the ropes to break the hold, then slipped out under them. Asuka followed and took a knee in the face on the outside. Asuka barely made it back to the ring inside the count and Rose was straight back on her.
Some trash-talk from Rose fired Asuka up and it looked like Rose was in trouble. Twice she only just kicked out of a pin attempt.
After a kick from Asuka, Rose dropped to her knees complaining about her eye, but wouldn’t let the ref see. She was playing possum and threw Asuka into the ropes when she got close enough. Before Asuka had a chance to recover, Mandy Rose rolled her up and pinned her.
So, the SmackDown Women’s Champion vanishes for a couple of weeks, having tapped out the hottest superstar in the company right now to retain her title, and on her return gets rolled up and pinned by Mandy Rose. I don’t get it.
Charlotte Flair was interviewed int eh locker room and asked if Becky Lynch was going to haunt her the entire road to WrestleMania. Flair said haunt was a good word. Lynch is a ghost, she’s suspended which means she doesn’t exist and in typical Becky fashion she showed up where she doesn’t belong and made things worse for herself. She reaggravated her injury, or Flair reaggravated the injury. She is the most selfish person Flair knows and if she does it again, she’ll be arrested for criminal trespassing and get thrown in jail. Whether anyone wants to face it, it’s one on one at WrestleMania, Charlotte Flair versus Ronda Rousey. And it’s the main event because she’s in it.
Mia Yim def. Xia Li
We were shown a video segment, filmed last week at the performance centre, in which Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, and Marina Shafir stormed into the women’s locker room. The camera abandoned the interview they were filming and got there in time to see Baszler and friends being intimidating and Mia Yim at the forefront of the resistance. Foreshadowing.
Bianca Belair got a hype package promo combo. She talked about how she had the match won at TakeOver and would be champion if it wasn’t for the ref. She also addressed Io Shirai and Kairi Sane, saying they will have to wait until she’s champion. If they get in her way she’ll have to show them exactly why she’s un-de-fea-ted.
Mia Yim vs Xia Li
This was a short match which was more about the post-match shenanigans than the match itself, but it was fun while it lasted.
Xia Li is very inexperienced compared to Mia Yim, but the mix of their styles made for an interesting match. Li is a while away from making an impact in the title picture, Yim should be considerably closer. Despite that, Li controlled much of the match. She incredibly quick and precise, and even with her experience and skills advantage, Mia Yim found that hard to deal with at times.
The thing about experience is, it gives you a lot more to draw on. Yim had looked to be in trouble, but she caught Li with a spinning backfist after evading her leap from the top, then finished her with Protect Ya Neck.
The post-match shenanigans involved Baszler, Duke, and Shafir invading the ring and attacking Yim. Xia Li got the hell out of there but Jessie Elaban, Lacey Lane, and MJ Jenkins ran down to make the save. Unfortunately, they got dealt with and dispatched quickly by Baszler and company. Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir held Mia Yim still while Baszler yelled at her about respect. When Yim told her to respect her, Baszler kneed her in the face.
Mia Yim versus Shayna Baszler takes place on next week’s show.
Toni Storm def. Rhea Ripley
This week’s show came from the Phoenix tapings and Rhea Ripley’s title rematch was the main event. The show opened with a long hype package for the match.
Nina Samuels got a short hype video. It used descriptors such as ‘dazzling’ and ‘captivating’ but didn’t really tell us anything much. Kay Lee Ray got an intro hype video which was much more informative. I’m a huge fan of Kay Lee Ray and I genuinely can’t wait for her arrival. NXT UK are building quite the talent pool, but I’m still waiting for something to make me want to invest in the brand.
Toni Storm (C) vs Rhea Ripley – NXT UK Women’s Championship match
Is it me or is it weird to have a major title defence like this in the USA, especially so early in the brand’s development? They got a decent match though.
Rhea Ripley didn’t wait for the bell, she attacked Storm and the ref had to back her off to get the match started. She was straight back on Storm as soon as the bell rang. It put Toni Storm on the back foot, but that didn’t last long and they settled into the back and forth.
It didn’t take long to migrate to the outside, with Ripley in charge again. She pulled Storm out of the ring so Storm hit the floor with her face, then smashed her back into the edge of the ring and the ringpost.
Back in the ring, Ripley held Storm in a body scissors for a very long time, but it just seemed to give Storm chance to recover. Her resurgence didn’t last long though, neither did the next one, or the one after that. Every time Toni Storm started to build any kind of momentum, Ripley put her down again. She couldn’t keep her down though.
Eventually, Storm got a run of offence in, including a hip attack and a couple of suplexes, but it wasn’t enough to get the pin on Ripley. Rhea Ripley came back at her, but Storm delivered a backstabber that put a stop to that.
They exchanged blows, then Storm delivered a headbutt that almost got the three, but not quite.
A superplex from Ripley didn’t quite finish things, but it left Ripley firmly in control. Her only misstep was when Storm dodged her charge into the corner and Ripley’s momentum carried her shoulder first into the ringpost. As soon as she staggered out of the corner, Toni Storm delivered Storm Zero and pinned her to retain the NNXT UK Women’s Championship.
Main Event ran through the thread of the recent Becky Lynch storyline, as shown on RAW (Vince McMahon suspending her, attacking Flair at a live event, turning up at Elimination Chamber) and reiterated that Lynch will be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law if she breaks her suspension again.
I’m not too upset at the lack of women’s division action on there this week, but there were still plenty of viable options who weren’t involved in Elimination Chamber, if they’d chosen to use them.
I’ll be back next week with all the happenings in the WWE 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.