Women of the WWE – weekly round-up – January 27- February 02

Women of the WWE – weekly round-up – January 27- February 02

Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. The Royal Rumble PPV started the week, and by the end of it, we were already focused on Elimination Chamber and beyond. Life moves fast in WWE. This is a long one, so I won’t waste any more time waffling, let’s get straight into the PPV.

Royal Rumble

Asuka def. Becky Lynch

Ronda Rousey def. Sasha Banks

Becky Lynch won the Royal Rumble

Asuka (C) vs Becky Lynch – SmackDown Women’s Championship match

This was the first match of the main card, which would have been a surprise have the expectation not been that Lynch would join and win the Rumble match. It was a good choice though, nothing like starting a PPV with the pop Becky Lynch got.

There was no real feeling each other out process required, they locked up and got on with it. Lynch was fired up and trash-talking, Asuka was more calmly focused on the job at hand.

Becky Lynch takes down Asuka
Photo credits: wwe.com

It didn’t take long for them to end up on the outside. Lynch kicked Asuka off the apron, where she took a heavy landing on her elbow, then sent her into the post. But the moments it took Lynch to break the count were enough for Asuka to grab Lynch and start throwing her into the barricade and ring. When Asuka broke the count, she got a Bexploder as soon as she returned.

Back in the ring, Lynch started working on Asuka’s arm to soften it up for the Dis-Arm-Her. Asuka was having none of it and briefly had Lynch in an Asuka Lock through the ropes. Becky Lynch responded with a Dis-Arm-Her in the corner and Asuka took Lynch down by kneeing her in the face as Lynch came off the turnbuckle.

There was nothing massively fancy going on, this was a fight. Suplexes, dropkicks, hip attacks, big strikes and submissions were the order of the day, with momentum switching on a move to move basis.

Asuka made a move to finish it with an armbar, then an Asuka Lock when that didn’t work. She couldn’t quite lock it in and Lynch wriggled free and got to the ropes. They fought it out on the apron and Asuka tried to suplex Lynch to the floor. Lynch got free and went for a Bexploder on the apron instead. Asuka got out of that and grabbed Lynch by the head and jumped off the apron so they both hit the floor hard. It looked unpleasant and took them both a long time to get back in the ring. Becky Lynch only just made it but Asuka could still only get a two count even after kicking her in the face.

Asuka takes Becky Lynch off the apron

In desperation, they started to slug it out. Lynch went for the Dis-Arm-Her, Asuka dropped her with a kick. They ended up fighting on the top turnbuckle and a super-Bexploder brought them down. To Lynch’s utter disbelief, Asuka kicked out as two.

Lynch went for a leg drop but Asuka moved and tried for the Asuka Lock, then turned it into a Dis-Arm-Her. Lynch manoeuvred around and put Asuka in an Asuka Lock. Asuka flipped over so Lynch’s shoulders were on the mat and kicked her in the head when she let go.

Becky Lynch managed to get Asuka back in the Dis-Arm-Her but Asuka got out and a few moves later Asuka had Lynch tapping in a bridging headlock submission

Ronda Rousey (C) vs Sasha Banks – RAW Women’s Championship match

This was great, despite feeling like a foregone conclusion. On her way to the ring, Sasha Banks was asked whether she was concerned about people saying she was destined to fail because she couldn’t keep her emotions in check and whether she thought that would affect her performance. Banks said her emotions and passion are what drives her to be the best. Nothing was handed to her, she puts her heart and soul into everything she does in the ring. Rousey might be a UFC Hall of Famer, but she’s never been in the ring with a legit boss and Banks is going to make her tap.

Commentary mentioned during Banks’ entrance that it was her birthday.

For some reason, Rousey started to trash-talk the crowd, or maybe it was aimed at Banks but said to camera. She said something about people saying she can’t wrestle, she’ll show us some wrestling, then tried to do Eddie Guerrero’s Three Amigos. She managed two before Banks countered with a backstabber which Rousey turned into an armbar.

Ronda Rousey tries to punch Sasha Banks against a ring post

They took the fight to the outside and Rousey threw a punch at Banks against the ringpost. Banks dodged, which was probably good because Rousey’s fist connected with the post hard enough for the lights in it to go out. Her hand was clearly bothering her from that point but Banks chose to try to wear her down instead of immediately focusing in on it. Banks was dominating and staying on her, but Rousey’s return offence when it came was lightning fast.

Rousey went for Piper’s Pit after she dodged Banks double knees in the corner, but Banks got free and locked in an armbar on the injured arm. Rousey struggled free but ended up in the Bank Statement. When she broke that, Rousey delivered Piper’s Pit, but couldn’t get the pin.

Rousey damaged Banks’ arm twisting her up in the ropes, then went to the top. Banks followed her up there and they came down via a Sasha Banks superplex and Banks went back to the armbar. Rousey picked her up and slammed her to make her let go. When Rousey tried for another armbar, Banks kicked her out of the ring, but Rousey caught Banks’ suicide dive. Rousey got the Armbar on the outside and Banks tapped, but it didn’t count.

The back and forth had an air of pain and exhaustion about it and they both took a few moments to recover. Rousey was up first, but Banks halted her offence by sending her into the turnbuckle. Banks avoided the armbar, countered Piper’s Pit, and got the Bank Statement on. She used the arm strapping from her ring gear in Rousey’s mouth to make it more painful, which the ref put a stop to. Rousey almost got to the ropes and rolled away to move Rousey into an armbar. Ronda Rousey flipped over, picked Banks up and slammed her into the mat then followed up with Piper’s Pit for the win.

Sasha Banks tries to submit Ronda Rousey

Rousey helped Sasha Banks to her feet after the match after they spent a few moments talking on the mat. There was a handshake and nodded respect before Rousey pulled apart the ropes to let Banks out. Banks stopped part way up the ramp as if considering going back. Rousey walked around shaking hands and kissed her husband then Banks turned back and met her at the bottom of the ramp. She shook Rousey’s hand then held up four fingers at her and walked away.

Royal Rumble match

This was the halfway point of the show, straight after Rousey and Banks. The women headlined last year, so it’s only fair for them to switch this year. Beth Phoenix was on guest commentary.

Lacey Evans was number one and she gave a little speech introducing herself before Natalya came out as number two and the match started. Mandy Rose was number three.

Natalya had Evans and Rose in a double Sharpshooter by the time Liv Morgan came out at four. Morgan lasted only a few seconds before Natalya picked her up as she charged towards her and pitched her over the top rope.

Mickie James was next, then Ember Moon, then Billie Kay who refused to get in the ring until Peyton Royce’s number was drawn. Nikki Cross came in as number eight and smashed Billie Kay to the barricade before diving into the ring and sending everyone flying. Billie Kay finally got in the ring and was immediately jumped on by Cross, but Peyton Royce was out next and immediately came to her aid.

Nikki Cross dives into the Rumble match from the top turnbuckle

Tamina was the tenth competitor, she eliminated Mickie James just before Xia Li entered the match as the first unannounced entrant. Li did a good job of laying everyone out in time for Sarah Logan’s entrance. The ring was pretty crowded at this point as only Morgan and James had been eliminated. That changed when The IIconics eliminated Nikki Cross (I hope Cross goes to SmackDown even more now, she should have been in for much longer).

Charlotte Flair was next, an early-ish entry for her at thirteen.

Lacey Evans eliminated The IIconics at the same time, so at least they stayed together. Xia Li was eliminated by Charlotte Flair, as was Tamina

Kairi Sane was number fourteen, launched herself into the ring off the top turnbuckle onto Sarah Logan, then engaged in a chop contest with Charlotte Flair. I think she lost. Logan took an InSane Elbow before she was eliminated by Sane and Natalya. Maria Kanellis was number fifteen and interrupted a stare-down between Charlotte Flair and Lacey Evans. A spear from Flair calmed her down.

Naomi was in at sixteen. Unsurprisingly she went straight for Mandy Rose and eliminated her. Rose tried to eliminate Naomi from the outside, but Naomi made it to the barricade, walked along it, and jumped to the steps. Mandy Rose pulled Naomi off the steps and eliminated her, and a fight broke out. Charlotte Flair eliminated Lacey Evans while Naomi and Rose were fighting.

Candice LeRae was seventeenth, I’m so happy to see her as one of the surprise entrants, I’m really hoping she’ll get a big push this year.

Alicia Fox was number eighteen, with her sparkly hat. Maria Kanellis forged a temporary alliance with Fox, but she stamped on Fox’s hat and Fox eliminated her.

Kacy Catanzaro became competitor number nineteen and got to show off her amazing athletic ability. Zelina Vega was number twenty. She and LeRae took the opportunity to renew their NXT rivalry.

Ruby Riott number twenty-one accompanied by her already eliminated teammates. They went straight for Charlotte Flair, dragged her out under the bottom rope and beat her up a bit. They didn’t stop there though. Ruby Riott got into the ring, Logan and Morgan pulled Fox out under the ropes when Riott pushed her close enough and beat her up too. Riott eliminated Fox as soon as her teammates put her back in the ring. Then Logan and Morgan turned their attention to Candice LeRae. They slammed her into the barricade then put her back in the ring to be eliminated by Ruby Riott.

While all that had been going on, Zelina Vega slipped out under the ropes and hid under the ring.

Dana Brooke was in next and earned herself the same treatment from Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan by attacking Riott. While they were beating on Brooke, Riott eliminated Kairi Sane and it looked like a really hard fall for Sane. The entire Riott Squad beat Sane down at ringside until Io Shirai came out to enter the rumble and made the save on her way in. She went to the top turnbuckle before she even got into the ring and wiped out The Riott Squad with her Asai moonsault then threw Riott into the ring.

Io Shirai moonsaults onto the RIott Squad

Rhea Ripley was the next competitor out, at number twenty-four. Dana Brooke knocked Kacy Catanzaro out over the top rope but she landed on her back without her feet touching the floor, scooted over to the barricade, did a handstand back to the ringpost and pulled herself back up. She dived in over the top rope, got caught by Rhea Ripley and, after some complicated manoeuvres, was thrown back out and eliminated.

Sonya Deville came in next. Rhea Ripley eliminated Dana Brooke, who had another unpleasant looking landing. Zelina Vega was laughing at her from under the ring when Hornswoggle appeared next to her and chased her back into the ring where she was immediately thrown out by Ripley. Then Hornswoggle chased Vega back up the ramp.

At number twenty-six, was Alexa Bliss. She eliminated Sonya Deville before Bayley appeared and eliminated Ruby Riott and Rhea Ripley in quick succession.

Lana hobbled out at number twenty-eight barely able to put any weight on her left foot. She took a tumble off the apron during Rusev’s match when Nakamura dodged Rusev and he crashed into her instead. She was clearly unable to compete even with it heavily strapped and was being spoken to by officials before she was anywhere near the ring. She was still there by the time Nia Jax came out. Jax stopped on her way to the ring and stomped on Lana’s ankle then pitched her face-first into the barricade.

Jax caught Io Shirai mid-moonsault and eliminated her, then eliminated Natalya who had been in since the beginning (as number two) and lasted fifty-five minutes and fifty-eight seconds, the ironman of the match but only just.

Carmella was obviously number thirty, as she won that right by winning mixed match challenge.

Becky Lynch came out to talk to the officials surrounding Lana and convinced Fit Finlay to let her enter the match with a lot of shouting and gesturing to the crowd who were chanting her name. Her first act was to punch Nia Jax in the face, a lot. Charlotte Flair tried to eliminate her and so did Jax, but she stayed in it.

Bliss eliminated Ember Moon after fifty-three minutes and ten seconds, from number six. Bayley and Carmella eliminated Alexa Bliss.

The final five were Charlotte Flair, Bayley, Nia Jax, Carmella, and Becky Lynch. Flair saved Lynch from another Facebreaker punch from Jax by kicking Jax in the head. Carmella was eliminated by Flair, and Bayley was kicked off Jax’ shoulders by Flair and sailed over the top rope to the floor.

Down to Charlotte Flair, Nia Jax, and Becky Lynch. Jax splashed them both into the corner and Lynch rolled out under the ropes so Flair and Jax could go at it. Flair managed to get Jax up on her shoulders, but she sort of crumpled and Jax fell off. The second attempt got her and over the top rope onto the apron, and Becky Lynch pulled her down from the outside. Jax retaliated by shoving Lynch off the steps before she could get back in the ring and Lynch severely hurt her leg on landing.

Becky Lynch eliminates Nia Jax from the Rumble match

Charlotte Flair got a good rest break while Becky Lynch was struggling to get to her feet and officials were trying to convince her not to do it. Lynch was still hopping when she threw herself back in declaring she could go and told Flair to fight her.

Fight they did, with Flair working over the injured knee immediately. She hung Lynch in the tree of woe, when she could have tossed her over the top, and that decision would come back to bite her. She avoided being knocked off the apron once more, but the second time she ended up there was one too many and Becky Lynch forearmed her to the floor to win the Women’s Royal Rumble 2019.

That was long, but the match was well over an hour. Maybe next year I’ll just list entries and eliminations like last year.

There was so much debate online about whether the loss to Asuka hurt Lynch’s current run. The simple answer is no. If she hadn’t gone on to win the Rumble it would have been a disastrous decision, but as it was, she had a blip and moved on. She’s never set herself up as unbeatable, she set herself up as never gives up, never stays down,  and that still stands.

There was one final surprise of the night from the women’s division. As R-Truth appeared in the number thirty spot he won at Mixed Match Challenge and started his entrance, Nia Jax came out behind him and completely wrote him off. She threw him into the barricade and backboard then took his place in the match.

I have only one problem with Jax’ entry to the men’s Rumble, she eliminated Mustafa Ali. After that, things got… different. Nia Jax took finishers from three of the men in the match.

It didn’t look like it would happen at first. Randy Orton set up to RKO her, then backed off, then went for it but she blocked him and hung him over the middle rope for Rey Mysterio. As Mysterio went for the 619, encouraged by Jax, she snatched him up and put him on her shoulder. He came to no harm because Dolph Ziggler superkicked Jax in the face.

Nia Jax takes an RKO in the men's Rumble

Mysterio kicked Jax down onto the middle rope and delivered a 619, then she took an RKO for good measure. Orton and Mysterio then eliminated her. Seth Rollins went on to win it.

Intergender stuff is completely out of WWE’s wheelhouse these days and has been for a long time. Last time it was a feature of WWE programming things were different. With a few notable exceptions (e.g. Chyna, Beth Phoenix) the women weren’t presented as equally skilled or capable. It wasn’t the right time or mindset for men and women to be competing as equals. Now, it may well be. WWE have some talented and experienced intergender wrestlers amongst their ranks, and some talented individuals that would relish the opportunity to get some intergender wrestling experience. Not only is the women’s division now at least as skilled and talented and the men’s, they’re regularly stealing the show. If both competitors are up for it, there’s not a single good reason to avoid including some intergender matches. Give me Sasha Banks versus Seth Rollins, or Nikki Cross versus Finn Balor, or Candice LeRae versus Tommaso Ciampa (ok, I know that one is NXT but it would be so satisfying to watch her kick his ass for messing with her life for so long).

RAW

Nia Jax and Tamina def. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James

The Riott Squad def. Natalya and Dana Brooke

Ronda Rousey def. Bayley

Nia Jax continued her interaction with the men’s roster on RAW. She and Tamina interrupted Dean Ambrose trying to make a speech and got in his face. They trash-talked a bit then Tamina started to walk behind him. He turned to look at her and Jax smashed him across the back of the head and knocked him out of the ring. Ambrose is leaving WWE and will be very much missed. I can think of worse people for Jax to square off against before he leaves. It won’t happen, but maybe it should. As it turned out, Jax and Tamina were there for a match.

Nia Jax and Tamina square up to Dean Ambrose

Nia Jax and Tamina vs Alexa Bliss and Mickie James – Elimination Chamber qualifying match

This is how they’re deciding who gets to represent RAW in the Elimination Chamber match for the Women’s Tag Team Championships. Three matches, winners go into the chamber.

Alexa Bliss and Tamina started things off but Tamina quickly wanted out and tagged in Jax. Jax’ first action of the match was to drive Bliss into her own corner and knock Mickie James off the apron in the process.

After a break, we were back to Bliss and Tamina, and Tamina was in control. Bliss took a ton of punishment from Tamina, then from Nia Jax. It was when Tamina came back in, and commentary had started speculating about ring-rust, that Bliss fought back enough to get to Mickie James for the tag.

James took control of Tamina, but she couldn’t stop her tagging Nia Jax and that’s where it went wrong for James. Mickie James went for a DDT but Jax shoved her away then put her on her shoulders. Jax turned to see Bliss on the top turnbuckle, about to dive off to make the save. She put Bliss on her shoulders as well and squatted them before she Samoan dropped them both for the win.

Nia Jax with Mickie James and Alexa Bliss up for the Samoan drop

Nia Jax and Tamina are the first team to qualify for Elimination Chamber.

WWE tweeted an interview with Ember Moon where she announced she has an elbow injury requiring immediate surgery. She doesn’t know how long she’ll be out for but says it will be ‘a while’. Damn shame and awful timing. It was heavily strapped during the Rumble, maybe she made it worse during the fifty-three minutes she was in the match.

Dana Brooke spoke to Natalya, backstage, about replacing Moon as Natalya’s second choice tag team partner. Natalya didn’t look overly impressed by the substitution. Brooke told her she’s just as good as Moon and Natalya said the most important thing is that they try their best to win. Brooke said not only is she better than Ember Moon, she’s better than Natalya too, then they made their way to the ring.

Natalya and Dana Brooke vs The Riott Squad (Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan) – Elimination Chamber qualifying match

There was clearly a little tension between Natalya and Brooke, especially when Brooke tagged herself in. To be fair, Brooke did ok to start with, but it’s a tall order for any new team to go up against a well-oiled machine like The Riott Squad, and she was quickly overwhelmed. Natalya had to save her from a certain pin attempt and Brooke tagged out soon after.

Natalya has taken as much from The Riott Squad as she’s going to. She had the measure of Liv Morgan right up until Ruby Riott distracted her. She kicked out of Morgan’s roll-up and made Riott watch as she put Morgan into the Sharpshooter. Liv Morgan would have tapped except Dana Brooke came in to knock Ruby Riott off the apron and Logan pushed her into Natalya.

Dana Brooke tries to stop Ruby Riott breaking up Natalya's Sharpshooter on Liv Morgan

Before Natalya could recover, Liv Morgan rolled her up and pinned her to give The Riott Squad the second position in the Elimination Chamber.

The final qualifying match will take place next week when The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection face the truly bizarre pairing of Alicia Fox and Nikki Cross (which I have a horrible feeling might mean Cross ends up on RAW).

Ronda Rousey’s post title defence promo was… interesting. She started by saying ‘If you can’t dream big ridiculous dreams, what’s the point of dreaming at all?’ The crowd chanted ‘Becky’ and booed Rousey throughout as she struggled on talking about her journey to being RAW women’s champion, and thanked Sasha Banks for their match. She laughed as the crowd noise made her stumble over her words, but she looked shaken at the reactions she was getting. She tried to move on to talking about WrestleMania, but as soon as she pointed at the sign the noise got worse. They cheered when she mentioned Becky Lynch, chanted ‘Becky’ again, and went back to booing every time Rousey spoke. Rousey tried to play up to it, and thankfully Bayley came out to answer the advertised open challenge that Rousey hadn’t had chance to mention (honestly, I think Bayley was sent out early to rescue her, that’s the first time Rousey has looked completely out of her depth).

Bayley said she isn’t Becky Lynch, but she’s one half of the Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection and Sasha Banks gave Rousey the match of her life last night. Bayley challenged her to a match (to make up for the open challenge not being mentioned) and Rousey accepted by raising the belt.

Ronda Rousey vs Bayley – RAW Women’s Championship match.

Rousey went in aggressively, straight for the armbar, but she couldn’t get it. Bayley aimed immediately for Rousey’s right arm, as that’s the one Banks worked on at Royal Rumble. Rousey got Bayley in an armbar through the ropes, just for the damage it inflicts, but Bayley hung Rousey up in the ropes when she got back into the ring.

Rousey’s knee buckled on an innocuous landing, so Bayley switched to working on that. She had Rousey out of the ring laying on the floor as we went to a break.

Bayley was in control when we came back. Rousey eventually fired up and fought back, but she was struggling with both her arm and leg. She fell back on her striking and got a two-count, but Bayley caught her leg as she went for a series of knee strikes and the champ found herself in a kneebar. She didn’t tap but the grappled around on the mat until they both rolled out of the ring and hit the floor hard. When they staggered to their feet, Bayley delivered a Bayley to Belly that sent Rousey into the barricade, and us into another break.

Bayley delivers a high knee to Ronda Rousey

By the time we came back again they were in the ring and Bayley was looking in much better shape. She chucked Rousey out of the ring and slid through the corner to kick her before she rolled her back in a delivered an elbow drop from the top. Instead of trying to pin Rousey, Bayley locked in a Bank Statement and Rousey got to the ropes. Bayley hoisted Rousey onto the top turnbuckle, but Rousey slipped out from under her. Bayley pushed her away once, but Rousey brought them down hard and locked Bayley in the armbar. Bayley tapped.

Rousey helped Bayley to her feet after the match and they shook hands. Then it got interesting.

Becky Lynch’s music hit, and she hobbled to the ring. Crowd filmed footage showed Lynch and Bayley exchange Four Horsewomen signals, WWE cameras only showed Lynch doing it.

Lynch said she told ‘Ronnie’ she’d find a way back to her. For about a year she’s been hearing about this ‘Baddest Woman on the Planet’ but the last time she came to RAW she dropped her in the middle of the ring and even after that Rousey never came looking for her to prove she’s the baddest. So Lynch came looking for her to prove she isn’t. Last night she won the Royal Rumble match and she doesn’t need time to think, she chooses Rousey. At WrestleMania, she’s going to break her mystique, take her title, and kick her ass in front of the whole world.

Becky Lynch chooses Ronda Rousey for WrestleMania

Rousey asked Becky Lynch how her leg was, because unlike Lynch she wants her opponent looking her in the eye and primed to fight. She doesn’t just want to beat Lynch, she wants to beat the best version of Becky Lynch that has ever existed. And everyone knows she could rebreak her face faster than Lynch could say Nia Jax. In fact, everyone knows that she has the ability to kill Lynch with her bare hands without breaking a sweat and the only thing stopping her is her decision not to. Rousey has realised she and Lynch are the same age, which means while Becky Lynch was training, Rousey was main-eventing in a sport that didn’t want women in it at all. And last year, while Lynch was in the WrestleMania Kickoff show, Rousey stole the show in her debut. She asked Lynch how long she’s been the man, because she’s been a household name for a decade. Any ring she steps into is hers, she owns the ground under her feet and she’s going to own Becky Lynch at WrestleMania. Then she threw the mic down and stormed out.

Throughout her speech, Rousey had gotten increasingly angry and frustrated, ending up screaming and snarling inches from Lynch’s face. Becky Lynch remained serene and silent, with just a slight unwavering smirk.  

SmackDown

Becky Lynch opened SmackDown again this week. She talked about winning the Royal Rumble then turning up on RAW the next night because she ‘couldn’t resist looking Ronnie in her angry little eyes once again’. That confirmed just how different the two of them are. The beginning of the Royal Rumble PPV didn’t exactly go her way, but unlike Rousey, she doesn’t crumble when she loses. She went back out there and won the Rumble match on one good leg. Rousey talks about Lynch working her way up while she was main-eventing, like Lynch has something to be ashamed of, but Lynch is proud of coming from nothing, and of all the heads she slapped along the way to get where she is. But she’s most proud of working her way from the pre-show of WrestleMania last year to being this year’s main event. Nobody handed her anything.

She thanked the crowd for their ‘you deserve it’ chants then said the main thing she saw when she looked into Rousey’s eyes was the one thing she doesn’t have anymore, and that’s doubt. ‘Ronnie, I’m going to break your arm in front of the entire world. And if you don’t walk into WrestleMania believing that, you’ll be carried out knowing it.’

Charlotte Flair arrived and congratulate Lynch on getting off the Kickoff show. She said she’s super-proud of Lynch. On Sunday she wasn’t even in the match but somehow she willed in and won. Maybe she learned something from her after all. Lynch grew into The Man because of the lessons learned from The Queen. It was Flair who brought her to the main event, and she’s so happy she could do all of that for her.

Becky Lynch punches Charlotte Flair

Becky Lynch punched her in the face and left the ring, but she got barely anywhere before Flair chased her and leapt on her. They brawled while officials tried to separate them and the crowd shouted, ‘let them fight’. Eventually, Lynch was pulled away, with Flair laughing at the fact she was hopping.

Later, Becky Lynch was shown hobbling to her car. She was asked why she refused medical treatment and replied, she didn’t need to spend any more time on the shelf.

Prior to an interview with Mandy Rose, a clip from the 2015 series of Tough Enough, featuring team B.A.D. (Naomi, Sasha Banks, and Tamina), was shown. In the clip, Mandy Rose, one of the contestants that season, takes a slam and a splash from Tamina at Naomi’s instruction. When they cut to the interview, Kayla Braxton asked if Rose tried to destroy Naomi’s life because she called her weak. Rose was quite emotional and hesitant but Sonya Deville said it’s about so much more than that, Mandy Rose hasn’t been the same since that day. She also accused Naomi of saying something after the cameras turned off, and said she looked jealous and angry. She made Mandy cry, and Mandy doesn’t cry.

Rose chipped in and said she had gone home and cried until she developed a complex, and her boyfriend couldn’t take it and dumped her. Naomi ruined her relationship so she went after hers. Braxton asked what Rose would say to those who say Rose has failed because Naomi and Jimmy Uso are stronger than ever. Mandy Rose said it’s not the end, it will never be the end, but right now her mind is on the Elimination Chamber. And when she and Deville become tag team champions, Naomi will be the last thing on her mind.

Like most of this storyline, it was weird, uncomfortable, and nonsensical. It worries me that she says it will never end. Naomi deserves so much better than this shit-show of a storyline. It would also appear that SmackDown women aren’t having to qualify for the Elimination Chamber, as Rose and Deville just announced their intention to compete. I guess we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks.

And that was it for women’s division action on SmackDown – two promos, one brawl, zero matches.

Sadly, it seems increasingly likely that Charlotte Flair will be added to the WrestleMania match between Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey. I really hope not. I like Flair, I think she’s great, but Rousey versus Lynch is the match we need to see. 

NXT

The Sky Pirates def. Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir

The Sky Pirates vs Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir

Yep, Kairi Sane and Io Shirai have a tag team name. WWE were using it in the results section of the website. Duke and Shafir do not yet have one. Marina Shafir was wearing a face guard to protect her nose as it was broken late last year.

Shirai and Shafir got things underway and Marina Shafir was outclassed and outpaced. She tagged out quickly, and so did Shirai. Jessamyn Duke sought to draw attention to the height difference between her and Sane with a test of Strength that Sane clearly wasn’t going to be able to reach. It didn’t seem to bother Kairi Sane, she just chopped Duke instead and got on with the match.

Kairi Sane and Io Shirai double dropkick Jessamyn Duke

They rolled around on the floor exchanging blows, which just about gave Duke the advantage, but as soon as they were on their feet again she was in trouble. Sane tagged out and the transitional double team saw her and Shirai confusing Duke by rebounding off the ropes at her before double dropkicking her in the back.

Io Sharia delivered double knees in the corner and Duke rolled out of the ring, but Shafir intercepted Shirai’ suicide dive and got punched in the face. The distraction allowed Duke to sweep Shirai’s legs out from underneath her and tag in Shafir.

Shafir and Duke isolated Shirai briefly, enough for a quick tag back to Jessamyn Duke. Despite her supposed extra power, Duke was still shoved backwards most of the way across the ring by Shirai, before she turned them around and suplexed Shirai back to the centre of the ring. It was a temporary reprieve. Shirai sent Duke headfirst into her own corner, dealt with Shafir, and crawled over to Kairi Sane.

Sane came in fired up and Marina Shafir didn’t stand a chance. They used the same assisted elbow drop that formed part of their finisher last time, but instead of an assisted moonsault follow up Shirai delivered a suicide dive to Jessamyn Duke to keep her out of the ring. Kairi Sane went to the top rope and Marina Shafir took the InSane Elbow and was pinned.

Kair Sane's assisted elbow drop to Marina Shafir

With this being the post-TakeOver episode, we got all the recaps and some post-match interviews. Bianca Belair got the interview after her recap. She was asked where her head’s at after being defeated by Shayna Baszler and said undefeated is a mindset, not a record. She just had her first TakeOver match and the title was in her fingertips, so Shayna knows that one day she’s going to take her title from her because she’s un-de-fea-ted. She was also asked to address Sam Roberts comments on the Pre-show. She said, ‘you know what, “Mr Sam” can say what he wants to say because I literally just took Shayna to her limit, so “Mr Sam” you can kiss my ass’.

I think that was a more than fair response.

In case you missed it, Sam Roberts said some unpleasant stuff about Belair not being ready and it being a waste of a match, on the TakeOver Pre-show. Pro-Wrestling Sheet reported that he has said it wasn’t scripted and that there was a ‘conversation’ following his comments, but I don’t buy it. Belair has all the hallmarks of being marked for greatness. If he’d gone rogue and run his mouth like that, he wouldn’t have a job. It’s no coincidence that Belair turned face at TakeOver and that Roberts comments garnered her a lot of sympathy from fans. Even so, it still came across as unpleasant and uncalled for.

NXT UK

Jinny def. Kasey Owens

Before this week’s match, there was a video package for Xia Brookside. It was mainly to advertise the face she’ll be on the show next week, but it’s good to see the additional information about the competitors being put out there.

Jinny vs Kasey Owens

At least we’re down to one episode a week of NXT UK now, that’s much more manageable and I might even start to enjoy it. It’s a bit weird that they’ve cut it down before they managed to sync up with the rest of the programming, but whatever.

The only things commentary told us about Kasey Owens are, she has ten years, experience, she comes from Belfast, and she has been described as a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. An interesting kind of introduction.

Jinny dominated early on and Owens was forced to scrabble to the ropes to avoid tapping out. There a bit more back and forth after that. Double knees in the corner and a high crossbody that only just caught Jinny gave Owens a near fall, but Jinny is too skilled and too opportunistic for Owens to really build any momentum.

Jinny and Kasey Owens entangled

On a trip to the outside, Jinny smashed Owens into the barricade so hard she ended up hung over it. Back in the ring, Jinny went back to submission attempts and Owens was forced to drag herself to the ropes again.

They fought on the top turnbuckle and Owens locked Jinny in an armbar around the ropes. She didn’t have time to capitalise after it because Jinny shouted ‘not this time little girl’ in her face and delivered the Makeover for the win.

Rhea Ripley interrupted Johnny Saint and Sid Scala having a meeting and demanded a rematch against Toni Storm. That will take place in three weeks in Phoenix (which presumably happened this weekend as that was the Royal Rumble location).

Main Event

There was no original women’s division action on Main Event this week. Becky Lynch’s  Royal Rumble win and appearances on RAW and SmackDown were covered. Is there anyone with more hype behind them at the moment than Becky Lynch? I really don’t think there is. 

I’ll be back next week with all the results and action from 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.

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