Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It’s been another odd week for WWE’s women. RAW and SmackDown have been heavily focused on building the Super ShowDown, at which the women’s division isn’t allowed to compete. There is a brand new PPV coming up in a couple of weeks, Stomping Grounds, so the women’s storylines are building for that, but they don’t feel like a priority.
Nikki Cross def. Peyton Royce
Charlotte Flair def. Lacey Evans
Nikki Cross had an odd backstage segment with The IIconics. They compared her to a miniature sad-pound-puppy for someone to play with and said she’d chosen the wrong master the last two weeks in Becky Lynch, then they barked at her. Alexa Bliss appeared and The IIconics flounced off in their inimitable way for Peyton Royce to get ready for her match against Nikki Cross. Bliss’ reaction of ‘Well, that happened’ was perfect.
Once they’d gone Bliss said she was going to get a coffee and asked if Cross wanted one. Cross seemed surprised and Bliss said she knows how close Cross and Becky Lynch have been getting the last couple of weeks and it’s no secret Lynch can’t stand her. Actually, no one can stand her and Cross is probably better off with Lynch anyway. Nikki Cross said she doesn’t care what bliss did in the past, she’s been nothing but kind since before anyone realised Cross was there. They’re friends. Bliss smiled and said she appreciated it, and because they’re friends she wouldn’t want Cross to feel bashful about asking her for a favour, then offered to be in her corner for her match.
Becky Lynch came to the ring for a chat. She said she’d been doing some thinking and she needs to make some changes. She went home this weekend for the first time in 63 days and she’s done a lot since she was last there. She’s done a ton of tv and house shows and media, she’s switched brands, and she won the main event of WrestleMania. All her dreams came true and she has never been as content in her entire life. But then it hit her, contentment is the worst thing that can happen to a fighter like her. A content fighter gets hurt, or gets passed over, or gets beaten. But that won’t be her, because when Lacey Evans helped Charlotte Flair beat her for her SmackDown Live Championship, it woke something in her that needed waking because when she’s pissed off, and she’s pissed off, there is not a woman in the business who can keep her down. So if you have wronged her in any way shape or form don’t think she won’t find a way to get to you, Lacey Evans. She will break her back trying and she will break her hands fighting and she will fight until she can’t fight any…
Lacey Evans came out at that point and said Lynch is like a dog chasing a car, and like the dog, she wouldn’t know what to do if she caught it. She did Lynch and the entire WWE Universe a favour at Money in the Bank. Becky Two Belts should not be the one to represent the women of WWE. Lynch interrupted her and Evans told her not to confuse her with Charlotte Flair because Lynch is not in her head and she is not to be messed with. Lynch did beat her at Money in the Bank but she’s the reason Lynch left there not a winner. When she gets her hands on Lynch she’ll be Becky No Belts because she refuses to stand by and allow a woman like her to represent her division.
Charlotte Flair came out next. She told Lynch to stop making excuses, she beat her, Lynch lost and Flair became the nine-time women’s champion.
Lynch asked where her title was and Evans interrupted her answer to ask what Flair was doing there. She’s strutting around like a peacock because she’s a daddy’s girl who needs attention.
Flair said she struts because she is more than half way to beating her Daddy’s 16-time world heavyweight championship record. Evans has been there four minutes and all Flair has seen her do is make tea. Last week she didn’t even have to take off her street clothes to leave Evans laying.
Evans said Flair had nine championships but now she has no championships and Evans is the face of WWE, and told her to run along back to SmackDown unless she wants to be educated with a Woman’s Right. Flair didn’t move so Evans shoved her. I think it was supposed to be a punch, commentary called it a punch, but it was definitely a shove.
Becky Lynch got out of the ring and stayed at ringside for the match.
Charlotte Flair vs Lacey Evans
Flair didn’t waste any time taking it to Lacey Evans and threw her out of the ring after the initial tussle. Becky Lynch indulged in some trash talk while she was out there, but she was very well behaved.
The crowd chanted ‘We Want Becky’ during the match and Lynch shrugged from the outside. That was disrespectful and completely uncalled for, but the match wasn’t the best. Corey Graves described it as ‘a great deal of grappling with neither one really able to gain a decisive advantage for any duration’. Renee Young commented on the physique and stamina similarities between them. But it mainly seemed to boil down to Lacey Evans’ inexperience showing in places.
The result was they wore each other down fairly evenly until they took each other down with a double crossbody.
They crawled to opposite sides of the ring to pull themselves up on the ropes. Charlotte Flair ended up in front of Becky Lynch, who pulled her out of the ring, causing Evans to be disqualified, then got in the ring and delivered the newly named Manhandle Slam to Evans.
Becky Lynch will defend the RAW Women’s Championship against Lacey Evans at Stomping Grounds. I’m not entirely sure of the logic behind the decision and from reading the WWE preview for the match, it would seem that they aren’t either. It essentially says Evans was awarded the match because the fact she was instrumental in Lynch losing the SmackDown Women’s Championship and still hasn’t gone away meant Becky Lynch didn’t become a complacent champion. It’s tortured reasoning at best.
Nikki Cross vs Peyton Royce
Alexa Bliss did accompany Nikki Cross to the ring as promised. She still looks a little bemused by Cross’ exuberance, but she smiles a lot when they’re together. The IIconics entrance happened during the break, so there were no additional jibes thrown.
Peyton Royce was more interested in posturing than fighting at the start of the match, but when Cross tried to get her attention she paid with a kick in the head, and Royce took control of the match from there. It was actually nice to see Royce having a decent match, The IIconics have been very downtrodden recently.
Royce couldn’t keep Cross down and Nikki Cross gradually fought back into it. She got a two count from a bulldog, but missed with the crossbody from the top turnbuckle.
While Cross was picking herself up, Alexa Bliss had a coffee delivered to ringside. Billie Kay and Peyton Royce were furious (and someone needs to talk to Bliss about her caffeine intake). They yelled at her and she flicked coffee at Royce. Peyton Royce kicked the cup out of Bliss’ hand and Billie Kay shoved Bliss over so she sat in the puddle in her white jeans.
Meanwhile, in the ring, Nikki Cross gave Royce her elevated neckbreaker and pinned her.
Bliss was seething after the match. She got into the ring and dropkicked Billie Kay into Royce and DDT’d her. She would probably have done more if Cross hadn’t grabbed her to celebrate.
Alexa Bliss def. Carmella and Charlotte Flair
Alexa Bliss appeared on this week’s SmackDown as a Wild Card. She was there to host a Moment of Bliss with Bayley as her special guest. Bliss made a couple of comments about being a visitor from a superior brand, then brought Bayley out. Before they got to the questions, she complained about the coffee. I’m starting to think they’re running a storyline where Bliss has a coffee addiction problem.
When they got to the interview, Bliss put Bayley becoming champion down to her having a good night at Money in the Bank. Bayley argued it started before that, with all the hard work she put in, and Bliss kept agreeing, but putting the win down to luck. Then she started talking about her own achievements. She finished her brag by saying the title really meant something when she held it. Does Bayley think the title means anything around her waist?
Bayley said she saw what Bliss was trying to do, she was trying to bait her in. but a lot has changed since they last met and instead of looking to the past Bayley is looking to the future. She’s looking for new opponents. Bliss interrupted to ask about her coffee again. She got it and Bayley smacked it out of her hand.
Bliss got cross and said that if that’s the kind of champion Bayley is going to be the maybe the title should be around the waist of someone who deserves it. While they were arguing, Carmella came out.
Carmella put her case for being the next person to challenge Bayley. Bayley seemed to like the idea, but Bliss took it to mean Carmella was challenging her. While they were arguing, Charlotte Flair came out.
Flair said sorry to interrupt but she couldn’t help herself. She’d been talking to her ‘good friend’ Shane McMahon and there was going to be a match to see who Bayley will face at Stomping Grounds – Carmella versus Alexa Bliss versus Charlotte Flair.
Carmella vs Charlotte Flair vs Alexa Bliss
Lots of switching out in the early going, with one of them outside the ring at any time. There were a few chances, but nothing close to a finish.
Carmella was in the ring alone when Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose strolled down the ramp. After she yelled at them a bit she got out of the ring to deal with Alexa Bliss, but Bliss reversed Carmella’s attempt to fling her into the barricade.
With Carmella down, Flair chased Bliss around at ringside, chopping her when she got the chance. Rose and Deville stood and watched.
By the time we came back from a break, Bliss was down in one corner and Carmella and Flair were fighting in the opposite one. Carmella brought them down to the mat, but only got two and turned her attention to Bliss with a bronco buster that made Bliss roll out of the ring.
Carmella caught a clothesline from Flair and found herself in the Figure Eight, but Bliss landed Twisted Bliss on Charlotte Flair’s bridged body. Carmella broke up Bliss’ pin attempt. She also had to break up Flair’s pin on Bliss from Natural Selection as well.
Flair kicked Carmella out of the ring then nearly got pinned by Bliss, aided by a handful of tights. Charlotte Flair kicked Bliss in the knee to set her up for the Figure Eight, but took a superkick from Carmella.
Carmella was unable to capitalise because Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville tried to pull her out of the ring. She fought them off but Bliss grabbed her and delivered a DDT for the win.
The Wild Card Rule is having a detrimental impact on the women’s division. Instead of creating opportunities for different superstars to visit each brand, it has become a way for the same few superstars to monopolise both brands. It’s frustrating because it really feels like we’re slipping back from the progress that has been made. Shorter matches, minimal storylines, it’s not good.
So, let’s talk about the plan for the Women’s Tag Team Championships at Stomping Grounds. There doesn’t appear to be one yet. Peyton Royce and Billie Kay have been pulling double duty most weeks, in losing efforts, but the belts have become big shiny accessories. It has to be part of a long-term storyline, it makes no sense to devalue brand-new titles so quickly, but at the moment it is both irritating and worrying. Kabuki Warriors are the obvious choice, but there was no sign of them tonight. Fire & Desire were there, but the tag champs weren’t. Bliss and Cross were a brief possibility, but now Bliss has a title match against Bayley. It’s only a couple of weeks to Stomping Grounds, so they’ll have to throw something together fast… either that or that Women’s Tag Team Championships will go undefended again.
Mia Yim def. Bianca Belair
This was the traditional format post-TakeOver show, two matches and a lot of recaps and follow-ups from TakeOver. The Women’s Championship match was the first recap of the night.
The post-match footage from Shayna Baszler versus Io Shirai was minimal. Cameras caught Shirai just after she’d finished laying Baszler out with a chair. She stormed past with Candice LeRae trailing after her and said, ‘I’m not done with Shayna’.
Io Shirai and Candice LeRae will team up to face Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir next week.
Mia Yim vs Bianca Belair
I thought this match should have taken the fifth TakeOver spot ahead of Roderick Strong vs Matt Riddle, but at least they got to do it in front of the TakeOver crowd. Yim and Belair hold one victory each over each other, with Bianca Belair’s hair being a pivotal factor in both matches.
Bianca Belair got a good start but wasted it with too much posturing and it devolved into a bad-tempered struggle for dominance. Belair’s abdominal stretch gave her the advantage, when followed up with a gutbuster, and left Mia Yim clutching her ribs.
Belair worked the injury, but once again got caught up in posturing and Yim made her pay for it by getting her knees up and jamming them into Belair’s thighs. Belair tried to regain the momentum but instead found herself fighting out of a cross-arm-breaker by forcing Yim’s shoulders to the mat.
Yim tried for a submission with a guillotine, but Belair dropped her on her back. Mia Yim managed to send Belair out of the ring to give herself some recovery time, but Belair stretched Yim’s torso around the ringpost instead. Yim grabbed hold of Belair’s arm and dragged her shoulder first into the post.
Outside the ring, Belair got Yim in an elevated double chicken wing, but Yim reversed and launched her into the steps. Mia Yim rolled Belair back into the ring at the referee’s eight count and climbed in after her.
Yim was in control when they were back in the ring. A Code Blue got a two count and she looked to be building to a finish, but Belair caught her and tossed her over her head. She couldn’t get the pin though and started to get frustrated. Another guillotine saw Belair almost tap and a series of kicks had her reeling.
Protect Ya Neck from the second turnbuckle handed Mia Yim an emotional victory.
Kay Lee Ray def. Kasey Owens
Kay Lee Ray vs Kasey Owens
Commentary only really talked about Kay Lee Ray through the match, just in case there was any doubt coming in who was going to be victorious.
Kay Lee Ray took control from the beginning. An armbar in the ropes attempt by Owens failed and landed her outside the ring. Kay Lee Ray followed and laid her o the apron to punch her in the face
A standing armbar left Owens guarding her arm, but she made an error of judgements when she slapped Kay Lee Ray across the face and caught a dropkick and barrage of punches.
Owens did fight back into it. She reversed being sent into the corner and delivered a few blows with her good arm. She even delivered a knee in the corners. But it was just a token comeback and Kay Lee Ray finished her with a Widow’s Peak.
We got a recap of Jazzy Gabert being introduced to the NXT UK women’s division, by Jinny, with an attack on Xia Brookside, leading into an interview with Jinny and Gabert. They were asked how the pairing came together and Jinny said that a woman of wealth knows exactly what to do to have things work in her favour. From the moment she saw Jazzy Gabert sitting in the audience at TakeOver she knew she had two options, she either had to fight her or befriend her. Jinny may be the most fashionable and attractive women in NXT UK, but she’s not just a pretty face. It takes real intelligence to get to the top and that’s exactly where she’s going. If Xia Brookside, Isla Dawn, or anyone else thinks they can get in her way, Jazzy Gabert will take care of them.
The next NXT UK TakeOver will take place in Cardiff on August 31st. That’s looking like a hell of a busy day for wrestling fans.
Natalya & Dana Brooke
Natalya & Dana Brooke vs Tamina & Sarah Logan
Let’s be honest, WWE have no clue what to do with Tamina while Nia Jax is out injured. Sarah Logan is just coming back from injury, so it’s good to see her. She’s still using the Riott Squad theme, hopefully, she’ll get her own soon. It’s good to see all of them, better a match on Main Event than no match at all.
It was Logan and Natalya to start things off, albeit briefly because Natalya and Brooke utilised frequent tags to try to keep Sarah Logan isolated in their corner. It was working when we went into an ad, but Logan had Natalya in a submission when we came back. Natalya reversed it but couldn’t get to Dana Brooke.
Logan tried to push Brooke off the apron and when Brooke retaliated by trying to get into the ring, Logan used the ref’s distraction to drag Natalya into her corner to double team her. The ref almost caught them and that gave Natalya just enough time to fight back and eventually get to her partner.
Dana Brooke and Tamina took over the match from there. Logan had to come in to break up Brooke’s pin, then Natalya came in to deal with Logan. Tamina put Brooke in the corner for a splash, Brooke moved and while Tamina was still down Dana Brooke finished her with a dive over Natalya’s head with Natalya holding her hands.
The two Women’s Championship matches are already set for Stomping Grounds, with two weeks still to go to the event. We shall see what happens with the tag titles.
I’ll be back next week with the continued build to Stomping Grounds and all the other developments in WWE’s women’s divisions. In the meantime, connect with me on twitter @manda_why and let’s talk wrestling. Make sure you’re following @RearViewReviews so you never miss a review.