Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. There are three title matches set for the women at Fastlane, on Sunday. That’s a nice thing to be able to say, but it’s not necessarily a completely accurate representation of the state of the division.
Natalya def. Ruby Riott
Tamina def. Sasha Banks
Natalya vs Ruby Riott
The reason given for this match was unfinished business. I’m not sure how much business you can get finished in two minutes and five seconds, but that’s what they got.
Natalya had Ruby Riott in a Sharpshooter, Riott managed to turn over and secured Natalya in an inside cradle, Natalya reversed it for the pin.
Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan rushed into the ring but Natalya was out of there just quick enough to avoid them.
Lacey Evans did her catwalk bit at the end of the match. She walked past Natalya on the ramp and ignored her completely.
Torrie Wilson has been added to the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2019.
Sasha Banks vs Tamina
This was a slightly longer match than Natalya and Ruby Riott got, but it was still fairly brief. Bayley beat Nia Jax last week, so this was Banks’ chance to really put the momentum on their side going into their first tag title defence on Sunday.
It was an ok match. Banks was outpowered and Tamina was out-skilled.
Banks got the Bank Statement locked in but Nia Jax pulled Tamina from the ring. Bayley came around to deal with Jax and got thrown away by her head (unpleasant looking landing too). Sasha Banks delivered double knees from the apron to Jax.
When Banks started to get back into the ring, Nia Jax grabbed her leg. That was enough of a distraction for Tamina to land a superkick and get the pin.
The Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Ronda Rousey saga was one of the major threads of RAW again this week.
It started with recaps of Becky Lynch getting arrested and Rousey laying down the title, then moved to an interview with Stephanie McMahon. Charly Caruso asked her about Charlotte Flair’s declaration that she would be crowned RAW Women’s Champion. McMahon said Flair was a bit presumptuous but as far as Ronda Rousey goes, laying down the title was disrespectful, blasphemous even. Which is why WWE have done what’s best for business, dropped all charges against Becky Lynch and lifted her suspension. Lynch is still not one hundred percent fit, so McMahon had invited her to sign a hold harmless agreement to absolve WWE of all responsibility for any injury she incurs while competing. If she signs, she gets a match at Fastlane against Charlotte Flair for the vacant title.
It’s a bit odd to announce two SmackDown superstars to compete for the RAW title, but obviously, we weren’t done for the night.
Later, Caruso also interviewed Charlotte Flair. She asked for Flair’s thoughts on the potential match, if Becky Lynch signs the agreement. Flair said someone else might be an if but Becky, with her stubborn Irish pride and huge ego, she’ll sign. And unlike our queen, Lynch is quite arrogant and thinks she’s going to be the next champ. But even at her best, The Man doesn’t compare to The Queen. Lynch was crushed when her sixty-day suspension meant she’d miss WrestleMania, but Flair will put her on the shelf for good. She’s sorry to raise everybody’s high hopes for Becky but she is a one-legged competitor in an ass-kicking contest. The good news is that the WWE universe gets to bask in Flair’s glory (little shout out to Keith Lee there) when she becomes RAW Women’s Champion.
The storyline also got the final segment of the show. Stephanie McMahon kicked it off by bringing the title to the ring and showing another recap of how we got to this point. She brought Flair out first, then Becky Lynch. Lynch was still using a crutch and Flair laughed at her while she struggled to get into the ring.
When they were all there, Stephanie McMahon explained the title match and the purpose of the hold harmless agreement, then gave it to her to sign.
Flair goaded Lynch to sign the form by suggesting McMahon might want to pick the alternative, just give her the title. Becky Lynch told Flair she beat her on one leg at Royal Rumble and they didn’t have to wait until Fastlane. Stephanie McMahon put a stop to that by saying Lynch needed to sign the agreement and it had to be run through the legal department. Lynch signed.
Ronda Rousey was shown storming from the carpark and through the backstage area, it took her the length of an ad break to get to the ring.
Rousey demanded to know what McMahon thought she was doing. Stephanie McMahon said Rousey vacated and left her no choice, Rousey said she didn’t vacate anything, she gave her a week to think about it and she doesn’t like what she came up with. She wanted them to include Becky not exclude her. Rousey ordered McMahon to give her title back, and she did.
Stephanie McMahon said she still had to do business so at Fastlane it will still be Becky Lynch versus Charlotte Flair. If Becky Lynch wins, she’ll be added to the WrestleMania match. She asked Rousey if that pleased her and the crowd if that was what they wanted to see. The crowd seemed keen, but Rousey had more to say.
She told McMahon she knows she values her wallet over her own pride, Rousey makes her too much money to fire her and she knows it. She wouldn’t want to admit she lost control of her or admit she can go rogue at any moment. Rousey has free reign to do whatever she likes in the ring because McMahon values her bank account and her reputation over Charlotte and Becky’s frail little bodies.
Rousey did everything she could to respect the business. She worked her ass off and exceeded every expectation. She poured her heart out and sacrificed her body for our entertainment. And what did the WWE universe do, booed her out of the Staples Centre in LA, her home. They cheered for Becky while she’s out here working her ass off. No more, she’s no longer here to entertain us. She would break Charlotte and Becky’s noses if she so much as sneezed at them. I think the last bit needs to be quoted verbatim. ‘I am not your dancing monkey not anymore. Damn your fantasies. Damn The Man, screw the Woo, and no more Mrs Nice Bitch.’
Rousey attacked Flair first, who took one blow and rolled out of the ring, then turned her attention to Becky Lynch (Stephanie McMahon was out of the ring while Rousey was still on Flair). Lynch wasn’t quick enough to react and Rousey quickly had her in an armbar. Flair stepped between the ropes while Rousey had Lynch down, but Rousey let go and Flair backed out again. She tried again when Rousey’s attention was back on Lynch, but thought better of it again. Becky Lynch got no offence in at all, she barely managed to defend herself. Rousey posed with one foot on Lynch’s face as Flair backed up the ramp, then went straight back to beating on her.
RAW obviously ran a little short because commentary were doing desperate filler recaps, then the cameras cut to a backstage interview with Stephanie McMahon. She said what happened out there was Ronda Rousey showed her true colours. She showed herself to be the animal McMahon always believed she was. She has no regard for anyone and while Stephanie McMahon has no love for Becky Lynch, she felt sorry for her for what she’s just seen. She’s sick to her stomach. Who does Rousey think she is. She can’t wait to see what happens at WrestleMania because whether it’s Charlotte Flair or Flair and Lynch, Rousey will get what’s coming to her.
Charly Caruso asked if Stephanie regretted her decision to reinstate Rousey. McMahon said whatever happens they’re going to get one hell of a match at WrestleMania. She’s got a lot of decisions to make, this behaviour has to be addressed and Rousey might find out the McMahons are prepared to make a decision that negatively impacts her career.
As far as filler interviews go, it wasn’t bad, a bit repetitive and clearly on the fly, but better than dead air.
During the week Ronda Rousey tweeted a YouTube video trashing the wrestling business pointing out that it’s scripted and calling it fake. She still has a job, so the chances that it was as unscripted and barrier crossing as it appears are minuscule. It has provoked a lot of discussion though. Wrestling/Sports Entertainment relies on the blurring of fact and fiction, the suspension of disbelief, and the willingness to interact with the art form as entertainment. ‘Shoot promos’ are a part of that, but to be effective takes a finesse I’m not convinced Rousey delivers. I’d love to know what you think.
Mandy Rose def. Naomi
Lacey Evans did her catwalk thing while R-Truth was waiting for his open challenge opponent. There might be something building between Carmella and Zelina Vega, potentially. Carmella accompanied Truth for his match and one of his opponents was Andrade, who comes with Zelina Vega in tow. Vega got involved, taking R-Truth out at ringside. Carmella superkicked her for it.
Naomi vs Mandy Rose
In a, why did they even bother, women’s division match, Mandy Rose beat Naomi in 45 seconds with a little help from a distraction by Sonya Deville.
When Rose and Sonya Deville got to the stage on their way out, they turned back to look at Naomi. Asuka appeared behind them and the moment they turned around she laid them out. Both Rose and Deville were thrown into the backboards after the initial blows, and Rose got an extra knee in the face from her SmackDown opponent.
Charlotte Flair requested an on-screen interview. She said, is it just her or is SmackDown Live missing the presence of her best friend, Becky Lynch. She’s missing her hobbling around and suffering from the beating Ronda Rousey gave her. So Flair wanted to invite Lynch to the show (Becky Lynch is a SmackDown superstar, surely she doesn’t need an invite to show up for work). Flair reminded us of Stephanie McMahon’s stipulation for their match on Sunday, if Lynch beats Flair the WrestleMania match becomes a triple-threat. Flair wants to know if Lynch is man enough to come and talk to her about her physical and mental capabilities. She just wants to have a ‘friendly discussion’.
Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair got the last minutes of the show. Flair came out first, showed the video of Rousey snapping on RAW, then brought out Lynch by getting a Becky chant going with the most condescending tone possible. It worked though.
Lynch said it was good to be back and when the crowd cheered, she told Flair that was the sound you hear when The Man comes around. So, Flair called her out for a friendly discussion and wants to know about her wellbeing. She’d be lying if she said her body didn’t hurt a bit. But that’s ok, it’s hurt before and it’ll hurt again if that’s the price it takes to stay inside her head. And she is in her head, and Ronnie’s weird little head too. Rousey doesn’t know what she wants anymore. One minute she wants to fight her at WrestleMania, the next she’ll do whatever it takes to avoid it.
Last night Rousey hit her with her absolute best and she’s still here. She’s still standing and ready to fight again. And Flair knows Lynch has owned her for months. The crowd knows she beat her on one good leg. Her ribs are bruised, her arm was almost broken, and her knee is damaged, but damaged people are the most dangerous because they have nothing left to lose.
Armed with a full list of the best bits of her opponent to target, Charlotte Flair kicked away the crutch and set about capitalising on them, trash-talking the whole time.
Becky Lynch tore the crutch from Flair’s grasp and hit her with it. She got the Dis-Arm-Her locked in and it took two officials to make her let go. Flair rolled out of the ring and Lynch wasn’t mobile enough to follow her.
I’ve really enjoyed this storyline, but even I’m starting to get fatigued by it now. If the same amount of focus is given to it right up to WrestleMania, there is a chance that a significant amount of the fanbase will be sick of it before it starts. It’s a huge deal, the women main eventing WrestleMania and it deserves to be built hard, but there are other women on the roster, and it would be nice to see some of them a bit more often.
There was no women’s division action on NXT this week due to the return of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. All four first-round matches took place on this one episode, which didn’t leave much time for anything else (the episode was extended to accommodate them).
There was an interview with Io Shirai and Kairi Sane ahead of Shirai’s match against Bianca Belair next week. Shirai said, ‘Bianca is good, but she hasn’t beaten Shayna, I have.’ Kairi Sane said they both want the title, but this is Io’s opportunity, she believes in Io. Shirai thinks she deserves to be the new NXT Women’s Champion. During the interview, they showed the finish of the match where Shirai pinned Baszler, and Belair pointing out that she already had Baszler beaten before Io Shirai tagged in. There’s no doubt that Io Shirai has the skill to beat both Belair and Baszler, but it doesn’t always come down to skill alone. Next week’s match between Belair and Shirai, to decide Baszler’s next TakeOver opponent, should be great.
Nina Samuels def. Charlie Morgan
Toni Storm was asked how she feels now her rivalry with Rhea Ripley is over. She said Ripley had her chance to prove she’s the rightful champion, but she still has the belt. Now the NXT UK women’s division is coming for the title and she wonders who’s next. While she was talking someone was walking up in the background. When Storm walked away it was revealed to be Jinny. Guess that answers that question.
Kay Lee Ray debuts next week.
Charlie Morgan vs Nina Samuels
I still feel like Charlie Morgan deserves more response from the crowd, but the same could be said for a lot of the roster, to be honest. Nigel McGuinness is obsessed with Morgan’s tattoo, he reads it out every time she has a match and got the mention in before the match had even started this week.
Samuels has had a couple of promo packages recently, so you’d expect this to be her match, and it certainly was in the early going. Predictably, it was Samuels’ trash-talk that fired Morgan into a comeback.
Nina Samuels caught Charlie Morgan as she launched herself off the ropes and delivered a fireman’s carry neck-breaker for the win.
Another very short match.
No women’s division on Main Event again. There was significant coverage of the ongoing Rousey/Lynch/Flair saga but that was it.
Fastlane – Preview and Predictions
The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection (C) vs Nia Jax & Tamina – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match
Asuka (C) vs Mandy Rose – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair
The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection (C) vs Nia Jax & Tamina
This will be the first title defence for the new championships. It’s been a long time coming and it’s a truly great thing. Sasha Banks and Bayley were absolutely the right people to hold the titles first, and they’re absolutely the right people to build the prestige of the titles. They can talk, they connect with fans, and they have the history. Can the same really be said for Nia Jax and Tamina?
I honestly believe the worst thing they can do with this brand-new title is switch it around too quickly. Let Banks and Bayley make it mean something, let them sell its importance and the emotional connection with it in the way only they can. Give them a few months at least. Apart from anything else, while there are tag teams within the women’s division, there isn’t really a tag division with a hierarchy or structure. Jax and Tamina were the obvious first challengers, but they’re not ideal title holders at this point.
Prediction: The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection
Asuka (C) vs Mandy Rose – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
I’m still struggling to understand why this is happening. Mandy Rose is doing good things (dodgy homewrecker storylines aside) but it doesn’t feel like anywhere near time to give her a PPV title shot. That said, Asuka’ stock is pretty low right now. She’s already lost to Mandy Rose on SmackDown, she’s been completely overshadowed by Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair, and there is literally nothing else built for her. I’m trying to hold on to a hope it’s all part of a big long-term plan, but it looks bleak at the moment for the woman with the longest undefeated streak in modern day WWE.
I just can’t see Mandy Rose winning this. It would be an interesting move from WWE, but I have no idea how they’d resurrect Asuka if she lost this one. I suppose they could have her lose the plot and tear through the division, but they’ve just turned Rousey so that would be a bit too similar.
What it really boils down to is my inability to imagine Mandy Rose as SmackDown Women’s Champion. I can see her and Deville going for the tag titles, but this is still a step too far.
Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair
I’m not going through the whole saga for the sake of a preview, it’s been going on for months. Becky Lynch was supposed to fight Rousey at Survivor Series but got injured. Flair filled in and beat the hell out of Rousey with a kendo stick. Lynch came back from injury and fought her way into the WrestleMania main event by winning the Royal Rumble match despite not being an entrant in it. Vince McMahon decided he didn’t think she was deserving, suspended her for 60 days, and replaced her with Charlotte Flair. There was a bunch of other stuff, disrupting matches, punching Stephanie McMahon, slapping Triple H, getting arrested… but that’s the gist.
At the start of the week, we weren’t sure if we had a RAW women’s champion because Rousey had laid the title at Stephanie McMahon’s feet on the previous week’s RAW. Then Stephanie announced that WWE were dropping all charges and cancelling her suspension and Lynch would fight Flair for the vacant title. Then Rousey came back and the title was no longer vacant. Now the match is for Becky Lynch’s place in the WrestleMania match. If she wins, she’s in and the match becomes a triple-threat. If she loses it’s Rousey versus Flair at WrestleMania.
Oh, and Becky Lynch is injured. She was already using a crutch due to the knee injury that had WWE make her sign a hold harmless agreement for Fastlane, then she got attacked by Rousey on Monday and Flair on Tuesday. Flair didn’t attack her until after she’d reeled off a list of all the injuries she was carrying though, just to give her an extra advantage.
None of that matters. It’s going to be a triple-threat at WrestleMania. I wouldn’t necessarily put it past WWE to pull another twist and put the announcement off a little longer, but they’ve tortured this storyline enough and it’s time to make the match. Maybe Rousey will get involved, maybe there will be shenanigans of one type or another, but Becky Lynch has got to go into that WrestleMania match.
Prediction: Becky Lynch
Another up and down week for the women’s division. Two of the matches were insultingly short, but a lot of business towards Fastlane and WrestleMania occurred. We are getting three women’s title matches at Fastlane, but there is precious little going on outside the title pictures.
Enjoy Fastlane, and I’ll be back next week with all the ups, downs, and developments for WWE’s women’s divisions.