Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It’s WrestleMania weekend… which is roughly how long this year’s show is set to last by the sounds of it. Before we get to the biggest show of the year on ‘The Grandest Stage of Them All’, we’ve got the go home shows and NXT TakeOver: New York to look at.
Beth Phoenix & Natalya, and The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection def. The IIconics and Nia Jax & Tamina
Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch, & Charlotte Flair def. The Riott Squad
Stephanie McMahon opened the show. She ‘April Fools’ pranked the audience that she was adding herself to the main event match, then announced the match will be Winner Takes All, with both the RAW and SmackDown Women’s Championships on the line.
The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection, Beth Phoenix & Natalya vs Nia Jax & Tamina and The IIconics
SmackDown’s women’s division was well represented on RAW with The IIconic in this match and Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair appearing later.
There was immediate discord between Sasha Banks and Beth Phoenix caused by Banks tagging herself in before Phoenix had a chance to get the match underway. Banks and Bayley appeared to want to keep the match to themselves, Banks looked annoyed when Natalya tagged in.
Beth Phoenix eventually got into the ring and she looked ready. She held Billie Kay up above her head so long that Peyton Royce felt the need to save her teammate. The rest of Phoenix’ team entered the ring when Royce did, but Jax and Tamina stayed on the apron. In fact, Nia Jax and Tamina made it clear Royce and Kay were on their own, going as far as jumping off the apron when Peyton Royce needed a tag.
Jax and Tamina did eventually get involved, when Tamina pulled the rope down and Beth Phoenix spilled to the outside. In response, Phoenix tackled Tamina straight through the barricade into the timekeeper’s area.
Phoenix and Royce were legal, so Peyton Royce rolled Phoenix back into the ring and started slapping her. She’d have been better waiting for a count out victory. The slapping brought Beth Phoenix round and Royce took a Glam Slam and got pinned.
Alexa Bliss had a backstage segment with Tyler Breeze, EC3, and Braun Strowman. She spent a bit of time talking about how wonderful she’s going to be as the host of WrestleMania, and how great she is generally. The segment was there to set Braun Strowman up for a squash match against substitutes for Michael Che and Colin Jost.
There was a stipulation on the six-woman tag match. If Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch, or Charlotte Flair betrayed their teammates, they would be removed from the WrestleMania main event.
All three of the WrestleMania main event women were given interview time during the show. Charly Caruso asked Charlotte Flair if she was worried about putting her title on the line at WrestleMania. Unsurprisingly, she isn’t, she’s going to break Becky’s leg and tap out Ronda Rousey. Stephanie McMahon had to change the match, because she changed the game. Caruso asked if Flair thought she might be the one to lose her cool and get bumped from the match. Flair said she’s a professional, not a hothead like Lynch or a loose cannon like Rousey. But after the match, Ronda and Becky better stay the hell away from her or they won’t make it to WrestleMania.
Ronda Rousey said she wasn’t in the mood for talking she was in the mood for fighting. She was going to destroy The Riott Squad and make Flair and Lynch watch. Sunday is judgement day for Becky and Charlotte, unless they provoke her then judgement day might be tonight.
Becky Lynch got the final word. She interrupted Charly Caruso’s question and said she’d tell her everything she needed to know. This Sunday she’s walking out of MetLife Stadium the first ever RAW and SmackDown Women’s Champion. Tonight they are forcing her to team with Rousey and Flair and they’re hoping she loses her cool so they can kick her out of the match, but she’s wise to their games. She knows she’s made an enemy of the McMahon family and the only way to ensure they can’t sink her afterwards is to take home all of the gold on the grandest stage of them all. Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey talk about wanting to make history, she has no choice but to make history.
Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, & Ronda Rousey vs The Riott Squad
Obviously, the match itself wasn’t going to be the interesting bit. Charlotte Flair and Ruby Riott had a minute or so before Lynch tagged herself in. Lynch and Riott had a quick stint then Riott tagged in Sarah Logan during the break.
Logan had the better of Becky Lynch at one point, but Lynch turned it around against Liv Morgan. When Lynch got too close to her own corner, Flair tagged in. She and Lynch started to argue and Rousey tagged herself in.
While Rousey and Flair were arguing, Liv Morgan tried to grab Rousey with the intent to roll her up. Rousey spun around grabbed Morgan and tapped her out in an armbar in a matter of seconds. The moment the bell rang, Rousey turned and punched Charlotte Flair.
Security ran to the ring as the three women piled into each other. They got beaten up before Flair, Rousey, and Lynch turned their attention back to each other.
‘Police officers’ ran down next. Ronda Rousey knocked one down accidentally in her desperation to get to Becky Lynch, and ended up in handcuffs. Becky Lynch attacked Rousey while they were trying to get her out of the ring, so she was cuffed as well. When they cuffed her she said, ‘Again?’
Charlotte Flair had been watching this from the ramp, but she couldn’t resist getting a shot in on both her cuffed competitors, so they handcuffed her too.
All three were still fighting and struggling as they were led backstage. They were put into the back of cars and for some reason they put Lynch and Rousey in the same one. They immediately started fighting, despite still being cuffed, and the window was kicked out of the car.
They were dragged out of the car, and Charlotte Flair was inexplicably let out of hers as well. Ronda Rousey was left unattended long enough to get into the front seat of one car and drive it into the back of the other.
The final act of violence, and the lasting image of the night, was Charlotte Flair kneeing Ronda Rousey’s head into the frame of the missing car window when Rousey stuck her head out of it. Then they were taken away in separate cars.
Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Zelina Vega, Andrade, Lana, EC3, Gallows & Anderson, Shelton Benjamin vs. Nikki Cross, Carmella, R-Truth, Heavy Machinery, The Hardy Boys, Naomi, & Asuka – descended into total chaos
Alexa Bliss appeared on SmackDown this week in her capacity as WrestleMania host. She was there to tell The Usos that they have a Fatal Four-Way Tag Team Championship match against The Bar, Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura, and Aleister Black & Ricochet.
The IIconics had an in-ring segment to send a message to their WrestleMania opponents. They set the scene and talked through the people they can pin to become champions. They think they’re going to win the titles and make WrestleMania IIconic.
Becky Lynch appeared on SmackDown for an in-ring interview with Corey Graves. Before introducing her, he showed extensive footage of the brawl on RAW and said all three women had been released.
Lynch was wearing her mugshot shirt and the first thing she did was stand on the announce desk and say it’s good to be free and the shirt aged well. She told Corey Graves she doesn’t answer to him she answers to the people, and spent the segment stood on the desk. She said she was thinking in the back of the cop car about what a difference a year makes. This time last year she and Charlotte Flair were the best of friends, Ronda Rousey was about to make her debut at WrestleMania. It was like all the stars were aligned to get The Queen and The Baddest Woman on the Planet in the main event of this year’s WrestleMania. That was until she smacked the smugness off Flair’s face at SummerSlam.
That one strike changed everything. She was determined from that point that she would do whatever it took to fight to get into this year’s WrestleMania, and look at us now. This Sunday in front of 80,000 people at MetLife Stadium, for the first time ever the women are the main event of WrestleMania. The Queen, The Baddest Woman on the Planet, and The Man going head to head to head. The real revolution, that started at SummerSlam with a slap, is going to explode this Sunday when the winner takes all and she makes one of those dopes tap.
So, the next time we see her she’ll be the champ that she knew she always was, the double champ.
There wasn’t a women’s division match as such, but what we did get was such complete madness I was kind of into it. To build up to both the Women’s Battle Royal and the André The Giant Battle Royal, SmackDown had an 18-person mixed tag match. It was utterly ridiculous, but good fun.
Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Zelina Vega, Andrade, Lana, EC3, Gallows & Anderson, Shelton Benjamin vs. Nikki Cross, Carmella, R-Truth, Heavy Machinery, The Hardy Boys, Naomi, & Asuka
Mixed-tag rules, obviously. One day WWE will be brave enough to go for intergender in this kind of thing.
Nikki Cross and Zelina Vega started things off then lacey Evans interrupted to do her catwalk thing and Zelina Vega took advantage. It didn’t last long though and Vega was soon scrabbling to her corner to tag in EC3.
From there it flowed into a busy, but fairly standard mixed-tag until R-Truth and Carmella’s dance break caused a breakout of chaos and everyone started throwing each other over the top rope. The highlight of that was Nikki Cross jumping on Shelton Benjamin’s back and hanging on even after he toppled over the top rope. Asuka kicked EC3 in the face so Jeff Hardy could throw him out. They hugged then Asuka threw him out as well to be the last person standing.
Bianca Belair vs Kairi Sane ended in No Contest
Candice LeRae was interrupted by Aliyah and Vanessa Borne while she was talking about dreaming of having an NXT Women’s Championship match. Aliyah said the dream makes LeRae a failure, just like her husband and Vanessa Borne deemed her a lower. LeRae took exception to the mention of failure. She said she’s going to earn a championship match and start by knocking Aliyah on her ass.
That match is next week, so will be filmed in front of the TakeOver crowd.
Bianca Belair vs Kairi Sane
On the go home show for their fatal four-way title match, the chances of this finishing clean were remote at best.
We got a really good main event match before the shenanigans. There’s not much to split Sane and Belair now, they know each other well enough to neutralise a lot of each other’s offence. Sane was in trouble any time Belair got the opportunity to use her superior power. Belair doesn’t have quick the same levels of speed and agility as Kairi Sane, and she doesn’t have the experience to throw counters around in quite the same way.
Bianca Belair had delivered a seated superplex to Kairi Sane and was firmly in control of the match when the eventual interruption came. She’d just dropped Sane on her face from an elevated double chicken wing when she was attacked from behind by Shayna Baszler. Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir went after Kairi Sane and Io Shirai ran down to help out.
With the ring already in chaos, most of the rest of the women’s locker room ran down to try to split everyone up. When most of them had dragged Baszler, Duke, and Shafir from the ring, Bianca Belair threw Lacey Lane at them. Io Shirai slapped Belair as soon as she turned around, then moonsaulted onto the group of women and grabbed the title belt to hold up as the show ended.
Rhea Ripley was asked about the speculation that Piper Niven may be able to take Ripley’s self-appointed, ‘most dominant woman in NXT UK’ title away. Ripley said she went easy on Niven last week because it was her debut, but if Piper Niven thinks NXT UK is going to be a dream, she’s going to make it her worst nightmare.
Piper Niven’s NXT UK in-ring debut is next week.
Isla Dawn vs Kay Lee Ray
This was a decent match, and it got an almost reasonable amount of time for an NXT UK match. More of a chess match than a scrap, at the start at least.
While Dawn is trying to raise her stock in the NXT UK women’s division, Kay Lee Ray is still establishing herself there. It was Kay Lee Ray who came out on top in this round but the look Dawn was giving her post-match suggested it’s far from over.
Toni Storm was just telling interviewers that she’d said all she had to say about her upcoming title match against Jinny when Jinny attacked her and laid her out.
Main Event covered the brawl between Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, and Ronda Rousey from RAW.
NXT TakeOver: New York
Shayna Baszler def. Bianca Belair, Kairi Sane, and Io Shirai
This match report is copied and pasted from my full NXT TakeOver Review. You can find the full review here.
Shayna Baszler (C) vs Bianca Belair vs Kairi Sane vs Io Shirai – NXT Women’s Championship match
Shayna Baszler had Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir with her through the backstage area, but they didn’t come to the ring. It was enough to demonstrate they could still be a factor.
Kairi Sane and Io Shirai quickly teamed up to deal with the other two, but as soon as they were alone in the ring, they went for each other, albeit gently and respectfully. It was still early after all.
Baszler did her elbow stomp on Belair and tried to use her hair to pull her into the post (having already used it to pull her into the turnbuckle once). Belair blocked and reversed it so Baszler took a post in the face instead.
While she was down and out, Sane and Belair tried to fight it out. Shirai and Sane swapped places when Sane slipped under the bottom rope to take down the barely recovering Baszler.
Bianca Belair was at the top of the compulsory tower of doom spot. She and Baszler took the worst of it and both rolled out of the ring. Io Shirai assisted Kairi Sane over the top onto them before taking Baszler down with a moonsault.
Belair found herself in the middle of the Sky Pirates, but Baszler pulled Sane from the ring before she could sustain any damage. Belair pressed Shirai over her head and threw her over the top rope at the other two.
When Belair hoisted Baszler up for the elevated double chicken wing, Baszler scrabbled free and locked in the Kirifuda Clutch. Somehow Belair powered out and delivered a K.O.D. Io Shirai broke the pin attempt on two. Kairi Sane broke Shirai’s pin attempt following a moonsault and they started fighting for real. Sane delivered an InSane Elbow to Baszler and Shirai thwarted it.
Kairi Sane versus Io Shirai is a match anyone would pay to see, best friends or not. We got a taster, but Bianca Belair hit Sane with her hair whip then delivered a double K.O.D. to Sane and Shirai. Baszler made it back in time to stop her title being lost and locked Belair back in the Kirifuda Clutch.
With nowhere to go and both Sane and Shirai both still down from the K.O.D., Belair struggled for as long as she could then tapped.
Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir met Baszler on the ramp to help her out of the arena.
Great match overall and a real surprise the Baszler retained. It has cemented her as the dominant force in the NXT Women’s division, as if there was any doubt. With so little built for NXT women right now, Baszler is a safe pair of hands for the division to be in. She provides the greatest flexibility in terms of opponents because she has positioned herself against the entire division, bar Duke and Shafir of course.
WrestleMania 35 – Preview and Predictions
Ronda Rousey (C) vs Charlotte Flair (C) vs Becky Lynch – Women’s Championship Winner Takes All match
The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection vs Beth Phoenix & Natalya vs Nia Jax & Tamina vs The IIconics – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match
Women’s Battle Royal featuring – Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, Liv Morgan, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Asuka, Nikki Cross, Zelina Vega
Women’s Battle Royal
This is now an annual tradition, apparently, which is no bad thing. And in line with my traditions, I don’t predict battle royals. All I’m saying is, if Nikki Cross could win it, I’d be a very happy wrestling fan.
Announced for the match so far are Nikki Cross, Carmella, Naomi, Asuka, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Lana, Zelina Vega, Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, Liv Morgan, Mickie James, and Dana Brooke. Alicia Fox and Lacey Evans aren’t advertised. Fox has been absent for personal/health reasons and we can still only speculate about what’s going on with Lacey Evans. Both have been part of the circus of events surrounding WrestleMania, so could still compete. It is probable that the numbers will be made up by NXT Superstars.
The match is on the Kickoff Show, which is what matches like this were designed for, and it will be a lot of fun.
The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection vs Nia Jax & Tamina vs Beth Phoenix & Natalya vs The IIconics – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match
So, this is the match where Sasha Banks and Bayley face everyone they’ve come into contact with since becoming champions. Nia Jax & Tamina have been an ever-present thorn in their sides since before they got the belts, but it’s been worse since. It was the behaviour of Jax and Tamina which prompted Beth Phoenix out of retirement, well, that and the prospect of adding tag team gold to her impressive resumé. The IIconics are in the match because they beat Banks and Bayley on SmackDown. They cheated, but it still counts.
That’s about it for the build up. The titles are still so new there is nothing left to say. The newness of the titles leads me to believe The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection will retain. They are the best possible choice to do the work that needs to be done to give the titles meaning. It would be a nice moment for Beth Phoenix & Natalya to win, and I wouldn’t rule out them having a title run before Phoenix re-retires if she sticks around after WrestleMania, but she’s been out of retirement five minutes. Anyway, I want to see The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection versus The Sky Pirates, and that won’t happen if they lose the titles.
Prediction: The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection
Ronda Rousey (C) vs Charlotte Flair (C) vs Becky Lynch – RAW and SmackDown Women’s Championship match – Winner Takes All
Our WrestleMania Main event. The first women’s main event in the 35-year history of WrestleMania. It genuinely doesn’t get any bigger than this.
Where do we start with the backstory? We’ve had invasions, injuries, arrests, suspensions, and more all-out brawls than we can count… and that’s just Becky Lynch. This storyline has taken over both RAW and SmackDown for months and it’s been all over social media as well. There has been nowhere to hide, not that you’d want to because it’s been one of the most interesting things going on in WWE for the majority of that time.
The seeds were planted back at SummerSlam when Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair’s friendship imploded. Then, in the run-up to her Survivor Series against Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch was injured by a stray punch from Nia Jax during the RAW invasion. She chose Charlotte Flair as her replacement and that turned into one of the most brutal women’s division beatings in recent memory (mine anyway).
Between then and now – because I’m not recounting every step, we’re all busy people – Becky Lynch has evolved into The Man and made an enemy of the McMahon family, leading to the aforementioned suspensions and arrests. She earned the title shot against Rousey at Royal Rumble, lost it courtesy of Vince McMahon, and had to earn back her place in the match. Charlotte Flair was Vince McMahon’s hand-picked replacement for Lynch, and she added the SmackDown title into the mix when she unexpectedly won it from Asuka in an unannounced SmackDown match. Ronda Rousey has gone from smiley, earnest and happy to be here, to screw everything killing machine.
At every available opportunity, and there have been a lot, every combination of the three competitors have tried to beat the hell out of each other, often successfully. On the RAW WrestleMania go home show, all three were dragged away in handcuffs and still managed to fight. They’ve definitively set the tone of the match.
It has to be epic, there’s no other option. I’m expecting to see blood and hear at least a couple of holy shit chants. All three of these women are going out there to make it the best WrestleMania main event in the history of WrestleMania main events. And it just might be.
As for who will win, it has to be Becky Lynch. It just has to be. On Monday night she said the other two want to make history, she has no choice. That’s how it feels. I’m prepared to be disappointed and hear Woo’s as WrestleMania closes out, but I can’t predict anything other than a victory for The Man.
Prediction: Becky Lynch
Enjoy WrestleMania, all seven and a half hours of it. I’ll be back next week with all the fallout from WrestleMania and NXT TakeOver: New York, and everything else going on in WWE’s women’s division.