Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. We kicked off the week with the Money in the Bank PPV, including three matches for the women’s division. It’s always a good PPV for setting up angles, a lot can happen amongst the chaos, but some of that might take a while to make it to tv.
Money in the Bank
Bayley def, Mandy Rose, Naomi, Natalya, Nikki Cross, Carmella, Ember Moon, and Dana Brooke
Becky Lynch def. Lacey Evans
Charlotte Flair def. Becky Lynch
Bayley def. Charlotte Flair
During the Kickoff show, Becky Lynch was interviewed about the momentous task ahead of her and asked if we could see the end of Becky Two Belts tonight. The clip of Charlotte Flair and Lacey Evans attacking her at the contract signing was shown, and Lynch said that what we saw was two jackals who needed each other to take her down because they know that individually they don’t have what it takes to beat her. So tonight, she evens the odds and Lacey Evans is about to find out what Charlotte Flair already knows, that it’s a whole different ball game when you step in the ring one on one versus The Man.
That Championship pressure, it cripples some and makes others, so tonight we’ll find out what those two dopes are made of. She doesn’t need to be reminded of the mountain she’s facing, because she’s the one who walks around with the weight of history on her shoulders. She could duck and dodge, but the right road isn’t the easy road when you’re blazing a trail. She didn’t come here to make her title reigns plentiful like Charlotte Flair, she’s here to make them meaningful, like Becky Lynch. You can tell the strength of a title based on the line of people waiting to take it away and she knows she has two rosters full of women waiting to take it away. So tonight the double champ is going out there to dish out double beatings because that’s what happens when The Man comes around.
Lacey Evans had a promo segment. She called Lynch Becky Big Mouth, and also compared her to trash. She was very confident Becky Lynch would lose both belts because The Man is no match for The Queen or a lady.
Nikki Cross got a promo segment as well. She said when she was growing up she was always the outcast, always picked on, always the last one chosen. And then last week, Alexa made her feel like she mattered, like she was important. She’s going to give Alexa a chance because she’s been nothing but lovely to her. It upsets her that Bliss can’t compete tonight but she has to and she will make the most of her opportunity. Last year Alexa won the Money in the Bank contract and Cross wants to be just like her. Let Nikki play. Let Nikki climb. Let Nikki win.
Sonya Deville joined the Kickoff panel to talk about Mandy Rose. She said it wasn’t a difficult decision to make, putting Rose in the match instead of her. A confident woman knows when to step up and when to step back. Beth Phoenix questioned Mandy Rose’s lack of experience and Deville pointed out she was in the first Women’s WrestleMania Battle Royal, first Royal Rumble, first Elimination Chamber match, the first tag team Elimination Chamber match. Inexperience isn’t a problem. Coach asked if Deville would really be happy for her, and Deville assured him she would be.
Zelina Vega appeared at that point and was extremely derisive about the fact they were talking to Deville. Deville asked if Vega was even in the division. They went on a bit from there. Vega wanted to talk about her client, Deville wanted to talk about Mandy Rose. No one could hear anything because they were shouting over each other. Their argument was only cut off by having to cut to ringside for the Kickoff Show match.
There was a dedication to the memory of Ashley Massaro, who died a few days ago, as the main show started.
Naomi vs Carmella vs Nikki Cross vs Mandy Rose vs Ember Moon vs Dana Brooke vs Natalya vs Bayley – Money in the Bank ladder match
The women’s ladder match opened the show to maximise the cash in potential for the two title matches. Sonya Deville accompanied Mandy Rose to the ring.
Nikki Cross made a very early impact, by trapping Carmella and Dana Brooke in the ring skirt, then grabbing a ladder and using it to take out Bayley, Naomi, Mandy Rose, and Natalya. She spun around wearing it, taking all of them down again at least once, until Dana Brooke kicked it and dropped her. Cross was the first one to be sent into a ladder, courtesy of Ember Moon. Natalya was the second, thanks to a push from Carmella. Natalya flipped Carmella into the ladder in retaliation and tried to do the same to Naomi, but Naomi landed on the ladder on her feet.
Mandy Rose kicked a ladder into Carmella on the knee. She immediately backed Rose away as if something wasn’t right, and slipped out of the ring to be seen to by officials. She was helped to the back shortly after, but it was unclear whether it was an actual injury or a swerve.
There were going to be a few sore bodies after this match because the ladders were fully utilised. I’m not sure anyone got away without being hit harder than expected at least once. Bayley got caught on the leg by a falling ladder early on, then had the unpleasant looking experience of being stood under one while it was forcefully closed by Natalya and Mandy Rose, three times.
The best thing about the match, everyone ended up looking great without it obviously being a series of
Dana Brooke ended up hanging from the briefcase when she grabbed it and Mandy Rose shoved her off the ladder. She had one of those awkward moments of having to pretend she couldn’t climb the final step required to successfully reach the case, while she waited for everyone else to get to her.
Nikki Cross got her hands on the briefcase but Bayley, Naomi, and Dana Brooke were already on it and the briefcase was swinging. The ladder was tipped over with all four superstars on it, by Natalya. Ember Moon put paid to any thoughts of Natalya capitalising with an Eclipse from a ladder set up outside the ring. That got a ‘Holy Shit’ chant, and thoroughly deserved it. Moon didn’t get a chance to climb because she got dropped ribs-first onto a ladder by Rose.
Carmella returned, hobbling. Mandy Rose met her on the ramp and Carmella grabbed her and drove her head repeatedly into a ladder. Then she chucked her into the barricades on each side of the ramp, superkicked her, and got in the ring. She started to climb the ladder, Sonya Deville pulled her off it and speared her. Deville squared the ladder up and dragged Mandy Rose back into the ring. Rose was unable to climb the ladder by herself, so Deville put her on her shoulders half way up, which was pretty impressive, then shoved her to the top.
Bayley met them at the top of the ladder, gave them each a look, and pushed them off before unhooking the briefcase.
After the match, Bayley gave an interview about her last few months. She said she’s very proud of everything she and Sasha Banks accomplished but she came to SmackDown Live to prove a point. She came to remind everyone what she’s capable of and tonight she did just that. Now, she’s not just Bayley, she’s Miss Money in the Bank.
Becky Lynch (C) vs Lacey Evans – RAW Women’s Championship match
The object of the match for Becky Lynch wasn’t just to finish the match, it was to finish it quickly. And she did try. She started the match with a dropkick and took it to Evans in the corner. Evans scrabbled out of the ring and Lynch followed with a baseball slide.
On the outside, Evans landed a kick and tried to launch Lynch into the barricade, but Lynch reversed. Lacey Evans tried to hop the barricade into the crowd. Lynch smashed her face-first into the apron and rolled her back in the ring.
Evans took over and started working over Lynch’s left arm to prevent the Dis-Arm-Her. She had a few half-decent chances, but she couldn’t keep the champ down.
It was Evans’ need to show off that began her downfall. She pulled the handkerchief from her tights, dabbed her face with it, and shoved it in Lynch’s mouth. That disrespect prompted Lynch’s fightback. Lynch’s forearm from the top put Evans down but took almost as much out of Lynch.
Becky Lynch recovered first and her momentum started to build. After Lynch delivered a dropkick that almost completely missed, Evans took the opportunity to roll out of the ring. Lynch followed with a punch off the apron.
Back in the ring, they exchanged two counts. Then Evans made the mistake of trash-talking while she was picking Lynch up by the plaited bit of her hair. She almost got rolled up then had to get to the ropes to avoid a Dis-Arm-Her.
While Lynch was arguing with the ref, Lacey Evans delivered a chop block and took her knee out from under her and tried for a roll up.
The finish was messy and awkward. Lacey Evans had Becky Lynch shoulders down, but the ref didn’t count. It looked like he couldn’t see clearly and moved to the other side of the pair. As he moved, Lynch reversed the pin and locked in the Dis-Arm-Her. The ref was in a perfect position to see Evans tap out.
Charlotte Flair practically skipped down the ramp as Lynch was preparing to leave. She wanted to start the SmackDown Women’s Championship match straight away and encouraged/goaded Lynch to join her in the ring. It was apparently scheduled for later, and according to commentary Becky Lynch had the option to go back to the locker room for a while, but she went with it.
Becky Lynch (C) vs Charlotte Flair – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
It was a clever plan by Flair, to not give the champ time to catch her breath and get some ice before starting the match. Unsurprisingly, Charlotte Flair had the best of the opening exchanges.
Lynch spent a long time in a Boston Crab. It took her ages to get to the ropes and Flair used the entirety of the ref’s five count once she did. They traded blows until a kick in the knee put Lynch on the mat, but she missed with the follow up big boot and they were soon back to punching each other.
Flair tried for Natural Selection on the apron, but Lynch held onto the rope and Flair crashed hard to the floor.
While she was waiting for Flair to get back in the ring, Lynch sat back against the ropes. Lacey Evans came up behind her, grabbed her hair, and hit her with the Woman’s Right. The ref was counting Charlotte Flair and didn’t see it.
Lynch rolled Flair up when she got back in the ring, but only got two. Flair landed a big boot and got the pin. Charlotte Flair is a nine-time champion.
Becky Lynch got out of the ring and dived onto Evans at ringside. She was beating on her against the barricade when Flair got out of the ring to beat on Lynch. Flair instructed Evans to get Lynch in the ring.
Evans held Lynch in the corner for Flair to kick and chop until, eventually, Bayley ran down to help.
Bayley knocked Flair down and quickly got Lacey Evans out of the ring, then Flair smashed Bayley on the back of the head and went back to Lynch. Flair could have left with her title but she charged at Bayley instead and Bayley sent her sprawling into the turnbuckle. With Flair semi-conscious on the mat, Bayley agonised about whether or not to cash in, then handed over the briefcase.
Charlotte Flair (C) vs Bayley – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
The match lasted long enough for Bayley to drag Flair into position and deliver the elbow drop.
Bayley is the new SmackDown Women’s Champion. She took to the crowd and celebrated hard. With this win, Bayley becomes the first woman to hold the Women’s NXT, RAW, SmackDown, and Tag Team titles.
I like the way it played out with Bayley, although I’m not sure about cashing in on an unconscious champion. She was the right choice to win the briefcase, and she really wouldn’t have a better opportunity to cash in. My only sadness is that, for the second year running, we have no anticipation for a cash in.
A final note for Money in the Bank, why did the IIconics not have to defend the tag belts? It doesn’t even seem to have been a consideration. I know Kabuki Warriors are being built for a big run, but I still worry the tag titles aren’t being made important.
Becky Lynch, Nikki Cross, & Alexa Bliss def. The IIconics & Lacey Evans
There is a new title in WWE. It was unveiled by Mick Foley on RAW and it’s called the 24/7 Championship. It is, as it suggests, to be defended 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, any time, any place, anywhere. All that is required is for a referee to be present to count the fall. The reason I’m mentioning it here is it is unclear if the title can be held by female superstars. All Mick Foley said, and all the WWE website says, is that the superstars on RAW, SmackDown, NXT, NXT UK, and 205 Live are eligible, as are legends and Hall of Famers. It doesn’t specify male superstars. It also becomes relevant info for SmackDown.
The burgeoning friendship between Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross was a major feature in the tiny amount of time the women’s division was allocated this week. They were shown talking backstage without audio, then in another backstage segment later.
In that one, Bliss told Cross she did a great job in Money in the Bank, but there was one problem, she didn’t win. Cross said she had her hands on the briefcase for a second. Bliss said, yes, she saw that, but she didn’t win. She suggested she had something to cheer Cross up, then they got interrupted by The Revival shouting about their victory over the Usos (handful of tights) and saying they should be the next guests on Moment of Bliss.
Bliss’ idea for cheering Nikki Cross up was, apparently, to bring her on Moment of Bliss. She pointed out she was wearing her ring gear because she didn’t want to take a chance on luggage issues (does that mean she wore it to fly there?) and complained until she got coffee, before announcing Becky Lynch as her special guest.
Cross had been sitting in the guest’s chair for the intro and Bliss made her get up for Lynch. Cross moved to lean against Bliss’ chair, and Bliss kept moving her away.
Bliss asked Lynch how it feels to no longer be Becky Two Belts. Lynch didn’t get a chance to answer (there was a lot of that on RAW this week) because The IIconics interrupted. They made fun of Lynch for losing one of her belts and Becky Lynch told them to shut their faces because she defended her titles more in one night than they’ve defended theirs since WrestleMania. If they wanted to keep running their mouths she offered to drag them and their titles into the ring and become Becky Three Belts.
Lacey Evans came out at that point and said the reason Lynch is no longer Becky Two Belts, is her.
Lynch said Evans could add ‘sweetheart’ and ‘honey’ to her sentences while wearing her granny’s clothes all she likes, but the fact of the matter is the lady came around and got tapped out. Evans couldn’t beat her when she could only give her half her attention, but, now she’s cost her the SmackDown title she can slap her around full-time on RAW. In fact, she could slap the heads off all three of them, right now.
When Peyton Royce laughed at the idea, Nikki Cross said she’d be her partner. When Lacey Evans pointed out they were still one short, Lynch said Bliss would do. Alexa Bliss protested until Lynch told her all she had to do was ‘stand there and look pretty and The Man will take care of the rest’.
Becky Lynch, Nikki Cross & Alexa Bliss vs The IIconics & Lacey Evans
Bliss held Becky Lynch to her word. She took her coffee cup with her to ringside and didn’t even bother getting up on the apron. Not a huge surprise considering the reason Nikki Cross was entered into the Money in the Bank ladder match was that Bliss wasn’t medically cleared to compete. So we essentially got a Becky Lynch and Nikki Cross tag team, the team none of us knew we all needed, but definitely did.
Becky Lynch and Billie Kay got things underway, then Peyton Royce reluctantly came in. Lynch wanted Lacey Evans, but Evans was in no rush to get in. Lynch tagged in Nikki Cross who had the better of Royce until she allowed herself to be distracted by Billie Kay’s screaming and got shoved into the ropes and double-teamed before she could recover.
Lacey Evans finally tagged in when Cross was trapped in the corner, Billie Kay looked less than pleased about it. She needn’t have worried, Evans only stayed in long enough to taunt Lynch, dab at her own face with a tissue, then deliver a broncobuster to Cross.
Cross was in trouble for a while, during which time Alexa Bliss offered half-hearted encouragement from ringside, but she eventually got back to Becky Lynch and tagged.
Lynch came in at the same time as Billie Kay, and at the same time Lacey Evans decided to leave The IIconics to it. Lynch almost got rolled up because she was watching Evans leave, but she kicked out and quickly pinned Kay for the win.
After the match, Lynch raised Nikki Cross’ hand, but refused to share the glory with Bliss, for obvious reasons. After Lynch left, Cross raised Bliss’ hand.
I’m very interested in the way Nikki Cross is being presented in her proper RAW introduction. She comes across as very sweet, and maybe a little naïve, in the talk segments, but is still completely unhinged in the ring. Bliss is clearly manipulating her, but Bliss has always liked a minion. When Cross realises she’s being used, we should get fun fireworks.
Mandy Rose vs Carmella was abandoned due to a mass invasion of superstars
Becky Lynch & Bayley def. Charlotte Flair & Lacey Evans
Carmella had a backstage segment with R-Truth who finished RAW as the 24/7 Champion. He pleaded with her to help him, so she gave him a makeover.
Carmella vs Mandy Rose
R-Truth, in disguise, accompanied Carmella to the ring. When I say ‘disguise’, I mean he was wearing a blonde wig and still carrying the 24/7 title.
Carmella leapt on Mandy Rose immediately and Sonya Deville rescued her by pulling her out of the ring. Carmella retired her, then pulled Sonya Deville into the ring by her hair and started pounding on her. Mandy Rose tried to roll Carmella up while she was distracted and Carmella kicked her in the face.
Of course, the match got abandoned when three-quarters of the locker room appeared to chase R-Truth. He ran off with Carmella on his back.
They were later shown being pursued through the backstage area.
SmackDown Women’s Champion, Bayley, had a backstage interview. She said it was a brutal night, but she’d do it all again in a heartbeat. All the opportunities she’s had she’s exceeded everybody’s expectations and people still doubted her. That’s why, at Money in the Bank, she created her own opportunity and made it impossible for anyone to doubt what she’s been capable of all along.
Bayley has moved past the hugs and she wants everyone in the locker room to bring their best.
Before the match, Becky Lynch got a backstage interview about her state of mind having lost one of her belts. She said she doesn’t feel right without her blue belt but if someone else has to walk around with it without beating her, she’s glad it’s her, which indicated the arrival of Bayley.
Bayley said that with all the talk of Becky Two Belts, she quite likes the sound of Bayley Two Belts.
Lynch said she’d shake her hand, but she couldn’t guarantee she wouldn’t drop her. Bayley has to know that once they’re done with Flair and Evans, she’s coming for her. Bayley said she wouldn’t have it any other way, and off they went.
Lacey Evans & Charlotte Flair vs Becky Lynch & Bayley
I guess Lacey Evans was a Wild Card Rule superstar this week, and possibly Becky Lynch too considering she said on Moment of Bliss that she’d be smacking Evans about full-time on RAW.
I’m still not sure why this match happened, but it was fun to watch. It started during the break, but Charlotte Flair spent a good portion of the early going, giving Bayley some payback for taking the title from her, then let Lacey Evans have a quick go at beating on her.
It was short too. Evans quickly tagged Flair back in, taking the double team opportunity at the switchover. As Bayley got close to tagging in Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair pulled Lynch off the apron.
She tried the same trick again later, but Lynch pulled her foot out of Flair’s grasp, waited for the tag from Bayley, then hit Flair with a punch from the apron. She rolled Flair back into the ring, delivered a dropkick from the top, knocked Evans off the apron, to concentrate on Flair.
The extra moment she took to knock Evans off the apron a second time cost her a boot to the face from Flair, but she resisted the figure four, and they both survived the attempted roll-ups. Evans gave Lynch a Woman’s Right while she had Flair in the Dis-Arm-Her and Becky Lynch got to her corner and tagged out.
Bayley knocked Evans back out of the ring and caught Charlotte Flair with an inside cradle while Flair was going for the figure four. The champions picked up the win.
Candice LeRae def. Reina Gonzalez
Candice LeRae vs Reina Gonzalez
LeRae suffered from the size and strength difference at the start of the match. She managed to turn things around after dodging Gonzalez in the corner and awkwardly tipping her out of the ring. She followed with a baseball slide, then was caught when she dived off the ropes but slipped out and sent Gonzales into the steps.
Back in the ring, LeRae delivered a pretty much unbroken sequence from a hurricanrana to the springboard moonsault for the win.
After the match, Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, and Marina Shafir appeared and attacked Candice LeRae. Io Shirai ran down with a kendo stick as an equaliser and she really used that thing. Duke, Shafir, and Baszler took multiple strikes and the stick started to come apart. Sensibly, the horsewomen retreated.
No women’s division match on NXT UK this week, just two short promos.
Nina Samuels had a, pre-recorded, message for Toni Storm. She said despite all the skills Storm possesses she was the easiest puppet to manipulate in her latest masterpiece. She didn’t even have to ask for a title opportunity. All she had to do was find one of Storm’s many weaknesses, and she played right into her hands, even personally requesting to become the latest cast member of the Nina Samuels show. As fine a performer as Samuels is, she is also an expert director, almost completely in control. And right now Toni Storm has lost all control. A very dangerous place to be in when her NXT Championship is on the line. Samuels pointed to an assortment of cards in front of her and said her many fans had been congratulating her because they know the finale of the show before it has even begun. Newly crowning Nina Samuels NXT Women’s Champion.
Toni Storm versus Nina Samuels takes place next week.
Rhea Ripley had an in-ring promo. She said she knows how badly the NXT UK crowd want to see her in action, but it’s not happening. A little bird told her that Piper Niven is somewhat of a big deal in Scotland (where the tapings were held), but to her, Piper Niven is nothing but a wannabe superstar who reeks of fear. She so desperately wants to be the dominant one in NXT UK, all she does is talk about her. She obviously wants to be her. The truth is, that when Piper Niven steps into the ring with her, nightmares become reality.
Natalya def. Tamina
Main Event covered Bayley’s journey through Money in the Bank as well as having a women’s division match this week.
Natalya vs Tamina
Tamina’s power advantage isn’t as big over Natalya as it is over some of the other roster members, and she didn’t really have any answer to Natalya’s technical superiority in the early going.
It was power that gave Tamina the mid-match control though, via a clothesline after a failed Sharpshooter attempt. She kept Natalya down while commentary made the point that Natalya was in the Money in the Bank ladder match the previous night, which was probably slowing her down.
Natalya had a couple of unsuccessful fightbacks, including one which ended with her collapsing under Tamina and almost being pinned.
Tamina’s best chance came from a superkick while Natalya was trying to deliver a discus lariat. The match ended with her tapping out to the Sharpshooter.
NXT TakeOver XXV – Preview and Prediction
Shayna Baszler (C) vs Io Shirai – NXT Women’s Championship match
Shayna Baszler (C) vs Io Shirai – NXT Women’s Championship match
With the non-title match already announced, this will be the only women’s division match on the card, again. It’s a shame because Bianca Belair versus Mia Yim, which is happening on next week’s show, would have been great.
Io Shirai has proved to be a formidable opponent on every level. She gives up some power to Baszler, but she’s faster, and a whole lot more skilled. She’s also not scared of Shayna Baszler and the majority of Baszler schtick works best on a frightened opponent. Io Shirai is angry. She’s angry about the way Baszler treated her best friend. She’s angry about the way Shayna Baszler is ruling the women’s division.
Shirai and Baszler have butted heads since Shirai’s arrival in NXT. The long list of surprise attacks and heated confrontations culminated in Io Shirai running to save Candice LeRae this week with a kendo stick in hand.
I’m still in two minds about the outcome. Baszler is a superb champion, and it’s hard to see her losing if she brings her lackeys with her. But Io Shirai is awesome. She is absolutely going to be NXT Women’s Champion. I still question whether this is the right time for a title change and whether Shirai would be the right champion for the current state of the division.
Shayna Baszler is a figure you can unite a whole locker room against, which makes for nice, easy, logical, builds to title matches. On the other hand, Io Shirai can have a great match against any opponent and I really want to see her as champion.
I reserve the right to change my mind about this between now and the preview, based on any further information or consideration, but for now, I’m going with wishful thinking.
Prediction: Io Shirai.
WWE confirmed, mid-week, that Ruby Riott has undergone shoulder surgery. The short report says she will need a second surgery, on the other shoulder, at a later date.
I’ll be back next week with the NXT TakeOver XXV results and all the action from WWE’s women’s division. 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.