Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. with Super Showdown approaching, the women’s division isn’t necessarily the focus on WWE programming at the moment. That was painfully evident in this week’s RAW, but not too bad for the rest of the week. It’s an unusual week as well, we finish the week with NXT TakeOver XXV, but there is no corresponding PPV. It does mean we had two title matches this week though – Shayna Baszler vs Io Shirai at TakeOver, and Toni Storm vs Nina Samuels on NXT UK.
Becky Lynch and Nikki Cross def. The IIconics
Carmella was spotted on RAW, she’s still running around with R-Truth helping him protect the 24/7 title. Whenever they have to make a getaway he gives her a piggyback, it’s cute and they look like they’re having a great time. They ran through the ring and got caught in a min-brawl. Then, later, they interrupted the Usos Memorial Day party and there was another brawl.
Becky Lynch & Nikki Cross vs The IIconics
I know it’s a throw-together, but I love Becky Lynch and Nikki Cross as a team. This was the only women’s division match on the show and Becky Lynch was the only one who got a televised entrance.
Nikki Cross started things off, with the IIconics both taking a turn against her. Honestly, in this weird time for WWE’s women, Nikki Cross is one of the few people getting some exposure and development outside the title picture. There should be more, but I’m happy Cross is getting screen time. She took both IIconics out with a dive off the apron as we went into the break.
Here’s a thing that annoys me about IIconics’ matches. Billie Kay pushed Becky Lynch off the apron and Lynch reacted by getting straight back up and trying to get in the ring, causing the ref to have to shoo her out again. Instead of doing what most teams would do and using the distraction time to double team Cross, Kay just held her in a headlock and trash-talked Becky Lynch instead. Wasted opportunity. It still worked in her favour though, the ref missed Cross rolling her up.
Eventually, Cross got to Lynch and Peyton Royce didn’t stand a chance. She got no offence at all while Becky Lynch vented her frustrations and would have been pinned quickly if Billie Kay hadn’t made the save and sent Becky Lynch flying into the turnbuckle.
Nikki Cross tried to help and took a big boot from Kay. The IIconics double teamed Lynch and got a two count. Cross pulled Kay off the apron and jumped on her. Becky Lynch kicked out of Royce’s attempted roll up, slammed her into the mat and pinned her.
After the match, Lacey Evans came out. She’s back to her catwalk routine. Nikki Cross held Becky Lynch back and encouraged her to hold the belt up. There was just a second where Cross seemed enthralled by the title belt, then she raised the champ’s hand in victory.
Another loss for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions and competition for the belts is thin on the ground. I can’t think of any natural challengers on RAW, there are two teams on SmackDown – Fire & Desire and Kabuki Warriors – and a couple on NXT. I’m hoping there is some kind of long term storytelling in progress, but it feels like we’ve been given these titles to watch them wither and die.
There was a Tamina and Naomi sighting this week as well. They were at the Usos Memorial Day party.
Mandy Rose def. Carmella
Bayley def. Lacey Evans
Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville walked around backstage handing out copies of Muscle and Fitness Hers, with Rose on the cover.
Carmella and R-Truth were still running around with the 24/7 title on SmackDown. He lost it part way through the show, but he’d got it back by the end. She left him alone to go for her match and didn’t accompany him for his.
Carmella vs Mandy Rose
During the entrances for the match which we didn’t really see at all) there was a promo video for Fire and Desire, so it looks like they’ve decided to keep them together for now. When the match started, they locked up then Mandy Rose grabbed a copy of her magazine and started shouting about it. She carried on until Carmella kicked it out of her hand. Sonya Deville spent part of the match shouting about the magazine at ringside.
It was a good match, very even, and they struggled to keep each other down. Deville made the difference by getting up on the apron with the magazine. Carmella went for a superkick after the distraction and missed. Mandy Rose rolled her up and got the win.
Another one for the short match trend at around three and a half minutes.
Lacey Evans had a backstage interview while drinking tea with Charlotte Flair. They just complained about Becky Lynch and Bayley they said they’ve given Becky Lynch a ‘proper share of beatdowns’ they’re planning to ‘send Bayley back to the kiddie pool where she belongs’.
Bayley vs Lacey Evans
This match happened because, well, why not. Ok, so Evans is a RAW superstar and half the rosters on both brands haven’t seen tv in weeks, but, what does that matter. Love the Wild Card Rule. Charlotte Flair joined commentary for the match, which meant they spent half the match talking to her. Corey Graves made her laugh with the ‘not fair to Flair’ line.
The match was decent. It was even relatively long by recent standard, which translates as long enough the be interrupted with an ad break. Lacey Evans is strong and athletic, and she used that to throw Bayley around a lot. Bayley ended up at ringside in front of the commentary desk and Flair got closer but didn’t do anything.
Once Bayley had put up with enough and started to build some momentum, they found themselves in front of Flair at commentary again. Charlotte Flair stood up and she and Bayley yelled a bit before Bayley threw Evans back into the ring.
Instead of following her in, Bayley turned back and forearmed Flair. Charlotte Flair chased her back into the ring, but Bayley got away. Lacey Evans tried to roll her up but by the time the ref had dealt with Flair, Bayley managed to reverse it and got the pin.
That left Flair and Evans in the ring because Bayley took her belt, gave Flair some chat, and walked away. Lacey Evans attacked Charlotte Flair from behind and got a kick in the face for her troubles. Bayley watched from the ramp, laughing.
Mia Yim def Bianca Belair
Mia Yim vs Bianca Belair
Mia Yim asked for this rematch after Belair used her hair as leverage to get the win in their last match. And it was Yim who got the action underway with a dropkick. Belair retaliated quickly and it turned into a very bad-tempered contest.
Belair found herself on the defensive after a cannonball in the corner and a barrage of kicks, but she came back when she caught Yim’s foot and delivered a kick of her own.
Belair not only held Yim up for an extended period of time in the delayed vertical suplex, she did a couple of squats while doing it. Bianca Belair is all attitude. She’s more than got the talent to back it up, but her arrogance frequently gives her opponents opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.
The playing field was levelled in this one after Yim suplexed Belair and they both took a few moments to recover. Mia Yim was the first up and started to build some momentum and after Belair ended up shoulder first in the corner, Yim delivered Eat Defeat. That should have been match over, but Belair rolled out of the ring.
Belair tried to leave. Yim brought her back to ringside only for Belair to grab her in an elevated double chicken wing and slam her face into the apron. It took Mia Yim until nine to get back onto the ring.
When she was back in the ring, Yim was thrown around by Belair until she grabbed Belair’s braid and pulled her in for Protect Ya Neck. Yim and Belair are now one all. I sense a decider incoming.
There were also interviews with Shayna Baszler and Io Shirai on this week’s go home show for NXT TakeOver XXV. Baszler, alongside Duke and Shafir, was asked if she was concerned that Io Shirai might try to attack her with a kendo stick at TakeOver like she did last week. Baszler said no. At TakeOver Shirai’s not going to have weapons and she’s all out of friends, while Baszler still has hers and they’re going to be right there with her.
In Io Shirai’s answering interview she said she isn’t scared of Shayna or her friends, so she can bring them all to TakeOver, and she won’t need a kendo stick to beat her. Candice LeRae interrupted, with an apology for doing so, and said thank you to Shirai for having her back last week. She told Shirai that she will have her back at TakeOver. Shirai thanked her and LeRae said they could let Shayna know that, as they left.
The build to TakeOver XXV has been short and odd. WWE clearly recognised this so the put out a brief show, Target: NXT TakeOver, to hype the two main title matches. Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole got the bulk of the time, but the section featuring Shirai and Baszler was interesting. I wasn’t aware that Shirai and Baszler had history in Japan, but apparently Shirai was the victor then.
Toni Storm def. Nina Samuels
Xia Brookside was interviewed about being attacked by Jazzy Gabert, under Jinny’s supervision. She said she’d seen it before with Rhea Ripley, a bigger woman thinking she could come in and take on the smallest in the division. Now Jinny is doing the same, but Jinny isn’t big enough to take her on herself so she’s bringing Jazzy in to do her dirty work.
Isla Dawn said she thought it was a disgrace she was left to face Jinny and Jazzy Gabert on her own. They made magic when they faced each other, so what could happen if they team up. They left to discuss tactics.
Piper Niven was interviewed about Rhea Ripley and the comments Ripley made that all Niven does is talk about her. Niven said actions speak louder than words and she didn’t come here to talk, she came to fight. If Ripley wants to fight, she’ll be waiting.
Toni Storm (C) vs Nina Samuels – NXT UK Women’s Championship match
Nina Samuels manipulated Toni Storm into this match. As soon as she mentioned Storm’s family, Storm demanded it. Samuels didn’t even have to ask.
Samuels was a little too into showing off in the early going, adding a couple of cartwheels, just because. Toni Storm kicked her right out of the ring and did a cartwheel of her own.
Storm was in ‘get the job done’ mode and in complete control until she caught a kick from Samuels while the ref was backing her up.
Nina Samuels enjoyed her time in control of the match, but she didn’t seem in any hurry to put Storm away and the methodical nature of her offence gave Storm plenty of time to evade her in the corner and deliver a German suplex. She wasn’t able to get Storm Zero but she got Samuels in a submission and it took her a very long time to get to the ropes.
An opportunistic kick to the head and a corkscrew jump over the top rope put Storm down for two. A headbutt from Storm put Samuels down for two and left them both unsteady. A bridging German got Toni Storm another two.
Storm nearly lost the title to an inside cradle, then again to a backbreaker, and to a missile dropkick, but she kicked out of all three. It looked like Toni Storm was practically out on her feet, but she landed another head butt and another pair of suplexes, then delivered Storm Zero for the win.
Odd match, very methodical. Realistically, this was never going to be the match Storm lost the title on, but it’s good to see her defending it regularly.
No women’s division action at all on Main Event this week.
NXT TakeOver XXV
Shayna Baszler def. Io Shirai
I covered NXT TakeOver for Rear View Reviews, as I usually do. And, as usual, I am not reviewing the same match twice so this is a copy/paste from the review. It was a great show, the full review can be found here.
Shayna Baszler (C) vs Io Shirai – NXT Women’s Championship match
Shayna Baszler left Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir backstage and came to the ring alone, not that that really means anything. Shirai was also alone, but Candice LeRae was shown earlier telling Shirai she had her back.
Shirai went straight for the champion and Baszler put her down and gave her a rather dismissive and disrespectful kick, more of a nudge with her foot. When Shirai got Baszler down a few moments later, she answered that kick by slapping Baszler across the face. Baszler left the ring, and Shirai followed with a baseball slide.
Baszler landed a kick to Shirai’s left arm, which gave her a limb to focus on. She followed that with a stomp on that arm and some joint manipulation. And from then on Baszler was focused in on the arm.
The arm injury gave Baszler a clear advantage, but she still struggled to keep Io Shirai down.
Shirai managed to suplex Baszler, even with the damaged arm, but it let her down on the bridge. She landed a tiger feint kick though and got a two count from a springboard dropkick. She tried for a crossface submission but couldn’t get it tight enough and Baszler stood up and dropped her.
Shirai dropkicked Baszler off the top turnbuckle to the floor and delivered a moonsault from the top to put her down. She was still guarding her arm when she rolled Baszler into the ring and landed a missile dropkick and double knees in the corner.
Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir made their way to the ring but Candice LeRae caught up with them, holding a kendo stick, and proceeded to hit them with it until it broke then dived on them from the steps.
Shirai was so busy watching she nearly got pinned when she returned to Baszler. She kicked out and fought out of the Kirifuda Clutch twice. She tried for a submission of her own but got caught in the Kirifuda clutch again. Io Shirai struggled hard to get to the ropes. Baszler even tried rolling her around to stop her, and more than once it looked like she was fading out. She was so close but she couldn’t get there and had to tap.
Sitting outside the ring, Shirai got her hands on a kendo stick and attacked Baszler with it from behind. After wearing the stick out on Baszler and landing a moonsault on her, Shirai ascended to the top turnbuckle and got LeRae to pass her a chair. She delivered another perfect moonsault to Baszler, but with the chair ending up between them. It clearly hurt Io Shirai too, but Baszler couldn’t get up and was still laid in the middle of the ring long after Shirai had left with Candice LeRae. Baszler was sporting some angry looking welts from the kendo stick shots as well, and the crowd chanting ‘You Deserve It’ probably didn’t help.
I got my prediction wrong. I really thought they were ready to give Shirai the gold. I still believe she’ll be NXT Women’s Champion, and probably the next one. She’s the right person to beat Shayna Baszler. However, after the post-match attack, I’m interested to see the direction they’re planning to take Shirai in before she wins it.
It feels very odd to have had a TakeOver without a PPV following it the next night. Super Showdown is on Friday but, of course, that doesn’t affect the women’s division. As usual, I’ll be back next week to cover all the shows they are allowed to compete in.