Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. RAW and SmackDown were on tour this week coming from Manchester, England. It always lends a slightly different feel to shows, more crowd interaction, usually a couple of surprises of one sort or another, and a few matches where they try to shove as many superstars into the ring as possible to make sure the overseas fans get their money’s worth. But, now Evolution and Crown Jewel are over, it’s full steam ahead to Survivor Series and NXT TakeOver WarGames.
Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Natalya vs The Riot Squad went to the weirdest no contest ever
Nia Jax def. Ember Moon
I think we have a problem. The RAW writers are stuck in a loop. I mean, it’s great that we are consistently getting women’s division matches (take note SmackDown) but we appear to be getting the same ones over and over. The first was advertised as an Evolution rematch, which is obviously a completely different thing to the ten-woman we had last week, and the matches we had in the run-up to Evolution to create the match in the first place. The second just happened again and no explanation was offered. The women’s rosters need to be bigger on both main roster brands, but even that will only help if someone starts writing storylines for more than two or three at a time.
Alexa Bliss has been named as the captain of the women’s team for the five on five elimination at Survivor Series. She won’t be competing, I’m guessing she’s not cleared yet, so her role will be strictly managerial.
She was announced by Baron Corbin (who has taken a managerial role as men’s team captain) in the opening segment of the show. She sucked up to Baron Corbin a bit and said that her unprecedented success as a five-time champion and the fact she’s a natural born leader makes her the perfect woman to lead the RAW women to victory. The roster was on the stage for the announcement and she told the assembled women they could learn a lot from her and that she’d be watching their matches carefully. She wants them to show her they have the killer instincts to do whatever it takes to win because they will not be losing to the B-Show on her watch. She tried twice to inform them it was the first match of the night but got interrupted by Kurt Angle asking for a chance to get onto the men’s team, and Braun Strowman looking to murder Baron Corbin. Everyone got to the ring so it all worked out.
Sasha Banks, Bayley and Natalya vs The Riott Squad
Unusually for a first match on RAW, there was a backstage interview with Natalya, Sasha Banks, and Bayley. It was supposedly to see if they thought the outcome of the match would be any different from the Evolution result. They didn’t, and Natalya revealed she would be wearing her dad’s sunglasses to the ring and dedicating the match to him.
The match was great, as it should be, they’ve been fighting each other forever, or does it just seem that long. In all seriousness, it was a very good match and a long one. It really is time for Ruby Riott to be moved into the title picture. The ending, however, was weird and sad.
Natalya had Sarah Logan in the Sharpshooter and ready to tap. Ruby Riott stood outside the ring in front of Natalya with the sunglasses in her hand, broke them in half then stomped on the pieces. Natalya crumpled to the mat crying then got on the floor with the pieces while Bayley and Sasha Banks comforted her. Ruby Riott took Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan and left. The crowd counted them out, the ref didn’t bother, and the match was recorded as a no contest.
It seems very soon (if it’s ever appropriate) to use Natalya’s dead father to generate heat, but WWE is a weird place.
Ronda Rousey had an in-ring promo segment to answer Becky Lynch’s promo on SmackDown last week. She smiled at the chants from the crowd before she got started. I still love how happy to be in WWE she seems.
She said Becky Lynch said she’s going to rip her arm off and that’s adorable. It’s easy to see why everyone Lynch, she’s worked hard and persevered through adversity to once again become SmackDown women’s champion. She’s the champ, the man, figuratively. At Evolution Lynch put on the performance of a lifetime, it was amazing. Without question, she has Rousey’s respect.
But Lynch shouldn’t mistake Rousey’s respect for weakness. Rousey is the last woman on earth she should want to provoke. While Lynch’s alarm was waking her up for school, Rousey’s mother was waking her up by trying to break her arms. While Lynch was in clown college, Rousey was training for the Olympics. And while Lynch was a stewardess serving snacks, Rousey was in the middle of the most dominant title reign the sport of MMA has ever seen.
But this is a whole new Becky with a whole new attitude and it’s awesome, but it’s going to take a lot more than a new attitude to beat her. Rousey is a natural born killer, beaten to a fine edge after years and years of waking up every single morning wanting to be the greatest athlete of all time. Two weeks until Survivor Series and Rousey wants Lynch to bring all of her angst and all of her rage and all of her pent-up resentment. She wants her to bring everything she’s got because she wants a challenge. And Lynch may say she’s the man, but Rousey is the baddest bitch on the planet.
After Rousey dropped the mic, while she was leaving the ring, Nia Jax came to the ring with a huge grin on her face. Jax said look at her all fired up. Survivor Series is just like Evolution you’re not just fighting for yourself, you’re fighting for the whole RAW locker room. You’re fighting for the most dominant brand in sports entertainment. And she knows Rousey won’t let them down. But, after Survivor Series, after she’s made Becky Lynch tap out, Rousey should know Jax will be waiting for her.
Ember Moon came out next, for her match with Jax, and that finished the conversation.
Ember Moon vs Nia Jax
Well, this happened again because… you’ll have to ask someone else. It happened, and it was much the same as their other matches. Moon shows she can outfight Jax if she can avoid getting caught and thrown around like a doll. Jax proves she can’t avoid getting thrown around like a doll. Ember Moon took Jax down more than once and had a few near falls, but Jax finished it with a Samoan drop.
After the match, Tamina came to the ring again. After staring at Jax for a moment, Tamina picked Moon up and Samoan dropped her. Jax looked briefly horrified, then told Tamina to ‘turn her over’. Tamina put Ember Moon in a Boston crab and kept her there while Jax landed three elbow drops on her. Then Jax and Tamina hugged, Tamina raised Jax’ hand, and Jax jumped up and down yelling ‘I won’.
Becky Lynch def. Nikki Cross
Becky Lynch came out to do a promo to answer Ronda Rousey’s promo that answered Lynch’s promo of last week (man there’s a lot of talking to build these brand versus brand shows).
She addressed herself to Rousey and said Ronda Rousey told her she’s the last woman on earth that she should provoke, but who the hell is she to tell the champ anything. It is true that Rousey holds a championship, but she is not a champion, not yet.
A champion wields herself through adversity through defeat, through injury and through doubt. But Rousey hasn’t even been tested, yet. And that’s why Lynch is the champion and Rousey is not.
Winning comes so easily to her that when she finally meets the man at Survivor Series her titanium body will be let down by her weak mind. Lynch has been ground down and spat back up more times than she can count. She has made history. She has been tested, daily weekly monthly, and yet here she is, the most relentless person Rousey has ever met.
Last night Rousey mocked her for the road she has travelled and the jobs she has taken to pay her own way to get to where she is today. ‘So, no, Ronda, I was not handpicked like you, but here I am. I wasn’t meant to be the main event but here I am. I wasn’t meant to be the talk of the entire industry but here I am. The champ, the only champ.’
Rousey says Lynch should be happy because she has her respect, but at Survivor Series she’ll find out it’s not her respect that she’s coming after, it’s her arm. ‘And I don’t care if you’re the baddest bitch on the planet because I’m going to make you mine.’
She said she’d got herself all fired up and wanted a fight, then asked if anyone back there was brave enough to step to the champ and have their arm mangled.
SAnitY’s music hit and they brought out Nikki Cross and I have never been so happy to see anyone unexpected turn up.
Cross raced to the ring and Lynch introduced her as NXT’s twisted sister then asked who she thinks she is to step to the champ. Cross tore the mic from Lynch’s hand and said, ‘I’ll play with you, Becky. Let’s play, Becky. You want to play, play with Nikki. Play with Nikki. Let’s play, let’s play.’
Lynch replied, ‘the champ doesn’t play, the champ fights’, and the match was on.
Nikki Cross vs Becky Lynch
We don’t know if it’s a call-up or a one-off for the UK tour, but having Nikki Cross versus Becky Lynch leads me to declare SmackDown forgiven for not having a women’s division match for three weeks in a row, well, almost. It was brilliant anyway.
As far as debuts go, well, she wasn’t going to win. Not while they’re building Lynch versus Rousey for Survivor Series. That said, she didn’t get squashed either, which would have been unforgivable. Becky Lynch said she wanted a fight, Nikki Cross gave her exactly that.
Lynch started by trying to teach the ‘upstart’ a lesson. After Cross forearmed her in the face, Lynch shoved Cross down and tried to keep her there. Cross reacted by bouncing back up and yelling ‘come on’. When Lynch threw Cross out of the ring and followed her, Nikki Cross trapped her in the ring apron and pounded on her for a bit.
Becky Lynch quickly took the momentum back, but at no point was Nikki Cross made to look weak. Cross got to deliver her bulldog and flying crossbody. She even got a couple of decent pin attempts.
It was a momentary lapse of concentration which did for Nikki Cross. She had Becky Lynch in the corner and the ref had already backed her off once. As she went back in, Lynch grabbed her and bounced her into the ropes and Nikki Cross found herself in the Dis-Arm-Her.
It might just be because it was fresh, and because I love Nikki Cross and Becky Lynch, but that was one of the most entertaining matches I’ve seen on SmackDown in quite a while.
Paige announced the SmackDown women’s team for Survivor Series. In order of appearance, Carmella, Naomi, Sonya Deville, Asuka, and Charlotte Flair. Except, Flair didn’t come out when her music played. Mandy Rose came out instead and said she knows she’s not the blonde Paige ordered, but surprise, and obviously an upgrade.
Paige told her there was no way she was taking Charlotte Flair’s spot on the team.
Rose said she knows that but wanted to know why Paige chose Deville over her. She’s really, really, really, happy for Deville, but Rose eliminated her from the battle royal at Evolution, so she’s concerned about Paige’s choices. She called the Empress of Tomorrow, yesterdays’ news, told Carmella her dance breaks were like her title reign, short and meaningless, and asked Naomi if anyone’s still feeling the glow, like her husband, Jimmy.
Naomi punched her in the face and they were dragged apart by Sonya Deville, Asuka, and Carmella
When Rose realised it was Deville holding her back she looked shocked and betrayed. Deville tried to calm her down but Rose left, clearly upset.
Dakota Kai def. Taynara Conti
Candice LeRae was group interviewed on her way into the performance centre. She was asked where her husband’s mindset is right now and told them she didn’t come to work to be exploited. Everything that’s going on between her husband and herself, she’d like to keep between them. She has questions too, for Nikki Cross. But Cross didn’t answer them, she laughed in her face and walked away. LeRae was there to ask William Regal for a match with Nikki Cross so she can’t walk away and has no choice but to face her. And we’ll see if Cross is laughing when she’s done.
Shayna Baszler also had an interview, alongside Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir. She was asked what happens when Kairi Sane invokes her rematch clause and responded by asking how many times she has to beat Sane before people start to understand how insignificant she is. What’s most important is that Baszler is the first ever two-time women’s champion.
William Regal crashed the interview to let Baszler know that Sane has invoked her rematch clause and the match, at WarGames, will be two out of three falls.
As soon as William Regal had gone, Baszler told the interviewer to leave.
Dakota Kai vs Taynara Conti
Commentary called this a clash of styles, but I heartily disagree. I thought they paired really well together.
Conti has some talent, but Dakota Kai is far more experienced and that showed. Conti also has a nasty streak and that was in evidence too. She damaged Dakota Kai’s wrist with a kick and took control of the match for a while.
That lasted long enough for Kai to realise she didn’t need her wrist to kick Conti. Once Kai started fighting back with her feet it was as good as over.
Dakota Kai’s backstabber finisher has been named, finally. Commentary called it the Kairopractor. I like that, so we’re sticking with it. She used it to finish Taynara Conti.
The final interview of the night went to Mia Yim. She said she’s living the dream working at the Performance Centre and training with the best of the best. Bianca Belair interrupted and said she should be getting the interview instead because she’s undefeated and still hasn’t had her title shot. Mia Yim said she doesn’t understand why Belair is so angry, especially with her, but the EST has never beaten her.
They fight next week.
No women’s division action on Main Event this week.
Mixed Match Challenge
Country Dominance def. B ‘n’ B
Day One Glow def. Fabulous Truth
Country Dominance vs B ‘n’ B
Bayley and Balor did Balor’s entrance together this week. I can help smiling when they’re on screen, they’re having so much fun. They encouraged the Manchester crowd in a long round of ‘Hey Bayley’ before she started things off with Mickie James.
For all the fun and games that Mixed Match Challenge usually is, James and Bayley had a fairly standard wrestling segment. Lashley and Balor had an abs-off. Well, they did until it looked like Balor was winning the Lashley pulled him off the turnbuckle.
Lashley tried to keep Balor down but got dropkicked and thrown out of the ring, closely followed by Lio Rush. Balor was about to hit them both with a suicide dive but Mickie James grabbed his leg. Lashley took advantage of the distraction and hit Balor from behind.
After another ton of punishment, Balor tagged out and Bayley came in with Mickie James. Bayley was going great until her run up to a suicide dive was met by a boot in the face from James. Finn Balor broke up the subsequent pin and ended up fighting Lashley again then chasing Lia Rush. Rush knocked himself down in the corner and Balor went up for a Coup de Grace on the hype man. Lashley pushed him off the top turnbuckle to the floor. Lio Rush took a Bayley to Belly.
Unfortunately for Bayley, she turned round to a kick in the midsection from Mickie James and pinned off a Mick-DDT.
Country Dominance are now 3-0, and B ‘n’ B are 2-2.
Day One Glow vs Fabulous Truth
In the introductory part of the show, R-Truth and Carmella announced they were challenging Jimmy Uso and Naomi to a rap battle.
Jimmy Uso and R-Truth started things with some wrestling, which was a surprise, then Truth tried to start a dance break and Uso said he thought he wanted a rap battle. And so the rapping started. But this wasn’t Jimmy Uso’s first rap battle, he and his brother had one against the New Day that went great. Everyone took their turn, Jimmy Uso finished it and called a dance break on his last line. Carmella kicked Naomi at the end of the dancing to get back to the match.
Uso broke up a pin attempt and R-Truth threw him out of the ring. They took each other down on the outside and after a short exchange, Naomi caught Carmella with a kick to the side of the head and pinned her.
Day One Glow are now 2-2, and Fabulous Truth are 0-3.
Next week Country Dominance face Monster Eclipse in the battle of RAW’s unbeaten teams, and Fenomenal Flair meet Awe-ska in the battle of the SmackDown undefeated.
Toni Storm def. Dakota Kai
Another double episode week. I don’t know if this is going to be a regular thing. The first of the episodes didn’t have a women’s match, just another Jinny promo and an interview with Toni Storm
Toni Storm’s interview was interrupted by Dakota Kai. It was all very respectful. Storm had already said she thought she and Kai were quite similar with similar goals, and Kai interrupted by telling Storm she respects everything she’s done. They shook hands on ‘may the best woman win’, and that should be a great match.
The next episode had a recap of Toni Storm winning the Mae Young Classic as a lead in to the women’s division match.
Toni Storm vs Dakota Kai
Great match, utterly entertaining and given a little time to develop as well. Toni Storm seems to have an even greater confidence since her MYC win, she was clearly looking for control of the match from the off.
Dakota Kai is nothing if not resilient, and she got ample chance to display that, not least of all in a submission it took her an age to get to the ropes on. She also got plenty of her own offence in and came close to beating Storm on more than one occasion.
It wasn’t to be this time though. Toni Storm won with Storm Zero.
After the match, there was a hug and handshake show of respect. As Dakota Kai left the arena she was jumped Jinny, who stared down Toni Storm and said ‘this is my NXT’, then left. Storm helped Kai up and out of the arena.
It’s good to see some development in the NXT UK women’s division already. I’m looking forward to seeing Jinny in the ring again.
NXT TakeOver WarGames – Preview and Prediction
Shayna Baszler vs Kairi Sane – NXT Women’s Championship two out of three falls match
If I’m honest, I’d hoped there would be a second women’s division match on the card for this one. Nikki Cross versus either Bianca Belair or Candice LeRae, either would have worked. It might still happen, there’s theoretically one slot left on the card, but so far the title match is all we’ve got.
I’m still in two minds over the result of this. Part of me really wants Kairi Sane to win it back, but that would necessitate yet another rematch and I just want someone else to get a real chance in the title picture.
The two out of three falls format might actually suit Baszler, especially if she can cause some damage early on. There is also the matter of Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir who, to the best of my knowledge, are not banned from ringside.
The Pirate Princess is out for revenge after Duke and Shafir’s interference cost her the title at Evolution. We know she can beat Baszler, but can she beat her two out of three times? Honestly, Baszler’s offence is so devastating at times, I’m not sure. Sane is faster, more experienced, more skilled even, and she never gives up. But if she gets caught with the wrong move, or Baszler takes out a limb, she’s in trouble with a long format match.
I’m very much undecided, and I may well change my mind between this and the TakeOver Preview on Thursday but, for now, I’m going with the championship staying where it is.
Prediction: Shayna Baszler
I’ll be back next week with the build-up to TakeOver WarGames and Survivor Series, the WarGames results, and Survivor Series preview. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover or anything you want to chat about, tweet me @manda_why.