Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. A weird week this week, some good and some not so good, but plenty of interesting things to talk about. So let’s not waste time waffling. RAW was a busy one.
Ember Moon and Nia Jax
A Battle Royal was announced for Evolution. The winner will get a future title shot. It’s a nice thing to have, but it means the list of women not getting a singles or even a tag match at Evolution is quite extensive. A list including all the participants of the first match on RAW plus, The IIconics, Alicia Fox, Asuka, Mandy Rose, Carmella, Lana, Sonya Deville, Naomi, and Torrie Wilson. Obviously, that’s going to be a lot of fun, but it’s really saddening to see how many women aren’t getting meaningful matches on the Evolution card.
Nia Jax and Ember Moon vs Dana Brooke and Tamina
So, the big news is, Tamina’s back from injury. No hype, not even a televised entrance for her first match back because she and Brooke came out during the ads.
What we saw, was a good match. Unfortunately, there was a long split-screened announcement of names for the battle royal within seconds of Tamina taking to the ring for the first time.
Tamina versus Nia Jax was what everyone wanted to see, and that took up a good portion of the match. Tamina is not quite as powerful as Jax, but she’s slightly quicker and they’re a pretty even match. Tamina struggled out of Jax’ Samoan drop attempt and tried for one of her own but failed to get Jax up. They traded headbutts then Tamina not only got Jax onto her shoulders for the Samoan drop, she held her there for a few seconds before she dropped her.
It took too much out of Tamina for her to continue, but she managed to get back to her corner and Brooke tagged herself in.
It went fast after that. Jax threw Brooke into the corner and slammed into her then tagged in Ember Moon. As Brooke stumbled out of the corner Moon hit the Eclipse for the win.
After the match, they did the pre-battle royal thing. Tamina grabbed Nia Jax and they faced up. Ember Moon got between them to calm things down and they both pushed her aside. Tamina superkicked Jax then she and Moon looked at each other and together they tipped Jax over the top rope. Moon tried to do the same to Tamina, they started fighting, and Dana Brooke tipped them both over the top.
Ronda Rousey and The Bella Twins had a verbal set to this week that got a lot of people talking.
It started with Ronda Rousey in the ring asking the Bellas to come and give her an explanation for attacking her. They’d been taking shots at each other on social media all week, with Rousey calling them the Do Nothing Bellas and Nikki Bella calling Rousey an entitled Do Nothing Bitch.
They came as far as the stage. Nikki Bella started by saying she wanted to let Rousey know no-one paid to see her, they paid the see the Bella Twins. And they don’t owe her an explanation.
Brie said this is show-business not show-friends. Rousey was the one to disrespect them. She was the one who disregarded everything the Bellas have done the business. What did she expect, that they would sit on the sidelines and watch her?
Nikki said Rousey was the reason they came back to compete, because it made her cringe to see Rousey at the forefront of the evolution. She doesn’t know why she’s here, she’s just a loser who doesn’t deserve it. She never deserved a title match and she doesn’t deserve to be champion. Nikki does. She gave her a ‘history lesson’ – They made Diva mean something, they made the word strong and powerful Their reality shows put more women and little girls in the crowd and made more people want to see women’s wrestling. Rousey walked into an evolution the Bella Twins started. She has done more in that ring than Rousey will ever do. She is the longest reigning Diva’s champion and the championship Rousey carries around wouldn’t exist without them.
Rousey’s responses were kind of brutal. She said she tried her best to be respectful because she knew WWE was their territory first. She tried not to be judgemental even though everything the divas’ era stood for made her sick to her stomach. She tried to give them the benefit of the doubt that they were doing the best they could with what they had. So, when the Bellas came running up to her after WrestleMania she thought maybe they could be driving forces in the women’s evolution together. But that was her mistake. She was too idealistic and naïve to see that they are the embodiment of a stereotype. They weren’t there to support her, they were there because there was a camera pointed at her and never in her life has she seen such desperation for attention.
The only thing they’ve ever done which impressed her was how far they were able to go on the absolute minimum amount of talent. They leached off the names of their men, plagiarised and diluted their movesets. They’re not pioneers, they’re relics of the past waited to be eviscerated (eradicated?) like smallpox.
But the wait is over because they both know she could rip their arms off and beat them with them. The only thing stopping her at Evolution is the ref and everyone knows they’re not much good at holding her back. But she is much more than a pretty face with a deadly body (seriously, which clearly male writer wrote that?). She will ruin them. Regardless of how much money is poured into marketing them, she will make the name Bella into a four-letter word that is remembered as the societal sore it always has been.
All Brie could come back with was, it sounds like Rousey is jealous of them (it really doesn’t), and that the word Bella has done more worldwide in the last week than Rousey has done her entire career there. They are the ground-breakers.
Nikki said they have broken more barriers than she ever has. They have knocked down more doors. She doesn’t even compare to them.
Rousey said she’s been knocking down doors her entire career, and ran through a list. The only door Nikki Bella ever knocked down was the door to John Cena’s bedroom, and he eventually threw her out of that exact same door. Then she invited them to the ring for an ass-whooping.
The Bellas took two steps then brought out a security team before approaching the ring. Ronda Rousey met them at the bottom of the ramp and took out the security team. It only took her seconds, but the Bellas were gone before she was done.
Now, this promo divided people. Some people thought it was great, others objected to the content. It worked in terms of getting people talking, although it could be argued they’re simply discussing the promo rather than getting invested in the match. The main objection is the slut-shaming implication that the Bellas slept their way to the top. It’s not a great thing to focus on, and it reeks of reading internet trolls. Actually, a lot of reeked of reading internet trolls. Like the writers had just skimmed the comments section of any article about the Bellas and translated it into a script. However, it meant they used arguments people have seen before, and many have had before. It was effective, in its way, but there were several other possible avenues that would have been just as cutting and more authentic without the grossness.
Trish Stratus and Lita appeared to talk about their tag match at Evolution. They didn’t actually get to say anything of note before Alexa Bliss and Mickie James came to the stage.
Bliss said she feels they’re on the same wavelength being a hall of famer and future hall of famer, and she knows what Lita was going to say. According to Bliss, she was wondering what she and Stratus had gotten themselves into, that they’re going to be humiliated at Evolution, and that Bliss is going to run circles around her. She asked if she forgot everything, but judging by the look on Lita’s face, she nailed it.
Mickie James tried the same for Stratus. She decided Stratus was thinking about how James had always been far superior to her and wondering how she managed to elevate her talent every single night. But at Evolution James is going to put an end to Stratusfaction.
After some self-congratulation James reminded Stratus and Lita they haven’t been in a WWE ring for a long time and while they’ve been kicking back, Bliss and James have been kicking butt. Bliss said them reuniting is the epitome of nostalgia. But nostalgia is fleeting and if they think they can just waltz in and face the two top women on the RAW roster then Evolution is going to be a cakewalk. James said she and Bliss compete every night all over the world, and Bliss and James agreed it was going to be an easy match. James said if they thought they were going to get up off the couch and step in the ring with the likes of them with no warm-up and no practice, they were sadly mistaken.
Finally, Lita and Stratus got to talk. They talked about making history and how Bliss and James were talking about practice when they could be thinking about how beating two hall of famers would make their careers.
Lita decided that, actually, they could use some practice, and invited Bliss and James to the ring. Bliss and James took a few steps forward, half took their jackets off, then put them back on and walked away.
Natalya vs Ruby Riott
Bayley got accosted and insulted by the Riott Squad on their way to the ring, so it wasn’t a surprise that she turned out to be Natalya’s backup. Sasha Banks joining them was a surprise though. She’s back from injury too.
The match was short but fine, until Sarah Logan chop-blocked Natalya to make her release Riott from the Sharpshooter. Riott was disqualified and it all broke down into chaos. Bayley and Banks were thrown from the ring by Logan and Morgan, but they recovered in time to stop Riott delivering her part of a triple-team on Natalya. It finished up with Natalya, Bayley, and Sasha Banks in the ring with the Riott Squad retreating.
Becky Lynch appeared on a special episode of The Cutting Edge. As part of her introduction, he said he had to come to SmackDown 1000 to address some of the things he’d seen recently.
When Lynch got to the ring he told her that they have a lot of similarities.
She said he was one of the people she modelled her career on so she appreciates him having the champ on his show. Clearly, he sees what she sees.
He said hopefully she’ll hear him out. More than anyone else he understands what she’s doing, thinking, and going through. He wasn’t supposed to be in the main event. He wasn’t supposed to be on the posters. He wasn’t the hand-picked one, he had to scratch and claw and bite for every inch that he earned in the company.
She nodded and said he gets it.
But, he gets that she thinks she’s making the right choice in throwing away her friendship with Charlotte. He’s there to tell her she didn’t make the right choice.
Lynch looked confused, but she let him carry on.
He asked her, and the booing crowd, to hear him out and said he made those same choices. If there was a friendship or relationship that got in his way between him and the top he stepped on it. He crushed it. He left a trail of burnt bridges. The thing is, you can win all the championships you want, your face can be on all the posters that you want. But the choices she’s making will change who she is. They will stain her soul. He’s looking at her and he’s still seeing a good person in there. He’s telling her that the end result of all the choices that she’s making right now is her sitting at home staring at the championships on the wall reminiscing about all of her accomplishments, by herself. But here’s the kicker, she won’t even like herself.
Becky Lynch looked shaken by the speech She said he’s right, she doesn’t like herself. She paused, smiled and added, she loves herself. Then told him to stop being so condescending to the champ and get out of her ring, and mind he doesn’t hurt his neck again going through the ropes.
Edge shook his head looking disappointed while Lynch held the belt aloft.
Charlotte Flair came out and told Edge it doesn’t matter what he says because all she cares about is that championship on her shoulder. That’s why she ran at Super Show-Down and that’s why she ran last week before Flair put her through the LED board.
Becky Lynch stood silently with the championship held high while Flair got in the ring
Flair said if Lynch loves what she’s become she’s going to love what she does to her. She dropped the mic and launched herself at Lynch.
They rolled around punching each other while officials tried to separate them. Flair got loose after they’d been pulled apart and launched herself at her again. They were separated again, and the segment finished with the camera just cutting away to watch Rey Mysterio backstage.
SmackDown 1000 was a fun show, and that was a great segment, but that segment was the entirety of the women’s division contribution. Ok, Carmella was in the opening Truth TV episode with the McMahons (all three of them), and Lana kicked Aiden English’s testicles into his stomach while she was hanging out at ringside for Rusev’s match, but there wasn’t even a hint of a women’s match. Now, with the ground-breaking, historic, first time ever, all women’s PPV coming up in less than two weeks, wouldn’t a milestone show like, say, the 1000th edition of something, be the perfect time showcase a significant chunk of the women’s roster rather than just the title match?
It’s really disappointing that WWE didn’t think that having a women’s division match was important for their big celebration.
Shayna Baszler def. Britt Baker
Bianca Belair vs Nikki Cross DNF
Here’s a point of interest. This week’s episode of NXT didn’t have any men’s single’s matches. We got a four-match episode with two women’s division matches and two tag division matches, and the world didn’t end.
Britt Baker vs Shayna Baszler
I’ve heard some very good things about Britt Baker, and one day I’ll find out if they’re true but this wasn’t that night.
It wasn’t so much a match as an extension of Baszler’s training camp. Baker got zero offence, Baszler just systematically destroyed her left arm. The referee stopped the match when Baker was screaming in pain having had her elbow stomped on.
Shayna Baszler waited until medics got Baker up to a standing position then kneed her in the face.
Nikki Cross vs Bianca Belair
Cross had a pre-match promo of sorts earlier in the show. It was just her crouched in a corridor muttering ‘EST’ and ‘I know’ over and over while scribbling something on bits of paper.
This match was great, but let’s take a moment to talk about glitter. Bianca Belair likes a bit of glitter, or a lot of glitter, but it was ridiculous during this match. By halfway through, everything was covered. The ring was sparkly, Nikki Cross was sparkly, Bianca Belair was even sparklier than she started, even the ref was wearing it.
Nikki Cross got things underway by launching herself at Belair and the rolled around and out of the ring punching each other. They brawled on the outside and Belair ended up back first in the steps.
It was all Cross for a while after that, until Belair caught her in mid-air and threw her over her head. Belair got to bring her power game into play and she slowed the match down. That played to Belair’s strengths by not allowing Cross an opportunity to throw anything unpredictable into the mix. Cross got Belair hung up in the tree of woe and stomped on her midriff, only breaking for the ref’s counts. She could have tried for a cover after a running bulldog, but she went for a crossbody instead. She hit it but it only got two.
Belair hit Cross with a forearm that knocked her to the mat, but she was unable to capitalise. They struggled up and she hit a spear that only got two, despite her trying to cover Cross three times and then delivering a Belair-bomb. That was the point Belair started to get desperate.
She slapped Cross down repeatedly in the corner, telling her to stay down. But the desperation in her voice made Cross smile. She put Cross up on the turnbuckle then lifted her over her head and squatted her a couple of times. Nikki Cross turned that into a sleeper hold followed by a reverse DDT.
As Cross launched herself off the top turnbuckle, Belair caught her with the hair whip. Cross stayed down long enough for Belair to climb the turnbuckle, then joined her up there. Cross superplexed them to the mat.
While they were laying in the ring trying to breathe, the lights went out and the first notes of Aleister Black’s music rang out. When they came back on, Belair was gone, and Black was sat in the ring cross-legged.
Nikki Cross reacted to his presence by rolling around the ring with a grin on her face while the crowd chanted, ‘Nikki’s got a secret’. Black stopped her by simply raising his hand. He beckoned to her and she crawled on her stomach to him.
When she got close enough Black growled, ‘tell me’ and she whispered something in his ear. She slid backwards out of the ring, smiling as Black shook with anger.
Mae Young Classic
Meiko Satomura def. Lacey Lane
Io Shirai def. Deonna Purrazzo
Rhea Ripley def. Tegan Nox
Toni Storm def. Mia Yim
This week was the quarter-finals of this year’s tournament. It was an extremely tough episode to watch. Three of the matches were great, but Tegan Nox got seriously injured in her match against Rhea Ripley. For reasons best known to themselves, WWE decided to show, not only the injury (which happened right at the start of the match) and Nox carrying on in agony until the match was stopped, but also Nox crying in pain and frustration until she was helped backstage. It was a difficult and emotional watch and we wish Tegan Nox a full and speedy recovery. Full details of the episode can be found here.
WWE posted an article with a link to Nox’ tweet about her injury and some support and encouragement from other superstars. From the description of the injury, she’s out for a really long time. But she’s two months into recovery already.
Mixed match Challenge
Country Dominance def. Team Pawz
Awe-ska def. Ravishing Rusev Day
Team Pawz vs Country Dominance
Bobby Roode is Natalya’s new partner, replacing the injured Kevin Owens. They had an interview segment at the beginning of the show, but there’s nothing to report from it. Lio Rush turned up at the end of it, but he didn’t say anything unexpected either.
Natalya put her cat ears headband on Bobby Lashley before the match started. She seemed both surprised and upset when he took them off and stomped on them, I’m not sure why.
Anyway, Roode and Lashley started things off while Lashley was stomping on the ears, with a Bobby Roode rollup attempt. After briefly being thrown around by Lashley, Roode sat in his corner and let Natalya tag herself in.
Natalya and James had a good segment. James managed to get to the ropes when Natalya attempted the sharpshooter. Mickie James had a pin attempt after trying to wear Natalya down. A double cross-body laid them both out on the mat and they tagged out almost simultaneously.
Roode looked to be in trouble until he dodged Lashley’s spear and Lashley crashed into the corner. Roode took a moment to ‘Glorious’ and Mickie James took offence and got in the ring to tell him off. Natalya got in the ring to tell her off and James slapped Natalya just as Lashley charged Roode. Team Pawz tipped their opponents and locked in tandem Sharpshooters.
Mickie James tapped, but the women weren’t legal. Roode let go of Lashley and got distracted by Lio Rush who got up on the apron. Roode turned round to a kick in the gut and found himself in a vertical suplex position. He struggled down and went for the Glorious DDT, but couldn’t get it.
Lashley speared him and got the pin.
Post-match Natalya said tonight wasn’t their night but she wants Roode to stay positive. He apologised and said they will beat B ‘n’ B next week. He told her there was still a chance Mixed Match Challenge would be… and that was as far as he got because Asuka appeared on her way to the ring to tell everyone they will win.
Awe-ska vs Ravishing Rusev Day
Lana and Asuka got things underway, then wriggled their backsides at each other after the initial lock up.
They all stopped for a cheer-off after less than a minute, raising their arms in turn to see who got the loudest reaction. Rusev and Lana together didn’t get cheered quite as loud as Asuka on her own, but the boos for Miz were louder than everything else. Rusev and Lana kissed and challenged Asuka and Miz to do the same, Awe-ska attacked them instead but got their feet caught and punched out of the ring.
It looked like Rusev was going to go for a suicide dive onto Miz. He was faking but Miz showed his cowardly streak by pulling Asuka in front of him. Asuka yelled her displeasure at him and while they were arguing Lana launched herself off the apron and took them both down. Lana dragged Asuka back into the ring and went for the pin, but didn’t get it, and Asuka quickly took over. Asuka prevented Lana from tagging out but a knee to the face only got her a two count so she went to the top rope. Lana moved out of the way as Asuka flew at her, and tagged in Rusev.
They were in for less than a minute before Asuka tagged back in and all four ended up in the ring. Rusev and Lana tried for tandem Accolades, but couldn’t get the locked in. Rusev tipped Miz out of the ring and Lana nearly got a pin on Asuka.
Lana was getting ready to try to finish Asuka off when Miz, from outside the ring, got hold of a microphone and did his best impression of Aiden English’s opening notes. He tried to attack Rusev but got chased into the ring, punched by Lana, and kicked in the head by Rusev. Asuka hip-attacked Rusev off the apron. Lana threw Asuka out of the ring, and Lana put the accolade on Miz.
Asuka broke that up and Miz broke up Lana’s pin attempt on Asuka. Miz and Lana started to argue and Asuka grabbed Lana from behind and locked in the Asuka lock. Rusev was preoccupied with beating on Miz and Lana tapped out.
Next week B ‘n’ B take on Country Dominance, and Day One Glow face Awe-ska.
Main Event covered the Ronda Rousey and The Bella Twins segment from RAW, and the Cutting Edge segment from SmackDown.
NXT UK is now a weekly show. They have a women’s division, but I haven’t decided whether to add it to a column which already feels long most weeks. If anyone has any strong feelings on this, please let me know. I’ll give it some thought.
Next week it will be time for Evolution preview. I don’t think I’m going to do predictions, it’s a weird kind of a card for that. It’s kind of hard to believe there is so little time before this historic PPV, the build has been minimal and quite subdued outside of the Alexa Bliss and Mickie James versus Trish Stratus and Lita, and Ronda Rousey versus Nikki Bella matches. If you compare it to the hype that Super Show-Down received it’s distinctly odd.
Anyway, join me next week for all the goings on in WWE’s women’s divisions. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover or anything you want to discuss, tweet me @manda_why.