Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. This week is superstar shake-up week. By the end of the week, we will know who’s going where and will have some idea of what we’ll be watching for the next few months. There is some build-up happening for Backlash, Alexa Bliss is already set to have her RAW Women’s Championship rematch, but most of the current building is for Greatest Royal Rumble which features no women’s division matches. It’s not ideal, but change happens slowly, and it is what it is. Sadly, the women’s division will be sitting this one out. Anyway, enough of that, let’s get into RAW.
Ember Moon def Mickie James
Bayley vs Sasha Banks – No contest due to interference
Natalya def Mandy Rose
If this is the new format for RAW, I like it. Three women’s division matches, and a backstage segment (which admittedly was a set up for a specific event). Let’s all hope it’s a sign of things to come.
Bayley vs Sasha Banks
How long has this match been building? It feels like the only reason they’d do it now is if one of them is heading to SmackDown in the shake-up. If so, I hope it’s Bayley, I don’t need to see Sasha Banks versus Charlotte Flair again, however good it was.
Good match, but would you expect any less? I think I was expecting high intensity from the off, and it wasn’t quite like that. They threw all their biggest and brightest moves at each other, but the intensity built over the course of the match, growing with each failure by one of them to put the other away.
Banks started trash-talking, Bayley snapped, and the match turned into a brawl. Banks had the best of it, getting Bayley in the corner and delivering double knees. Bayley tried to counter Banks’ pin attempt into one of her own, but Sasha Banks rolled through into the Bank Statement.
She had it locked in and Bayley was reaching desperately for the ropes when the Riott Squad attacked them both. Hell of an entrance to make to RAW. Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan took out Sasha Banks, with her taking potential finishers from Logan and Morgan. Then they turned their attention to Bayley, who took the Riott kick. For some reason, the inside of Liv Morgan’s mouth was blue. It looked very odd.
The backstage segment started with Ronda Rousey talking to Kurt Angle in his office. They were discussing the fact Stephanie McMahon isn’t going to go away and stop being an issue, something is going to happen sooner or later. The conversation was interrupted by a new shake-up transfer – Natalya is now a member of the RAW roster. She and Rousey greeted each other warmly, they apparently train together and are friends. Angle said Natalya had campaigned hard to be on RAW and had asked for a match on her first night. Natalya said it was a fresh start for her and she was excited to show everyone that she’s the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be. Then qualified with, that’s just her opinion, maybe she’s the second best. She and Rousey giggled, Rousey welcomed her to RAW, and Natalya left.
Ember Moon vs Mickie James
Nia Jax joined commentary for the match, so barely any notice was taken of the action, most of it was spent discussing the title win and what kind of champion Jax hopes to be. They gave so little attention to the match, they even cut, via split-screen, to Alexa Bliss halfway through. Bliss had been expected on commentary and hadn’t shown up. When they cut to her she explained that she didn’t want to be out there with a bully like Nia Jax. She did mention she’s taking her rematch at Backlash.
It’s a shame they weren’t paying attention to what was going on in the ring because it was an excellent match. Ember Moon and Mickie James could put something really special together given half a chance. I’d love to see them given longer. They have some great chemistry.
Ember Moon looks right at home on the main roster. It was a good fifty-fifty match with James, which gave anyone not familiar with Moon’s work to get a real flavour of what she can do. No big flashy moments to draw particular attention to except the Eclipse, and it was short, but I thought it was great. I was just left a little annoyed that the entire segment seemed focused on Jax and Bliss.
Mickie James took the Eclipse better than anyone I’ve ever seen. It looked like a murderous move, it was brilliant. Moon had to retrieve her from the across the ring to pin her.
Natalya vs Mandy Rose
It was odd, ad a little sad, to see Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville come to the ring without Paige, but she has her new role over on SmackDown and it’s time for them to sink or swim on their own. I think they’ll be fine, but they’ll probably get transferred to SmackDown now the Riott Squad are on RAW.
Natalya made Mandy Rose look great in this match. I think that’s an important role for Natalya at this point in her career, she can do a lot to help out the newer talent, and to be fair to her, she does seem to.
Mandy Rose dominated for sections of the extremely short match. Not complaining about the length of the match, they were all short this week except the opener and main event.
As it should be, Natalya’s superior experience and skill gave her the means to fight back into it, and Mandy Rose tapped out to the Sharpshooter.
Sonya Deville immediately came in and started the Absolution beatdown. Ronda Rousey strode down to rescue Natalya. Rose and Deville cleared the ring then Mandy Rose egged Sonya Deville on to get back in. Rousey gave her a look that said, ‘really?’ and put her down in under ten seconds. Something in the way Natalya was looking at Ronda Rousey when they were leaving tells me this is probably not going to be a long-term alliance.
With Natalya talking about making a fresh start, Angle giving her Mandy Rose as a first opponent, and Ronda Rousey making the save, it looks like we might be getting babyface Natalya on RAW, at least to start with.
So, women’s division moves on the first night of the shake-up were – Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan) and Natalya.
Charlotte Flair def Billie Kay
Carmella held a ‘Mellabration’ for her SmackDown Women’s Championship win of last week. The crowd chanted ‘you deserve it’ and she told them they all want to jump on the Carmella bandwagon now she’s the champ, but nobody supported her before, so they can all shut up. She called herself the moonwalking trash-talking crown princess of SmackDown Live then talked about how long she waited to take her opportunity (287 days) and the fact she beat Charlotte Flair ‘all on her own’. She’s very proud of that. In her version of events, all she had to do was wait for Flair to be blinded by her own ego – Nothing to do with the massive beatdown from Billie Kay and Peyton Royce. – Then she showed a tribute video, to herself. According to Carmella, her cash-in is the biggest moment in women’s wrestling history.
She said she’s going to miss Frankie (the briefcase) but she’s called the championship belt Cleopatra.
Finally, someone stopped her. Charlotte Flair came out and told Carmella her memory is like her title reign, short. The only reason she won the briefcase was James Ellsworth (not mentioned by name) and the only reason she won the title was Billie Kay and Peyton Royce. She’s not mad, game respects game. What she did was capitalise on an opportunity, so congratulations. But it is much hard to stay on top than get to the top, and Carmella has something that belongs to her.
Billie Kay and Peyton Royce came out and started talking – I wish they wouldn’t do that. Their new bit is for Peyton Royce to do a bad Charlotte Flair impression and it’s truly cringe-worthy. They said Flair was being a baby. Apparently, the future is Iconic.
Flair made the first move to start the brawl but was quickly overcome by the numbers and Carmella wasn’t going to help. Becky Lynch ran down to help, and we immediately got an ad break. There was a match going on by the time we came back.
Charlotte Flair vs Billie Kay
The match was made by Shane McMahon during the break. Becky Lynch was in Flair’s corner and Peyton Royce was in Billie Kay’s. Carmella was sat at ringside with her feet up.
Interesting that Billie Kay got the first match, it’s been a while since she’s been on tv as much more than Peyton Royce’s sidekick. Her last tv single’s match appears to have been against Kairi Sane in October of last year. She’s been doing a ton of live events recently though in readiness to finish up with NXT this week.
Kay and Flair have never met in the ring before. It’s interesting to see Billie Kay in a match where she doesn’t have the height and power advantage she so often enjoys. It was decent, there’s some definite potential in the pairing.
Peyton Royce got involved, of course. She punched Flair while she was in the corner and Billie Kay had the ref distracted.
Billie Kay tapped out to the Figure Eight.
Carmella attacked Charlotte Flair with the title and a brawl broke out with Carmella joining Billie Kay and Peyton Royce in beating down Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. Then some familiar music hit.
Asuka is on SmackDown Live. She came down to help out Charlotte Flair. Carmella was out of the ring before she arrived. Asuka, Flair, and Lynch cleared the Iconics from the ring then stood smiling at each other. Carmella’s life just got interesting.
Becky Lynch and Asuka versus Billie Kay and Peyton Royce has already been announced for next week. If we’re going to go back to endless women’s tag matches, can we at least have women’s tag titles? I’d prefer proper one on one feuds with storylines and matches building up to a resolution, but I’d take tag belts as a compromise.
Women’s division moves from RAW to SmackDown were: Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, and Asuka.
Interestingly, SAnitY got called up to SmackDown in the shake-up, but Nikki Cross doesn’t appear to be going with them. Hopefully, that means there are big plans for her on NXT. I really want to see her as NXT Women’s Champion at some point. Very surprised that neither Bayley nor Sasha Banks made the move to SmackDown. I guess their feud isn’t played out, or maybe the Riott Squad attack on RAW will make them brush their differences back under the carpet and reunite against a new common enemy.
Candice LeRae def Zelina Vega
The Superstar Shake-up didn’t take any more women from NXT, although Zelina Vega moved up to SmackDown with Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas, which probably explains why she had a match with Candice LeRae on this week’s show.
Le Rae appeared with Johnny Gargano in the first segment of the show, Gargano’s triumphant return to NXT. She didn’t say much except to confirm she was handling the unfinished business with Vega that night. Gargano referred to her as ‘Candice Wrestling’. That’s going to stick, isn’t it?
Shayna Baszler crashed a meeting in the women’s locker room. The first thing she did was rip Ember Moon’s nametag off the locker and put a queen of spades playing card in its place. She told the women, it’s her locker room now so there’s no-one to stop the fact things are different around there now, so they need to get in line or leave.
Dakota Kai got up to leave, Baszler challenged her and asked her where she was going. Kai gestured with a water bottle and sidled out.
Baszler turned back to the locker room and told them to get in line behind her or get run over.
Candice LeRae vs Zelina Vega
Despite this episode containing two other debuts, Ricochet and War Raiders (previously known as War Machine), Vega and LeRae still took the main event slot, they still only got five minutes though. Naively, I was hoping they’d get at least the majority of their match alone before the inevitable interference from Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas and Johnny Gargano, but they only got seconds. Almas distracted LeRae by getting up on the apron which allowed Vega to capitalise on her lack of attention, and Johnny Gargano ran down to neutralise the threat.
Have I mentioned recently that Candice LeRae is one of my favourite wrestlers? I really enjoyed this match. We’ve waited far too long to see her show the NXT universe what she can do. My only complaint is, it was too short, and hopefully, this is the last time she has Gargano with her in the ring.
The finish of the match was a little cutesy for my taste, but it made perfect sense to tie up the loose ends of the story before Vega and Almas start their main roster journey over on SmackDown. Candice LeRae got Zelina Vega in the Gargano Escape, Almas entered the ring to break it up but before he could act Johnny Gargano leapt into the ring and locked him in the Gargano escape as well. Vega tapped out.
Johnny Gargano applauded his wife and got the crowd to chant for her awesomeness, then immediately stole the spotlight by demanding an NXT title match, which he was granted by NXT Champion, Aleister Black. I adore Johnny Gargano and he and LeRae are lovely together, but she’s a damned fine wrestler in her own right. I wish she’d had more opportunity to be Candice LeRae – who happens to be married to Johnny Gargano, rather than Johnny Gargano’s wife – Candice LeRae.
No women’s division action on Main Event this week. Not even coverage of the women’s division shake-up switches.
I’ll be back next week with all the action in WWE’s women’s divisions in the run-up to Backlash. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover or anything you want to discuss, tweet me @manda_why.