Women of the WWE – weekly round-up – w/b April 29

Women of the WWE – weekly round-up – w/b April 29

 

Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It’s the build-up to Backlash this week where Charlotte Flair has her rematch against Carmella for the SmackDown Women’s Championship, and Alexa Bliss has her rematch against Nia Jax for the RAW Women’s Championship. There’s a preview of those matches at the end of the column, but first, we have the go home shows to deal with.

 

RAW

Ruby Riott vs Sasha Banks

Natalya

Two women’s division matches on RAW this week, and neither of them had anything to do with Backlash, well, not at first glance anyway.

 

Sasha Banks vs Ruby Riott

Before the match, Sasha Banks had a backstage interview where she said Bayley would not be in her corner because she hasn’t heard from her. The Riott Squad is trying to take over and Bayley seems to be ok with that, but she’s not. The women’s division still runs on ‘Boss time’ and if Ruby wants a riot, she can bank on one.

Bayley was shown later watching the match backstage.

This pairing has so much potential, I’d love to see a long-running feud between the two, preferably with the threat of Logan and Morgan neutralised. Sarah Logan was the first to try to get involved when Banks was knocked off the apron. Sasha Banks avoided the attack and took Logan down with a forearm.

Commentary was interesting during the match. They spent the majority of the time talking up the women’s division, the standard of the wrestling, how competitive it is. And using the match to illustrate their point. It was a very good match. They’re very compatible.

Sasha Banks launches herself at Ruby Riott
photo credits: wwe.com

The Riott Squad got involved again when Banks had Riott in the Bank Statement. Sarah Logan got into the ring and distracted the ref while Liv Morgan pulled Ruby Riott out of the hold. Sasha Banks got her own back a few moments later after hitting the double knees to Riott’s head against the post, she delivered another set from the apron to Morgan and levelled her.

Unfortunately for Sasha Banks, the numbers were still too much. She distracted herself by kicking Logan off the apron and Ruby Riott punched her in the face and followed up with a Riott kick. That was enough to secure the win for Ruby Riott, with an assist for Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan.

 

There was another ‘Moment of Bliss’ segment about Nia Jax’ ‘bullying’ of Alexa Bliss. This one was about Jax making fun of Bliss’ height at Disneyworld by asking the attendants if Bliss was tall enough for the rides and making the restaurant staff give her a kid’s menu. She still managed to get a fat/greed jibe in there though. She said she’s getting the title back at Backlash because she won’t let the bully win.

I still hate this storyline every bit as much as I did in the run-up to WrestleMania. Now it’s not only bullying and body-shaming, it’s emotional manipulation to make the victim look like the aggressor as well. I’m well aware it’s not real, but it still makes me feel uncomfortable. I guess the question is, does my reaction (and the similar reactions I’ve seen online) to the storyline mean they are doing a good job? I think both Bliss and Jax have done a great job with the material but, for me, it has crossed the line between making me want Jax to triumph over Bliss, into making me want to fast-forward the segments. I just want it to be over now, please.

 

Mickie James, with Alexa Bliss vs Natalya, with Ronda Rousey

It was nice to see the two veterans of the WWE women’s division face to face in this new era. Between them, they’ve seen a lot of changes over the years and the division has never been so good.

Natalya and Mickie James

It was a good solid start to the match, but that’s about all I can say. It was ultra-short.

Alexa Bliss got up on the apron and the distraction allowed Mickie James to kick her in the injured knee. Ronda Rousey chased Bliss around the ring and up the ramp, and while that was going on Natalya rolled James up and pinned her.

Nia Jax music hit while Bliss was at the top of the ramp, so Bliss sprinted back down to ringside and hopped over the barricade. That’s the extent of your Backlash build-up. Jax climbed into the ring, looked Rousey and Natalya (especially Rousey) up and down, then raised their arms in victory.

Rousey chases Bliss

 

 

SmackDown

Becky Lynch, Asuka, and Charlotte Flair def Carmella, Peyton Royce, and Billie Kay

Paige opened SmackDown in her general manager role. I won’t be covering all her contributions unless they’re directly relevant to the women’s division, but it’s nice to see her in the role and still involved with WWE.

 

Renee Young was set to interview The IIconics and Carmella ahead of the six-woman tag team main event – yep, that’s right, we’re back on the six-woman tag matches. Did you miss them? Anyway, only Billie Kay and Peyton Royce showed up. Royce did another ridiculously bad impression, of Renee Young this time, then they dismissed her and brought Carmella out. There was nothing more to the segment other than the standard self-congratulatory stuff.

 

There was a locker room segment with Becky Lynch, Asuka, and Charlotte Flair. Initially, it looked like Becky Lynch was talking to herself about losing to the IIconics last week. She was busily obsessing about it and it turned out she was talking to Asuka, who told her to forget it because they were going to hit back three times as hard this week. Then it was revealed Charlotte Flair was there as well. She talked about teaching Carmella a lesson in respect. Asuka made an Avengers reference and left, and that was the end of the segment. Sound odd? It was, in a fun way.

 

Absolution is no more

Backstage segment from last week with Becky Lynch coming across Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville saying all Lynch is at this point it Charlotte Flair’s sidekick, led into a chat between Paige, Rose and Deville in Paige’s office. Paige asked them if they knew why they were there and they said they did and just needed to know which one of them it would be. When Paige said it was going to be Mandy Rose, it became obvious there was a misunderstanding. Rose and Deville thought one of them was being picked for a title match, Paige was just picking one of them to face Becky Lynch next week and told them if they wanted a title match they would have to earn it. Rose and Deville were shocked and said they thought they were friends, didn’t Paige have some kind of pull now she’s GM. Paige looked kind of awkward as she told them Absolution is dead.

Both Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose sent out tweets after the show about Paige. Deville’s said she was missing a huge opportunity by not continuing their alliance. Rose’s accused Paige of being drunk with power but said they forgive her.

 

Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Asuka vs Carmella and The IIconics

The women main evented this week, on a two-hour show that only contained three matches.

It looked like the match start might be a preview of Backlash, but Carmella tagged in Peyton Royce before Charlotte Flair could lay a hand on her and Flair tagged in Becky Lynch.

Great match. Commentary did a lot of work laying down the narrative for Becky Lynch that she’s having a confidence dip because she’s been lost in the pack, while she was in the ring proving she shouldn’t be. It’s a good way for the storyline to go with her because there’s a kernel of truth in it. She absolutely deserves better.

Asuka came in and reminded Billie Kay why slapping the empress is a bad idea. Then Charlotte Flair was tagged in and got sent into the turnbuckle by Kay.

We did get to see some of the Backlash preview later in the match. Carmella came in when Billie Kay had got Flair reeling, to capitalise on someone else’s hard work again. Flair blocked her superkick and the IIconics dragged Carmella out of the ring before Flair could get the figure four on. Charlotte Flair took them out by launching herself over the top rope onto them, then we went to the ads.

By the time we came back, Becky Lynch was fighting her way back against Peyton Royce. Carmella tagged in and managed to knock Flair off the apron. Billie Kay and Peyton Royce pulled Asuka from the apron and sent her into the barricade and steps. Flair recovered quickly, tagged in and took out the whole of the opposing team. Carmella sent Flair face-first into the top of the ringpost while Flair was distracted by Billie Kay.

Becky Lynch tries to tag Asuka

Even after Carmella and the IIconics had finished triple teaming Flair, Carmella still couldn’t pin her. Peyton Royce came in to have a go, but Asuka had recovered and tagged herself in when Flair was recovering in their corner.

Asuka was fired up and looking to get her own back. She took Carmella and Kay out with a hip attack, kicked out on two from a knee to the face. And then chaos broke out. Finishers galore, and another beautiful moonsault from Charlotte Flair to take out Carmella and Billie Kay, then Peyton Royce tapped out to the Asuka Lock.

The show closed out with Charlotte Flair staring down Carmella from ringside while Carmella sat on the stage hugging the belt.

 

 

NXT

Kairi Sane def Shazza McKenzie

Bianca Belair def Candice LeRae

Two women’s matches on NXT this week. Sadly, that’s not quite as good as it sounds. There were five matches on this week’s show, and it’s only an hour long. That meant that four out of the five matches, including both women’s matches, were three minutes or under. With that in mind, there’s not going to be a whole lot to say.

 

Kairi Sane vs Shazza McKenzie

This opened the show. It was all good-natured and sweet, and over in two minutes. Shazza McKenzie made contact with two forearm shots and the rest of the match was a Kairi Sane highlight reel finishing with the Insane Elbow.

Lacey Evans came out while Sane was celebrating. She said a true lady with class always has the courage to admit when she was wrong. She wanted to say she’s sorry. Kairi Sane does deserve to be in the NXT. She held out the hand of reconciliation and when Sane hesitated she punched her out.

Kairi Sane and Lacey Evans

 

Candice LeRae was interviewed backstage about Johnny Gargano’s condition after he was attacked by Tommaso Ciampa last week. LeRae grew visibly more distressed as she talked about how difficult this year has been, how happy she was when she signed with NXT and what a nightmare it has become at the hands of a man they considered to be family. She was crying by the time she excused herself to get ready for her match.

 

Dakota Kai was being interviewed outside. She talked about Ember Moon and the IIconics’ transition to the main roster leaving opportunities in the NXT women’s division and wanting to make her mark. She was asked about Shayna Baszler and was telling the reporters she didn’t want to talk about it when Vanessa Borne appeared.

Borne said the way Dakota has been handling Baszler is pathetic. If it were her she’d have slapped the hell out of Baszler because she’s not scared of anyone. Kai said she had issues with Baszler, but she’s not scared of Borne. When Vanessa Borne walked away Kai said she could take her, she’s not scared of Vanessa Borne.

 

Candice LeRae vs Bianca Belair

I said last week it would be interesting to see how they positioned Belair and LeRae in this match because both of them are potentially future NXT women’s champions. When LeRae came out for the match it was clear how it was going to pan out. She was nothing like the energised, bubbly, character we’re used to seeing, instead she was quiet and subdued.

Nice duelling chants at the start of the match showed how highly thought of both women are, and rightly so. Bianca Belair dominated, but LeRae was clearly not on form. That’s not to say Belair had it all her own way. Candice LeRae is extremely talented, she just kept getting caught out by Belair’s power because she was half a beat off her mark.

Candice LeRae flies at Bianca Belair

Belair lifted LeRae above her head for an impressively long time before launching her into the turnbuckle. LeRae had her best chance at a pin from a missile dropkick, but Belair overpowered her when she tried to follow up with a tornado DDT.

It wasn’t to be for Candice LeRae this time, Belair hit the reverse powerbomb, and that was it.

 

 

Main Event

No women’s division action on Main Event this week.

 

 

Backlash Preview and Predictions

Nia Jax (C) vs Alexa Bliss – RAW Women’s Championship match

Carmella (C) vs Charlotte Flair – SmackDown Women’s Championship match

Bayley vs Ruby Riott – Kickoff show

It’s a little disappointing to only have two women’s division matches on the card for the first of the new co-branded PPVs, especially considering the women’s division missed out on Greatest Royal Rumble. We do, however, have two one-on-one title matches and a match on the Kickoff show, so it seems a little churlish to complain too much.

 

Nia Jax (C) vs Alexa Bliss – RAW Women’s Championship match

NIa Jax vs Alexa Bliss

I am so ready for this feud to be over and for them both to move on. First, there was the deeply uncomfortable vileness from Alexa Bliss and Mickie James towards Nia Jax before WrestleMania, now Bliss has decided Nia Jax is the real bully.

In order to convince people of this, she has produced two ‘A Moment of Bliss’ segments telling unpleasant stories about Jax, both managing to reference Jax’ size in relation to greed. She has, however, remained reluctant to face Jax in person. She failed to show up when they were both supposed to be on commentary, and she hopped the barricade to avoid her this week.

Bliss was a great champion, but I hope they don’t put the title back on her this time. Nia Jax has only had it a few weeks and needs some time to settle into the role. I’d like to see her have at least one feud other than Bliss before the belt moves to someone else. It would also be a really bad look for this whole storyline to end with Alexa Bliss winning back her title. Bullies sometimes do win is not the message to be sending out. For those reasons, I need to back Nia Jax on this one.

Prediction: Nia Jax

 

Carmella (C) vs Charlotte Flair – SmackDown Women’s Championship match

Carmella vs Charlotte Flair

Carmella got the title by capitalising on the beatdown delivered by Peyton Royce and Billie Kay and cashing in the MITB briefcase. Realistically, that’s pretty much the only way she’s going to get to keep it. However, that’s not out of the question.

I’m undecided about the result. It seems like a kick in the teeth for Carmella to lose the title so quickly, but it was obtained by nefarious means so maybe it’s fair enough. There is no way she should beat Flair clean, but a victory via unseen interference is plausible, as is Carmella taking a disqualification or count out loss.

Charlotte Flair is a fantastic champion, although arguably better in the heel role than her current one. There is a prestige in competing against her that Carmella has yet to emulate. It makes much more sense to have Flair as the strong champion the division is built around. That said, there is something in having a more beatable champ like Carmella for a while.

I’d like to see the SmackDown Women’s Championship restored to Charlotte Flair, but I don’t think it’s going to go that way at Backlash. Apart from anything else, if they take the title off Carmella this quickly then what do they do with her afterwards?

Prediction; Carmella to retain by illicit means

 

Bayley vs Ruby Riott – Kickoff show

Bayley vs Ruby Riott

This was announced on social media during the week. The justification for it seems to be that Sasha Banks had a match with Ruby Riott, so now Bayley gets one. Essentially it appears to be a tool to forward the plot with Bayley and Sasha Banks. Bayley watched from backstage as the Riott Squad cost Banks the match on RAW. So, will Sasha Banks stand by and let them do the same to Bayley? And if she comes to ringside, who will she be taking out.

Optimistically, this would be the perfect opportunity for Banks to cost Bayley the match and really kick their feud into gear. We can hope. Even if Sasha Banks doesn’t come to mess things up for Bayley, there is still the matter of Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan to deal with. I don’t think there’s any chance of this ending with a clean win, but I fear the numbers will be too much for Bayley to overcome.

Prediction: Ruby Riott

 

 

I’ll be back next week with the Backlash result and all the action from the rest of 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.

 

 

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