Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It’s an interesting time for the women of WWE. SummerSlam is fast approaching, the new Mae Young Classic is just around the corner, and WWE Evolution is on the horizon. It’s clear, considering the lack of storylines the women have had until recently, that there is a lot of building to do before WWE can fill the PPV with interesting matches. So let’s dive in and see how they’re doing.
Alicia Fox def Natalya
Sasha Banks and Bayley def Riott Squad (Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan)
RAW advertised that Alicia Fox would have Alexa Bliss in her corner before they showed the segment explaining why. The explanation was the Bliss had hand-picked Fox as a replacement for Mickie James, who is apparently injured. Bliss told her not to worry about Ronda Rousey and just focus on Natalya. She flattered Fox about being one of the trailblazers for the women’s revolution and asked if she was with her. Fox said she was going to hurt Natalya so badly she’ll make her cats say me-Oww.
Alicia Fox, with Alexa Bliss vs Natalya, with Ronda Rousey
It’s a bit of a shame that the point of this match was to build the RAW Women’s Championship match at SummerSlam. In fairness, neither Bliss nor Rousey got involved until the very end of the match, but everyone was still waiting for them to do so, so it felt like the full focus wasn’t on what was happening in the ring.
Alicia Fox has been badly underutilised and was just gaining some kind of momentum when she got injured. Hopefully, she can pick that up again because she had a good match with Natalya here.
Of course, it couldn’t stay a fair one on one match, but the interference was actually Fox’ fault. She aimed a kick at Ronda Rousey from inside the ring because Rousey was shouting encouragement to Natalya. Rousey immediately got up on the apron and while the ref was dealing with her Alexa Bliss punched Natalya in the face.
The ref turned around just in time for Fox to deliver the big boot to Natalya and pin her.
As soon as the bell went for the finish Ronda Rousey took off her jacket and ran around the ring after Bliss. She chased Bliss into the ring and almost locked her in an armbar, but Fox kicked Rousey to break it up. Rousey hoisted Fox onto her shoulders and slammed her into the canvas, then went back to chasing Bliss. She caught her at the barricade and threw her to the floor. Fox attacked Rousey from behind before she could do anything to Bliss and threw her into the barricade by her head, twice. That was enough for Bliss and Fox to make their escape, and a furious looking Rousey went to check on Natalya.
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs The Riott Squad (Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan)
Banks and Bayley had matching gear for the match with Boss and Hug Connection written on it. Logan and Morgan have done great without Ruby Riott. They’ve kept themselves a coherent team and kept improving. Can’t ask for more than that. The women’s division is so ripe for the tag team championships announcement now.
Teamwork was the theme of the match, on both sides. And it was a decent match, but I don’t have much more to say about it than that. It wasn’t spectacular, just a solid and entertaining tag match. The whole thing read as signposting new tag belts.
The finish was a double-team effort from Banks and Bayley on Liv Morgan. Sasha Banks hit her with a backstabber and Bayley followed it up with a Bayley to Belly and the pin. It seems like the drama is over for Bayley and Banks, for now at least.
On a related note, a mystery which has been bugging me for weeks has been solved. Here is the video of Liv Morgan explaining why her tongue is blue.
Zelina Vega def Lana
Charlotte Flair def Carmella
Renee Young opened the show with an in-ring interview with Becky Lynch. She asked her how it feels to finally be back in the title picture.
Lynch said that when you wait so long for something you sometimes doubt that it’s ever going to happen and she certainly did that. But she knew that if she kept pushing she’d get back to where she wanted to be. She hasn’t been the SmackDown women’s champion since December 2016 she hasn’t even had a title match since WrestleMania 33, which was almost a year and a half ago. Last week when she beat Carmella she couldn’t sleep because she kept thinking about SummerSlam and what it means to be the SmackDown women’s champion. It is the honour and the excitement and the pressure of knowing you have a target on your back and you have to fight mind, body, and soul every week to defend it or you will lose it. She wasn’t born to be a champion, she fought to be a champion. And come SummerSlam she will fight mind, body, and soul to be Carmella and it will be her honour to walk into WWE Evolution as the SmackDown Live women’s champion.
Carmella came out and reassured her she wasn’t there to cause trouble. Normally she would come out and make some excuse as to why she lost last week, like maybe she was distracted because James Ellsworth had just been fired, but that’s not the case. Last week Lynch beat her fair and square and she earned her opportunity at SummerSlam. Carmella was so focused on last week’s match that she didn’t fully appreciate the announcement Stephanie McMahon made the night before. She was sitting in the locker room trying to think of ways to beat Lynch at SummerSlam when it hit her like a tidal wave. They’re going to be a part of the first all-women PPV. They’re not just representing RAW or SmackDown any more they’re representing every single woman who has ever set foot in a WWE ring.
That made her skin crawl because she feels like she’s failed as a representative. They shouldn’t be tearing each other down they should be building each other up. It comes from a place of jealousy. Lynch has always been just a step ahead of her. In NXT they told her she would only ever be a manager and a hype girl while Lynch was part of the four horsewomen. But she was never too successful to be there for Carmella and give her advice, and that’s something she’ll never forget. Becky Lynch was the first female draft pick while Carmella was the last draft pick of everyone. Lynch was the centrepiece of the division and Carmella was just an afterthought.
And through it all, clearly, the WWE universe has always loved her. The crowd started a Becky chant to back this up. Most of the WWE universe don’t even think Carmella deserves to be champion. She tries to block out the haters on social media who say she sucks and is unworthy of the title. There are apparently legends of the industry that have said she should just go away. It’s exhausting but she puts on a brave face and tells herself she deserves to be there.
Throughout the speech, Becky Lynch looked sceptical and completely unimpressed. It was a good little speech, with all the emotional notes in all the right places. The crowd started a, ‘you suck’, chant at the most emotional bit just to rub it in.
To walk into the biggest match of her career at SummerSlam against someone she’s always looked up to, she couldn’t be more excited. And she can’t wait for them to tear the house down and prove everybody wrong because they’re going to kill it. At the end, Carmella wished her luck and offered her a handshake.
James Ellsworth’s music hit before Lynch had decided whether to accept and Becky Lynch looked to the stage. Carmella hit her from behind with the belt, kicked her in the face and laid a chair in the centre of the ring.
Charlotte Flair ran down to rescue Becky Lynch before Carmela could do anything, so I guess she’s back. Honestly, Flair running down the ramp and suplexing Carmella in those heels might have been the most impressive thing of the night.
The segment continued after the break with Carmella in Paige’s office. Carmella was outraged at Charlotte Flair breaking things up and complained that the odds are always stacked against her. Paige was extremely angry about Carmella’s little speech having fooled her into thinking she was sincere and told her she should be ashamed of herself. Carmella said she poured her heart out, and she may not be a role model but she’s something Paige will never be again, champion. Paige told Carmella that she will teach her how to be a real champ because real champions have the odds stacked against them all the time and they don’t complain about it. So, tonight, she will face Charlotte Flair. If Flair wins she will be added to the title match at SummerSlam.
Renee Young interviewed Charlotte Flair in the locker room a little later, to ask her how she felt about having the opportunity to be added to the women’s title match. Flair said she was just there to support her best friend, she and Lynch have always had each other’s backs, and now she has this great opportunity, thanks to Carmella’s big mouth. she wasn’t expecting to be at SummerSlam especially not in the title match. Young reminded her she still had to beat Carmella to get in and Carmella just loves to remind people that… Flair finished the sentence Carmella’s beaten Charlotte Flair twice, she hasn’t forgotten. But the queen is back and she’s ready to reclaim her crown.
Becky Lynch was interviewed by Renee Young again She said she’s so happy Charlotte Flair is back, and she does have a golden opportunity to get herself into the title match. When Young asked her about the odds decreasing in a triple-threat, Lynch said she usually relies on instinct and adrenaline in the ring than mathematics, but that is correct. She’s happy Flair is back but less happy about her potentially making it a triple threat at SummerSlam. She has been fighting her way through the roster for months to get to SummerSlam and she knows without a shadow of a doubt that she can beat Carmella, or anyone, one on one. Young asked her if that meant she was rooting against Charlotte tonight, and Lynch told her she never roots against her best friend.
Lana vs Zelina Vega
I thought that after last week they might build something for these two. I didn’t think it would lead to a match this quickly.
So, technically speaking, Zelina Vega is a better wrestler than Lana. But Lana has worked incredibly hard to improve, which she has, and she’s gotten good at sticking to doing what she knows she can do well.
They started with an arrogance-off and a bit of pushing and slapping. Lana tackled Vega to the mat and started pounding on her and Vega took a rest break on the outside. By the time we came back from a break, Vega was in control.
It wasn’t the best match, it was a little awkward in places, but it was by no means the worst. Vega has only had a chance to have two matches with WWE (the other being on NXT against Candice LeRae), and I’d love to see her in the ring more. She’s a great manager but she’s got plenty to offer the women’s division.
It was, in part, Aiden English’s fault Lana lost. Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas got up on the apron to cause a distraction. English pulled him back to the floor. Lana was so busy looking at him she got rolled up and pinned.
Carmella vs Charlotte Flair
The women’s division got the main event spot as well as opening the show this week. Carmella had some pre-match words with Renee Young (busy night for Renee Young). She wants Becky Lynch on her own, she knows she can beat her. She doesn’t believe the best friends thing. She thinks Becky Lynch will be rooting against Flair.
Becky Lynch was shown watching backstage early in the match, looking concerned and a little annoyed.
Charlotte Flair seemed thrilled to be back and eager to get back into it. Carmella was her usual hyper-confident self. When Flair Hopped over the top rope to the outside Carmella was ready for her. She sent Charlotte Flair into the edge of the ring and then into the barricade, and we went to the ads.
By the time we came back, Flair was taking control. That lasted until she went to a moonsault and Carmella got her feet up and caught her on the jaw, then threw her out of the ring. She followed Flair out and bested her in that exchange, throwing her into the timekeeper’s area before getting back in the ring to wait for a count out victory. Flair just made it back before the count.
Carmella’s frustration started to grow as she failed to keep Flair down. Unusually, Flair started to look frustrated as well and the desperation showed in her actions. She barely hit Carmella with a moonsault on the outside from the barricade, and looked incredulous when Natural Selection failed to get the pin.
Carmella has another couple of attempts to put Flair away, but it wasn’t to be her night. Charlotte Flair locked in the figure four, bridged into the Figure Eight, and Carmella tapped.
The camera cut to a reaction shot from Becky Lynch looking disappointed. I’m not surprised. Lynch has worked hard for another opportunity at the title and now Flair has just walked in to hijack it. There is a very real sense that Becky Lynch deserves her time in the spotlight.
The final shot of the show was of Becky Lynch watching Charlotte Flair’s celebrations and looking furious.
Shayna Baszler def Candice LeRae
Candice LeRae vs Shayna Baszler
This was a non-title match, set to settle their differences after Baszler has repeatedly said that LeRae should stick to being Johnny Gargano’s wife and stay out of the ring. Baszler showed that disrespect by inviting LeRae to leave the ring instead of taking the match, even holding the ropes open for her. LeRae responded with a dropkick that sent Baszler to the outside.
Candice LeRae followed up with a baseball slide then slid out of the ring to throw Baszler back in. A high-risk manoeuvre cost LeRae control of the match when Baszler pulled her off the top rope and sent her crashing into it belly first before dropping out of the ring. Baszler followed her out and threw her into the steps before trying to take a count-out victory. LeRae made it back in at nine but was fighting one-armed for the rest of the match.
Shayna Baszler may have underestimated LeRae at the start of the match, but she wasn’t going to make that mistake twice. She focused in hard on LeRae’s left arm, manipulating it into unpleasant looking positions and stomping on it.
It slowed LeRae down, a bit, but it didn’t stop her. She still threw herself around like a loon and got a couple of good pin attempts.
After fighting up on the turnbuckles Baszler managed to drop LeRae into the Kirifuda Clutch. Candice LeRae hit an Unprettier and could have gone for the pin. Instead, she tried for a moonsault and ended up locked back in the Kirifuda Clutch. This time there was no rope in reach and LeRae tapped.
After the match, Shayna Baszler stood by the ropes looking at LeRae like she was a much bigger threat than she’d accounted for. She chose to deal with this by putting the Kirifuda Clutch back on Candice LeRae and refusing to let go. Kairi Sane ran down to make the save. Officials kept Sane back while Baszler left the ring and Kairi Sane went to check on LeRae. She didn’t notice Baszler coming back until she got kicked in the back. This time officials had to hold Sane back, kicking and screaming, as Shayna Baszler left the arena.
I might be biased because I adore Candice LeRae, but I think NXT’s women got the match of the week this week.
This week, Main Event showed highlights of the Becky Lynch, Carmella, and Charlotte Flair segments of SmackDown. From RAW, they showed brief highlights of Alicia Fox versus Natalya and the full aftermath of that match.
All but one of the Mae Young Classic competitors have now been named.
Kaitlyn, Kacy Catanzaro, Io Shirai, Rhea Ripley, Nicole Matthews, Jinny, Deonna Purrazzo, Tegan Nox (Nixon Newell), Jessica Elaban, Reina González, Kavita Devi, Mia Yim, Mercedes Martinez, Killer Kelly, Zeuxis, Isla Dawn, Lacey Lane, Karen Q, Toni Storm, Meiko Satomura, Ashley Rayne, Priscilla Kelly, Xia Brookside, Hiroyo Matsumoto, Aerial Monroe, Vanessa Kraven, Zatara, Xia Li, Allysin Kay, MJ Jenkins, Rachel Evers.
I’ll be covering the show for Rear View Reviews when it airs and I have to admit I’m excited about it. Last year’s MYC was incredible and there are some very interesting names in that line-up. There are also a few I don’t know, so I guess I’ve got some homework to do.
I’ll be back next week with Ronda Rousey’s first match on RAW, the rest of the action from WWE’s women’s divisions, and the NXT TakeOver Brooklyn preview. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover or anything you want to discuss, tweet me @manda_why.