Women of the WWE – weekly round-up – w/b June 10

Women of the WWE – weekly round-up – w/b June 10

Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It was go home show week for Money in the Bank and NXT TakeOver Chicago II, so there was lots of build up on all three shows. There is also the result of TakeOver to talk about. What I’m trying to say is, there’s a lot to cover. Shall we begin…

 

 

RAW

Natalya def Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, and Ember Moon

 

The women’s division was part of the opening segment this week, sort of anyway. The show opened with all the RAW Money in the Bank ladder match competitors (Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss, Ember Moon, Natalya, Braun Strowman, Bobby Roode, Kevin Owens and Finn Balor) stood on ladders in the ring.

We no longer have to wonder whether Natalya’s knee injury is legit or a work. It’s storyline. How do we know this – because she had the opposite knee bandaged this week to the one she hurt last week.

Anyway, the first segment featured all eight RAW ladder match competitors, Kurt Angle, and Baron Corbin with his newly shaved head. Corbin is hovering over Angle threatening him with Stephanie McMahon at every opportunity. He told Angle and the wrestlers that McMahon will be very unhappy if the Money in the Bank contracts don’t come back to RAW.

Alexa Bliss said she’s still hurt from last week but will fight through the pain to bring the contract back to RAW. Sasha Banks called her out and asked her what still hurts. Bliss incorrectly guessed her shoulder after thinking for a few moments, then said she could hurt in more than one place. Ember Moon said it doesn’t matter because after Sunday she’ll be ‘real sore’, and the three of them started arguing.

Braun Strowman, Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, Natalya, Ember Moon, and Bobby Roode on ladders
Photo credits: wwe.com

Kurt Angle stopped them by asking Natalya if she’s ok to compete, she has unsurprisingly been cleared to wrestle. She said she’s ready to grab the contract and secure a match against the soon to be women’s champion, her friend, Ronda Rousey. Banks told her that Rousey might be champion, but she’ll be the one cashing in.

None of the men had said a thing to this point and Kevin Owens interrupted to ask if they could talk about something ‘actually important’. It turned out he wanted the briefcase raised whenever Braun Strowman goes for it because he’s so much taller.

The guys argued until Bliss screamed and told them they sound like the real housewives of WWE. She thinks she already knows who’s going to win, her Mixed Match Challenge partner, Braun Strowman, is going to win. Sasha Banks thinks it will be her Mixed Match Challenge partner, Finn Balor. Balor said Banks was his pick for the women’s match.

They all argued until Strowman roared and said that on Sunday someone was going to ‘get these hands’, and that was the end of the segment. Bit of a twee opening segment, but it was a go home show.

 

Ember Moon vs Alexa Bliss vs Sasha Banks vs Natalya

The first match of the show is generally a good slot to get. It’s usually given a fair bit of time and this one was no different. Everyone apart from Bliss just stayed in the ring after the opening segment, but Bliss went backstage so she could have her full entrance.

As with most fatal four-ways, one or more participant was out of the ring or on the sidelines most of the time, it cuts down the chaos. And even though it was rare for all four to be in at once after the first few moments, it was still a chaotic match in the this is fun and brilliant way. Bliss threw Natalya out then Natalya threw Bliss into the barricade when she ended up outside the ring. Ember Moon was thrown from the ring soon after, and Sasha Banks and Natalya had a stint on their own.

Sasha Banks and Natalya

Ember Moon got back into it and landed a suicide dive into Banks that should have left a Sasha Banks shaped impression in the barricade. She threw Banks back into the ring, but Alexa Bliss appeared and punched Moon so hard she nearly ended up under the ring. Bliss’ pin attempt on Banks only got a two-count.

By the time we came back from the ads, Bliss was working over Natalya’s knee. Natalya finally managed to roll out of the ring just in time for Sasha Banks to reappear. They had a stint until Ember Moon cross-bodied them both and Bliss took a breather.

In every match with three or more participants, there will be a tower of doom spot. It appears to be compulsory. In this match, Bliss was on the top turnbuckle Banks and Moon were on the second. Natalya arrived and managed to slam Banks and Moon, but Bliss hung on to the corner. Moon rolled out and Bliss hit Twisted Bliss on Sasha Banks, but Banks got her knees up.

Natalya, Ember Moon, Sasha Banks, tower of doom with Bliss hanging onto the corner

Another ad break (I said it was a long match) and Natalya broke up a Banks Statement on Bliss, but hurt her knee again. Ember Moon broke up Natalya’s Sharpshooter attempt on Banks by kicking Natalya in the head. Alexa Bliss stopped Moon pinning Natalya from the Eclipse by pulling her out of the ring and throwing her into the steps. Sasha Banks broke Bliss’ pin attempt on Natalya.

Bliss managed to get rid of Banks by throwing her into a ringpost, but she spent too long being self-satisfied about it. Natalya got the Sharpshooter on and Alexa Bliss tapped out.

Absolutely brilliant match, complete chaos. The crowd gave them a ‘this is awesome chant’ and they were right. Match of the night without a doubt.

 

Bayley vs Ruby Riott

Before the match, the Riott Squad were shown trashing the backstage area and Ruby Riott cut a guy’s tie in half while he was wearing it.

This was billed as a one on one match, but that was never going to be the case. While Riott and Bayley were fighting each other, it was great. There’s so much potential in an ongoing program between the two of them, especially now Bayley has her aggressive streak back.

Bayley and Ruby Riott

It couldn’t last, of course. Liv Morgan got up on the apron on one side and Sarah Logan on the other. Bayley moved towards Logan and got grabbed by Riott and flung into a ringpost. Ruby Riott pulled Bayley out of the corner and delivered the Riott kick for the win.

After the match, Morgan and Logan held Bayley’s arms while Ruby Riott drew on her face and wrote an R on her stomach in black lipstick then punched her in the face.

 

Face to Face – Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey

Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey had a face to face ahead of their RAW Women’s Championship match at Money in the Bank. Coach acted as facilitator for the conversation. Before Rousey went out there Natalya was shown telling her to be careful and keep her eyes on Nia Jax. The signposting of their friendship has got to lead to something soon.

Coach asked Nia Jax what she’d say to those who feel a good-natured and friendly rivalry has been filled with tension and anger in the last couple of weeks. Jax said she’s not surprised, she and Rousey are both very competitive and she’s been deliberately pushing Rousey’s buttons to see how she’d react. Rousey is beautiful and talented with a stellar reputation, but she’s very new. Then she ran through a list of things they are allowed to do in WWE that UFC doesn’t allow, all of which she plans to demonstrate on Rousey on Sunday.

Ronda Rousey said she doesn’t game plan she improvises and she’s going to improvise Jax’ arm off. Coach told her she sounded very confident and Rousey said she is, she’s earned that right.

Jax said yes, her one match was very impressive, but it was a tag match against a businesswoman who competes part-time. She’s never had a singles match, let alone a title match. Jax has been here for years, grinding. She’s not just anyone, she’s Nia Jax, the RAW women’s champion. Rousey wants to take her arm, she’s going to take her reputation. When Jax is done they’re going to call her the baddest woman on the planet. She knows she’s going to beat Rousey, that’s why she challenged her, because she’s just not ready.

Rousey stood up and laughed before reciting all the times she’s been told she wasn’t ready and won. She’s Ronda Rousey and she was born ready.

Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey

Jax stood up then as well and went to strike first. Rousey got her arm but Jax headbutted her. As Jax started to drag her up Rousey got the armbar in and Jax was unable to power out of it. She ended up tapping.

 

 

 

 

SmackDown

Naomi, Lana, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Asuka

 

SmackDown Live didn’t feel the need to put their Money in the Bank competitors on ladders, nor did they feel the need to have the guys in the ring. Paige opened the show with the SmackDown women’s Money in the Bank competitors – Lana, Naomi, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch. She told them that on Sunday they have the chance to bring the Money in the Bank contract back to SmackDown and change their lives forever. RAW are bringing their four finest competitors so she needed the best SmackDown has to offer and she’s got it. The four have earned their opportunity and she doesn’t care who bring the contract back as long as one of them does.

Naomi, Lana, Paige, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch

Lana said she’ll bring it back, Naomi disagreed, and they started arguing. She won the first WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal and she’s taking the contract. Charlotte Flair said the only reason she won was because she wasn’t in the match, the Money in the Bank contract is the only thing she’s never won. Becky Lynch reminded them that she was the first woman drafted to SmackDown, she was the first SmackDown women’s champion, but she’s tired of saying she was, it’s time to start saying she is, as in she is going to grab the briefcase, she is going to cash in on Carmella or Asuka, and she is going to be the SmackDown Live women’s champion again.

Flair said good luck with that. Lynch said she doesn’t need luck she’s good, and luck has nothing to do with it. She’s willing to risk it all, to go through anything and anyone even if that means her best friend, just like she did when she beat her last week.

Naomi reminded her there are six other women in the match, Lynch said she’ll beat them too.

The IIconics interrupted and said it would take a miracle to bring the briefcase back to SmackDown with them in the match. Their Becky Lynch impression got booed, quite rightly. Their Charlotte Flair impression got grumbled at. And their Naomi and Lana impressions got crickets. Happily, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville cut them off at that point.

Rose and Deville told Paige that she was going to be disappointed on Sunday because the talent outside the ring was far superior to the talent inside the ring.

Becky Lynch did an IIconics impression as she asked Naomi, Flair and Lana if they were thinking what she was thinking, they said yes, and rushed out of the ring to meet Rose, Deville and the IIconics. A brawl ensued, and the camera inexplicably cut away to commentary after a few seconds. To absolutely no-one’s surprise, an eight-woman tag match was announced for later in the show.

SmackDown women's roster fight it out

 

Asuka spoke to Paige backstage and said she wanted Carmella tonight. Paige said she couldn’t do that, but she’d change the eight-woman tag into a ten-woman tag. Asuka was happy with that, she said it’s good for her and bad for Carmella.

 

Renee Young asked Carmella if she was at all concerned about being in the ring with Asuka tonight. Carmella said she has no reason to be concerned, she’s the champion and she left Asuka laying last week. She’s not concerned about anyone, her opponents should be concerned, Asuka should be more than concerned.

 

Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Naomi, Lana, and Asuka vs Peyton Royce, Billie Kay, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, and Carmella

SmackDown’s women got to open and close the show this week.  This ten-woman tag match is the largest in SmackDown history, apparently. It’s an interesting way to show us all the one on one feuds we could be getting but aren’t. It was given just over ten minutes. Considering the entire women’s division was in it, it could have got longer.

The match itself was good. Becky Lynch is looking great heading into Money in the Bank. She took a fair bit of punishment in this one, but she’s on good form.

Chaos broke out regularly. Charlotte Flair had to deal with Billie Kay and Carmella while trying to fight Peyton Royce. Carmella’s distraction gave Royce time to get her knees up when Flair went for the moonsault.

It all broke down when everyone on Mandy Rose’s team, except Carmella, came in to break up the Asuka Lock she was caught in, and Asuka’s team dived in to deal with them.

Charlotte Flair Moonsaults on the IIconics with Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose in the background

Charlotte Flair hit a moonsault to the IIconics on the outside. Becky Lynch got tossed into the barricade. Sonya Deville took a crossbody from the apron from Naomi. Lana had to break up Carmella’s pin on Asuka.

Carmella threw Lana out of the ring and turned to exchange blows with Asuka. Asuka got the Asuka Lock on and Carmella tapped out.

After the match the Asuka was surrounded by her team, who are all the Money in the Bank competitors, they all looked at the briefcase and at her. They are clearly expecting her to be the champion they could potentially be cashing in on after Sunday.

 

 

 

NXT

Bianca Belair def Aliyah

 

With this being the go home show for NXT TakeOver Chicago II, there was a huge hype package for Shayna Baszler versus Nikki Cross. Cross talked about the absence of fear leaving only chaos. Baszler got annoyed at being asked whether Cross had a chance of winning. I’m really looking forward to this match. It’s the best possible match for Baszler at this time.

 

Bianca Belair vs Aliyah

Aliyah has yet another new look. I can’t help feeling for her a bit. She’s an NXT veteran at this point but nothing has ever quite stuck for her. She’s played just about every possible role while searching for the character people can invest in.

Bianca Belair and Aliyah

For this match, she played the role of jobber. Belair answered her trash-talking with a forearm that knocked her to the mat, and it was pretty much all downhill from there. She got one submission attempt in, just enough to show Belair’s power in getting out of it.

Bianca Belair toyed with her for a couple of minutes and then put her out of her misery with a sit-out facebuster.

 

There was also a backstage interview with Dakota Kai. She was asked what she would have changed about her match with Baszler. Kai said that she’s happy she got the opportunity up to Baszler, she was seconds from becoming NXT women’s champion and she knows the outcome would be different if she got another chance. She might have to adopt some of Nikki Cross’ crazy but one way or another she will become the champion.

Bianca Belair butted in and asked why it wasn’t her that was being interviewed. She’s the EST of NXT, the strongest, toughest, roughest, quickest and best. Dakota Kai needs to get to the back of the line because it’s her turn to shine.

Kai said Belair isn’t going to get in her head like Baszler did, and challenged her to a match next week. Belair accepted, saying she likes that, but Kai won’t.

 

 

Main Event

This week’s Main Event showed highlights of the women’s division action from both RAW and SmackDown.

 

 

NXT TakeOver Chicago II

Shayna Baszler def Nikki Cross

 

Shayna Baszler (C) vs Nikki Cross – NXT Women’s Championship match

This was easily Shayna Baszler’s best match to date, and a spectacular performance from Nikki Cross. I still think Cross’ best match was the last man standing against Asuka, but this ran close.

Baszler had no clue how to deal with Cross from the outset. She started in her customary fighting stance, Nikki Cross just stood there and looked at her and encouraged her to strike first. Baszler knocked her down and Cross bounced up and down with a maniacal grin on her face then chased her across the ring on all fours.

Cross showed her lack of fear by turning her back on Shayna Baszler then spinning round and roaring at her. Their first proper lock up resulted in Cross jumping on Baszler’s back and putting a sleeper hold on her. Baszler got out of it and tried for the Kirifuda Clutch but Cross broke it and Baszler escaped outside to regroup.

Nikki Cross with a sleeper on Shayna Baszler

When Nikki Cross followed, Baszler took more offence. Cross dropped her on the apron then tangled her in the ring skirt and beat on her a bit. Cross managed to get the sleeper back on but Baszler dealt with that by falling back on the ramp smashing Nikki Cross into the floor.

Baszler got her back in the ring and failed to pin her. When Cross started to fight back Baszler responded by covering her mouth and trying to suffocate her.

Through every flurry of kicks, knees, and punches Baszler landed, Nikki Cross kept smiling. She had a good run of offence on Baszler including a crossbody from the top turnbuckle, and a reverse DDT on the apron. That gave her a two-count.

Nikki Cross flies at Shayna Baszler

A swinging neckbreaker gave Nikki Cross another near fall, but Baszler got her foot on the rope. Sadly, that was Cross’ last viable pin attempt.

Baszler got the Kirifuda Clutch locked in, but there was no way Nikki Cross was going to tap. She tried everything to get out of the hold and was in it for much longer than anyone else has managed, then began to smile. Unfortunately, the smile was followed by unconsciousness. Shayna Baszler is still NXT women’s champion.

There was no other good way to end this match without a title change. Nikki Cross lost nothing in defeat and Baszler got a dominant victory that she actually had to fight hard for. I look forward to seeing Cross get another chance down the line.

 

 

 

Money in the Bank – Preview and Predictions

Nia Jax (C) vs Ronda Rousey – RAW Women’s Championship match

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

Ember Moon vs Alexa Bliss vs Sasha Banks vs Natalya vs Charlotte Flair vs Becky Lynch vs Naomi vs Lana – Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match

 

The co-branded PPVs might have increased the length of shows, but last year was silly season for PPVs and something had to give before the entire WWE universe hit burnout. And it’s nice to be talking about PPVs with three women’s division matches on the card. Predicting them is a nightmare because there are too many storyline possibilities depending on the outcome, but we’ll give it a go and I’ll be quite content to be wrong.

 

Nia Jax (C) vs Ronda Rousey – RAW Women’s Championship match

Nia Jax and Ronda Rousey

The build to this has been odd and a little contrived. They have been severely limited in what they can do because the match will be Rousey’s single debut in WWE. Jax chose the match for herself, by challenging Rousey. At the contract signing it was uncovered that she is trying to build her reputation by taking Rousey’s, she wants to beat her while she’s still green.

They added another layer to the feud by incorporating Natalya. Rousey and Natalya have been linked since Natalya came over from SmackDown. Commentary mentions their friendship and the fact they’re training partners at every opportunity.

Predicting this one is hard because, whatever the result, they can’t afford to weaken either Jax or Rousey. That suggests shenanigans of some sort, with Natalya being the obvious candidate for causing some kind of distraction.

It’s too soon for Ronda Rousey to hold a WWE title. It’s also too soon for her to take a clean loss. Of course, if the Money in the Bank ladder match takes place before the championship match there is a chance neither of them will leave with the title. I can’t see a clean outcome for this, but I’d like to see Jax retain because I think there is more development for her as champion. It’s a weak reason for prediction and I have no confidence in it, but that’s all I’ve got.

Prediction: Nia Jax (but shenanigans)

 

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

Carmella and Asuka

The reasoning behind this match is simple, it’s happening because Paige said so. The build has been fairly minimal in terms of contact. It’s largely consisted of Carmella trying to convince everyone that Asuka is not the competitor she used to be. I never want to hear – I’m twice as good as Asuka because Charlotte Flair beat Asuka and I beat Charlotte Flair twice – again.

Carmella has managed to take Asuka out with an opportunistic superkick. But this week Asuka made Carmella tap to the Asuka Lock. Asuka hasn’t really engaged in the war of words, she’s always preferred to let her matches speak for themselves.

I can see either result working in this one. Asuka only needs to land a couple of well-placed kicks or synch in the Asuka Lock. But Carmella has got where she is by being sneaky, opportunistic and resourceful. She’s been a good champion in her arrogant to the point of delusional way, and I’ve enjoyed watching her develop into the role. I think it’s time for it to be over. Asuka is simply a more interesting prospect as champion going forward.

Prediction: Asuka

 

Ember Moon vs Alexa Bliss vs Sasha Banks vs Natalya vs Charlotte Flair vs Becky Lynch vs Naomi vs Lana – Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match

Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Naomi, Lana, Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, Ember Moon, Natalya

I’ll be honest, I don’t have a clue who’s winning this, I could make a reasonable case for about half the participants. My personal choices would be Ember Moon, Naomi, or Becky Lynch, but I suspect I will be disappointed. My least favourite choices would be Natalya, Alexa Bliss, or Lana, again, I suspect I’m going to be disappointed.

The most logical choice is Natalya. There is a storyline in progress that puts her in the middle of Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax and winning the briefcase would potentially further that. Becky Lynch would be a good shout because she’s working through a resurgence story and the briefcase would give her an extra boost. Charlotte Flair is rumoured to be taking some time out of the ring after Money in the Bank. Giving her the briefcase would keep her in the mix without her having to compete and could lead to a Flair versus Asuka rematch. Ember Moon has hit the main roster with momentum. Making her Miss Money in the Bank could accelerate her towards the title she is almost certainly heading for. And it would be nice to see it go to someone fresh to the roster.

Alexa Bliss, Sasha Banks, Lana, and Naomi have no compelling reasons to win. There is no current or obvious potential storyline that the briefcase would enhance. That said, holding the briefcase creates its own storylines so you can’t rule them out.

As I said, I don’t have a clue. My gut feeling is Natalya, but I really don’t want to predict that (just think of the promos). I’m going to let myself lead with my heart instead of my head and predict the result I want to see rather than the one I think we’ll get (being wrong is character building, and I’m pretty used to it).

Prediction: Ember Moon

 

 

That’s it for another week. Enjoy Money in the Bank. I’ll be back next week with all the Money in the Bank results and the fallout from the weekend. 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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