Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. We started the week with the Money in the Bank PPV and three matches for the women’s division. With all the fallout on RAW and SmackDown and a couple of other matches besides, it’s been a busy week.
Money in the Bank
Alexa Bliss def Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Naomi, Ember Moon, Sasha Banks, Natalya, and Lana
Carmella def Asuka
Ronda Rousey def Nia Jax (but, shenanigans)
Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch vs Ember Moon vs Lana vs Natalya vs Naomi vs Alexa Bliss vs Charlotte Flair – Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match
They brought them out in the order above, one RAW then one SmackDown superstar.
Instant chaos. In the first minute, Becky Lynch had kicked ladders into Alexa Bliss, Natalya, and Charlotte Flair, and Ember Moon had been thrown into the timekeeper’s area, then flown out of it to take out Lynch.
Ladders were in play for the outset. It’s like there’s a sense that they’ve waited a long time to play with the props so they’re damn well going to use them. It was the same with Elimination Chamber. This is the third women’s Money in the Bank ladder match, but a lot of the women in it haven’t been in a ladder match before.
Ember Moon cross-bodied Sasha Banks onto a ladder. It looked really painful and Banks was out of the match for a while afterwards.
It was Lana who spoilt Moon’s chances that time, and in turn, Natalya spoiled hers.
Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch fought over a ladder, Naomi dropkicked it to take them both out.
At one point, all eight were laid out at ringside with the crowd chanting, ‘this is awesome’.
Becky Lynch tried to climb a ladder that was being held up by Naomi and Ember Moon and ended up sat in the corner with a ladder on her head.
A brief exchange between Ember Moon and Naomi showed just how much fun that match would be. Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks gave us a reminder of how great some of their feud was. And Banks managed to land one knee on Flair and one on Natalya as Becky Lynch tipped her off the ladder.
Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks were scrapping it out on a ladder. Lana brought another ladder in to mix and Ember Moon and Natalya joined them. Chaos ensued as they ripped each other off ladders. Ember Moon went spine first into a ladder. Lana wasted time putting Alexa Bliss in the Accolade.
Naomi was at the top of the ladder by herself for a long time, fiddling with the hook. Commentary explained it away as the ladder being in the wrong position for her to unhook the briefcase (it wasn’t in the best position), and eventually Becky Lynch arrived to drag her back down.
Becky Lynch got her turn atop the ladder only to end up face to face with Flair. They were punching it out when Alexa Bliss tipped the ladder over. She got a spear from Flair for her trouble.
Lynch got one more attempt at the briefcase. She had her hand on it when Alexa Bliss tipped her off it and she went face-first into another ladder.
Alexa Bliss unhooked the briefcase and will take the Money in the Bank contract back to Monday Night RAW.
Carmella (C) vs Asuka – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
Carmella started the match completely believing her own hype, al taunts and trash-talk. Slapping Asuka and telling her she isn’t scared of her might have been a bit too far though.
After a barrage of offence to show why she should be scared, Carmella decided she’d had enough, demanded her title from the timekeeper’s area, and started to walk away. Asuka was waiting for her on the apron and delivered a sliding knee that put Carmella on the ground.
Carmella yanked Asuka into the ringpost as they fought either side of the corner and took control of the match.
It was back and forth after that, much more evenly matched call and response than we might have expected. Carmella managed to avoid or counter quite a lot of Asuka’s offence, but when it hit it hit hard. She was starting to lose ground when she managed to move the ropes apart causing Asuka to spill to the outside, kicked her off the apron, then delivered a suicide dive. Even after all that she couldn’t keep Asuka down for longer than two.
Carmella started screaming more as the frustration grew. And Asuka started to build towards her finish.
Someone appeared on the steps wearing Asuka’s mask and robe. Asuka stared, looking completely freaked out. I’d heard the rumours, I’d hoped they weren’t true, but there was only one person who could possibly have been in those Asuka robes – James Ellsworth.
Carmella rolled Asuka up but she kicked out, kicked Carmella in the head, and went back to staring. Ellsworth removed the mask, and Asuka didn’t look any less horrified. Carmella superkicked and pinned her to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
So, James Ellsworth is back. We don’t know if it’s a one-off or if he’s back with Carmella for good. As a character move for Carmella, it made perfect sense for her to bring him in for this match. Although I preferred the idea that she just believed her own hype to the point where she legitimately had no fear. If that was the case, she wouldn’t have needed a backup plan. I still strongly dislike the wider implications of having a male performer steal any kind of focus in women’s division matches, especially title matches. For the second Money in the Bank in a row, we are left talking about James Ellsworth, instead of what Carmella and Asuka did. It doesn’t sit right. I guess we’ll just have to see how it plays out.
Nia Jax (C) vs Ronda Rousey – RAW Women’s Championship match
Tellingly for their respective star-power, Nia Jax came out first. Obviously, it’s not unheard of for the champ to be the first out, but it is less usual.
Jax started things off throwing Rousey around and asserting her authority.
Rousey took a break to the outside (or, fell through the ropes when getting up) after ending up on the receiving end of a powerbomb as Jax’ counter to an armbar. Jax followed her out and swung her into the barricade.
Nia Jax was dominant for the majority of the match, as she should have been. The threat from Rousey is getting caught by specific moves rather than sustained offence. That’s the story they needed to tell, however talented she is, this was still Rousey’s first match. She’s not supposed to be ring savvy or have a dozen counters for every move.
For her part, Ronda Rousey looked great. She’s obviously been working very hard, and her expression in the ring is brilliant. She looked shocked and exhausted, as though she was working from a place of desperation after she kicked out of a Samoan drop. And when she went to the top turnbuckle to deliver a crossbody she looked terrified.
Landing it seemed to give her confidence and she followed up with a couple of knee strikes and a judo throw, which earned her a two-count. Jax nearly pinned her by shifting her weight when Rousey went for an armbar.
Ronda Rousey got an armbar locked in and it looked like victory was imminent. It wasn’t.
Alexa Bliss appeared behind Rousey and hit her with the Money in the Bank briefcase. That meant Jax was disqualified giving Rousey the win but not the title.
Bliss wasn’t done. She battered Rousey and Jax with the briefcase. And threw Rousey into the post and out of the ring. She followed her out and hit Rousey with the briefcase again, then threw her over the announce desk.
Back in the ring, Bliss hit Jax with the briefcase a couple more times, focusing on the hurt arm, then handed it over to cash in.
One DDT, one Twisted Bliss, and Alexa Bliss is the new RAW women’s champion.
That was all extremely well done. Rousey told her story well. She looked both hesitant and out of her depth, and really pretty good. Technically, she won the match by DQ, but she didn’t get the title, nor did she pin the toughest superstar on the roster in her very first match. Nia Jax wasn’t diminished by the losses because she wasn’t pinned or submitted by Rousey, and Bliss attacked her with a briefcase after she’d already taken punishment from Rousey. And it still took a DDT and Twisted Bliss to keep her down.
It does mean there will be no Money in the Bank briefcase in either women’s division for the next year. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as we get some actual storylines instead.
Riott Squad (Liv Morgan/Sarah Logan) def Sasha Banks and Bayley
The opening segment of the show featured new RAW women’s champion Alexa Bliss. Kurt Angle had the championship belt and briefcase on a red and gold covered table. He brought Bliss to the ring and gave her the championship belt saying, ‘you demanded this presentation so, here you go’. He also informed her that Nia Jax is doing physical therapy in Birmingham, Alabama – where the WWE doctors are – but has requested her rematch at Extreme Rules.
Bliss chastised Angle for moving straight to Extreme Rules without allowing her to talk about Money in the Bank. She wanted to thank everyone for the opportunity… to rub it in their faces. At Money in the Bank, she beat the ‘bully’ Nia Jax and another bully in Ronda Rousey. She shocked the entire world when she cashed in the MITB contract, so there will be no more talk of the irresistible force or the baddest woman on the planet. It’s all about her, the goddess and five-time women’s champion, Alexa Bliss.
Rousey stormed down to the ring. Kurt Angle got between her and Bliss, and Bliss shouted at to calm down.
Bliss said she thought Rousey would have been in physical therapy with Nia Jax and asked if she came out to show her the bruises and welts she left all over her body with the briefcase. Or maybe she’d come to learn a lesson because she doesn’t understand the difference between UFC and WWE. What Bliss did last night was legal. But it’s not all bad, she looked like she was seconds away from making Nia Jax tap, but we’ll never know now. No, Bliss thinks it’s because Rousey couldn’t stand not being in the spotlight and all the interviews going to Bliss. Alexa Bliss is the RAW women’s champion and Ronda Rousey is irrelevant. If she ever wants a championship opportunity she needs to get to the back of the line. Then she called her an ‘overhyped rookie’.
Rousey dodged past Angle and took Bliss down to start pounding on her. She threw Angle when he tried to intervene and knocked the briefcase Bliss grabbed out of her hand by punching her in the stomach. Now in possession of the briefcase, Rousey smacked Bliss with it a few times, smacked Angle with it a bunch of times, then started kicking and punching the officials who came to make her stop.
As the exclamation point of the segment, Rousey hoisted Alexa Bliss up onto her shoulder and put her through the table.
Kurt Angle followed her backstage. When he caught up with her she was shouting about not needing anyone to tell her this isn’t the UFC, she gets it. Angle told her she’d left him no choice, she was suspended for thirty days and may have ruined her chance of ever becoming RAW women’s champion.
After the ad break, Rousey was shown leaving. Renee Young tried to get her to talk and Rousey kept walking. Young wished her luck and Rousey turned back to tell her that Angle could suspend her for thirty days, but she should save the good luck messages for Bliss. When the thirty days is up she is coming back and whether Bliss is still champion or not, she’s going to ‘kick her pink-haired ass’.
Bayley approached Sasha Banks in the locker room. She told her she was sorry about the outcome of the ladder match and tried to get Banks to stop obsessing about it. She correctly guessed that Banks had been watching it on her phone. Banks said she just wants to be the best. Bayley said she does too. Banks told her she doesn’t get it, Bayley reminded her she was humiliated last week by the Riott Squad. But she’s there and ready to take the fight to them, with her. Things haven’t been great between them, but there’s no-one else Bayley wants as her partner to face the Riott Squad, she’ll take care of Banks tonight, and maybe this can be a fresh start for both of them.
The Riott Squad were shown destroying the backstage area before the match. The tipped things over, trashed a laptop and wrote a big R on a mirror in black lipstick.
Bayley and Sasha Banks vs The Riott Squad
Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan competed for the Riott Squad. The was a good match, Logan and Morgan looked great. Sarah Logan is looking especially comfortable now. But it was all about Sasha Banks and Bayley really. The trouble started early when Sasha Banks tagged herself in. Bayley did the same a few moments later but seemed genuinely concerned about Banks getting hurt – she had said she’d take care of her, and Sasha Banks took some huge bumps in that ladder match, her lower back was covered in kinesio tape.
Banks saved Bayley from a Liv Morgan ambush outside the ring and yelled at Bayley that she was fine. Bayley said ok, thanked her and hugged her.
Bayley allowed herself to be distracted by Sarah Logan and jumped off the apron to deal with her when Banks desperately needed a tag. Banks ended up being sent back first into the corner by Liv Morgan as a result of Bayley not being there to tag.
Bayley was also instrumental in their downfall. She’d entered the ring to deal with Logan again when Logan was trying to stop Banks punishing Morgan. While the ref was getting Bayley back across the ring Logan hit Banks with a punch in the head and Liv Morgan rolled her up and got the pin before Bayley could get there.
The Riott Squad left, and Bayley tried to comfort Sasha Banks, who pushed her away. Bayley kept trying to talk to her, Banks kept shoving her. As a ref arrived to separate them Sasha Banks shoved Bayley to the mat and walked away.
Backstage, Bayley chased after Banks and told her to get back there. Banks told her not to tell her what to do. Bayley said not to walk away because she wasn’t finished with her. Banks said she is. Bayley turned it into a fight by grabbing Sasha Banks by the hair and punching her. They brawled into a table of food, looking every inch the set up to an extreme rules match. There’s a slight sense of déjà vu here. They’ve done this before and it went nowhere. Surely, this has to end in a proper feud this time.
Bayley gave talking to Sasha Banks one final try as Banks was leaving. She caught up with her in the parking garage and told her she wasn’t done with her. Banks said she is done with her. She’s done helping her and she’s done being her friend. Sasha Banks got in a car and drove off leaving Bayley to throw a water bottle at the departing car.
Becky Lynch def Billie Kay
After some housekeeping by Paige (who is settling nicely into the GM role by the way), Carmella opened the show.
She said she wanted to be real with everyone and talked about having self-confidence issues when she was younger, working hard to become the author of her own life and becoming a champion. It was all a ruse, of course. The punchline was that ‘Mella is money’ and everyone should just give up. We can work twice as hard as her and we’ll still only be half as good, apparently. Sadly, as she’s still champion, we still have to hear about her beating Charlotte Flair twice, and now she can add that she beat Asuka. She’s claiming she did it all by herself.
Asuka’s music hit, but it was Ellsworth rather than Asuka who came out in the mask and robe. Guess he’s properly back then. His first words back – ‘No-one was ready for Ellsworth, especially Asuka’. He’s back to serve the ‘greatest woman in history’. She’s better than Charlotte Flair, Lita, Trish Stratus, Mother Theresa, Beyoncé, Ronda Rousey, and Asuka.
This time when Asuka’s music hit it was Asuka, and she was not happy. Carmella backed off, Asuka kicked Ellsworth in the stomach. Carmella superkicked Asuka, grabbed Ellsworth, and left.
I’m not overjoyed that Ellsworth is back. I feel like Carmella grew a lot after he left. She’s exactly as annoying as she’s supposed to be and she’s done a good job with the title. When she first won the Money in the Bank briefcase she needed him, he supported her as she grew into her role. I would argue very strongly that she doesn’t need him now. Just got to put up with him and see how it plays out I suppose.
Billie Kay vs Becky Lynch
The women’s division also got the first match of the night. I know the RAW and SmackDown GMs are just on-screen figures with no actual sway or power, but the women’s division does seem to have had more screen time and better placement since Paige arrived.
Peyton Royce was with Billie Kay as always. They insulted the town they were in then made fun of Becky Lynch, complete with a bad impression. They called her a loser, and Charlotte Flair’s troll of a sidekick, and said she’d be better off living in the past because her present is abysmal, and the future is IIconic.
If they were trying to rile Becky Lynch up, it worked. She came down to the ring full of fire and dominated Billie Kay until Peyton Royce got too close when Lynch was on the apron. Lynch kicked out at her and the momentary distraction allowed Billie Kay to smash her arm down onto the top rope and send her crashing into the ringpost and to the floor.
After an ad break, Billie Kay was in control. Peyton Royce got involved, kneeing Lynch in the head while the ref was backing Kay off because Lynch was in the ropes. Becky Lynch kicked out of the subsequent pin and Billie Kay started to get frustrated.
That was all it needed for Lynch to take over. The Bex-ploder only got her a two-count. She was going to the top turnbuckle when Peyton Royce got involved again, but the distraction didn’t work in Kay’s favour this time. Becky Lynch threw her out of the ring to join Royce and tried to jump off the apron onto both of them. Billie Kay moved, and Royce took that one for the team.
Back in the ring, Billie Kay went for a suplex, Becky Lynch countered in the Dis-Arm-Her, and Billie Kay tapped out.
Bianca Belair def Dakota Kai
Most of this week’s NXT was devoted to match recaps and post-match interviews from NXT TakeOver Chicago II. After the recap of Shayna Baszler versus Nikki Cross, Baszler was interviewed while stood with her fellow horsewomen of MMA, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir (Ronda Rousey was not present). She was asked if there was ever a fear that Nikki Cross’ craziness could overcome her dominance. She said, ‘you know how you defeat chaos? You suck the air out of it and put it to sleep. And still…’ Then she walked away.
Dakota Kai vs Bianca Belair
Bianca Belair is strong and arrogant. She’s a lot of other things as well, but those were the traits most on display in this match. Dakota Kai is fast and has dangerous feet. Sadly, Kai is in the midst of a broken down to be built up storyline (they better build her back up), and Belair is on the fast track to being a contender for the NXT Women’s Championship.
It played out exactly as you’d expect with those storylines. Dakota Kai got some meaningful offence in, in fits and starts, Bianca Belair dominated the majority of the match.
Belair’s arrogance nearly cost her when she was trying to bounce Kai or every top rope in turn. Kai got free and almost rolled her up. Dakota Kai also managed to get her knees up when Belair went for a splash and she was on a roll for a while after that.
She took too long going to the top and had to jump over Belair. She managed to get out of the way of the hair whip, but Bianca Belair caught her with a forearm, hoisted her up on her shoulders, and planted her on the canvas for the win.
This week’s Main Event showed pictures of Alexa Bliss’ cash in at Money in the Bank and highlights of the RAW segments with Bliss and Ronda Rousey, finishing with news of Rousey’s suspension. The also showed pictures of Carmella retaining the SmackDown Women’s Championship and the SmackDown segment with Carmella, James Ellsworth and Asuka.
This week WWE taped the UK tournament at the Royal Albert Hall. During the event they announced an NXT UK weekly show, coming soon. This will include the UK Championship currently held by Pete Dunne, and new women’s and tag team titles. Also this week, WWE announced that this year’s Mae Young Classic will be recorded on the 8th and 9th August at Full Sail. No air dates have been released.
I’ll be back next week with all the action as the build towards Extreme Rules continues. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover or anything you want to discuss, tweet me @manda_why.