Welcome to this week’s round up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. After Monday’s RAW, WWE showed a WWE24 documentary about the women’s division called Empowered. Having a look at it seemed the thing to do, so I’ve added a brief review to this week’s column. Before that though, it was another busy week of ups and down’s on the ‘road to WrestleMania’ (sorry it’s contagious, I’ve heard to a thousand times in the last few weeks).
Asuka def Alexa Bliss
For some reason RAW decided to recap last week’s segments with Alexa Bliss, and Nia Jax in way too much detail. I barely needed to see them once, twice was definitely too much.
Anyway, Bliss came out with Mickie James and did a standard ‘caught being a bitch’ speech. She said that last week she said some things about her ‘best friend’ that were very hurtful and wrong. They didn’t know they had an audience, but that no excuse. The excuses were that they were just joking around, and it was girl talk. She even apologised.
Of course, that was fake, she was apologising for not speaking the truth sooner. She didn’t lose any sleep and she feels no remorse. Jax was humiliated in front of the entire world and Bliss loved every minute. She never liked Nia Jax, she used her. I hate this storyline so much.
Finally, and not a moment too soon, Asuka came out for their match.
Asuka vs Alexa Bliss
I have to admit, I was surprised this match even got started. I was expecting Nia Jax to appear to take Bliss’ head off her shoulders, but we got the whole match.
It was good, as you’d expect it to be. But watching Asuka match es at the moment feels like a foregone conclusion. There is absolutely no way she is being beaten before she walks into WrestleMania.
Mickie James tried to interfere a few times, she even managed to land a punch on Asuka when she was outside the ring. It didn’t help in the long run. It was by no means a one-sided match. Bliss got plenty of chances and controlled the match for long periods of time.
Eventually, it was Bliss’ own cowardice that finished it. Asuka had her in an ankle lock for an impressive amount of time before Bliss made the ropes. As soon as Asuka released her she was out and off up the ramp, taking a count out loss.
She didn’t get very far because that’s when Nia Jax struck. She barrelled through Mickie James (after Bliss gave her a little shove towards her) and chased Bliss, finally catching her properly at the barricade. Jax had hold of Bliss’ hair, but Mickie James had picked herself up by then and launched herself at Jax. The time it took for Nia Jax to throw Mickie James was enough for Alexa Bliss to run away. After a few moments hesitation, Nia Jax gave chase and pursued Bliss to the back.
Backstage, Alexa Bliss told Kurt Angle that he should suspend Nia Jax or have her arrested. Angle said he saw what Nia Jax did, but he saw all the things Bliss said last week and so did millions of young women all over the world, including his daughters. The RAW women’s champion should be a role model not a bully. He knew exactly what to do about Nia Jax, he was going to give her a match – Alexa Bliss vs Nia Jax at WrestleMania, for the RAW Women’s Championship.
Just a thought – If Carmella is going to have a successful cash-in it has to be against Bliss after Nia Jax has finished with her. I’d rather see Nia Jax win the title, but I can see the Carmella cash-in happening.
The ongoing saga of Sasha Banks and Bayley continued with a tag match against Absolution. All the interesting stuff happened before the match got started, but don’t expect a resolution just yet. Sasha Banks started the conversation by telling Bayley she’s her best friend. She knows she hurt her feelings at Elimination Chamber but that was every woman for herself, she wasn’t trying to betray their friendship she was trying to win, like she’s going to try to win the Women’s Battle Royal at WrestleMania (no, they didn’t reference the name change this week). But Bayley wasn’t trying to win anything when she refused to tag her, or when she left her last week. But since she considers her a sister she’ll forgive her.
Bayley responded by saying she was angry and acted impulsively in the tag match, and pointed out she actually helped Banks win last week. But she can’t get over what she did at Elimination Chamber. It’s not what she did it the fact she kicked her off that pod with a smirk and a smile. She can’t get that picture out of her head. She’s supposed to be her best friend, so why was knocking her down so easy.
Sasha Banks didn’t get to answer because Paige brought Absolution out and said it was time for the match.
Bayley and Sasha Banks vs Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville
Decent match. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville look right at home now. It would be interesting to see if they could survive without Paige as a mouthpiece and without the other for backup, but it will probably be a while before we have to find out. Hell, if they bring in women’s tag belts we may never have to find out. They’re displaying good tag team work, as well they should be.
Anyway, we’ve seen a million variations of this match now and, while It was good, there was nothing remarkable about the action. The focus was on what would happen with Bayley and Banks.
Bayley made no effort to reach out to Sasha Banks when she was in desperate need of a tag, but when Deville kicked Banks into the ropes right in front of her she tagged herself in. Banks re-entered the ring when Mandy Rose broke up a pin attempt but the ref dealing with her meant he missed Bayley pinning Deville with a backslide.
Banks and Bayley started to argue. They dealt with Mandy Rose together then Deville shoved Bayley into Sasha Banks and sent her flying out of the ring. Sonya Deville followed up by kicking Bayley in the face, and pinned her.
They didn’t even bother with the post-match Absolution beatdown. Bayley and Sasha Banks are broken enough.
There was also an extended promo package for Ronda Rousey on RAW this week. Similar in nature to something NXT did for Roderick Strong to establish him as a sympathetic character. WWE have put themselves in an odd situation with Rousey by choosing to have her in an Authority based storyline before she’s been established as a superstar. The match at WrestleMania is going to suck from an in-ring perspective, but Rousey has to survive as a legitimate part of the roster afterwards, so they really need people to invest in her as a personality. As usual, the video package was great, hopefully it went some way to convincing people to give her a chance.
That wasn’t the only time Rousey was featured on RAW, for the live crowd anyway. It wasn’t shown on tv, but she had an in-ring confrontation with Dana Brooke. The video can be found on WWE’s website but there’s really not much to it. Have a still from it anyway.
Natalya def Charlotte Flair
Natalya approached Charlotte Flair in the locker room and said she knows she’s scared of Asuka, she can see it in her eyes. It’s only a matter of time before the queen bows down to the empress. Flair said she’s not scared she’s excited because Asuka will be her biggest challenge. Natalya was not impressed. She said she’s better than Flair and Asuka, and that Asuka waltzed in and took her WrestleMania moment, it should be her facing Flair at WrestleMania. And Asuka is only undefeated because she hasn’t faced her yet. Charlotte Flair rolled her eyes while Natalya told her she couldn’t beat Asuka, and she couldn’t beat her. Flair finished the segment by telling Natalya that she couldn’t face her at WrestleMania, but she could face her tonight.
Charlotte Flair vs Natalya
Such a long history between these two, going back to NXT, with a family history reaching way into the past. They always have good matches, without exception.
Charlotte Flair is looking confident and collected. She’s definitely the best she’s ever been at the moment, but I do keep waiting for the turn. Natalya has finally grown into her heel character, or I’ve just got used to it. Either way it seems to come across better now, more arrogance and less cringeworthy weirdness.
One of the things with knowing each other so well is the ability to counter each other’s moves. That came into play in a big way when Natalya took Flair’s legs out from under her as she climber the turnbuckle for the moonsault. Natalya followed that up with a powerbomb, but only got a two count She got the Sharpshooter in, but Flair got to the ropes. A slingshot into the ropes and discus lariat still only got her another two count.
Natalya kicked Flair out of the ring when she tried to get the figure four on and was hit with a spear on the outside when she followed her. A figure four while hanging off the edge of the ring by Flair, and a superplex from Natalya, still didn’t finish things off. It was looking like they might go on for ever.
Then Carmella’s music hit, and she ran down to cash in. She asked for it to be made into a triple threat but before that could happen Charlotte Flair kicked her in the head. Natalya took advantage of Charlotte Flair’s distraction and rolled her up for the pin.
Naomi and Becky Lynch vs Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan
Commentary announced that all the competitors in the ring, and Ruby Riott, will be joining Sasha Banks in the Women’s Battle Royal at WrestleMania.
Short match, good but nothing remarkable. To be honest, it was remarkably like most of the other three thousand multi-woman matches we’ve seen on SmackDown recently. They’re doing their job of establishing Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan, but there is no other reason for them other than the fact no-one is doing anything else.
Becky Lynch got Sarah Logan in the Dis-Arm-Her. Liv Morgan tired to break it up but Naomi was too quick and hit her with the Rear View. As soon as there was no chance of rescue, Logan tapped out.
Ember Moon def Aliyah
In lieu of actually building any of the other women in the division, NXT opted to give the champion a non-title match. I hate being this negative, I love NXT, but they have such a depth of talent and they can do so much more.
Aliyah vs Ember Moon
Aliyah has been around for a long time now, and she’s never quite found her niche. She looked good here, from what little we saw.
Shayna Baszler came out and joined commentary, put her feet up on the desk, and started to talk about how she runs the division. Of course, that was the end of any attention getting paid to the match going on in the ring. There were almost as many camera shots of Baszler as there were of the action. She managed to get her ‘tap, nap, or snap’ tagline in, I guess that’s the main thing.
The entire match lasted just over three minutes. Ember Moon finished it with the Eclipse then stood on the turnbuckle and stared down Baszler who stood on the announce desk to meet her stare.
NXT TakeOver New Orleans is in a couple of weeks. I have no doubt that Moon vs Baszler will be a good match. I’m just hoping that when it’s over the rest of the women’s division get a look in.
This week’s Main Event showed the promo package for Ronda Rousey but no other women’s division action.
Mixed Match Challenge
Asuka and The Miz def Alexa Bliss and Braun Strowman
It of an odd start to the show because they were still stretchering Daniel Bryan out of the arena after he was attacked by Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. They got going after a couple of minutes though.
Asuka and The Miz vs Alexa Bliss and Braun Strowman
They are still doing the slightly odd pseudo-romance with Alexa Bliss and Braun Strowman. But this is another single branded match, so the comedy was dialled down again. The start of the match was odd. Alexa Bliss wasn’t really up for facing Asuka again, and The Miz wanted no part of facing Braun Strowman, so the first minute or so was just them tagging each other in.
Eventually first contact was made in the form of Braun Strowman dropkicking Miz. Asuka had to come in to break a pin up almost immediately in order to protect her streak. It didn’t take more than another few seconds for Miz to tag Asuka in.
Asuka hip attacked Bliss off the apron, straight into Strowman’s arms and there was a ‘moment’, but he put her back on the apron before she got counted out. Bliss and Asuka basically picked up where they left off the previous night, with the same issue. Asuka has stated that a loss here would count as ending her streak, so she clearly wasn’t going to lose here.
The guys came back in and there was a fun couple of minutes of watching Miz be thrown around like a rag doll by Braun Strowman, with Asuka getting increasingly frantic on the apron.
There was another moment with Strowman and Bliss, where Bliss grabbed him by the beard and it looked like they might kiss, but Miz broke that up and Strowman flattened him for it. He managed to get to Asuka before he could be pinned, and the women came back in.
Bliss took Miz out with a dropkick through the ropes. Asuka and Bliss took each other out with kicks. Strowman drove Miz through the barricade (genuinely looked like he nearly missed him completely). Alexa Bliss had a couple of good near falls on Asuka, but ended up in the Asuka Lock, and tapped.
This WWE24 documentary centres around the first Women’s Royal Rumble match. it showed all the preparation and build up, including the women reacting to being told about the match. One of my favourite moments was a tiny interview with Ember Moon where she’s talking about seeing all the legends they brought back for the rumble match, and she’s completely marking out. It was so lovely.
It didn’t just focus on the rumble match. They showed some footage surrounding the first women’s division match in Abu Dhabi, the Hell in a Cell, and the Money in the Bank, all alongside clips of the women explaining how much it means to all of them.
Empowered was a good name for it. At every possible opportunity the women were talking about how good everyone else is, how much they all deserve it. Hearing Paige talk about not being able to compete and seeing Charlotte Flair beaming with pride watching her friends start the rumble match was… let’s just go with emotional.
The documentary finished much as Royal Rumble did, with Ronda Rousey. She had apparently been kept a secret from the rest of the women and there appeared to be genuine excitement about her arrival. The short interview with Rousey herself showed how much being in WWE means to her.
The documentary is 51 minutes long. If you can find the time, go and watch it.
I’ll be back next week with the next phase of WrestleMania build up, and anything else that happens along the way. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover, or anything you want to discuss, tweet me @manda_why.