Welcome to this week’s round up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. We’re so close to WrestleMania now that everything’s gone a bit mad. Every segment on every show seems to have a recap before it, and all the major storylines are racing towards their WrestleMania conclusions. We did get a breakthrough on a major slow-burn storyline this week though, so let’s dive straight into RAW.
Nia Jax def Mickie James
Asuka def Jamie Frost
I really wish they’d stop showing the bullying stuff from Alexa Bliss and Mickie James. They showed it again this week while Nia Jax was on her way to the ring for a match with Mickie James. Alexa Bliss accompanied James and was fronting it out on the way down the ramp, they even engaged Jax in some trash talk before Mickie James got in the ring, but Bliss kept her distance.
Nia Jax vs Mickie James
I wanted this to be a display of pure rage from Nia Jax, an opportunity for Jax to show Alexa Bliss exactly what to expect when WrestleMania rolls around. Jax was dominant in the match, but it wasn’t raw enough for me.
Mickie James turned things in her favour after forcing a rope break. She slapped Jax then slipped out of the ring. When Jax followed her, she landed between James and Bliss. James screamed at Jax to watch out then attacked her from behind when she turned to look at Bliss and took out a knee.
James focused on the knee when they were both back in the ring, which enabled her to keep Jax in the corner for a while. She took a powerslam from Jax, evaded a leg drop, and managed to get in a couple of pin attempts.
Those were her final chances. When Mickie James went to the top turnbuckle Jax picked her up, held her over her head for a few moments, then Samoan dropped her to win the match.
Immediately after the bell rang, before Jax had even got up from the cover, Alexa Bliss attacked Jax from behind. She got in one blow before Jax turned around and Bliss ran away. Nia Jax screamed after her as she ran up the ramp, leaving Mickie James still flat out in the ring. Jax followed as Bliss disappeared backstage.
There was an interesting interview/promo package with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Triple H said they’re in this situation because Kurt Angle is an idiot. They made Rousey look like a misguided underdog, completely out of her depth in their world. Stephanie McMahon went as far as to call her vulnerable. They made it clear that they have already made a plan to repackage and reposition Rousey after they’ve beaten her at WrestleMania, to counteract the embarrassment of being beaten on her debut by an executive. They made no assurances about Kurt Angle, sounds like he’s probably out of a job either way. I’m not swayed from my stance that the match will suck from an in-ring perspective, but they’ve done a nice job with the build packages. I’ll give them that.
Asuka vs Jamie Frost
Asuka’s opponent was Ellie Fredricks. We were told it was the first professional match of her career and she was interviewed beforehand. She said Asuka didn’t know what she’s capable of, so Asuka couldn’t be ready for her.
She got a couple of forearms in then slapped Asuka across the face. Asuka knocked her out with a single kick to the head.
There was a brief look at Bayley and Sasha Banks’ friendship issues before a backstage segment with them. Banks approached Bayley and said she’d got her text. Bayley said good, she’d just wanted to let her know she was entering the Women’s Battle Royal. Banks wanted to talk about last week and said she was sick of Bayley’s passive aggressive nonsense. Bayley said she thought Banks liked her passive, knowing that she could do whatever she wants, and Bayley will go along with it and put her first. Banks was getting angry as she told her she would always put whatever’s right for her career first, and maybe Bayley should do the same so people won’t think she’s a loser. Bayley said if they’re speaking the truth then the truth is she can’t beat her. Banks reminded Bayley that she’s a four-time women’s champion. When Bayley asked how long she kept them, things turned physical.
Sasha Banks grabbed Bayley by the hair and smashed her head into the lockers behind them. Bayley quickly retaliated, and they brawled until officials appeared to drag them apart. They got away from the people restraining them to jump at each other again a couple of times, and that was that. Months of hints and build up, and it all kicks off in a backstage segment. Somehow it feels anti-climactic, but at least we can get on with the feud now and that should be great.
The final women’s division segment featured Ronda Rousey. Kurt Angle brought he to the ring, she still looks so excited to be there, it’s very endearing. Angle told her that he knows WrestleMania is the most intimidating stage to compete on for the first time, but after watching her train for the past few weeks he thinks she’s ready. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon write the rules and they’ll be prepared for anything. WrestleMania is going to be fun but it won’t be easy. Rousey said good, she didn’t come to WWE looking for easy, she wants to earn everything she gets. And Stephanie McMahon can talk tough but she’s trust-fund, limousine, personal trainer tough. She’s going to get everything she deserves, which is Rousey ripping her arm out of its socket.
Absolution’s music hit and out they came. Paige introduced them and welcomed Rousey to Monday Night RAW, but said the one thing that will sabotage her in the WWE is not having any friends. She told Rousey that RAW is their show and this is her house. Paige got into the ring while Rose and Deville stayed outside. Paige offered Absolution as backup, but Rousey declined saying she has Angle watching her back.
That wasn’t what Paige wanted to hear. She repeated her pitch to Rousey, calling her baby girl way too many times, and offering her the option to be the fourth member of Absolution. Rousey said thank you, but no.
Again, that wasn’t what Paige wanted to hear. She said Rousey could have made some best friends, instead she’d created worst enemies. Paige left the ring and Rose and Deville stepped up. As Mandy Rose went to strike, Angle stopped her. Deville tried the sneak attack and got knocked down. Mandy Rose went for a kick, Rousey blocked her and sent her flying into Deville. Rose had one more go, and ended up in an armbar until Kurt Angle managed to persuade Ronda Rousey to let go.
Becky Lynch def Ruby Riott
Another singles match on SmackDown, we are blessed indeed. Maybe someone is paying attention to the oft-repeated complaints about multi-woman matches which drift round social media.
Becky Lynch vs Ruby Riott
Becky Lynch came to the ring alone, a questionable decision with the Riott squad around.
This is a feud I could get behind. Becky Lynch is well overdue a decent storyline (although, to be fair, that could be said for most of SmackDown’s women’s division), and Ruby Riott needs more than one and done matches to show how talented she is. What I’m saying is, it was a really good match, and Becky Lynch is looking on top form.
Lynch did suffer a bit at the hands of Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan. Sarah Logan took a cheap shot at her while Ruby Riott had the ref distracted. It was also Logan who got up on the apron to interfere when Becky Lynch went to the top turnbuckle. Liv Morgan climbed onto the apron when Lynch was trying to get Riott into the Dis-Arm-Her. It sort of worked. Lynch used Riott to knock her off. Riott twisted out of the Dis-Arm-Her into a roll up, Lynch flipped over her into a roll up of her own, and got the three.
No-one needed to save Becky Lynch from the Riott Squad post-match beatdown. She threw them all over the top rope all by herself in a little nod to the Women’s Battle Royal at WrestleMania.
Really nice video package for Charlotte Flair and Asuka. The Streak vs The Title, is how they’re referring to the match, and it’s getting major hype in the overall WrestleMania build up. There is little to no chance that it will take the main event spot on the card, which makes me a bit sad. I would have loved to see this be the match that gave the women their first WrestleMania main event. But there is every reason to suspect it will be in a high spot on the card. It’s going to be great. I still haven’t decided who I think will win.
Another week, another rant about NXT’s poor treatment of the women’s division. This week there was no women’s match at all. Dakota Kai came out for a match, but the cameras cut away to Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas beating up Aleister Black and the match never happened.
There was a brief sighting of Ember Moon and Shayna Baszler as well. TM61 were having an interview at the performance centre and the cameras cut from them to a commotion in the next room. The commotion turned out to be Moon and Baszler getting in each other’s faces and coming to blows.
It was the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic semi-final week, and there was the announcement of the new title, so it was a busy show. But they fitted in a squash match for Lars Sullivan, that slot could easily have been used for the women’s division. It shouldn’t always be the women’s division that suffers when time is short. Cut something else for a change. It’s more than a bit worrying that there is literally nothing going on for the women outside of the title picture.
Main Event this week covered the Ronda Rousey and Absolution segment from RAW.
Mixed Match Challenge
Sasha Banks and Finn Balor
It was announced during the day on Tuesday that Charlotte Flair had pulled out of the competition due to injury. A fan choice poll was set up to choose her replacement, Becky Lynch, Lana, or Carmella. Becky Lynch won the poll and joined Bobby Roode to face Sasha Banks and Finn Balor.
As far as the injury to Flair goes, I’m assuming it’s a storyline to avoid her having to be in the ring with Asuka just a few days before they meet at WrestleMania, but nothing has been confirmed. I would have expected a huge amount of press if she was legitimately injured and the Asuka match was in jeopardy.
Becky Lynch and Bobby Roode vs Sasha Banks and Finn Balor
There isn’t the same chemistry between Becky Lynch and Bobby Roode as there was between Roode and Flair, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. That said, Lynch danced her way down the ramp to Roode’s theme and even had a go at doing the Glorious pose. Sasha Banks and Finn Balor looked to be having a lovely time as usual.
Roode and Balor started things off. I wouldn’t mind seeing them have a proper match. Roode went for his Glorious pose and Balor ‘too sweeted’ his forehead with a massive grin on his face. There was nothing for the guys to do after that except tag their partners in.
I feel like Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch might have missed working together. They wrestled a bit, mirrored each other a bit, did a little trash talking – with Becky Lynch commenting on Banks and Bayley’s scrap the night before – then Sasha Banks leapt on Becky Lynch and started pounding on her. They brawled their way over to Sasha Banks corner, where Balor tagged himself back in.
Less of the comedy this time. And commentary were talking about WrestleMania and how important momentum is with both of them going into title matches. The comedy was missing when Lynch and Banks came back in too. It will be very interesting if one of them ends up switching brands in the shake up, they were a lot of fun to watch. When Lynch superplexed Banks, it was time for them both to make a tag.
Roode and Balor were all business for their final stint. Balor almost got the pin, but Lynch broke it up. Roode had a near fall a few moments later. Balor was about to go for the coup de grace, but Banks asked for the tag and he gave it to her.
She hit the double knees on Lynch, then had to help deal with Bobby Roode. She kicked him out of the ring after Balor kicked him in the head, then wasted time by delivering a suicide dive. As soon as Sasha Banks got back into the ring Becky Lynch rolled her up and pinned her.
During the match commentary made it clear that Charlotte Flair is planning to be back for the final, and Becky Lynch was only a temporary replacement. I will be amazed and appalled if that actually goes ahead as announced. Putting Asuka and Flair in the ring together days before their WrestleMania match seems like a ridiculous thing to do.
Kurt Angle came out at the end of the show and confirmed that the match would be Miz and Asuka vs Roode and Flair. I have no idea why he did that, or why he was there.
NXT TakeOver Preview and Prediction
Ember Moon (C) vs Shayna Baszler – NXT Women’s Championship match
There has been so much build up in this storyline. Shayna Baszler has been a thorn in the side of the entire women’s division since her arrival. And she’s bested Moon on a few occasions without managing to get her hands on the title. She’s already had more chances than she’s due because of her blatant reverse psychology, calling Moon a coward and saying she’s afraid to keep facing her. Ember Moon has made it clear she knows what Baszler is doing but has given in every time anyway.
To be honest, I just want this storyline to be over. But not because it’s been bad, it really hasn’t. They brought Baszler in quickly and plunged her straight into the title picture. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But trying to establish her on the brand, and as a legitimate title challenger at the same time has had a negative impact on the rest of the division. So much work has gone into Baszler and Moon that whoever wins has no logical challenger. No-one has been built as a threat. Nikki Cross is a possible candidate. And Peyton Royce and Billie Kay are due back soon from what I understand, I guess they can slot back in like they haven’t been missing for months with zero explanation. But nothing is in place. In Triple H’s recent conference call he said to trust in the long-term booking. I’m really trying.
As for who will win at TakeOver, I’ve gone back and forth. My gut feeling is that Ember Moon will be transitioning to the main roster, possibly as soon as the RAW or SmackDown after WrestleMania, or maybe in the superstar shake up. With that in mind, I think Baszler will take it this time. I’d be happy to be wrong, but Baszler seems like the easier option to build something for, so her winning makes sense.
Prediction: Shayna Baszler
I’ll be back next week with the all the action from the go home shows for TakeOver and WrestleMania, NXT TakeOver New Orleans results, and WrestleMania predictions. The next column comes out on WrestleMania day and it’s looking like a seven-hour total show if you include kickoff so stock up on caffeine. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover, or anything you want to discuss, tweet me @manda_why.