Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. The Mae Young Classic started this week, which means the run up to Evolution has begun in earnest. It shows in the programming. The women’s division is getting a little more screen time and there are some rumblings towards off-title storylines. Not fully developed storylines, but rumblings in the right direction.
The Bella Twins def The Riott Squad
Alexa Bliss def Natalya
Sasha Banks and Bayley def Dana Brooke and Ember Moon
The Bella Twins vs The Riott Squad
The Bellas introduction focused very heavily on their reality show accomplishments, more of an advert than an intro really. There was a lot of talk about the fact it’s been three years since the Bellas teamed together, and much speculation about ring rust. There were some errors of judgement and misplaced moves, mainly on the part of Brie Bella, but the frequent ring-rust mentions lead me to believe they may have been deliberate. Either that or they were pre-emptively covering for botches. Either way, it was an entertaining enough match to watch.
Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan represented the Riott Squad, although Ruby Riott on the outside was always going to be a factor. Nikki Bella got things started and had a good spell with Sarah Logan. Brie Bella got caught out when Logan made a tag to Morgan that she didn’t see and took a fair bit of punishment before turning things around and using the Yes Kicks to get the crowd fired up. It went wrong for her when she fell awkwardly through the ropes and was caught by Sarah Logan with a punch as we went to the ads.
This was the first match of the night which is always a long one, and Brie took a bit more punishment before she got to tag her twin in. Nikki Bella looked a lot more together, but she’s had more recent matches and isn’t just coming back from having a child. She was the one who got to finish the match.
Brie Bella’s suicide dive towards Sarah Logan and Ruby Riott landed Bella flat on her face, but Logan and Riott still went down. It honestly looked like Brie Bella was lucky to get up.
Meanwhile, in the ring, Liv Morgan tried to roll Nikki Bella up but only got two. Nikki hoisted her onto her shoulders for the Rack Attack 2.0 and got the win.
Alexa Bliss vs Natalya
Bliss came out during the segment before the match, with Alicia Fox and Mickie James and interrupted Elias while he was insulting her hometown. She started by telling the crowd she graduated from high school in the very building they were in, and led them in an, ‘O H, I O’ call and response chant. They should have known better than to fall for it. As soon as she had them she called them ‘mindless Ohio imbeciles’, agreed with Everything Elias had said and told him she couldn’t get out of their quick enough. After a few more insults to the crowd, she apologised for Trish Stratus’ behaviour last week, called Natalya Ronda Rousey’s pet cat, then asked Elias to sing the song she interrupted. Apparently, Alexa Bliss wants to ‘walk with Elias’.
Obviously, Elias didn’t get to sing because Rousey and Natalya came out for the match.
They started the match during the break, which always feels undermining for some reason. I mean, we all know the match isn’t the main point of the segment, but at least make it feel important.
The match was good as well, if a bit short. Natalya had the definitive upper hand, almost playing with Bliss for some of the match, Holding onto her foot then forcing her hand to the mat while shaking hands and stomping on it.
Bliss turned it around with a punch. Then practically sealed the victory when Alicia Fox and Mickie James attacked Natalya while she distracted the ref. I guess Ronda Rousey didn’t see them either because she didn’t react.
Bliss turned her attention back to Natalya and delivered a DDT, then looked at Rousey as she started to put the armbar on Natalya.
Natalya tapped, and Rousey had to get into the ring to make Bliss release the hold. She got hold of Bliss and Alicia Fox jumped on Rousey to rescue her, despite clearly not being dressed to wrestle. Rousey let go of Bliss to deal with Fox and Alexa Bliss snuck around the side of the ring and chop-blocked her then threw her out of the ring.
Bliss threw Rousey into the steps, which left Ronda Rousey holding her ribs. Rousey still fought back, punching Bliss in the stomach until Alexa Bliss rolled out of the ring and backed up the ramp with Fox and James.
There was a super-awkward locker room segment featuring Natalya, Ronda Rousey, and The Bella Twins. It started with Rousey and Natalya talking and Natalya confessing she just doesn’t feel like herself.
The Bella twins appeared and sympathised with Natalya until she excused herself. The Bellas told Rousey that they believe she will be the greatest women’s champion ever and that she inspired them to come back to WWE. They talked about there being more to being champion than winning matches, then offered their services as training partners. When Rousey turned them down because Natalya has been so good, they offered to help her with anything else she needs. Then they left. I’m sure it’s the lead into something, but I’ve got no idea what. It was all just a bit cringy.
Ember Moon and Dana Brooke vs Sasha Banks and Bayley
Why were Dana Brooke and Ember Moon teaming? Simple, because every other woman on the roster had been used for something else (where is Nia Jax by the way, does anyone know?). This is why we need more women on the main roster brands, there just isn’t enough depth. The match was decent enough. Sasha Banks and Bayley are still getting along, But the main purpose of the match was to further the rift in Titus Worldwide.
Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews spent Brooke’s portions of the match bickering and shouting conflicting advice at her. She ended up shouting, ‘enough, I’ve got this’, at them. She didn’t have it at all. Two moves later Sasha Banks rolled her up and pinned her.
After the match, Brooke joined Crews and O’Neil at ringside and told them she was done before stalking off to the back without them.
Naomi def. Peyton Royce
Renee Young and Brie Bella were busy bees this week because they opened SmackDown, along with Daniel Bryan, after both appearing on RAW. Good to see Brie Bella moving ok after her match as well. Bella and Bryan were there to be interviewed about Miz and Maryse and the events of the last couple of weeks
Young showed them a video of Miz and Maryse calling them out earlier in an empty arena and saying they were too scared to come out, as opposed to just not in the building yet.
Bella and Bryan called Miz and Maryse a couple of cowards and called them out, only to be told by Renee Young that they were no longer in the building. Zelina Vega and Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas came out instead.
Daniel Bryan and Almas had the first match of the night. Vega and Bella didn’t get involved this time. Daniel Bryan won, and Brie Bella attacked Zelina Vega during the celebrations. She kicked Vega in the face then delivered a knee to the face while Vega was against the ropes. That one genuinely looked like it nearly took Zelina Vega’s head clean off.
Miz and Maryse appeared by video. They were apparently at a restaurant on a date but had taken a few moments out to goad their Hell in a Cell opponents.
After the segment, Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan were shown leaving the building to go and try to catch Miz and Maryse at the restaurant.
Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair had a split location interview. Flair said that at SummerSlam she won the title, but she lost her best friend. Addressing herself to Lynch she said she knows Lynch thought it was her night and she deserved it, and Flair thought she deserved it too but what did she want her to do? Not take the opportunity? Lie down for her? She would have expected Lynch to do the exact same thing. Lynch was the one who said in order to be the best you have to beat the best. But she lost and now she wants to blame Flair, it’s convenient.
Lynch asked if she was done or if she wanted to steal more of her spotlight and Flair asked her if she was having another pity party where Lynch thinks Flair stole her spotlight or put her in her shadow. If anyone knows what it’s like to grow up in a shadow it’s Charlotte Flair. She looked at Becky Lynch as an equal, one of the four horsewomen, a pioneer of the women’s evolution. Lynch put herself in Flair’s shadow. All she had to do after they embraced at the end of the match was look at her and ask for a title match, but she threw away a five-year friendship.
Becky Lynch seemed offended by the thought of asking for a title shot, judging by the ‘screw you’ that started her comeback. She asked if she looks like a charity case, did she look like one when she was standing above her holding the title above her head?
Flair interrupted to ask if that was when she blindsided her and attacked her from behind, and dared her to do it face to face because it will be a different story.
Lynch promised she will. She’s done playing, from now on she’s taking. And she doesn’t care how that affects Charlotte Flair. It was a full-time job being Flair’s friend, managing her insecurities and reassuring her she was good enough to wear that robe and carry that last name, but she’s not. The only thing Lynch cares about is taking her spot back at the top of the SmackDown women’s division where she belongs. And Flair is in her way. She doesn’t care she has to do how many times or how many times she has to drop Flair where she stands, that title is going home with her.
Flair clapped and said that’s the straight fire she’s been talking about for a long long time. And she’s finally glad to see it. She’s going to get her wish. At Hell in a Cell, it’s going to be Charlotte Flair versus Becky Lynch. When Flair looks across that ring she’s not going to see her best friend the person she spent twenty-four hours a day with and travelled the world with
As her best friend she was never second best, but in the ring she is, and she can’t handle it.
The interview wrapped up with Becky Lynch calling Flair delusional and telling her to shine the title up real nice for her because after Hell in a Cell she’s never going to see it again.
Flair asked what Lynch’s excuse will be when she beats her this time, and they faded out.
Superb promo by both of them.
Naomi vs Peyton Royce
Peyton Royce and Billie Kay did their usual mic spot before the match. It was just them playing around with Naomi sounding like No Me. It was as bad as it sounds.
Luckily, the match was better than the promo, but not much longer. Naomi wasn’t playing. She’s been beaten by both the IIconics in the last couple of weeks and she went on the offensive early. Peyton Royce came back hard though and punished Naomi for briefly turning her back on her.
Billie Kay gave Naomi a little tap on the head when the ref wasn’t looking. It wasn’t even a slap, she just messed her hair up a bit. Naomi managed to get her own back when she caught Kay with a baseball slide.
Naomi slid to the outside, pulled Royce’s feet out from under her, flipped back into the ring and pinned Peyton Royce with a roll-up. The entire match was well under two minutes long.
As soon as the match ended Billie Kay attacked Naomi from behind and the IIconics started the double-team beatdown.
Asuka appeared in full regalia to help out. She lost the coat and mask on the ramp, ran down to the ring and took out both Billie Kay and Peyton Royce before helping Naomi to her feet.
The Mixed Match Challenge pairings for the new series were announced on SmackDown – see Other News
So, Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella had left to find Miz and Maryse, which of course meant Miz and Maryse came back to the building. They came to Paige’s office and said they weren’t going to try to call Bryan and Bella out one more time. Paige told them they’d left, but Miz had a match against anyone who wanted to face him.
There was a weird mix up with R-Truth mistaking Maryse for Carmella, during which Maryse referred to Carmella as ‘Staten Island trash’, then not recognising Carmella. And somehow that ended up with R-Truth facing Miz with Carmella in R-Truth’s corner and Maryse accompanying her husband.
The Miz tried calling Bella and Bryan out before his match started, with Maryse telling him they weren’t going to come out.
Daniel Bryan’s music hit mid-match and while Miz was distracted R-Truth pinned him. Daniel Bryan went for Miz while Brie Bella went for Maryse. Just as Bella was about to deliver the same knee to Maryse she’d given to Vega earlier, Zelina Vega pulled her out of the ring and things got chaotic.
Miz and Maryse fled the ring, and Bryan and Bella got Almas and Vega in tandem Yes Locks. Miz considered an ambush attack but put the brakes on so fast when Bryan stood up that he fell over.
Kairi Sane def. Trish Adora
Kairi Sane vs Trish Adora
This was Sane’s first match as NXT women’s champion, and it was a squash match. Her entrance was cute. She had a treasure chest on a podium on the stage and she opened it to reveal the title belt. Trish Adora got a proper entrance and talked up a bit by commentary but that was it. She is apparently an army veteran with eight years of service. She’s tall and powerful.
Sadly, while we were told she is a newcomer, we never got to see what she’s got in terms of skill. Adora got a couple of token bits of offence in, enough to give Kairi Sane something to fight against, but it was all over very quickly courtesy of the InSane Elbow.
While Kairi Sane was celebrating, Shayna Baszler’s music hit and out she came and knocked the treasure chest off the podium, spilling the contents down the ramp. She told Sane to enjoy the little pirate treasure fantasy while she can because reality is going to hit that ship like a cannonball when she enacts her rematch clause. But tonight, she was going to see if the pirate can swim.
Baszler got in the ring and went for Sane, flooring her with a clothesline. Kairi Sane got up and gave Baszler the hard stare before throwing strikes of her own, finishing up with a spinning backfist and a spear which took Baszler to the ground and made her roll out of the ring and retreat.
The women’s division didn’t get much of a look in on Main Event this week. They showed a bit of Ronda Rousey’s confrontation with Alexa Bliss and Alicia Fox after Bliss’ match on RAW, and mentioned the Ronda Rousey and Natalya versus Alexa Bliss and Alicia Fox tag match taking place on Monday. There was never going to be a women’s division match on there this week. They used pretty much everyone on RAW.
Mae Young Classic
Tegan Nox def. Zatara
Rhea Ripley def. MJ Jenkins
Lacey Lane def. Vanessa Kraven
Meiko Satomura def. Killer Kelly
It was a strong show to start the tournament, well worth your time. As I said last week, I’m reviewing the Mae Young Classic for Rear View Reviews anyway, and it seems silly to do two reviews of an entire show. For details of all the matches click here.
A new series of Mixed Match Challenge has been announced. It will be shown immediately after SmackDown, on Facebook Watch, starting September 18th. Facebook Watch isn’t available everywhere (including in the UK unless they’ve changed it recently), but they aired the last series a couple of days later on WWE network, so we’ll see what happens. The pairings are;
Sasha Banks and Bobby Lashley
Bayley and Finn Balor
Alexa Bliss and Braun Strowman
Alicia Fox and Jinder Mahal
Natalya and Kevin Owens
Asuka and The Miz
Carmella and R-Truth
Charlotte Flair and AJ Styles
Naomi and Jimmy Uso
Rusev and Lana
The show is set to run for 14 weeks and is using a round-robin tournament style this time around so all teams will face each other.
It’s been an impressive showing from Renee Young this week (yes, I know the MYC was taped weeks ago). Commentary on RAW, interviewing duties on SmackDown, and MYC commentary. It feels like WWE are finally showing the faith in her that she deserves. She could easily become a staple of the WWE commentary team and would be the first woman to do so. I don’t recall WWE using a female commentator before who hasn’t wrestled (that’s not to say there hasn’t been one, I don’t recall a lot of things). I’m enjoying her style and most of the feedback I’ve seen has been positive.
I’ll be back next week with the go home shows for Hell in a Cell, the continuing buildup for Super Show-Down and Evolution, the next episode of the Mae Young Classic, the first of the new series of Mixed Match Challenge (if I can find some way to watch it before then), and all the rest of the women’s division action that doesn’t fit into that lot. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover or anything you want to discuss, tweet me @manda_why.