Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It’s Hell in a Cell weekend, so it’s all about the go home shows this week. NXT don’t have a TakeOver attached to this PPV so they’ve got a while to build storylines, but they had my favourite match of the week this week.
On Monday afternoon news broke that Renee Young has been named as a full-time member of the RAW commentary team. It’s great news, Young’s commentary so far has been great although she’s still finding her voice. She’s the first full-time female commentator on a WWE show, and I believe she might also be the first female commentator who isn’t a wrestler. She’s already cut down the number of skeevy comments made by Corey Graves (for the record, I think Graves is great but the skeevy comments annoy me), and her chemistry with Graves and Michael Cole is fantastic.
Nikki Bella def. Ruby Riott
Ronda Rousey and Natalya def. Mickie James and Alexa Bliss
Nikki Bella vs Ruby Riott
Riott’s objection to the Bellas seems to be a combination of jealousy of their multi-platform success, offence at the fact wrestling isn’t their sole focus, and a feeling that the division has moved on in their absence. This match happened because the Riott Squad trashed the Bella Twins dressing room earlier in the day.
It was a better match than the tag last week. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion Ruby Riott could have good in-ring chemistry with just about anyone. She took control of the match as we went into the ads by kicking the top rope into Nikki Bella’s throat, which sent her rolling out of the ring to the floor. It’s an obvious move to go for Nikki’s neck, it’s one of the more well-publicised injuries of recent years. But, as it did when Rollins landed anything after returning from his knee injury and every time Daniel Bryan takes a shot to the head, it makes me cringe whenever someone goes near it.
Of course, Logan and Morgan tried to get involved. Sarah Logan was taken out by Nikki Bella when she got up on the apron because Bella had Riott up on her shoulders. The distraction nearly cost her, but Riott only got a two count on the pin attempt.
Liv Morgan got into the ring the next time Nikki Bella had Riott on her shoulders, after she’d caught Riot’s foot on the Riott kick. Brie Bella dragged Morgan out of the ring. Nikki waited, with Riott still on her shoulders, until after Brie had punched Morgan in the face before she hit the Rack Attack 2.0 for the win.
Alexa Bliss and Mickie James vs Ronda Rousey and Natalya
Alexa Bliss was originally supposed to be teaming with Alicia Fox, that was the advertised pairing, but Bliss decided Mickie James had a better track record against Rousey, so she switched partners.
Natalya did the majority of the heavy work for her team in this one. She definitely took the majority of the punishment. Alexa Bliss slapped Rousey while she was stood waiting for Natalya to tag her. Rousey chased Bliss through, around, and back into the ring. Natalya picked Bliss up as she ran past, and she and Rousey delivered a Hart Attack.
When Rousey came in Bliss slipped immediately out of the ring. Following her put Rousey between Mickie James and Alicia Fox, and the slight distraction gave Bliss the opportunity to throw Rousey into the barricade and twice into the apron, ribs first, before rolling her into the ring. Bliss had injured Rousey’s ribs last week, so looking at them as a weak point made sense. Bliss and James worked over Rousey’s ribs for a while and Mickie James prevented her tagging out by knocking Natalya off the apron.
That seemed to do the trick for Rousey. She knocked Bliss off the apron on the other side then her expression changed and she started punching at James. Mickie James fended off the blows but Rousey put the armbar on, holding Alexa Bliss’ stare the whole time, and James tapped out.
While She and Natalya were celebrating, Bliss kicked her in the ribs again and got out of there before Rousey could retaliate. One final shot at making sure the champion won’t be at full strength at Hell in a Cell.
Backstage, Rousey was asked how her ribs were and if she was going to be ok for Sunday. She said she’s fine and even if she was hurt she’d still be at Hell in a Cell. She’s never pulled out of a fight in her life and it’s not because she’s never been injured, it’s because on her worst day she’s still the best.
Charlotte Flair def. Sonya Deville
The main event of this week’s show, the go home show for Hell in a Cell, was Brie Bella versus Maryse. Ok, I get it, they’re having the mixed tag at HIAC and presumably it’s all hands on deck for Evolution. But the main event? Yeah, it’s Maryse’s first match back since giving birth, but does that mean automatic main event status? Brie Bella has only had a couple of matches since she returned as well. I’m not arguing the sense of the match, that makes perfect sense, but I feel like main event matches should go to the women who have been holding the division together week in and week out.
Charlotte Flair vs Sonya Deville
Charlotte Flair had a pre-match interview where it was revealed that she requested the match. She was asked why and said she thrives on competition and, unlike Becky Lynch, she doesn’t just talk about it she goes out and does it. Lynch wants to say that Flair is holding people back or taking their opportunities and that’s she’s insecure, but Lynch has an opportunity this weekend and Flair is betting on herself. At Hell in a Cell, Becky Lynch will find out it’s way easier to talk the talk than walk the walk. Flair hopes she’s watching tonight.
Nice warm-up match for Flair ahead of her title defence against Becky Lynch at Hell in a Cell. Deville was accompanied, as always, by Mandy Rose. Charlotte Flair has no backup she can rely on now. That said, Deville took offence to Flair seeing it as a warm-up match, in the form of a tweet in response to the announcement.
It turned out to be an interesting match. A lot of grappling and power games. Very engaging to watch.
Sonya Deville got her knees up for Flair’s moonsault and delivered a spinebuster, but only got a two count. She managed to get Flair in a triangle, but Charlotte Flair picked her up, bounced her off the ropes and slammed her to the canvas, but Deville kicked out.
That turned out to be the beginning of the end though. The next hold Flair went for was the figure four. She locked it in, bridged into the Figure Eight and Sonya Deville tapped out.
There were no post-match shenanigans from Rose and Deville and Charlotte Flair wandered around greeting the crowd. As she bent for a selfie with a young fan, she was grabbed by the hair from behind. Becky Lynch had disguised herself with a dark wig and glasses.
Lynch removed the disguise and hopped the barricade then kicked Flair half way up the ramp before putting the Dis-Arm-Her on. She let go fairly quickly, with a derisory kick at her ex-best friend. And walked up the ramp telling Flair she’s taking the title home on Sunday. Apparently, it was two years to the date that Becky Lynch won the title.
Backstage Becky Lynch refused to be interviewed. She just said she’s said she’ll break Flair’s arm, and she will. After she’s taken back her title.
Carmella is now accompanying R-Truth to the ring. I guess it makes sense as they are Mixed Match Challenge partners. This week Truth was facing Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas and Carmella got involved by pulling Zelina Vega off the apron while she was posing with Almas. R-Truth tried to roll Almas up off the distraction, but Almas flipped them over and pinned him with a handful of shorts. We could be looking at something with Carmella and Vega in the next few weeks.
Asuka had a backstage interview, sort of. Naomi joined her before Asuka got chance to say why she helped her last week. She wanted to know why as well. Asuka said the IIconics are mean and she can’t understand their accents. There was some miscommunication on both sides, but they left as slightly confused friends. That could be quite the alliance.
Brie Bella vs Maryse
In an interview earlier in the show Maryse was asked if she was ready to step in the ring with Brie Bella for her first singles match in seven years. She appeared to find it funny and said it’s only taken her five months to get back in the ring after giving birth, and it took Daniel Bryan three years to get cleared from injury (nice false equivalence there). They said some other disparaging stuff about Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan, but nothing of note.
This might have been the main event, but it still got less than ten minutes, and it nearly didn’t happen at all. Maryse didn’t seem keen to get the match underway at all. She rolled out of the ring before Bella got anywhere near her. When she finally got back in she went to the ropes as soon as Brie Bella advanced, then got back out of the ring.
Brie Bella grabbed a mic and called her a little coward. Maryse tried to get back in the ring but changed her mind when Bella grabbed her hair.
Miz grabbed a mic and said Brie Bella didn’t even deserve to be in the same ring as his wife. He talked up her achievements and the fact she gave birth five months ago, then said neither the city didn’t deserve the match either and it was over.
They started to walk away, and Brie Bella followed and dragged Maryse back to the ring by her hair, then slammed her face first into the apron a few times before throwing her into the ring.
Miz got up on the apron and Daniel Bryan ran round to chase him off. Maryse landed a kick while Brie Bella was distracted and almost got the pin.
Brie Bella got the Yes Lock on Maryse and Miz dragged her out of the ring. It looked like she hit the floor pretty hard. That was enough to get Maryse disqualified, and for Daniel Bryan to start pounding on Miz. He chased him into the ring, still punching him. Miz tipped him over the top rope and Daniel Bryan collided with his wife. While he was checking on her Miz attacked him from behind and drove him into the steps.
Maryse grabbed the prone Bella and punched and kicked her before slamming her into the apron like Bella did to her. When she rolled her into the ring, Brie Bella started punching back.
Miz got into the ring with the intention of saving his wife. While Bella was threatening Miz, Maryse grabbed her by the hair. They ended up brawling on the mat and again Miz put his hands on Brie Bella, this time with his arms around her waist to lift her off his wife. Daniel Bryan kicked threw Miz into a corner and started kicking him then threw him to the centre of the ring and told him to get up so he could punch him in the face. When Miz did get up Brie Bella punched him in the face and Bryan tipped him out of the ring.
The show closed out with Miz and Maryse backing up the ramp while Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan celebrated in the ring.
Shayna Baszler def. Violet Payne
Nikki Cross vs Bianca Belair – No Contest/Double Count-Out
Shayna Baszler vs Violet Payne
Basic squash match. Baszler finished it with the Kirifuda Clutch after some of her favourite joint manipulations. She held it for much too long then came back twice after the match to put the Kirifuda Clutch back on.
There was a brief sighting of Kairi Sane this week. She was being interviewed in the ongoing investigation as to who attacked Aleister Black.
There was also a staged argument segment With Dakota Kai arguing with Aliyah and Lacey Evans and Deonna Purrazzo coming to back Kai up. There will be a tag match next week to settle it.
Bianca Belair vs Nikki Cross
This match main evented and it deserved to. I’m slightly biased because I think Nikki Cross is wonderful, but Belair is a future top superstar if her current trajectory continues as well.
The start of the match was comedic, with Nikki Cross waving ‘Hi Bianca’ and jumping up and down clapping one of Belair’s more gymnastic moves. It soon turned serious though and Belair found herself trying to deal with Cross unique brand of chaos and skill, with varying degrees of success.
Belair rolled out of the ring to avoid Nikki Cross when Cross was on the top turnbuckle. Nikki Cross just climbed down, took Belair’s legs out from under her on the apron and tied her up in the ring skirt. When Bianca Belair got free she threw Cross into the steps and hair whipped her.
Nikki Cross jumped on her back as Belair tried to climb back into the ring. Belair fell backwards onto the ramp to make her let go, and they both got counted out.
It didn’t end there though. As soon as they recovered their senses they started pounding on each other again. Officials separated them and dragged Belair away. Cross followed, and they brawled again in front of the announce desk.
Belair flung Cross over the desk, Cross climbed on top of it and launched herself off onto Belair and the officials. And that was the end of the show.
I’m glad they didn’t wrap things up in that first match. The feud has a lot of potential. I know the next TakeOver is miles away, but it would be great to see this as a second women’s division match on there. It’s about time that happened.
Mae Young Classic
Deonna Purrazzo def. Priscilla Kelly
Zeuxis def. Aerial Monroe
Kacy Catanzaro def. Reina Gonzales
Mercedes Martinez def. Ashley Rayne
Another great week of first-round matches. The first two second-round matches were set this week as well. Full details here.
Ember Moon def Dana Brooke
Fantastic to see the women’s division represented on Main Event again. Honestly, it’s not a bad spot for a match. It might not have quite the prestige of the main RAW show, but it’s filmed in front of the RAW crowd and Main Event matches frequently get a couple of minutes longer than RAW ones. In addition to the women’s division match, which opened the show this week, Main Event also hyped the RAW and SmackDown women’s title feuds ahead of Hell in a Cell and showed highlights of Brie Bella versus Maryse from SmackDown to hype their match.
Ember Moon vs Dana Brooke
Last time these two were in the ring together, two weeks ago, they were teammates. There was no falling out between them, although it was the night Brooke split from Titus Worldwide. Now they’re fighting each other, but that’s how it goes sometimes, and it seemed fairly friendly.
Dana Brooke sells herself on her power and gymnastic/athletic abilities. Those are games Ember Moon likes to play too and she seemed to be having fun against Brooke. Moon even accepted Brooke’s test of strength after the initial feeling out process. Brooke came out on top of that, despite Moon’s attempts to kick her hand away.
Dana Brooke’s looking good. She’s obviously been working hard while she’s been out of the ring. She had some good periods of control in this one, in fact, Moon only really turned things in her favour right at the end when she sent Brooke face first into the turnbuckle.
While Dana Brooke was still recovering from that, Ember Moon climbed to the top turnbuckle and delivered the Eclipse for the win.
Hell in a Cell – Preview and Predictions
Ronda Rousey (C) vs Alexa Bliss – RAW Women’s Championship match
Charlotte Flair (C) vs Becky Lynch – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan vs Maryse and The Miz – Mixed-tag match
Ronda Rousey (C) vs Alexa Bliss – RAW Women’s Championship match
Right, starting with the basics. Based solely on the way this feud has been built, there is no way Alexa Bliss can beat Ronda Rousey clean. To be fair, she probably won’t try to. Underhand tactics are far more her speed. She’s at a disadvantage here though because she actually has to beat Rousey, she can’t get her counted out or disqualified.
I can’t see it happening. I think Rousey has got this, there’s too much hype behind her for her to lose the title so fast. I’m not sure a clean pin from her is the order of the day either though. Interference maybe? Nia Jax has issues with both of them and hasn’t been seen for ages.
There are potential problems with either result. Alexa Bliss has been a fantastic women’s champion, despite some dodgy storylines, but she’s been in the title picture forever and it could start stifling the women’s division if she stays there much longer. On the other hand, while Ronda Rousey has done great since her arrival, she’s still inexperienced as a wrestler and sometimes it shows. It’s too early for her to be holding that title, in my humble opinion. What I’m trying to say is, I’m getting bored of judo throws, punches, and armbars, and not a lot else. She’s exactly where she should be considering her experience, but she’s not holding that title on merit and that’s problematic for a babyface champion.
Regardless of the whys and wherefores of the situation, the fact remains that I just can’t see a scenario where WWE take the belt off their shiny new star so fast.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey
Charlotte Flair (C) vs Becky Lynch – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
Let’s take a few minutes to talk about the seemingly biggest issue on social media regarding this match – is Becky Lynch a heel? I have two main thoughts on this, slightly contradictory. The first is that it really doesn’t matter. The second is, probably not. There are layers and shades of grey to this feud and to Lynch’s attitude towards Flair, and that’s a great thing. The heel/face dynamic is a useful shorthand in wrestling, but it’s not the be all and end all when there is a deeper storyline underpinning someone’s actions.
Becky Lynch hasn’t snapped and started attacking random people. She feels wronged by someone she thought she could trust. Someone she has a lengthy and complicated history with. It’s as much about Lynch’s feelings about herself as it is Flair. That deep-seated fear that she doesn’t match up to her former best friend, that she somehow may be second best. Combined with the narrative that Flair gets everything handed to her because of her name. And that the spotlight meant more to Flair than she did. And that it was supposed to be her time and Flair couldn’t just let her have the spotlight for once and it’s not fair. It’s about self-worth, and self-respect, and arrogance and entitlement and a bunch of other stuff. It’s complicated and complex. Who’s the heel and who’s the face is reductionist.
Now that’s out of the way, what about the match? Really, Becky Lynch should win this. It seems a bit quick to have that happen. But there is no reason for Flair to give Lynch another shot if she loses at Hell in a Cell. They could play the long game and make Lynch earn another shot through sheer volume of wins, which she’s already done once – that’s part of the problem. They could have her take out every potential opponent until there is no option but to give her another shot, which seems like a more likely possibility. Honestly, I’d really like to see her to just win it clean in the centre of the ring. Can you tell I’ve got no clue who’s winning? I have a feeling it will be Charlotte Flair’s night but I’m basing this prediction entirely on what I want to see happen rather than what I think will happen.
Prediction: Becky Lynch
Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan vs Maryse and The Miz
Ok, so this match is just another way to make the feud between Daniel Bryan and The Miz last longer. We all know that. It also puts Maryse back into action in time for Evolution and gives Brie Bella a singles feud (I’m still confused as to why she’s a singles wrestler on SmackDown when the Bella Twins are on RAW). Realistically, I wouldn’t expect Maryse and Bella to do too much in this match. Maryse had a baby five months ago, and Brie Bella has said in recent interviews she’s not back to full strength having had Birdie last year.
It will be a mean and nasty match, and probably a lot of fun to watch as long as Miz and Maryse don’t spend most of it trying to escape. I’m finding it difficult to work out, or even care, who’s going to win because it’s just a stepping stone match, it literally doesn’t matter.
That said, if they want the feuds to continue, it would make more sense for Miz and Maryse to win by nefarious means. Either that or for Brie Bella to pin Maryse. It seems important to protect the Miz and Bryan feud most. We should get a lot of information about where both these feuds are going but, in essence, this match is not the purpose of this match.
I’m not confident on the prediction, but I’ve got to pick one.
Prediction: The Miz and Maryse
Note: I messed up last week. I thought it was this week that Mixed Match Challenge started. It’s not, it’s next week and it is going to be shown on WWE Network. The week one review will be in next week’s column.
Right, that’s it for another week. Enjoy Hell in a Cell and I’ll be back next week with another round-up of everything that’s going on for WWE’s women’s divisions. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover or anything you want to discuss, tweet me @manda_why.