Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. Hell in a Cell exceeded most people’s expectations overall. But things move fast in WWE, so it’s time to get on with the fallout and move on to Super Show-Down and Evolution. Also announced this week was WWE’s return to Saudi Arabia. It happens a week after Evolution, but once again it seems it won’t include the women’s division.
Hell in a Cell
Becky Lynch def. Charlotte Flair
Maryse and The Miz def. Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan
Ronda Rousey def. Alexa Bliss
Paige was on the Kickoff show panel. The panel lost something by not having Renee Young now she’s moved on to bigger and better things – Hell in a Cell was her first PPV on commentary, but Paige was a welcome addition. I hope she does more of them.
Alexa Bliss had an interview on the Kickoff Show. She didn’t say anything unexpected, a few put-downs of Rousey and the assertion that she was leaving Hell in a Cell as RAW women’s champion.
Charlotte Flair (C) vs Becky Lynch – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
For heart reasons, I predicted a Becky Lynch win. By the time the match came on, second on the main card, I had lost what little faith I had in that prediction.
I do have a soft spot for matches between wrestlers who know each other really well, and this was a great one. They went hold for hold and counter for counter for long portions of the match. Becky Lynch worked to damage Flair’s arms for the entire match. The Dis-Arm-Her was her best shot and she was going for it. Flair worked over Lynch’s legs to soften her up for the Figure Eight.
Friends turned enemies meant they weren’t above slugging it out at times either, especially as the frustration at not being able to keep each other down grew as the match progressed.
A belly to back suplex from Flair looked like it had knocked Lynch silly, but Charlotte Flair wasn’t able to capitalise, and it came to nothing. She got Lynch down with a big boot a minute or so later and decided to go for the moonsault instead of covering. Becky Lynch moved and got hold of Flair’s arm. Flair countered, Lynch tried to turn the counter into a triangle, and Flair had to sit out powerbomb her to get her off.
Becky Lynch got the Dis-Arm-Her on but Flair slipped under the ropes and Lynch had to break the hold on the ref’s count. She threw Flair back into the ring, took an elbow and a spear. Somehow she managed to twist Charlotte Flair round off the spear and pin her. Becky Lynch is the new SmackDown women’s champion.
After the match, Charlotte Flair offered her hand. Becky Lynch sneered at her, held the title up in her face, told Flair she will never take her moment again, and walked away.
The Miz and Maryse vs Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella
Brie Bella tried to start things off, but Maryse changed her mind and tagged Miz in. Maryse yelled in Bryan’s ear to distract him and give Miz the early upper hand.
I don’t think I’ll ever get over my objection to mixed tag matches. It feels like such a momentum kill when there’s a tag. Just go intergender or keep the divisions separate.
When Miz escaped to the outside Daniel Bryan tagged Brie Bella in. Miz tagged her out again before Brie could get anywhere near her.
Bryan got Miz in the Yes Lock and Maryse broke it up. Brie Bella got involved and chased her around the ring, but it just led to more disruption.
I didn’t expect the women to have too much time in this match, but the regular fake outs got annoying. Some of what Bryan and Miz were doing in the ring was great but the match as a whole was disjointed and punctuated with far too much posturing.
Eventually, Daniel Bryan tagged Bella in. Maryse wasn’t at all keen in getting in and Miz got in between them. Brie Bella punched Miz a bit then caught Maryse with a baseball slide through Miz legs. She got out of the ring and slammed Maryse’s head on the announce desk a lot, while Bryan was making sure Miz stayed out of it.
With the two women alone in the ring, it looked like Brie was going to get it done. Miz dragged Brie off his wife by her ankle and Daniel Bryan shot to Brie’s rescue. There were tandem Yes Kicks for the crowd reaction then Miz and Maryse tried to leave.
Bella and Bryan got them back into the ring, and Brie Bella tried to roll Maryse up. Maryse reversed it and got the pin.
Ronda Rousey (C) vs Alexa Bliss – RAW Women’s Championship match
Alexa Bliss was accompanied by Mickie James and Alicia Fox. Ronda Rousey had Natalya with her for backup.
To her credit, Bliss went straight into it without any preliminary evasion tactics. In fact, she didn’t leave the ring until Fox and James pulled her out to avoid Rousey’s armbar. Fox and James saved her from a bad fall as well when she crashed through the ropes after Rousey sidestepped her.
Rousey is extremely quick, but her ribs were clearly still an issue, not a surprise considering how heavily signposted that has been. It became clear how much of an issue midway through the match when she was unable to throw Bliss from her shoulders or suplex her off the turnbuckles.
The ribs became the story of the match and this was the first time we’d really seen Rousey in trouble. Bliss worked them hard and in a variety of creative ways.
Mickie James and Alicia Fox stretched Rousey around the ringpost while Bliss distracted the ref, after Bliss had already had her wrapped around the post for two separate five counts. Natalya ran around and took down Fox. James got up on the apron and grabbed Rousey by the hair. Rousey punched her in the stomach and threw her into the ringpost.
Rousey and Bliss went for a crossbody at the same time and the collision put them both down. Bliss recovered faster and went back to working Rousey’s ribs over.
Bliss wasted time taunting Ronda Rousey, mimicking the way she roars. It was a stupid thing to do. She got to see the roar for real when Rousey’s expression hardened and Rousey fired up. The first time Rousey threw Bliss, she hurt herself as much as Bliss, then the adrenaline took over and a single kick to the ribs was the only offence Bliss got in from that point.
Moments later, Ronda Rousey got the armbar locked in and Alexa Bliss tapped out.
For once, there were no post-match shenanigans.
Bayley def. Dana Brooke
Ember Moon and Nia Jax def. Alicia Fox and Mickie James
The first sighting of the women’s division was Natalya and the Bella Twins having a locker room conversation. Ronda Rousey joined them and asked how she goes about setting an open challenge, did she need to ask permission, or could she just do it. Nikki Bella started to answer but Natalya interrupted to clarify that Rousey was really thinking of doing an open challenge that night and told her the guys just go out there and do it. All three encouraged her to do it. Natalya said setting the challenge is easy, winning is a whole different ball game because you never know who’s going to answer the challenge. The look on her face made it pretty clear who was going to be answering the challenge, but Rousey seemed oblivious and it was all smiles as she left.
Bayley vs Dana Brooke
Before the match, Bayley and Sasha Banks brought some of the children from this year’s Connor’s Cure Campaign out to do Bayley’s entrance with her. Banks accompanied Bayley to the ring but didn’t get involved in the match.
The match itself was brief but good, although it annoys me that it was started during the ads. Dana Brooke has made significant improvements while she’s been away. She looks more polished, everything just flows better.
Brooke had a couple of half-chances to get the job done but couldn’t finish Bayley off. Bayley caught Brooke with a running knee and followed up with the Bayley to Belly for the win.
Ronda Rousey did come out to issue her open challenge. She started by congratulating Alexa Bliss on what Rousey said was the best performance she’d ever seen from her, and for taking her to her limit. She thanked Bliss for helping her prove to herself that she’s more of a champion than she thought she could be. And she said wants to be the best champion anyone has seen. Then she issued the challenge.
When Natalya’s music hit she looked happy about it. But Natalya didn’t appear. After the music stopped The Riott Squad dragged the seemingly unconscious Natalya onto the stage. Ruby Riott said ‘look what you made us do’ and told Rousey it was all her fault. Riott said they were there to shut Rousey’s little operation down. They don’t dislike Rousey, but they don’t like her either, so Ruby Riott would be accepting the challenge.
Ronda Rousey took each of the trio down individually, but a spear from Ruby Riott knocked her to the mat and the numbers game caught up with her. When Rousey was trapped in a corner with no hope of escape, the Bella Twins ran down to even things up. Rousey and the Bellas cleared the ring and added a little depth to their three on three match at Super Show-Down.
Before the women’s division tag match of the night, Alexa Bliss gave a little speech. She talked about needing a new purpose and deciding to help her best friends elevate their tag team standing – That’s all fine, but while the women on both main roster bands are having tag matches every week, and everyone is pairing off and making alliances, there still isn’t an official women’s tag division. It has to be coming. I just wish they’d announce it so we can find out how it’s going to work. If they want tag titles on both brands then they need more women or it will get very stale very quickly. If they are planning one title across the brands then they need to determine how number one contendership will work.
Anyway, to get back to the promo, that was the set up for the match. In the name of improving their tag team prowess, Bliss, James, and Fox challenged Ember Moon to find a tag team partner to face them.
Mickie James and Alicia Fox vs Ember Moon and Nia Jax
The look on the faces of Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, and Alicia Fox when Nia Jax’ music hit was priceless. For some reason, neither Fox nor James seemed particularly anxious to get in the ring.
Eventually, Ember Moon got in instead and started things off with Alicia Fox. The main object for Fox and James was to try to keep Moon away from her tag team partner, by any means necessary. They used frequent tags and double teaming whenever Moon threatened to get the upper hand on them.
Of course, Nia Jax was going to come in at some point. One of her first moves was to use Alicia Fox to knock Mickie James off the apron. James got back up just in time to break up Jax’ pin attempt on Fox.
Jax got James by the throat and held on long enough for Ember Moon to climb the turnbuckle and deliver an Eclipse to Mickie James. They rolled out of the ring and Nia Jax hoisted Alicia Fox onto her shoulders and Samoan dropped her for the win.
Asuka def. Billie Kay
Maryse was The Miz’ guest on Miz TV to open SmackDown this week. They derided Daniel Bryan and Brie Bella and talked themselves up until Miz got annoyed with the crowd booing Maryse and called Daniel Bryan out.
In their tussles Bryan sent Miz into Maryse and she hit the canvas. Medics were called, and Bryan looked distraught and tried to apologise. Maryse turned out to be faking and grabbed Bryan’s hair so Miz could attack him. Unsurprisingly, Bryan moved and knocked Miz crashed into Maryse and knocked her off the apron.
Asuka vs Billie Kay
The rest of the women’s division action was all in the last half hour of the show. As usual, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay had plenty to say before the match. Happily, Naomi’s music cut them off before they said too much. Naomi accompanied Asuka to the ring. It appears they have become friends since Asuka saved Naomi from an IIconic beatdown. They will team against the IIconics at Super Show-Down.
Peyton Royce distracted Asuka almost immediately, just enough for Billie Kay to turn things in her favour by sending Asuka awkwardly into the bottom rope then making sure she didn’t have time to recover. As a strategy, it was a good one. Asuka managed to land a hip attack, but the big boot from Kay put her down for two.
Billie Kay lost her focus in her insistence that it should have been three and quickly found herself in the Asuka Lock. She tapped out to end the sub-two-minute match.
Becky Lynch had her Championship Coronation this week. Paige brought her out and handed her the belt while the crowd chanted ‘You Deserve It’.
Lynch said it took two long years but, finally, she’s back where she belongs. From now on this is her show and her title and there will be no more being left of the magazine covers or the PPV posters or the morning talk shows. From now on she’s getting what she deserves. She thanked Paige and then called out Charlotte Flair.
When Flair came out Paige cautioned them that they weren’t to do anything tonight. Flair said she wasn’t there to fight, and Paige left the ring. Flair turned to Becky Lynch and said she wasn’t there to steal her spotlight, she was there to show her the respect Lynch couldn’t give her at SummerSlam. At Hell in a Cell Lynch beat her in the middle of the ring and she knows how much the title means to her, but she wanted to look at her woman to woman and tell her she was the better woman that night, so congratulations. But Lynch paid a steep price to get that title and threw away a lot more than a friendship. So Flair hopes she soaks the moment in because she can’t wait for the moment she stands across the ring in front of sixty thousand people. At Super Show-Down she’s taking her rematch and like Lynch said, it took her two years to get the title, but she could lose it in one night.
Becky Lynch said she’d stopped listening after Flair said she was the better woman. After shutting down Flair’s attempt to interrupt she said Flair said she was second best, but the title says she’s not. She told her she couldn’t win when it counted but the title said otherwise. Flair said she’d walk out of Hell in a Cell champion, but the title says otherwise. She didn’t let Flair raise her hand at the end of their match because she knew she wanted to steal the spotlight at the biggest moment of her career. But tonight, she may touch the champ and raise her hand. Flair refused, and Lynch requested she fasten the title around her waist instead.
Flair said she’ always show Lynch respect and she came out to show her respect. She’d also wished that there was a tiny bit of her best friend left inside of whatever Lynch has become.
Lynch said she just wants Flair to call her Queen, and when Flair turned to walk away Lynch called her a bitch.
That’s when it got physical. Charlotte Flair forearmed her in the face and they brawled to the outside. Becky Lynch sent Flair flying over the announce desk, then into a barricade, then back into the ring where she locked her in a Dis-Arm-Her. Lynch held the belt up and started to leave, then went back and delivered a Bex-ploder to finish things off.
The show closed out with Becky Lynch holding up the title on the stage and Charlotte Flair down in the ring holding her arm.
Lacey Evans and Aliyah def. Dakota Kai and Deonna Purrazzo
Dakota Kai and Deonna Purrazzo vs Lacey Evans and Aliyah
This came about after Kai was shown arguing with Evans and Aliyah last week. Purrazzo has come to side with Kai then, and the match was set.
The narrative of the match was quite focused on Deonna Purrazzo, at least early on. Purrazzo’s journey from unused alternate in last year’s Mae Young Classic through to being signed and making it into the second round of this year’s is NXT’s latest success story. She showed off her technical skills against Lacey Evans early on. Evans tried to prove she could do anything Purrazzo could do, then fell back on brute force when she fell short.
Aliyah still doesn’t really have a character, but that’s the only thing holding her back. She should be higher up the pecking order by now.
The match was good. There seems to be a lot more focus on the team working during women’s division tags at the moment, just little bits highlighted by commentary. Both teams took advantage of switchover times, and the double team opportunities they provide.
Aliyah used the referee’s five count to her team’s advantage, and Deonna Purrazzo’s detriment, by grabbing Purrazzo’s hair from outside the ring and dragging her head back over the bottom rope. Evans followed that with a bronco buster and Purrazzo appeared to be in trouble.
Eventually, she did get back to Dakota Kai, but not until after Kai had come in to break a pin attempt, and Purrazzo had taken a ton of punishment. Dakota Kai came in fired up and ran through some of her signature kicks. Lacey Evans broke up her pin attempt on Aliyah.
Kai didn’t see Lacey Evans tag herself in because she was too busy trying to roll up Aliyah. She felt the Woman’s Right though, and it kept her down for the three count.
They showed Bianca Belair’s post-match interview from last week. She said Nikki Cross is crazy and she took it to a level that Belair wasn’t expecting but she’s not backing down. Every time she steps in the ring with Nikki she’s going to show up and show out because she’s the EST of NXT and she’s un-de-feat-ed.
Candice LeRae was on this week’s NXT, being interviewed by William Regal as part of the investigation into the attack on Aleister Black. She suggested the attack fitted Tommaso Ciampa’s MO and Regal told her they had already questioned Ciampa and found no evidence to link him to the attack. Regal then asked her whether, considering the state of mind Gargano has been in recently, she had any proof of his whereabouts at the time of the attack.
LeRae said she and her husband have been trying to keep their work and private life separate recently. That night was the night Regal announced the triple-threat. Gargano had told her to sit tight and wait, he’d gone straight to the locker room to clean up, then they drove home together. William Regal thanked her and said they’d let her know if they needed to talk to her again.
Mixed Match Challenge
Braun Strowman and Ember Moon
Charlotte Flair and AJ Styles
This year’s Mixed Match Challenge is slightly different from last year’s. For a start, they are using a round-robin format but split into brand divisions. It looks like the RAW teams will compete against each other, and the SmackDown teams will compete against each other. The final is going to held at TLC. Presumably, that will be the highest scoring RAW team versus the highest scoring SmackDown team, but it wasn’t very well explained. The shows are longer as well because there are two matches per show instead of one. Kayla Braxton and Vic Joseph hosted and broke down the rules and the teams. Vic Joseph was also part of the commentary team alongside Renee Young and Michael Cole
Braun Strowman and Ember Moon vs Kevin Owens and Natalya
Strowman was due to team with Alexa Bliss again, but Bliss is apparently injured after her match with Ronda Rousey. She’s been suffering some numbness in her arm. Ember Moon is one hell of a replacement though. She looks so tiny next to Strowman. Kevin Owens and Natalya are called Team Paws.
Owens and Strowman were going to start things off but after yelling at Strowman for a bit, Owens tagged Natalya in instead. Moon and Natalya turned out to be an intriguing combination. There’s a lot of potential in a feud between them, they both like to get technical, and they’re some of the more powerful in the division. There had a long opening spell, and it was very entertaining to watch.
Kevin Owens had been encouraging Natalya to prevent Moon from tagging Strowman the whole time she was in there. Natalya had Moon locked in the Sharpshooter and desperate to tag, but she couldn’t quite get there. Strowman jumped off the apron, reached into the ring and dragged her closer. She made the tag and in came Strowman and Owens.
Braun Strowman set about trying to flatten Owens in a corner. Owens managed to land a kick, or at least get his foot up at a charging Strowman, but in retaliation Strowman slapped him so hard he rolled out of the ring.
Strowman did his run around the ring and levelled Owens but when he did it again Owens got a foot up then sent Strowman into the ringpost and over the announce desk. It took Strowman until nine on the ref’s count to get back in. Strowman hoisted Owens up for the running powerslam but Owens managed to slide off his back and tag in Natalya. Strowman was reluctant to get out of the ring, but he did, and Moon came back in.
It wasn’t a long thing from then. Moon climbed the turnbuckle and ordered Strowman into the ring. Owens tried to charge in so Strowman flattened him and stood in the corner as instructed by his partner. Braun Strowman looked comically nervous as Ember Moon stood on his shoulders and delivered the Eclipse from there. Obviously, she got the pin.
Charlotte Flair and AJ Styles vs Naomi and Jimmy Uso
Charlotte Flair seems to be cursed with Mixed Match Challenge partners who can’t Woo. Her and Styles’ team name is Fenomenal Flair. Jimmy Uso and Naomi’s team name is Day One Glow.
Of course, Mixed Match Challenge takes place straight after SmackDown Live, so Charlotte Flair had been beaten down by Becky Lynch less than an hour before.
It became clear, fairly rapidly, that this wasn’t going to be the most serious of contests, there was going to be fun. They started off with some silly trash-talking, and it was smiles all round as Styles and Uso got things underway. They ended up holding feet and negotiating to let go, then shaking hands and negotiating to let go, then tagging out.
Charlotte Flair’s attempt at twerking was enough to produce second-hand embarrassment, but the actual wrestling was good. They ended up in the same foot holding predicament as the men, but they got back to wrestling a lot faster.
AJ Styles caught Naomi as she flew over the top rope. Jimmy Uso took exception to that, lifted Naomi away and started telling Styles off. Charlotte Flair halted the argument by launching herself onto Naomi and Uso.
It was going Naomi’s way until she missed the split-legged moonsault. Charlotte Flair hit her moonsault perfectly, but Naomi kicked out, then tagged out.
AJ Styles entered the ring and used Flair as a stepping stone for a forearm. It wasn’t long before Uso tagged out though. Naomi hit a hurricanrana on Styles before Flair through her out of the ring. Charlotte Flair got Jimmy Uso in a figure four and was trying to bridge when Naomi flew off the top rope and landed on them. She would have got the pin if Styles hadn’t dragged her off.
Naomi cleared Style out of the ring with a Rear View but Flair caught her in a figure four, bridged into the Figure Eight and Naomi tapped.
There has already been another change to one of the teams. Due to injury, Sasha Banks has been pulled from the competition. Bobby Lashley will now have Mickie James as his partner. They will take on Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox, Team Mahalicia, next week. On the SmackDown side next week, Team Awe-ska, Asuka and The Miz, take on Team Fabulous Truth, R-Truth and Carmella.
Mae Young Classic
Kaitlyn def. Kavita Devi
Toni Storm def. Jinny
Xia Li def. Karen Q
Mia Yim def. Allysin Kay
Another good episode from what is shaping up to be a very strong tournament. Two of the matches this week featured long-standing rivalries, which always makes for a good match. Full details can be found here.
No women’s division action on Main Event this week, just a recap of the Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair segment on SmackDown.
And we’re done for another week. There really is a lot going on right now and it’s lovely to see. I’ll be back next week with all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions, and the preview and predictions for Super Show-Down.
In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover or anything you want to discuss, tweet me @manda_why.