Welcome to the latest round up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. This week it’s a double column to make up for missing last week (sorry, I was in hospital). This means it’s a bit of a long column, but there was a lot to cover. We’ve got two weeks of RAW, SmackDown and NXT, and the preview for Extreme Rules. But let’s start with what happened at Backlash.
Natalya, Tamina and Carmella (with James Ellsworth) def Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Naomi
It felt a bit strange to have a showcase match, most useful for setting up future feuds, than to have the title defended on PPV, but that’s what we got.
The Welcoming Committee looked to be working well as a team. They spent a good amount of time with Charlotte Flair isolated in their corner, making frequent tags and keeping the pressure on. A distraction from Tamina allowed Carmella to get the upper hand on Naomi, and Carmella’s interference pulling Becky Lynch off the apron prevented Naomi tagging out when she needed to. All good, if not necessarily legal, teamwork strategies.
There was nothing negative in the work between the members of the other team, but the same level of teamwork just wasn’t in evidence. It was Welcoming Committee pretty much all the way through. Considering it was the only women’s match on the card – largely because it contained the entire active roster – it could have been given a little longer. It was a fun match, everyone got the chance to do their thing as you’d expect in a match like this. I’m just not sure it really felt up to recent PPV match standards. It was a good way for Tamina to establish herself
For the finish, Natalya caught Becky Lynch off-guard after some interference from Tamina. She got Lynch into the Sharpshooter, and Lynch tapped out.
Week 1 – w/b May 21
Sasha Banks def Alicia Fox
Alexa Bliss def Mickie James
Sasha Banks was interviewed about the ‘rubber match’ between her and Alicia Fox. She said she was looking forward to winning the match and putting the feud to bed, then was interrupted by Fox and Dar. Noam Dar said Sasha Banks was just jealous because Fox had him and she had no-one, He said she’s not the boss she’s… then backed right off after Banks challenged him. Is Noam Dar now RAWs version of James Ellsworth? I really hope WWE know that Dar is worth a lot more than that, but that’s a discussion for somewhere else.
Sasha Banks vs Alicia Fox
Dar inferred early in the match by distracting Banks to allow Fox to get the upper hand for a while, but these two are so well matched in style it didn’t last long. Neither did the match. A couple of minutes of exchanging moves and Sasha Banks got the pin after hitting Fox with double knees in the corner.
Post-match Dar and Banks had a verbal exchange in the centre of the ring, Banks slapped him to the mat, Fox attacked her from behind and delivered the scissor kick. Guess this one isn’t over after all, and I’m quite pleased about that. I’ve found them to be an entertaining combination.
Alexa Bliss was interviewed backstage. After a recap of her interaction with Bayley last week, which led to the announcement of the Kendo stick on a pole match, and a picture of the mark the Kendo stick left on Bayley’s back, Bliss said she doesn’t feel bad about it, she just wants to do it again. Bayley isn’t capable of getting extreme and Bliss will make sure Bayley’s entire body is tattooed with welts. She finished by saying that in her match with Mickie James that night, she would take her dreams and turn them into nightmares.
Alexa Bliss vs Mickie James
Another short match on RAW. It’s nice to have more than one women’s match on the flagship show, but please let’s not get back to the era of three minute matches as standard for the women’s division. It’s not good enough.
There’s not much to say about the match. We’ve seen them fight before, and in matches which had time to develop. Bliss finished this one with a DDT and we got on to the purpose of the segment. Alexa Bliss pulled a kendo stick from under the ring and hit James with it. Bayley ran down to the ring, stopped short when Bliss came at her with the stick, grabbed Bliss’ legs and picked up the stick when Bliss dropped it. Bliss backed off as Bayley brandished the kendo stick at her, and escaped from the ring without Bayley using it.
Week 2 – w/b May 28
So, at Extreme rules, we have a mixed tag match. Alicia Fox and Noam Dar will take on Sasha Banks and Rich Swann, in a bid to tie up the loose ends of both feuds. Ahead of this match Dar met Swann on this week’s RAW, with the women in the corner of their respective partners. It was all very civilised until Alicia Fox got onto the apron towards the end of the match. Banks pulled Fox’ feet out from under her, sending her face first onto the apron, then slammed her against the edge of the ring. Rich Swann got the pin then Swann and Banks had a little dance in the middle of the ring.
Sasha Banks also put in her first appearance on 205live this week. Noam Dar and Alicia Fox took to the ring to slate their Extreme Rules opponents, Swann and Banks came out to answer, and Banks and Fox had an argument about hair. Then Dar and Swann had another match. The women cheered on their respective partners from the outside, but didn’t get involved until the end. Fox grabbed Swann’s leg to prevent him diving out of the ring after Dar, and the women had a little scrap outside the ring. While that was going on, Dar managed to pin Swann after kicking him in the head.
Alexa Bliss came to the ring and reminded the crowd she will defend her title at Extreme Rules in a kendo stick on a pole match (there was a kendo stick on a pole in the ring in case people found the concept tough). She referred to Bayley as everyone’s favourite sock puppet, told the crowd that Bayley wasn’t capable of using the stick, and would probably try to hug it. Then she announced she was doing Bayley’s ‘This is your life’. It wasn’t great, and I’m being kind.
After going through some possessions: toys, sportsmanship trophy, yearbook. She then introduced the fake guests. First up was a teacher who said Bayley’s dad accompanied her to class because Bayley would cry if she was away from him for too long. The childhood best friend was next who said Bayley was so nice she took the blame for other people getting into trouble, did their homework etc. But she never wanted to hang out she just wanted to watch RAW or SmackDown. The final guest was Bayley’s ex-boyfriend. Bliss asked him to talk about their first date. He said Bayley took her dad on all their dates, then said he’d only dated Bayley to get close to her best friend.
Happily, at this point Bayley put in an appearance. She rushed the ring and brawled with Bliss for a while. Bayley tried to grab a kendo stick from the pole in the ring, Bliss stopped her, pulled a stick from under the table of possessions, and hit Bayley with it.
Week 1 – w/b May 21
Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair def Carmella and Natalya
On the SmackDown following Backlash we got a very similar match to the one we saw two days before. Instead of three on three, this was two on two, but with the third member of each team hanging out on the outside.
Obviously outside interference was going to play a part. Naomi was key in stopping interference from both Tamina and James Ellsworth. Her final save, kicking Ellsworth away from the ropes to stop him helping Carmella, led to Becky Lynch locking Carmella into the Dis-Arm-Her. With no-one to save her, Carmella tapped out to give Lynch and Flair the win.
Later in the show Natalya spoke to Shane McMahon in his office. She reminded him he had told her all she had to do was ask for a shot at the title, and she was asking. Before he could answer Carmella and Ellsworth appeared and she said she was the only one who deserved a shot. Becky Lynch came in next to point out they were already turning on each other, and she should get a shot. Tamina joined in to say they’ve already had their shots and it is her turn. Charlotte Flair finished the group and reminded them that her shot was ruined by the Welcoming Committee, and she might have already been champion if it wasn’t for them.
Shane McMahon closed them all down by setting a fatal five-way elimination match next week to decide who faces Naomi for the title at Money in the Bank.
On Talking Smack Naomi was asked about her feelings on the fatal five-way. She said she doesn’t mind who she faces. She has unfinished business with most of them (the exception being Tamina), she has a lot to prove to everyone else, and to herself. She won’t underestimate anyone because that is the mistake her opponents have made with her throughout her career.
Week 2 – w/b May 28
The show opened with the participants of the fatal five-way elimination match stating their cases for why they’ll win the five-way elimination match. Nothing exciting or unexpected was said, just standard promo – I’m going to win because I’m the best – type stuff.
The women all made it to the ring for the match, but before the ref could ring the bell it all broke down into a brawl. Within a minute or so all five were outside the ring and chaos reigned. Becky Lynch threw Carmella into the timekeeper’s area then jumped in after her. Tamina was clearing off the announce desk with the intention of putting Charlotte Flair through it. Flair got up from her laid out by the ring position to take out Tamina by shoving her into the edge of the ring, and the post, then Natalya with suplex, followed up with a moonsault from the top turnbuckle to both of them.
Carmella reappeared and launched herself at Flair, Lynch took her out and was taken out by Tamina. Natalya went through the announce desk, courtesy of Charlotte Flair. And at this point Shane McMahon decided enough was enough and came out to sort things out.
As a reward for their inability to stick to the rules, he gave them all a money in the bank ladder match at the upcoming Money in the Bank PPV. This will be the first time women have competed in a MITB ladder match. It’s also the perfect solution for finding Naomi’s next challenger. I expect it to be an incredible match. SmackDown seems to have engineered a division where there is almost equal competitiveness and cooperation. The women are all determined to push themselves forward, but equally want to show they have the best division in WWE. The dynamics between them just seem to work.
On Talking Smack Shane McMahon kicked James Ellsworth out before the interview with the five women. They started off shouting at each other before Renee Young got control, briefly. Every question asked to any of them was interrupted and talked over by the rest. Eventually they got the point across that they’re all happy to be making history, no-one is scared of heights, and they’re all intending to win. Nothing ground-breaking, but it was an entertaining if chaotic interview. Shane McMahon is rightfully proud of the division and took the opportunity to stress how important the history making match will be for all their careers.
In the two weeks covered by this column NXT didn’t have a women’s match.
The first week Ember Moon was shown complaining about how much it sucks to be injured on TakeOver day. She also said she hoped Asuka retained so that she can be the one to take the title from her. Other than that we got a recap of the NXT TakeOver match where Asuka did retain her title, and a post-match interview with Asuka. In typical Asuka style it was short and to the point. She said, ‘Nobody can stand toe to toe with me’, pointed at the belt, laughed and said, ‘it’s mine’.
The second week featured on of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay’s video segments. This time they were planning a ‘iconic wing’ in the performance centre when Ember Moon walked into shot. After Royce and Kay made some screechy and disparaging comments to Moon, a staff member handed Moon a clipboard to sign which apparently confirmed her medical clearance to wrestle.
No original women’s division action on Main Event on either of the last two weeks.
Extreme Rules Preview and Prediction
Alexa Bliss (C) vs Bayley – RAW Women’s Championship – Kendo Stick on a Pole match
Since winning the RAW women’s championship Alexa Bliss has done nothing but belittle and humiliate Bayley. The self-styled ‘Goddess of WWE’ has called her opponent a child, told her she’s not capable of getting extreme, and subjected us all to that awful ‘This is your life’ segment. After Bliss attacked Bayley with a kendo stick, RAW GM Kurt Angle set the kendo stick on a pole match to give Bayley a chance for revenge.
The kendo stick on a pole concept wouldn’t have been out of place in the WWE that existed when Angle was last part of the company, but now it just seems a little odd. The idea is that whoever gets the stick down can legally use it for the match, but you know that stick is going to change hands at least once. Should it be a DQ if the person who didn’t get it off the pole uses it? Who knows. Will it be? No.
I’m sure it will be entertaining, and a bit of a spectacle. I’m equally sure Bayley will manage to get at least one hit on Alexa Bliss with the stick. However, I don’t think it’s going to be Bayley’s night. It’s just too soon to switch the title again, and there isn’t a clear cut next in line feud for the title once these two are done. I’m sure Bayley will get another title run, just not starting at Extreme Rules.
Prediction: Alexa Bliss
Sasha Banks and Rich Swann vs Alicia Fox and Noam Dar
I want to care about this feud, but I don’t understand it. I get that Fox and Dar had a problem with Swann, and with Banks, separately. But the teaming up just seems rushed and forced. I’d actually be happier if this was an inter-gender match rather than a mixed tag. At least that would be something different.
Anyway, it is what it is. The men will fight, the women will fight, and then someone will win. I think this is a perfect match for a feel-good babyface win. It has no real consequence for anything, so that’s the only thing that makes sense to me.
Prediction: Sasha Banks and Rich Swann
And we’re done. Thanks for sticking with it. I’ll be back next week with the Extreme Rules results, and all the usual action from WWE’s women’s divisions. In the meantime, if there is anything you think I should cover, or anything you’d like to discuss, tweet me @manda_why.