Welcome to this week’s round up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. We had the last PPV of the year last week, and a groundbreaking announcement on RAW. It’s a long enough column without chit chat, so let’s get straight on with it.
Clash of Champions
Charlotte Flair def Natalya
Naomi was interviewed on the Kickoff show. She was pitched as Flair’s only friend in the lumberjack match. Naomi has had her problems with the Welcoming Committee and the Riott Squad. She essentially said everyone needed to stay out her way or there would be trouble. Carmella, Tamina and Lana appeared and welcomed her back with, don’t cross us and we’ll leave you alone. Then the Riott Squad turned up and it all turned into a big shouty argument with officials trying to keep everyone apart.
There was also the, excellent as ever, video package for the match. That led into an interview with Charlotte Flair. She talked about the impact the lumberjacks could have on the match, and was then interrupted by Natalya. Natalya said the usual stuff about taking her title back, everything you’d expect, nothing you wouldn’t.
Charlotte Flair (C) vs Natalya – SmackDown Women’s Championship Lumberjack match
There was another extended video package before the match. All the lumberjacks got full entrances, although the Riott Squad came out together, and Lana was just billed as ‘Tamina with Lana’.
It didn’t take long for the lumberjacks to be brought into things. Three times in quick succession, Natalya threw Charlotte Flair outside, and let the lumberjacks beat on her for a bit before they rolled her back into the ring. From the first time it became clear the lumberjacks were pretty keen to get their hands on each other, when Sarah Logan went for Carmella.
When Natalya was thrown out of the ring, Carmella just pushed her back into the ring.
The next time Charlotte Flair was thrown out the lumberjacks were dragging each other off her just so they could have a go. All except for Naomi, who suddenly came flying over the top rope and took them all out. Flair was in bad shape by the time she was returned to the ring, with a parting kick from Tamina, and spent some time in Natalya’s Sharpshooter as a result. She broke it, but was pulled out of the ring by the lumberjacks, and a brawl ensued.
It looked for a moment like Carmella might cash in, but Ruby Riott punched her in the face, and that was the end of that.
Things happen with chaotic stipulations like lumberjack matches. Liv Morgan managed to hit Sarah Logan at one point. It was so obvious on camera Morgan sent this tweet a little after the match.
The lumberjack’s brawl went through the ring to the other side, to give Flair room to do the moonsault I guess. Charlotte Flair’s moonsault to the outside barely grazed anyone (bad camera angle possibly), but it looked beautiful until the landing.
Natalya threw Flair face first into the ringpost, them rolled her back into the ring. It looked like Natalya would get the Sharpshooter on again, and Flair would have to tap. But, as Natalya paused as she started to apply the hold, Charlotte Flair kicked her off, locked in the figure four, and bridged into the Figure Eight. Natalya tapped. Charlotte Flair retained the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
After the match Natalya had an in-ring interview. She ‘cried’ and said she’d done nothing wrong, Flair used her family name to cut corners (not sure how but…). Natalya said she has given the WWE universe some of the best women’s matches they’ve seen, and carried the division for ten year, and the fans still disrespect her. And if the WWE universe want to turn their backs on her, and the other women want to turn their backs on her, she’ss turn her back on everyone. She cried as she walked up the ramp. It was confusing, was it a retirement speech, did she just turn heel – again, while already a heel? No-one knows.
Asuka def Alicia Fox
Sasha Banks, Bayley and Mickie James def Absolution (by DQ)
Asuka vs Alicia Fox
This was the rematch Alicia Fox was supposed to have last week, until she was taken out backstage by Absolution. Happily, this week she made it to the ring, and the match took place. In the video over her entrance Fox said she was going to break Asuka’s undefeated or freak out – one tantrum incoming then.
The match started with a nice ‘Asuka’s gonna kill you’ chant from the crowd. Asuka clearly isn’t bothered by trifling details like height advantages, but Fox’ long legs worked in her favour a couple of times, by allowing her to land kicks from out of reach. One of those kicks even led to a two count.
Inevitably, Asuka took control, displayed a little of her ferocious talent, and tapped Fox out with an armbar. If Alicia Fox had the planned tantrum, we didn’t get to see it.
Sasha Banks, Mickie James and Bayley vs Absolution
Interesting start to the entrances. Sasha Banks interrupted Elias trying to sing his usual disparaging song. Elias looked thrilled, then started up again, only to be interrupted by Mickie James’ entrance music. He gave up when Bayley’s music hit, and got out of the ring. Miserable sod refused Bayley’s offer of a hug, but was clearly grinning as he walked up the ramp.
The match started, and seemed to be going well. Paige versus Mickie James could be a lot of fun down the line. Sasha Banks seemed to be the main focus for her team though, she took a lot of punishment while trapped in Absolution’s corner. Bayley didn’t feature at all in the match part of the segment, and her shoulder is taped. I hope she’s not carrying an injury.
Of course, it degenerated into a brawl, or at least into Absolution taking out Bayley and Mickie James on the outside. Then began a two on one beating on Sasha Banks, which caused Absolution’s disqualification.
Just as Paige was about to make it three on one, Nia Jax music hit. Jax cleaned house, double Samoan dropping Mandy Rose and Soya Deville, then Paige took Jax knee out from behind. When Absolution started to lay into Nia Jax, the rest of the women’s locker room ran down to make the save.
With a full on free for all brawl going on in the ring, Stephanie McMahon’s music hit. She’d been shown earlier in the show arriving, then talking to Kurt Angle in his office, but no reason for her being there had been given. As soon as the boss turned up, the brawl stopped and the women lined up, heels on one side, faces on the other, with Stephanie McMahon in the middle.
McMahon talked about the history of the women’s division, and the women’s revolution, then started listing all the historical firsts they’ve achieved – Hell in a Cell, Money in the Bank, Championship match in Abu Dhabi. It was clear something big was coming, and it didn’t take a genius to guess what.
Stephanie McMahon announced that January’s Royal Rumble PPV will have the first Women’s Royal Rumble match.
There were smiles, hugs and celebrations galore as RAW went off air. Apparently, the women in the ring had no idea the announcement was going to be made. Whether that’s true or not, the reactions of the women were beautiful to watch.
Triple H tweeted after the announcement, with the hashtag #Proud.
Obviously, this is brilliant news. As yet, we have no idea how many women will take part but, if they add in a couple from NXT, they have plenty to choose from. It is possible we might get 30, to put it on par with the men’s match. It will be interesting to see how the PPV is organised. One rumble at each end of the show would be logical, and I would imagine the women will go first if that’s the case. That’s fine, maybe next year they can switch it around. We’ll have to wait to find out the arrangements, and I’ll report back as soon as anything is known.
Naomi and Charlotte Flair def Sarah Logan and Ruby Riott
Charlotte Flair came out for her Championship Celebration, and they played a video of Stephanie McMahon’s Rumble announcement, with footage of the historic moment overlaid, followed by reactions from the women, and some tweets. As ever, it was an excellent video package, giving the match a real and deserved sense of importance.
Flair said she was stood watching it with goosebumps, then started to talk about her successful title defence over Natalya. She said nothing makes her happier than having the honour to carry the title on her shoulder. Going back to the Royal Rumble match, she credited the fans and their constant tweeting and posting about giving the women equal chance, as having made a difference. I hope so.
Naomi came out and congratulated Charlotte Flair on her title defence, then said she wanted to be the first woman to declare herself as entering the Royal Rumble match, and she’ll see Flair at WrestleMania. Flair said WrestleMania it is, then they were interrupted again.
The Riott Squad came out. When they were halfway down the ramp Naomi said they were three stooges that won’t be entering the rumble match because it’s not about sneak attacks. She and Flair have survived everything the Riott Squad have thrown at them (she called the chicken heads, and it caught on as a chant). Then she suggested that two of them, any two, step up and they have a match.
Charlotte Flair and Naomi vs Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan
The match was underway by the time we came back from the ads. Liv Morgan was on the outside for the match, but it was obvious she was going to get involved if she could.
Charlotte Flair took a lot of offence from both Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan, after Logan took her knee out early on. They’re working hard to establish Riott Squad as legitimate threats, and so they should. I’m a big fan of Ruby Riott especially, but Sarah Logan can more than hold her own. I give Liv Morgan more credit than a lot of people, but I still feel she’s a step or two behind the others. I also think she’ll catch up fast.
Eventually Flair made the tag to Naomi, and she came in fired up. She quickly got Logan down into a pin attempt, but Riott broke it up at two, before Flair came in and booted Riott in the face. Logan tried to throw Naomi at Liv Morgan, who was up on the apron, but Naomi stopped short. In a bit of symmetry, after Morgan got carried away and hit Logan during the lumberjack match, Sarah Logan crashed into Morgan and knocked her off the apron when Naomi leapfrogged Logan’s attack.
As Sarah Logan turned around, Naomi hit her with the Rear View, and pinned her.
No women’s match for NXT this week. Not great, but it was a fantastic episode, with two title matches, so we’ll let them off just this once. They did have an interview with Sonya Deville though in which she said she has unfinished business with Ember Moon, believing that Moon stole the pin in the title match, after Deville had worn down Ruby Riott with the ankle lock. To settle this unfinished business, Sonya Deville versus Ember Moon will take place next week.
There was also another promo video for Shayna Baszler. She’s on her way to NXT, and I think it’s pretty safe to mark her down as a game changer.
This week’s Main Event recapped the Royal Rumble announcement, along with the video package they showed on SmackDown.
Corey Graves new series, Straight to the Source, featured Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss this week. They talked about their recent RAW Women’s Championship match in Abu Dhabi, which was the first of its kind. The match clearly meant a lot to both of them, and the discussion is lovely. Well worth checking out if you have a few minutes.
I’ll be back next week with another round up of all the action from WWE’s women. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover, or anything you want to discuss, tweet me @manda_why. Have a very happy holidays, however you spend it.