Welcome to this week’s round up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. We’re on the road to WrestleMania, next stop RAW’s Elimination Chamber PPV, with another historic first for the women’s division – Alexa Bliss will defend her title in the Elimination Chamber itself. SmackDown have longer to wait for their next PPV, which will be Fastlane, but they’ve already started talking about it.
Asuka def Bayley
Nia Jax def Vanessa Floyd
Mickie James def Sonya Deville
Three women’s matches and a non-match in-ring segment this week. It was great. It was an episode of RAW where any one of four or five matches could comfortably main evented without anyone complaining. Asuka versus Bayley didn’t get chosen for the headline spot, but it was definitely one of the matches which could have been.
Before her match Bayley had a locker room conversation with Sasha Banks. She caught Banks rewatching he loss to Asuka for what Bayley said was the 20th time and told her she was being too hard on herself. Banks said the moment she stops being hard on herself is the moment she stops being her and she needs to show people she’s still the boss around here. She knows she can beat Asuka, and now she knows how. Bayley reminded her she was fighting Asuka tonight and asked for tips, but Banks declined. Bayley said some offence was taken but she gets it. The Elimination Chamber match is every woman for herself, just like Royal Rumble. Banks agreed and said she did what she had to do. If Angle puts her in the chamber she’s going to win, then beat Asuka at WrestleMania. Bayley said she’s planning to do the same. Sasha Banks asked if she thought she could beat Asuka, sounding very sceptical. Bayley said she knows she can beat Banks, so if Banks can beat Asuka, so can she.
Enough of the teasing with the feud for these two, let Banks bring The Boss back in all her glory, and let us watch them tear each other apart (in the nicest possible way of course). It will be emotion filled and brutal, and they will play it perfectly.
Kurt Angle announced the participants of the first women’s Elimination Chamber match. Alexa Bliss will defend her title against Bayley, Mandy Rose, Mickie James, Sonya Deville, and Sasha Banks. There will be another women’s division match on the PPV card as well. Nia Jax will face Asuka. If Jax wins that match she will be entered into Asuka’s match at WrestleMania, to make it a triple-threat.
Alexa Bliss came out to make her feelings clear. She told Kurt Angle he was being unfair in his treatment of her. She accused him of going against company policy because men and women should be treated equally. Brock Lesnar doesn’t have to defend his title in the chamber, why should she? Angle pointed out she hasn’t defended her title since TLC in October – I had no idea it had been that long. Why hasn’t she been stripped for failure to defend the championship? Naomi had to relinquish hers when she was unable to compete, and Bliss hasn’t had any excuse. I’m not bothered what the rule is, but at least be consistent with enforcing it. – Bliss outright accused Angle of being sexist, and valuing Brock Lesnar more than her. He said that wasn’t the case, and that he felt she was trying to weasel out of the match. Then he put it to the audience vote as to whether they wanted to see the match. When the crowd chanted yes, Bliss stormed out.
Asuka vs Bayley
Bayley and Asuka had a couple of very good matches in NXT, and this was much closer to the NXT version of Bayley. She looked focused and confident and was more aggressive than we’ve seen her in a while. I like this version of Bayley can we keep her?
Long match by RAW standards, and a very, very, good one. Bayley looked comfortable exchanging holds with Asuka early on. She took some hard strikes but gave plenty back too. They went at each other inside and outside the ring with Bayley being hip attacked off the apron, and Asuka being driven into the barricades.
Asuka’s complete dominance is slowly being eroded. She’s not looking invincible any more, just hard to beat. There were periods of the match where Bayley was in complete control, and a couple of occasions where Asuka looked worried. Mind you, there were just as many times where it looked like Bayley should have stayed down for the three-count.
Asuka got the Asuka lock on Bayley when stood on the apron, Bayley bounced Asuka onto the ropes to break the hold. Following Asuka out was a mistake though. As Bayley launched herself off the apron Asuka kneed her in the face.
This resilient, aggressive, Bayley is the one we’ve needed back for months. Asuka managed to get the armbar on in the end though and Bayley was forced to tap.
At the end of the match Asuka offered Bayley a handshake as a show of respect. One of my favourite things in all of wrestling, and well deserved.
Nia Jax vs Vanessa Floyd
It’s been a while since we’ve had a Nia Jax squash match, but it led to and interview and was more interesting than just having the interview so why not. The lucky ‘jobber’, Vanessa Floyd, is indie wrestler Savanna Stone. It was all over very quickly.
Renee Young interviewed Jax in the ring after the match about Kurt Angle’s announcement. Jax looked up at the WrestleMania sign and addressed her comments to Asuka. She said she’s the only woman in the locker room who doesn’t fear her, she’s the only on Asuka can’t beat (except those times she’s already beaten her I guess). Nia Jax threatened to mess Asuka’s ‘pretty little face’ up so badly she’d have to wear the mask full time, and promised to turn her from the empress of tomorrow to the empress of yesterday.
Mickie James vs Sonya Deville
Good to see Deville building an identity for herself on the main roster. She has the rest of Absolution with her, of course, but this was very much her match. There was a lot of focus on Deville’s nose. She caught a shot from James and commentary spent the rest of the match speculating as to whether it was broken. James worked on it throughout.
Sonya Deville got one piece of help from Mandy Rose. She distracted Mickie James long enough for Deville to throw her from the top turnbuckle. Not the longest match, but hard hitting and fun. James and Deville worked well together, it would be interesting to see if they could make something of it. Maybe we’ll see more at Elimination Chamber as they’re both in the match.
It was almost against the run of play when Mickie James rolled Deville up and pinned her. She was immediately set upon by Deville and Mandy Rose, with Paige shouting encouragements at them.
Alexa Bliss ran to the ring, pulled Mickie James to safety, and helped her up the ramp. James looked extremely wary of the show of support, with good reason. Clearly, Bliss has reconciled herself to the Elimination Chamber match and is looking to build some bridges.
Charlotte Flair def Liv Morgan
SmackDown did give us a women’s match this week. There seemed to be some confusion as to how this match came about. Commentary said there was a rumour that Flair had requested the match after the Riott Squad attacked her last week.
Charlotte Flair vs Liv Morgan
Liv Morgan was accompanied by the rest of the Riott Squad. Flair came alone, a brave decision considering the Riott Squad’s usual antics.
The way Flair started the match suggested the rumour may be true. She went in hard on Morgan, muscling her into her own corner then kicking her until she rolled out of the ring to regroup with her teammates. Flair followed her to the outside and beat on her some more.
The tables turned during the ad break when Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan apparently got involved, although all we were shown was Morgan bouncing Flair backwards off the ropes.
It didn’t take Flair long to get back in control but, as she went for the moonsault, Liv Morgan pulled her off the turnbuckle to land face first on the mat. Morgan tried to capitalise but the pin attempt only got two.
After Flair hit the spear on Morgan, Sarah Logan got up on the apron. While Charlotte Flair was dealing with her, Ruby Riott pulled Morgan from the ring. The ref noticed and ejected Logan and Riott from ringside. With the Riott squad gone, Flair dragged Morgan back into the ring, hit her with the big boot, then slapped on the Figure Eight. Liv Morgan tapped out.
In other SmackDown news, WWE confirmed this week that Tamina underwent successful surgery on a shoulder injury.
Bianca Belair def Jessix Hill
There was another appearance from Candice LeRae, but only in her capacity as Johnny Gargano’s wife. She came to the ring to neutralise Zelina Vega when she and Almas interrupted Gargano’s talk segment. It was a lovely moment. As soon as Zelina Vega started to talk the crowd chanted ‘we want Candice’, and she got a huge pop from them when she arrived. Unfortunately, as soon as she shoved Vega, Vega left the ring. LeRae stood by her husband while he agreed to a loser leaves NXT match. I can’t wait for her to start wrestling properly.
Shayna Baszler had a press conference segment. She said it only took her a month to become the most feared women NXT has ever seen, and invited the reporters to ask Dakota Kai, Aliyah, Ember Moon, or anyone at the performance centre. Everyone knows if they get in the ring with her they have three choices, tap, nap, or snap. When reminded that Moon retained the title, and asked what was next, she said there wouldn’t be a rematch because Ember Moon is scared. Moon knows that if she got back in the ring with Baszler she’d lose her title. She got off lucky last time and she knows it. She’s not a real champion. Then she invited the reporter to go and tell Moon in a blatant attempt at reverse psychology.
Within a few minutes of it airing Ember Moon sent a tweet giving Baszler a rematch, for the title, next week.
Bianca Belair vs Jessix Hill
This is going to take you as long to read as the match lasted. Jessix Hill stuck her hand out for Belair to shake, Belair took it but refused to let go. She lifted Hill above her head, did a couple of squats, then slammed her on the mat. She picked Hill back up to sit on her shoulders, dropped backwards to dump her face first onto the canvas, and pinned her. Bianca Belair is going to be a huge star.
There was also a random Kairi Sane hype video. It was introduced by commentary, rather than just a random advert, but no match was announced. I guess they just wanted to make sure people don’t forget about Sane before they get around to using her in a big storyline. Rebuilding the women’s division is taking too long. A lot of the problem is that NXT only has an hour a week, and the roster is huge. There’s so much talent in the men’s, women’s, and tag divisions that there isn’t enough time to fit everyone in. It would be nice if, just for once, it wasn’t the women’s division that suffered – but we’ll see how it pans out.
No women’s division action on Main Event this week. But Mandy Rose accompanied her Mixed Match Challenge partner, Goldust, to the ring for his victory over Curt Hawkins.
Mixed Match Challenge
Naomi and Jimmy Uso vs Mandy Rose and Goldust
Mandy Rose was subbed in for Alicia Fox after Fox broke her tailbone just before Royal Rumble. Daniel Bryan was chosen by viewer poll as the special guest referee for the match. There was a top of the head ponytail kind of deal going on with his hair, I’m not sure what that was about but it was definitely a thing.
Naomi and Jimmy Uso vs Mandy Rose and Goldust
It was genuinely lovely to see Naomi and Jimmy Uso working together, they look like they have so much fun. And it was the first opportunity for people to see some personality from Mandy Rose.
I’m still enjoying the comedic nature of the tournament. Goldust played the age card with Jimmy Uso at the start, trying to get him to give him a breather. Goldust and Mandy Rose started an affection war, which they unsurprisingly lost when Jimmy Uso prevented Goldust from kissing Mandy Rose to make it a draw. There was some wrestling in the 20-minutes show, honestly.
Mandy Rose touched Naomi’s hair then flicked her hair at her, so Naomi kicked her in the face. Naomi and Rose had a decent tussle, but my favourite moment was Beth Phoenix telling Corey Graves off for leching at Mandy Rose. The women were responsible for most of the actual wrestling that happened.
Naomi got serious after Mandy Rose slapped Jimmy Uso, she floored Mandy Rose, then tagged Uso in. When Mandy Rose broke up a cover Naomi came back in for the couples’ double team spots.
Naomi chased Mandy Rose round the ring, and through it. When Goldust tried to get between them, Naomi jumped over him and took out Rose. Naomi hit the Rear View on Goldust to set up Jimmy Uso’s frogsplash, and Goldust was pinned.
Naomi and Jimmy Uso go through to face Braun Strowman and Alexa Bliss.
Rusev and Lana had been shown throughout the match (apparently they were interacting live when it was on Facebook Watch). They came out at the end of the match, to chants of ‘Rusev day’ and told Jimmy Uso and Naomi that they were not the best married couple in WWE, Rusev and Lana are. They’re not going to be singing songs next week, they’re going to crush Bayley and Elias.
Bayley and Elias cut a backstage promo afterwards. Elias said Lana and Rusev are going to learn to Walk With Elias. Sadly, he wouldn’t let Bayley sing, or give her a hug.
I’ll be back next week with another round up of the events in 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.