Welcome to this week’s round up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. What a week it has been. Champion versus champion, and a five on five elimination match, at Survivor Series, a long-awaited return, and debuts galore on RAW and SmackDown. There has been so much going on it’s definitely a, settle down to read with a cup of coffee and a biscuit, kind of week. So let’s not waste any more time.
Team RAW: Alicia Fox, Nia Jax, Asuka, Sasha Banks, and Bayley, def Team SmackDown: Becky Lynch, Carmella, Naomi, Tamina, and Natalya
Charlotte Flair def Alexa Bliss
The pre-show featured a backstage segment from the SmackDown team with Becky Lynch giving her team a pep talk. It was, of course, hijacked by Natalya, but Lynch pulled it back.
Alexa Bliss had an interview with the kickoff panel. She said she didn’t think it was fair that she didn’t have long to prepare for the match because of the title change. Shawn Michaels called Renee Young out for mentioning the size difference, then they cut to split screen with Charlotte Flair. Flair did her ironwoman of the company, grand slam champion, bit. Then told Bliss she would make her bow down. It got a bit muddy after that, not Charlotte Flair’s best promo, or Bliss’. It finished with Flair challenging Alexa Bliss to beat her.
Stephanie McMahon delivered the RAW women’s pep talk just before their match. She went through each individual member and told them what she wanted them to do to a specific member of the opposition. Actually a really good pre-match fire up.
Team RAW – Alicia Fox, Nia Jax, Asuka, Sasha Banks, and Bayley, vs Team SmackDown – Becky Lynch, Naomi, Tamina, Carmella, and Natalya
There are a lot of ways to cover a match like this. Mostly, they are long-winded and stressful. So, here’s how the eliminations went down, with a few highlights and points of interest.
Becky Lynch was eliminated by Bayley, very early in the match, via roll up after a blind tag.
Bayley was eliminated by Tamina following a Superfly Splash, after a Carmella superkick had laid Bayley out.
Nia Jax was eliminated by count out thanks to Tamina and Naomi.
Alicia Fox eliminated by Naomi with a weird and confusingly messy looking roll up.
Naomi was eliminated by Sasha Banks seconds later with the Bank Statement.
Carmella was eliminated by Asuka, via a kick in the head after Carmella got cocky and slapped her.
Sasha Banks was eliminated by Natalya via Sharpshooter.
Tamina was eliminated by Asuka with an arm bar.
Natalya tapped out to the Asuka Lock, leaving Asuka as the sole survivor, taking the win for team RAW.
The entrances went on forever. Asuka was the last one out, keeping up her sense of importance.
Social media was not happy about Becky Lynch being first out. An announcement later in the week made it make more sense (see note under SmackDown).
Nia Jax and Tamina faced off for a while. A lot of people really wanted to see this combo, as they’re the powerhouses of their brand. They knocked members of each other’s teams off the apron before starting on each other. After Lana caused a distraction, when Nia Jax was about to Samoan drop Tamina, Jax sent Lana flying off the apron. Tamina landed two superkicks on Nia Jax and got her out of the ring, where she took a dive from Naomi, another superkick and a Superfly Splash from Tamina. Only after all that was Nia Jax counted out.
Overall, it was a fun match, if a little messy and chaotic at times. There wasn’t much in the way of huge spectacular spots. That’s not necessarily a criticism, but it may be a contributory factor to the match feeling a little unmemorable. Tamina got a lot of time. Asuka wasn’t used much until towards the end of the match, but still managed to clock up the most eliminations.
Charlotte Flair vs Alexa Bliss
Even though Shawn Michaels was unhappy about Renee Young asking about the height difference, saying he’d faced the same thing throughout his career and he did ok, it is quite a significant difference. It doesn’t make any difference to the relative ability of the wrestlers, but it makes for a striking visual.
Bliss started the match by trying to get away, as seems to be her default. She got an advantage after a few minutes, by pulling Flair off the apron by the arm, and driving her face first into the floor.
Back in the ring, they got on with it. Some of the match felt a little too 50/50 for me, traded almost move for move. Flair failed to hit the moonsault and got hung up in the tree of woe, Bliss hit Twisted Bliss, but only got two. Everything only got two, which kept the crowd amused ‘sweet’ing’ at least. The crowd were a bit flat for this actually, and I’m not sure why. There were a few bursts of noise, but long periods of quiet.
Alexa Bliss concentrated her attack on Flair’s ribs, which seemed like a good strategy, and eventually got her a short period of dominance. However, when Bliss went for Twisted Bliss again, Charlotte Flair got her knees up. As soon as Alexa Bliss got to her feet, she took a big boot to the face. While Bliss was still down from that, Charlotte Flair locked in the Figure Eight, and pinned her. Good match, but sadly not spectacular.
Asuka def Dana Brooke
Mickie James vs Bayley vs Sasha Banks vs Alicia Fox – No contest due to interference
Dana Brooke vs Asuka
Dana Brooke asked for the match because Asuka cost her the opportunity to represent RAW at Survivor Series. She said she’d been studying Asuka’s matches on the network (nice plug – incidentally, there is a network collection devoted to Asuka on there, it’s good, well worth watching) and she’d found some holes in Asuka’s game. She was planning to end Asuka’s undefeated streak.
Unsurprisingly that didn’t happen. She got some decent offence in, between being knocked down, then she made an error. She patted Asuka on the head, then slapped her face. Asuka knocked her out.
Alexa Bliss had her in-ring segment, commiseration rather than celebration, following her loss to Charlotte Flair at Survivor Series. She said she’d been reading the twwets of encouragement following the loss, then said she didn’t need them. She knows how well she performed, and Flair just got lucky. Survivor Series might not have been her night, but 2017 has been her year.
Inevitably, Bliss did not get the ring to herself. Mickie James was the first out, she started a biscuit butt chant, then said she wanted a shot at the title. Bayley joined them to add her thoughts. She agreed that 2017 has been Bliss’ year, but the year isn’t over yet. She’s not the same person Bliss beat for the title, and she wants her shot. Sasha Banks next, and guess what, she wants a shot too. Last, but not least, Alicia Fox. She deserves a shot for captaining the RAW women’s team apparently.
Bliss said she wanted to thank them all for wasting her time, told them none of them deserve a shot, and left the ring. Kurt Angle came to the stage and said she would face the winner of the fatal four-way, that was due to start there and then.
Mickie James vs Bayley vs Sasha Banks vs Alicia Fox
What we saw of the match was good. There was a lot of Bayley vs Sasha Banks action, still teasing the inevitable feud. But the match wasn’t the point…
Paige is back! And she wasn’t by herself.
After asking if people missed her, and declaring that she’s back (to a nice ‘welcome back’ chant), she said she didn’t come alone, and started to walk to the ring. Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville entered the ring from the other side, and started taking people out. When Bayley started to fight back, Paige entered the ring to help. Alicia Fox ran away, Mickie James was taken out by Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville took out Sasha Banks (nice ‘Sonya’ chant. I love her, and I’m glad people knew who she was). Finally, Paige delivered the RamPaige to Bayley and the three stood together in the ring.
Renee Young caught up with the trio backstage, after the ad break, but was dismissed by Alexa Bliss. Paige introduced Bliss to her friends, Bliss said ‘nice to meet you’, and there was an awkward stand off until Paige kicked Bliss in the stomach. The trio threw Bliss into stuff, and left her laid out on the floor.
After RAW Paige sent out this tweet saying she’s back, and welcoming her new friends.
Paige got a huge reaction, as she should, when she turned up. The addition of Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville appears to be to make sure she can come back as a heel rather than have the crowd turn her into a babyface because they’re so pleased to see her. It will be interesting to see if it works.
For anyone not particularly familiar with Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, they were both on the 2015 season of Tough Enough, on which Paige was a judge. Deville has been working her way through the ranks of NXT (see this week’s NXT section), and has looked to be being built as a future contender. There is always a strong focus on her MMA background. She has now become the first out gay woman on WWE’s main roster, she came out on a Tough Enough episode. Mandy Rose has only made a couple of appearances on NXT tv, but has been a regular on the NXT live show roster since early 2016. There is a well-established friendship between the two. I think it’s nice that they’ve come up together. There will be plenty of people saying they are ‘too green’ to be on the main roster. I think that, given time to settle, they will be fine. I’m more familiar with Deville than Rose, but I’m looking forward to watching them both step up.
Charlotte Flair (C) vs Natalya – SmackDown Women’s Championship match – No contest due to interference.
Naomi was talking about Survivor Series in a backstage segment, getting her make-up done. She turned, to find Ruby Riot stood beside her. Riot introduced Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan, then the newcomers attacked her. Becky Lynch jumped the trio from behind, to try to rescue Naomi, and took a vicious beating, in which her ribs appeared to be injured (more about that later).
In Natalya’s backstage interview, prior to her rematch, she congratulated Charlotte Flair for beating her last week, because it was almost impossible to do. Then she called Ric Flair disgusting for crying about his daughter’s victory, and said she’d give him something to cry about when she took back the title. She gave Charlotte Flair credit for beating Alexa Bliss, but qualified it by saying her cat could have beaten Alexa Bliss.
Charlotte Flair (C) vs Natalya – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
This had the makings of a good match, but it never got anywhere. What we got was good, but Ruby Riot, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan appeared through the crowd and attacked Natalya at ringside. They beat her down as a group, and drove her into the announce table and ringpost. A kick from Ruby Riot laid her out completely. Once she was laid out, they surrounded the ring, and went for Charlotte Flair. Despite a valiant effort to protect herself, Flair was quickly overwhelmed, and took the finishers of all three newcomers.
The segment finished with them standing together in the same pose Paige, Deville and Rose had used the previous night. Nothing unusual in the pose, but it made for a lot of comparison pictures pointing out the similarities between the invasions.
There has been a lot of talk about the similarity between the two sets of debuts this week. Both featured a dark haired leader flanked by a brunette ‘fighter type’ and a blond. It’s true, they were similar, and I don’t think that was either an accident or lazy writing. The theme running through Survivor Series has been establishing dominance, or equivalency, between the brands. In storyline, Daniel Bryan would have had 24 hours to make sure that ‘anything RAW can do, SmackDown can do better’. There is something going on with Bryan at the moment, and I think the similarity will play into that. I could be wrong. When he was asked about the newcomers he smiled and said it was an interesting situation, but no comment.
Note: It was announced during the week that Becky Lynch will be one of the superstars involved in the new Marine 6 movie. This goes a long way to explaining her early elimination from the Survivor Series match, and the brutal looking beatdown she took from the newbies on SmackDown.
Ruby Riot def Sonya Deville
This match was filmed before NXT TakeOver WarGames. When it happened, no-one knew that both these women were main roster bound, and that this was most likely their last NXT match. By the time it aired, Sonya Deville had debuted on RAW, and Ruby Riot was on SmackDown. It’s a bit of a shame for NXT, this would have been a nice non-title feud. However, there is a wealth of talent signed to NXT and the call-ups will give other people a chance to come through – exactly as it should be.
The match was great. A lot of people were complaining that Deville was too green for a main roster spot, but she proved here that she is capable of holding her own, and she’ll only get better. They got a good amount of time as well. There were only two matches on NXT this week, the rest was recaps of NXT TakeOver WarGames, so there was a bit more space for them to show what they could do.
It looked like Deville might win it with an ankle lock, the hold she failed to make an injured Riot tap for last time. But Riot eventually got to the ropes and Deville was forced to break the hold. Sonya Deville distracted herself by shouting at the ref, and Ruby Riot took advantage. As Deville turned back to refocus on the match, Riot hit the Pele kick and it was all over.
Ember Moon was interviewed after her TakeOver match, and this was shown after the recap of the match. Moon said winning the NXT Women’s Championship was a dream come true, and the culmination of all her years of hard work. She’s going to keep doing what she does, and make it hard to take the belt from her.
Interestingly, Main Event is still covering SmackDown storylines as well. This week the recapped both sets of new additions to the women’s roster.
That’s your lot, but how much more could you ask for. It’s been a good week for the women of WWE. Rumours abound that the call up of so many extra women at once could signify a Royal Rumble match in their future. We can hope, but nothing has been announced so far. Regardless, topping up the main roster has been much needed for a while now. The introduction of three new women on each brand (ok, I know technically Paige is a return, but she hasn’t been seen for over a year so she’s new to the current roster) creates some tantalising options for fresh matches, I can’t wait to cover them. I’ll be back next week to see what impact the newbies have on RAW and SmackDown, and all the other action. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover, or anything you want to discuss, tweet me @manda_why.