Welcome to this week’s round up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. This week we’ve got the first post-WrestleMania PPV, the RAW branded Payback. Just one women’s match on the card, Bayley defends her title against Alexa Bliss. But, before we get to that, let’s look at the build-up and everything else that went on this week.
Dana Brooke def Alicia Fox
Sasha Banks def Alexa Bliss
Dana Brooke vs Alicia Fox
This match was brought about by Emma telling Fox that Brooke had been sharing and laughing about the video of her being humiliated on 205 live the previous week. As far as the match itself goes, if you blinked you may have missed it. Less than three minutes in a three hour show is ridiculous, but it was what it was. Dana Brooke won, then we got to the real point of the segment.
After the match Emma climbed into the ring and gave Brooke and awkward and unwelcome hug. Dana Brooke protested it was her moment and didn’t return the embrace, then Emma left Brooke to her posing.
This could end up being an interesting storyline. Both have things to prove. Dana Brooke needs to establish her own identity, having been attached to either Emma or Charlotte Flair for the majority of her WWE career, and Emma needs to make an impact on her return from injury. It’s just nice to see a women’s division feud building that isn’t directly related to the title.
Alexa Bliss started the ‘big’ women’s segment with a mic in her hand. After professing that Bayley’s positive, happy to be here, approach made her feel nauseous Bayley came out to defend herself.
Bliss seemed thrilled that Payback is in Bayley’s home town and she would get to humiliate her in front of her father. She called Bayley a sheltered child and asked her if she’d ever kissed a boy (missed the announcement of Bayley’s recent engagement, clearly). Then, thankfully Sasha Banks came out to stop it. Not that it got much better after that.
After Banks and Bliss threw a few insults around, Banks revealed that she was actually out there for a scheduled match against Bliss. Bliss said she was cancelling the match because Banks was unhinged and she didn’t feel safe in the ring with her. In response Banks hit her, and appeared to make her nose bleed.
Bayley joined commentary for the subsequent match, such as it was.
Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss
Because Bayley was on commentary the match was essentially ignored in favour of discussing the upcoming title match, as usual. It was short anyway. After Banks got the upper hand, with the ropes being the only thing stopping Bliss from tapping out, Alexa Bliss took a walk and the deliberate count out loss.
Bayley grabbed Bliss by the hair and tried to drag her back to the ring. Bliss got away ran backstage then came back and attacked Bayley from behind, running away again as Sasha Banks appeared to assist her friend.
Naomi (C) vs Charlotte Flair – No contest due to interference
In a backstage interview, Charlotte Flair said she has gold rather than blood in her veins. She achieved everything she could on RAW and the queen needs a new kingdom to rule. She doesn’t just want the SmackDown women’s championship, she needs it to exist, and she plans to prove to Naomi and the rest of the WWE universe that she is already the greatest superstar in WWE history.
Also backstage Becky Lynch’s interview was interrupted while she was talking about her friendship with Charlotte Flair. She got as far as saying she didn’t approve of Flair’s methods, but she’s getting results, when the new group containing Natalya, Tamina Snuka, Carmella and James Ellsworth scared off the interviewer. Natalya asked Lynch where she stood on the Flair issue and Ellsworth informed her she was either with them or against them. Carmella warned her to choose wisely, then they walked away without waiting for a response.
Before the title match, which main evented this week’s SmackDown, Naomi was interviewed. She compared herself and Flair to Ali and Foreman, and that was about it really.
Naomi (C) vs Charlotte Flair
I really like these two together, they seem to have a natural chemistry that I hope they get a chance to build on. They’re easily amongst the most athletic performers on any of the rosters, and they just seem to match up well. Last week was a decent match, I think this one was better. There were plenty of near falls and close calls to get the crowd hyped, they both got their big moves in and resisted, and then we didn’t get a finish.
Instead of ending the match, Natalya and friends invaded the ring, dispatched Naomi to the outside after a very brief struggle, and laid a beatdown on Charlotte Flair. It was a disappointing end to the match, but a great build on the storyline. Swings and roundabouts I guess.
On Talking Smack Becky Lynch said she didn’t join the mob because breaking the rules and taking shortcuts isn’t her style, she doesn’t feel the need to bow to peer pressure and she wants to be a good role model for the kids she sees at the shows. She didn’t come to the defence of Naomi and Charlotte Flair because it wasn’t her fight, no-one has ever come to save her from attack and she respects them enough that they can fight their own battles.
She was asked about her friendship with Flair, she said they have a great friendship and a great rivalry. She’s never beaten Flair in a fair fight, and Flair has always had help from her father or from Dana Brooke, she’s looking forward to seeing how it goes now Charlotte Flair is completely alone.
This week NXT didn’t have a women’s match, but that’s ok because what we did get was much, much better. There should have been a match, William Regal set it himself after the opening segment, it just didn’t quite happen.
The opening segment featured Nikki Cross. She slid into the ring, and then out again to talk into the announcer’s mic without taking it.
She called Ruby Riot to ‘come out and play’, which she did. The two faced off in the ring, then Cross leapt at Riot and the brawl began. They fought until six officials dragged them apart, and removed Nikki Cross from the arena.
Ruby Riot was interviewed before the match was due to take place and said that her problem with Nikki Cross and SAnitY is that they try to push everyone conform to their ways, but when she’s pushed she pushes back. And she’s going to push through Cross on her way to the NXT women’s championship.
Nikki Cross attacked Ruby Riot during Riot’s entrance and the two never made it to the ring. They fought on the ramp and in front of the stage (which must have really pleased the fans who couldn’t see anything) until four officials carried a kicking and screaming Nikki Cross backstage.
Following the non-match, William Regal was shown telling Asuka that there will be a Battle Royal next week to determine her number one contender. Asuka responded by snorting derisively and walking off.
Once again, there was no women’s division action on Main Event. It’s a shame it is largely being overlooked as a platform, especially now RAW has started running more than one storyline for the women’s division. Nia Jax didn’t feature on this week’s RAW, surely it wouldn’t have hurt to have her in a match. Even a squash match would have been something, although Mickie James and Emma were both free.
Payback Preview and Prediction
Bayley vs Alexa Bliss – RAW Women’s Championship match
There is history to this match going back to NXT, but not much in the way of build for the actual match. Bliss won the number one contendership via a fatal four way match, and that’s it. There’s already a fair bit of animosity between them though, with Alexa Bliss taking every opportunity to put Bayley down. Her favourite criticism seems to be Bayley’s cheerful, happy to be here, attitude and her insistence on appreciating the fans. You can’t please everyone.
The other factor is Bayley’s ‘best friend’ Sasha Banks. Bliss has heavily criticised the friendship, calling it nauseating. But it’s Charlotte Flair’s take on it that is potentially relevant. Before her transfer to SmackDown, Flair said Banks was using Bayley to make sure she got a chance at the title, and Banks herself has said that’s where she’s aiming. Bayley has said she’s more than willing to give her best friend a title shot, but who would Banks rather face? There’s a good chance Banks will interfere in the match, and most people seem to have their money on her costing Bayley the title and securing her long-awaited heel turn. A less popular option is that she will, once again, help Bayley to retain the title.
Payback takes place in Bayley’s home town. This shouldn’t be a factor, but WWE have a track record of people losing big matches in front of home town crowds, although it’s a trend rather than a rule. So we come to prediction. Alexa Bliss has been a dominant force since her main roster call-up, but she’s only just switched brands and I think it’s too early for her third championship reign. Bayley hasn’t had the title that long, and I’d really like to see her keep it for a bit longer, at least until SummerSlam. The RAW women’s division is looking better than it has at any point since the brand split in terms of potential storylines, and I believe a title change would undermine that at the moment. It’s not a popular opinion, most people seem to think Bliss will take the win, but I’m going with my personal preference.
Prediction – Bayley
That’s it for a week that has been match light, but storyline heavy. It feels like all three women’s divisions are finally building good stories, and on their way to doing the roster’s justice. Next week we find out who Asuka will face at the next NXT TakeOver, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some surprise entrants in that battle royal. Whatever happens, I’ll be back to round it all up and break it all down, along with the Payback result, and all the rest of the women’s division action. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover, or anything you want to discuss, drop me a tweet @manda_why.