Welcome to this week’s round up of the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It was Superstar shake-up week, otherwise known as the week those of us with live tickets get to lament their favourites being shifted across brands the month before we’re due to see them – no, just me? Fine. Anyway, let’s get on with the who went where.
Charlotte Flair vs Nia Jax
This is a rivalry a lot of us have wanted to see for a while, but this is all we’re getting of it for a while (see SmackDown). The most high-profile presence in the RAW women’s division since the brand split, versus the most physically dominant female superstar on either roster.
I like to ignore when things go wrong as much as possible, but some things are tough to gloss over. Let’s just say a couple of things didn’t appear to go to plan but, happily, everyone was fine at the end of the match. The rest of the match was fun, and a little brutal looking in all the right ways.
It could have been a great rivalry, and one day it probably will be. Flair hit Natural Selection, and the moonsault from the top rope to the outside, but neither were enough to put Jax away. Nia Jax secured the win with a Samoan drop.
Dana Brooke was show in a backstage segment reading a book called ‘How to be your own protégé’. She was interrupted by Emma, who tried to pick up where they left off, reminding her that Dana was her protégé before Charlotte’s and now Flair has dumped her, and she’s back to pick up the pieces. Brooke told her that the whole women’s division has improved in her absence, including her, and her wasn’t going to follow anyone any more.
Sasha Banks came to the ring and asked the crowd to welcome ‘just’ Bayley. Bayley did her entrance, they hugged then Bayley thanked the fans for being with her through NXT and right up to her WrestleMania moment, and believing in her through the journey. Sasha Banks congratulated her then said that her moment was over. She was just about to ask for a title shot, when Alexa Bliss’ music hit and out she came.
Bliss sneered at the crowd’s applause, called Banks and Bayley nauseating and announced that she had arrived on RAW and is going to take over the RAW women’s division. She said she was glad to put the SmackDown drama behind her and concentrate on winning, then Mickie James music hit.
James announced her arrival, and reeled off her credentials, then told Bliss that her nightmare had just begun. At which point she got hit from behind by Nia Jax. Jax entered the ring, Bliss pushed Banks towards her and scarpered. Sasha Banks was thrown from the ring before Jax slammed Bayley into the corner, Samoan dropped her, and declared that the title was hers.
On the way back up the ramp Bliss and Jax had a staredown. The visual was a little odd due to the height difference, Bliss looked like the new kid at school staring down the biggest bully in the yard. It will be an interesting match-up once it comes round.
No match for the women this week. Not really good enough, but there was other stuff to get through.
Shane McMahon brought the entire women’s division out to the ring to address the state of the division, and to introduce a new member of the roster. With Alexa Bliss and Mickie James gone, they were down to four. McMahon started the intro spiel for the new member, Hall of Fame father, second generation wrestler. It sounded like Charlotte Flair, and the crowd were Wooing every sentence, then he brought out Tamina Snuka. He acknowledged the crowd’s disappointment, then brought Charlotte Flair out anyway, interestingly just using her first name again. No in-ring reactions or anything, just an announcement and she got as far as the stage. Later in the show there was a video promo for Lana, in the form of a dance routine, which said she will be joining the SmackDown roster soon.
It’s been a very long time since we’ve seen anything of Tamina Snuka, so it will be interesting to see what she’s got. Charlotte Flair is a good move for SmackDown, she’s dominated the RAW division since the brand split and moving her across will create breathing space over there, as well as some interesting matches for the SmackDown brand. As for Lana, I’ll admit I haven’t really seen her wrestle. I’ve heard she’s training hard, and I’ve heard some good things from the NXT live shows she’s wrestled at, so we’ll wait and see what she brings when she arrives.
Overall for the Superstar shake-up, it could have been better for the women. What the divisions really needed was new blood, but switches were minimal (two to RAW and one to SmackDown) and only one addition was made (the returning Tamina Snuka), with the promise of Lana at an unspecified point in the future. The next full draft is rumoured to be around September time, hopefully the numbers will be increased then. The women’s tournament, scheduled for this summer, should be done by then, so there will be plenty of talent available.
Ruby Riot def Kimberly Frankele
The NXT women’s division is finally looking up. Ruby Riot has already debuted as the back up for Tye Dillinger and friends, against Nikki Cross and SAnitY, but this week saw her singles debut. Before the match, we got a little video promo introduction where she made it clear she was there for the title.
Her opponent was not the usual, plucked from nowhere, jobber. Kimberly Frankele, better known to indie wrestling fans as Kimber Lee, got a proper entrance and it felt like a debut. Nikki Cross made her presence felt early in the match, banging a barricade to get the attention of the women in the ring, before taking her place at ringside to watch.
It was a short match, but plenty good enough to make you want to see more. Ruby Riot got the pin from a Pele kick.
With the WWE women’s tournament confirmed for the summer, I think we can expect to see more women swelling the ranks of NXT in the coming months. It’s likely they’ll do it in order to familiarise crowds with the women, and give them a reason to invest in the tournament, before it kicks off. There are some exceptionally talented women out there on the independent circuit at the moment, I can’t wait to see who arrives next.
Also this week there was a contemplative promo from Ember Moon, and a video diary segment from Peyton Royce and Billie Kay. Moon was shown walking around the empty arena after TakeOver Orlando, lamenting her loss and saying she will be the next women’s champion. Royce and Kay were criticising the décor of the performance centre, started picking on Liv Morgan and Aliyah, and Kay got pushed into a large tub of water. It’s great to see NXT throwing these short segments in to develop the characters in the women’s division a little more, it’s been badly needed for a while.
No women’s action again this week on Main Event.
So that was Superstar shake up week. Only two changes for each brand, but that should still breathe some new life into the divisions. I’ll be back next week to see how the new additions are settling in. 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.