Welcome to this week’s round up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It’s another bumper week, with SummerSlam to recap, and the Mae Young Classic to preview, on top of the usual action. It’s been quite a week, so let’s get on with it.
Natalya def Naomi
Sasha Banks def Alexa Bliss
The thin storylines in the main roster women’s divisions were really highlighted at SummerSlam. Six hours of programming and just the two title matches. Don’t get me wrong, all four women killed it, but it wasn’t enough. There wasn’t another option for a match though. There isn’t another storyline built for the women on either RAW or SmackDown that would necessitate a SummerSlam match, there’s just nothing outside of the title picture. We didn’t even get a tease of a cash in of the MITB briefcase, except on the pre-show.
Carmella was the only woman who joined the panel (Although Renee Young hosted, and Lita was around for part of the time). She talked a little about the Big Show vs Big Cass match (Cass is her long-term partner). She was asked about the SmackDown women’s title match, she, and James Ellsworth, said it didn’t matter who won because she would be cashing in when she was ready regardless. When pushed she said she’d prefer Naomi because she wanted to rip her hair out. Her only comment on the RAW women’s championship match was that Banks and Bliss legitimately hate each other (something which is well established). And that they are lucky she’s not on RAW or she might cash in on them. On the subject of the MITB briefcase she said she won’t reveal any plans but she loves the attention that comes with it and it makes her the most powerful and dangerous woman on the SmackDown roster. She also debuted her new ring-gear on the pre-show, it’s a little swimsuit-like, but it’s ok.
Naomi (C) vs Natalya – SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Second match on the card, a bit early but at least they didn’t end up on the pre-show. They put on a good match as well. Not spectacular or showy, but solid with good pacing and intensity. Natalya is all about the submission game, and her main aim in this match was to stop Naomi using her athleticism against her, which she did well. The result was a plethora of kicks, hard looking strikes and submission attempts.
I thought they made each other look good. Both showing signs of the punishment they had taken as the match wore on. Natalya worked hard to take Naomi’s legs away, priming her for her family finisher. Naomi managed to get out of the first Sharpshooter, but the second proved too much after everything she’d already taken and she had to tap out.
Natalya was not the most gracious of winners. She taunted Naomi before leaving the ring. Naomi was left sobbing in the centre of the ring as Natalya celebrated.
I wasn’t ready to see Naomi lose the title. She has felt like one of WWE’s biggest success stories. Looking back just a couple of years and seeing how hard she’s worked to improve has got me completely on board with her as a serious name in the division. Natalya has been there a long time though, and has very little in the way of accolades to show for it. It does seem fitting that she gets another title run. I just wish it hadn’t been at Naomi’s expense.
Alexa Bliss (C) vs Sasha Banks – RAW Women’s Championship match
Sasha Banks and Bayley had a moment during Banks’ walk through the backstage area to the ring. Bayley said, ‘Good luck sister, be safe’, and they hugged.
Another strong showing from RAW’s women. A very fight style, strike based, match, with Bliss working on Banks arm to try to make her incapable of locking in the Bank Statement. Bliss fought hard to keep her title. Her growing frustration at not being able to put Banks away culminated in a temper tantrum after Banks kicked out of Twisted Bliss.
Unusually for a Sasha Banks match, there were no huge spots where you wondered if someone was going to get seriously hurt, and the match was none the worse for that. It looked for a while like Bliss’ work on Banks arm had been effective, Banks looked to be in a lot of pain when she got the move on, but she didn’t let go even with Bliss hammering at the damaged shoulder. When Banks locked it back in and leant back, Bliss tapped out.
Two women’s title changes, and both by submission. The women gave a good account of themselves, but the divisions need storylines that allow a six hour spectacular to contain more than two, shortish, matches.
Nia Jax def Emma
In a backstage segment Emma was complaining to Dana Brooke about the social media hype around Sasha Banks win. She said Banks shouldn’t even have been in the match, it should have been her. If she’d been in Brooke’s match against James and Jax she would have been the one to face Banks last week, and she would have won the title at SummerSlam. She said Mickie James was a six time champion, but that was long before the industry was changed, and that Nia Jax was talented, but a moron.
Of course, Nia Jax was standing behind her. Jax said the hashtag after their match would be #GiveEmmaCPR.
Emma vs Nia Jax
No messing around in this one. In was almost, but not quite, on the level of the squash matches they gave Jax after her main roster call up. Emma started strongly, and got both her offensive manoeuvres for the match in early. She did have one more go after she evaded the splash in the corner. But one Samoan drop later it was all over.
Sasha Banks had an in-ring celebration. She talked about her history in Brooklyn, and sent a get well soon message to Ric Flair. She said she proved there is no goddess on Monday Night RAW, just a legit boss, and she plans on defending her championship the right way. There’s no need for her to talk her way out of a match, or for Nia Jax to watch her back, because she has all the people. And that’s why she’s a four-time champ.
Alexa Bliss arrived via the magic of someone speaking your name in a WWE ring. She laughed at the idea of Banks defending the title, and pointed out she’s never had a successful defence. Banks came back by saying Bliss has always either run away or tapped out when they wrestled. Then she suggested Bliss use her rematch clause. Alexa Bliss said no, because the crowd didn’t deserve it and she wasn’t in the mood to break Banks heart. But next week she’d have her rematch and turn the legit boss into a legit loser.
Naomi and Becky Lynch def Carmella and Natalya
Back to multi-woman matches for the SmackDown ladies this week. Please give them some proper one on one storylines outside the title picture.
Natalya made a speech before the tag match. She said SummerSlam will forever be known day the glow was unplugged. On Sunday she proved she’s the best there is etc. She’s taken all the lights off the title. She promises to restore honour and dignity back to the title. It’s no longer glow time it’s her time.
He tag partner, Carmella, came out and congratulated her on finally winning something, then reminded her that she’s still got the briefcase and can cash in at any time. At SummerSlam she let her have her moment but when the time’s right she’ll be cashing in her contract for the title. Ellsworth started to talk about the fact Carmella could refuse to tag in, watch her get beaten up for the whole match, then cash in there and then. Carmella angrily shushed him, and the other team, Becky Lynch and Naomi, came out.
The match was fine, good even, nothing we haven’t seen before. Until Carmella did indeed refuse to tag in when Natalya needed her. Instead, she told Natalya, you’re the best there is, you’ve got this, then watched her getting beaten down by Becky Lynch and then by Naomi. It looked like Carmella may cash in, but while she was standing on the apron thinking about it, Natalya tagged her in then chased her into the ring. Carmella was on the receiving end of a Bexploder from Lynch, then a split legged moonsault from Naomi, before being pinned.
In a backstage segment Lana told Tamina that her ravishing journey starts next week, and made her do a visualisation exercise. She told her to imagine that the locker room ignored her because she didn’t fit in, and had her harness the anger. Then she told her she was ready for the ravishing reign of terror to begin, and they would not stop until Tamina becomes champion, and the most feared woman on SmackDown Live.
Peyton Royce def Sarah Logan
Following TakeOver WWE.com revealed Asuka was injured in her title match with Ember Moon. She has broken her collarbone. Apparently she landed badly after being thrown by Moon during the match. The usual recovery time is 6-8 weeks but WWE haven’t put a timescale on her return yet.
On Thursday the next round of NXT shows were taped and there was a major announcement. Asuka has relinquished the title and negotiations are underway to see which main roster brand she goes to. It is widely expected she will go to RAW. Her title reign will officially end on the date the episode airs. I have mixed feelings about this. It’s quite a history book moment for her to leave undefeated, which is great for her. But whoever had beaten her would have got the biggest rub from the victory and it’s a shame no-one got that. Overall, I think it’s the right decision. Asuka needs the main roster almost as much as they need her, and the NXT women’s division needs freshening up. With the prospect of an influx of Mae Young Classic competitors joining the NXT ranks, it makes a lot of sense to hit the reset on the title.
Anyway, on this week’s show, apart from the announcement of Asuka’s injury and a quick post-match interview with her following her TakeOver win, we got a women’s division match.
Peyton Royce vs Sarah Logan
I enjoyed this match, although it was standard NXT short. Logan is a very talented performer, and someone I enjoy watching. She’s also one of the Mae Young Classic competitors. She’s been on NXT before, and I’m hoping that we’ll see a lot more of her, and at least a few of the other MYC wrestlers once the tournament is done. WWE have a unique opportunity to really give their women’s divisions the strength in depth they desperately need.
Peyton Royce and Billie Kay are still best friends. Unless they are planning a tag division, they’ll have to split them up eventually, and I eagerly await that day. Kay interfered briefly in this match, and nearly got Royce rolled up as a result. Logan put on a great showing against Royce, but she was billed as the rookie, and it was Royce’s match for the taking. She took it with her bridging fisherman’s suplex, which I have to admit is a beautiful move.
This week’s Main Event recapped the segment on RAW between Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss.
Mae Young Classic
The first round of matches will be released on WWE network tomorrow (28th August). This week saw the first preview show, bracketology. The brackets for those first round matches can be found here. The show profiled several of the competitors, and interviewed some of them. Alundra Blaze was also interviewed about her picks for the tournament. I’d highly recommend watching this show before starting on the tournament to get better acquainted with some of the competitors. On that note, here are the last batch of competitors.
Toni Storm: One of my favourite wrestlers (full stop, not one of my favourite female wrestlers, just one of my favourite wrestlers), and current Progress Women’s Champion. She’s only 21, but has still managed to rack up seven years’ experience. She’s worked extensively all over the world and is, quite rightly, one of the favourites on the competition.
Shayner Baszler: Legitimately one of the toughest competitors in the tournament. Baszler is MMA trained and known as one of the ‘Four Horsewoman of MMA’. She may only have spent three years in a wrestling ring, but she’s made quite a name for herself, and will be hard to beat.
Miranda Salinas: One of the least experienced in the tournament. Trained by Booker T’s reality of wrestling school, she’s a new addition to the performance centre. Amongst the women making her professional debut as part of the MYC, which is one hell of a start to a career.
Serena Deeb: Long time WWE fans will remember Deeb as part of CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society, with her shaved head. She originally started wrestling in 2003, but has taken several breaks. Now she’s back, and focused, and eager to re-establish herself on the biggest of stages.
Rachel Evers: Also known as Rachael Ellering. She is the daughter of Paul Ellering, Hall of Famer, and current manager of Authors of Pain. At 22 years old, she has four years’ wrestling experience, and has previously appeared on NXT. Evers is highly competitive, she played a lot of sport in high school, and has a background in powerlifting.
Kairi Sane: Previously known as Kairi Hojo. Sane is another tournament favourite, in every sense of the word. The only Japanese competitor has charisma for days, and the hard hitting, hard kicking style we have come to associate with Japanese wrestlers when they arrive in WWE. At 5’1” she is one of the smaller athletes, but don’t let that fool you. She’s got every chance of winning the whole thing. She’s already a crowd favourite.
Mia Yim: Previously known as Jade. Yim has an impressive wrestling resume behind her. One of the more hardcore wrestlers in the tournament, In addition to her wrestling, she is also a campaigner for domestic abuse survivors (as a result of her own experiences), do check out her work in that area.
Santana Garrett: With nine years behind her, and a host of accolades to her name, Garrett has been dubbed ‘the Wonder Woman’ of the tournament. She has worked for TNA, SHIMMER and Stardom, amongst others, and has previously appeared on NXT.
Abbey Laith: Previously known as Kimber Lee, and has appeared on NXT as Kimberly Frankele. Laith is on of the more experienced athletes in the competition. She has seven years’ experience and has held titles in SIMMER, Shine and CHIKARA amongst others.
Renee Michelle: Four years into her wrestling career, Michelle has trained in the USA and Japan, and is considered a rising star. Apparently, originally encouraged to try wrestling by Gillberg.
Princesa Sugehit: The oldest competitor in the tournament, and the most experienced, with 20+ years of career behind her. She’s the only luchadora in the tournament as well. Another of the favourites to go a long way, her high flying style is very entertaining to watch.
Sarah Logan: Previously known as Crazy Mary Dobson. Another one with around seven years in the ring behind her. She’s worked across the USA and Japan. She’s clearly proud of how hard she’s worked to get herself where she is now(as she should be), and she loves what she does.
Tessa Blanchard: A third generation wrestler, daughter of Tully Blanchard. Even though she is relatively early in her career, she’s well known, and liked, on the US indies, and has spent time in Japan. She has also appeared on NXT a few times.
Ayesha Raymond: Also known as Amazon. At 6’0”, Raymond is one of the bigger competitors, and a powerful performer. She has held both singles and tag titles in IPW. She was trained by Robbie Brookside and Johnny Saint.
All done for another week. Next week we’ll have a quick recap of the first round matches of the Mae Young Classic in addition to the normal action from the rest of the WWE’s women’s divisions. I’ll also be covering the MYC in detail for Rear View Review, so I’m sure I’ll throw in the link to that. In the meantime, if there is anything you think I should cover, or anything you’d like to discuss, tweet me @manda_why.