Welcome to this week’s round up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. And what a week it’s been. The women of SmackDown made history at Money in the Bank, but it didn’t go quite the way anyone expected. With all the fallout from that, and everything else to go through as well, it’s a bit of a long one this week. So let’s get straight into it.
Money in the Bank
Carmella def Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Natalya and Tamina for the MITB briefcase
Naomi def Lana
Naomi was a guest on the pre-show. She talked about . During her segment Renee Young announced that the women’s Money in the Bank match would open the show. At that point my heart sank, the immediate cash in looked like an inevitability.
Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair vs Natalya vs Carmella vs Tamina – Money in the Bank Ladder match
The women’s Money in the Bank match opened the show. Before the match started there was a video paying tribute to all the women who came before the women’s revolution, names like Mae Young, Moolah, Trish Stratus, Lita, Beth Phoenix and Alundra Blaze. Chyna’s name was omitted from the package, which has upset a lot of people. That aside it was another good video package, and an emotionally driven way to set up a historic event.
The match was great. Tamina had a good showing early on. Natalya was the first to try to climb a ladder, but was dragged off it by Charlotte Flair. Flair’s attempt was thwarted by Carmella, the Carmella and Flair traded blows on top of the ladder until Tamina knock it over. And so it went on.
The ladders were central to the match from the beginning. All the women took full advantage of the opportunity to use them as weapons in every imaginable way. Women were thrown into them, onto them, hit with them, and had them thrown at them. Everyone climbed up for the briefcase at least once. It was, essentially, everything you could expect or hope for from a ladder match. Until the end.
Becky Lynch slammed Carmella to the mat after dragging her off the ladder and began to climb. James Ellsworth tipped Lynch off the ladder and out of the ring, then tried to rouse Carmella. As Carmella was unable to climb the ladder herself Ellsworth, climbed the ladder, unhooked the briefcase and threw it down to her.
Twitter got very very upset. I’m not impressed myself. It was a really disappointing way for such a good, not to mention historic, match to end. This was the only chance they had for it to be the first ever women’s MITB match, and it was won by a man. Way to show faith in your roster. There is a huge difference between a heel cheating with the help of an accomplice – which is just about ok, and the accomplice winning it for them – which is not. It would have been fine by me if Ellsworth had stopped the other women getting the briefcase, even if he had helped Carmella up the ladder. But she should have been the first one to touch it. I have put my faith in the SmackDown writers to sort this mess out on Tuesday, but it cast a sour note over the whole PPV for me and a lot of other people.
Lana had a backstage interview before her match against Naomi. She said that the other women were lucky she wasn’t allowed to be in the ladder match or the result would have been very different. She went on to talk about crushing Naomi last week (is that what that was?) and said she’s happy everyone thinks Naomi is the favourite because she will shock the world when she beats her.
Lana vs Naomi
Lana came into the match as an unknown quantity. Her only previous televised match was WrestleMania pre-show last year, in Brie Bella’s retirement match. She’s been on NXT live shows, and has apparently been training hard at the performance centre. So, the big question we all wanted answered, is she any good?
I’m not sure if the match completely answered it to be honest. She sent a long time working on one of Naomi’s legs, which seemed to be a solid tactic for an opponent who relies so much on her athletic ability. However, she lacks a certain finesse that only comes with practice. My personal verdict is she has potential, but we’ll have to wait and see if she turns that into anything special.
Carmella sauntered down the ramp mid-match and appeared to toy with the idea of making it a triple threat, before changing her mind and watching the rest of the match from ringside.
The distraction affected Lana more than Naomi, and moments later Naomi retained her title via submission. Carmella decided against cashing in.
Also on the Money in the Bank PPV, Maria and Mike Kanellis made their first appearance. Neither wrestled but it seems like Maria Kanellis will probably be the newest addition to the SmackDown women’s roster. Having been a major player in the TNA knockouts division until recently, it’s unlikely that she’s arrived just to valet for her husband. But you never know with WWE, we’ll see.
Naomi appeared on the Talking Smack after MITB to talk about her win, and about the ladder match. She said she wasn’t surprised Ellsworth grabbed the case for Carmella. That she would have been ready if Carmella had cashed in and would still have been champion, and she’s a fighting champion who wants to defend as much as possible.
Nia Jax def Sasha Banks – sort of
Sadly, RAW didn’t improve on the last few weeks. If anything, this week was much worse. The women didn’t get a single mention for the first two hours of the show. By two hours forty minutes people had started to give up hope. Then, without any hype or advertisement, Sasha Banks appeared. We got a brief recap of last week’s match, then Nia Jax followed Banks to the ring. Alexa Bliss came out to sit with commentary, and they went to an ad break.
By the time we got back from the break the match was underway. Less than a minute later the focus switched to the commentary desk where Emma was berating Bliss for walking out on her last week. Alexa Bliss ran down to the ring to hide behind Nia Jax, Jax pushed her back towards Emma. Bliss got out of the way of Emma’s kick so it landed in Jax instead. At that point Sasha Banks was disqualified because someone touched her opponent other than her.
It all broke into a brawl from there, with Dana Brooke and Mickie James coming out to join the fun. Finally, Bayley came running down and piled in with some of the fire she was sadly lacking in her Extreme Rules match. She took her frustrations out on Emma and Bliss, then worked with Banks, Brooke, and James to deal with Nia Jax.
Ok, so the segment featured all the women except Alicia Fox (who is storyline injured). But there was no real match – one minute before a DQ by interruption doesn’t count, no interview segment, no promos, and the whole thing was only about five minutes long. An entire roster squeezed into an unadvertised five-minute segment of a three-hour show. I’ve said it before, and I’m sad that I must say it again. This isn’t good enough. RAW, you must do better.
The women’s division were very much the focus of this week’s SmackDown, unsurprising considering the way the money in the bank ladder match finished. Shortly after the end of the match Daniel Bryan announced on social media that he would be back this week, and would sort it all out. Settle in, there was a lot of talking.
The show opened with Tamina, Charlotte Flair, Natalya and Becky Lynch arguing backstage. Daniel Bryan appeared and told them he’d speak to them all, but wanted to speak to Carmella and James Ellsworth first. As soon as he left they started arguing again.
Carmella and James Ellsworth got the opportunity to address the crowd in the first in-ring segment of the show. Ellsworth told the crowd to give it up for her, to a chorus of boos, then Carmella welcomed everyone to the fabulous era of Carmella. She said her name had been trending worldwide for 48 hours, but not because she won, because of how she won. People have been saying that she disrespected a historic moment or made a mockery of the women’s division, or that she needed James Ellsworth to win the match for her, but her response is -who cares.
She talked about being the last pick of the draft, and being overlooked and underestimated ever since. She’s not there for girl power. Everyone always talks about the other women and how good they are, but she’s more intelligent. She maintains she won the match fair and square, and cited examples like Kane helping Rollins, and Bray Wyatt stopping Roman Reigns from winning. She blamed the internet trolls for stirring things up to the point where Daniel Bryan had to step in and told them they should be embarrassed. She also reminded the crowd that it was a no DQ match, and she didn’t break any rules. To finish, she told the booing crowd that Daniel Bryan would have to man up and reinforce that she is Miss Money in the Bank, and there’s not a damned thing anyone can do about it.
I’ve got to say, Carmella has never looked more comfortable or confident, and that was almost certainly the best promo she has ever delivered.
The scene cut straight back to Daniel Bryan’s office, where he was joined by Charlotte Flair. Bryan tried to talk to Flair about her medical status, but Flair wanted to talk about Carmella’s promo. She said it’s time for Daniel Bryan to act. No disqualification should only apply to the people in the match (since when? There’s definitely a precedent for interference). The women in the match were all excited to make history and, unfortunately, they did. Now it’s time for Bryan to do the right thing. He nodded thoughtfully as she walked away.
Another office segment, this time with Natalya and Tamina. Natalya started by being overly nice to Daniel Bryan about how good it is to see him and about him being a new dad. Tamina was more to the point. She asked him if he was going to let Carmella and Ellsworth get away with it, because if she has to listen to Carmella run her moth one more time she’s going to put her foot in it. Bryan said he’d have an official decision by the end of the show. Natalya went back to ingratiating herself as he shooed them away.
Naomi was asked for her for her views on the MITB match in a backstage interview. She said it was unfortunate. She knows how hard the women worked and it’s a shame that it went down the way it did. She’s confident Daniel Bryan will make the right decision. It doesn’t matter to her who ends up with the contract because she’s ready for anyone.
At that point she was interrupted by Lana. Lana said Naomi should be thanking Carmella because if it wasn’t for her distracting her in their title match, the SmackDown champion would be ravishing. Then she challenged Naomi to a rematch. Naomi basically said she didn’t deserve one, but she’s a fighting champion so she’ll give her another opportunity next week. – That’s got bad news written all over it, but hopefully it will be ok. I said earlier Lana has potential, but she’s not up to championship standard yet, unless there is something she didn’t show in the title match at MITB.
Becky Lynch was the next to accost Daniel Bryan to do the right thing. She walked into a conversation between him and Sami Zayn in the corridor. After she and Zayn exchanged commiserations Zayn left and Lynch said her piece. She said she keeps going over the fact she had the briefcase in her hand before Ellsworth toppled the ladder. SmackDown doesn’t feel like a land of opportunity to her anymore it feels like the land of handouts. She doesn’t know what to do because it doesn’t matter how hard she works, or how good she is, someone will always take shortcuts to cut in front of her. Daniel Bryan said he’s sorry but it’s complicated. Lynch replied, ‘is doing the right thing really that complicated?’
It finally came to Daniel Bryan to sort things out. After a short spiel about how hard it was to sort everything out, he brought out all the MITB competitors. He started by telling Carmella he had listened to her points, and there wasn’t technically a rule saying someone else couldn’t get the briefcase down for her. There has been a precedent for interference, but that has never happened before so it’s uncharted territory.
James Ellsworth butted in and suggested fatherhood had made him soft. Byran told him to shut up and promised to punch him and fire him if he mentioned his daughter again (please). Carmella started shouting at Bryan, then they all took turns in having a go at each other, with the biggest threat seeming to be to make someone look like Ellsworth (I don’t like the guy, but that’s not really on).
Anyway, the decision was that Carmella had to give the briefcase back and the match is being rerun on next week’s SmackDown. After Daniel Bryan took the briefcase back, and left the ring, the women started scrapping. Carmella was, unsurprisingly, the focus. Charlotte Flair hit her with Natural Selection and Becky Lynch put her in the Dis-Arm-Her.
I’m not overly impressed with the decision. If Carmella doesn’t win it then the whole thing has been for nothing. It’s the fairest solution, but you can’t get back the historic first time.
On Talking Smack Carmella and James Ellsworth accused Daniel Bryan of making rules up, then ‘cried’. Bryan failed to keep a straight face while she asked him how he would feel if someone did this to his daughter (fair enough, she’s only a few weeks old). Carmella and Ellsworth got very upset when Bryan announced that Ellsworth would be banned from ringside for the rerun of the match.
Ember Moon def Peyton Royce
Sonya Deville def Rachel Evers
NXT won the week this week. By which I mean they found time for actual matches, and good ones as well. They also found time to advertise next week’s NXT women’s championship – last women standing – match between Asuka and Nikki Cross.
Ember Moon vs Peyton Royce
This was Ember Moon’s return from injury match, and she looks to be in good form. No-one ever fights just Peyton Royce; Billie Kay is always a factor. This match was no different, Kay got involved twice. The first time she pulled Moon off the top turnbuckle, slamming her just healed arm on the top rope. The second time she pulled Peyton Royce out of the ring to avoid an Eclipse, but paid for it by Moon hitting her with a dive from the second turnbuckle. She stayed down for the rest of the match.
The match itself was decent. Peyton Royce is so much better than she was, and Ember Moon has been consistently good since she got to NXT. It looked like Royce might get the win when she got Moon with a widow’s peak, but she only got a two count. In the end Ember Moon bounced Peyton Royce of a ringpost, then hit her with the Eclipse before she could recover.
Sonya Deville vs Rachel Evers
Not the first time we’ve seen either of these women, but it was Sonya Deville’s first match with a big video promo build up. I’m a big fan of both of them, and I’m really pleased to see Deville looking like she’s going to be an NXT roster regular. I’m expecting Evers to be in the Mae Young Classic, and to join the NXT roster soon after (hopefully).
The match was short and sweet. Deville is fast and powerful, with an air of meanness about her. It says a lot that they had her up against someone as good as Evers for her introduction as a main player. As it was her big match, there was only going to be one result. Sonya Deville won the match with a double wristlock submission.
No women’s division action from Main Event this week. I’m feeling increasingly sad for the RAW women’s roster with each passing week.
This week, we had a few more names confirmed for the Mae Young Classic. Tessa Blanchard, Abbey Laith (was Kimber Lee), Taynara Conti, Jazzy Gabert (better known as Alpha Female), and Kavita Devi are the latest announcements. More names are expected to be revealed very soon.
With all those talk segments, this might be the longest of these columns. If you made it through, thank you. This week might have been a little match-light, but the women’s divisions in two of the three weekly shows are taking a prominent place in the storyline, and that can only be a good thing. Hopefully RAW will catch up soon. I’ll be back next week with the results of the rerun of the women’s Money in the Bank matches, and the NXT women’s title match, and to see if RAW steps up their game. I’ll also bring you all of the other action as usual. In the meantime, if there is anything you want me to cover, of anything you’d like to discuss, tweet me @manda_why.