Welcome to this week’s round up of all the action from WWE’s women’s division. It’s been an important week for WWE’s women. For the first time I can remember, the women’s divisions main evented all three shows. All three main event matches contained a stipulation of some sort, and it made for an interesting few days. So let’s get on with it.
Sasha Banks def Nia Jax – in a gauntlet match to become number one contender.
Credit where credit’s due, RAW did a good thing this week. To make up for the lack of action for the past few weeks, this week we got a gauntlet match. There was a recap of last week’s events preceding the announcement, and during the show Bayley and Sasha Banks were shown drawing their numbers.
Just before the match, Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss had a conversation in the corridor. Bliss said she and Jax were a lot alike. People have judged her for what she looks like and everyone expected her to fail. She told her that not a single woman could drag her down and said I know you don’t need it but good luck. Jax said Bliss was right, she didn’t need it, and she’d see her, and the title, at Great Balls of Fire.
Women’s number one contender gauntlet match – featuring Bayley, Nia Jax, Mickie James, Dana Brooke and Sasha Banks
Bayley was first out, with Nia Jax as number two. People who have only seen Bayley on the main roster would probably find it hard to believe she has beaten Jax twice. There was a spark of the old Bayley in this match, she got Jax down a couple of times, and even had a couple of pin attempts. It wasn’t Bayley’s night though, Nia Jax pinned her off the Samoan drop.
Mickie James was out next. The most experienced woman on the roster spent a lot of her stint caught in a Nia Jax Bear hug. Nothing she threw at Jax seemed to have much of an effect. She got her down with double knees from the top rope, for a two count. But the Mick kick didn’t even take Jax off her feet. Moments later Jax pinned her after a straightforward knockdown.
Dana Brooke got the worst deal of this match. Jax squashed her in just a couple of moves.
Emma didn’t fare much better. She at least got a bit more offence, and a pin attempt, in before she was dispatched by Nia Jax. It still only took around a minute.
Sasha Banks was the final entrant. Surprisingly, considering how long Jax had been in the ring by then, they had a decent length, and well-paced match. Nia Jax was dominant for a lot of it, answering everything Banks threw at her with RAW power. But Sasha Banks is resilient and resourceful. She caught Jax with a knee to the face, then a standing Bank Statement, but Jax countered with a Samoan drop. When she lifted Banks up again Sasha Banks got a modified version of the Bank Statement locked in, and kept hold until Jax sank to her knees and eventually tapped out.
Sasha Banks will now face Alexa Bliss at Great Balls of fire.
After the final bell, Kurt Angle came down to the ring to raise the winner’s hand. Then Alexa Bliss strolled to the ring, held the belt up in Banks face, got dropkicked in the face for her trouble and rolled out of the ring. As she went to grab her belt back, Banks grabbed it and held it up.
I believe this match was given more time than the RAW women have had in the last four weeks combined. And about time too. There is no shortage of talent on the RAW roster, and there are some intriguing matches just waiting to happen. Dana Brooke and Emma have unfinished business, Sasha Banks and Mickie James has potential, and Mickie James and Emma would be good as well. RAW have shown they can use their women’s division, now they need to follow through and actually give them some storylines.
Naomi (C) def Lana – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
Carmella def Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Natalya and Tamina – Money in the Bank Ladder match
Daniel Bryan started the show by talking to the crowd about the women’s division and the women’s matches they would be seeing that night. Unsurprisingly he was interrupted by Carmella and James Ellsworth. Carmella told him SmackDown wasn’t the land of opportunity, it was the land of injustice. She maintains that she won the ladder match fair and square. The first woman to gain possession of the briefcase wins the match, and it’s no disqualification, therefore no rules. Bryan looked mildly amused as Carmella essentially threw a tantrum in the ring, then told her she made some valid points. Other people have interfered before, but no-one had ever taken the briefcase down for someone else before. He then asked the crowd for their opinion on whether he should cancel the match and give the contract back to Carmella. No-one seemed keen on cancelling the match.
James Ellsworth told everyone to shut up because they were the villains controlling the Daniel Bryan puppet. He suggested Bryan enjoyed upsetting Carmella, and called him pathetic. He crossed the line when he said that when he looks at Bryan he doesn’t see a man he sees a gutless spineless coward that hasn’t got the grapefruits to cut it in the ring anymore so he made up an injury. Daniel Bryan laughed and said he should probably just fire Ellsworth but it wasn’t about him (while the crowd started a yes chant), it was about the real superstars of SmackDown live. Then he banned him from the arena and had security carry him away. The segment finished with Bryan wishing Carmella luck for the match.
Naomi vs Lana – Women’s Championship match
Lana hit Naomi from behind before the match officially started. It didn’t do her any good though. She threw everything she had at Naomi for about a minute, took one kick and a moonsault from the second rope, and that was it done. Then she threw a tantrum in the ring.
Right decision for me. I feel it should be time for Lana to go back to the start and work her way through the division. She clearly has potential, but she needs a lot more experience before getting anywhere near the title picture again.
Lana took to social media after the show to complain her shoulders weren’t on the mat and she wants another shot. Despite the fact she didn’t earn the first one, and is clearly outclassed by Naomi, WWE later announced that Lana will get her third title match next week. I understand that it’s all very divisive, and therefore makes for a great story, but it makes me sad for some of the women who have worked for much longer with little or no recognition. Just look how long it took Naomi to get anywhere, and what about Emma over on RAW. I hope that in this next match Lana shows something I haven’t seen from her in the first two.
Becky Lynch was interviewed backstage. She was asked how she feels about getting a second chance at the briefcase. She said she was so close last time, but Ellsworth spoiled it for her. This time she has a fair chance, and that’s all she needs.
Carmella vs Becky Lynch vs Natalya vs Charlotte Flair vs Tamina – Money in the Bank Ladder match
At the start of the match Carmella ended up on her own in the ring as the other’s brawled in pairs. They all spotted her trying to climb the ladder and threw her out of the ring. Everyone had at least one credibly opportunity to grab the briefcase, and some mighty bumps were taken, mostly involving ladders being tipped over while people were half way up them. Basically, a typical ladder match, but done very well.
Becky Lynch tried to scale a folded ladder that was being held up by Flair and Tamina. Flair and Natalya spent some time trading blows at the top of the ladder before Carmella tipped it over. I’m not sure Natalya is great with heights, she seemed very hesitant, and made sure to climb down a couple of rungs before the ladder was tipped. At one point four of the women were on the ladder at the same time. That one tipped over too.
The women had a great match. Predictably, James Ellsworth turned up. He dragged Carmella back into the ring while everyone else was otherwise occupied and tried to climb for her again. This time Becky Lynch sorted him out. She kicked Carmella in the head then pushed over the ladder with Ellsworth on it and left him straddling the ropes.
She started to climb but Carmella pulled her off the ladder, and Lynch hurt her knee on landing. When she started to climb again Carmella took the knee out with a chair. Then Carmella climbed the ladder to retrieve the briefcase.
Carmella appeared on Talking Smack to gloat about getting the briefcase back. She tried, unsuccessfully to get an apology from Daniel Bryan and sang her own praises for a few minutes, then went to celebrate her win.
I’m glad Carmella won the briefcase, and I’m glad Ellsworth wasn’t a deciding factor. She still got the anticipated heat for it, but she did it almost by herself. Changing the winner would have cheapened the whole process. Now we just have to wait and see how it all pans out.
Asuka (C) def Nikki Cross – NXT Women’s Championship, last woman standing match
Despite SmackDown and RAW having great content from their women’s divisions, NXT still won the week for me again. In the build up to the main event, Asuka was shown being interviewed in the car on the way to Full Sail. She only managed to tell the interviewer she was confident about her match with Cross, when a thud from the front of the car cut her off. The thud was Nikki Cross on the bonnet of the car. She and Asuka screamed at each other a bit before Cross was carried away by security. Asuka was also shown warming up by working with a punchbag.
Cross actually came out before the match was due to start. She made an appearance with her SAnitY stablemates, Alexander Wolfe and Killian Dain. Wolfe and Dain were there to attack Kassius Ohno and Hideo Itami, after which Wolfe gave a little speech saying Eric Young was working on a master plan which started with Cross beating Asuka. Cross then shooed her stablemates away and waited for Asuka to arrive.
The match itself was brutal and slightly insane. If someone had told you that these two wanted to hurt each other, you’d have a hard time arguing. Apparently, putting on a spectacular match is more important than protecting your own body. They used chairs, stairs, a table, a ladder, and a large metal bin (which Cross ended up wearing) during the course of the match.
They both took some brutal looking bumps. Asuka got powerbombed onto a pile of chairs and appeared to smack her head on the ramp. She also took a spinning neckbreaker with her feet hanging on the guardrail. Cross took a hip attack off the top of the ramp, and more of Asuka’s kicks than I’ve ever seen her throw in a single match. There were many times you would have forgiven either of them for not being able to answer the ten count. The character work from both these women is second to none.
The final sequence of the night was superb. Asuka suplexed Cross off the top of a ladder, through the announce desk. Asuka staggered to her feet, barely, at nine to get the win. Both women were grinning as NXT went off air. It was perfectly in character for them to be smiling. Asuka had just retained her championship, and Cross is unhinged. But I hope that the smiles were in part because they knew they’d nailed it. Well worth going and watching it if you haven’t had a chance yet.
There weren’t any women left for Main Event to use this week. But they did show the final part of the Gauntlet match.
Another week done, and what a week it was. Three main events and an additional title match, you can’t say fairer that that. All decently long matches too, long may that continue. Next week we’ll be looking at the Great Balls of Fire PPV, in addition to all the usual action from the women of WWE. Let’s hope the three brands can keep up the high standard of treatment they set this week. In the meantime, if there is anything you want to discuss, or anything you’d like me to cover, tweet me @manda_why.