Welcome to this week’s round up of all the action from WWE’s women’s division. It’s something of a milestone column this week, it’s number 52 which means I’ve been doing this for a whole year. Ok, so we have a different home site to the one we started on, but the column is the same so it still counts. To anyone who has been reading regularly (or even if you’ve only just found us) I thank you. Anyway, enough of that. Let’s start this week’s action with the results of the Extreme Rules PPV.
Sasha Banks and Rich Swann def Alicia Fox and Noam Dar
Alexa Bliss def Bayley
I got both my predictions right, and that’s the best thing I can say about Extreme Rules. Regular readers will know how hard I try to make this column as positive as possible, but RAW are not doing justice to the talent in their women’s division and it needs to be addressed.
The combined total time for the matches involving the women’s roster was 12 minutes, split evenly between the mixed tag and the title match. 12 minutes out of a 2 hour 45 minute PPV. This isn’t good enough. To give it some context, the entrances for the fatal-five way main event at Extreme Rules took 9 minutes. And the PPV was allotted 3 hours, so it can’t have been a run time issue either. SmackDown can manage to use their entire women’s roster, and give them a decent share of the screen time, there is no reason for RAW not to be doing the same.
On the pre-show Nia Jax talked about her friendship with Alexa Bliss and said she thought it would take a miracle for Bayley to win as she doesn’t have the extremeness in her. She rolled her eyes when Renee Young talked about Bayley wanting to be a wrestler since she was a child, and growing up watching extreme rules matches, then said the Bliss has Bayley beaten before she even gets in the ring. Bayley doesn’t have the fire to be extreme, she’s outclassed and doesn’t belong in WWE. Jax said she’d rather Bliss won because she’d promised her a title shot, but whoever wins is just keeping the title warm for her, and she hits a lot harder than a kendo stick.
Bayley had a backstage interview where she talked about doing her research for the match by watching ECW, and being inspired by having been to see the new Wonder Woman film. She slated Alexa Bliss’ This is your life segment (but who didn’t) and said Bliss can think what she wants, but she doesn’t know her or how much the championship means to her. She asked for the kendo stick match because she’s ready to do whatever it take to get her title back.
Sasha Banks and Rich Swann vs Alicia Fox and Noam Dar
The women started the match. Alicia Fox grabbed Banks by the hair and slammed her into the mat. As soon as Banks started to retaliate Fox hug-tagged Noam Dar.
When they got back in they went for it. Banks managed to get the Bank Statement on, but Dar helped Fox get her foot on the ropes. Sasha Banks allowed herself to be distracted telling him off, and got a kick in the head from Fox for her trouble. Alicia Fox had the upper hand for a while after that, but Banks moved out of the way of a corner attack from Fox and managed to tag Rich Swann.
The women got involved again, when Fox came in to interfere and Banks dived in to stop her. They brawled to the outside and Banks delivered her trademark double knees from the top turnbuckle. Dar saw it coming and pushed Fox out of the way, so he took the move himself – the closest WWE are likely to get to intergender for a while. Swann rolled Dar back into the ring and easily got the pin.
Alexa Bliss (C) vs Bayley – RAW Women’s Championship match
Bayley looked apprehensive about the kendo stick as she looked at it when she got to the ring. Bayley got the stick, but dropped it as she and Alexa fell from the ring on opposite sides of the corner.
She successfully prevented Bliss from getting the kendo stick and grabbed it herself. Bliss tried running away, then cowered and begged her not to use it. Bayley hesitated too long and Bliss speared her, making her drop it. Alexa Bliss showed no hesitation. She beat Bayley repeatedly with the kendo stick. Bayley fought back with a Bayley to belly, but no pin attempt.
Bliss propped the stick up in the corner, Bayley tried to pull her away from it, and Bliss pushed her collarbone first into it and got the stick back. One more hit from Alexa Bliss to Bayley’s back with the kendo stick, then she followed up with a DDT for the win.
All in all, a really underwhelming match. Much too short, very little happened, and Bayley ended up looking as weak as Bliss has made her out to be. Even the crowd support for Bayley seems to have waned. It’s really sad to see the way she’s being portrayed at the moment. It’s not too late to build her up again, I just don’t see how they can go about it.
On RAW Talk, Sasha Banks said she felt bad that Bayley hadn’t been able to use the kendo stick, then talked about her own prowess with it. She briefly suggested she should be next in line for a title shot and that Nia Jax should join the queue.
Alexa Bliss (C) def Nia Jax – RAW Women’s Championship match
In an office based segment, Alexa Bliss told Kurt Angle she was planning to do Alexa Bliss- This is MY life, in celebration of her title win over Bayley. Angle told her the This is your life segment she did on Bayley last week was one of the worst things ever on RAW. Harsh, but fair. Instead of sanctioning her celebration, Angle reminded her she had promised Nia Jax a title shot when she got past Bayley, and he was going to make her keep her promise. He set the match for that night, and an incredulous Bliss kept asking him if he was serious.
In a later backstage segment Bliss tried to convince Sasha Banks, Mickie James and Dana Brooke that they had a Nia Jax problem. Banks walked away before she had chance to speak. James and Brooke listened as Bliss talked about Jax having cut the line, and tried to make out Jax was a threat to their sisterhood. Mickie James and Dana Brooke told her they didn’t have a Nia Jax Problem, Bliss did, and that they would be ringside to watch her match later.
Just before the match Bliss was asked if she regrets promising Nia Jax a title shot. She said the only thing she regrets is being in a division where the other female superstars have no pride and are jealous of her.
Alexa Bliss (C) vs Nia Jax – RAW Women’s Championship match
Mickie James and Dana Brooke sauntered down the ramp just after the match started and stood ringside. Alexa Bliss started the match by trying to avoid Jax and hugging the ropes. When Jax got her by the hair Bliss turned around and slapped her. Bad mistake as that was Jax’ cue to start destroying the champion.
After a minute or two of this Bliss escaped from the ring and ran into James and Brooke. She taunted them to attack her, and Jax was disqualified. Three minutes for a title match.
After the match was over Mickie James and Dana Brooke attacked Bliss, Jax attacked them to get to her, and Bliss managed to get away. Nia Jax took her frustrations out on James and Brooke leaving them both laid out in the ring as she stomped to the back.
I don’t know what the issue is with RAW. I don’t know whether the writers have no faith in their women’s division to put on a longer match, or if they’re suffering from lack of imagination (the good kind, not the kendo stick on a pole kind). Whatever the problem is, they are doing the women a disservice. I thought that, in the new era of women’s wrestling, we had left the three minute match structure behind. I’m really sad to be wrong. As the flagship show, RAW must do better.
Tamina, Carmella and Natalya def Naomi, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair
Shane McMahon opened the show by introducing the five women due to take part in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, and revealing the brand new briefcase. He was interrupted in his explanation of the implications of the Money in the Bank match by James Ellsworth. Ellsworth accused him of mansplaining and said they already know what’s going to happen, then passed the mic to Carmella. After she said her piece, Charlotte Flair had a turn, followed by Natalya then Becky Lynch and finally Tamina.
Naomi came out to join the party. She said that while she loves being champ she wishes that she doesn’t get to be part of the ladder match. She was trying to say that whoever wins still has to get past her to take the title, when Lana’s music hit.
Shane McMahon told Lana it SmackDown is the land of opportunity but it wasn’t the right time and it wasn’t working for him. Lana’s response was whatever works for her, she will make work for him. It sounded more than a bit odd and McMahon raised his eyebrows. Then Lana tried to insert herself into the MITB match. The suggestion was met with laughter from the other women, but it was Naomi who commented. She asked Lana who she’d actually beaten. Lana said she could beat her. While Flair and Lynch made tea drinking gestures, Naomi and Lana squared up until McMahon pulled them apart and told Lana that a SmackDown women’s title match is something she needs to earn. Lana had a strop and stomped off to the back, as well as you can in a floor length evening gown.
Naomi, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair vs Carmella, Natalya and Tamina
Ok, there’s a certain deva vu to this match. However, they are building to the MITB match which isn’t the best time to start individual storylines, the entire women’s roster got to appear again, and the match lasted longer than three minutes. All in all, I’m fairly happy with SmackDown, although I hope they start progressing their storylines after MTB.
It was a decent match, it should be they’ve had plenty of opportunities to perfect it. All these multi-woman tag matches have served to create a good chemistry throughout the division. Once they split off into individual feuds we should get good matches from the off, all the groundwork has been done.
Lana was the difference maker in this one. She wandered down to the ring and took Naomi’s feet out from under her, landing her hard on her back on the apron. Naomi rolled back into the ring and was hit with a superkick by Tamina for the pin. Naomi is taking a lot of pins recently. Not the greatest look for a champion but it hasn’t hurt her standing with the crowds yet. Her reactions are great.
Later in the show Naomi told Shane McMahon she wants Lana at Money in the Bank. She even put her title on the line. McMahon checked she was sure that was what she wanted, then set the match.
Lana appeared on Talking Smack. She said Naomi was brave for deciding to face her, but she was going to take the title and make history by winning the title on her debut. She praised the locker room but said none of them are ravishing and no-one is like her. Shane McMahon told her again that he doesn’t think she deserves a title shot. She said he was being naïve and she would prove him wrong. Her gimmick appears to be ‘blond Eva Marie with a wavering accent’. She plans to be the face of SmackDown live. I’m yet to be convinced, but I’ll reserve judgment until we see what she’s got in the ring. I’m not generally a fan of the beauty based gimmicks, but if she can back it up with her in-ring skills then it’s all good.
Peyton Royce def Sarah Logan
So Sarah Bridges is now Sarah Logan (was Crazy Mary Dobson on the indies), which tripped me up when doing the NXT notes because I didn’t recognise her. I blame a combination of being ill, and WWE’s incessant name changes.
Anyway, the match itself was good enough. Peyton Royce came to the ring with Billie Kay as usual. I can’t wait for the fallout when they split those two up. Sarah Logan gave as good as she got, and nearly bested Royce a couple of times. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see her in the Mae Young Classic (which I will be covering for Rear View Reviews). In the end, Peyton Royce finished the match with her fisherman’s suplex.
Also on this week’s NXT was a Nikki Cross promo for the title match next week. It was just Cross, in her unique style, saying Ruby, Asuka, let’s play again, and bashing her jacket on the floor. I do love her. Ember Moon had an interview as well. She talked about losing her first title opportunity, and missing out on her second. Her priority coming back is to sort out Billie Kay and Peyton Royce, but she promises that her next title opportunity will be the one that counts.
No Women’s division action Main Event again this week. Shame, RAW could have slightly redeemed itself if there had been.
That’s it for another week. Next week we’ll have the preview and predictions for Money in the Bank, along with all the usual action from WWE’s women’s divisions. Hopefully some names for the Mae Young Classic will start to be confirmed soon as well. In the meantime if there is anything you’d like me to cover, or anything you want to discuss (seriously, I love to talk wrestling), tweet me @manda_why.