Welcome to this week’s round up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. This week was European tour week and both RAW and SmackDown were recorded in London. The tour shows are always a little different. You tend to get more superstars per show, so that fans get to see more of their favourites, and everything has a slightly showier feel to it. However, there is still Backlash for SmackDown to build to, and NXT TakeOver Chicago the night before, so storylines still had to progress. On that note, let’s start with RAW.
Alexa Bliss def Mickie James
Sasha Banks def Alicia Fox
In a backstage segment, Nia Jax asked Alexa Bliss if she meant what she said last week about her being great. Bliss said of course she did, and Jax said if that was the case, she should get the next title shot when Bliss is finished with Bayley. A nervous looking Alexa Bliss pointed out she doesn’t make matches, but said she’d have a word with Kurt Angle when he was back. Jax told her that until she’d done that, she had a new best friend.
Alexa Bliss (C) vs Mickie James – non-title match
Alexa Bliss’ new best friend Nia Jax accompanied her to the ring. To even the balance a bit, Mickie James was accompanied by Bayley.
The match started simply enough, with Bliss and James facing off one on one as they have before. Mickie James had the best of the early part of the match, but by the time we got back from the obligatory ad break, Bliss had turned things in her favour.
They went back and forth for a while, with their own personal cheer squads on the outside, not getting involved. That couldn’t last though. As Mickie James went to climb to the top rope Nia Jax grabbed her leg to try to keep her down. James kicked her away, and Bayley threw herself at Jax with a cross body to the floor. The damage had been done though. Bliss recovered in the delay and caught Mickie James with a forearm to the face, sending her crashing to the mat for Bliss to pin her.
After the match Bliss decided to dish out some more punishment to Mickie James, Bayley pulled her away and the two fought out of the ring before Bayley chased her up the ramp. Nia Jax entered the ring while James was still getting to her feet. She delivered a big splash into the corner, followed it up with an elbow drop, then strolled up the ramp leaving Mickie James laying in the ring.
It must have been irritating for Bliss and James to have to crowd chanting for Bayley through most of their match. I love chanting at the wrestling, but keep it appropriate please.
Sasha Banks vs Alicia Fox
This is one of the pairings which came out of the eight-women tag match last week. It was a fun match, if not a long one. Both women started with slaps and hair pulling, but they progressed to actual wrestling moves fairly quickly. They had to be quick, to be honest, the entire match lasted around three minutes – just like the old days.
The finish came after Alicia Fox failed to pull off a suplex from the second rope in the corner. As she staggered backwards, Sasha Banks hit the double knees from the second turnbuckle and got the pin.
There was some controversy after the replay showed Fox’ right shoulder was up before the three count, to ensure this feud still has at least one more match in it.
I don’t think Alicia Fox gets the credit she deserves for the work she puts in. She’s been in WWE for a long time and the demands placed on the female superstars has changed (for the better) beyond all recognition. She was there when all that was expected was to look pretty and show some flesh, and she’s still there now the women’s roster is packed full of talented wrestlers who actually get the opportunity to show off their wrestling ability. The feud with Banks has potential, it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.
Natalya def Becky Lynch
Tamina Snuka and Carmella were joined in the ring by James Ellsworth. It was Ellsworth who started to talk, by insulting the crowd with lazy stereotypes and a general ‘you’re not worthy’ attitude. When he shut up Carmella introduced Natalya.
Naomi was next out. I suppose we can forgive her attempt at an English accent, but only if she promises never to do it again. She introduced Becky Lynch and it turned out the match was a one on one between Lynch and Natalya, with the others stood around because… tour show I guess. Before they could get started, Charlotte Flair came out, said she didn’t need anyone to introduce her, and joined the rest at ringside.
It was a short match, with the women on the outside, predictably, influencing the outcome. Lynch and Natalya are a good combination, but one we’ve seen many times before. The match was good but nothing special. The finish was brought about after Naomi attacked Tamina Snuka to stop Snuka knocking Becky lynch off the top turnbuckle. Charlotte Flair piled in and dragged Naomi away. Becky Lynch was distracted by the commotion, so Natalya pulled her off the turnbuckle by her leg and got the quick pin. The whole match was under three minutes long.
A little later, Charlotte Flair and Naomi were arguing backstage about Becky Lynch’s loss. Lynch interrupted and told them that they have to be united to stand against the Welcoming Committee. She said they were going to out-bond them and then fight them in a six-woman tag match at Backlash.
I was lucky enough to see a SmackDown roster house show while they were in the UK. Naomi, Becky Lynch, Carmella, Natalya and Charlotte Flair competed in a five-way match, which was won by Naomi. It was my first time seeing a main roster show, and I’d highly recommend it. The women put on an amazing show, and got some of the biggest reactions of the night.
This week, NXT didn’t give us a women’s division match. They did give us some character stuff and an update on Ember Moon.
After showing a recap for the end of the battle royal last week, William Regal was shown angrily telling Asuka that she would face Nikki Cross, Ruby Riot and Ember Moon. It was then confirmed that Moon has a grade one shoulder sprain, and will not be fit to compete at NXT TakeOver Chicago. She says she’ll be stronger than ever when she comes back. The match will now be a triple-threat.
Ruby Riot was given a ‘getting to know you’ video this week. NXT did something similar for Roderick Strong recently, this was less in-depth, but I’m completely behind these as a way of giving people a reason to invest in the characters. In the video, Riot talked a little about her upbringing, her tattoos and her wrestling philosophy. It’s well worth checking out as it really rounds out her character.
The final segment for the women’s division was a sit-down interview with Nikki Cross. She started by slapping away the technician who was trying to put her mic on, then jumped on his back and grabbed the mic off him. She called for Ruby and Asuka and batted an overhead mic like a cat toy. She was asked what her plan for TakeOver was, and in response she asked where Ruby was, where Asuka was and where her championship was. It was a bizarre little segment, but it showed off Cross’ character beautifully and left you in no doubt she’s serious about taking the title next weekend.
It’s always disappointing when there isn’t a women’s division match. I know NXT only have an hour to play with, but they set up so many potential matches in the battle royal that surely they could have fitted in a 3-minute showcase of someone we’re less familiar with. That said, I applaud the character development work they’re putting in on Cross and Riot. It’s something I’ve repeatedly said is needed, and something NXT used to do very well. It’s good to see them getting back to it.
No women’s division action on Main Event again this week.
NXT TakeOver Chicago preview
Asuka (C) vs Ruby Riot vs Nikki Cross
It’s a shame this has had to be turned into a triple-threat due to the injury to Ember Moon, but I think it will be a match of the night contender anyway.
As far as the result goes, if Moon had still been involved I would have predicted her to pick up the win. Now she’s not, I’m not sure. My gut feeling is that Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross will allow their obvious dislike of each other to become the weakness Asuka needs to exploit. This new cocky Asuka will seemingly go to any lengths to keep her title, but I think Cross and Riot may be their own worst enemies. I’ve believed since her debut that Ember Moon would be the one to finally end Asuka’s championship reign, and I’m sticking with that. So, as she’s out of the match, I think Asuka may get a reprieve.
Prediction: Asuka to retain.
Congratulations to Brie Bella and Daniel Bryan who welcomed their baby daughter, Birdie Joe Danielson, this week.
Another week done. I’ll be back next week to talk through the NXT TakeOver Chicago result, preview the SmackDown branded PPV – Backlash, and round up the rest of the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover, or anything you wish to discuss, drop me a tweet @mandawhy.