Welcome to this week’s round up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. We’re in the midst of a ‘big four’ weekend. NXT TakeOver WarGames was last night, so we have a new NXT women’s champion, and Survivor Series is tonight. It’s got a lot to live up to if it wants to beat the show NXT put on, let’s hope it does. But before we got to all that, there was a whole week’s worth of stuff to get through. It’s probably going to be a long one this week. Settle in, and let’s get started.
Bayley def Mickie James and Dana Brooke
The triple threat match this week was to allocate the final place on team RAW’s Survivor Series team. The rest of team RAW (Alicia Fox, Nia Jax, Asuka and Sasha Banks) came to watch the match from ringside.
High energy start to the match, with Mickie James especially looking like she was going to do anything it took to get that final place. It was a good match, what we saw of it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very long and most of it took place in a ad break.
Dana Brooke made a decision which would result in her taking no further part in the match. She ended up outside the ring and Asuka stepped forward to check on her. Brooke forearmed Asuka in the face. Asuka chased her through the ring, and kicked her in the face. That was the last we saw of Brooke.
Mickie James nearly pinned Bayley off the confusion. Bayley kicked out of the roll up and reversed James’ attempt at a backslide into her own. James kicked out and went for the Mick-DDT. Bayley struggled free and hit the Bayley to belly for claim the win, and the final place in the Survivor Series team.
Alexa Bliss was asked if she had any preference between facing Charlotte Flair of Natalya at Survivor Series. She complained that she hadn’t had much time to prepare, with not knowing who her opponent is going to be, but said it didn’t matter because she would win either way.
The Paige return which had been so highly rumoured didn’t happen. Paige was at RAW. She shared photo and videos of herself with Renee Young and Alicia Fox, and she was photographed arriving at the arena. Speculation is that the pictures were the reason for her not being used, as it spoilt the surprise, but it is equally likely that plans just changed, or that she was never scheduled to appear. The events on SmackDown added an extra layer of intrigue to this story.
Charlotte Flair def Natalya – to become new SmackDown Women’s Champion
This week, SmackDown started with a pep talk from Shane O’Mac. Becky Lynch was asked to comment on Asuka saying she was going to break the entire SmackDown women’s team, she said the only thing getting broken was Asuka’s arm.
Natalya (C) vs Charlotte Flair
With the history between these two, and the standard of their matches, this could easily have been saved for a PPV. I always say that matches improve, for the most part, the more the competitors know each other, and this was illustrative of that.
They gave the SmackDown crowd their money’s worth. Strikes and submissions based for the most part, exploiting their strengths, and showing their familiarity.
On one of their trips to the outside, Flair went for a moonsault off the barricade. Natalya picked her up and slammed her back first into the ringpost. They brawled outside, and could have been counted out, but Natalya obviously decided she could finished Flair in the ring, and in the Sharpshooter. She got it locked in, but Charlotte Flair eventually got to the rope.
Flair threw Natalya out of the ring, hit her with the big boot when she got back in, then slapped on the figure four and bridged into the figure eight. Natalya had no choice but to tap out. SmackDown have a new women’s champion, and Charlotte Flair will now face Alexa Bliss at Survivor Series
Flair had an in-ring interview with Renee Young post-match. She said the title was all she has wanted since she arrived on SmackDown, and winning it her hometown meant everything. Then she said she would be making Bliss bow down to the queen on Sunday. Finally, she talked about her dad’s illness and how he’d be watching at home proudly, and would text her when she got to the back. She got half way up the ramp when her dad’s music hit, and out he came to congratulate her. She apparently had no idea he was there, it was a lovely moment.
As SmackDown came to a close, the RAW roster invaded. The women’s rosters were heavily involved. RAW’s women stormed the SmackDown women’s locker room and decimated their team. The RAW team surrounded Charlotte Flair, and watched while Alexa Bliss smacked her in the face and knocked her to the floor.
Note: On Wednesday it was announced that WWE have released James Ellsworth. Having Ellsworth around helped define and develop Carmella’s heel character, he did a good job of that. I questioned, and still question, the way he was used, especially his role in the MITB match, but he did do some good. Getting beaten by Becky Lynch, then spending the tour getting beaten up by the rest of the women’s roster, was as good a note as any for him to leave on.
Ember Moon def Mercedes Martinez
To have just one of the fatal four-way competitors in such a tough match on the go home show for TakeOver looks a little unfair on the surface. But, of course, NXT is pre-taped so it was nowhere near as bad as it seems. That said, Martinez is no pushover, and she certainly put Ember Moon through her paces.
A hard-hitting, well put together match. Martinez deserves a chance to make her mark in NXT, I hope they start using her a bit more. Apart from anything else, they could do with some really good female heels in NXT. I’m not taking anything away for Royce and Kay, but they are about it at the moment. Sonya Deville is coming up, but she’s still quite inexperienced, whereas Martinez has a long career behind her.
Anyway, there was no way they were making one of the four-way participants looks bad with a loss on the go home show. After taking at least as much punishment as she gave out, Ember Moon hit the Eclipse for the win.
After the match the rest of the TakeOver Participants appeared and spread themselves out for a stare down, without getting too close. Moon stayed in the ring while Cross stood at ringside, Peyton Royce came halfway down the ramp, and Kairi Sane stood on the stage.
This week Main Event showed very brief highlights of the SmackDown women’s championship match, as a lead in to advertising the Survivor Series matches. Main Event is generally a RAW show, but they’ve featured SmackDown stuff a couple of times now. I assume it’s just because Survivor Series is coming up, and the SmackDown segments directly impacted the RAW roster.
NXT TakeOver WarGames
Ember Moon def Nikki Cross, Peyton Royce and Kairi Sane – to become new NXT Women’s Champion
Billie Kay did not accompany Peyton Royce to the ring for this match. She came out as far as the stage, said some words of encouragement to Royce, and left her to it. Royce looked a little shaken, but she got on with it.
The overall standard of TakeOver was incredibly high, and the women’s match followed an absolute show-stealer by Aleister Black and Velveteen Dream. Crowds are often a bit odd after a truly spectacular match, but the women managed to get them onside and invested, and they put on a great match.
There were high spots galore, as three out of the four are more than comfortable flying around (you don’t see Peyton Royce throwing herself off things quite as often). Everyone got their signature moves in, there was the obligatory tower of doom spot, and no-one came out looking weakened. Can’t ask for much more from a match.
Ember Moon won the match. She hit the Eclipse on both Nikki Cross and Peyton Royce at the same time, but Royce rolled out of the ring, leaving Cross to take the pin.
After the match Asuka asked if she could present the belt to Moon, she did and they hugged before Asuka raised Moon’s arm in victory.
It’s been a long road to the payoff for Ember Moon. Her pre-debut vignettes made her into a big deal before she even arrived, and she was dominant in her first few months. After a series of injuries, defeats, and setbacks, she has finally made it to the top of the tree. Judging by the performances of the other three, and she sheer volume of talent waiting in the wings of NXT, she’s going to have a hard time staying there.
I wonder if Peyton Royce will blame her failure to pick the title up on Billie Kay’s absence. Could this be the first sign of trouble in paradise? I doubt it if I’m honest, but I do think there’s an excellent feud waiting to be had when they split those two up.
Survivor Series – Preview and Predictions
Team RAW – Alicia Fox, Nia Jax, Asuka, Sasha Banks and Bayley, vs Team SmackDown – Becky Lynch, Carmella, Tamina, Naomi and Natalya – Traditional five on five Survivor Series match
Alexa Bliss vs Charlotte Flair
The strange thing about predicting the Survivor Series matches is that nothing really hangs on the results. The method of win or loss in the five on five might cause ripples within the divisions, but nothing directly changes because of the result. Similarly, Alexa Bliss vs Charlotte Flair is a battle of egos. Whoever loses may take some grief from the rest of their brand roster, but they will still be champion – unless Carmella successfully cashes in of course.
Team Raw vs Team SmackDown
The first point of interest was the final member of the SmackDown team. It was originally supposed to be Charlotte Flair, but she beat Natalya for the SmackDown Women’s Championship on Tuesday, so now she’s in the match with Alexa Bliss. The fact Natalya wasn’t immediately put in her place led to speculation. With Paige cleared and being backstage at RAW, people were genuinely hopeful she would be the final member of the team (I was one of them). There were also some hoping it would be Nikki Bella, although that seemed less likely.
Speculation was ended on Saturday night, when Natalya was named as the final person. Why they didn’t just announce her straight away as a straight swap, I don’t know. Becky Lynch sent this tweet welcoming Natalya to the team.
There are too many variables to make any kind of accurate and educated prediction on a Survivor Series match. It should be great, the women will be hyped for it, and determined to steal the show. I hope they do. The storyline implications are within each team, rather than between the teams, so that can’t even be used as a factor for decision making.
In the end, all you can do is look for potential difference makers to take the best guess. RAW have two, Nia Jax and Asuka. Team SmackDown have no-one to counteract those two, and I can’t see Asuka being anything other than victorious at the moment.
Prediction: Team RAW
Alexa Bliss vs Charlotte Flair
The ‘goddess’ versus the ‘queen’. Let’s be honest, this is going to be a much better match than Bliss vs Natalya would have been. There are no storyline implication as it’s a battle of the brands, and no title are on the line, this is all about pride. Bliss and flair are, arguably, two of the biggest egos in WWE’s women’s divisions, and they’ll each be keen to prove their supremacy over the other.
The only possible reasoning to apply here is the potential long-term storylines. Charlotte Flair has only just got the SmackDown title, but it makes sense to think there may be plans for her to hold it for a considerable amount of time. Whether that’s continuous or with a few wins and losses remains to be seen, but I fully expect her to still be around the title picture when WrestleMania rolls around.
Alexa Bliss has been in and around the title picture for a while. But the RAW title picture is starting to change. Asuka is there now, and I’d be extremely surprised if she’s not RAW women’s champion in a very short space of time.
Then there are the actions of the RAW team on SmackDown this week. There is no way Charlotte Flair will let Alexa Bliss’ attack go unpunished. And Bliss is on a level playing field when it comes to underhand tactics for a change. Bliss might like to cheat, but she’s not from the dirtiest family in the game.
It’s high time Little Miss Bliss got taken down a peg or two, and I think Charlotte Flair might just be the one to do it.
Prediction: Charlotte Flair
That’s it for another week. I’ll be back next week with everything you need to know from WWE’s women’s divisions, including the Survivor Series results. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover, or anything you want to discuss, tweet me @manda_why.