Welcome to this week’s round up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It’s PPV week again. I love PPV weeks. This time it’s RAW’s turn, with No Mercy, where Alexa Bliss will defend her title. But SmackDown are building up to Hell in a Cell, and NXT are working towards finding a new women’s champion for the vacant NXT title, so there’s plenty going on.
Nia Jax def Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss strategy for this match appeared to be avoiding Nia Jax at all costs. It might have worked if it wasn’t for Sasha Banks. When Bliss was halfway up the ramp, for the second time in the match, Banks music hit and ‘The Boss’ appeared to chase Bliss back to the ring. Bliss only got a few paces before being flattened by Jax.
When we got back from the inevitable ad break Bliss and Jax were back in the ring, and Banks was at ringside. Like so many of RAW’s matches (especially the women’s ones) this wasn’t really about the in-ring action though. That was finished quickly, with Nia Jax catching Alexa Bliss in mid-air from a top rope leap, and delivering the Samoan drop.
Immediately after the bell, Sasha Banks jumped on Jax’ back and was quickly thrown to the canvas. As Nia Jax contemplated going back to dish out more punishment to her No Mercy competitors, Bayley’s music hit, and an unimpressed looking Bayley stormed to the ring.
Bayley, Bliss and Banks tackled Jax to the mat, and she rolled out of the ring. Sasha Banks and Bayley celebrated. Bliss tried to get in between them to be included and got a kick in the gut from Banks followed by a Bayley to belly.
There was a moment between Sasha Banks and Bayley as they seemed unable to agree on who should be holding the championship belt, but it didn’t amount to anything – this time.
Later in the show it was announced that Bayley has been added to the No Mercy match, making it a five-way.
Charlotte Flair def Tamina, Becky Lynch, and Naomi
The women main evented SmackDown this week, and no-one made a big deal of it. That’s a beautiful thing, and long overdue. It should be a normal thing for the women to main event, now we’re finally getting to the point where it is.
Before we got to that though, there was a lot of talking.
Charlotte Flair kicked things off. She gave heartfelt thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers while her dad has been ill. She said that his illness has taught her that life is fragile and you have to make the moments count. And, from now on, she’s going to make every moment as big as possible for her and her dad.
Natalya came out and said everyone was happy that Ric Flair is doing better, but it was time to focus on something more important. That turned out to be a celebration of women – sort of. She mentioned Florence Nightingale, Oprah Winfrey, and the Mae Young Classic competitors. Then said she would celebrate all women by focusing on one she’s particularly proud of, and unveiled a picture of herself.
Charlotte Flair said she’s pleased Natalya interrupted her, because she’s there to challenge her for the SmackDown women’s championship.
Becky Lynch out next. She apologised for interrupting Natalya’s ego Olympics, and called her the craziest there is, the craziest there was, and the craziest there ever will be. Then turned to Flair and said the only thing they disagreed on was that she, not Flair should be the one to get the title shot.
Naomi next, to tell Natalya that she doesn’t represent all women, or even all women on SmackDown live. She didn’t get much further than that before the next lot of entrance music.
Tamina this time, with Lana speaking for her. Lana told Natalya not to listen to the pathetic villagers, then called her a crazy cat lady and told her to shut up when Natalya thanked her. She went on to say that they had started the ‘ravishing revolution’ and everyone else has had their shot. It’s Tamina’s time.
Natalya backed up the ramp, starting to lose it. She said it wasn’t about any of them it was about women, about her representing women. She’s not a crazy cat lady and she’d be SmackDown women’s champion forever.
Daniel Bryan then came out to the stage and announced that Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Naomi, and Tamina would have a fatal four-way, and the winner will face Natalya at Hell in a Cell.
Charlotte Flair vs Becky Lynch vs Naomi vs Tamina
The biggest thing at the start of this match was the change in Tamina. Since enlisting the support of Lana, she’s upped the focused aggression, and she looks better for it.
The match was worthy of main eventing the episode. I’m still craving some one on one storylines for the women, especially ones outside of the title picture, but this match delivered on entertainment.
As you’d expect with a four way, the action was fast-paced and non-stop. No-one dominated for more than a few moments, and no near fall went by without someone crashing in to change things around. There wasn’t a stand out performance, but there wasn’t a poor one either.
For the finish, Lana dragged Naomi out of the ring, and got kicked in the face for her trouble. But Tamina kicked Naomi in the face, and off the apron, as she tried to climb back into the ring. Charlotte delivered the big boot to Tamina, and pinned her.
Bianca Belair def Lacey Evans
The staking of claims on the vacant NXT women’s championship began in earnest this week. Sonya Deville claimed Asuka never stepped in the ring with her because she knew she’d lose. And Dakota Kai said she’s not afraid to kick people’s heads in to get her shot at the gold. It looks very much like we’re heading towards a multi-woman match to decide who faces Kairi Sane at the next TakeOver. We still don’t have confirmation of exactly what’s happening, but surely it will be announced soon.
Lacey Evans vs Bianca Belair
Two very different characters, but with fairly similar skillsets. Belair and Evans are both strong and athletic, both performance centre originals, and both Mae Young Classic competitors.
It was a good match, but not a long one. These are two performers still getting established in NXT, so it was all about showcasing what they can do. The crowd like them both though, which is always a good sign. There’s nothing spectacular to draw attention to, but it was an entertaining way to pass a few minutes.
The difference-maker in the match was Bianca Belair’s hair. The whip with the plait is now apparently a hugely painful and incapacitating move. In this match, it weakened Evans long long enough for Belair to lift her as if going for a powerbomb, and dump her on her face. Victory for Bianca Belair on her NXT TV singles debut. She’s going to be a massive part of the future of NXT, I think.
This week’s Main Event recapped some of the action from RAW, but there was no additional women’s division action.
WWE announced that Paige has started training at the performance centre again ahead of her return. Paige has also been tweeting about being back there all week. Hopefully she’ll be making her in-ring return in the very near future. She was drafted to RAW, but the article on WWE.com said that her return to the performance centre puts the women of RAW and SmackDown on notice, so it seems unclear which brand she’ll return to. The dominant rumour seems to be that she’ll go to SmackDown. I can see potential for her in either brand… wait and see time again.
No Mercy Preview and Prediction
Alexa Bliss (C) vs Sasha Banks vs Nia Jax vs Emma vs Bayley – RAW Women’s Championship match.
I’ll be honest, I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen. When it was a one on one with Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss, I guessed Bliss would retain. Then Emma and Nia Jax got added to the mix, and I wondered if they might actually give Nia Jax a chance. Now Bayley has been added in as well, and I’m really not sure.
So, it’s fantasy booking time. I’d love to see Nia Jax get a run with the title, but I don’t think this is the right time. Asuka is coming and it would be anti-climactic to have her face someone she has already beaten. That rules out Jax and Bayley.
A feud between Bayley and Sasha Banks is well overdue, preferably with Sasha Banks being the one to turn, although I wouldn’t rule out them trying to turn Bayley – even though that would be a terrible idea. Maybe they’ll have one cost the other, and finally pull the trigger on that feud.
Emma, I just can’t see her winning it. I don’t think her recent build has been great, and I can’t see her getting a title run until her character is a bit more sorted.
I guess that only leaves one option. Alexa Bliss to retain. I don’t think it will be a clean win, but I believe she may just find a way to keep her championship this time. On a side note; I wouldn’t be surprised if Asuka makes an appearance tonight, just to show the victor what’s coming.
Prediction: Alexa Bliss
And that’s it for another week. I’ll be back with the No Mercy results, and all the other action from WWE’s women’s divisions, next week. In the meantime, if there is anything you think I should cover, or anything you’d like to discuss (seriously, I love chatting about wrestling), tweet me @manda_why.