Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It was another of those weird in-between weeks. There were matches, storylines were forwarded ahead of Royal Rumble weekend, but it didn’t feel like anything much really happened. It’s NXT Year-End Awards time though, so do go and check that out if you have a chance.
Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Ember Moon def. The Riott Squad
Ronda Rousey and Natalya def. Nia Jax and Tamina
Natalya had a backstage interview. She was shown some footage of her match against Ronda Rousey and Rousey’s obvious reluctance to finish the job, then asked what the future holds for her. She talked about what a year 2018 was for her, losing her dad but taking part in historic events like Evolution. She’s entering the women’s rumble match this year.
That’s as far as she got before Nia Jax interrupted and asked what happens if Rousey isn’t the champion at WrestleMania and something disrupts her plans. Natalya didn’t have time to answer because Tamina attacked her from behind and she and Jax beat her down and left her laying.
Natalya and Ronda Rousey versus Nia Jax and Tamina was announced shortly after.
Superstars new year’s resolutions were aired. The Riott Squad’s resolution is to break people. They said no one changes, if you apply pressure they break, that’s The Riott Squad’s job. Sasha Banks and Bayley’s resolution is for the Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection to be the first women’s tag team champions.
Ember Moon, Sasha Banks, and Bayley vs The Riott Squad
This six-woman came about as a result of last week’s six-woman where The Riott Squad attacked Banks, Bayley, and Moon after their match against Alicia Fox, Mickie James, and Dana Brooke.
One interesting snippet from Renee Young; she said Liv Morgan told her The Riott Squad will apply the Freebird Rule if they win the tag team championships.
The official completely lost control a few minutes into the match when some quick tags left Riott, Morgan, and Logan triple-teaming Ember Moon. Bank and Bayley charged to her defence and it broke down. A quick ad later, everything was fixed and they were back in the ring.
It was a fun match, but I can’t help thinking that, if the introduction of tag belts in imminent, then there should be a focus on that rather than six-woman matches. There is a clear emphasis on teamwork now though, that’s become a lot more apparent.
The Riott Squad dominated huge chunks of the match, isolating each of their competitors at various points. They couldn’t quite get the finish though.
Bayley slipped up by arguing with the ref after Sarah Logan had shoved Ember Moon off the apron, so allowing Sasha Banks to get double teamed by Riott and Logan. Moon broke up the pin, Logan kicked Bayley off the apron and Moon launched herself over the top rope onto Riott and Logan.
Sarah Logan thought she had it covered, but she didn’t see Bayley tag herself in. Banks hit the backstabber ready for Bayley to deliver an elbow drop from the top and get the pin.
Alexa Bliss revealed she has a new talk show starting next week, A Moment of Bliss. Her first guest will be Ronda Rousey. We’ll see how that goes, sometimes these things work, sometimes they’re cringe-worthy. What it does bring into question is, exactly how injured is Alexa Bliss?
Ronda Rousey and Natalya vs Nia Jax and Tamina
This headlined the show. Rousey and Natalya dived straight onto Tamina and Jax. They escaped to the outside and the match was able to start. Rousey starting things off, first against Tamina, then Nia Jax, showing both of them the aggression she hadn’t managed to summon for Natalya. Jax managed to use her power advantage to slow Rousey down, but she still needed to tag out.
Natalya came in too and she was no less fired up than Rousey. Nia Jax had to drag Tamina from the ring to prevent her being pinned. Natalya hit them both with a baseball slide, then Rousey launched herself off the top turnbuckle onto them.
One quick ‘don’t try this at home’ ad later, Nia Jax was dominating Natalya in the centre of the ring. She threw Natalya around for a while then tagged in Tamina and Natalya managed to get to Rousey.
The second Rousey came in, Tamina tagged Nia Jax. Rousey came in and went to work. On a side note, I wish they’d get her wrestling gear she doesn’t need to adjust quite so often. It’s irritating, and it can’t be comfortable. Jax turned things in her favour by catching Rousey, pressing her over her head and dropping her face first to the mat. It only got her a two count, so she hoisted Rousey onto her shoulders and climbed to the second turnbuckle.
Tamina tagged herself in just before Rousey struggled free and tried unsuccessfully to flip Jax. Rousey hadn’t seen or heard the tag and got superkicked by Tamina. Natalya had taken so much punishment earlier that she still wasn’t back on the apron. Rousey managed to get an armbar on Tamina after she rolled out of the way of Tamina’s headbutt but before she could prise Tamina’s arms apart, Nia Jax broke things up with a leg drop.
Natalya came back then and sent Jax out of the ring with a discus lariat. Tamina superkicked Natalya so she rolled out of the ring. Tamina went back to try to pin Rousey, but Rousey kicked out. She went up for a Superfly Splash but Rousey raised her feet and managed to twist around and get the armbar locked in. Tamina tapped.
Sonya Deville def. Naomi
Becky Lynch and John Cena
Naomi vs Sonya Deville
This was supposed to be Naomi vs Mandy Rose, Naomi’s revenge for Rose trying to kiss her husband. Rose got into the ring and took her outer shirt off to reveal a cut-down Usos shirt. got back out again. While Naomi was yelling at her, Sonya Deville got into the other side of the ring and the bell rang.
Naomi went for it but Mandy Rose was up on the apron almost immediately to cause a distraction and give Deville the advantage. It didn’t work that time, but it did the second.
When Naomi started to control things Rose grabbed a mic. She said she was thinking of Jimmy Uso while she was getting ready and she sent him a picture of herself in a towel. Naomi started towards her, got ambushed by Deville pinned.
The IIconics new year’s resolution is to become the first ever women’s tag team champions. It’s sounding very much like it’s going to be a cross brand thing, one championship for both brands, but we’ll see.
Becky Lynch answered John Cena’s call for a man to come out and give him a reason to be there. She asked him how it felt to have The Man come out when he was expecting a man. She’d heard him say he felt like he’s back where he belongs, but it’s not that simple anymore. Because it 2018 she wasn’t just aiming to overtake Charlotte Flair on the posters and the billboards, she was aiming for him too. He’s been on every single WWE marquee for the past 16 years. He personifies what WWE is, or was. It’s time for someone new to step up, step in, and fill his shoes, and the crowd will agree that person is her. And if he has a problem with that, Nikki Bella won’t be the only woman to drop him this year.
Cena didn’t get to argue because Zelina Vega and Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas arrived onstage. Vega used a lot of words to tell Lynch and Cena they were both broken down and/or over the hill. She introduced herself and Almas and said 2019 will be the year of Tranquillo.
John Cena handled the response. He told Vega she was hitting out of her weight class and Almas that Lynch could kick his teeth down his throat (Becky Lynch agreed) Then he challenged them to a tag match because Lynch had asked him how it feels to be in the ring with The Man and he would like to find out.
Becky Lynch and John Cena vs Zelina Vega and Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas
Sorry to trot out the same tired old lines but this was a really fun mixed tag that would have been an awesome intergender match.
Cena was going to take the first stint, but Becky Lynch insisted. She was dominating Vega immediately and Vega quickly tapped out. Almas came in and Lynch wanted to take him on. They wouldn’t allow it so she slapped Cena’s chest to tag herself out, despite not needing to.
The beginning of Almas and Cena’s stint equated to headlocks and Almas posing while the crowd chanted for Becky Lynch. Then Vega kicked Cena in the face while the ref was backing Almas up out of their corner and Almas took control.
Eventually, Cena managed to get to Becky Lynch and the pace really picked up. Zelina Vega didn’t stand a chance, she was getting decimated. Just as Lynch was setting up for the Dis-Arm-Her, Almas pulled Vega to safety. John Cena came in to deal with Almas in his own unique way and as soon as Lamas was out of the ring Lynch pushed him out too. Vega tried to take advantage of Lynch’s distraction and roll her up. Becky Lynch twisted around and Zelina Vega found herself tapping to the Dis-Arm-Her.
After the match Cena offered Becky Lynch a handshake, she did the ‘you can’t see me’ and walked away. John Cena looked grudgingly impressed.
Triple H approached Asuka in the corridor. He asked her who she feels deserves an opportunity at the championship at Royal Rumble. She said she’ll fight anyone, it doesn’t matter, because no one is ready for Asuka. Charlotte Flair appeared at his shoulder and said if it wasn’t for Ronda Rousey she’d be champion so she should get the shot. Carmella arrived and said she was champion for 130 days and beat both of them twice. If anyone deserves an opportunity it’s her. Flair told her to take her seven-second dance break somewhere else, then Becky Lynch showed up. Lynch said she is the only option to face Asuka. Triple H told them he’d take it under advisement and let them know when they’d made a decision.
The triple-threat has already been announced for next week.
No women’s division action on this week’s NXT, not new stuff anyway. This wee was the review of the year and NXT Year-End Awards nominations. One of the highlights they chose to show was Bianca Belair versus Deonna Purrazzo, as part of the hype package for Belair’s championship opportunity against Shayna Baszler at TakeOver.
The women’s division is quite well represented in the Year-End awards. Nikki Cross, Shayna Baszler, Kairi Sane, Ember Moon, and Bianca Belair are up for female of the year and overall superstar of the year. Kairi Sane versus Shayna Baszler’s NXT Women’s Championship Match at TakeOver Brooklyn IV and Nikki Cross versus Bianca Belair on the September 12 NXT episode are nominated for match of the year. Ember Moon versus Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane versus Shayna Baszler are up for rivalry of the year. Lacey Evans, Dakota Kai, Bianca Belair, and Rhea Ripley for breakout star. And Io Shirai, Mia Yim, Candice LeRae, and Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir (as a unit) for future star.
Full nomination lists and voting instructions can be found here. Voting is done via tweet, and I think it’s a good idea to take the time if you can. It’s a good opportunity to let WWE know what is working for you. The twitter voting system is a bit labour intensive when they could use a simple form, but it doesn’t take too long really.
Jinny def. Candy Floss
Toni Storm def. Deonna Purrazzo
A short conversation between Toni Storm and Deonna Purrazzo was shown during the first episode. Purrazzo said she should be in the TakeOver match because she came close to beating Ripley last week. Storm agreed that she came close, and suggested Purrazzo prove it with a match against her. That match took place on the second episode of the week.
Jinny vs Candy Floss
NXT UK seems to be settling into a pattern of one women’s match per episode, and this was the first episode’s match. Is there a bigger difference in attitudes anywhere on the roster than there is between these two? Candy Floss is sweetness and light incarnate, Jinny is… well, Jinny is not.
Jinny got increasingly annoyed with Candy Floss’ playful attitude in the early going. It took her a couple of attempts to wipe the smile off her face, but she got there. At her best, Jinny is cutting, superior, and vicious. I’m not sure the NXT UK crowd have quite seen the best of her yet. The match was good, but it was short and didn’t really give them a story to tell.
Jinny finished it with a Touch of Couture.
Toni Storm vs Deonna Purrazzo
This match was really good. It was tactical and good-natured, until the mid-point when Deonna Purrazzo kicked Storm’s offer of a handshake away. Toni Storm took offence at that, and Purrazzo’s follow up offence. She fired back and Purrazzo quickly found herself locked in a submission struggling for the bottom rope.
She got there then managed to dodge Storm’s charge into the corner and take over the match. As soon as she had control, Purrazzo started working on Storm’s arm to ready her for the armbar. She got Storm in potential submission situation, but Toni Storm rolled them over so Purrazzo’s shoulders were on the mat and forced her to break it. Purrazzo went straight back to the arm.
Storm’s comeback began via a backstabber after she caught Deonna Purrazzo’s foot. Purrazzo managed to counter the Storm Zero the first time, but got caught with a headbutt for a two count. She countered a second Storm Zero, landed a dropkick, and almost submitted Toni Storm, but Storm got to the ropes with her feet.
Purrazzo went for an armbar but Storm was ready and delivered a German suplex. Finally, on the third attempt, Toni Storm delivered Strom Zero and won the match.
Rhea Ripley came out after the match and walked around the outside of the ring before getting up on the apron and holding the belt up at her NXT UK TakeOver opponent.
There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of hype for NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool on 12 Jan. Actually, there’s not much hype around NXT UK in general. The two episodes a week format is killing my interest, but it’s more than that. It almost feels like it’s going through the motions, nothing is truly connecting with me. It’s not lack of familiarity, I’ve seen the vast majority of the roster live numerous times. Maybe that’s it. I’m watching a sanitised version of something I’m used to seeing without so many restrictions. It’s not time to give up on it yet (not that I could if I wanted to. It’s hard to report something you haven’t seen), NXT wasn’t what it is now when it first started, I’m still hoping it will grow on me.
On that note, I’m not doing a preview for Rhea Ripley versus Toni Storm. Unless something happens on next weeks shows to change my mind, I think Rhea Ripley should retain. Whether she will or not is another matter.
Main Event had no original women’s division action this week. They advertised Alexa Bliss’ upcoming talk show and showed highlights of Becky Lynch and John Cena on SmackDown.
That’s it for the turn of the year. All back to normal next week and full steam ahead to Royal Rumble weekend. I’ll be back next week with all the continuing build and all the other action. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover or anything you want to chat about, tweet me @manda_why.