Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. Not long now until Extreme Rules, but the women’s division matches have been set and pretty much all the build-up is done. SmackDown is giving us Asuka versus Carmella again, and RAW’s offering is Nia Jax rematch against Alexa Bliss. It looks like that’s all we’ll get on this PPV, but happily, that’s not all that’s going on for the women’s rosters. There might even be some actual non-title feuds on the horizon.
Ember Moon def Liv Morgan
Nia Jax def Mickie James
This was the week of Bayley and Sasha Banks’ first counselling sessions, or session as it turned out. After an unnecessarily long recap of the events leading them to the counsellor’s office, Bayley was shown waiting for her session to begin when Sasha Banks walked into the waiting room. They argued about who was supposed to be there until they were interrupted by the counsellor. Dr Shelby – yes, the same Dr Shelby who did Team Hell No’s anger management – informed them they were both supposed to be there, they were having friendship counselling. He took them into his office, which he called ‘the friend zone’, and we left them after he’d explained the ‘seven tenets of friendship’.
RAW made two further visits to Dr Shelby’s office in the course of the show. The first was without sound and showed Bayley talking while Sasha Banks sat at the opposite end of the couch looking murderous.
The final visit started with all three of them sitting in silence. Sasha Banks asked if they could go because they’d been there for hours and it wasn’t working. Dr Shelby said they were going to play a game called ‘honesty theatre’ where they answer questions as each other, so they could see from the other’s perspective. What actually happened was they did sarcastic and vicious impressions of each other then started to argue. When Dr Shelby tried to stop them they told him to shut up in unison. The segment ended with Dr Shelby screaming ‘enough’.
There was one nice touch. There was a picture of Team Hell No hanging on the wall of Dr Shelby’s office.
I’ve got to admit, this was so bad that life choices were questioned during the covering of it. I’m trying to tell myself that I’m not the demographic this was aimed at, I’m just not sure what that demographic is.
Ember Moon vs Liv Morgan
It was announced earlier in the day that Ruby Riott had injured her knee at a WWE live event over the weekend and was awaiting the results of an MRI to assess the damage. She wasn’t at RAW for that reason.
On their way to the ring, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan encountered Elias backstage. They asked him if he was going to play tonight. He said he wasn’t playing for the crowd, but he played Morgan and Logan a little something while they tipped stuff over. I still don’t know why Liv Morgan’s mouth is blue. I know it’s a small and insignificant detail, but it bugs me.
Morgan and Logan looked confident on arrival without Riott, which was good to see. Liv Morgan has grown so much as a performer since being part of the Riott Squad. She’s got more polish and more finesse to go with her natural athletic ability. A lot of people questioned her call-up, but she’s stepping up. Ember Moon looks like she was made for the main roster. If she’s not RAW women’s champion within a year, I want to know why.
Really entertaining match to watch. Moon’s style is quite adaptable and pairing her with someone as athletic as Morgan works beautifully.
It was all going pretty well for Morgan until she got overconfident and started trash-talking Ember Moon.
Moon shoved her into the corner, stomped on her, then hit the Eclipse for the win.
Sarah Logan was in the ring on the three and aimed a kick at Moon as she rolled out of the ring. Moon almost came back in to retaliate, but the ref stopped her.
There was the strangest recorded ‘interview’ with Ronda Rousey (Rousey was, obviously, not at RAW due to her suspension). It started with a recap of everything leading up to the suspension, then the interview itself was a single question. Renee Young asked Rousey what her reaction was to Alexa Bliss having a title defence against Nia Jax at Extreme Rules. Rousey said she’s excited for the match. She’s suspended from RAW but not from Extreme Rules, so she’s buying a front row ticket.
Mickie James vs Nia Jax
It looked like Mickie James came out to Alexa Bliss’ music. Ok, so Bliss was with her and Bliss is the champ, but has Mickie James really lost her own identity to the point where she’s a subsidiary of Alexa Bliss now?
Nia Jax paused on the stage and told Bliss she thought she was finished with her when she defeated her at WrestleMania. Then when she squashed her a Backlash she thought she was behind her forever. But one Money in the Bank cash-in later they’re back to where they started. This needs to end (it really does), and at Money in the Bank, it will. Jax had spoken to Angle and he told her that their title match will be an extreme rules match.
Jax brought Natalya out for back up and the made their way to the ring.
Mickie James took it to Jax from the off. When she landed something it had an effect, then Nia Jax’ next move would flatten her.
Alexa Bliss pulled Mickie James of Nia Jax’ shoulders when they were outside the ring and we went to the ads with James and Bliss facing up to Jax and Natalya at ringside.
When we came back James had turned things in her favour and Jax was down outside the ring. James hit a baseball slide on Jax’ knee as she tried to climb back into the ring, then worked the knee to try to keep Jax down.
The strategy worked well for her, but the submission attempt may have been ambitious. Apart from meaning she was close enough for Jax to punch her, Nia Jax also managed to counter it into a body scissors that required James to seek a rope break.
Jax caught James’ leg as she went for the Mick-kick and yanked her up for a sit-out powerbomb. Alexa Bliss got up on the apron to distract the ref from making the count. Natalya ran around the ring to pull Bliss’ feet out from under her. Nia Jax finished off Mickie James with a Samoan drop.
Asuka vs James Ellsworth finished with a double count out.
Becky Lynch def Peyton Royce
Asuka and Ellsworth both had promo segments before the match. Asuka’s pre-match promo was ‘Men, women, sexist pigs, it doesn’t matter who I face. They all feel the pain. James, you are not ready for Asuka’.
James Ellsworth said a bunch of stuff about men being the superior specimens, putting Asuka in her place, and Mella being money.
Asuka vs James Ellsworth – Battle of the Sexes
Carmella came out after Asuka and Ellsworth and taunted Asuka a bit before joining commentary. James Ellsworth felt the need to do some stretches and push-ups as a warm-up before the match started, and to roll the sleeves of his t-shirt up for some reason.
Asuka’s first shove sent him out of the ring and Carmella left the commentary desk to tell him to get back in. He did, and seconds later he was out again after Asuka put him in a headlock. He took his shirt off before getting back in a third time as if that was going to help. Asuka slapped him about a bit, gave him an airplane spin, slapped him in the face and delivered a spinning backfist. He got out of the ring and, with Asuka in hot pursuit, hopped the barrier and disappeared through the crowd.
By the time Asuka chased him back, they’d been counted out. As soon as Asuka climbed back over the barricade Carmella shoved her into it and dragged Ellsworth away by his hair.
James Ellsworth, as predicted, didn’t get a single offensive move in. The only time he put his hand on Asuka was to put his arms around her. A hold which she immediately broke. She didn’t even beat him up that badly, and the match finished on a double count out. I’m not entirely sure what it achieved other than to fill a few minutes of the show. But it got worse.
Backstage, Carmella was telling Ellsworth off. Paige joined them and told Carmella she loves what she’s got going on, using a man to help keep her title. She told Ellsworth he couldn’t run forever, in fact, he can’t run at all next week because he has a rematch with Asuka. And, since he thinks he’s such a lady’s man, Paige has decided to surround the ring with the entire women’s division. Yep, they’ve got a lumberjack match.
The last time James Ellsworth was faced with the entire women’s division he took a bunch of finishing moves and was released from WWE within days. Surely they wouldn’t write him out the same way twice.
At least it wasn’t the only women’s division action on SmackDown this week.
Becky Lynch vs Peyton Royce
The IIconics had a pre-match promo before they came to the ring. They’re still focusing on calling Becky Lynch a sidekick. They did acknowledge she’s been on a roll, and that she beat Billi Kay in their match. But Peyton Royce was convinced she could finish the job Kay started.
Becky Lynch didn’t get a promo.
Good match but far too short. Three and a half minute matches really aren’t good enough at this stage. Billie Kay tried to get involved immediately but the distraction didn’t benefit Royce at all. Royce did manage to get a brief advantage after knocking the ropes and making Becky Lynch lose her balance and land on the turnbuckle.
Becky Lynch is on fire at the moment. It’s a pleasure to see her back on the up. Peyton Royce had an answer for a lot of what Lynch threw at her, some clever counters and some vicious kicks. However, she got Lynch up on her shoulders and Becky Lynch countered into the Dis-Arm-Her. Peyton Royce tapped out.
Dakota Kai def Santana Garrett
NXT’s women’s division has been in a slump, there’s no denying that. But it finally seems to be turning a corner. There are signs of potential feuds popping up, like commentary mentioning Lacey Evans’ social media comments about Dakota Kai during Kai’s match, and Bianca Belair calling out most of the division in her promo. It’s not back to its best yet but they’ve got the talent and there is reason for hope.
Santana Garrett vs Dakota Kai
It’s always nice when NXT bring back one of the Mae Young Classic participants, and I’m a bit surprised we haven’t seen more of Garrett.
Dakota Kai is on the up now they fear of Shayna Baszler is done with. It’s weird hearing commentary talk about how quickly kai is improving when she’s been that good all along, And she really is one of the current NXT women I can see having a long and successful future. The crowd love her as well.
Fun, four-minute, opening match. Santana Garrett had a lot of the early offence, getting as far as forcing Kai to crawl for the ropes to avoid being submitted.
When Kai got going though Garrett had no response. She ran through her signature series of kicks then delivered, actually I’m not sure what that was but it was cool, for the win.
I don’t feel bad for not knowing what to call it, commentary didn’t either. Nigel McGuinness called it the Kai de Grace, but I’m hoping that doesn’t stick.
Shayna Baszler took the second in-ring segment of the show to address the NXT universe. She opened by saying that everyone keeps asking her how she handles someone crazy like Nikki Cross but when the dog goes rabid you put it to sleep. People asked the question and in Chicago, she answered (she held up the belt for emphasis).
She’s the most dominant force the division has ever seen and it doesn’t matter how many times the question is asked, the answer will always be the same. She encouraged the crowd to ask and said she reads twitter she knows everyone wants to know (her next opponent I’m guessing). Will it be the best athlete in the performance centre, Bianca Belair? The pirate with the elbow drop, Kairi Sane? Candice LeRae, the little woman who should probably stay home and take care of her husband? No, the answer will always be the same (more belt raising).
She’s the reason they have to have a second Mae Young Classic this year. They have to scour the globe to find a challenger for her. But it doesn’t matter who they are or what they’ve done, she will put them to sleep and you will hear, and still.
I don’t think the three names Baszler mentioned were a surprise. Unless Baszler isn’t defending again for a while, one of them will likely be her next opponent. I’m looking forward to finding out how they’re going to decide who. It better be something good. Preferably something which requires a lot of tv time.
There was also a video promo from Bianca Belair, from her honeymoon (she married Montez Ford last week). She introduced herself then said that while she’s been sitting there she keeps seeing all the girls on the roster making their case for being number one contender. How? There’s one girl running around like a wild lunatic, one that thinks she’s a real-life pirate, one that’s a captain of a team that doesn’t even exist and don’t get her started on the one that can’t even focus on herself because she’s too burned out in what her husband’s doing. Then there’s her. Undefeated. She hasn’t been pinned by any of these… girls.
Finally, there was a quick interview with Kairi Sane outside with the reporters. She said she heard what Vanessa Borne said about her last week and Borne should focus more on fighting. But that’s ok they can have a match. She’ll beat her, make her walk the plank, and then she’ll take the treasure – the NXT Women’s Championship. That match has been confirmed for next week.
The women’s division didn’t feature at all in Main Event this week other than in the run through of the upcoming Extreme Rules matches.
I’ll be back next week with all the go home show build to Extreme Rules. In the meantime, if there is anything you’d like me to cover or anything you want to discuss, tweet me @manda_why.