Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. WarGames kicked off the week and it was the spectacular we’ve come to expect. That wasn’t the big news of the week though, Becky Lynch and Seth Rollins’ baby girl, Roux, is the headline. Huge congratulations to them.
NXT TakeOver WarGames
As usual, I reviewed WarGames for this very site, so this match report is copied and pasted from that one. You can read the full review here.
It lived up to its reputation for being a brutal show, as demonstrated by the injury list on NXT. Good show though.
Quick Rules Reminder
WarGames takes place in a double ring surrounded by a cage.
One member of each team starts the match.
After five minutes a member of the team with the advantage is released from the cage.
Three minutes later a member of the opposing team is released and every three minutes after that, alternating teams, until all competitors are in the ring.
Only when everyone is in the ring can the match be won.
Winning is by pinfall or submission. If anyone escapes the cage they forfeit the match for their team.
Team Blackheart – Shotzi Blackheart, Rhea Ripley, Ember Moon, & Io Shirai vs Team LeRae – Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, Raquel Gonzalez, & Toni Storm – WarGames
Dakota Kai started the match for her team. Shotzi Blackheart has a new tank and it’s an upgrade. The whole team posed on it before the match and Blackheart fired something from it at the cage in front of Kai’s head. It made her jump, but it would have had to get through the chainlink to hit her. Ember Moon started for their team.
Shotzi Blackheart was the first additional members, and she brought a toolbox and a crowbar. It gave Ember Moon some time to recover, and she needed it, but Kai got no respite until Raquel Gonzalez joined them. Unsurprisingly, Rhea Ripley was next and the chaos started to build. No more toys, although Ripley did make use of a big hammer from the toolbox on Dakota Kai. She then got into it with Gonzalez because they were the only two standing.
The trouble with WarGames matches is that it doesn’t matter how badly competitors get beaten up, until the final members of the team arrive you can’t win. Toni Storm brought kendo sticks to the party and used one on Ripley before taking the turnbuckle pad off, as if the big metal cage isn’t enough metal to bounce people off.
Shotzi Blackheart came off the top of a tower of doom at the same time Dakota Kai was knocked off Ripley’s shoulders by Moon. So everyone was down when Io Shirai got there. She put a couple of ladders in the ring and another kendo stick, but Raquel Gonzalez stopped her getting into the ring and giving her team the advantage. Three times Gonzalez kicked her back after she’d thrown weapons in, then Toni Storm held the cage shut with her belt. Shirai even got knocked down trying to climb in.
She was still outside the cage when Candice LeRae arrived. Indi Hartwell attacked Shirai from behind, helped LeRae throw more toys into the ring, then chained the door after her with Shirai still on the outside. Hartwell put the key down her top and told the male officials to come and take it.
With Shirai not in the ring, no pinfalls or submissions could count. She solved that by climbing to the top of the cage with a trashcan, put it over her head, and jumped off onto everyone else.
It was pandemonium. Vicious and brutal chaos with no respite and bodies everywhere. More broken pins and failed submissions than I can count and enough noteworthy spots to make this review a novella. Moon Eclipsed Kai through two chairs. Blackheart made LeRae the filling of a squashed steel chair sandwich when she dropped down off a ladder onto her, but that left them both down and out.
Everyone was down when Raquel Gonzalez picked up the win for her team. She did it by power-bombing Io Shirai through a ladder suspended between the two rings and pinning her on the ring divide.
Indi Hartwell joined the team in celebration.
Asuka def. Shayna Baszler
Dana Brooke & Ricochet def. Reckoning & SlapJack
Shayna Baszler vs Asuka & Lana
Asuka and Lana have a tag title match at TLC, so Asuka had a single’s match with Shayna Baszler this week. I have to admit, when I heard Asuka versus Shayna Baszler my first thought was ‘that’s going to be awesome’. However, it’s the mid-point of a feud involving other people, so that was never going to be allowed to happen.
Nia Jax gave Baszler a pep-talk before the match, but it was just a graphic description of the ways they’re going to mutilate Lana when they get their hands on her. In contrast, Asuka and Lana spent their time waiting for Baszler dancing to Asuka’s theme.
They will have an incredible match at some point in the future, but this one was short and beset by interruptions. It started well enough, with some submission attempts on both sides, but when Asuka rolled out of the ring after taking a hard suplex and Lana went to check on her, Jax attacked Lana and Baszler threw Asuka onto the announce desk.
We did get a few minutes of how good they’d be in a PPV match with no interruptions. Asuka was trying to get the Asuka Lock on when Nia Jax caused a distraction by knocking Lana down at ringside and making her bang her head on the apron. Asuka rushed to the ropes and Baszler hit her from behind. Baszler watched as Lana slithered off Jax’ shoulders and sent her into the steps. Lana climbed on the steps and leapt at Jax. Jax caught her, but Lana used a head-scissors to bring Jax down onto the announce desk. Baszler got pinned while yelling at Lana to stop walking away and come back.
Much later in the show, it was announced that Lana will go one on one with Nia Jax next week. Backstage, Asuka gave Lana a pep-talk because she’s was freaking out at the prospect. She gave her a mantra, ‘I believe in myself. I can beat Nia Jax. And then we will become women’s tag team champions’. Lana was repeating it to herself after Asuka left, but she ran into Jax who destroyed all Asuka’s good work with a stare and a shake of her head.
After Dana Brooke beat RETRIBUTION’s Reckoning last week and slapped Mustafa Ali, and Ricochet had a match with SlapJack, they teamed up in a mixed-tag this week to face the same opponents again. Their strategy meeting was interrupted by Riddle looking for MVP and Lashley, then by Sarah Schreiber. She asked why Ricochet had abandoned his lonely crusade. He said he wasn’t opposed to being in a team, just a team of complete jackasses. There is strength in numbers and he and Brooke will show them what real change is all about. Dana Brooke said she’s not going to let anyone disrespect her after she’s worked so hard to prove she belongs. Also, Reckoning gave her a black eye last week, and she’d like a little payback for that.
Dana Brooke & Ricochet vs Reckoning & SlapJack
It was Reckoning and Brooke who got things underway and who finished it with a Dana Brooke sit-out slam. The guys got a quick bit in the middle, but it was a very short match. Mustafa Ali yelled at Reckoning and SlapJack after the match for embarrassing him, but it was his fault she got pinned. If he hadn’t been talking to her, she would have been paying attention.
Raquel Gonzalez def. Ember Moon
The injury list from TakeOver WarGames got its own segment because the list was so long. Candice LeRae broke her arm. Dakota Kai has a neck issue and ‘won’t be seen for a while’, which I’m guessing is a storyline injury to give Raquel Gonzalez some time in the spotlight after pinning Shirai to win the WarGames match. Gonzalez said during the segment that she deserves a title shot for it, and she’ll get one.
Toni Storm told McKenzie Mitchell the reason that she turned on Ember Moon was that Moon was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And she obviously made the right decision because she was on the winning team. She’s annoyed that Moon’s return overshadowed hers, but she’s focused on becoming the next NXT Women’s Champion.
Io Shirai joined the interview and told Storm that now WarGames is over the title is her only problem. She doesn’t have a problem with Storm, she just doesn’t like her. Then she punched her in the face and they fought their way out to the ring. Toni Storm tried to escape but was met by Ember Moon. In perfect payback, Moon threw Storm into the steps then rolled her back into the ring to take a moonsault from Shirai.
Raquel Gonzalez said WarGames was the biggest night of her career. Not only did they win but she pinned the NXT Women’s Champion. But their win came at a cost. Dakota Kai is sitting at home injured because of what Ember Moon did to her and Gonzalez is going to make Moon regret coming back to NXT.
Xia Li and Boa are still being punished or paying a penance. Li was being made to hit and kick a wooden apparatus despite her crying and her bandaged hands and shins being covered in blood. Boa was being hit with a kendo stick and punched in the face. Whoever is behind it has a red stripe across their eyes.
Candice LeRae, Johnny Gargano, Indi Hartwell, and Austin Theory took to the ring for a gloat and brag session. LeRae’s arm was in a cast. Indi Hartwell is still in a neck brace. Collectively, they are ‘The Way’, apparently. Gargano crowned LeRae ‘Miss WarGames’ and told Hartwell and Theory how humble she was before presenting her with a trophy. It was very green and shiny and had a doll’s head on the top with green hair (in entirely the wrong shade) to represent Shotzi Blackheart. Their new catchphrase is ‘If you’re not in The Way, stay out of our way’. That could get irritating fast, so I guess it’s perfect.
Raquel Gonzalez vs Ember Moon
They made this the main event, and quite right too. It’s unusual for there to be only one women’s division match, but at least it got the proper respect.
This is Raquel Gonzalez’ time to make her mark. Dakota Kai is out for however long ‘a while’ turns out to be and Gonzalez is on the way to a title shot. She’s making her case for it as well. She dominated Ember Moon, and Moon is not the easiest superstar to dominate. Every time Moon tried to build a little momentum or turn things in her favour, Gonzalez shut her down with a single move.
Moon kept trying though and Gonzalez started to get frustrated by her resilience. Eventually, it paid off and Moon took control of the match with a forearm in the corner and a DDT. A suicide dive from Ember Moon shoved Gonzalez against the announce desk. Moon climbed a pillar but Gonzalez dragged her down, slung her over her shoulder, and ran her headfirst into the ringpost. Somehow, Moon kicked out of the subsequent pin. Moon had a pin attempt after landing a running knee to Gonzalez’ face. She went up for the Eclipse but Raquel Gonzalez caught her, laid her out with a clothesline then dragged her up for the single-armed powerbomb. Moon avoided it and tried to get the pin by rolling through, but Gonzalez picked her up again and planted her into the mat for the win.
After the match, Toni Storm arrived to take advantage of Moon being barely conscious. Rhea Ripley came out and removed Moon from the ring before she could do anything. There was an intense stare-down between Storm and Ripley, then Gonzalez moved Storm out of the way so she and Ripley could circle each other, eyes locked, until Raquel Gonzalez backed out of the ring.
This is why NXT’s women’s division is superior. You have Rhea Ripley, Raquel Gonzalez, Candice LeRae, Toni Storm, Ember Moon, and Shotzi Blackheart all credibly in the title picture. But you also have feuds playing out between them, and a whole other crop of up-and-coming superstars with their own alliances and antagonists. There is a depth that just doesn’t exist in the main roster brands.
The whole NXT roster suffers from being so stacked at times. There are people in all divisions who deserve more time but even with episodes of NXT being crammed every week, there are only so many segments.
Isla Dawn def. Xia Brookside
Jinny had a press style interview. She said Piper Niven disrespected her last week but she’s not worthy of being spoken about anymore. When she least expects it, Jinny is coming for her. She’s tamed wild animals in the past and she will again. Then she told the reporters to get out of her face.
Xia Brookside vs Isla Dawn
Xia Brookside has probably been given the most character development in the women’s division outside of those who have been in the title picture, and it’s still practically nothing. As far as I can tell, the only reason they’re fighting is to stop people like me bitching if there isn’t a women’s division match.
It wasn’t a bad match at all. They’re both looking to progress towards the title picture, despite there being no clear path to do so.
Towards the end of the match, a staff member brought a load of suitcases out. Nina Samuels appeared on the big screen and said Brooksides are only worthy of carrying her bags. The distraction gave Isla Dawn to kick Xia Brookside in the head and pin her.
The Riott Squad def. Billie Kay & Natalya
Carmella def. Sasha Banks (DQ)
Sasha Banks opened the show for her contract signing for the TLC match against Carmella. Banks opened the folder to look at it before Carmella arrived, but it was empty. She kicked off at Adam Pearce, who had no idea why it wasn’t there. Carmella appeared on the big screen with the contract. She didn’t want to be in the ring with Banks because she didn’t trust her. Instead, she preferred to sit and run her mouth from a safe distance. She did sign the contract and sent her sommelier (Akeem Young) out with it. He took a slap and a backstabber from Banks, but not until the contract had been signed and Sasha Banks had challenged Carmella to try to take the title tonight. Adam Pearce made the match official and made it the main event.
I guess if Banks loses tonight the contract is already signed for a rematch at TLC.
Bayley sent her best wishes to Carmella for the title match and said a lot of nasty things about Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair. Belair came up behind her and read the receipts of their recent victories until Bayley walked away.
Bianca Belair versus Bayley is next week.
Carmella had an interview, but it was just a load of the same stuff about how wonderful she is and how she’s going to beat Sasha Banks. She told her sommelier to have her champagne at ringside for her so she could sip it while watching Banks’ tears.
Mario Lopez predicted a win for Sasha Banks in the main event.
The Riott Squad vs Billie Kay & Natalya
This apparently came about after Billie Kay delivered her resumé to The Riott Squad on Talking Smack last week (one day I’ll remember to watch it). They told her to find a partner to face them this week, and Kay found Natalya.
It’s great to see The Riott Squad in action again, but I’m beyond annoyed at the splitting up The IIconics when all they’ve done is put them on different brands and teamed them with random people. The IIconics were annoying, but they were a proper tag team and the women’s division needs more of those.
It wasn’t a long match, in fact, it was under three minutes, but it was fun while it lasted. Billie Kay and Natalya had the best of the offence. But Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott’s teamwork got them the victory via a double team on Kay after she accidentally hit Natalya in the face.
Sasha Banks (C) vs Carmella – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
Carmella’s sommelier did indeed have her champagne set up for her at ringside. It was on a little table and it would be a miracle if the table survived the match.
As commentary pointed out, Carmella hasn’t been wrestling on SmackDown for months and there’s no way for Banks, or any of us, to know what she added to her arsenal in that time. Carmella gave herself the advantage going into a break by bouncing Banks’ face off the mat. She extended her advantage with the help of the ringpost and barricade as we came back.
Sasha Banks wasn’t going to roll over and hand Carmella the title that easily. She’s nothing if not resilient, but she needed to be because Carmella kept the pressure on throughout the match.
Banks resisted the Code of Silence and managed to get the Bank Statement on, but Carmella’s sommelier pulled Banks out of the ring. For some reason, that didn’t get Carmella disqualified, but Banks stamping on Carmella in the corner after she chased the sommelier back into the ring did get Banks disqualified. The sommelier came back to pull Banks off Carmella and got punched in the face, took his second backstabber of the night, and was put in the Bank Statement until Carmella kicked her in the head and stamped on her. Carmella held her by the hair and screamed, ‘What’s wrong with you, Sasha’, then kicked her in the head again to send her out of the ring. She was still yelling that Banks had lost it when she followed her out of the ring, dunked her head in the ice bucket and pushed it backwards, scattering ice everywhere. As a final insult, Carmella smashed a bottle across Banks’ back then poured herself a glass of champagne and sprayed the rest around. I was wrong about the table though. It survived the show.
That’s it for another week of WWE women’s division action. Join me next week, and in the meantime follow @ArnFuriousCom to make sure you never miss a review. You can also follow me @manda_why. Please stay safe.