Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It’s Christmas week so RAW and NXT were pre-taped and NXT UK are doing a best of the year show, so it’s only the SmackDown roster and wrestling reviewers who don’t get the week off.
Charlotte Flair def. Chelsea Green
Becky Lynch had an in-ring segment this week as a follow-up to the sit-down interview she had last week. She said she’s had a lot on her mind, some of which she addressed last week, but one thing she’s learned since becoming The Man is that she does so much better when she takes things into her own hands. So that’s what she’s doing. She has become the face of the company and the company is trying to protect her. But she doesn’t give a damn what the company wants. She’s stayed quiet for too long. The Man versus Asuka needs to happen next and she’s not taking no for an answer. She’s prepared to go to some deep dark places in herself just to remind herself who she truly is. And to remind Asuka who she is, she’s the one woman to ever beat The Man fair and square.
So The Man has come around to collect on one last debt… what does Asuka say?
Asuka appeared, with Kairi Sane by her side, but they only came as far as the stage. Asuka reminded Lynch that The Kabuki Warriors won at TLC, then switched to Japanese moving back to English to say ‘Asuka Two Belts’.
Becky Lynch said if putting the title on the line is what it takes to face Asuka then Asuka can name the time and the place. Lynch finished by addressing Asuka in Japanese. I have no idea what she said, but it was a nice touch.
Charlotte Flair vs Chelsea Green
After Asuka faced Green’s NXT tag team partner, Deonna Purrazzo, on last week’s show, it made sense that Chelsea Green would also get an opportunity. Especially as the show was taped on the same night. And it’s genuinely nice to see someone different.
The matches played out in much the same way as well. Green was given a full entrance and intro package, and it was very clear that she wasn’t just there to be fed to Flair. It wasn’t a long match, but Green had a couple of good chances against Flair without ever really looking like getting the win. Chelsea Green’s RAW appearance ended with her taking a big boot and tapping out in the Figure Eight.
The second of Liv Morgan’s re-introduction/re-invention vignettes aired this week. She was still in the bathroom, in a robe, doing her hair and makeup. I’m still not sure why. She said that when you seek affirmation from someone else you give that person all your power. She did that when she was young and impressionable, ‘So typical’. It’s up to her to decide who she is and she’s anything but typical.
I’m not impressed that RAW, with an hour more tv time than SmackDown and NXT, is still only putting on one women’s division match most weeks. The women’s division is admittedly looking a little sparse at the moment. Ruby Riott, Nia Jax, and Ember Moon are all injured. Liv Morgan is being relaunched. Naomi, if I remember correctly, is out for personal reasons. And Maria Kanellis is on maternity leave (not sure if she counts as part of the roster, but she’s listed). But Sarah Logan and Natalya have had a few matches on Main Event which could easily have been put on the main show and both the IIconics could be put into singles matches.
I love that they had Deonna Purrazzo on last week and Chelsea Green this week, bring them back to fight the IIconics, or just bring them up and throw them into the mix. I’m pretty sure they would fit right in. If not them, then grab someone else from NXT. Shayna Baszler is likely to make the leap soon, hopefully without Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir. Bianca Belair is an obvious choice, but Candice LeRae or Io Shirai would also make sense.
However they fix it, one promo segment, one vignette, and one sub-five-minute match are not enough to represent the women’s division on WWE’s three-hour flagship show.
Candice LeRae def. Taynara
Bianca Belair def. Shotzi Blackheart
The pre-recorded episode was hosted by Cathy Kelley, Pat McAfee, and Sam Roberts, so had a TakeOver Preshow feel to it. The action was split between Full Sail and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, with both women’s division matches coming from Full Sail.
Candice LeRae vs Taynara
Taynara tried to start things with a surprise kick but got her foot caught by LeRae. LeRae took immediate control and, as per their relative skill and experience levels, that’s how it should have stayed. It didn’t, of course. Taynara got more than her fair share of offence and had a couple of goes at pinning LeRae. Eventually, Candice LeRae had had enough. She put her hair in a ponytail and got the job done, finishing it with a springboard moonsault.
Bianca Belair vs Shotzi Blackheart
Shotzi Blackheart made her NXT debut, and a good debut it was too. She had Belair’s number for significant portions of the match, partially as a result of Bianca Belair being far too cocky at the outset.
The more I think about it, the more I question whether it’s time for Belair to move on. Part of me thinks a change of brand and a fresh start would do her good. But another part really wants to see her hard work and perseverance pay off with an NXT Women’s Championship run first. She spoiled Shotzi Blackheart’s debut, after a decent match, with a K.O.D.
NXT have the opposite problem to RAW heading into next year. Where RAW has no obvious title challengers for Becky Lynch outside of Asuka and Charlotte Flair (again), NXT has them lining up. If new champion Rhea Ripley manages to move Shayna Baszler entirely away from the title picture, then she has some combination of Bianca Belair, Candice LeRae, Io Shirai, Mia Yim, and Dakota Kai to deal with (and possibly Tegan Nox). Behind them, there are a number of superstars, like Deonna Purrazzo and Chelsea Green, who haven’t made their impact on the brand yet but are waiting in the wings. From a viewer perspective, it’s a nice problem to have.
Next week will be the NXT Year End Awards episode.
This week was a ‘best of the year’ show. Toni Storm vs Rhea Ripley was the first match they showed highlights of. That was followed up with some promo for the NXT Women’s Championship Triple Threat at NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool and highlights of Storm losing the title to Kay Lee Ray.
The women are again, so they got ten minutes worth of ‘best of’ centred entirely around the title. That’s actually pretty appropriate and proportionate to the amount of the average show devoted to the women’s division. At the moment it is very much Kay Lee Ray, Piper Niven, and Toni Storm, then everyone else.
No original action at all on Main Event this week because there was no RAW live show this week.
Carmella def. Mandy Rose
Sasha Banks & Bayley def. Lacey Evans & Dana Brooke
SmackDown are teasing tension between Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose again. Rose approached Deville while she was signing programmes assuming she was going to be in her corner for her match, but Deville seemed annoyed because Rose didn’t accompany her to the ring for her match last week and she got beaten. Deville did say she’d be there, but only after she’d delivered the programmes.
Mandy Rose then had another interaction with Otis. There was a cake and a lot of awkwardness. It’s all very cringeworthy and can’t end well. It got worse when Dolph Ziggler chatted Rose up later and stepped on the cake. Pretty sure that’s the last of this particular story thread that I’ll be covering here.
Carmella vs Mandy Rose
Sonya Deville did not accompany Mandy Rose to the ring. The match was short with Rose dominating most of it and Carmella picking up the win with a superkick. It’s nice to see Carmella building some momentum, she’d faded into the background as far as wrestling was concerned. Her stuff with R-Truth was great, but I’m glad she’s back in the ring.
Lacey Evans was a guest on A Moment of Bliss. Things were very civil, and they started by showing the footage of Sasha Banks taunting Evans’ daughter last week. Evans said she’s proud of her kid, she’s brave and a fighter, but Sasha Banks crossed a line you just don’t cross. If she hadn’t been pulled off Banks last week then Sasha Banks wouldn’t have walked out of the arena. Then Evans ended the interview because she didn’t want to have her back turned and get jumped from behind, so she went to the ring to await her tag team partner.
Dana Brooke didn’t appear when her music started, she was dragged out by Bayley and Sasha Banks. Banks told Evans she may be a good mother but she’s a terrible tag team partner. Evans ran up the ramp to pile in and officials were trying to separate them going into the break.
Lacey Evans & Dana Brooke vs Sasha Banks & Bayley
Bayley becomes the longest-reigning SmackDown Women’s Champion this week. A lot of the match was a lesson in isolating your opponent by Bayley and Banks, with Dana Brooke completely unable to get back to her corner to make the tag. Inevitably, she did, and Evans got to take some of her frustrations out on Bayley. She would have got the pin if Banks hadn’t intervened at two and three quarters. Chasing Banks ended with Evans being caught by a Bayley to Belly, but Brooke saved the match that time.
The end came via a Bank Statement on Dana Brooke after Bayley had taken a Woman’s Right and Banks had tossed Evans out of the ring.
That’s it for another week of WWE women’s division action. Join me next week for another instalment, and in the meantime follow @ArnFuriousCom to make sure you never miss a review. You can also follow me @manda_why.