Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. Not a bad week for the main roster brands, but a sad week for NXT as they were hit with the latest wave of releases.
Rhea Ripley def. Nia Jax
Tamina def. Doudrop
Nikki A.S.H. def. Charlotte Flair
Nia Jax vs Rhea Ripley
Rhea Ripley isn’t used to opponents who can throw her around. And she definitely isn’t used to opponents who just look at her when she headbutts them. She couldn’t get Jax up for a Riptide and Jax squished her head against the ringpost with her hip. Basically, Ripley was having a bad time. She evaded Jax’ second go at squishing her head, so Jax hit the ringpost and fell off the apron. Baszler came to check on her and became the recipient of a Rhea Ripley senton off the apron. Jax picked Ripley up and Samoan dropped her into the barricade going into the break.
We returned just in time for Ripley’s comeback, which got her a two count from a missile dropkick. At some point in the exchange leading up to that, Jax got cut on the left side of her face near her eye. By the time Ripley kicked out of the leg drop, that half of her face was covered in blood.
Shayna Baszler got on the apron as Ripley set up for the Riptide. Ripley went over to her, but sidestepped Jax’ charge and rolled her up.
Jax and Baszler argued post-match. Baszler took off her jacket for the fight, but stormed off instead. Once she’d left, Rhea Ripley got back in the ring and gave Jax that Riptide (just).
To make up for having Nikki A.S.H. versus Charlotte Flair again this week, they made it No Holds Barred. Flair had an in-ring promo slot before it where she made some distasteful comparisons between getting cashed in on with the Money in the Bank briefcase to Simone Biles. We won’t go into it, but it wasn’t great.
Her point, when she eventually got to it, was that the MITB cash-in is theft, and she’s had her title stolen three times. She pulled a kendo stick, a broom, and a chair out from under the ring while she complained about people cashing in on her hard work. She was insulted by Nikki A.S.H. requesting a rematch. The only thing we love more than a champion is a martyr. A.S.H. is both and tonight she’s going to sacrifice herself.
Nikki A.S.H. hit her across the back with the chair while she was still complaining.
Eva Marie deflected Kevin Patrick’s question to Doudrop about Natalya’s injury with a ‘Who cares?’. She thinks we should be concerned about the Lilly-lution smear campaign by Alexa Bliss and Lilly. She pointed out all the good the Eva-lution has done, suggesting she was probably scared and alone or living on a farm or something – by which she of course means wrestling for NXT UK after a decade or so on the indies – She wouldn’t allow Doudrop to get all of the word Scotland out when she asked where she was from, just decided it didn’t matter.
From the look on Piper Niven’s face, the day when she punches Eva Marie in the face is drawing close.
Doudrop vs Tamina
The inevitable face-punching day drew closer when Eva Marie caused Doudrop to lose the match with her coaching. She’d already caused a distraction from the apron so Doudrop could run Tamina into the ringpost. The decisive call was insisting Doudrop do her crossbody straight away, after putting her down with the lightest of trips. Tamina ducked and pinned Doudrop with a Samoan drop.
Alexa Bliss and Lilly appeared on the big screen to giggle hysterically and announce that the loser of the match was Eva Marie.
Later, Bliss had a segment from her playground. She was telling us about the serial killers Lilly has influenced when Doudrop hit her from behind and kicked her when she was down. Eva Marie picked up Lilly and told her how much uglier and grosser she was in person. Lilly stood up after Eva Marie had declared it the Eval-lution and left.
Rhea Ripley is confident she will walk out of SummerSlam as champion. She’ll be watching the No Holds Barred match and was hoping Nikki beat the hell out of Flair.
She was shown watching the match from backstage a couple of times.
Nikki A.S.H. got to say a few words to Kevin Patrick before the match. She said she’d never been in such a dangerous match and she didn’t know what to expect. But that’s all part of it and she just has to give it her absolute best. I adore Nikki A.S.H. but these promo segments need sorting. They sound so stilted. The hesitancy was endearing at first but that wore off fast. Anyway, she was still confident she could beat Flair.
Nikki A.S.H. vs Charlotte Flair – No Holds Barred
This was the main event. It’s hard to make a no holds barred match look truly brutal when a normal match ended in an accidental crimson mask earlier in the show.
Flair cleared the announce desk early on and answered the crowd’s ‘We want tables’ chant. Neither got used that time because A.S.H. ran Flair into the post. She wasn’t quick enough to follow up and Flair took control. To take us into the final break, Flair speared Nikki through the barricades.
By the time we returned, there was a table propped up in one corner of the ring, and Flair had Nikki in a different corner. The champ was in trouble. Flair could have pinned her twice, but chose to pull her up off the mat and yell at her again instead.
Flair pulled some chairs from under the ring and had one dropkicked into her face by A.S.H. and took a ringside tornado DDT. She dumped Nikki over the barricade then caught her as she flew at her off it and put her through the announce desk. It took her a long time to get A.S.H. back into the ring and she took even more time to do anything once they were there. The statement, foot on chest, pin attempt failed but Nikki looked done.
People should look at what’s behind the people they’re spearing. When Flair looked to finish it with a spear, A.S.H. moved out of the way and she put herself through the table. She kicked out of Nikki A.S.H.’s pin attempt, but A.S.H. hauled her into position and delivered a swinging neckbreaker. The RAW Women’s Champion now holds another victory over Charlotte Flair.
NXT was disappointing on a number of levels this week. They didn’t include a women’s division match. In a two-hour show, that’s not good enough. There were segments furthering women’s division storylines though. Sadly, one of them was more than a little uncomfortable.
The segment in question featured Zoey Stark and Io Shirai having dinner in a Japanese restaurant. Shirai ordered in Japanese and Stark requested the same. When the food arrived it was clearly unfamiliar to Stark. She threw some of it discreetly on the floor and tossed some over her shoulder. It came across as very culturally insensitive/disrespectful.
The meat of the segment was that Shirai still isn’t warming to Stark, especially since Stark mentioned them bonding like Shirai and Kairi Sane. She stuck Stark with the bill and left. After she’d gone, Stark spoke to the waitress, who Shirai got on with and hugged before leaving, about whether they knew each other. The waitress said, no, they just speak the same language. The look in Stark’s face suggests another inauthentic, try-hard, doomed to failure, attempt to win Shirai over is imminent.
Franky Monet, with Jessi Kamea and Robert Stone, had a backstage interview. Monet placed the blame for her loss last week firmly where it belongs, at Robert Stone’s feet. She understands they’re used to losing but she isn’t. If their alliance is going to work it has to be rebuilt in Franky’s image, Franky’s way, and under Franky’s rules. Kamea nodded and followed along. Stone had to do a little toadying assurance of how clear it was. Presumably, he’s just happy Monet didn’t kick his ass.
Dakota Kai explained her reasons for attacking Raquel Gonzalez last week.
Raquel Gonzalez has her say next week.
There was one member of the women’s division who made it to ringside… well, ok, two but Candice LeRae just followed Indi Hartwell there. She was there for the Love Her or Lose Her match between Johnny Gargano and Dexter Lumis. The deal was if Gargano won, she had to give Lumis up. If he lost, then he and LeRae had to give Lumis a chance. Gargano won. Hartwell ran back to the ring and launched herself at Lumis anyway.
Mercedes Martinez was released by WWE on Friday. Martinez was knocked unconscious during her last match on NXT and taken to hospital afterwards. That’s a sucky way to go out and another strange decision in a long line of strange release decisions this year. Her mixed tag match with Jake Atlas (also released in this wave) really was just a Pride month stunt. The releases came alongside rumours of huge changes to the NXT brand.
WWE’s releases now number in the mid-forties. I can’t imagine how worrying it must be for the superstars watching friends and colleagues get cut seemingly without any reason. Braun Strowman was released a week or two after a PPV title match. Bray Wyatt was released despite being one of the most creative characters in WWE. Tyler Rust was part of a faction that came together a few weeks ago. Ruby Riott was half of a tag team working for a title opportunity. Lana was in active storylines. Bronson Reed was on tv this week building his current feud. He was the North American Champion not long ago.
At the weekend, reports emerged of huge planned changes for NXT. It all sounds terrible, but initial reports without full context often do. Watch this space, I guess.
Blair Davenport def. Xia Brookside
Xia Brookside vs Blair Davenport
Davenport offended Brookside by accusing her of only being in NXT UK because of her dad. It’s well documented that Brookside’s dad stayed well out of her career. She even hid her training from him to start with. Commentary came to the conclusion Davenport was just deliberately pushing her buttons, which seems likely.
Decent opening match for the episode. Blair Davenport picked up the win with a hefty knee to Brookside’s head, to loud piped in boos. She felt the need to go back to Brookside and add insult to injury with a Michinoku Driver after the match.
Isla Dawn had a spooky promo video where she was clearly supposed to be casting a spell on Emilia McKenzie. She put a watch she’d taken from her into an ornate box surrounded by rocks and covered with sticks, then covered the box back up.
Nina Samuels and Amale got into a screaming match while Amale was getting her makeup done for a photoshoot. Samuels thinks Amale’s title shot should have been hers… because that’s how entitlement works.
They have a match next week.
Aoife Valkyrie wants a proper one on one match with Jinny. No Joseph Connors. Jinny thought she wouldn’t survive but everyone eventually feeds the birds. She delivered her message from inside a little steel cage, so no prizes for guessing where it’s heading.
Stevie Turner told Meiko Satomura she doesn’t think she can beat her. Satomura grabbed her arm and she squealed as she wrenched it free, but still told Satomura to be scared of her.
Tegan Nox def. Tamina
Bianca Belair def. Zelina Vega
Sasha Banks opened SmackDown to say she’s come back for her spotlight that she deserves and she created. She’ll never let anyone steal her spotlight again. Last week she exposed Bianca Belair and it was so easy. She’s been watching Belair make mistakes for weeks and she had to rescue her. Belair would be nothing without her and she feels disrespected by her. She’s back to make her pay.
Bianca Belair was not going to leave those statements unchallenged. She refuted Banks’ claim that she was nothing without her. They made history together. As Belair got into the ring, Banks relocated to the announce desk. Belair said Banks is one of the greatest to ever lace a pair of boots and if she wants a rematch, it’s on.
Zelina Vega objected. Belair warned her not to get into the ring, so she stayed on the apron to remind her Belair accepted her challenge before Vega showed up.
Belair is a fair champion and a fighting champion. She told Banks she’ll see her at SummerSlam, and Vega gets her shot tonight.
Tamina vs Tegan Nox, with Shotzi
For this week at least, Tegan Nox has her first name back, but Shotzi is still missing her last name. With Natalya out of action, it is down to Tamina to work through potential tag title challengers one at a time.
Very short match, and a cheeky cheat to win. Nox had struggled with Tamina’s power advantage and had just failed to land the Shiniest Wizard. Tamina put her on her shoulders for a Samoan drop when the tank’s missile flew past her, courtesy of Shotzi, distracting her enough for Nox to shift her weight and roll her up for the pin.
Zelina Vega’s match against Bianca Belair was announced as a Championship Contender’s match. Vega challenged Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville, demanding to know where her title match is. Belair has accepted her challenge twice now, so why a contender’s match.
Deville told her the contract hasn’t been ratified yet. And Belair doesn’t make matches, she does. Pearce told her to prove herself tonight and if she does she’ll get the winner of Belair versus Banks at SummerSlam.
Vega was placated by that. She believes Banks will win at SummerSlam and she already knows she can beat her. Tonight she will prove she can beat Bianca Belair as well.
Bianca Belair vs Zelina Vega – Championship Contender’s match
Bianca Belair looked like she was done with all the nonsense throughout this one. Zelina Vega is so frequently underrated, but she’s quick and calculating, and relentlessly vicious.
Heading into a break, Belair pressed Vega above her head at ringside when Sasha Banks’ music played. Belair’s trash-talking of Banks meant Vega got off her shoulders and took her down with a head scissors. She rolled Belair back into the ring, but only got two.
After the break, Belair dropped Vega on her face after her Sunset flip attempted failed. A moonsault wasn’t enough to keep Vega down, and Belair took a face full of turnbuckle when Vega shoved her. Vega countered a vertical suplex into a DDT, but the champ kicked out.
Back on the outside, Belair caught Vega as she flew at her and swung her head against the barricade. After that, the K.O.D. was just a formality.
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.