Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. An unusual week this week because it finishes with a PPV instead of starting with one. It’s SummerSlam weekend, but SummerSlam is on Saturday and TakeOver is on Sunday (so will open next week’s column). With two PPVs to build for and a title match on NXT UK, it’s been a busy one.
Rhea Ripley def. Nikki A.S.H.
Charlotte Flair & Nia Jax def. Nikki A.S.H. & Rhea Ripley
Nikki A.S.H. had a chat with Sarah Schreiber before her match this week. The promo content was fine, self-belief and confidence in your ability and wearing that outfit to remind herself etc. but the delivery is really offputting now. It’s an affectation of the character, not a criticism of her promo ability. I understand the desire for a slightly halting expression from an ‘Almost’ superhero, but it comes across like a kid who can’t quite remember their lines for the play.
Nikki A.S.H. vs Rhea Ripley
Charlotte Flair joined commentary and promised she was going to behave herself. She got a bit irate when Nikki A.S.H. posed in front of her after taking Ripley down with a crossbody from the apron, but she stayed in her seat.
Ripley carried A.S.H. around in a delayed vertical suplex for as long as A.S.H. could hold the position. Flair said that was showing off for her. Nikki nearly pinned her with a rollup and with a tornado DDT. Ripley came close with a northern lights suplex, but it was the ever-reliable Riptide that won her the match and gave her the momentum going into SummerSlam.
Charlotte Flair taunted A.S.H. while she was on the floor after the match. Nikki A.S.H. lost it and punched her until she dived into the ring to escape. Ripley was waiting in the ring with a clothesline. A.S.H. followed it with a dropkick. Ripley kicked her in the head and A.S.H. threw her out of the ring.
The interesting thing about the dynamic for Saturday’s match is that Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley have some respect for each other, win or lose, but neither has any respect for Flair.
In Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville’s office Flair was furious and demanding revenge. They gave her a choice between waiting until Saturday or finding a partner for a tag match. She informed them she doesn’t play well with others and they agreed, but those were her options.
Eva Marie was very patronising to Doudrop, telling her she really blew it last week and refusing her permission to speak. She was giving her a second chance though. She wanted her to steal Lilly and bring her back so she could destroy her before their match on Saturday. Yep, that’s right, Eva Marie vs Alexa Bliss is happening at SummerSlam.
Bliss heard everything. She told Lilly to be on her best behaviour because someone was coming to play with them. Doudrop arrived while Bliss was chatting about ending the Eva-lution and laughing at the idea of wanting to be like Eva Marie. Bliss warned her not to take Lilly, but Doudrop grabbed her and looked into her eyes. We didn’t see what she saw, but she handed Lilly back to Bliss with a horrified look and left empty-handed.
Eva Marie was very unhappy. She said a child could have completed the task and failing was like slapping her in the face. She asked Doudrop if she knew how that felt, then slapped her twice. From the look Doudrop gave her as she stormed off, that beating is coming sooner rather than later.
Nikki A.S.H & Rhea Ripley vs Charlotte Flair & Nia Jax
No announcement was made of Flair’s partner for the match, so we only found out it was Nia Jax when her music started. She started the match though and, as commentary pointed out, bullied Nikki A.S.H., going as far as to humiliate her with a Stinkface. Jax knocked A.S.H. out of the ring before tagging Flair and A.S.H. took a big boot to the face heading into a break.
Ripley came in after the break and shoved Jax off the apron so she could focus on Flair. When Jax tagged back in she delivered a Samoan drop to Ripley then climbed her own corner. Flair tagged herself in, kicked Nikki A.S.H. to the floor to stop her interfering, then pinned Ripley off Natural Selection.
Shayna Baszler was shown watching backstage during the match. She didn’t look happy, but it’s always tough to read her.
Indi Hartwell & Dexter Lumis def. Jessi Kamea & Robert Stone
Zoey Stark is still trying too hard to be Io Shirai’s friend. Shirai is still trying to tell her she doesn’t like her and just wants them to work together.
Why would Shirai want to be Stark’s friend when she has already shown she has no respect for her personal boundaries and will stomp all over her wishes?
Candice LeRae and Johnny Gargano are still not impressed with Indi Hartwell dating Dexter Lumis. While Hartwell was strapping on a pair of Lumis’ gloves and telling them they might get matching tattoos, Gargano told her the test was how they worked together in the ring. Lumis arrived and took her hand to lead her to their match.
Indi Hartwell & Dexter Lumis vs Jessi Kamea & Robert Stone
Gargano might have given Hartwell something to prove, but that match came about as a result of some comments made by Kamea and Stone during an interview on WWE.com. Franky Monet set it up and it was clearly supposed to teach Robert Stone a lesson. Stone had donned a ponytail and some inexplicable ring gear.
Indi Hartwell is a decent comedian. She’s got great facial expressions and timing. She adopted a lot of Lumis’ mannerisms for the match, and she made it work. It was her birthday and she got a Happy Birthday chant from the crowd before things got started.
Stone tried to escape Lumis and Monet chucked him straight back in. Jessi Kamea gave him some advice, but declined to tag in and got intercepted by Hartwell when she tried to help Stone out. A moment of gazing into each other’s eyes saw Hartwell and Lumis in trouble, but only for a second.
Franky Money grabbed Lumis’ leg in a moment of pity for Stone. Lumis walked forward, dragging her into the ring so the ref saw her and sent her to the back.
Kamea accidentally landed on Stone while trying to save him. Stone broke up Hartwell’s pin on Kamea then ran away from Lumis. Indi Hartwell locked eyes with Lumis and inched towards him to get to the ropes to break a submission. In retaliation, Kamea kicked Lumis off the apron. Stone launched himself over the ropes and dropped… like a stone. Lumis watched him fall and Beth Phoenix laughed so hard she could barely speak.
Kamea slapped Lumis and Hartwell smacked her head into the plexiglass barricade and put her back in the ring so she could put her to sleep in The Silence. Lumis locked eyes with her and put Stone in the hold as well so they could put them to sleep together.
Hartwell proposed after the match and Lumis accepted.
It’s proper main roster schmaltzy soap opera stuff, but they’ve done as well as they could have with it. I hate mixed tag matches, and I’ve mostly hated this storyline, but they made that match work in its silly way.
Beth Phoenix got Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai’s final pre-match argument underway by asking Gonzalez if she ever thought she’d end up standing across from her best friend.
Gonzalez said yes. From the moment she showed up as Kai’s back up she knew that if Kai could betray Tegan Nox, she would eventually betray her too. Kai asked where her crystal ball had been when she kicked her in the head and Gonzalez congratulated her on getting her and getting a title shot out of it. She wanted to know what took her so long. Kai is the only one left but she won’t be the one to take it.
Kai told her she kicked her face off before she could even get her hands up. She taught Gonzalez everything she knows, but not everything Kai knows. Gonzalez wanted so badly to be somebody and Kai did that for her. And on Sunday, Gonzalez becomes the somebody she beats to become champion.
Gonzalez wanted to know where she was going to find the next her to help and said Kai doesn’t have a real bone in her body. She uses people then gets jealous when they get to be bigger stars than her. She’s solved so many of Kai’s problems, but she’s going to have to solve this one on her own.
Kai told her to write whatever narrative she wants, tell whatever stories about her she likes. Villain, jealous bitch, call her whatever she wants, but at TakeOver, she will call her champion.
Gonzalez’ response was, ‘I’m looking forward to the challenge, sidekick’.
Jacy Jayne got a promo segment for her new faction with Mandy Rose and Gigi Dolan. They’ve been caged for far too long and we’re going to feel them in our souls when they break free, apparently.
Meiko Satomura def. Stevie Turner
Dani Luna def. Isla Dawn
Meiko Satomura (C) vs Stevie Turner – NXT UK Women’s Championship Match
This opened the show rather than headlining. Emilia McKenzie accompanied Satomura to the ring.
Turner doesn’t lack confidence and she’s decent, but she’s not Meiko Satomura, which automatically puts her at a disadvantage. She had a great match. She got the champion down and well and truly rocked more than once. Satomura spent a good portion of the match holding her jaw as a result of one or more of Turner’s kicks.
Satomura gave her the opportunity to show her resilience as well, making her kick out of several moves that could easily have been finishers before she tapped her out.
Jinny and Aoife Valkyrie had a video promo for their No Disqualification match next week, where Joseph Connors will be locked in a steel cage. Valkyrie thinks she’s removed Jinny’s advantage. Jinny says she’s just given him a front-row seat to watch what she does to her.
Isla Dawn vs Dani Luna
Last time we saw Isla Dawn she was trying to acquire some of Dani Luna’s hair. She tried again throughout the match, like some kind of creepy obsession. Every opportunity she had, she had hold of Luna’s hair.
Other than that, it wasn’t a bad match. Dawn’s new creepier character comes with a slightly more interesting style, and Luna is entertaining to watch. Dawn struggled with Luna’s strength advantage, but she had the edge on speed.
They were tussling in the corner towards the end of the match when Dawn managed to pull a big chunk of Luna’s hair out. She was very pleased with herself, but it was the last thing she did. Dani Luna dragged her off the turnbuckle and planted her into the mat for the win.
Worryingly for Dani Luna, Isla Dawn was too happy about the handful of hair she was still holding to be concerned about losing the match.
Shotzi & Nox def. Tamina & Natalya
Bianca Belair def. Zelina Vega
Bianca Belair def. Carmella
Bianca Belair was interviewed by Kayla Braxton about the contract signing last week deteriorating into beatdown and ending with her in a Bank Statement on the table. Belair was visibly angry after a recap of the footage and told Braxton not to say Sasha Banks’ name in front of her because it makes her think about all the things she wants to do to her. She hopes Banks is watching because she wants her to witness what she does to Zelina Vega and Carmella.
Braxton asked if it was risky to compete twice the night before SummerSlam. Belair said maybe but she’s not in a rational state of mind. She’s done playing nice so we’re going to see the meanest, nastiest, baddest chick in WWE.
Tamina & Natalya vs Shotzi & Nox – Contender’s Match
Natalya’s back. It’s good to see her injury wasn’t worse, but she’s only three weeks out of surgery to repair a torn ligament. She clearly trusts it though and the medical staff must be happy with it.
Tamina knocked Nox off the apron as her first move of the match, which left Shotzi all alone to take a beating. Shotzi returned the favour, knocking Tamina down after fighting her way back into it against Natalya. Nox arrived and launched herself off the apron to keep Tamina down long enough for Shotzi to roll up Natalya.
As that’s not the first time they’ve beaten the champs, the next one has to be a title match, right?
Bianca Belair vs Zelina Vega
This was the first announced match but Carmella and Vega both came to the ring and argued about who would go first. Carmella threw Vega in to win the argument. A Carmella distraction gave Vega an opportunity, and she nearly capitalised, but Belair kicked out at two and a half. That was the closest Vega got to a chance. The K.O.D. finished her off shortly after.
Carmella superkicked Belair the second she stood from the pin and followed it up with a second.
Bianca Belair vs Carmella
Belair had the break to recover but she was still struggling to her feet with the ref checking on her and waiting to start the match. Carmella was on her as soon as he signalled for the bell. The champ took a bit of punishment (it wasn’t the longest match) then came back with a delayed vertical suplex.
Carmella used the ropes and the ring skirt to her advantage, but once Belair got her equilibrium back the result was decided. A K.O.D. finished Carmella’s night as well.
There have been rumours that Belair vs Banks isn’t happening, but there was no sign of that on SmackDown. That said, there was no sign of Sasha Banks either.
Alexa Bliss def. Eva Marie
Becky Lynch def. Bianca Belair
Charlotte Flair def. Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley
Sonya Deville joined Kayla Braxton and the rest of the panel (which included Kevin Patrick for the first time) on the Kickoff Show to debate Bianca Belair vs Sasha Banks but didn’t stick around for the discussion on Nikki A.S.H. vs Rhea Ripley vs Charlotte Flair. The panel had lots of positive things to say about Belair, as a wrestler, a champion, and a person, and some less great things to say about Sasha Bank’s ego. The notable ideas from the RAW title match discussion were that Charlotte Flair wants it most, but if Nikki A.S.H. can walk out of the match with her title she can remove the Almost from her name.
Alexa Bliss, with Lilly, vs Eva Marie, with Doudrop
Eva Marie didn’t start well, and there was a ripple of ‘Eva Sucks’ chants. It didn’t get better. I suspect no one had high expectations for her performance, I know I didn’t, yet somehow she managed to limbo under a very low bar. She picked Lilly up and slapped her around, then smacked Bliss with her. Bliss screamed and snapped on her. Eva Marie tried to get away and tried to get Doudrop to help her while Bliss put Lilly back on the corner.
Bliss missed with Twisted Bliss, but Eva Marie only got two counts on her two pin attempts. She spent the time Bliss was down berating the ref and got pinned. It was mercifully short, under four minutes. I know Bliss is magical now, but it apparently takes more than magic to get a wrestling match out of Eva Marie.
Doudrop laughed and requested a microphone. She declared ‘The loser of this match is Eva Marie’, and left wearing Eva Marie’s robe while Eva Marie screamed that she made her.
Please, please, please can we see Piper Niven become Piper Niven again on Monday.
The rumours and reports that started circulating on Friday, suggesting Belair vs Banks was off, increased on Saturday. Sasha Banks wasn’t at SmackDown and there were reports of missed live events. But Belair did the build for the match on SmackDown and the Kickoff panel discussed it. The match was announced as next and the promo package played while I was reading an article saying Banks was officially off the show. It was all very confusing.
Belair came out as expected for the match, then the ring announcer told us Sasha Banks was unable to compete and Carmella would be her replacement. The silence in the stadium was deafening and Belair looked completely pissed off. Unsurprising, since Belair beat her in just a few minutes 24 hours ago.
Belair asked for a mic and said it might not be tonight but sooner or later it was going to be her and Sasha Banks in the ring again. In the meantime, she’d take her frustrations out on Carmella.
The bell never rang. The Man’s music hit, and Becky Lynch is back! That cheered Bianca Belair up, and the crowd. Belair was literally jumping with excitement and the noise was deafening.
Carmella was less pleased.
Lynch looks great and as happy to be back as the crowd were to see her. I’ve missed her. She didn’t say anything, just kicked Carmella in the stomach and threw her out of the ring. She told Belair she’d be right back and stepped outside to chuck Carmella into the steps.
Back in the ring, she and Belair stood face to face and set the match without the need for words. But to make it official Lynch asked Belair what she thinks about the EST and The Man blowing the roof off the place for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Of course, Bianca Belair accepted.
Bianca Belair (C) vs Becky Lynch – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
Sadly, this didn’t even last long enough to be anticlimactic. Lynch cheap-shotted Belair when she accepted her handshake and one Man-handle Slam later Bianca Belair’s title reign is over.
I joined my Twitter timeline in anger and disappointment. Becky Lynch’s return should have been the easiest thing in the world to get right. They had the opportunity to give fans a feel-good moment, and with CM Punk returning to the ring and joining AEW last night you would have thought they’d want to put a strong showing, but they chose not to.
Yes, there will be those who argue about long-term booking and seeing how it plays out. I’m usually one of them and I don’t dispute that the feud this ridiculousness began will be epic. The point is, WWE managed to turn an entire stadium and a good majority of the Twitter account possessing public to go from, ‘This is incredible’ to ‘That was a fucking stupid waste of time’ in under a minute. It won’t be Bianca Belair’s last title reign, but it’s a shitty way to end her first.
With a little time to reflect, I still think it’s shitty, but I do acknowledge that it does Belair no damage to lose that way. She was tricked, not beaten. The rumour is Becky Lynch will be positioned as a heel. I’m genuinely interested to see if they can pull that off.
Nikki A.S.H. vs Rhea Ripley vs Charlotte Flair – RAW Women’s Championship Triple-Threat
By this point in the show, it was a title changing kind of PPV. The RAW tag titles, the United States Championship, and the SmackDown Women’s Championship had all changed hands. And in this on the champ didn’t even have to get pinned.
It started with a derisive shove from Flair to A.S.H. but the early going was mostly the triple-threat standard, two in one out, format. They worked their asses off and got good reactions from the crowd by about halfway through.
Charlotte Flair always brings it for the big matches. She used Nikki A.S.H. as a weapon a couple of times, which seems like an effective way to deal with both opponents at once, but she couldn’t keep either down. Ripley suplexed Flair while she was holding A.S.H., and followed up with a missile dropkick to Flair, but it was only worth two.
Nikki A.S.H. took both her opponents down in front of the announce desk with a crossbody from the top. Ripley and A.S.H. worked together to hold Flair upside down in a delayed vertical suplex. They posed too long and Flair shifted her weight to DDT them.
There was one dive in particular, from Charlotte Flair, which looked horrific. To stop them double-teaming her, Flair threw A.S.H. and Ripley out of the ring, climbed to the top rope then delivered a corkscrew moonsault. On the replays, it looked worse. A.S.H.’s neck was contorted and her head was jammed into the barricade.
Ripley failed to submit A.S.H. before Flair broke it up, and Flair rolled out of the same hold and locked in a figure four. With the bridge complete and the Figure Eight locked in, Nikki A.S.H. jumped onto Flair from the top turnbuckle. Ripley’s knee was hurt but she managed to break up Nikki’s swinging neckbreaker pin attempt on Flair.
A.S.H. countered a Riptide into a DDT and Ripley rolled outside. She missed Flair with a crossbody and got caught in a figure four. With Rhea Ripley still on the outside and no way to get to the ropes, Nikki A.S.H. had no choice but to tap. Another title change.
It always seemed unlikely the Nikki A.S.H. would walk out of SummerSlam with the title. I’m sad her reign was so short but I’m hopeful it won’t be her last. There’s so much she could do with that character. But, for now, Charlotte Flair is champion for the 12th time and there are a lot of smug and self-satisfied promos in our near future.
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.