Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. The ‘Crimbo Limbo’ week is a weird one for all of us. Nothing is quite normal, but nothing is exactly festive either. WWE did not escape this phenomenon, despite it being the go-home week for Day 1 on New Year’s Day – WWE’s first Premier Live Event (PPVs no longer) of 2022.
Dana Brooke & Reggie def. Tamina & R-Truth
Dana Brooke & Reggie def. Tamina & T-Truth
If you’ve read my columns before, you probably know I’m not a fan of mixed tag matches, especially when the women in the ring could more than hold their own in an intergender match. However, it’s the Christmas week episode so there’s always something there just for fun, and it was a fun match.
Brooke and Reggie were having a blast. R-Truth was mainly trying to work out how to deal with his very angry partner. At least they knew how mixed tag’s work. Reggie and Brooke insisted on tagging each other, even when Truth and Tamina had tagged and their opposite number had to come in.
Of course, there was teased contact. Reggie took a superkick from Tamina and Truth picked Brooke up for something but she wriggled away. Reggie pinned R-Truth for the win.
Tamina tried to attack everyone after the match. R-Truth ducked, as did Reggie, and Brooke splashed Tamina in the corner before leaving.
And that short throwaway match was the entire in-ring contribution of the women’s division on this week’s RAW. There were a lot of last-minute scheduling changes though.
Nikki A.S.H. challenged Queen Zelina and Carmella to a tag title rematch during her interview with Megan Morant. Morant had asked if Nikki thought banning her from ringside during Rhea Ripley’s last match against Vega was the right thing to do. Nikki said Rhea didn’t need her help. They were partners through choice, not necessity. She likes to think she’s inspired Rhea, even though she’s been a bit down on her luck recently, and Rhea’s pep talks have helped put her in the right mindset. Carmella and Zelina try to get in their heads every week and get them down, but they’ve just made them stronger, so she wants the rematch.
Carmella responded later in the show. She accepted on behalf of her and Queen Zelina. She thinks Rhea and Nikki are fooling themselves if they think they can beat them. The mind games were there too. Carmella said a lot of nice things about Ripley and said she felt sorry for her because, in a tag match, Nikki will eventually have to be tagged in. She called Nikki almost second best, almost a good tag team partner, and almost good enough. But almost doesn’t count and she and Vega will remain champions.
RAW had a diminished cast this week amid rumours of positive covid tests and with people going home for the holidays. Among those missing were RAW Women’s Champion Becky Lynch and her challenger at Day 1, Liv Morgan. Obviously, that makes the go-home show build for the match a touch difficult. WWE’s solution was to have Mike Rome introduce a long video package of the feud.
Tiffany Stratton def. Fallon Henley
Raquel Gonzalez & Cora Jade def. Io Shirai & Kay Lee Ray
McKenzie Mitchell asked Cora Jade and Raquel Gonzalez if they could coexist in their match against Toxic Attraction this week when they’re opponents at New Year’s Evil in the triple-threat against Mandy Rose. They were confident they could because tonight was about taking out some toxic trash.
Io Shirai showed up and said whoever beats Mandy Rose, she wants the first shot. Kay Lee Ray arrived and said basically the same thing, but in a more threatening tone.
Mandy Rose appeared on the screen behind them and said as everyone wants a piece of her she’ll give Toxic Attraction the night off and Shirai and Ray could take their place. The winner will be the two people to face her in the triple-threat.
Tiffany Stratton is here whether we like it or not. We got a vignette where she told us her daddy said she’s ready to take over the division, and then we got a match.
Tiffany Stratton vs Fallon Henley
They called it her debut, which is funny because I’ve definitely reviewed at least one of her matches before. I remember complaining about the gimmick before the vignettes started. Fallon Henley was barely mentioned during the match, but she’s on tv which is more than most of the RAW or SmackDown women’s rosters can say.
Stratton’s definitely strong and athletic. She’s also clunky and greener than a green thing. She won, of course.
Raquel Gonzalez & Cora Jade vs Io Shirai & Kay Lee Ray – Winners enter the triple-threat at New Year’s Evil
I’m not sure why Io Shirai and Kay Lee Ray got vignettes between the match announcement and the match. Pretty sure everyone knows who they are and what they’re capable of.
Anyway, actually good wrestling matches are becoming something of a rarity on NXT 2.0, but this was one. Jade and Gonzalez owned the early going against Io Shirai but it fell apart for them before the break. Jade was dropkicked off Gonzalez’ shoulders and landed badly. While she was down, Kay Lee Ray and Shirai took Gonzalez down with dives to the outside.
Cora Jade was the focus after a break, and she was in a lot of trouble. She countered a KLR Bomb and almost got a pin, but she spent pretty much the whole rest of that stint getting beaten down. Ray even took Gonzalez off the apron to extend Jade’s torment and took her out again at ringside when she tried to pull Jade away from Shirai’s moonsault.
Jade sort of kind of landed and enziguri on Ray to get across to make the tag, and Gonzalez came in fresh and fired up.
It all went wrong for Jade and Gonzalez at the end. Gonzalez was winding up to finish Kay Lee Ray but stumbled backwards after delivering a Chingona Bomb. Jade tagged herself in and they argued until Jade pointed out Io Shirai about to launch herself from the top. Gonzalez caught her and dumped her over the top rope to the floor the stopped Jade making the pin.
They argued again and Cora Jade pushed her out of the ring courtesy of a shove from Ray. She got back in time to shove Kay Lee Ray over when she was pinning Jade, and the reversal got them the win.
They carried on arguing after the match. Mandy Rose appeared on the big screen and said she was shocked they won, but their inability to coexist was the reason she made it a triple-threat. They’re consumed by taking the title for themselves, which will make it easy for her to win.
NXT UK gave us a highlights show this week, hosted by Pretty Deadly, but there were no women’s division highlights featured. There was a promo package for Meiko Satomura’s title defence against Blair Davenport, which happens next week.
Nikkita Lyons vs Amari Miller
It would seem that Amari Miller is something of a safe pair of hands and a yardstick, considering how many people’s debuts and second or third matches she’s been given. In truth, she has more promise than most of them and the crowd really like her. Nikkita Lyons got a video promo to introduce herself before the match and commentary talked up her martial arts skills during the match.
She’s got skills. Fast kicks and strokes, great balance, and some presence. Not a bad debut for her at all, but it was Amari Miller’s night. She got the pin after smashing Lyons’ face into her knee. Her parents were in the crowd as part of her birthday celebrations, so they had a cute post-match celebration.
On Thursday, Sean Ross Sapp (of Fightful) broke the news that Toni Storm had been released from WWE. Initial rumours suggested she requested her release and flew home immediately. She was right in the middle of a feud with Charlotte Flair, so the timing is worrying. Hopefully, she’s ok, and she’s now (or when her no-compete runs out) the hottest free agent in wrestling. AEW would be mad not to approach her, and I’m sure she’d be welcomed back in Japan. Career-wise, she’ll be just fine.
Becky Lynch joined Michael Cole and Pat McAfee for the New Year’s Eve special, which was a highlights show.
Nikki A.S.H. cashing in the Money in the Bank briefcase got a mention. Charlotte Flair beating her and Rhea Ripley for her twelfth title was number seven in the countdown. Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks at WrestleMania was number four and really should have been higher. Lynch’s return was number three, and she was most unimpressed. By the end of the show, she’d decided it was a mistake and the order was confused with Brock Lesnar, the actual winner, because they have the same initials.
There was very little build for Day 1. No promos. No other live stuff at all.
Becky Lynch def. Liv Morgan
It’s clearly not good enough that only one of the three women’s division titles across the three brands was defended at Day 1. Covid may have been an issue in the build-up (the event was affected by Roman Reigns testing positive on the day), or holiday time off might have played a part. It’s just not good enough though. If there was a problem sorting out title matches – maybe because the only potential challenger for Charlotte Flair, Toni Storm, left the company – there are plenty of women in the locker room just waiting for a chance. The women’s rosters are small, but they must have been able to pull a second match together if they’d wanted to.
Sonya Deville said nice things about Liv Morgan on the Kickoff Show, saying if anyone is ready to step up to that top tier it’s Morgan and talking about her tenacity. She acknowledged they’re friends, but that’s her official opinion as well. The rest of the panel like Morgan, but don’t think she can beat Becky Lynch.
There was some conversation about Deville and Naomi as well, but Deville just lied and blustered so no interesting or important information was imparted.
Bianca Belair got a long video package, despite not having a match on the show. Beth Phoenix made an appearance to distract The Miz after Maryse had interfered in their match a couple of times, including smacking Edge in the face with her bag. Mixed tag incoming.
Becky Lynch (C) vs Liv Morgan – RAW Women’s Championship Match
Liv Morgan came in so fired up for this match. She had Becky Lynch against the announce desk in under a minute, after a disrespectful slap from Lynch pissed her off, and on the back foot for a while. For the first few minutes, everything Morgan did was landing and the champ couldn’t find her feet.
That was never going to last long. Becky Lynch caught hold of her and swung her into the corner then catapulted her throat into the bottom rope, and that was the end of Morgan’s momentum for the time being. It wasn’t the end of her fight though Lynch looked increasingly desperate as Morgan refused to stay down and refused to submit, telling the ref she had to count faster when a pin attempt only got a one count.
Morgan created some space for herself by kicking Lynch into the corner, and built herself a little momentum. She started to get frustrated at Lynch’s insistence on kicking out. An innovative sunset flip powerbomb with some extra power from the ropes get her the closest near fall so far, but Lynch kicked out and quickly had Morgan in a Dis-Arm-Her. Morgan got to the ropes and Lynch started fighting angry.
Becky Lynch rolled out of the ring after Morgan grazed her with a dropkick that might have been it if she’d got all of it, so Morgan took her down with a suicide dive. Lynch rolled out of the other side of the ring when Morgan put her back in, and smashed Liv’s face into the announce desk when she followed. She only just made the count, and Lynch was furious.
Back on the outside, Liv Morgan threw Lynch into the steps, then got some payback, trapping her arm and stamping on it. Lynch was forced to tip Morgan’s shoulders to the mat to get out of a submission, and that was Morgan’s last chance. Seconds later, Becky Lynch countered Oblivion into a Manhandle Slam and pinned her.
Becky Lynch begins 2022 as promised, still RAW Women’s Champion.
One small note: The pin was completely clean but Becky Lynch was reaching for the bottom rope with her foot, so I’m not convinced it was supposed to be.
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.