We begin this week with a visit to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for the final Premium Live Event on the Road to WrestleMania. Unusually, we’ve got three women’s division matches on the card, featuring twelve women in total.
Bianca Belair won the Elimination Chamber Match
Ronda Rousey & Naomi def. Charlotte Flair & Sonya Deville
Becky Lynch def. Lita
Natalya had an interview with Kevin Patrick. He asked her who she thought was going to win the chamber match. She had a rant about Rhea Ripley calling herself the ironwoman of WWE when Natalya believes that’s her. Rant over, she picked Liv Morgan, but did so with the words, ‘She’s got to win something sometime.’
The video package for Lita’s return to the ring as a single’s competitor was exceptional. She talked about her journey to a new prime and said she wanted to knock Becky Lynch back onto the right trajectory because the current version is going to get in her own way. We got to see some of the intense training she’s been putting in, and she discussed her aims and strategies. She wants that title.
Elimination Chamber Match
Bianca Belair, who won the right to be the final entrant, Doudrop, Rhea Ripley, and Alexa Bliss took the pods, but the entry order was weird. Bliss was brought out last, once Nikki A.S.H. and Liv Morgan were already in the ring. She did a tour of the other pods, like she was visiting the zoo, before climbing into her own. Unlike the other pods, Bliss’ had a swing in it.
Nikki A.S.H. and Liv Morgan made a vicious start to the match. Doudrop was the first out and Nikki tried to form an alliance with her. Doudrop told her there are no partners in the chamber before she slammed her onto the ring surround. Unfortunately for Doudrop, her moments of dominance ended when she ran herself into the ringpost. I love seeing Nikki and Doudrop in a big PPV match together. It feels really special.
Nikki was the only one standing when Rhea Ripley’s pod opened and she started screaming to be let out of the chamber to avoid Ripley’s wrath. Doudrop was between them, so Ripley dropped her. They climbed the chamber side by side. Morgan and Doudrop were below Nikki to catch her when Ripley made her fall. Ripley eliminated her with a Riptide before the next pod opened.
Alexa Bliss was next out of the pod. She’s still gloriously odd, but she looks to be in great form.
Liv Morgan’s boot got hung up on the ringpost as Doudrop knocked her ff the turnbuckle. Doudrop helpfully let her down. Morgan repaid her by sunset flip powerbombing her off the top and pinning her. It looked like Morgan picked up an injury to her knee, but she carried on.
So, we were down to four by the time Bianca Belair entered the chamber. Belair’s first feat of strength was to press Morgan over her head then let go with one arm. Kudos to Liv Morgan for being able to maintain that position.
Belair and Ripley had a contest to see who could maintain a delayed vertical suplex longer, but once Ripley had dropped Bliss a fraction before Belair had dropped Morgan, they went for each other until Morgan put them both down with double knees.
Alexa Bliss eliminated Liv Morgan with Twisted Bliss. She’s really got some speed in her offence now. Incredible fast moves. Belair clotheslined Bliss while Bliss had hold of Ripley, leading to Ripley taking a DDT. Belair then pinned her with a K.O.D.
It was a hell of a battle between the only two competitors I thought had a chance. Bliss launched herself at Belair but got caught and bounced off the chainlink of the chamber. Belair missed her 450. Bliss couldn’t get her DDT the first time and Belair handsprung out of the second one. In the end, it was Belair’s K.O.D. that secured her second WrestleMania title match in a row.
Charlotte Flair & Sonya Deville vs Ronda Rousey & Naomi
The stipulation for this match was that Ronda Rousey had to have one arm tied behind her back. Sonya Deville entered the ring with her arm still in a sling. She took it off after the bell once Rousey’s arm had been tied behind her back. Ronda Rousey wore the judo gear that she wore in the Olympics and seemed entirely unconcerned about having an arm immobilised.
The crowd chanted for Charlotte while Rousey was dominating Deville, but she tagged in only for a second before sending Deville back into the fray. Flair had to get involved to save Deville from being pinned by Rousey, and having thrown her into the corner, untied arm first, tagged in.
I wasn’t expecting Rousey to take quite so much of the beatdown in this one, even with one arm, but she was isolated in Flair and Deville’s corner, and Flair even took a moment to knock Naomi off the apron. Naomi has never looked in better form (also her new hairstyle looked fabulous). She’s so at home mixing it up with the rest of the top-level superstars, I don’t understand how she’s not in the title picture consistently. Her stint with Flair in this one was great.
When it came to the finish, Charlotte Flair had apparently lost interest in her partner. She stood and watched from the apron, declining Rousey’s invitation to stop her, as Rousey delivered Piper’s Pit to Deville and tapped her out with a one-armed armbar.
Becky Lynch (C) vs Lita – RAW Women’s Championship Match
Seeing Lita compete in a one-on-one championship match in 2022 is quite something. Going into this, it was fairly clear her chances of winning were remote at best and non-existent realistically. There’s always that sliver of hope though, and it was fascinating to see if Lita could still go.
She can. Impressively. Lita never got to take part in a truly competitive women’s division. She doesn’t have any experience with the pace or intensity of matches now. And she did look a little breathless early on. She got into her stride and had the enthusiastic support of the crowd throughout.
They took it to the outside after Lynch rolled out to avoid the Litasault and Lynch looked to be in a bit of trouble. Lita had a near fall on Lynch then found herself struggling out of a Dis-Arm-Her and putting her foot on the ropes after a Manhandle Slam.
That broke Lynch for a moment. She pounded on Lita a bit then went for a moonsault but Lita moved and hit her with a Twist of Fate. The Litasault landed true, but Lynch kicked out late in the two count. Seconds later, and looking like it took everything she had left and a bit more, Becky Lynch delivered another Manhandle Slam to retain the title.
The rumour is that Lita is currently one and done for her in-ring return, but I hope she decides to have that one last run she said she’s got in her. After Lynch left and Lita got out of the ring looking dejected, they played her music and she paid respect to the crowd who rooted for her so hard.
Rhea Ripley def. Nikki A.S.H.
Bianca Belair def. Doudrop
Rhea Ripley vs Nikki A.S.H.
Nikki A.S.H. started the match by screaming at Ripley, so Ripley headbutted her. Ripley’s delayed vertical suplex in this one might have been the longest yet. Nikki responded to it by getting out of the ring to tell commentary she was a bully. Ripley followed her and bounced her head off the announce desk.
Nikki is clearly still very angry and hurt, but Ripley appears over it. Back in the ring, Nikki rained blows down on her, hissing through her teeth. Rhea Ripley superkicked her in the face and finished it with a Riptide.
This one needs to be over now, or at least heading quickly to a final and unambiguous resolution.
Reggie felt guilty about taking the 24/7 title from Dana Brooke last week. His feelings were hurt and he made the wrong decision and got his priorities wrong. He brought her out to the ring to right the wrong and laid down for her to pin him.
She tried, but he kicked out twice. The third time she kissed him and got her belt back. The kiss lasted longer than the pin, and Reggie was immediately back to protecting her as the chasing pack arrived. Brooke knocked Akira Tozawa into Tamina’s arms, but she didn’t kiss him as he requested, she dropped him on the floor and they all chased Brooke and Reggie backstage.
Bianca Belair is going back to WrestleMania and she’s ready. She gave props to the rest of the women who competed in the chamber. They’re a tough bunch, but she’s the ToughEST. In six weeks she’s going to show Becky Lynch why you can’t spell WrestleMania without a little EST.
Becky Lynch came to join her. She congratulated her and said it doesn’t get any bigger than the only two women to have won a WrestleMania main event going one on one. But reminded her she did it first.
Belair said ok, but she did it better, and Lynch reeled off the two belts, never lost the RAW one, won the SmackDown one back in 26 seconds a SummerSlam spiel. It was accusing her of playing the victim that set Belair off. After SummerSlam, Lynch told her to go to the back of the line, so she did and now she’s at the front again.
Lynch changed tactics and said she’s the victim instead because the people loved her until she messed with Belair, and now the people despise her so she despises Belair. And look at what she did to Lita, someone she loves, at Elimination Chamber. Imagine what she’ll do to someone she despises.
Belair offered to make her a victim there and then, but Doudrop arrived for their match instead.
Bianca Belair vs Doudrop
Becky Lynch joined commentary and monopolised the time talking about herself. She justified her cheating by grabbing the ropes and the like, by saying it wasn’t her fault for using what’s available it was her opponent’s fault for not being ready.
The match was good, but lacked hype thanks to commentary largely ignoring it. A headbutt rocked Belair, but Belair countered with a handstand to kick Doudrop off the apron and a crossbody from the apron to the floor. She then allowed herself to get distracted by arguing with Lynch and took a crossbody from Doudrop going into the break.
Lynch got a bit flustered when Belair suplexed Doudrop, but she briefly revived when Doudrop dropped her on her face. Doudrop missed a cannonball in the corner. She got the Michinoku Driver, but Belair kicked out. Belair powerbombing Doudrop halfway across the ring rendered Becky Lynch speechless. She hadn’t recovered enough to speak by the time the K.O.D. ended the match, but she got up on the announce desk for some trash talk afterwards.
Kay Lee Ray & Io Shirai def. Amari Miller & Lash Legend
This week saw the start of the Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Toxic Attraction set themselves up their own VIP area to watch the matches from. They didn’t have anything good to say about any of the competitors.
You can check out the brackets for the eight-team tournament here.
Wade Barrett picked Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta as his winners
Wendy Choo entered herself in the Dusty Cup with Dakota Kai as her partner. She neglected to tell Kai but promised she’d told Kai’s imaginary friend she’s always talking to. Kai tried to explain she doesn’t do well with friends. She tried it once (Tegan Nox/Nixon Newell) and that didn’t work out. Then she tried it again (Raquel Gonzalez) and that didn’t work out either. Choo assured her she’d never had her as a partner.
Kai seemed kind of pleased after Choo left, but it’s hard to tell.
Cora Jade took Raquel Gonzalez to train her way, at a tree trek ariel assault course. Gonzalez doesn’t like heights, but she did it all, including the zipline.
Io Shirai & Kay Lee Ray vs Lash Legend & Amari Miller – Quarterfinal (Round One)
Teaming her with Lash Legend is a terrible thing to do to Amari Miller. She deserves better.
Kay Lee Ray did the damage. Io Shirai got the pin while Ray stood guard. They’re going to be hard to beat.
Nikkita Lyons vs Kayla Inlay
After all the vignettes, Nikkita Lyons has arrived at NXT 2.0. Her wrestling gear is a very odd choice. It sort of looked like it was on backwards. She made a good start on backing up everything she’s been saying for the last few weeks though. Kayla Inlay got a short moment on top to prove Lyons had the resilience to fight back, but it was a fairly bog-standard debut match.
Nikkita Lyons won with a head kick and a splits leg drop.
Duke Hudson is trying to break up Indi Hartwell and Dexter Lumis by making Hartwell jealous with Persia Pirotta. It looks like the first steps towards breaking up that tag team as well. Someone in the WWE higher-ups really doesn’t seem to like women’s tag team wrestling.
Ivy Nile and Tatum Paxley vs Kayden Carter & Kacy Catanzaro – (Quarterfinal – Round One)
Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro are head and shoulders above their opponents in most matches these days. I’d suggest it was time for them to go to the main roster, but the main roster can’t be trusted with women’s tag teams. They’ve got a job to do in NXT 2.0 first anyway. They’ve got to win the Dusty Cup.
An ok match, entirely thanks to Carter and Catanzaro. They progressed to face Shirai and Kay Lee Ray in the semi-final.
Ivy Nile was unimpressed with her exit and choked her teammate out after the match.
Amale def. Xia Brookside
Amale vs Xia Brookside
I have to admit, I’ve completely lost interest in Xia Brookside as a character since her transformation into an entitled brat. It’s just the most boring possible option for her and does nothing but detract from her skills. It doesn’t help when she demands the ref keeps her opponent away from her and screams they’re not allowed to do stuff to her.
Brookside’s dodgy character aside, the match was actually pretty decent. As is generally the case, Amale got herself fired up when she just couldn’t listen to Brookside complain anymore and eventually finished her with the Hope Breaker.
Meiko Satomura had an in-ring celebration that started with a highlight reel of her title reign, after which she was given flowers. The lights went off as she started speaking and when they came back, snowy and odd, Isla Dawn was there asking to join in.
She thanked Satomura for giving all of them something to strive for. Now she needs her final trophy, the title.
Satomura said Dawn is a strong competitor and if she wants a title match, just ask. Dawn said she doesn’t ask for things, she takes them. She kicked Satomura in the head and nicked her flowers. She was eating them as she left.
NXT LVL UP
Elektra Lopez def. Sarray
Elektra Lopez vs Sarray
I’m still not loving the weird magic necklace thing, but if it gets Sarray into the ring, I’ll deal. Elektra Lopez had Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza with her. The match was mostly Lopez brutalising Sarray with her power advantage before Sarray used her talent and skill to bring it back. Wilde accidentally took Sarray’s ropes dropkick when Lopez moved and the distraction handed Lopez the win.
Xia Li def. Natalya
Sasha Banks def. Shotzi
Ronda Rousey had an in-ring interview with Michael Cole in the opening segment. He asked her why she came back at Royal Rumble. She said it was timing. She had to rehab two broken hands, then she got pregnant. The timing worked out that she’d be four months post-partum and could come back and win. Which she did.
She talked about her mum being her inspiration, for good reason by the sounds of it, and wanting to set the same example of badassery for her daughter.
Cole ran through a list of Rousey’s accolades and asked how it felt to win the Royal Rumble. Rousey said it felt great in the moment but she prefers to look forward and she’s focused on being the first woman in years to tap out Charlotte Flair.
They talked a bit about the ridiculous match at Elimination Chamber and how Flair dominated her during their exchanges. Rousey had the murder eyes after the footage, and that’s when Charlotte Flair joined them.
She said that last Saturday was a little taste of a welcome back but she showed her mercy because she felt so sorry for her. It won’t be like that at WrestleMania. For the first time, Rousey is going to scream in pain and tap out in the Figure Eight. But the good news is she gets to go home and work on baby number two.
Sonya Deville chop blocked Rousey before Rousey knew she was there. Flair tripped her when she turned around, then destroyed her multiple times surgically repaired right knee against the ringpost. When Deville stood over Rousey and asked her to explain why she’s such a failure, Rousey threw her across the ring. Deville scrambled out of there and started trash-talking again when she reached a safe distance.
Backstage, Adam Pearce told Deville off and informed her Rousey had requested a one-on-one match against her and upper management had already approved it.
Rousey had a backstage interview later in the show and said that for all the time Deville has ambushed her and bullied Naomi, she’s going to show everyone what happens when authority figures step out of line.
Megan Morant interviewed Xia Li before her match. Li said she’s been waiting for this moment her whole life. She worked so hard in NXT, dreaming about being on SmackDown. She’s nervous but she’s also confident because she’s The Protector.
Xia Li vs Natalya
Xia Li has the skills display she did with Tian Sha as part of her entrance. It’s different. I like it and it’s memorable for her debut match. They gave her a bit of extra hype by showing people watching backstage to see what she’d got.
It didn’t go so well for Xia Li to start with. She came close to tapping out while Natalya had her twisted in about five different directions, but that was the turning point for her. She fought out of the hold and built enough momentum to earn her a two count. Natalya had a brief attempt at a Sharpshooter, but Li kicked her away then finished her with a mighty kick in the head.
Sasha Banks vs Shotzi
Michael Cole mentioned a little of their history before the match, but he was interrupted by the arrival of Naomi joining commentary. Sadly, that meant there was little to no focus on the match, but Cole did relay some nice things Ronda Rousey had said about how amazing Naomi is.
Banks and Shotzi have some good chemistry, but there was very little time for them to explore it. Banks got the win with a Bank Statement, much too fast.
Naomi joined Banks in the ring after the match and declared that they were going to be the next women’s tag team champions.
Join us next week for the next leg of the Road to WrestleMania where we try not to get sick of the word WrestleMania before WrestleMania actually arrives.