Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It was go home week for NXT TakeOver Portland, and more build towards WrestleMania. There’s Elimination Chamber before that, but so far there has been no mention of it it’s all about sign pointing season. Not that there is anything definite to report on the WrestleMania front, but things took an interesting turn on RAW.
Becky Lynch def. Asuka
Rhea Ripley def. Sarah Logan
One of my favourite bits of RAW this week was when Becky Lynch’s came out for her match. Her music hit just as Samoa Joe, The Viking Raiders, and Kevin Owens had finished brawling with her fiancé (Seth Rollins, just in case anyone’s been living in a cave ) and his ‘disciples’. She exchanged looks with Samoa Joe, Erik, and Ivar, like she didn’t know what to do with him either, and Kevin Owens just gave her a shrug. It made me laugh anyway.
Becky Lynch (C) vs Asuka – RAW Women’s Championship match
This was a tough match for Becky lynch and she fell foul of Kairi Sane’s distraction techniques on a few occasions. Heading into a break, Sane jumped up on the apron and caught Lynch’s attention long enough for Asuka to hip attack her to the floor.
As aggressive as Asuka’s offence was, she didn’t manage to hold an advantage for long. Becky Lynch was back up and on it. Kairi Sane sacrificed herself to take a forearm off the apron meant for Asuka, allowing Asuka to kick Lynch in the back. But still Asuka couldn’t keep control.
The match went on long enough that it got a second ad break and it was worthy of the time. Asuka almost got Lynch to tap after dodging a leg drop and locking in the Asuka Lock. Lynch got free and they exchanged a flurry of two counts then, with a simple slam, Becky Lynch got the win.
Shayna Baszler attacked Becky Lynch from behind while she was celebrating. For some reason which may or may not be explained at some point in the future, after putting Lynch’s lights out with the Kirifuda Clutch Baszler leaned down, moved Becky Lynch’s hair aside, and bit a chunk out of the back of her neck. ‘Blood’ everywhere.
They left the cameras on Lynch suffering while a medics tried to tend to her, until they cut to another ad break. When they came back she was being led through backstage while the medics tried to persuade her to go to the hospital.
On the next cut back, after a brief match, Becky Lynch was apparently persuaded she needed medical attention because she pulled the ambulance driver out of the vehicle and drove off in it.
Obviously, RAW crowds have seen Baszler a few times before, but that is the strangest of introductions to the RAW roster. Why? I don’t understand. It’s Shayna Baszler. Her legitimacy is a perfectly simple and workable gimmick. It looks and feels authentic and she’s built a successful reputation on it. Why fuck with it? I’m just not sure what some fake blood and a cheesy ‘oh look they stole an ambulance’ bit is going to add to this feud.
Becky Lynch did return to RAW, in the ambulance, all patched up. She addressed her comments at Shayna Baszler and said they’d given her something ‘real nice’ for the pain but now she’s back and ready to smash her face in and she wanted to know where Baszler was. Baszler put her hands on The Man, sunk her teeth into her to get her attention. Well, mission accomplished. She doesn’t care how tough Baszler is or who she hangs around with because she’s run through them all and made all of them pay. But she doesn’t give a damn about settling anything with Baszler, she is telling her she will break her down week by week little by little and Baszler better find her before she finds Baszler.
Rhea Ripley returned to RAW to try to get an answer to her WrestleMania challenge to Charlotte Flair. Charly Caruso asked if she was still waiting for an answer from Flair. Ripley said no because she doesn’t wait for things. She gets up, gets out, and does what needs to be done until she gets what she wants. Caruso tried to ask her if she was getting ahead of herself considering she has a title defence against Bianca Belair on Sunday, but we didn’t get to hear Ripley’s answer.
A very angry Sarah Logan interrupted and demanded to know who Ripley thought she was coming to RAW and doing whatever she wants. Ripley answered, ‘I’m Rhea Ripley. Who are you?’ and strolled off.
Logan then took herself to the ring and demanded a match against Ripley. She got one.
Sarah Logan vs Rhea Ripley
There was an extra audience member for the match, Charlotte Flair watched from the stage. She didn’t have to stand there long. Ripley destroyed Logan in under a minute and finished her with Riptide, barely taking her eyes off Charlotte Flair.
After the match, Ripley asked for her answer. Flair asked how do we even know whether Ripley is still going to be the NXT Women’s Champion after Sunday. Then she Woo’d and left.
It’s a little less than ideal that RAW needed not one but two NXT names to build any kind of buzz in their women’s division. That said, Becky Lynch versus Shayna Baszler and Charlotte Flair versus Rhea Ripley at WrestleMania sounds pretty good to me, and it looks likely that Baszler will make the transition to RAW full time. They clearly need her.
There is another bright point for RAW’s women, the return of Ruby Riott. Riott had a backstage interview this week about her attack on Liv Morgan. She was asked why and said Liv Morgan was her best friend and best friends know everything about each other. She knows the real Liv Morgan. Liv’s like a little puppy dog that you walk around on a leash. She can take the pink out of her hair and change her clothes and try to sell the world on this metamorphosis that she’s a woman that strikes when she’s ready. But Riott’s not buying it. Liv’s a follower and she’s come back to put her in her place and to remind her she strikes when Riott says so.
Dakota Kai def. Candice LeRae
Bianca Belair def. Santana Garrett
With NXT TakeOver Portland on Sunday, almost all of this week’s NXT was dedicated to building towards it. That meant that both the matches were there to serve a purpose other than the match, which is no bad thing.
Dakota Kai vs Candice LeRae
Dakota Kai faces Tegan Nox on Sunday in a Street Fight. With Candice LeRae still being close friends with Nox, and having interfered on her behalf in Nox and Kai’s last match, this was always going to be a vicious and bad-tempered match. Which is exactly how it played out. Dakota Kai gives the distinct impression that she just likes hurting people now.
It was a good match though, and it’s great to see, storylines happening outside the title picture. Candice LeRae got her nose bloodied at some point but it didn’t look too bad. The end came when LeRae had Kai in the Gargano Escape, Kai managed to shift her body weight and pin LeRae’s shoulders to the mat for the win.
Candice LeRae was furious and followed Kai around the ring. Kai bounced her head off the timekeeper’s bell then hit her in the stomach with it. Before she could do any more, Tegan Nox appeared and knocked Kai on her ass. Nox started pounding on her and many officials arrived to separate them. It wasn’t enough because Nox escaped and jumped on Kai again. This time she was pulled back long enough for Dakota Kai to be taken backstage.
Bianca Belair vs Santana Garrett
It was nice to see Santana Garrett, but it would have been nicer to see her for a bit longer. She was simply there as a body for Bianca Belair to use to prove how ready she is for Rhea Ripley. The K.O.D. which finished the match took less than a minute.
After the match, Belair said Rhea Ripley has been on RAW worrying about Charlotte Flair and acting like she’s not even there. She’s ok with that because in Portland she’s going to walk out as the new NXT Women’s Champion.
Ripley came out and assured Belair she isn’t looking past her, she’s looking right at her. And she’s telling her that at NXT TakeOver Portland she’s going to go right through her. Belair tried to punch her, and Ripley ducked and smacked her in the face instead. On her second attempt, Belair connected and followed up with a K.O.D.
Cathy Kelley announced that she will be leaving NXT, and WWE completely, at the end of the week. NXT TakeOver Portland will be her last show. It’s a shame because she’s a great backstage presence, but hopefully she’s heading onto new and exciting things.
Aoife Valkyrie def. Amale
Aoife Valkyrie vs Amale
It was Aoife Valkyrie’s debut match on NXT UK and the match was all about her. Not the longest match, but decent enough and it’s nice to see someone new, even if they’ve been given nothing in the way of character to come in with. I know nothing of either of them in terms of positioning, motivations, or story, but theoretically, there’s time. To no one’s surprise, Valkyrie won this one.
Toni Storm spoke to Johnny Saint and Sid Scala and accepted Kay Lee Ray’s challenge to an I Quit match. Scala tried to talk her out of it, and they reminded her of the stipulation that she will never be able to challenge for the NXT UK Women’s Championship again if she loses, but she signed so the match is official.
Bayley def. Carmella
SmackDown kicked off this week with A Moment of Bliss. Nikki Cross co-hosted with Alexa Bliss. They talked briefly about celebrity crushes then brought out their special guest, Carmella.
Bliss suggested people were saying Carmella’s victory in the Fatal Four-way was surprising because we haven’t heard much from her recently. Carmella said she loves surprises and she’s going to surprise everyone when she beats Bayley for the title later. They moved on to talk about the fact Carmella and Bayley used to be best friends and looked back over some of the old BayMella pictures. According to Carmella, Sasha Banks is the reason they stopped being friends, and she doesn’t recognise Bayley anymore.
Bayley came out and said it was nothing to do with Sasha Banks, it was about Carmella. Ever since NXT, she’s pitied Carmella. They were friends, but it was more that she saw something in her and was trying to be a good role model. Trying to help teach her what she does best because Carmella is a loser and Bayley is the most dominant SmackDown Women’s Champion we’ve ever seen.
Bliss tried to step in and Bayley went off about beating her and Cross in a handicap match. Carmella had heard enough and suggested they bring the title match forward.
Bayley (C) vs Carmella – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
So the title match was the first match of the night and the women’s division ended up with the first forty minutes of the show. Can’t complain about that.
Commentary talked a lot about their history, which mostly served to remind us just how far Carmella has come. Bayley has evolved, especially with her recent character change, but she had less far to travel. Carmella was brand new when she arrived on NXT and has worked her ass off. This match was great, so it’s nice to look back and recall the development.
Carmella could have pinned Bayley from a superkick, but Bayley rolled out of the ring. And she came close to submitting the champ with the Code of Silence, but Bayley fought out of it. Moments later, Bayley retained her title with her feet on the ropes as she made the pin.
After the match Bayley attacked Carmella and Naomi ran down to help her out. Naomi has a new look, pink ring gear and pink in her hair. She looks great, I can’t imagine a look she couldn’t pull off, to be honest. She and Bayley argued until Carmella shoved Bayley into her, then she and Carmella worked together to kick Bayley out of the ring.
After a break, Bayley was interviewed backstage. She denied that the victory was controversial, insisted she’s a role model, and announced she would defend her title at Super ShowDown and doesn’t care who her opponent is.
That interview was followed by a hype package for Lacey Evans, who has an interview with Renee Young on next week’s show. It was sweet and focused on her connection to the people who are inspired by her story.
Carmella got a backstage interview later in the show. She was furious and said she’s not asking for a handout because she’s earned every opportunity she’s had. But after what Bayley did, she demands a rematch. She’ll be there any time and place and she’s going to be the next SmackDown Women’s Champion.
Naomi also got a backstage interview. She said she’s sick and tired of Bayley. She wants a title shot and believes Bayley is ducking her because she knows she’s going to be the next SmackDown Women’s Champion.
Next week Naomi and Carmella go one on one to decide who gets the next opportunity to face Bayley.
The Otis and Mandy Rose date segment was this week as well. It was awful. That’s as much time as I’m giving it.
That’s it for another week of WWE women’s division action. Join me next week for another round-up, and in the meantime follow @ArnFuriousCom to make sure you never miss a review. You can also follow me @manda_why.