Another satisfyingly busy week for WWE’s women this week. Or it would have been if SmackDown hadn’t let the side down by not bothering with a women’s division match.
Rhea Ripley def. Nikki A.S.H. > Rhea Ripley def. Liv Morgan > Rhea Ripley def. Doudrop > Bianca Belair def. Rhea Ripley
Becky Lynch and Lita have become the first women to have a match advertised on a billboard in Saudi Arabia. Sometimes progress means tiny steps, but it should always be noted and celebrated.
They had their contract signing this week, but it was a broken-looking Becky Lynch who joined Lita in the ring. She talked about her distress that her childhood idol would come for her and try to take everything from her, and tried to convince her only the crowd wanted them to fight.
Lita was confused, and not buying it. She said she didn’t come this far to walk away and she’s not back for one match. She’s got a whole run left in her, a championship run, and she knows Lynch is scared because she saw she can beat her. She signed the contract.
Lynch got angry and told Lita not to push her to a place she couldn’t come back from. She’s not afraid to go straight for her neck and make sure people remember her with a tear in their eye. Then she also signed.
Lita said if she had a hand in creating this version of Becky Lynch, it was on her to end it. But the only thing ending on Saturday night is Becky Lynch’s title reign.
There was no physical confrontation as such. Lynch threw the clipboard at her and slumped away.
To decide who will enter the Elimination Chamber last, gaining a huge advantage, RAW gave us a gauntlet match.
Rhea Ripley vs Nikki A.S.H.
I was expecting a slightly underwhelming start to the gauntlet, because their last single’s match just didn’t have the intensity I was looking for. This one felt much better to me. Maybe they hate each other a little more each time they meet. I still think they have better chemistry as partners than rivals, and the tag division needed them to stay together to maintain a loose definition of the word ‘division’.
Nikki looked great in this one, but there was a feeling it might be Rhea Ripley’s night. It took her a few attempts because Nikki had it well scouted, but the Riptide assured her progress to the second match.
Rhea Ripley vs Liv Morgan
During her entrance, we saw Morgan’s promo reminding us she’s the only one of the announced competitors to have previously competed in the chamber. It might help her on the night, but it didn’t help her in the gauntlet. She also looked great, and she came really close to pinning Ripley a few times. But where she was in good form, Ripley was on fire and another Riptide secured her another victory.
Rhea Ripley vs Doudrop
Doudrop probably isn’t the person you want to see as match three of a gauntlet when you’ve narrowly avoided having your ass kicked twice already. Commentary said it was a first time ever match, but it wasn’t because they faced each other on NXT UK a few times. Nevertheless, this is a feud worth investing in for the future, so I hope we get it.
Slightly offended for both Ripley and Doudrop that commentary were quite so surprised she could get her up for the Riptide, but for the third time in a row, it secured her the win.
Rhea Ripley vs Bianca Belair
Ripley’s final challenge was a determined and focused Bianca Belair, who also wasn’t three hard matches worse for wear. Belair wants to be the first woman to main event WrestleMania twice, and you’d be silly not to back her to do it after the year she’s had. This was also a first time ever, according to commentary. They said it could have been a Premium Live Event (PPV) match, which it could if Ripley hadn’t already been in the ring for half an hour and beaten three opponents.
That’s the frustration with WWE. Even with the women’s division running a skeleton crew on the main roster, there is still the potential for some incredible feuds. Somehow, they rarely seem to come to fruition.
Ripley looked exhausted, but she gave it everything she had. Twice, heading into the break, she connected with something big but opted for a breather instead of following up. The second time, she threw Belair into the step and laid on the floor at ringside.
Back in the ring, Ripley was running on empty, but Belair was getting frustrated because she kept kicking out. It devolved into a slap fest in the corner at one point. Ripley landed her gorgeous missile dropkick, but neither that nor her submission attempt were enough. Belair delivered a spinebuster and followed up with the K.O.D. for the win.
After the match, she helped Ripley to her feet, hugged her, and raised her hand. Rhea Ripley did 44 minutes in the match and proved to anyone who still hasn’t got it, she’s a major player.
Dana Brooke lost the 24/7 Championship to Reggie after friend-zoning him.
Alexa Bliss is still in therapy to prepare for her return to RAW. This week, her therapist was proud of the way she’d been dealing with her anger, and Bliss said for the first time she was happy. He gave her a gift, the torn up remains of the real Lilly, and the WWE shop Lilly doll. He said he had an idea, and that’s where the first visit ended.
In the second and final visit to the therapist’s office, he declared her as cured as she’s going to be. They’ve sown the remains of the original Lilly into the replica doll and he kept insisting that Bliss needs to keep the doll with her at all times to remain cured. As long as she keeps the doll with her, she’ll have a wonderful life.
She was talking to Lilly again as she left the therapist’s office for the last time, and she’s not wasting any time getting back in the ring. She’ll be the final mystery entrant in the chamber.
NXT 2.0 – Vengeance Day
Toxic Attraction def. Persia Pirotta & Indi Hartwell
Raquel Gonzalez woke Cora Jade up at 5am to train for the Dusty Cup and she worked her hard. Jade wanted this, so be careful what you wish for, I guess.
The Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic starts next week.
Toxic Attraction (C) vs Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta – NXT Women’s Tag Team Championship Match
Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne attacked Hartwell and Pirotta before the bell to ensure they got an early advantage. Mandy Rose got herself ejected from ringside for interfering after a couple of minutes, which at least gave Hartwell and Pirotta a fighting chance.
Persia Pirotta has a big WWE future, probably. She should have, but who knows in WWE in 2022. She Samoan dropped Dolin and Jayne together and was a commanding presence in the ring. Jacy Jayne sent her into the steps while Hartwell was legal and took her out of the match, then tripped Hartwell as she was coming over the top rope, leaving her open for a kick in the head that left her obviously dazed.
One high-low double team later, Toxic Attraction retained the tag titles.
Wendy Choo asked Amari Miller if she had a partner for the Dusty Cup. Sadly, she did, but Choo stumbled across Dakota Kai sitting on a packing crate talking to herself. She couldn’t seem to resolve the argument, so Choo told her to let her know when she’s figured it out.
NXT LVL UP is replacing 205 Live. No idea whether it’s just a branding change or a change of purpose, but we won’t have to wait long to find out. It starts on Friday.
Emilia McKenzie def. Angel Hayze
Stevie Turner def. Myla Grace
Xia Brookside got upset with an interviewer asking her if she considered herself a positive role model like Amale. From the tantrum she threw, I’m guessing the answer is no, she considers herself a five-year-old.
She has a match against Amale next week.
Emilia McKenzie vs Angel Hayze
Emilia McKenzie is great with unlimited potential, which does make me hope she outgrows NXT UK quickly. The show has improved significantly, especially their treatment of the women’s division, but it’s still essentially a holding pen.
Fun match. Hayze is decent as well, so here’s hoping for some character development for her.
This one was for McKenzie to get a win back after losing to Isla Dawn. She did, by slamming Hayze’s face into the mat.
Stevie Turner vs Myla Grace
This was actually a pretty decent match. Turner has a lot of personality. She’s also very loud. I’ve got literally nothing else to say about it, other than Stevie Turner won, but I was entertained.
Next week there will be a celebration of Meiko Satomura.
NXT LVL UP
Ivy Nile & Tatum Paxley def. Fallon Henley & Kayla Inlay
Fallon Henley & Kayla Inlay vs Ivy Nile & Tatum Paxley
According to commentary, this match could have been Paxley’s audition to join Diamond Mine and become Ivy Nile’s tag partner for the Dusty Cup. This was her in-ring debut. She’s strong and can do a flip. Ivy Nile’s got something, but she needs matches.
Inlay is strong and aggressive. She had a moment or two where she could have got the better of Nile, but Paxley made the save and Nile turned it around and tapped Kayla Inlay out.
This week’s SmackDown was pre-recorded because time travel is impossible and they had a show in Jeddah to set up less than 24 hours after it aired. There was no women’s division match.
The show began with Adam Pearce officiating the contract signing for Ronda Rousey & Naomi vs Charlotte Flair & Sonya Deville. Deville’s arm was still in a sling.
There was back and forth bitching before Deville and Flair signed, then Deville stalled and tried to let Naomi and Rousey back out. Turned out, she’d got a stipulation in mind. Rousey gave an interview where she said she could beat Deville with one hand tied behind her back, so she spoke to the higher-ups and confirmed that as a stipulation.
Rousey signed anyway, so did Naomi, and Rousey said one hand was more than enough but she had two hands tonight. She threw the contract at Flair and bounced her head off the desk. Naomi kicked Deville in the head, and they flipped the table on them.
So… that made a questionable match utterly stupid.
Elimination Chamber will be flashy and expensive because the Saudi shows always are. They’re usually quite fun as well. The matches for RAW’s women look great, but that SmackDown tag match is clearly just for the sake of having Flair and/or Rousey on the show without spoiling their WrestleMania match.
Anyway, join us next week to find out how it went and to catch up on the rest of the action.