Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. There’s no denying that Elimination Chamber without a women’s chamber match is a very sad thing. No chamber match and the RAW Women’s Championship match up in the air heading into the show, is a very bad start to the week. *SPOILER* Ranting ahead.
Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax def. Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair
In a spectacular show of making the RAW Women’s Champion look ‘important’, there was still no announced challenger for Asuka by the Kickoff Show. The panel did seem to think she’d be defending the title, but no one was announced. At that point, I started to hope it might be Rhea Ripley as she’s not shown up on a brand since Royal Rumble. Peter Rosenberg said no one wants to see Asuka. Booker T, who is generally less of an asshole, said he was sure there was a lot of women who wanted that chance and someone would step up.
As it turned out, the Kickoff Show was the last time the RAW Women’s Championship got a mention. WWE managed to replace Keith Lee after he was removed from the PPV on the day (not medically cleared) but couldn’t find a new opponent for Asuka with six days notice.
The disrespect is atrocious. Asuka is one of the best wrestlers WWE have in any division. She will face any opponent at any level and make them both look great. She’s the safest pair of hands as a champion that WWE could hope for. She’s been left off PPVs and had no build title defences, while creative have been busy trying to make Lacey Evans a thing and splitting up the IIconics so they can do nothing with either of them.
The women currently in NXT should be begging to be allowed to stay there unless there’s a super-solid plan for them. I think Rhea Ripley will do great. I think Bianca Belair is amazing and WWE seem to know it. I worry for pretty much everyone else, not because they’re not good enough, but because I don’t trust creative to do anything with them.
Billie Kay pitched her services to MVP as a potential member of The Hurt Business. MVP said he can see why she’d think she’s a fit because her voice hurts his ears every time he hears it. He said he’d take it, consider it, and wouldn’t be in touch. He’s already gone by the time Billie kay worked out what he’d said.
Sonya Deville joined the Kickoff panel to talk about the women’s tag match and flirt with Charly Caruso. She predicted Jax and Baszler for the win because she doesn’t think Sasha Banks plays well with others. They discussed the potential complications if Banks and Belair were to become champions with Belair yet to make her WrestleMania decision. The Street Profits interrupted her segment to try to get a title rematch and she sent them away with their tails between their legs, apologising and promising to come back during office hours. She’s obviously settling into her management role quite well.
Kayla Braxton asked Bianca Belair how she and Sasha Banks were going to coexist knowing Belair hasn’t made her WrestleMania decision yet. Reginald butted in with a load of flattery and an offer to champagne on ice for them before they answered, and the question was forgotten. Belair did say that maybe they could toast her decision tonight as well.
Shayna Baszler (C) & Nia Jax vs Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships match
Jax and Belair started things off, and Bianca Belair was in good spirits. She and Banks had fun with Jax, and Belair kicked Baszler square in the face when she tagged in, but she almost got tripped and caught in a submission and had to manoeuvre Baszler’s shoulders to the mat to make her let go.
Jax bulldozing Banks turned the match in their favour and Banks got twisted into some painful-looking positions by Baszler before getting her arm stamped on. Banks is where she is for a reason and she had several near falls on Baszler by the time she tagged out. She had to save Belair from a Kirifuda Clutch, by tagging her, and a chicken-wing facebuster/frogsplash combo got them two and three quarters.
Jax dragged Belair off the post-K.O.D. cover. Belair failed to lift Jax for a K.O.D. and had to be saved from being pinned after taking a slam. Banks nearly pinned Jax off a Meteora after an unseen tag, but Nia Jax tapped out. Then Reginald arrived with a bottle of champagne and a couple of glasses.
Reginald’s appearance inspired Banks to get Jax in the Bank Statement. When Jax got to the ropes, Reginald rolled the champagne bottle to Banks. The ref saw her pick it up and Jax caught Banks while he was telling her off and Samoan dropped her for the win.
Belair and Banks yelled at Reginald after the match.
Honestly, the best thing about Elimination Chamber night was The Broken Skull Sessions with Sasha Banks, which aired after the PPV. That’s a must-watch if you get a chance and you like hearing wrestlers’ thoughts on their careers and journeys.
Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler def. Charlotte Flair & Asuka
Naomi & Lana def. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke
Rhea Ripley has finally been allocated a brand. She had a couple of Coming Soon vignettes during the show. I’m exceptionally happy
Alexa Bliss made a little cameo appearance in Randy Orton’s promo segment. He was talking about being distracted by Alexa Bliss and it interfering in the pursuit of his goals. The cameo was just a clip of her laughing in the pentacle from last week, but immediately afterwards Orton started coughing up the same black goop Bliss had dribbling out of her mouth when she interrupted Orton’s match a couple of weeks ago.
Charlotte Flair & Asuka vs Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler
Asuka and Shayna Baszler started things off and to be honest, that’s the match for me. I like Flair and have no problem with Nia Jax, but there’s an intriguing interplay in Asuka and Baszler’s skillsets that I enjoy.
It didn’t stay like that for very long. Both teams work really well together and that includes lots of tags when they’re in charge. Asuka took the main punishment section of the match, spending a few minutes stuck in Jax and Baszler’s corner. She anticipated the timing of Baszler’s elbow stamp and rolled her up though. Baszler kicked out, but Asuka got to Flair.
Charlotte Flair got to take out some of her recent frustrations on Jax and Baszler, until Jax caught her and slammed her into the mat. Baszler took Asuka off the apron when Flair reached for a tag. Flair used the moment to get her in a figure four, but Jax delivered the leg drop before she could bridge.
Asuka did get back in. She had Jax in an armbar but Baszler broke it up. Baszler tried to put on the Kirifuda but Asuka reversed into the Asuka lock. That’s when it went wrong. Charlotte Flair tried to deliver a big boot to Baszler while Asuka had her immobilised, but Baszler got free and Flair kicked Asuka. Flair threw Baszler out of the ring and followed her. Nia Jax leg dropped Asuka and pinned her.
Asuka shoved Flair away after the match. Flair walked out of the arena alone and clearly upset.
Later in the show, Charlotte Flair had an emotional conversation with Ric Flair backstage. She said she can’t do this crap anymore. She can’t focus on her matches and she can’t focus on the business. All the stuff with Lacey Evans, dancing around when she announced her pregnancy and pretending it was his, isn’t funny. She asked him if he saw her out there and said that’s not the performer she is. And again she asked him to please go home.
He told her, firstly, he never said the baby was his. He saw a lot of potential in a genuinely good human being. Charlotte interrupted to say he see a lot of potential in a lot of blonde women. He’s seen the same woman over and over but this time he thinks it’s funny to do it on her time. Evans is a co-worker.
He said he thought she could be a great competitor and he could motivate her like he motivated Charlotte. He thinks that a lot of Charlotte’s life he pushed her. He’s not saying he made her the champion she is, she’s done that on her own, but he likes to think he had some part in it. Now she’s one of the all-time greats, but how about the tough love, the advice, everything they’ve done together. He loves her and wants the best for her but he was trying to expand the brand. Ric Flair, the man behind the RAW women’s title. She knows he wants the women to be the biggest part of the brand and he doesn’t know how she has the audacity to suggest he could be trashing the name. All he wants is for their name to be what it is now, household.
She doesn’t see it like that. He says he’s her biggest cheerleader, supporting the women. But on her time he’s messing around and trying to take the spotlight. It’s not funny. When she’s in the ring it’s her time to prove she’s not Ric Flair’s daughter, she’s Charlotte Flair. She thinks he still wants to be the nature boy, even on his daughter’s time, so he should go home. She’s thankful for the doors he’s opened and everything he’s given her, but she wants him to let her try to be Charlotte Flair.
She told him she loves him and left it to sink in. It looked like it made an impact.
Naomi & Lana vs Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke
There is a possibility of Naomi versus Rhea Ripley in the coming months and I am here for that match. In the meantime, she looks like she’s having fun teaming with Lana. There’s not really much else to say about the match. It was around a minute long. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax watched from a monitor backstage. Naomi and Lana pinned Mandy Rose with a double team.
Io Shirai def. Zoey Stark
Xia Li def. Kacy Catanzaro – Referee’s stoppage
Shotzi Blackheart got a Burger King sponsored NXT Superstar Profile vignette. I’m interested to see what’s next for her.
William Regal offered Zoey Stark the opportunity to face Io Shirai in a non-title match as a reward for impressing him in her debut. She, of course, accepted. There was a pre-match interview with her, but technical difficulties cut her off before she got past saying she had many emotions running through her.
Io Shirai vs Zoey Stark
Well, it’s official, Zoey Stark has been brought in to be a presence in the NXT women’s division. This match was her chance to show why, and that’s exactly what she did. It was a great match, and a longish one as well. NXT are much better with their match times than the other brands.
I was cynical when the match was announced. I thought it was going to be an excuse to have Toni Storm interfere to further their storyline. I am happy to be wrong, but Storm did come out at the end of the match, while Shirai was involved in a show of respect for Stark.
Storm said Shirai would fight anyone in the division except her and there was a reason Shirai pinned Mercedes Martinez not her at TakeOver. She can’t beat her. She’s proved that by not going to William Regal and demanding a match after Storm attacked her last week. Shirai said she would fight Storm anytime and anywhere. Storm told her to prove it, go to Regal and make the match happen.
Kacy Catanzaro, with Kayden Carter, vs Xia Li, with Boa and Mei Ying
Xia Li’s pre-match skills display used a fan instead of a sword this time, which is a little less threatening. She wasn’t hanging around to get the match underway though, and she was dominant in the early going.
It was a different kind of match for Catanzaro. She still got as much high flying acrobatic stuff in as she could, but it’s hard to fly around when you’re getting your ass beaten down and she was forced to respond in kind.
Li stamped on Catanzaro’s knee while her foot was propped up on the steps. Catanzaro was laying on the floor screaming, but the ref still let Li drag her back into the ring before she stopped the match on medical grounds. Kayden Carter stepped in and had to be held back from Li. She checked in on Catanzaro then went to shout at Mei Ying. She didn’t get near her because of Boa, but Mei Ying signalled to Li, who immediately kicked Catanzaro in the head. Kayden Carter rushed back to her partner’s side and Li told her ‘You’re next’ as she exited the ring.
Commentary told us later that Kacy Catanzaro was getting x-rays for a suspected broken leg.
The build package for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match was excellent. It should be a fantastic match. I’m interested to see how it plays out with Raquel Gonzalez against both Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler, and this is not the same Dakota Kai that Baszler remembers.
Xia Brookside def. Nina Samuels
Aoife Valkyrie def. Lana Austin
Xia Brookside vs Nina Samuels – loser becomes the other’s personal assistant for the month
I’m giving them a pass on this ridiculous storyline because it is a storyline and however bad, it’s still more than most of the NXT UK women’s roster has had.
It was a match of anger rather than finesse. Xia Brookside has had more than enough of Nina Samuels’ attitude and she immediately set about letting her know about it. Samuels decided to play dirty and demanded her weighted purse from her lackey, Henry. He refused, she left to ring to snatch it off him and fired him. When she got back into the ring, Xia Brookside kicked the purse out of her hand and pinned her.
Samuels was outraged and had a full-on temper tantrum while Brookside taunted her.
Later in the show, Brookside was asked how she was feeling. She said she felt great, but she wasn’t sure about Samuels. A bedraggled and sulking Nina Samuels struggled along behind her dragging the bags.
Piper Niven crashed Joseph Connors interview to demand he tell her where Jinny was. He insulted her. She slapped him. Jinny attacked her from behind and had to be dragged off her. Niven demanded a match with both of them, but Sid Scala refused unless she had a tag partner. She grabbed Jack Starz, said ‘He’s my partner’ and demanded Scala make the match.
The match will happen in two weeks
Aoife Valkyrie vs Lana Austin
A second women’s division match is always a nice surprise on NXT UK. Aoife Valkyrie is one of the few marked out for something other than making up the numbers.
Not a bad match at all, considering it was around three and a half minutes. Commentary talked a lot about Valkyrie doubting herself recently, and she showed that once when Austin appeared to ask for mercy. Valkyrie hesitated and it almost cost her the match to a rollup. It wasn’t until she nearly got pinned off a backslide that she got serious. She switched up a gear and finished it.
Meiko Satomura gets her title match against kay Lee Ray next week.
Tamina def. Liv Morgan
Tamina, with Natalya, vs Liv Morgan, with Ruby Riott
No one got a televised entrance, the match just started as we came back from a break. The narrative with Tamina is now that Natalya is working with her on her confidence. They’re both legacy talents, and they’re friends, so why not.
There is something new about Tamina. New focus, and Natalya screaming at her from ringside. Liv Morgan has been great recently, but she couldn’t take her chances in this one and got driven into the mat and pinned.
Bianca Belair made her WrestleMania decision this week. She was brought to the ring by Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce and Deville asked the question. They showed a quick intro video for each potential opponent, as if either Asuka or Sasha Banks needs an introduction.
Belair talked about choices but didn’t get to make her choice because Reginald came out and talked about Belair teaming with Sasha Banks last week and how Banks’ genius elevated her. He told Belair she is special, then tried to talk her out of choosing Sasha Banks because he feels deep in his heart it will turn her into a loser.
Sasha Banks came out next. She put her arm around Reginald and reminded him she told him never to speak for her, then shoved him away. She wants the match against Belair. Belair says she’s the EST, but she’s only second best because Banks is the best.
Belair said she’s going to make Banks eat her words on the grandest stage of them all.
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.