Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. A contract signing, two title matches, and a brand crossover made for an interesting week this week. So let’s dive right in.
RAW didn’t have a women’s division match this week. Instead, we got a contract signing for the Elimination Chamber match. There didn’t seem to be any solid reason for this to be a thing, but it happened and Jerry Lawler officiated.
Only five of the six women in the match came to the table, Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, Liv Morgan, Natalya, and Asuka. Jerry Lawler only got a few words out before Asuka grabbed the mic and demanded to know where Shayna Baszler was. Lawler admitted they weren’t quite sure, they knew she was in the building but had no idea why she didn’t come to the signing.
Sarah Logan, Natalya, and Liv Morgan signed. Morgan was on the end of the row so she got up and took it to Ruby Riott. There was a bit of tension, Riott stood up after she’d signed and got in Morgan’s. Sarah Logan stood too, but it wasn’t immediately clear whose side she was on. The moment passed without coming to blows and Asuka signed the contract. Only then did Shayna Baszler’s music hit and Baszler came through the crowd to join the group.
Baszler signed then took a moment to stare down each of her competitors. Natalya stood up and walked around the table to go face to face with her, but Asuka got up and shoved Natalya to the mat. Asuka looked Baszler in the eye and said something in Japanese followed by ‘Bite me’. We didn’t get to find out if Baszler would have taken her up on it because Natalya knocked Asuka down and started pounding on her.
Baszler stepped back and laughed while they brawled, and in the background, Liv Morgan flew over the desk onto Ruby Riott. Sarah Logan pulled her away. It appears Logan still has Morgan’s best interests at heart, at least she stayed with her rather than going with Riott anyway.
Becky Lynch arrived at that point and Baszler waited for her in the ring. Throughout the show, RAW had been showing recaps of Baszler attacking Lynch, and Lynch had been shown chatting backstage, so the confrontation was inevitable. It, of course, turned into a pull-apart brawl.
Xia Li def. Mia Yim
Charlotte Flair def. Bianca Belair
William Regal made an interesting announcement this week. The NXT Women’s Championship picture is tied up until after WrestleMania now Charlotte Flair versus Rhea Ripley has been confirmed. Clearly, this left them with a bit of a problem for NXT TakeOver Tampa, so there will be a series of qualifying matches, leading to a number one contender’s ladder match at TakeOver. It’s a decent way to keep the women’s division at the forefront of the show for the next couple of months.
The attitude Charlotte Flair was bringing to NXT was made clear at the start of the show when we saw her waiting for William Regal to open her car door and expecting him to deal with her bags.
The attitude Bianca Belair was bringing into the match was displayed when she was caught on her way in and asked how she felt about the match. She was planning to give Flair everything she’s been asking for and more.
Xia Li vs Mia Yim
I was interested in this match, but we didn’t get to watch it for very long. Mia Yim had just delivered Eat Defeat, which may or may not have given her the win, when Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez came to the stage and attracted her attention. Kai asked if Yim remembered when she stole Kai’s place in the WarGames match and Kai took it straight back, and noted Yim still looked ‘bothered’ by that. Then she said it was time to address that, at which point Xia Li rolled Yim up and pinned her.
Before Yim recovered from being pinned, Gonzalez was in the ring and on her. Xia Li stepped up to help but was quickly dispatched. She did give Mia Yim time to fight back, but to no avail. Gonzalez powerbombed her and left her laid out in the ring.
Tegan Nox had an interview later in the show. She was asked how she mentally prepares for a match like facing her ex-best friend in a steel cage. Nox said she thought she had all Kai’s tricks and tactics scouted at TakeOver Portland, but she wasn’t expecting Raquel Gonzalez. If she’s honest, she’s still feeling the effects of that table. But next week Gonzalez isn’t a factor. All she’ll be able to do is watch while Nox takes every bit of aggression she has left out on Dakota Kai. As far as she’s concerned, Kai started this in a cage and next week she’ll finish it in one.
Bianca Belair vs Charlotte Flair
When The Queen comes to fight, you put her in the main event, I guess. I was very surprised when commentary said it was Belair’s first single’s main event, but better late than never. The crowd gave Flair some grief at the start of the match, chanting ‘You don’t go here’, but it settled into a duelling chat as the match got underway.
It was a good match, but sadly not a great one. Maybe I got my hopes up too high, but Charlotte Flair didn’t bring her big match game. Belair had the best of her at times, and a once or twice Flair resorted to underhand tactics, like handfuls of hair, to stay out of trouble.
The end came with Flair showing Belair how it’s done. Bianca Belair laded a spear that didn’t look great, Flair came back with one of her own and followed it with Natural Selection for the win.
After the match, Flair grabbed a chair, put Belair’s ankle into it, and stomped on it. Then she locked on the Figure Eight. Rhea Ripley came out between the getting of the chair and the stomp, but just stood and watched and did her full entrance before going to the ring. Flair exited the ring as Ripley entered and there was a staredown with Ripley holding up the title.
The post-match stuff made no sense. While I understand Flair is the heel in the feud, it didn’t feel like things had escalated to a point which would warrant attacking Belair like that. Rhea Ripley standing on the stage watching Flair potentially injure Belair until her music got to the right point was beyond bizarre. Did she hold back because Belair is still a rival, or was it just really poorly put together? All in all, it would have made more sense just to have Flair win the match then Ripley to hold up the title on the stage.
Kay Lee Ray def. Toni Storm
Kay Lee Ray (C) vs Toni Storm – I Quit Match for the NXT UK Women’s Championship
The extra stipulation for this I Quit match was, if Toni Storm loses she can never challenge for the NXT UK Women’s Championship while Kay Lee Ray holds it.
As you’d expect, it was a vicious fight. With no pinfalls, the object of the match was simply to hurt each other until one couldn’t take anymore and quit. Commentary made a big deal of the distinction between tapping and having to say the words. The ropes featured heavily in the offence with both women being bounced off them, choked by them, and otherwise wrapped up in them.
Toni Storm set up a table and put Ray through it with a splash after laying her on it. Kay Lee Ray bound Storm’s wrists together with tape, then grabbed a chair, but Storm struggled to her feet and headbutted her. It was a temporary reprieve because Ray set the chair up, put Storm’s head through the gap, and kicked her in the face. Ray kept using the chair, trapping the helpless Storm’s neck in it and pressing down. Sid Scala and Johnny Saint came out to plead with her, so Ray stamped on the chair. Toni Storm refused to give up, so Ray got up on the turnbuckle and jumped on it.
Piper Niven came to ringside and convinced Storm to quit before Kay Lee Ray could jump on the chair again. Kay Lee Ray sat on the turnbuckle with her title and laughed as Storm was tended to by Niven and officials. As she left she told Scala and Saint ‘Both of you let this happen’. Storm was still being checked out when the show ended.
Bayley def. Naomi
Naomi had an interview on the Kickoff show. She said it was an honour to be part of the match and it would be even more of an honour to take the title from Bayley and become three-time women’s champion.
Bayley (C) vs Naomi – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
Another history-making match, a fact Bayley was quite blasé about in her pre-match interview. She said the match was about beating Naomi and proving she’s the most dominant women’s champion that SmackDown has ever seen.
Bayley made it abundantly clear with her actions in the run-up to the match that she’d rather not have faced Naomi. The early parts of the match showed why. Naomi dominated the champ. Inevitably, Bayley turned it around, catching Naomi in the ropes, and then flinging her into the barricades.
Whenever she’d got Naomi grounded, it was Bayley’s match to take, but she struggled to keep her down despite the viciousness of her offence. Naomi kicked out of the Bayley to Belly, Bayley moved out of the way of a split-legged moonsault. That was the beginning of the end for Naomi. They were both wearing t-shirts over bodysuits and Bayley used Naomi’s shirt to trap one of her feet after crossing it over the other one, leaving her helpless and unable to get away when Bayley slammed her face into the mat and pinned her.
Naomi & Lacey Evans def. Bayley & Sasha Banks
The advertised match was Bayley versus Naomi again, but in a non-title match. It sort of started, then Bayley declared that the only reason she was there was to bring back her best friend Sasha Banks. When Banks got to ringside, Bayley attacked Naomi from behind and the match started. Less than a minute later, Naomi caught Bayley with a Rear View and Sasha Banks intervened to prevent the pin and cause a distraction. The two on one beatdown ensued and Lacey Evans ran down to eve the numbers. The brawl carried on until ref Jess declared a tag team match.
Naomi & Lacey Evans vs Bayley & Sasha Banks
A lot of this match was spent with Sasha Banks and Bayley demonstrating their teamwork by keeping Naomi isolated in their corner. The turnaround happened because Banks took some time out to knock Evans off the apron, allowing Naomi to collect herself. She knocked Bayley down, escaped Sasha Banks, and Evans was back on the apron in time for the tag. Naomi tagged herself back in and almost immediately pinned Bayley, but Banks broke it up and was eventually dragged from the ring by Evans to carry on their personal fight. Bayley leaned over the ropes and grabbed Evans’ hair to keep her away from Sasha Banks, but took a kick in the face from Naomi and was pinned with a sunset flip.
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.