The most notable parts of this week came from NXT 2.0 with the second half of the first round Dusty Cup matches taking place. The main roster is very much in a WrestleMania holding pattern, and NXT UK gave their women’s division the week off.
Becky Lynch, Doudrop, & Nikki A.S.H.
Dana Brooke & Reggie def. Tamina & Akira Tozawa
We got a six-woman tag match this week, just because. Nikki A.S.H., Doudrop, and Becky Lynch were the first team. Nikki wants to prove she’s the only superhero in WWE. Doudrop is happy to be the villain. And Lynch doesn’t give a shit as long as they win.
Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, and Liv Morgan were their opposition. Morgan and Ripley started strategizing immediately before walking through the curtain. They decided on brutality. When Belair joined them, she asked only that she’s allowed a piece of Becky Lynch.
Becky Lynch, Doudrop, & Nikki A.S.H. vs Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, & Liv Morgan
Lynch teased Belair by getting in the ring to start the match, but she tagged A.S.H. before contact was made, so Belair tagged out too and let Liv Morgan take the first stint.
Ripley joined Belair to suplex Doudrop together and throw A.S.H and Lynch out of the ring. Ripley assisted Morgan to take off from the top turnbuckle to the outside to knock all three down.
After a break, we did get the WrestleMania preview between Belair and Lynch. Becky Lynch kept using Belair’s hair. She pulled her into the ringpost with it. Held onto it to hit her, and wrapped it around the top rope to immobilise her. It was moderately effective. Belair was in trouble for a long time and all three opponents had an unsuccessful go at pinning her.
Doudrop splashed Ripley while she was pinning Lynch and did more damage to Lynch than Ripley. Lynch was on Belair’s braid at every opportunity. The final straw was when she used it to pull Belair off a pin. Belair turned around and used it as a whip, leaving Lynch stumbling up the ramp with cuts and bruises on her stomach. Belair had given Nikki A.S.H. a K.O.D. and pinned her before she got to the stage.
Dana Brooke & Reggie vs Tamina & Akira Tozawa – Mixed Tag Match
Tozawa has a crush on Tamina and can’t stop staring at her. Reggie and Dana Brooke are… is anyone keeping track of all this? 24/7 Rules were suspended for the duration. The match was a mixed tag, so utterly pointless but mildly entertaining. They could easily have made it intergender.
Anyway, Reggie pinned Tozawa. Brooke kissed Reggie. Tamina kissed Tozawa. Tozawa looked like he was going to swoon. Corey Graves made a comment about getting Carmella out there to show them how it’s done… and once again I’m questioning my life choices.
Carmella and Queen Zelina accepted Sasha Banks and Naomi’s challenge. Carmella threatened to bring Graves out after they win at WrestleMania and show people how they celebrate. So that’s everyone backing Banks and Naomi then.
There was no sign of Alexa Bliss this week, which seems very strange. We’ve had two segments per week of her visits to her therapist in preparation for her return. She came back at Elimination Chamber and had a stunning showing. Now what?
Dakota Kai & Wendy Choo def. Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta
Lash Legend def. Amari Miller
Raquel Gonzalez & Cora Jade def. Yulisa Leon & Valentina Feroz
There is trouble brewing between Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta and Duke Hudson seems to be the cause. He’s seeing Pirotta after driving a wedge between Hartwell and Dexter Lumis… or something like that. The upshot is they’re not entirely on the same page.
Dakota Kai & Wendy Choo vs Indi Hartwell & Persia Pirotta – Dusty Cup Round One (Quarterfinal)
Toxic Attraction once again sat ringside for the Dusty Cup matches, or on a platform above the crowd anyway.
Kai and Choo aren’t what you’d call a natural team. Kai is jittery, agitated, and unfocused, but she looked pleased in an astonished kind of way when they pulled off some nice double team offence.
The match was decent, but it was Dakota Kai’s acting on the apron as her teammate struggled that stole the show. She’s excellent. And when Choo finally got to her, she knew exactly what to do. After taking on both opponents and getting a two-count on Hartwell, she got caught and had to be saved from being pinned.
Choo reassured her and threw Hartwell out of the ring, then they worked together to finish Pirotta, with Kai getting the pin.
Pirotta and Hartwell were left arguing at ringside while Choo steered an overwhelmed Kai out of the arena. They were still arguing in the locker room later. Pirotta apologised, Hartwell said they win and lose as a team. The second they’d made up, Duke Hudson arrived, hugged Pirotta and led her away. Hartwell went back to trying to get her husband to text her back.
Lash Legend vs Amari Miller
The match came about because Lash Legend blamed Miller for their Dusty Cup exit. I really hope Amari Miller has a huge push in her future, because NXT 2.0 have done some shitty things to her so far. She did her best to make Lash Legend look good, and managed to get enough offence of her own in to remind us she’s actually quite good. Inevitably, Lash Legend won.
After the match, Lash Legend yelled into the camera about being jealous of all the hype Nikkita Lyons got.
Later in the show, Lyons had the opportunity to respond, but not until glowing things had been said about her debut. She asked Lash Legend to revive her talk show and invite her on, requesting she keeps the same energy when they’re face to face.
Tatum Paxely tried to apologise to Ivy Nile for letting her down last week and told her she understands why she beat her up after the match. Failure isn’t an option. Nile said it’s not that simple. Last week Paxley got a taste, but if she wants to join Diamond Mine she has to learn the hard way.
Raquel Gonzalez & Cora Jade vs Yulisa Leon & Valentina Feroz – Dusty Cup Round One (Quarterfinal)
All the training together is working for Jade and Gonzalez. Leon and Feroz are the dark horses of the competition though. They started as a random throw together team, but they’ve worked their asses off and they’re decent. They took Gonzalez out with some double team high flying, then focused on Jade. She took a beating before she got back to Gonazlez, but she kept going.
Raquel Gonzalez was ready to get the job done when she got back in. She delivered a Chingona Bomb Feroz, which would have been plenty for the win, then tagged in Jade and dumped her onto Feroz to get the pin.
Tiffany Stratton attacked Sarray for turning down one of her necklaces after calling Sarray’s magic one “tacky”. She screamed that no one says no to her, and beat on Sarray until other people pulled her away.
No women’s division match on NXT UK this week, which is a shame because they’ve been doing better recently.
Isla Dawn had a very odd musical number with Meiko Satomura’s stolen flowers. She’s planning to take back the title, presumably after she’s escaped the terrible 80s music video she’s trapped in.
Cameras spied on Xia Brookside calling her dad and complaining about Sid Scala telling her it was her own fault she lost another match. She asked him to help her, but she didn’t specify how. She was very upset when she realised she’d been filmed.
NXT LVL UP
Tiffany Stratton def. Erica Yan
Erica Yan vs Tiffany Stratton
Erica Yan is interesting. I’m hopeful about watching her work her way through the ranks and picking up a character on the way. Stratton is character first, which is a shame because the character is awful, but she appears to have potential.
All NXT LVL UP matches are short, but it’s a nice environment and the crowd are supportive. Yan looks good, but it was Stratton’s night. She’s athletic but the character isn’t the only thing that needs some rough edges smoothed off.
Naomi def. Carmella
Ronda Rousey def. Sonya Deville
Ronda Rousey said she’s going to make her first match on SmackDown one to remember because Sonya Deville has been abusing her power for too long.
Deville said the only thing that would be memorable about Rousey’s first match on SmackDown, would be that it would be her first loss.
Naomi, with Sasha Banks, vs Carmella, with Queen Zelina
Naomi and Sasha Banks declared their intention to go for the tag titles at WrestleMania last week. That match has been made official, so now we get the one on one warmups. It’s actually a relief to see the women’s tag titles are going to be defended, but it says so much about the division that a team had to be cobbled together in order to create challengers.
After Carmella got her mask put on, after the bell, of course, the match was fun but about a third of the length it should have been. Zelina Vega got caught trying to interfere by the ref. Sasha Banks pulled her off the apron and gave her double knees to the head against the steps. Naomi finished Carmella by kicking her in the head and landing the split-legged moonsault.
Natalya was shown watching from backstage, so she’s up to something.
Ronda Rousey vs Sonya Deville
I would have been interested in this at one point, but Sonya Deville has ruined herself as an in-ring competitor for me. It got the main event spot, as you’d expect with it being Rousey’s first SmackDown match, but Deville’s entrance didn’t even begin until quarter to three, so it wasn’t going to be a long match.
After a break but before Rousey’s elaborate introduction, Deville was heard telling referee Charles Robinson that she’s the one who signs his paycheques.
Charlotte Flair came down to join commentary, but she got on the apron to distract Rousey before putting her headset on. Deville capitalised with a chop block and took over the match, but she couldn’t make anything of it.
When she joined Cole and McAfee, she talked about Rousey being a one-trick pony, suggesting the armbar is all she has and she knows how to reverse it.
Once Rousey took control back, it was a short trip to Piper’s Pit before the armbar Deville tapped out in.
Rousey invited Flair into the ring post-match. Surprisingly, Flair got in and Rousey got her in an ankle lock and wouldn’t let go however hard Flair tapped.
That wasn’t great. Rousey benefits from sharing the ring with someone skilled and experienced to smooth out some of the rough edges and make her look good. Deville isn’t ideal for the job.
Another week closer to WrestleMania, but there could be some unseen twists over the weekend with the much-hyped Madison Square Gardens house show. It’s not being shown on Network, but it wouldn’t be the first time WWE had thrown an off-air curveball. Join us next week to find out what, if anything, happened.