Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool kicked off the week with a triple-threat title match. NXT gave us a Battle Royal to decide the number one contender for Rhea Ripley’s NXT Women’s Championship, and RAW and SmackDown were on too.
NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool
Kay Lee Ray def. Toni Storm and Piper Niven
The hype package for this was excellent. There’s such a history between them and genuine relationships to play off, it would have been hard to mess it up, but hype packages are generally one of the areas in which WWE excel.
Kay Lee Ray (C) vs Toni Storm vs Piper Niven – XT UK Women’s Championship match
Toni Storm piled in on Kay Lee Ray before the bell rang, but the ref got things underway and it was Piper Niven who took the first advantage. She took both her opponents down on the outside, but Kay Lee Ray pulled her off the apron as she was getting back in and bought herself a few moments one on one with Toni Storm.
A few times in the early going they each tried to finish it without making sure the third person was adequately incapacitated, but that’s never going to work in a triple threat. It was Kay Lee Ray who brought a chair into the ring, and Piper Niven shoving Ray that stopped her decapitating Toni Storm with it. Storm picked the chair up and brandished it at Niven while Niven yelled at her to do it and Ray looked on hopefully. Storm changed her mind and they both went for Kay Lee Ray.
Kay Lee Ray failed to get Piper Niven up for the Gory Bomb. There was some talk in the days before the match that she was carrying a shoulder injury, but she spent the majority of this match holding her ribs, so either could have been the cause. I actually kept an eye out for injury reports following the match because some of the bumps they took looked really harsh.
Toni Storm Kay Lee Ray’s post Gory Bomb pin by grabbing the ref because she couldn’t get to Ray or Niven in time. No DQ means she just got yelled at, then Ray took her out with a suicide dive but she was back in seconds and would have pinned Kay Lee Ray with Storm Zero if Niven had been a fraction of a second slower.
The end actually came a few moments later. Piper Niven kicked out of a modified Pedigree and Toni Storm landed a frogsplash to try again. Before she could go for the pin, Kay Lee Ray kicked her out of the ring and stole the win.
Toni Storm has the chance at a different title, at Worlds Collide, when she faces Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship.
Charlotte Flair def. Sarah Logan
Charlotte Flair vs Sarah Logan
I am sad, frustrated and annoyed to report another short match on RAW, I timed it at two minutes and five seconds bell to bell. And yet again it was the only women’s division match on the card. This match was a replacement for the match that never was last week, and a lot of this one took place on the outside as well. Sarah Logan had the better of things for a while before they got back in the ring, but once there she was very quickly tapping out in a Figure Eight.
After the match, Charlotte Flair reminded us it’s Royal Rumble Season by throwing Logan over the top rope.
The Lana and Liv Morgan storyline is, unfortunately, still progressing. Last week Morgan declared that she would be in Rusev’s corner for his match against Bobby Lashley. When Rusev came out, she was nowhere to be seen. She did appear eventually, after Lana got up on the apron to cause a distraction in the match. The two of them had a standoff then Lana threw a fan’s drink at Liv and flung her into the barricade. Lashley beat Rusev as well.
After a break, Lashley and Lana crashed in on Charly Caruso trying to make a big announcement to complain about Liv Morgan. Lana challenged Liv Morgan and Rusev to a mixed tag match next week. Lashley got annoyed, so it was clearly a surprise to him as well. As soon as he voiced his objections, Lana went off on one and they left with her still babbling at him.
After the next match Liv Morgan and Rusev accepted.
Becky Lynch and Asuka had a contract signing officiated by Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler. He brought Lynch out first and asked her if she had anything to say before Asuka arrived. She didn’t. Asuka had a bit to say for herself, mostly in Japanese. She also had Kairi Sane with her. Sane tried to sneak behind Lawler and poked at Lynch with the parasol she was carrying. Becky Lynch took it off her and threw it away and Kairi Sane got out of the ring.
The rest was very quick. Asuka signed. Becky Lynch signed and said may the best woman win. Asuka sprayed Lynch with the green mist and left.
Officials helped clean the mist out of Lynch’s eyes and she demanded a microphone. She said that when they give you money, praise, awards and acclaim it’s poison for someone who fights for a living and her veins are full of it. Asuka is hungry and angry and Lynch has been happy and content. Asuka is the most dangerous woman she has ever faced, and she has tried to find an anger to defend herself against her. But when someone puts their hands on Lynch they arise a badness in her. So now she doesn’t care if they have tried to erase Asuka or hide her from Lynch. She doesn’t care if she’s walking into the buzzsaw. If she has to go down again she will go down swinging, but she is taking Asuka with her.
Bianca Belair won the Battle Royal
Tegan Nox is cleared for action. She was interrupted while talking about Dakota Kai, by Candice LeRae and they had an excited and enthusiastic reunion.
Chelsea Green was removed from the Battle Royal by her representative because she’s better than that and shouldn’t have to share the spotlight.
Rhea Ripley had an interview before the main event battle royal. She said it’s fine that Toni Storm wants to cut the queue at Worlds Collide because she’ll go straight through her. Like she’ll go straight through whoever wins the Battle Royal. It’s her division now and the nightmare has just begun.
Candice LeRae vs Mia Yim vs Bianca Belair vs Kacy Catanzaro vs Mercedes Martinez vs Shotzi Blackheart vs Santana Garrett, Vanessa Borne vs Xi Li vs Kayden Carter vs MJ Jenkins vs Jessi Kamea vs Indi Hartwell vs Catalina vs Deonna Purrazzo vs Io Shirai vs Tegan Nox vs Shayna Baszler
I have watched this match three times now and I think I got everyone, but I’m still not one hundred percent sure. Some people came out during the ads and at least one (Indi Hartwell) was eliminated during a break. There’s a lot going on in these matches. Shayna Baszler was a surprise addition just as the women were getting ready to start the match. Kacy Catanzaro, who had previously announced her retirement following an injury, and Mercedes Martinez, who has just signed a proper NXT contract, were other notable additions.
The first elimination took longer than I expected, but once it came the numbers stacked up quickly. There were no surprises in the first few eliminations, MJ Jenkins, Jessi Kamea, Catalina, Kayden Carter, Santana Garrett, Vanessa Borne, Deonna Purrazzo, Xia Li, and Kacy Catanzaro went, in that order and Indi Hartwell went out as well. Shotzi Blackheart was the one to eliminate Purrazzo. Deonna Purrazzo paid her back by dragging her out of the ring and kicking her in the chest. Blackheart was down and out at ringside but was not eliminated.
Candice LeRae was the first of the bigger names to go, thanks to Bianca Belair, closely followed by Mia Yim courtesy of Mercedes Martinez. Martinez chose Shayna Baszler to take on next, and that was the end of Martinez in the battle royal.
That left us with Shayna Baszler, Bianca Belair, Tegan Nox, and Io Shirai in the ring. Tegan Nox was in full flow when she climbed the turnbuckle. Dakota Kai ran down to the ring and pulled Nox to the floor, threw the knee brace at her head, and left.
Shayna Baszler had Io Shirai on the apron and was trying to choke her out when Shotzi Blackheart re-entered the ring. She tipped Baszler over the top rope then got eliminated almost immediately by Bianca Belair because she took too long to celebrate.
Io Shirai and Bianca Belair were the most logical choices to win, and they were the final two. Belair could have finished it quickly when she caught Shirai coming off the top turnbuckle, but she went for a fallaway slam instead. They had a precarious exchange on top of the turnbuckle, and another on the apron. Finally, Bianca Belair scooped Io Shirai onto her shoulders and gave her a K.O.D. over the top rope to the floor.
Bianca Belair will get her opportunity against either Rhea Ripley or Toni Storm at NXT TakeOver Portland.
NXT UK was the kind of post-TakeOver show NXT used to do. There were highlights and post-match interviews from the TakeOver matches, and a couple of original matches neither of which were from the women’s division.
Toni Storm was tearful during her post-match interview. She felt like she’d just been robbed of everything that means anything to her. She’s in a bad headspace and that makes things bad for Rhea Ripley. She was just robbed, so she’s going to rob Ripley.
The only other input from the women’s division was a reminder of the tensions between Jazzy Gabert and Jinny and the announcement that Gabert faces Killer Kelly on next week’s show. Jazzy Gabert tweeted on Saturday that she’s a free agent, and also that she had a car accident before the tapings and wasn’t medically cleared, so that match never happened. Unfortunately, it looks like Gabert may be done with NXT UK. I’m sad if that’s the case, they didn’t use her to anything near her full potential. They barely used her at all.
Lacey Evans def. Bayley
Alexa Bliss def. Sonya Deville
A post-match interview with The Revival was cut away from to focus on a brawl between Lacey Evans and Bayley. Sasha Banks was on the floor holding her ankle. In the locker room a little later Banks was icing her ankle while she and Bayley made a series of threats against Evans, breaking bones, making her into a stay at home mom, that kind of thing.
It was obvious Sasha Banks couldn’t compete, and Bayley was told she would face Evans instead of Banks. Bayley protested that she wasn’t putting the title on the line and it was confirmed as a non-title match.
Bayley vs Lacey Evans
Lacey Evans had the best of the early going and Bayley had to struggle her way back into it. Bayley’s first pin attempt was made with her foot on the ropes, but she got caught. Twice, while Bayley was in control, she took time out to taunt the crowd. Both times it cost her. The first time she almost got pinned via roll-up, the second she lost control of the match. She did get it back, when Lacey Evans took too long coming off the top turnbuckle and Bayley got her legs up to meet her, and she maintained it through an ad break, but she was obviously getting frustrated with her inability to put Evans away.
She left more furious than frustrated. She missed with a crossbody, dumped Evans into a turnbuckle then got caught with a Woman’s Right as she charged at her. Lacey Evans beat the SmackDown Women’s Champion.
Sonya Deville asked Mandy Rose to ask Otis to come to the ring for Deville’s match against Alexa Bliss. Rose was confused but agreed to ask him.
Sonya Deville vs Alexa Bliss
Deville was accompanied by Mandy Rose and Nikki Cross came with Alexa Bliss. Heavy Machinery did come to ringside to watch the match. Sadly, the moment of the match was Mandy Rose getting up on the apron and Nikki Cross pushing her off again. Otis caught Rose. Sonya Deville got distracted by that and got rolled up and pinned by Alexa Bliss. Very short match. Very weird ending.
That’s it for another week of WWE women’s division action, and another week where NXT clearly came out on top for action and for relevance. Join me next week for another instalment, including Worlds Collide and all the go-home shows. All four brands have something to build for this week, and Royal Rumble weekend is invariably one of my favourites. In the meantime follow @ArnFuriousCom to make sure you never miss a review. You can also follow me @manda_why.