Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It was a very busy week for WWE’s women. Three matches on RAW, some weird but entertaining stuff on SmackDown, a history-making tournament on NXT, a title match on NXT UK, and the women’s division even made it onto 205 Live. There’s a lot to get through.
Charlotte Flair def. Peyton Royce
Shayna Baszler def. Mandy Rose
Alexa Bliss def. Asuka
Charly Caruso asked Lacey Evans and Ric Flair to clarify their relationship when they arrived at the arena together. She was hanging off his arm as she explained she’s simply learning from the dirtiest player in the game. So, that’s it, mentor and mentee. Nothing to see here. Let’s ignore the suggestive stuff and focus on that.
They left to watch Peyton Royce and Charlotte Flair’s match.
Charlotte Flair vs Peyton Royce
Peyton Royce attacked Flair on her way to the ring, so there was a pre-match brawl with an ad break to calm things down and start the match. Not that things calmed down much. They tore each other apart.
Peyton Royce caught a bit of luck when she ducked Flair’s chop against the post and smashed Flair’s face into the post while she was still reeling from the pain in her hand. She couldn’t finish the job though and while Royce maintained control for a while, she got increasingly frustrated at Flair’s resilience.
Ric Flair and Lacey Evans turned up on the stage when Charlotte looked close to finishing Royce off. Evans was wearing one of Flair’s robes and she did a little Flair strut. Charlotte took a kick in the face from Peyton Royce while she was still processing that, but again Royce failed to capitalise.
From that moment, Charlotte Flair’s attention was a bit off. She even took a moment to invite Evans to come and get her ass in the ring. It didn’t stop her locking Royce in the Figure Eight, but it was almost certainly the motivation behind her refusing to let the hold go long after the bell had rung.
There were only three things on the RAW Preview this week and Alexa Bliss was part of two of them. She was going to address throwing a fireball into Randy Orton’s face, and she had a match against Asuka.
Early in the show commentary announced that Bliss had invited Asuka to join her in Alexa’s Playground before their match, and Asuka accepted.
Sarah Schreiber asked Asuka what she expected when she was on her way to Alexa’s Playground. She said, ‘I don’t know… I hope I don’t see Alexa’s dark side’.
Bliss said she wanted to address the viper in the room before her guest arrived. She just wanted to talk to him, but things got a little heated.
Asuka was nervous when she got to the Playground. She moved to sit on the empty swing but Bliss told her that wasn’t her seat then asked the invisible person (obviously The Fiend) if they were ok. Bliss declared herself for the Rumble and Asuka wished her luck. Bliss said if she wins they’ll face each other at WrestleMania. Asuka said it would be an honour and she’s a big fan of Bliss, but she made the mistake of saying Yowie Wowie and Bliss got all serious and apologised to the swing person. Asuka tried to lighten the mood by having her music played and dancing to it until Bliss screamed at her to stop.
Alexa Bliss sat on the swing and talked to the invisible Fiend about how it wasn’t supposed to be like this, if she’d just done things differently he’d still be here and everything would be great, but now it’s just so cold. Asuka tried to make it better by telling her everything would be ok and The Fiend was still here. Bliss told her not to say his name in a very stern tone, then started giggling as a rocking horse began to move by itself.
Asuka quietly exited the ring and Bliss went and sat on the rocking horse, smiling dreamily to herself.
Mandy Rose, with Dana Brooke, vs Shayna Baszler, with Nia Jax
Before the match, Baszler cut a promo about the Royal Rumble but made the mistake of pointing out she’s happy to throw out her partner. That led to an argument with Jax about who’s carrying their team.
Nia Jax joined commentary for the match. They asked her about the tension, and she told them there’s no need for them to get along, they’re competitors and they’ll be tag team champions again. She did confirm she won’t have Baszler’s back in the Rumble.
The match itself saw Baszler brutalising Rose, including landing the elbow stomp Rose has been so good at avoiding. It fired Rose into life, but the adrenaline could only last so long and she inevitably tapped out in the Kirifuda Clutch.
Jax and Baszler started arguing again at ringside. They didn’t notice Dana Brooke approaching until her dropkick sent Jax into Baszler and both into the post. She and Mandy Rose escaped while they were down.
Backstage, they were still arguing. Charly Caruso asked them about it and they told her they’ve never gotten along, even when they were champions. Nia Jax went off on one about Charlotte Flair and Asuka not getting along either because Flair has Daddy issues and Asuka’s creeped out by Bliss. Baszler agreed and said that made it the perfect time to ask for the rematch they never got. Jax paused, said it was a good idea (despite looking utterly unconvinced) and they went off to sort that.
Charlotte Flair had a backstage interview with Sarah Schreiber. Schreiber asked how uncomfortable it was to see Lacey Evans in her father’s Robe. Flair said ever since she got in the ring she’s been accused of trading on her last name and of being given opportunities she didn’t earn. Now there’s a legitimately a woman draped over her dad, begging for her fifteen minutes fame and living off her last name. She knows it’s an attempt to get to her but the thing is she’s been learning off the dirtiest player in the game but has chosen to never go there. Maybe she should because one person can only take so much trash. Evans might wear her dad’s robe, but she’ll never wear her crown.
I take slight issue with Charlotte Flair saying she’s never used her dad’s dirty tricks before. Her memory might be that short, but the fans’ memories aren’t.
Asuka vs Alexa Bliss
It’s really unusual for a zero-stakes women’s division match to get the main event slot, even when one of the competitors is the champion. It was either a sign of potential shenanigans, or WWE running out of options because Drew McIntyre is still off with COVID.
We got to see both sides of Alexa Bliss in this one. She started out as happy childlike Bliss, smiling even when getting battered. Halfway through the match, the lights went off and some Fiend adjacent but Bliss tailored sound effects rang out. That was the cut into the ads. When we came back, Alexa’s dark side was out to play, complete with makeup and outfit change.
Asuka looked freaked out, while Bliss was completely calm and just stared at her with her arms behind her back. She lunged at her several times and Bliss either ducked or blocked. Asuka managed to land a kick to the stomach, but Bliss levelled her with her next move.
Bliss did Bray Wyatt’s crab pose and Asuka was seriously rattled. Bliss wiped her black lipstick across her face and went for the mandible claw. She didn’t get that, but she did put Asuka down for two and a half with a punch in the face.
Asuka came back hard and rocked Bliss, but Alexa Bliss delivered Sister Abigail, after wiping more of her lipstick across her face, and pinned the RAW Women’s Champion.
Once the match was done the screen flickered and happy childlike Bliss returned. She said Let Me In, in the Fiend’s voice, to close the show.
As is the way when someone pins the champion in WWE, Alexa Bliss has a title match next week.
Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter def. Mercedes Martinez & Toni Storm
The first women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic began this week and, if I’m honest, the line up is a little disappointing in places. There are a few more new faces than I’d hoped for, but needs must and we don’t know who’s unavailable during the pandemic but would otherwise have been included. Some of the new names are exciting though. This is the final line-up.
On side one
Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell vs Gigi Dolin & Cora Jade
Shotzi Blackheart & Ember Moon vs Marina Shafir & Zoey Stark
On side two
Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter vs Toni Storm & Mercedes Martinez
Aliyah & Jessi Kamea vs Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez
Mercedes Martinez and Toni Storm devoted their pre-match promo to mocking Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter’s friendship, telling them to go back to their Easy-Bake Ovens and Tik Tok videos. They’re only there to win, they’re not interested in friendship.
Beth Phoenix came back to the Capitol Wrestling Center for the opening of the tournament. She took her seat on commentary and joined William Regal on stage to get things underway. She made a speech about the women who have come through NXT and gone on to do big things on the main roster brands, including main eventing WrestleMania. When she finished her speech the lights came on to reveal all the women in the tournament.
They had the opening teams to stand face to face in front of the trophy before they went to the ring.
Toni Storm & Mercedes Martinez vs Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter
Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro are giving up a lot of years of experience to their opponents, as well as a significant size disadvantage. But what they lack in experience they make up for in athleticism, enthusiasm, and teamwork.
It made for an interesting match. Martinez and Storm underestimated Carter and Catanzaro and they struggled to keep up with them at times. On one occasion, Catanzaro crawled through Storms legs to make a tag and Storm just wasn’t quick enough to catch her.
It was Martinez and Storm’s match for the most part, but Kayden Carter had a particularly awesome spell where she had the upper hand on Toni Storm for a while. Martinez had to come in to break up a pin and got dropkicked out of the ring by Catanzaro.
She’d not long been back on the apron when Io Shirai appeared and pulled her down. Shirai attempted to throw Martinez over the announce desk, she got her onto it and Martinez rolled the rest of the way. Storm turned around to see no sign of her partner and commentary standing up and pointing to the floor behind the desk.
Kayden Carter took Toni Storm’s legs out from under her when she turned back, then flipped her over with a leg lock. Catanzaro finished the job with something hugely acrobatic and complicated from the top turnbuckle. Even commentary didn’t try to name it.
Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter interrupted McKenzie Mitchell giving an injury update backstage. They were leaping around and yelling I told you so in their excitement. They’re convinced they’re going to win the whole thing.
Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell def. Gigi Dolan & Cora Jade
I don’t normally have to watch 205 Live for the purposes of this column because the women’s division doesn’t normally feature. This week that changed because they had a Dusty Cup match. Happily, unlike Main Event which has been lost to UK viewers and I miss it terribly (yes I know it’s on network, but not until two weeks later), 205 Live is on the network.
Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell vs Gigi Dolin & Cora Jade – Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic
The second women’s Dusty Cup match and the first women’s division match on 205 Live. Indo Hartwell was asking, ‘Who are they’, as Gigi Dolin and Cora Jade made their way to the ring. She wasn’t the only one asking. Everyone has to be a newbie, but I still question bringing new faces in for this tournament.
Commentary told us Dolin and Jade were teaming for the first time. LeRae and Hartwell aren’t exactly a seasoned duo, but at least they have a clear hierarchy. Not a bad match. Indi Hartwell delayed vertical suplex on Dolan was impressive. Cora Jade had a couple of pin attempts on LeRae, but they came to nothing. Indi Hartwell came in and finished her off.
Kay Lee Ray def. Jinny
Xia Brookside wants to know what Nina Samuels’ problem is. Whatever it is, she sent her a warning that she’s not going to take any more. Samuels is going to find out exactly what a Brookside is capable of.
Kay Lee Ray (C) vs Jinny, with Joseph Connors – NXT UK Women’s Championship
Kay Lee Ray has been champion for 509 days. The show wasn’t taping for a few months of that, but still. Piper Nicen was watching on one of the little virtual audience screens they’ve installed, so were Dani Luna, and Amale.
Kay Lee Ray tweaked her knee mid-match, just before they cut to a Royal Rumble advert and just after Joseph Connors had distracted her for the first time. It gave Jinny a run of momentum which was halted by a superkick from Ray. The ref nearly counted them both down from that, it took both until eight to get to their feet.
Jinny spent a long time in a Koji clutch and only got out by shifting her weight so Ray’s shoulders were down. Connors got on the apron when Ray had Jinny up for a Gory Bomb and Jinny kneed Ray in the stomach and connected with the Makeover. Connors completely unnecessarily held Ray’s legs down, but the ref spotted him and kicked him out.
He tried to leave with the title but Ray went after him and slapped him. Jinny picked the title up and tried to use it, but the ref saw her and grabbed it. Kay Lee Ray grabbed her and the Gory Bomb was all it took for the win.
Asuka & Charlotte Flair def. The Riott Squad
Sasha Banks def. Reginald
Bianca Belair def. Bayley – Obstacle Course Challenge
Asuka & Charlotte Flair vs The Riott Squad
Billie Kay accompanied Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott to the ring. They still don’t look happy about it. She made herself useful by distracting Flair, and accidentally more useful when Flair grabbed her by the hair, meaning she didn’t see Morgan’s dropkick coming.
In all honesty, it would have been a better match without Kay’s input, especially as she cost her team the match. Ruby Riott had Asuka down and it could have been a three if Kay wasn’t up on the apron again. As it was Asuka kicked out, hip-attacked Morgan to the floor and kneed Riott in the face. Charlotte Flair finished the job with Natural Selection.
The Riott Squad have shown themselves to be credible challengers, as long as they lose the hanger-on before they get a title match.
Billie Kay tried to make it up to them later by saying she’d got them entered into the Rumble match and making ‘helpful’ suggestions, but it was too late. Ruby Riott told her it was better when the squad was just them. Billie Kay is back on her own again.
Sasha Banks vs Reginald, with Carmella
Sasha Banks demanded this match last week as the condition for giving Carmella a title match. Carmella hung out by commentary drinking champagne and Banks and Reginald tried to have a match where he never hit her or made contact with any offensive moves. Contrary to what was being said on social media, this was not an intergender match.
In fairness, they did a great job, with Reginald using acrobatics to evade her, taking some shots, and Banks getting free before he could deliver anything whenever he caught her. He was a fabulous base for Banks to do some of her more acrobatic moves as well. It was fun and they didn’t drag it out too long. Reginald tapped in the Bank Statement and Sasha Banks threw him out to Carmella when she was done with him.
Bayley vs Bianca Belair – Ultimate Athlete Obstacle Course Challenge
It was an extremely simple obstacle course. A tyre flip on the stage then a ringside length of tiny hurdles. Three wooden walls to get over, the biggest with a rope to help. A Firemans carry on Chad Gable for a few metres. Then put a basketball through a hoop to stop the clock.
Bayley went first. She went around the walls and took two attempts to put the basketball through the hoop and came in a 1.12 on the clock.
Before Belair could start, Bayley said she had to EST the course up for her, and replaced the tiny hurdles with big ones. Belair had no trouble with them and also went over the walls Bayley went round. Gable switched himself out for Otis, and Belair carried him with no obvious trouble. Finally, she encouraged Bayley to try to mark her with the basketball. She still beat her with 17 seconds to spare.
Bayley is a sore loser. She threw the basketball into Belair’s stomach and beat her down, throwing her into the basketball net pole so hard it fell over.
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.