Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It’s quite a long column this week, what with a Royal Rumble to deal with and NXT having three matches. RAW had two as well. It’s nice to have a column that is composed of reporting rather than ranting. I feel like there has been a lot of ranting recently.
Natalya joined the Kickoff panel to talk about the Rumble match. Only seven women, including Natalya, had declared their entry by twenty minutes into the Kickoff show.
Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville had a pre-rumble interview. Sonya Deville said if it came down to the two of them at the end of the rumble, she would throw herself over the rope and let her partner take the win. Mandy Rose seemed ok with that.
Women’s Royal Rumble match
These matches are fun to watch, but a hell-beast to cover. Observations and highlights below followed by entries and exits in table form for ease of viewing. It’s the best I can do.
Alexa Bliss was number one and Bianca Belair number two. They were both still in when Molly Holly, as Mighty Molly, joined them. In fact, there were no eliminations until Nikki Cross, Lana, Mercedes Martinez, and Liv Morgan were also in the match.
Mercedes Martinez is getting a lot of hype since she signed her contract. She deserves it, I’m excited to see how she’s used. Candice LeRae made a beeline for her when she arrived, so that has potential as an opening feud.
Liv Morgan eliminated Lana with her first action of the match, for the first elimination of the night. Lana then returned the favour almost immediately and they had to be separated by officials.
Mandy Rose was saved from elimination when she fell on Otis. She stood on him to get back in. Otis was involved, inadvertently in her elimination as well. He caught her when Sonya Deville accidentally knocked her off the apron, but Belair threw Deville out as well and she landed on Rose and Otis sending them crashing to the floor. As a result, Mandy Rose’s elimination was also credited to Bianca Belair because before Deville landed on them, courtesy of Belair, Rose could have returned to the ring.
Bianca Belair used Alexa Bliss to knock Nikki Cross off the apron. Bliss only kept herself in by holding onto Belair’s hair.
Just after the halfway point it was back to Bliss and Belair, who started one and two. Bianca Belair got a few moments in an empty ring to catch her breath after eliminating Bliss. She needed it because Charlotte Flair was the next one out (number seventeen).
The numbers started to build again. with the addition of Naomi and Beth Phoenix at eighteen and nineteen, and Toni Storm at twenty.
Beth Phoenix ended up bleeding copiously from the back of her head as a result of… actually, I’m not sure. I’ve watched it twice and it looks like either a kick from Belair just before she went out, or an elbow from Charlotte Flair. I guess it doesn’t matter how, but her hair gradually turned red as the match went on.
Bianca Belair lasted 33.20 and eliminated eight people before Charlotte Flair knocked her out of the ring.
Naomi did the Kofi style acrobatics to avoid her feet touching the floor she ended up using the cover of the commentary desk as a bridge to get back in, but she was out of the match for ages. However, she did get one of the biggest pops of the match so hopefully she felt welcomed back. When she got back in she was almost immediately throw out by Shayna Baszler.
Santina Marella was the biggest surprise of the night, and found herself between Beth Phoenix and Natalya. She got the cobra out and neither of them flinched, so she cobra’d and eliminated herself without anyone else getting involved. These few moments divided social media. Yes, the place could have gone to anyone of the deserving women who didn’t make the cut. But it was a long match and this was a thirty-second call back comedy moment. It was funny.
Shayna Baszler, Beth Phoenix and Charlotte Flair were the final three after Beth Phoenix got some payback on Natalya for eliminating her last time, it went fast after that. Baszler threw Phoenix out and nearly got Flair out, but Charlotte Flair dragged her over the top rope with her legs to secure the victory.
Bianca Belair got eight eliminations. Shayna Baszler got eight. Charlotte Flair got four. I was hoping Belair would take the accolade alone, but it wasn’t to be. Bianca Belair did get the longest time in the match though. I think Charlotte Flair was closest with 27.19.
|Women’s Royal Rumble Entrance Order 2020
|1 – Alexa Bliss
|11 – Kairi Sane
|21 – Kelly Kelly
|2 – Bianca Belair
|12- Mia Yim
|22 – Sarah Logan
|3 – Molly Holly (Mighty Molly)
|13 – Dana Brooke
|23 – Natalya
|4 – Nikki Cross
|14 – Tamina
|24 – Xia Li
|5 – Lana
|15 – Dakota Kai
|25 – Zelina Vega
|6 – Mercedes Martinez
|16 – Chelsea Green
|26 – Shotzi Blackheart
|7 – Liv Morgan
|17 – Charlotte Flair
|27 – Carmella
|8 – Mandy Rose
|18 – Naomi
|28 – Tegan Nox
|9 – Candice LeRae
|19 – Beth Phoenix
|29 – Santina Marella
|10 – Sonya Deville
|20 – Toni Storm
|30 – Shayna Baszler
|Women’s Royal Rumble Exit Order 2020
|Lana by Liv Morgan
|Mia Yim by Alexa Bliss
|Tegan Nox by Shayna Baszler
|Liv Morgan by Lana
|Dakota Kai by Chelsea Green
|Zelina Vega by Shayna Baszler
|Molly Holly by Bianca Belair
|Chelsea Green by Alexa Bliss
|Shotzi Blackheart by Shayna Baszler
|Mercedes Martinez by Fire & Desire
|Dana Brooke by Bianca Belair
|Carmella by Shayna Baszler
|Nikki Cross by Bianca Belair
|Alexa Bliss by Bianca Belair
|Toni Storm by Shayna Baszler
|Mandy Rose by Bianca Belair
|Bianca Belair by Charlotte Flair
|Naomi by Shayna Baszler
|Sonya Deville by Bianca Belair
|Sarah Logan by Charlotte Flair
|Natalya by Beth Phoenix
|Candice LeRae by Bianca Belair
|Kelly Kelly by Charlotte Flair
|Beth Phoenix by Shayna Baszler
|Kairi Sane by Alexa Bliss
|Santina Marella by herself
|Shayna Baszler by Charlotte Flair.
|Tamina by Bianca Belair
|Xia Li by Shayna Baszler
Bayley (C) vs Lacey Evans – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
This was on straight after the women’s rumble match and the crowd were still fatigued, so they gave it no energy. Lacey Evans still isn’t ready to be in this position, but she’s a whole lot closer than she was. It genuinely wasn’t a bad match, but it wasn’t amazing either.
Bayley tried to cheat early on but didn’t manage to remove the turnbuckle pad. She then faked an injury to get Evans backed off. The match plodded along with one brief excursion to the outside where Lacey Evans was thrown into the barricade in front of her daughter. The finish came after Bayley got her legs up to meet Evans’ moonsault from the top. Bayley just folded her up with a handful of tights and got the pin.
The fact Sasha Banks wasn’t on the PPV, either in the Rumble match or with Bayley, was not explained or even mentioned, but it sounds like she’s injured and was not cleared to compete.
Becky Lynch (C) vs Asuka, with Kairi Sane – RAW Women’s Championship match
I’ll go out on a limb to say that the build to this match has been one of the strongest storylines the women’s division have had for a while. Sadly, that’s a low bar, but still. Becky Lynch asking herself if she can really be The Man if she can’t overcome her nemesis. Asuka, I think, just trying to prove she’s the best. It was last week that Lynch decided Asuka couldn’t beat her, and that’s the attitude she brought into the match.
There were points in the match where it looked like she was starting to doubt herself again, when Asuka was firmly in control and thwarting every attempt at a comeback, but she kept getting back up and trying again.
Asuka took a nasty fall to the outside, face-first after being dropped by Lynch. Becky Lynch followed that with a dropkick and a Bex-ploder into the barricade, but even after all that and a leg drop, Asuka kicked out.
Becky Lynch got caught in the Asuka Lock and barely made it to the ropes. Asuka took her frustration at Lynch’s escape out on her with a suplex and a series of kicks that left Lynch motionless on the canvas. The ref backed her off to check on Lynch and it looked like he might stop the match. Lynch grabbed his leg to stop him and Asuka kicked her in the face again until she stopped moving. She still kicked out though.
Asuka pushed Lynch into the ref in preparation to use the green mist, but Becky Lynch kicked her in the stomach and the mist sprayed into the air, mostly landing on Asuka. Keeping her face down, so her green face wasn’t questioned, Lynch locked in a Dis-Arm-Her and Asuka tapped out.
Charlotte Flair def. Asuka
Liv Morgan def. Lana
Charly Caruso asked Becky Lynch if the victory over Asuka accomplished what she thought it was going to. Lynch said it did something better. She’s been wandering around for the last few months doubting herself and wondering what kind of champion she is. After she collected on that final debt something profound happened. She came back and iced up and she looked at her title. Then it hit her, she really is in a whole different league to the rest of them dopes. The next head she wants to slap is her own for even beginning to doubt how good she is. She’s called every shot. She told the world what she was going to achieve, and she told the whole locker room who she was going to beat. Look up and down her record, she has beaten them all. She is the champion who has beaten them all. So now everyone who has done her wrong has been collected on, the next arse she beats will be because she wants to not because she feels like she has to.
Caruso asked about the possibility of Charlotte Flair picking Lynch to challenge at WrestleMania. Lynch said it wouldn’t be the first time, but it will damned well be the last time. Then she turned around to show off the goat on the back of her jacket and walked away.
Charlotte Flair came to the ring to brag about her achievements and show the footage of her victory. Theoretically, she was there to announce who she will face at WrestleMania, but she’s still thinking about it.
The Kabuki Warriors came out and Asuka congratulated Flair, disingenuously of course. When they got into the ring Asuka said that if she’d been in the match she would have won. Flair asked if Asuka was challenging her. Asuka and Kairi Sane attacked her instead of responding.
Charlotte Flair vs Asuka
Of course, by the time we got back from a break, there was a match. For once, this was given enough time to be great. And it was. Another thing I appreciated was that Kairi Sane stayed out of it until the very end. I’d have preferred her to stay out of it completely, but it was better than nothing. As it was, she caused a DQ by delivering an InSane Elbow to Charlotte Flair while Flair had Asuka locked in the Figure Eight. I generally prefer clean finishes, but realistically there was no way for either of them to take a clean loss here. You don’t have the Royal Rumble winner lose the next night, and it wouldn’t look great for Asuka to lose to both Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair within 24 hours. It was still a really good match.
After the DQ, Sane pounded on Flair while holding her by the hair, until Flair flung her into the corner and gave her a big boot to the face.
Kelly Kelly joined Street Profits for their backstage segment. She and Angelo Dawkins had a bit of a flirt.
Liv Morgan vs Lana
It was interesting to see Liv Morgan back in action in a single’s match. Her new attitude and look have come with a more aggressive in-ring style, and it suits her. She’s got so much charisma and personality, she has the potential to work her way up through the roster. Lana still looks clunky in places, and she talks way too much. This wasn’t a long match. Liv Morgan finished it with a flatliner off the ropes.
Shotzi Blackheart def. Deonna Purrazzo
Tegan Nox def. Dakota Kai
Kayden Carter def. Chelsea Green
Shotzi Blackheart vs Deonna Purrazzo
Shotzi Blackheart arrived and left in a miniature tank. I really like Deonna Purrazzo. I was fully expecting her to join up with the Robert Stone Brand alongside Chelsea Green, especially as she and Green tagged on the NXT live circuit. She may still, I guess, but it was good to see her on NXT tv anyway.
Not the longest of matches, but good for what it was. Shotzi Blackheart picked up the win with a senton from the top turnbuckle.
Tegan Nox vs Dakota Kai
The feud between Dakota Kai and Tegan Nox has been vicious and nasty in the way only best friends turned enemies can be. Kai highlighted this with her choice of entrance video, the footage of her attacking Nox at WarGames, complete with sound. It didn’t work in her favour, it just a visual reminder to Nox of why she wanted to hurt Kai so much.
That was the tone of the match. They weren’t there to find out who was the best wrestler, they were there to hurt each other. Nox started the match by throwing her knee brace at Kai’s head, and the fight amped up from there.
They took a trip to the outside and went off through the crowd for a while, bouncing each other off various fixtures and fittings, but they got back to the ring before they could be counted out.
Dakota Kai countered Nox’ attempted suicide dive with a forearm to the face, leaving Nox hung over the middle rope. She picked up a chair and raised it to bash Nox over the head but Candice LeRae ran in and grabbed the chair out of Kai’s hands then threatened her with it. Kai got back in the ring while the ref was yelling at LeRae and got smacked in the face with the knee brace by Tegan Nox. The ref started paying attention in time for Nox to deliver the Shiniest Wizard and make the pin.
Chelsea Green, with Robert Stone, vs Kayden Carter
Commentary have repeatedly made a point of mentioning the fact Kayden Carter hasn’t won a match. They always say what a ‘great showing’ she’s had, but she’s lost to some of the best in the division.
With this being Chelsea Green’s official debut, it looked very much like that was going to stay the case. Green dominated the early parts of the match. Carter got some time in charge and a few pin attempts as well. Then Green took over again to work to the finish. All well done and entertaining, but predictable. Except that’s not how it played out. Chelsea Green knocked Carter down with a big boot and took a few moments to gloat. When she reached down to pick Carter up, Kayden Carter dragged her shoulders to the mat and kept them there to secure her first win.
Sensibly, Carter got out of the ring quickly and listened to Green screaming at her from halfway up the ramp.
Isla Dawn def. Nina Samuels
Nina Samuels vs Isla Dawn
These women have been on NXT UK for ages and they’ve done nothing to make them interesting. As a result, I found it hard to invest. To be honest, the match didn’t help. It wasn’t bad, it was just kind of there. If either of them are in line to challenge Kay Lee Ray then NXT UK have a lot of work to do to build them. Isla Dawn won this one with a suplex.
I feel bad for being so negative. I’m trying to invest in the NXT UK women’s division. I think Kay Lee Ray is a great champion. Piper Niven and possibly Jinny are credible challengers, but Niven just had her shot. Then there is a huge gap to everyone else. It’s not a talent issue, it’s a screen time and showing us character development issue.
Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross def. Fire & Desire
Fire & Desire vs Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross.
Before the match, as part of their ongoing storyline, Otis asked Mandy Rose out for next Friday. She told him she had plans and he looked crushed, then she told him she was free the following Friday (Valentines Day), so they have a date. Wouldn’t it be nice if this was just a sweet little story about people liking each other? For some reason, I don’t trust WWE’s intentions.
Fire & Desire didn’t wait for the bell, they attacked Bliss and Cross to start a quick pre-match brawl. Nikki Cross remains the most wholesome and entertaining woman on the roster. I really like her and Bliss together, they look like they’re having fun. Good match as well, although not the longest. Nikki Cross put Mandy Rose down with her swinging neckbreaker but tagged in Alexa Bliss to finish the match with Twisted Bliss.
Bayley came to the ring for a chat. She started by complimenting herself a lot. In amongst it, she mentioned it was Lacey Evans who injured Sasha Banks and caused her to miss the Royal Rumble (storyline presumably). She also talked more about Evans not being a good role model for her daughter, because she’s a loser. I’m still not keen on bringing the kid into it for heat.
Anyway, the purpose of her visit was to call Charlotte Flair out so Flair could challenge her for WrestleMania. She got Naomi instead… with an LED disco ball on her head. That was weird, but it’s excellent to see Naomi back on SmackDown, she’s needed.
Naomi talked about Bayley trash-talking about having beaten everyone, but Bayley’s never beaten her. Bayley attacked her while she was making her intent to challenge her clear. Naomi got back up from the flurry of punches and kicked Bayley out of the ring.
Personally, I’d love to see Naomi win the title again.
That’s it for what turned out to be a bumper 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.