Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. Two title matches and a smattering of non-title feuds on the agenda this week. We’re only a few weeks out from SummerSlam and TakeOver, so all brands are getting their builds in place for that as much as they can in this ‘everything is subject to change’ environment.
Nia Jax vs Shayna Baszler – Double Count Out
Sasha Banks def. Asuka
Nia Jax came out to the ring at the end of Randy Orton’s opening soliloquy. She wants to be RAW Women’s Champion and feels like she was screwed out of her opportunity. It sounded like she was about to challenge the winner of Sasha Banks versus Asuka, but she got interrupted by Shayna Baszler before she had a chance. Baszler told Jax no one gives a damn what she wants, and Nia Jax smacked her in the face. They had a fairly tame brawl until officials arrived to separate them. A match was set for later in the show.
Nia Jax vs Shayna Baszler
Officially, this lasted less than a minute. They got counted out while brawling on the outside. It didn’t make the slightest difference, they just carried on fighting. Security tried to break them up, but they threw them around as well. Baszler put one security in a Kirifuda Clutch briefly. Jax shoved an official into Baszler and ripped his shirt off before kicking him out of the ring. Baszler tried to get back into the ring while being held back by two officials, but Jax knocked her back down.
After the show, it was announced Nia Jax had been fined for putting her hands on officials. Jax then deactivated her Twitter account. Baszler doesn’t appear to have been fined and apparently had a match with Ruby Riott on Main Event. I miss Main Event. They don’t show it in the UK anymore but they always had a few good matches fly under the radar.
Ruby Riott and Bianca Belair were shown backstage talking to Mark Henry. Sadly, we didn’t get to hear the conversation.
Asuka vs Sasha Banks – RAW Women’s Championship match
We couldn’t get the title match without a diatribe from Banks and Bayley. Sasha Banks said Stephanie McMahon is a bully who was forcing her to defend her title because she’s jealous of her and Bayley. Apparently, they run the whole damned company now… which is a contradiction in itself, even ignoring the fact Banks isn’t officially champion. Bayley went over why she was absolutely only doing what anyone would have done when she stole the ref’s shirt off and counted the pin herself.
Kairi Sane accompanied Asuka to the ring, so she clearly hadn’t left by that point, but the match was probably taped last week. She chased Bayley off backstage before things got underway. Just as well as the rules set by Stephanie McMahon stated that the title could be won or lost on a Pinfall, Submission, Count Out, or Disqualification.
Banks didn’t wait long to start cheating. First, she tried to walk away with the title, claiming she was disrespected (by Asuka kicking her out of the ring) and was taking her title. When the ref started counting her out, she threw the tag belt into the ring and waited for the ref to pick it up and turn away before she got into the ring with the RAW title. Instead of hitting Asuka with it, she threw it to her and fell to the floor clutching her face. The ref saw her and Asuka laid her out with a kick to the side of the head going into a break. Not the ultra-confident actions of someone who believes they are genuinely the best.
The match was great, but yet again the finish was bad. Asuka had just landed a dropkick on a frustrated Sasha Banks and was seconds away from an Asuka Lock that would have secured her victory. Sasha Banks had nothing left and was barely responsive, especially after Asuka followed it up with a kick in the face and a suplex. The big screen came on showing Bayley beating the hell out of Kairi Sane backstage. Once Sane started screaming for Asuka, Asuka let got of Banks and ran off to help her best friend. She got counted out and Sasha Banks won the title while semi-conscious and alone in the middle of the ring. Bayley left Sane to celebrate with her.
Backstage, after a break, Charly Caruso was waiting outside the trainer’s room for an update on Kairi Sane. Bayley and Sasha Banks ran over and gloated about their victory, but they’d gone by the time Asuka came out, crying. Caruso asked if there was any news and Asuka screamed a lot and shouted in Japanese.
Kairi Sane sent two tweets (one, two) while the show was still on air, confirming that her time with WWE is over. Her Mae Young Classic and NXT runs were immense, but she was much underutilised on the main roster. It’s a big loss for the RAW roster and for WWE in general. She was always a pleasure to watch and will be greatly missed. I’m a little cross that she didn’t get a farewell of any kind, not even a mention of her leaving. Being knocked unconscious and inadvertently costing her best friend the title is a bit of a crappy exit. I know WWE don’t usually mention people who are leaving, but she stayed to the end of her contract and appears to be leaving on good terms. No harm would have been done if they’d said she’d decided to go home having recently married. She took some criticism for the timing of her farewell tweets though.
Io Shirai & Tegan Nox def. Dakota Kai & Candice LeRae
Mercedes Martinez def. Shotzi Blackheart
I’m sure that last week it looked like Io Shirai and Dakota Kai would have a one on one match this week. That was not what we got.
Io Shirai & Tegan Nox vs Dakota Kai & Candice LeRae
This was the first match of the night and started with Dakota Kai attacking Io Shirai as soon as Shirai got to the stage. Tegan Nox and Candice LeRae ran to help their partners, and they brawled their way to the ring for the start of the match proper. For thrown together teams, they all worked pretty well together, which they should because some combination of the four of them have shared a ring many, many, times.
That sounds like a complaint. It wasn’t. The match was highly entertaining (entertaining being the only metric by which I’m judging wrestling these days). The fact they’ve fought each other a hundred times just means they do stuff they wouldn’t do in an opponent they don’t understand so well, and it mostly makes it all both smooth and brutal.
It was teamwork that sealed it for Shirai and Nox. While the ref was talking to Shirai and Kai after Shirai’s suicide dive, Tegan Nox snuck into the ring and reacquainted LeRae with the Shiniest Wizard. Shirai got back into the ring and delivered a moonsault to LeRae for the pin.
After LeRae got pinned, Dakota Kai walked out without even checking on her partner.
I know the ‘is she a heel or a face’ debate is passé, but this match did bring it up as a question. Shirai got the championship after turning on everyone and becoming ruthless and merciless. But there isn’t a bigger babyface than Tegan Nox and teaming her with Shirai is weird. Ok, I get the whole ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ deal. Tegan Nox has had issues with Kai and LeRae and so has Shirai. I also get the fact Nox and Shirai earned each other’s respect when they fought. But one of Io Shirai’s main points in her pre-match promo against Nox was that Tegan Nox’ need for friends and allies made her weaker, and post-match this week they were all hugs and smiles.
Later in the show, the end of Dakota Kai’s backstage interview was interrupted by Rhea Ripley. Kai had just declared herself number one contender for Shirai’s title because she’s sick of jumping through hoops. Ripley took issue with that. She believes she’s next for Io Shirai. Kai said they’d see what Mr Regal said. Ripley told her to go talk to him. I guess she did because they have a number one contender’s match next week.
Rhea Ripley has a new look, very blond hair. I liked her old look, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Mercedes Martinez
After Shotzi Blackheart ran Robert Stone over with her tank twice in recent weeks, “injuring” both his legs, it’s no surprise that her next opponent was Stone’s newest client. Blackheart screams ‘Welcome to the ball pit’ a lot, which inevitably makes me want to see a wrestling match in a ball pit. Someone must have done it at least once.
The blue light and heavy music gravitas of Mercedes Martinez’ entrance is somewhat diluted by Aliyah and Robert Stone trailing after her. It took mere seconds for Stone and Aliyah to use trash-talking Blackheart to distract her while Martinez came up behind her.
Shotzi Blackheart put up a good enough fight for Stone and Aliyah to look extremely worried. The end came after Martinez suplexed Blackheart off the turnbuckle then drove her into the mat from her shoulders.
I’ve been quite enjoying these ‘best of’ and ‘superstar picks’ shows, but they’re dragging now. NXT UK haven’t had enough great matches to sustain an entire run of best of shows. Isla Dawn introduced her match against Xia Brookside from January 2019.
Dani Luna had a promo to say she understands people might have no faith in her ability to back up her claims of being special, because she hasn’t managed it in NXT UK yet, but she’s going to prove it.
Naomi def. Lacey Evans
Bayley def. Nikki Cross
Lacey Evans vs Naomi
Before the match, Lacey Evans said she beat Naomi last time and she beat her at karaoke, but we started a hashtag saying she deserves better anyway. If we’re all so determined to feel sorry for Naomi, then she’ll give us reason to.
I did look like that might be the case in the early going. Evans was dominant and vicious. After bouncing Naomi’s head off the ringpost, Evans trapped her hair between the two parts of the steps and tried to take a count-out victory. That was the beginning of Naomi’s comeback and the beginning of the end for Evans. There was a strange thing from Naomi on the outside that looked a bit off, and Evans tried to tie Naomi’s hair up in the ropes again, but Naomi got the win with a backslide.
I think Lacey Evans is obsessed with Naomi’s hair. She’s always trying to tie it up or trap it or grab at it.
Sonya Deville appeared from the shadows after Mandy Rose and Otis had been talking. She attacked Rose a few minute’s later while she was doing her makeup. Deville smeared red lipstick over her face and cut off chunks of her hair, but she was stopped before she could use the clippers she found. She kept screaming that Mandy Rose had ruined her life.
Kayla Braxton reported on the attack a few minutes after we watched it live, which was beyond weird. She got interrupted by Miz and Morrison to make bad puns until they got chased away by Tucker.
Bayley (C) vs Nikki Cross – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
I wanted a Nikki Cross victory in this. But most of all I just didn’t want Alexa Bliss to be the one to cost Cross the win. The match got the main event slot, as it should have. Bliss and Sasha Banks accompanied their partners to the ring.
It was a very good match, but more than slightly diminished by the fact we only saw them fight at Extreme Rules. Sasha Banks tried to slip Bayley her BOSS ring again, but Cross found it and threw it back at her. Bayley stood on the announce desk to mock Cross’ dancing, but got pulled down and driven into the barricades by Cross. Banks got up on the apron but got dragged down by Bliss and dropkicked by Cross.
Nikki Cross had so many pin attempts I lost count, but Bayley planted her face-first into the canvas and got the win.
After Bayley and Sasha Banks left, Alexa Bliss tried to comfort Cross but Nikki Cross shoved her over and walked out. The lights went out then came back on red and The Fiend was stood behind Bliss. He walked around her then got in close and locked in the mandible claw. And that was how SmackDown ended.
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.