Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. NXT TakeOver: In Your House kicked off the week. Meanwhile, the main roster was busy building to Sunday’s Backlash.
NXT TakeOver: In Your House
Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, & Raquel Gonzalez
Io Shirai def. Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley
I did the NXT TakeOver: In Your House Review for this site, so the reviews below are pasted from there. You can find the full review here.
Mia Yim, Tegan Nox, & Shotzi Blackheart vs Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, & Raquel Gonzalez
They like to start TakeOvers with a high energy match and this six-woman tag definitely qualified.
There was a sequence in the middle of the match with bodies flying everywhere. Gonzalez caught Blackheart’s suicide dive but was knocked down by a flying Mia Yim along with Dakota Kai. Candice LeRae threw herself onto Blackheart, Kai and Yim, and Nox took out everyone from the top turnbuckle. It didn’t get any kind of result, but it was fun.
Dakota Kai knocked Gonzalez off the apron, despite having been warned to be careful when she’d almost kicked her in the face moments before. She actually did kick her in the face later in the match, after Shotzi Blackheart pulled Tegan Nox out of the way. By that time it had become a four-woman tag because Mia Yim and Candice LeRae had fought their way backstage.
Nox and Blackheart kicked Gonzalez out of the ring, then Tegan Nox got the pin with the Shiniest Wizard on Dakota Kai.
Charlotte Flair (C) vs Rhea Ripley vs Io Shirai
When they say the NXT women’s division is the best in the world, this is a big part of why.
Charlotte Flair left the ring to Io Shirai and Rhea Ripley to get things started, and answered the crowd chants of, ‘You don’t go here’, with, ‘I made here’. She didn’t stay out for long, she just wanted to attack Ripley from behind while she was focused on Shirai.
Flair took Ripley out for a while by launching her into the barricade, then she smashed Shirai against the ringpost and threw her into Ripley as well. In true triple-threat style, any momentum was immediately halted, and every possible finisher was either broken up or kicked out of.
Things got out of hand when they fought their way up to the stage. Flair threw Shirai through the set window. Ripley threw a plant pot at Flair. And Io Shirai jumped from the top of the set to take both her competitors out. It looked like Charlotte Flair might have taken an accidental knee to the face in the process.
Ripley prevented Shirai’s frankensteiner, and Flair kicked Shirai in the stomach. She fell out of the ring but made it back in time to stop Ripley’s Riptide from the second turnbuckle ending the match.
Charlotte Flair brought a kendo stick into the match and Shirai ended up outside the ring again. This time Flair put Ripley in a Figure Eight after a spear, but before she could make her tap, Shirai landed a moonsault on the entangled Ripley and got the pin before Flair could let go.
Io Shirai is the new NXT Women’s Champion. She celebrated in a ring full of confetti and streamers.
Asuka & Charlotte Flair def. The IIconics and Sasha Banks & Bayley
Charlotte Flair def. Asuka
Asuka vs Charlotte Flair was due to kick off RAW this week, but that’s not what happened. Asuka made her entrance but Sasha Banks and Bayley joined her instead of Charlotte Flair. Bayley was a little upset at the boos from the Performance Center and NXT crowd. She and Banks said everyone should be grateful that they’re gracing them with their presence and talked about winning the tag titles again.
Asuka said it was her ring and she doesn’t want to talk she wants to fight. Bayley said she knows it’s normally Asuka’s ring but as the women’s tag champions they’re allowed to go to any brand they want, so she needs to back up, shut up and get out.
That was as far as she got before Charlotte Flair made an appearance. She said Bayley and Banks were just like her, going from brand to brand to brand, but good luck keeping up with her stamina. And she told them to make their ‘victory lap’ quick before someone swoops the titles off them. Enjoy the attention and the spotlight but make it quick because she and Asuka have a match and that’s what people really want to see.
The IIconics joined them then. They said the match everyone wants to see isn’t happening tonight, it’s happening at Backlash. Bayley and Sasha Banks will defend their titles against Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross and The IIconics.
Banks and Bayley exchanged insults with Flair and it broke down. Banks and Bayley attacked Flair, The IIconics attacked Asuka, the Asuka and Flair cleared the ring. Guess what happened next.
Asuka & Charlotte Flair vs Sasha Banks & Bayley vs The IIconics
They didn’t cancel Asuka and Charlotte Flair’s scheduled match, they just moved it to later and made them team for this one. It was a decent match, but Asuka and Flair were the bigger part of the story. It took them a while to get into the match with the two teams in at a time format, but when they did they struggled to work as a team. Flair tagged herself in on Billie Kay and refused to tag Asuka in when she called for it. Asuka tagged herself in Flair when Flair rebounded off the ropes. Flair returned the favour but, in fairness, Asuka looked like she needed the tag. They went back and forth with the tags another three times with the final one being Asuka tagging herself in as Flair went up for a moonsault, and tapping out Billie Kay with an Asuka lock.
Charlotte Flair launched herself onto Asuka during their celebrations and reminded her she’s never beaten her.
Later in the show, Flair had a backstage interview. When asked about losing the NXT Women’s Championship the night before, Flair said she didn’t lose, she didn’t get pinned and she didn’t submit. And she accomplished what she set out to do with the NXT title, she elevated that division, she main evented TakeOver and now she’s main eventing RAW.
Asuka danced into shot as Flair was saying Asuka tried to steal her moment earlier. Flair asked her if she ever takes anything seriously. Asuka said, ‘Yes, I do’, and slapped her.
Asuka vs Charlotte Flair
This was the main event of the evening. Sasha Banks and Bayley joined commentary for the first half of the match. They were forced to get out of the way a few minutes in when Charlotte Flair threw Asuka over the announce desk in the lead into a break. The IIconics watched the match from the crowd, behind the plexiglass screens.
Banks and Bayley were ejected after The IIconics attacked them and laid them out, slamming Bayley onto the desk. By that time Asuka had done some damage to Flair’s leg and they’d bounced each other around the ring and into the barricades, but neither had a clear and lasting advantage. Flair had just kicked Asuka from the turnbuckle to the floor, but the distraction gave her a bit of recovery time.
It was a very good match, which was impressive considering it was Flair’s third in just over 24 hours. Asuka may never have beaten Flair, but she’s given her some of her toughest matches. Flair resorted to tactics like smashing Asuka’s knee against the post to try and find the difference.
Of course, this was a go-home show, so we weren’t going to get away with zero interference. Nia Jax came and got up on the apron. Asuka got her back down with a flurry of blows and a hip attack, but turned straight into Flair’s big boot and got pinned. Jax got into the ring and Samoan dropped Asuka while Flair was celebrating.
I generally hate messed up finishes, but I’m happy for it to be a PPV when Asuka finally beats Charlotte Flair.
Candice LeRae & Johnny Gargano def. Mia Yim & Keith Lee
Dakota Kai def. Kacy Catanzaro
Mia Yim & Keith Lee vs Candice LeRae & Johnny Gargano
I was a bit cynical about this one when it started. The two couples are great opponents, but they had a mixed tag last week, LeRae and Yim were part of the six-woman tag at TakeOver and made an appearance in Lee and Gargano’s title match. It felt like overkill and it wouldn’t have been the first time WWE had overdone something to the point of it no longer being fun.
I was wrong. It was fun. There was a lot of synchronised double-teaming, and a few little intergender teases. Honestly, if NXT were ever to go down the intergender route (they almost definitely won’t) then this would be the perfect place to start. It started with Yim getting in Gargano’s face and Candice LeRae trying to square up to Lee. He looked perplexed and just lifted her away, at which point Gargano jumped on him and Yim started scrapping with LeRae. Lee and Yim put the Garganos on their shoulders and bashed them together.
The whole match was a series of nice little details interspersed with some really good wrestling and a few shenanigans. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The closest we got to intergender was Gargano and LeRae double team DDT’ing Lee, Mia Yim laying into, and eventually suplexing, Gargano, and Lee carrying LeRae around as if he might slam her.
The end was chaotic. LeRae and Yim fought at the edge of the ring with LeRae inside and Yim on the apron. Lee Pounced Gargano into LeRae, which knocked Yim to the floor. While Lee was checking on her, Gargano delivered a superkick and One Final Beat and Lee landed on LeRae. He picked her up to get her out of harm’s way and Gargano rolled him up and pinned him, sending his unconscious wife sprawling out of the ring to the floor in the process.
The celebration package for Io Shirai was sweet. She said she will take the title to new heights. This is now her division.
Rhea Ripley’s interview was interrupted by Robert Stone. He wants to be her manager because they’re both losers but together they can be a phoenix rising from the ashes. She said the chances of her joining him were one in a million. He took that to mean there was a chance. He might have got the message when she punched him in the gut and put him in a bin without opening the lid first.
Kacy Catanzaro vs Dakota Kai, with Raquel Gonzalez
Raquel Gonzalez got in Catanzaro’s face before the match in an attempt at intimidation. It didn’t seem to work. I love how fast and springy Catanzaro is. She had Kai trying to catch her for half the match. She didn’t fare too well when Kai did catch her though and got pinned off a GTK.
Post-match, Kai leaned into the camera to say she was coming for Io Shirai’s title, then she and Gonzalez beat up Catanzaro. Kayden Cater ran in to make the save, but Kai and Gonzalez put her down too.
Next week there will be a WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match. Tegan Nox & Shotzi Blackheart face the winners of the triple-threat at Backlash.
This week was another Superstar Pick week on NXT UK. Piper Niven was one of the superstars who got to choose a match, she chose Rhea Ripley vs Toni Storm from the Women’s Championship tournament, where Ripley became the first NXT UK Women’s Champion.
Aoife Valkyrie got a hype package on the show. I’m interested to see what they do with her. I hope they do something.
There wasn’t a women’s division match on SmackDown this week. The women’s division is in limbo a little now Bayley is a tag champ as well. She’ll probably have to defend the SmackDown title at the next PPV, but Backlash has the tag title triple-threat.
To build to the triple-threat, Bayley and Sasha Banks had a celebration of their new WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship titles. There were a lot of balloons. Bayley got upset about the crowd (made up of Performance Center and NXT wrestlers) booing her, and they spent some time congratulating themselves and saying ‘I told you so’.
When Bayley was about to read a poem she wrote for Banks, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross arrived. Banks and Bayley weren’t happy about that either, so the teams yelled at each other off-mic for a moment then The IIconics appeared on the big screen. They said that Banks and Bayley’s tag title reign will be over on Sunday and pointed out they’ve beaten Bliss and Cross recently, and it was they who won the titles from Banks and Bayley last time. As a final piece of advice, they suggested they shouldn’t turn their backs on Bliss and Cross. They were right. As soon as Banks and Bayley turned around, Bliss and Cross smacked them in the face. Sasha Banks was dispatched from the ring quickly, and Bayley followed soon after.
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.