Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. Go-home week for Hell in a Cell for the main roster brands this week, while NXT were dealing with the fallout of TakeOver and NXT UK have a brand-new champion to challenge.
NXT TakeOver: In Your House
Xia Li def. Mercedes Martinez
Raquel Gonzalez def. Ember Moon
This was another great TakeOver, although not as universally well-received as some of the others. As I always do, I reviewed the show for this site, so the following reviews are copied and pasted from there. The full review can be found here and also includes some coverage of the Pre-show and Press Conference.
Mercedes Martinez vs Xia Li, with Tian Sha
It’s a little bit of an odd grudge match. Xia Li had her very first wrestling match against Martinez in the Mae Young Classic. She feels that Martinez humiliated her and has been holding a grudge ever since. Li always does some kind of skills display as part of her entrance, this time she had a big-ass sword.
From what I remember, there was nothing humiliating about Martinez’ treatment of Li in that match, it was simply Li’s first-ever wrestling match and she was facing a veteran. Li is indeed, however, a different competitor now.
They rolled out of the ring within seconds because they were so focused on hurting each other. It was Li’s match for the most part. She worked on Martinez’ damaged ribs and stayed focused. Martinez struggled to find her footing to even defend herself for long periods.
She turned it around when Li put her against the post by avoiding the kick. Li ended up with a damaged shin but, more importantly, Martinez got time to regroup. It evened out a bit, but Li was back on it when she moved from the corner and Martinez crashed in. Li kicked out of a Cliff-hanger but Boa had to pull her out of the ring after she took a knee to the jaw. He faced up to Martinez when she followed but Martinez was ready when Li charged from behind him, and threw her over her head.
Li got the win with a kick to the jaw after struggling free of an attempted air raid crash. Martinez went out like a light.
Boa encouraged her to hit Martinez with a chair afterwards but Martinez kicked her legs out from under it and took the chair. Boa and Li took a couple of chair shots each, then fire raced across the screens as Mei Ying stood. Martinez said she wasn’t scared and met her halfway up the ramp (which, as for recent TakeOvers, was level with the ring). Mei Ying grabbed her by the throat, but Martinez hit her in the stomach with a chair. Mei Ying grabbed her again and threw her off the ramp into the plexiglass barrier.
Raquel Gonzalez (C), with Dakota Kai vs Ember Moon – NXT Women’s Championship match
Ember Moon dedicated the match to her injured tag partner Shotzi Blackheart. I wish Gonzalez had left Kai in the locker room, at least then some of the match would have been a straight one on one. She was there, she was going to interfere.
Moon tried to start fast and catch Gonzalez off guard, but Gonzalez composed herself quickly. It was less than a minute in when Dakota Kai caused her first distraction and lost Moon control of the match.
It took Moon a long time to muster any kind of offence from there, and she took a lot of punishment in the process. When she did, her code red only got her two and her submission was broken when Kai helped Gonzalez reach the ropes. As payback, Moon’s suicide dive sent Gonzalez straight over the announce desk. Dakota Kai distracted Moon on the turnbuckle, which led to her taking a suplex out of the corner.
Ember Moon delivered the modified and full Eclipse with double knees to the face in the middle, and Gonzalez was out of it. Dakota Kai draped Gonzalez’ foot over the ropes. Shotzi Blackheart appeared behind Kai and beat her around the ring and up the ramp. They brawled off backstage. Moon DDT’d Gonzalez on the ramp but took too long to get her back into the ring and she kicked out of the pin.
Raquel Gonzalez caught Moon on the next Eclipse attempt and darted her onto the corner then the Chingona Powerbombed her for the win.
Shotzi Blackheart was still brawling with Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez, with William Regal trying to sort it out, when Johnny Gargano walked past on his way to the ring for the main event.
Nikki Cross def. Charlotte Flair
Eva Marie* def. Naomi – *Piper Niven
Rhea Ripley def. Asuka
Alexa Bliss def. Nia Jax
Alexa Bliss opened RAW from her playground to talk about what happened last week. Interspersed with clips from last week’s episode, she said she’s had a lot of strongly-worded complaints and she gets it because even she was surprised by how far it went. She only had good intentions when she invited Shayna Baszler, but things got a little out of hand. Because of her naughtiness and because WWE are going back on the road, she’s put Lilly in time out. That doesn’t mean Shayna didn’t get what she deserved.
Nia Jax appeared and informed Bliss that Baszler will see her on Sunday at Hell in a Cell, and asked what happened to her. They used to be friends and she knows the real her.
Bliss called the suggestion they were friends a vicious and disgusting allegation. Jax said she’ll have to smack some sense into her and demanded a match. Bliss fake cried and said she didn’t mean to hurt anyone and asked for Jax’ forgiveness, then broke into giggles and said ‘Just kidding’ before she accepted.
Nikki Cross vs Charlotte Flair
Charlotte Flair was still very unhappy about having a loss to Nikki Cross on her record. She’s also very angry about Rhea Ripley having the title when she believes she doesn’t have the maturity. Actually, she’s generally just pretty angry about everything.
Rhea Ripley came out to watch the match a few seconds after it started, and her entrance nearly got Flair pinned. Flair threw Cross into the barricades and taunted Ripley, then kicked Cross’ head into the barricade.
Ripley had settled herself next to commentary by the time we got back from a break and shouted the occasional encouragement to Cross. Cross was mostly getting battered while Flair tried to prove a point to Ripley, who refused to be impressed, but Nikki Cross never gives up. She’s resilient and determined to take any chance however small.
Cross created herself that chance with a tornado DDT that made Flair roll out of the ring. When Cross followed by launching herself off the apron, Flair caught her and stared at Ripley before she suplexed her onto the floor. While Flair faced up to Ripley to gloat, Nikki Cross quietly got herself back in the ring, just before the ref’s ten count. Flair was counted out and Cross owns another victory over the queen.
Flair intercepted Cross leaving with a big boot to the face. She dragged her back into the ring and started pounding on her then went for the Figure Eight. Rhea Ripley dragged her off Cross and gave her a Riptide.
Naomi vs Eva Marie (actually Piper Niven)
That was the announced match, which was a horrible thing to do to Naomi, but it’s not what we got. When Eva Marie arrived, she wasn’t alone, and she wasn’t the one getting in the ring.
Piper Niven was Eva Marie’s muscle for the match. I got a bit ranty in the RAW review I do for another site about Corey Graves and Byron Saxton apparently having no idea who 12-year veteran, Mae Young Classic Quarterfinalist, three years on the NXT UK roster, Piper Niven was. I know it means they’re probably changing her name and haven’t finalised it yet, but it just feels so disrespectful. They spent the entire sub-two-minute match pretending they had no clue who was in the ring.
Speaking of disrespectful, that’s no way to treat Naomi. The woman is a former champion. Give me Piper Niven versus Naomi properly and I will bite your hand off, but that was just so many kinds of disrespect and poor treatment. It was a squash by any other name, Naomi got nothing but a few early punches, finished with the Michinoku Driver Niven has been using forever that still didn’t jog Corey Graves memory.
Eva Marie claimed the victory for herself, which makes sense as Piper Niven wasn’t given a name.
On Friday the speculation increased that Piper Niven’s new name will be Doudrop. That’s clearly a terrible name and an awful thing to do to anyone, but at that point, it wasn’t confirmed so I was still hoping it was a work. If it isn’t, maybe it’s temporary.
Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke got into a confrontation with Natalya and Tamina. They started by asking them to keep their training noise down while they were having a photoshoot. It turned into nasty insults on both sides. Natalya and Tamina went for accusing Brooke and Rose of being image-focused instead of wrestling focused. Brooke and Rose suggested Natalya and Tamina only got where they are because of their last names. Inevitably, it ended in a brawl and they had to be separated by officials.
Before her match against Asuka, Rhea Ripley told Sarah Schreiber that Charlotte Flair is the delusional one. She thinks she’s better than Ripely in every way, but she clearly can’t control herself when she’s around. Instead of focusing on their title match, she’s busy trying to mend her bruised ego. It’s kind of funny watching someone so powerful crumble. She’s going to send Flair to the back of the line when she beats her on Sunday.
Rhea Ripley vs Asuka
Asuka is a strange warmup match by anyone’s standards. Iron sharpens iron, I guess, and having an opponent you’re familiar with has got to be a good thing. They should be familiar with each other. It’s the eighth time they’ve shared a ring since Ripley main roster debut in March as Asuka’s tag partner (they’ve been opponents every other time).
Great match, as you’d expect. Asuka is still at the top of her game and Ripley is on the kind of form you need to be in to face Charlotte Flair at Hell in a Cell. The champion finished it with the Riptide.
Charlotte Flair attacked Ripley from behind after the match and they fought. A proper pre-PPV pull-apart brawl, and a vicious one at that. Flair got her nose bloodied and the ring filled with officials to try to keep them apart. Flair was unhinged, screaming and flying at Ripley despite being held back by several large men. She elbowed Adam Pearce in the chest and yelled, ‘Let’s go, bitch’ at Ripley. Rhea Ripley slipped past her officials and kicked her in the face. Charlotte Flair was still trying to get back to her.
Alexa Bliss vs Nia Jax
Nia Jax looked apprehensive as she came to the ring. She was alone as well. Alexa Bliss has changed huge chunks of her in-ring style to match her new character. Everything from moves to the way she carries herself and moves around the ring.
Reginald appeared mid-match and distracted Bliss, but it didn’t pay for Jax. It made Bliss so angry she spiked Jax’ face into the match and delivered Twisted Bliss. That would have been the finish if Reginald hadn’t invaded the ring and picked her up, causing the disqualification.
Instead of attacking him, Alexa Bliss displayed a new talent. She stared at him and slowly tilted her head side to side. Reginald followed the movement, apparently hypnotised. We have no idea what Bliss would have done with him fully under her spell because she had to run away from Nia Jax.
On Friday, it was confirmed by multiple sources that Becky Lynch had been at the Performance Center as part of her return process.
Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai def. Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter
NXT TakeOver: In Your House ended with the suggestion William Regal may have been finished as General Manager. Happily, that didn’t happen. William Regal is far and away the best GM anywhere in WWE and his departure would have been very sad. What actually happened was Samoa Joe turned up, turned down the GM role when Regal offered it to him, and offered himself as Mr Regal’s enforcer. I’m indescribably happy to see Samoa Joe back in NXT and I can’t wait for the inevitable shenanigans. He’s not allowed to touch anyone unless provoked. Within half an hour he’d put Adam Cole to sleep with a Coquina Clutch. I think the women’s division are safe from that though…
It was also announced this week that the July 6th episode of NXT will be The Great American Bash.
Franky Money, and Presley, announced that she’ll be having a match next week. After her interview, she went over to talk to Aliyah and Jessi Kamea, telling them she thinks they’d have won their (dark) match at TakeOver if it hadn’t been for Robert Stone. When Stone joined them, she changed her spiel and told him she was telling them they should listen to him more.
Mercedes Martine admits she felt the wrath of Tian Sha at TakeOver, but she’s the wrong person to mess with and she’s not going anywhere. She’s one and one with Xia Li and ready to go again anytime. She’s also happy to take out Mei Ying and Boa if they mess with her.
Raquel Gonzalez and Dakota Kai told McKenzie Mitchell to tell Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell to hold onto the titles real tight because Dakota wants gold and one title isn’t enough for Raquel. After they take care of Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter, they’re going on to become two-time tag champs.
Joe and Regal did have to get in between Kai and Gonzalez and Ember Moon and Shotzi Blackheart when Kai and Gonzalez were on their way to the ring. It didn’t get physical though, just shouting.
Raquel Gonzalez & Dakota Kai vs Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter
Carter and Catanzaro might be the tightest team in any of WWE’s women’s divisions. Their teamwork is fast and fluid and intuitive. Kai and Gonzalez are also a well-oiled team, and it made for a very fun match. Catanzaro and Carter and invariably entertaining with the impressive flippy stuff, but they got caught out by the sheer power of Gonzalez several times.
Kayden Carter took a lot of punishment and would definitely have been pinned without Catanzaro’s pin interruption. They came close to pinning Kai after taking down Gonzalez on the outside (we won’t draw attention to that takedown), but somehow she kicked out and Gonzalez dragged Catanzaro out of the ring into the barricades. Carter took a trip into the plexiglass above the same barricades, from Gonzalez’ shoulders. When Kacy Catanzaro climbed the turnbuckle to get back into the ring she took a Dakota Kai kick to the face and was pinned off the GTK.
Io Shirai addressed the NXT Universe this week. She said she’s back and she feels good. Her next target is…
Candice LeRae interrupted her at that point. She gloated about being a champion now and said now Shirai is not it’s straight to the bottom and she has to earn her opportunities. But she still can’t stand her and Shirai picked the wrong time to screw with her
While Shirai was focused on LeRae, Indi Hartwell snuck up behind her and shoved her over. Io Shirai fought hard and well, but was overwhelmed by the numbers. LeRae laid her on the announce desk and demanded Hartwell do her springboard elbow drop onto it. Hartwell looked hesitant, but got into the ring. Zoey Stark’s attack might actually have been a relief and it almost certainly did her less damage than the elbow drop would have.
With Stark backing her up, Shirai rallied and dropkicked LeRae and Hartwell out of the ring.
Subculture (Flash Morgan Webster/Dani Luna) def. Jinny & Joseph Connors
As it turned out, the new NXT Women’s Champion wasn’t featured in the show except for the opening recap of last week. The only mention the women’s division got was in the mixed-tag main event.
Subculture – Dani Luna & Flash Morgan Webster, with Mark Andrews, vs Jinny & Joseph Connors
I still don’t like mixed-tag matches. You get into the action then there’s a tag and all momentum is lost. There was some nice teamwork from Subculture with Dani Luna assisting Flash Morgan Webster into a flip onto Connors. That had Connors and Jinny taking a break on the outside for a Gallas vignette. She helped him over the ropes later in the match as well. I kind of love the fact she’s the powerhouse of the team.
As far as mixed tags go, it was decent enough. Jinny didn’t seem to have an answer to Luna’s power. She and Jinny took each other’s partners out of the ring, which was a much bigger task for Luna. Jinny kicked FMW in the face as he rebounded off the ropes and nearly got him pinned. Luna chased her around and back into the ring. While Jinny was arguing with the ref about being in the ring, Luna powerbombed Connors out of the corner and Flash Morgan Webster finished him with a 630 splash.
SmackDown didn’t feel that the women’s division needed a match this week. Instead, the less than ten minutes the division was allocated out of a two-hour show, went to Bianca Belair and Bayley’s face to face ahead of their match at Hell in a Cell. Belair was out first and she told us how good it felt when she laughed at Bayley after Cesaro destroyed her set. Belair is going to destroy Bayley’s title dreams at Hell in a Cell.
Bayley didn’t come out when cued, so Belair talked about Bayley laughing in her face making her feel like she did when she was bullied. They tried to make her feel less when she was so much more than they could ever dream of being. But she’s not that little kid anymore. She doesn’t let what anyone thinks of her define her, she defines herself because she fought and she scratched and she clawed to get to where she is. So now, she is loud and proud and unapologetically her. Which is as it should be.
She knows Bayley is going to give her everything she’s got, physically and mentally. There’s something she wanted to say to her face, but she keeps dodging her so she’d just say it. On Sunday, she doesn’t just want her in the ring, she wants her inside Hell in a Cell. Bayley won’t be laughing when Belair grabs her hair and drags her face across all sides of the cell, or when she bodyslams her until she begs her to stop. Or when the bell rings and Belair is still champion. First, they try to ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you. Then you win.
Bayley finally came out. She didn’t say anything, just walked to the ring and swung at Belair. Bayley came off worst in the ensuing brawl until Belair tipped her over the barricade, at which point Bayley grabbed her braid and pulled her hard into the barricade. Then it was Bayley’s turn. She put the champ back in the ring and laid her out with a knee to the face, then planted her face-first into the canvas. Finally, she posed, holding the belt aloft with her foot on Belair’s braid. As she stood there, the entire ThunderDome changed to that image.
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.