Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. This week turned out to be a busy one. Extreme Rules is still a couple of weeks away and it has been subtitled The Horror Show. But NXT hosted the first week of the two-part Great American Bash this week and Io Shirai versus Sasha Banks main evented. It was a long work week for Banks, starting on RAW.
Peyton Royce def. Ruby Riott
Sasha Banks & Dolph Ziggler def. Asuka & Drew McIntyre
RAW opened mid-brawl. The table was set up for the double contract signing someone had the bright idea of. Samoa Joe was all suited up and ready to officiate. And Asuka was fighting off Sasha Banks and Bayley in front of him. Officials got them apart long enough to welcome everyone then Banks and Bayley launched themselves at Asuka again and Joe had to call for officials to separate them again.
Dolph Ziggler invited himself out and gave Drew McIntyre a rude and condescending introduction, the proceedings got underway. Ziggler and McIntyre got their contract signed first. Ziggler tried, once again, to take credit for McIntyre’s success. In response, McIntyre did a bit of psychoanalysis on Ziggler and why he craves the spotlight so much and gave Ziggler the opportunity to choose the stipulation for their match.
Asuka got bored of listening to Ziggler’s response, yelled at him and signed the contract. Sasha Banks told Asuka that when she and Bayley were both double champions they weren’t only going to take over both locker rooms they were going to take over the whole company, then signed with a stamp. Asuka kicked Banks when Bayley started running her mouth as well. Ziggler tried to go for McIntyre, got caught, but avoided the retaliation, and met Banks and Bayley on the ramp when they escaped from Asuka.
A Mixed tag Champions vs Challengers match was announced for later in the show.
Asuka and Drew McIntyre in their team interview were very much on the same page. He said Sasha Banks is no ready for Asuka. She said Dolph is not ready for Drew.
The IIconics approached Ruby Riott backstage while Riott was trying to make a phone call. It was Royce and Kay who suggested Riott was trying to get hold of Liv Morgan, but Riott didn’t deny it. They were mean, she retaliated then suggested one of them meet her in the ring for a match.
Lana found Ruby Riott later and appeared to be trying to recruit her to the cult of Natalya. Riott did not seem convinced.
Ruby Riott vs Peyton Royce, with Billie Kay
Billie Kay provided an opening distraction to give Royce the upper hand in the early going. Royce worked on Riott’s surgically repaired shoulders and Riott was guarding one arm by the time she made her comeback. Another Billie Kay distraction halted Riott’s growing momentum and Royce finished the match with a spinning brainbuster.
Commentary confirmed this week that Charlotte Flair has a fractured left collarbone, so she’s out for a few weeks.
Dolph Ziggler told Sasha Banks she should let him take the lead in their match. Banks and Bayley laughed at him and Bayley told him not to mess it up for Banks.
Asuka & Drew McIntyre vs Sasha Banks, with Bayley, & Dolph Ziggler
Bayley joined commentary for the match. I’d like to note Ziggler was wearing a rainbow armband for Pride month and his t-shirt in the opener was rainbow as well, so good on him for that. It was a decent match, although it suffered from the annoying thing about mixed tags – the loss of momentum when a tag is made which makes it feel like two separate matches.
Bayley managed to cause a distraction once, by waggling her fingers and making a noise. She then laughed at Asuka on commentary for falling for it. It got Banks a bit of respite, and a near fall, but it wasn’t decisive. It’s safe to say that Sasha Banks versus Asuka at Extreme Rules ‘could’ be awesome. I hope they find a way to keep Bayley away from ringside.
Banks had to tag herself back in when it looked like Ziggler was about done for, and she got in McIntyre’s face when he didn’t immediately leave him alone. McIntyre let her yell at him and elbowed Ziggler off the apron while she was still screaming. Banks didn’t notice Asuka sneaking up behind her. Banks took a kick in the head as she turned around, but kicked out of the pin. A brief exchange later, during which Ziggler took out McIntyre on the outside, Banks flipped out of the Asuka Lock and got the pin.
I don’t remember anyone pinning Asuka that way before Becky Lynch did it (I’m not saying she was the first, just the first I remember), but now everyone seems to be doing it. I think Asuka needs a new finisher.
Next week Asuka and Bayley have a Champion vs Champion match.
Tegan Nox def. Dakota Kai, Mia Yim, and Candice LeRae
Rhea Ripley def. Aliyah & Robert Stone
Io Shirai def. Sasha Banks
The women’s division opened and closed this week’s special The Great American Bash – Week 1 – episode of NXT. NXT is still the only brand where the women’s division is given anything resembling equal importance, and even that often doesn’t translate to equal screen time. I’d still go as far as to say they have the best women’s division of any company right now.
Dakota Kai vs Tegan Nox vs Mia Yim vs Candice LeRae – Fatal Four-way Number One Contender’s Elimination match
William Regal declared that this match would take place with no outside interference, so Raquel Gonzalez did not accompany Dakota Kai to the ring. Johnny Gargano stayed backstage as well.
It was a bit of a slow and cagey start. LeRae and Kai left the ring to look for an opportunistic moment, but it soon got going properly. Candice LeRae was the first elimination, courtesy of Mia Yim’s Seoul Food.
Mia Yim was out next. She got rolled up by Dakota Kai after almost pinning Tegan Nox. She looked great in the run-up to her elimination though. I was starting to hope she’d get the win.
Down to Dakota Kai and Tegan Nox and they gave us everything great about the ex-best friends trope in wrestling. They tried to murder each other for ten minutes or so, showing no regard for the other’s body, until Tegan Nox delivered the Shiniest Wizard and got the win.
Tegan Nox versus Io Shirai should be a fun match.
Rhea Ripley vs Aliyah & Robert Stone
Robert Stone came to the ring in a boxing robe with taped hands, goggles, and a gumshield. He looked ridiculous. As it was a handicap match, both Stone and Aliyah were allowed in the ring at the same time, but he boldly told her he could handle it. That lasted long enough for some fancy footwork before Ripley slapped him to the mat and he rolled out of the ring. He helped Aliyah from out there though, by holding Ripley’s leg so Aliyah could kick her in the face.
His next heroic action was wiping himself out on a dive over the top rope that completely missed. Aliyah caught Ripley with her dive while Ripley was laughing at him. They tried to submit Ripley together at one point, but that didn’t work. The double suplex was closer, but they argued when Stone wanted to make the pin and Ripley kicked out. When they went for another double suplex, Ripley suplexed them instead.
As expected, the suplexes were the closest Stone got to an offensive move on Ripley. He took a few though, including Ripley using Aliyah’s head to low blow him.
The end came via Ripley’s Prism Trap submission on Stone and Aliyah at the same time.
Candice LeRae and Johnny Gargano were busy explaining that it was unfair everyone ganged up on her to eliminate her from the match, when LeRae got distracted and went off to start a fight with Mia Yim. Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott tried to separate them, and Gargano got in his face for touching his wife. They argued while officials tried to pull Yim and LeRae apart.
Next week Candice LeRae and Mia Yim have a street fight.
Io Shirai vs Sasha Banks
I wanted this match uninterrupted and interference-free. NXT did their best with the first, showing the match with no commercial break. There was never any chance of getting the second. Bayley accompanied Sasha Banks to the ring. They were driven there and Bayley had Banks’ dog on her lap. Happily, they didn’t keep the poor pup at ringside.
Bayley made an early distraction attempt, when it looked like Banks was in a bit of trouble, hammering on the horn of one of the cars on the Great American Bash set. Other than that she kept to cheerleading for most of the match.
I have a tendency to forget between big Sasha Banks matches, that she tends to do things in big matches that look like they’re going to shorten her career. There were a couple of those moments in this one, but it wouldn’t be a big Sasha Banks match without them. Io Shirai took a few big bumps as well.
Banks probably had a little more control. Shirai was maybe a touch more aggressive. All told it was fairly even and the match was really very good. It was never going to be allowed a clean finish though.
Bayley put one of the title belts in the ring when Banks was in danger of tapping out in a crossface. Sasha Banks grabbed it and the ref took it off her. Bayley punched Shirai in the face while he was distracted then followed him around the ring trying to persuade him to give the belt back. While they were arguing, Asuka popped up in front of Sasha Banks to stop her using the other title belt, and sprayed her with the green mist.
Banks kicked out of Shirai’s roll-up attempt but, blinded, she couldn’t avoid Shirai’s smack in the face. She landed face down so the ref couldn’t see her face was green, took a beautiful, but entirely unnecessary, moonsault to the back, then was rolled over and pinned with Shirai positioning herself so the ref couldn’t see her face.
Io Shirai and Asuka celebrated while Bayley tried to get the green stuff out of Banks’ eyes.
I generally hate messy finishes, but there was nothing to be gained from a clean finish in this match. Io Shirai is a brand new champion and Sasha Banks is a champion heading into a match for a second title in a couple of weeks. Neither of them could take a clean loss comfortably. One day, if WWE don’t piss either of them off, and injuries permitting, we will get Io Shirai versus Sasha Banks in a proper one on one match and it will be incredible.
This week was another Superstar Picks episode. This time it was superstars from other brands choosing their favourite NXT UK match. Nikki Cross got to make the first pick and chose Aoife Valkyrie vs Isla Dawn from March this year.
Next week will be a look at NXT UK superstars in international competition.
Bayley def. Alexa Bliss (DQ)
Sasha Banks & Bayley held a celebration of themselves to round out their busy week. They’ve been calling themselves the Golden Role Models, but it hasn’t been used officially, and it’s tacky so I’ll hold off until it is. It was so self-satisfied. Bayley told a fairytale about The Undertaker phoning her and telling her she was the greatest champion and they showed a video tribute package to themselves.
When that was over they started a, ‘Thank you, Bayley, thank you, Sasha’ chant. Happily, Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross joined them at that point. They had a list of their ‘accomplishments’, which were funny.
Bliss started arguing but Cross took over when Banks insulted her. Cross said her journey to WWE had been all about her heart and she’s sure if she puts her entire heart into it she can beat Bayley and take the title from her.
Bayley and Banks doubled over in fake laughter at the thought of Cross as SmackDown Women’s Champion, getting progressively more into Bliss and Cross’ faces as they did. Bliss slapped Bayley and, just for a change, Sasha Banks volunteered Bayley for a match. Bliss accepted.
Alexa Bliss vs Bayley
I enjoy Bayley far more when she’s wrestling than when she’s talking and I appreciate how much she changed her style when she changed her attitude. It was a good match, but it was another one not destined for a clean finish. Bayley would Nikki Cross up by mimicking some of her moveset and mocking her attempts at cheerleading. Cross got up on the apron and while the ref was telling her to get down, Banks got up on the other side and Bayley drove Bliss into her knee.
Nikki Cross went round to deal with Banks. Bayley started yelling at her from inside the ring and Cross punched her. Alexa Bliss was immediately disqualified and Cross entered the ring to pound on Bayley until Bayley escaped, with a bit of help from Sasha Banks.
Next week it’s Sasha Banks & Bayley vs Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross.
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.