Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. Elimination Chamber is on Sunday, so the main roster brands were in the final build for that this week. NXT had their own stuff going on. On a side note, I guess we have to stop distinguishing between main roster and NXT at some point, now they have equal tv time with SmackDown. And, let’s face it, if you’re a woman in WWE and you’re not one of the four horsewomen, NXT is the place to be. That said, we saw an interesting development in the Riott Squad feud on RAW this week.
Liv Morgan def. Ruby Riott
Shayna Baszler def. Kairi Sane
Ruby Riott had a backstage interview with Charly Caruso. Caruso showed her the footage of her and Liv Morgan attacking each other over the past couple of weeks and asked if anyone could have predicted the way the Riott Squad split up. Riott said people make and break promises every day and prove themselves to be loyal and disloyal in a single breath. But now the only person she is responsible for is herself and on Sunday she proves her ability to strike when she damned well pleases. She’ll show the WWE Universe there are no friends in the Elimination Chamber.
Liv Morgan vs Ruby Riott – with Sarah Logan as Special Guest Referee
On the face of it, Sarah Logan was an odd choice for special guest referee. What a horrible position to put her in. It did look like a strain on her as well, she winced several times. She called most of it down the middle though.
Let’s be honest, the match wasn’t really important. This is going to rumble on for a while so this was a taster and important mainly to establish where Sarah Logan stands. That’s not to say it wasn’t good, but it was relatively short and pretty even and tells us nothing about how all this will play out.
There was some tension between Riott and Logan during the match. Logan had to lift her out of the corner, which didn’t go down well, then a Liv Morgan kickout set Riott flying into her. That made Logan late on the next count and Riott pushed her. Morgan took that opportunity to roll Riott up and pin her with Logan providing the speediest of fast counts.
After the match Logan shoved Riott over and Morgan dropkicked her. Before Morgan could get up, Logan kneed her in the head. Sarah Logan stands alone.
Shayna Baszler had her first match as a RAW superstar this week. After last week, it should probably have been Asuka, or maybe Natalya, but Asuka is injured (wrist, shouldn’t keep her out of Elimination Chamber), and there is nothing to be gained from putting her against Natalya, so Kairi Sane stepped in. At least that way Asuka could be at ringside.
Shayna Baszler vs Kairi Sane
Before the match Asuka said Baszler was lucky tonight because she got injured, and Kairi Sane said she’s got this.
Asuka had a couple of attempts to distract Baszler during the match, but more distracting was Becky Lynch coming out to join commentary halfway through. Weirdly, commentary didn’t really talk about the fairly intense matches Baszler and Sane had in NXT. That served to reinforce that it is Asuka, not Sane in this narrative and Kairi Sane is just a temporary stand-in.
That said, it was a really good match. Shayna Baszler is exactly what the RAW women’s division needs at the moment, someone different and interesting who is ready to step up. The division has been in trouble recently, but with Baszler arriving and Riott back, things are looking up.
This one finished with a Kirifuda Clutch which was reapplied after the match just to make a point. Becky Lynch screamed stuff from the commentary desk, but Baszler didn’t react.
Dakota Kai def. Tegan Nox
Chelsea Green def. Shotzi Blackheart
Dakota Kai vs Tegan Nox – Steel Cage Match
With two steel cage matches on the card, this one opened. The main event spot went to Velveteen Dream vs Roderick Strong. It was the right choice, comparing the matches side by side. There was nothing wrong with Nox versus Kai, but they had a really intense match at TakeOver very recently, and this didn’t feel like enough of an escalation at the start. It was vicious, but no more than their TakeOver match.
William Regal’s decision to put the match in the cage was to made to stop Raquel Gonzalez interfering again. That did not work. She was a vocal presence for Kai from the start, but her influence wasn’t really felt until the second time Nox climbed the cage. The first had ended with Nox throwing Kai to the mat and staring after her like she couldn’t believe it, but the second time Gonzalez positioned herself below Nox. As a result, Nox stood on the top of the cage and leapt off onto Kai then went for the door.
When the door was opened as Tegan Nox crawled towards it, Gonzalez forced it shut and held it, pinning the outside ref between her and the cage. Dakota Kai tried to catch Nox with a kick from behind, but Nox moved and the door hit Gonzalez instead.
Nox got flustered when the Shiniest Wizard failed to get the pin, but opted to go for the door, only to be stopped by Gonzalez. Nox kicked her in the head then climbed the cage instead of trying to climb over her. Kai followed but was knocked to the floor. Gonzalez tried to pull Kai out but Nox kicked the door into her leg.
To finish, Gonzalez used the door to squash Tegan Nox against the side of the cage, and Dakota Kai exited for the win.
There was a lovely package featuring Rhea Ripley visiting the WrestleMania venue. She talked about the privilege of being part of the first-ever NXT title defence at WrestleMania and the journey she had to get there. I’d forgotten the long-haired Flair-esque look she had when she first appeared in the Mae Young Classic. Her new look is so much better. She gave a lot of respect to her opponent, calling her one of the best in the business, but she’s going to beat the best to be the best.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Chelsea Green
Robert Stone announced Chelsea Green as the face of the women’s division again this week. I’m guessing she’s not even a blip on Rhea Ripley’s radar at this point. That could change though because this was the first of the qualifying matches for the number one contender’s ladder match at NXT TakeOver Tampa.
I wasn’t very familiar with Shotzi Blackheart before her arrival at NXT. I was aware of her but hadn’t seen enough to form an opinion. I’m going to seek out her pre-NXT work though because I’ve enjoyed watching her since her arrival. She hasn’t exactly hit the ground running in terms of wins, but the crowd are into her and she’s very entertaining.
It wasn’t her night this time though, Chelsea Green won the match with her I’m Prettier finisher after a short but decent match.
Chelsea Green is in the ladder match.
Aoife Valkyrie def. Isla Dawn
Isla Dawn vs Aoife Valkyrie
Aoife Valkyrie is an interesting addition to the NXT UK roster, but she’ll vanish into obscurity like everyone else who isn’t Toni Storm, Kay Lee Ray, Piper Niven, or Jinny if NXT UK don’t start granting their women’s division some character development. I actively want to invest in the brand but they’re giving me nothing to work with.
The match was pretty decent but not very long. Valkyrie won, which makes her two for two. It’s not good news for Dawn though. She seems destined to float around gaining no traction.
Bayley & Sasha Banks def. Naomi & Lacey Evans
Fire & Desire def. Carmella & Dana Brooke
SmackDown opened with A Moment of Bliss with Nikki Cross co-hosting with Alexa Bliss. They started by running through the Hall of Fame class of 2020. Alexa Bliss issued an informal challenge to The Kabuki Warriors, reminding them that the titles are supposed to be defended on all brands and accusing them of hiding out on Monday Night RAW. Then they introduced their guests, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Sean Waltman of the nWo.
Cross took a selfie with them, they talked about which name Waltman wanted to go by, and about what Roman Reigns needs to do to beat Goldberg. Scott Hall said he needs Scott Hall and a cattle prod.
The interview was interrupted by Sami Zayn, Cesaro, and Shinsuke Nakamura. They declared themselves as the future (despite having a few decades in the business between them). Hall, Nash and Waltman didn’t take them remotely seriously and things got heated. It was never going to turn physical. Sami Zayn talked a lot then Braun Strowman came out and destroyed them. Sami Zayn used Alexa Bliss as a human shield to make his escape.
If you watch the segment, just watch Nikki Cross’ facial expressions.
Naomi & Lacey Evans vs Bayley & Sasha Banks
The match started with Bayley and Banks isolating Evans in the corner and double-teaming her. Bayley tried to sneak up on Naomi on the outside but got caught. Banks was there to back Bayley up and took a few extra moments to throw Naomi into the barricade going into a break.
Naomi was back up in time to see her teammate in real trouble. When Naomi did get in she took Banks and Bayley down with a corkscrew plancha then dragged Banks back into the ring. Bayley made it back just in time to break up a pin. Evans came back in to deal with Bayley, which she did but was then kicked out of the ring. A final double team, Bayley getting involved while Naomi was going for her split-legged moonsault, allowed Sasha Banks to pin Naomi with double knees in the corner.
Bayley and Sasha Banks were very self-congratulatory backstage. As far as Bayley is concerned Carmella, Naomi, and Lacey Evans are out of the picture. Bayley thinks she’s been so dominant she should take WrestleMania off. Banks said she’s dedicating her album to Bayley for being her role model. And they both think they should have gone into the Hall of Fame before the Bella Twins.
Carmella & Dana Brooke vs Fire & Desire
This was unexpected. There was a lot of talk about the women’s tag titles on this week’s SmackDown. Maybe to make up for the fact SmackDown’s women aren’t represented at Elimination Chamber as things stand. Dolph Ziggler accompanied Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville to the ring. He was apparently invited by Deville, who has steered Rose away from Otis from the start, but that’s enough of that storyline.
Carmella and Brooke don’t have the tag experience Rose and Deville have, and that was their undoing in this short match. Brooke didn’t notice a Fire & Desire tag, caught a knee to the face from Mandy Rose and got pinned.
That’s it for another 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. Enjoy Elimination Chamber.