Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. We started the week with the final PPV before WrestleMania, Elimination Chamber. A little disappointing that SmackDown’s women’s division wasn’t represented on the PPV, but the RAW Women’s Elimination Chamber match was to decide Becky Lynch’s WrestleMania opponent.
Shayna Baszler def. Asuka, Natalya, Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, & Liv Morgan
Elimination Chamber fell on International Women’s Day, which according to Stephanie McMahon, was the reason the solitary women’s match was chosen to main event the show.
Ruby Riott joined the Kickoff Show panel and talked about how overlooked she feels. Tonight is her chance to show why she shouldn’t be. She gives credit to her former teammates, but only because she allegedly taught them everything they know. She’s not worried about Shayna Baszler or Natalya, she was supremely confident this is her time.
Natalya had a backstage interview during the show. She talked mainly about Randy Orton RKO’ing Beth Phoenix. She was planning to use her disgust at Orton’s action to unleash her legacy because she was ‘born to do this’ (I know it makes little to no sense, but a lot of Natalya’s promos come across as something that probably sounded better in her head).
Asuka vs Sarah Logan vs Liv Morgan vs Shayna Baszler vs Rudy Riott vs Natalya
Quick rules recap – two women start with everyone else in the pods. One pod opens every five(ish) minutes until everyone is out. Pinfalls or submissions are required for elimination and the last woman standing faces Becky Lynch at WrestleMania.
Asuka, Sarah Logan, Liv Morgan, and Shayna Baszler took the pod spaces, leaving Ruby Riott and Natalya to get things underway. It took them no time at all to bring the structure into play, and Natalya was showing her more brutal side, which I guess is what she meant by ‘unleashing her legacy’. Sarah Logan was the first to join them, and she crashed straight in on Natalya with then chased Ruby Riott to the top of a pod. Riott started to climb down, Natalya powerbombed her the rest of the way and Logan dived off the pod onto both of them once Riott was up.
The first elimination didn’t come until Shayna Baszler had been released. Baszler threw Natalya into a ringpost then tapped out Sarah Logan and Ruby Riott in quick succession. Then she used the pod Natalya was laying half in to beat her up and tapped Natalya out too. Alone in the chamber, she waited for Asuka or Liv Morgan.
They waited a bit too long and the crowd got restless. I don’t blame them, it wasn’t good tv, despite the very entertaining screaming at stuff that Asuka and Morgan were doing. Of course, it was Liv Morgan and it was just a question of how long she’d survive. Baszler brutalised her with the cage and pod (it looked like Morgan may have hit her head) and left her lying in a pod, but Morgan got back up and smacked Baszler in the face. It was a bad mistake on her part. Baszler put a knee almost through Morgan’s chest then made Asuka watch as she climbed the turnbuckle, grabbed Morgan in a Kirifuda Clutch, and held her feet off the floor until she passed out. Becky Lynch was shown watching from backstage during the carnage.
Asuka versus Shayna Baszler is the match people have been asking for, and that’s what we got when Asuka’s pod eventually opened. She’d eliminated four women, but Baszler had barely broken a sweat. It was great, but a largely submission-based segment with a tired crowd at the end of a PPV was a hard sell. It didn’t go too long though. Asuka got the Asuka Lock on and Baszler had to do a lot of rolling around to get out. But get out she did and Asuka passed out in the Kirifuda Clutch after Baszler spent a couple more minutes softening her up.
As we all expected, Shayna Baszler faces Becky Lynch at WrestleMania, and WWE just made Baszler look like an absolute beast.
The Kabuki Warriors def. Natalya & Liv Morgan
Becky Lynch opened the show this week to talk about her WrestleMania opponent. She started by showing some of the footage of Baszler’s performance in the Elimination Chamber, which led into Baszler’s post-match interview where Baszler said the destruction was a direct message to Becky Lynch. She had another message for Lynch as well, she’s going to take the RAW Women’s Championship at WrestleMania and there’s not a damn thing Lynch ca do about it. She also called her a bitch.
After the video, Lynch said that last night Baszler went through the entire field and in a matter of minutes cut down the one person it has taken her whole career to beat. Baszler was a pioneer of women’s MMA and a top raked cage fighter for ten years’ straight. She’s the longest-reigning champion in NXT history, a world-class scumbag, and a black hole of charisma. Lynch might be a bitch, but she’s the bitch who runs this division.
She used to only recognise Baszler as the constipated-looking robot from NXT, the one who refused to shake her hand last year after WrestleMania. But now she sees that Baszler is the biggest threat to her reign since she pried the title from Baszler’s little friend’s broken hand last year. Baszler’s not just looking for a fight, or the title. She’s been lurking in the shadows waiting to rewrite history because normal people like Lynch don’t beat trained killers like her. Except they do, she did, and she will again. Lynch thinks Baszler is discounting her, writing her off, and she’s going to smash her face in for it.
RAW got to see the video package of Rhea Ripley visiting the WrestleMania venue and talking about her journey from starting out and being called a mini Charlotte, to being the first NXT Champion to defend their title at WrestleMania.
Charlotte Flair came out after it and told everyone Ripley is ‘the next big thing’, ‘the new shiny toy’. But Flair is confused. Ripley said in order to be the best she has to beat the best, which is her, but she doesn’t want to be like her. That’s good because isn’t her and she’ll never be her. There is only one Charlotte Flair. So Ripley should enjoy the hype surrounding her because it’s not going to last. The reason Flair is fighting for the NXT Championship is to teach Ripley a lesson. It is one thing to stand in an empty stadium and talk about your hopes and dreams. It is another to stand in front of ninety-thousand people and be humbled by The Queen.
Rhea Ripley came out at that point. Flair cut her off before she could say anything and was condescending enough as she ‘excused’ her, that Ripley smacked her in the face and Flair fell on her ass.
The interaction between the two of them was actually very sweet. Flair was smiling at Ripley’s audacity, Ripley was smiling because she’d just knocked Flair on her ass. It was all just very smiley. Of all the WrestleMania matches, this is the one I wanted to see most.
The Kabuki Warriors vs Natalya & Liv Morgan
Asuka and Kairi Sane had plenty to say before the match, but it was mostly in Japanese. They looked like they were having fun though. Natalya and Liv Morgan were a weird choice for a team, but a match is a match so we won’t complain.
It was decent as well, but there was an external purpose to the match. Ruby Riott arrived just before a break and watched from the bottom of the ramp. A few minutes after the break, Sarah Logan also wandered down and stood a few feet from Riott.
Natalya was in the ring taking a beating and Morgan’s attention was split between her partner and her former teammates. When Logan and Riott started to fight, Morgan jumped off the top turnbuckle and took them both down.
That meant she wasn’t there when Natalya reached for the vital tag. Natalya did her best, she even got Sane in a Sharpshooter, but she’d missed a Kabuki Warriors’ tag and Asuka kicked her in the head and pinned her.
Mia Yim def. Dakota Kai
Tegan Nox def. Deonna Purrazzo
By this point, it was already obvious that WrestleMania week, including TakeOver, would not be running in its advertised form, but WWE were still acting like everything was fine, so we were playing along. The episode came from the Performance Center.
Mia Yim vs Dakota Kai, with Raquel Gonzalez
This was a qualifying match for a place in the ladder match. There’s plenty of history between Yim and Kai to make this vicious and nasty, but Gonzalez on the outside gave Kai a theoretical advantage.
Gonzalez, of course, got involved. The first time was going into a break when she dropped Yim face-first on the apron. Yim was recovered by the time we got back though. Kai was incensed when Mia Yim kicked out of the Kairopractor and that seemed to knock her focus.
Raquel Gonzalez got involved for the second time, grabbing Yim’s leg to stop her pinning Kai. She got caught and it backfired. Kai had Yim pinned from a roll-up for ages while the ref was throwing Gonzalez out, but he turned around just in time for Mia Yim to get the three count.
Yim didn’t get a chance to celebrate because Gonzalez immediately attacked her.
Mia Yim did have the start of an interview later on, but it was rudely interrupted by Raul Mendoza being kidnapped.
Rhea Ripley came to talk about her WrestleMania match. She said, if Charlotte Flair thinks she can psyche her out before WrestleMania she’s going to have to come up with a better strategy. This is the biggest match of Ripley’s career and of course she feels the pressure. But knocking The Queen on her royal ass helps her through it.
Charlotte Flair came out then. The crowd chanted ‘You don’t go here’, Flair replied that she made here. She told Ripley she’d give her credit for having guts, but this is WrestleMania. It’s too much too fast and too soon. She’s not talking about the stadium, or the eight-thousand people who will be chanting Ripley’s name. She’s talking about herself. She’s going to be too much for Ripley to handle. She’s going to take her to deep waters and drown the fastest rising star in WWE and Ripley’s not going to do a damned thing about…
That was as far as she got before Ripley barrelled into her. They brawled, with Flair in her high-heeled boots, until one of those boots made contact with Rhea Ripley’s face. Flair went for the Figure Eight, but Ripley sent her into the corner and she slid out of the ring. When Ripley got close, Flair smashed her leg into the ringpost then hung off it in figure four. Ripley writhed on the floor as Flair dropped the belt on her, posed with her foot on Ripley’s hip, then left.
Tegan Nox vs Deonna Purrazzo
Another ladder match qualifier. I really enjoyed this one, even if it was very short. Every time Purrazzo is on NXT I say they should use her more and I stand by it. This wasn’t her night though. Nox had her shoulder taped and Deonna Purrazzo worked on it with some success, but she got caught with the Shiniest Wizard and pinned.
Half the spaces in the ladder match have now been filled by Chelsea Green, Mia Yim and Tegan Nox.
Dani Luna vs Amale – No Contest due to interference
Piper Niven was asked why she got involved in the I Quit match between Toni Storm and Kay Lee Ray. She said she and Toni are like sisters. Sometimes they fight but she couldn’t sit back and watch while Kay Lee Ray tried to cripple her. She had to do something but if she’d stopped the match Storm would never have spoken to her again, so the only thing she could do was try to talk some sense into her. Kay Lee Ray is another matter, she looked up at Ray when she was comforting Storm and… she’s evil. Someone is going to need to do something.
Dani Luna vs Amale
This was given so little hype the women didn’t even get their entrances or the match announcement televised. The match was ok, but it finished when Kay Lee Ray attacked both competitors.
Ray said that now she’s successfully got rid of Toni Storm, she’s there to let every girl in NXT UK know it doesn’t matter how long they’ve been there, the division belongs to her.
Dani Luna attacked Ray from behind and paid for it. Kay Lee Ray left her laying then stood over her to hold the belt up and restate, the division belongs to her.
Bayley & Sasha Banks def. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
This week’s SmackDown came from the Performance Center, with essential personnel only and no crowd. Triple H did an intro to talk about the history and utility of the Performance Center and to suggest we forget about the world around us and let WWE do what they do best, entertain.
Bayley and Sasha Banks opened the show proper, with Michael Cole and Triple H on commentary. Their entrance was super-weird, they cut a promo to no one, and they had some interaction with Cole and Triple H. Paige was supposed to be on the show, but she wasn’t able to travel because of the pandemic so they used that bit to let people know. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross arrived and challenged them to the fight. Bayley called for a ref and called Bliss and Cross ‘little idiots’, managing to sound a bit like Chris Jericho in the process.
Bayley & Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
It took a bit of getting used to. Wrestling with no crowd is very odd indeed. It was a good match, it had to be because there were no distractions. Michael Cole and Triple H still managed to ignore most of it though. They did talk about the women though. Triple H said Alexa Bliss trained harder than anyone to get where she is because people thought she was too small.
There were some sweet moments, like Nikki Cross trying to rouse the non-existent crowd to get behind Bliss, who took the majority of the punishment in the match. The fact they maintained their focus and energy with no feedback was awesome. It must have felt very weird indeed.
The finish came when Asuka appeared and attacked Alexa Bliss moments before Sasha Banks locked Nikki Cross in a Bank Statement. With no one to make the save, Cross tapped.
WrestleMania will not take place as advertised. At the time of writing, it appeared that the city of Tampa and WWE were in a standoff over who was going to cancel it, but it won’t happen. There are bigger issues at hand. It can be sorted out at a later date.
That’s it for another week of WWE women’s division action. Join me next week for whatever there is to round-up, if there is anything, and in the meantime follow @ArnFuriousCom to make sure you never miss a review. You can also follow me @manda_why.