Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. Money in the Bank kicked the week off this week, with what will undoubtedly go down as the most bizarre Money in the Banks Ladder Match in history.
Money in the Bank
Bayley def. Tamina
Asuka def. Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Lacey Evans, Carmella, and Dana Brooke
Dana Brooke had an appearance on The Bump, which they showed on the Kickoff show. She was excited and had been training hard, preparing for her chance.
We also got to see a video clip on the Kickoff Show, which Tamina tweeted about working on her anger issues. It was kind of cute and funny, with a side of menace, and the closest to character development she’s had in a long time. I liked it. Watch it here.
That was it for the Kickoff, but Lacey Evans had a promo after the first match of the show. She talked about being made by the US Marine corps and having memorised the layout of WWE Headquarters as part of her preparations. She’s ready to win the briefcase, then she’s coming for Bayley.
Bayley and Sasha Banks had an interview with Kayla Braxton before Bayley’s title match. Braxton asked Banks if Bayley blamed her for losing the match with Tamina that put Bayley in this position. Bayley yelled at her and reassured Banks she didn’t blame her. She didn’t let Sasha Banks answer the question. Tensions are rising there and it’s clear Banks has some things to say that Bayley won’t want to hear.
Bayley (C) vs Tamina – SmackDown Women’s Championship match
Bayley decided trash-talk and shoving was a good way to start the match. It didn’t go well. It was a well put together match. Bayley is obviously the better wrestler, but Tamina is so much more powerful. Bayley is also sneakier, or more resourceful, depending on your perspective. She tried to get the upper hand with underhand tactics, wrapping Tamina’s knee around the ringpost and bouncing her knee off the apron. But still, any time Tamina got her hands on her, Bayley was in trouble.
On one of those occasions, Bayley took a break on the outside used it to belittle and humiliate Tamina with little slaps and handfuls of hair, then throwing water over her. Tamina lost the plot and Bayley’s next trip to the outside saw her thrown over the announce desk and bounced off a barricade.
Back in the ring, Tamina delivered a Samoan drop. Sasha Banks got into the ring ready to cause a disqualification if it was necessary to preserve Bayley’s title. Tamina chased her around the ring then through it. Bayley tried to ambush Tamina but ended up back on Tamina’s shoulders. She managed to shift her weight and got the win with a crucifix pin.
Tamina went for the Samoan drop after the match, but Sasha Banks saved Bayley with a chop block and a knee in Tamina’s face.
Nia Jax vs Dana Brooke vs Carmella vs Shayna Baszler vs Asuka vs Lacey Evans – Money in the Bank Ladder Match
The men’s and women’s ladder matches took place at the same time but started in different locations. The men started in the gym and the women in the lobby. Asuka started by flinging herself off a ledge and taking all five of her competitors to the floor, then running for the lift leaving the others to go for the stairs.
The trouble with both matches happening at the same time was we didn’t get the continuity and the men got more screen time than the women.
Dana Brooke had a moment in the Money in the Bank conference room where she knocked out her Nia Jax and Carmella and took down a Money in the Bank briefcase full of cash. Stephanie McMahon appeared, set her straight about the real briefcase, and told her to clean up because Nia Jax was drooling on the floor. Before she could set off again Carmella got up and grabbed her own picture off the wall then smashed it over Dana Brooke’s head and moonwalked straight into a Woman’s Right.
The men and women met up in catering, where they encountered Paul Heyman. Otis threw a platter of food at Heyman and kicked off a huge food fight. Shayna Baszler put Rey Mysterio in the Kirifuda clutch then Nia Jax and Otis squished him. It really wasn’t Mysterio’s night, he got thrown off the roof later. Dana Brooke slipped on a wet floor while chasing everyone else through a kitchen, after Asuka had screamed at a guy mopping the floor and thrown his mop at Baszler, Carmella, and Nia Jax.
The women made it to the roof first, Asuka and Nia Jax, then Lacey Evans. Some wrestling happened then, but not a lot. Lacey Evans was the first to try to climb, but she was beaten back by Asuka, who came close to getting the briefcase until Baron Corbin climbed the opposite side (the first of the men to arrive). They had a tussle at the top, despite going for different briefcases, so she shoved him off and finally unhooked the case. Shayna Baszler, Carmella, and Dana Brooke never even made it to the roof.
Like most of the on-location pre-records they’ve done during the pandemic, it was kind of cinematic, cheesy, odd, ridiculous in places, and I liked it. It wasn’t wrestling exactly, but it was wrestling adjacent and very entertaining. There were several cameo appearances, including one from Vince McMahon. He shouted at AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan. There were lots of shots of the artwork and décor in WWE Headquarters, only some of which got trashed.
I’m not convinced Asuka was the right choice. I don’t think she needed it and it would have been more interesting to give it to someone else, but I’m sure she’ll be entertaining with it.
Otis won the men’s briefcase by complete fluke. He caught it when AJ Styles dropped it.
NOTE: At this point, I originally wrote something about it being a shame Becky Lynch didn’t have a title match on the PPV, but the reason behind that would become clear on Monday.
The IIconics def. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
Last week WWE were advertising Becky Lynch on RAW challenging the winner of the Money in the Bank briefcase. On Monday that changed to Becky Lynch making a big announcement on RAW.
That announcement opened the show. Lynch appeared carrying the Money in the Bank briefcase instead of her title belt and looking emotional. She was crying before she started talking and the opening bits of the segment were a little jumbled. She said tonight was no ordinary night for her. She was torn between joy and sadness because she’s in a place where things are about to change and she needed to do something about it. So, she asked the decision-makers to raise the stakes in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, and they did.
Then she went off on a bit of a tangent, talking about her entry to WWE and her doubts about whether she was good enough or if people would accept her. But they did accept her and they cared so much that they put her on their shoulders and carried her into history. It’s the fans who carried her and who she clung to when she didn’t have anyone else, through injury and triumph. So it’s the fans who deserve to hear it first, she has to go away for a little while.
Lynch started really crying then, but Asuka’s music hit at just the right moment and Asuka stormed out and demanded her briefcase back. Lynch said she’s right, it is hers and that Asuka that has beaten her when no one else could and been the best wrestler in the world for a long time. And that’s why she’s so glad this is happening to her. The match was for so much more than an opportunity for the title. She knows Asuka hasn’t been able to open the briefcase, but she has the combination. Then she opened it to reveal the title belt inside and that the match was actually for the title, telling her, ‘I can’t fight anymore, but you can. You are the champion’.
Asuka ran off around the arena and celebrated on the announce desk then came back to the ring. Becky Lynch made her big announcement with these words, ‘As happy as you are to be the champion, I might be a little bit happier. So you go off and be a warrior, ‘cause I’m going to go and be a mother’.
Asuka’s reaction was beautiful. She apparently didn’t know before and she was so incredibly happy for her. She started a Becky chant in an empty arena. This title reign makes Asuka the second women’s grand slam champion.
A tearful Becky Lynch left Asuka to celebrate, when she got to the stage she said, ‘I’m going to miss you guys’ into the camera, then went backstage.
She had the beginnings of a backstage interview after the break, but it was hijacked by half the locker room rushing to congratulate her.
Much later in the show, we saw Vince McMahon congratulating her.
Asuka had a backstage interview but she didn’t say much. She was smiling and laughing, then Kairi Sane came to join her and they laughed and celebrated together. It does make you wonder where that leaves Kairi Sane. There is a lot of speculation over her WWE future. I hope she sticks around and gets a good singles run. Maybe she could be the one to take the title from Shayna Baszler after Baszler takes it from Asuka.
Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross visited from SmackDown as part of the Brand to Brand Invitational, although they are perfectly entitled to brand hop in their capacity as WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions. The brand to brand thing is WWE code for ‘we’re running with such a reduced roster we need people to do double duty’.
Bliss and Cross hosted A Moment of Bliss, with The IIconics as their guests. Peyton Royce and Billie Kay made their entrance unannounced, while Nikki Cross was wishing everyone a happy belated mothers’ day. Cross did the IIconics pose, which didn’t impress them, and Bliss got straight in with the digs about their return being upstaged by Becky Lynch’s announcement.
Royce and Kay demanded a title match. Bliss said that’s not how it works, so they downgraded it to a non-title match which happened after a break.
Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross vs The IIconics
Commentary informed us it has been seven months since The IIconics’ last match, but they’re still a very tight team. Bliss and Cross are too, which made for an entertaining match. Nikki Cross got caught out by an unseen tag and was isolated for a long time. Alexa Bliss came close to pinning Billie Kay when she got in, but it was broken up by Royce. Cross came in to deal with Royce and while the ref was distracted, Kay punched Bliss in the throat. He was paying attention by the time she tagged in Peyton Royce for their double team finisher.
Pinning the champions reaps rewards. The IIconics have a shot at the tag titles next week.
Shayna Baszler had a backstage interview where she asked how stupid you have to be to get knocked up when you’re the champion and accused Becky Lynch of throwing her career away. She said the kid will suck, citing Seth Rollins being the father as evidence.
Natalya took exception to that and confronted Baszler. It got nasty quick. Natalya called her out on disrespecting the miracle of motherhood and said she was looking forward to teaching her some manners. Baszler went low, asked what Natalya knew about motherhood and told her the Hart Dynasty will die with her. That crossed a line for me.
Shayna Baszler vs Natalya
The result of this was completely predictable, Natalya had a few opportunities to try to teach Baszler some manners, but never looked like coming close to winning. She did manage to avoid getting her arm stamped on like so many others have, but she didn’t avoid the knee strike which put her down for the three.
After Baszler left, Natalya had a full-on arm-flailing leg-kicking tantrum laid on her back in the ring.
Tegan Nox def. Indi Hartwell
Kayden Carter def. Aliyah
Tegan Nox vs Indi Hartwell
There’s a little low-key buzz in the way commentary have talked about Indi Hartwell in each of her brief appearances, but this is the first time we’ve really got to see what she’s about. I like her. She gave Tegan Nox a run for her money in the first half of the match, but fell foul of the Shiniest Wizard and got pinned.
Rhea Ripley had a pre-recorded promo segment to talk about what’s next for her. WrestleMania didn’t go as planned and she hasn’t had much rest since because the thought of Charlotte Flair walking around with her NXT title sickens her. Io Shirai put up a good fight but couldn’t get the job done, so Ripley is the person who has to bring the title back to NXT. If she has to beat that into Io Shirai then so be it, because she’s not finished with Charlotte Flair. The title belongs to her.
Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez got a video promo. Kai’s part of it was about her not being mentally tough enough and realising she had to change, and about being pushed out of the spotlight by Tegan Nox and generally underappreciated and overlooked. She also bigged up Gonzalez before she got to say her piece. Gonzalez said she joined forces with Kai because she knows what it’s like to be an outcast. This is the hurt business and they’re going to hurt a lot of people.
Kayden Carter vs Aliyah
I have no recollection of any real issues between the two of them, but they gave every impression of not liking each other very much. That was part of the story of the match, Aliyah’s new and improved nasty side. The other part of the story was their interested observer. Robert Stone came out to watch Aliyah and it ended up costing her the match. She was so eager to impress him that she changed her plan and went to the top turnbuckle instead of the second one, got knocked down and never recovered her momentum. Kayden Carter tapped her out shortly after.
Aliyah tried to stop Robert Stone leaving after the match but he took her hand off his arm and walked away.
We got another Dinner with the Garganos segment where Candice LeRae and Johnny Gargano talked about their recent victories and set out their next steps on their path to ruling NXT. Gargano appears to be going for Keith Lee and his North American Championship. LeRae isn’t going for the title immediately. She’s singled out Mia Yim as someone who gets opportunities LeRae doesn’t believe she deserves, such as the non-title match against Charlotte Flair. They used a switch from colour to black and white, with sound and visual effects, to highlight the ‘dark’ moments, but I’m not sure they added much.
This week was Superstar Pick week. Candy Floss was one of the superstars who got to choose a match. She chose Paige versus AJ Lee, where Paige won the title on her RAW debut, as the match that inspired her. It was quite nice watching the segment back. I haven’t seen it for years.
Dana Brooke def. Naomi
Naomi vs Dana Brooke
This was a fun if inconsequential match. I know not everyone can be in the title picture at once, but there is a distinct lack of hype around most of SmackDown’s women and it’s by no means their fault. I think it could have been a really decent match, but it was very short. Dana Brooke’s win took commentary and Naomi by surprise. I adore Naomi and she deserves a lot more credit than she gets, but it’s about time Dana Brooke’s hard work got rewarded.
Becky Lynch got a farewell video package on SmackDown, including some of the reactions from her colleagues. She has not officially retired, she’s on maternity leave, but she has said she’s done everything she wanted to do in wrestling and she’s not sure if she’ll come back.
Charlotte Flair paid SmackDown a visit. She seems to think that being a RAW superstar and NXT Women’s Champion means she can just show up where she wants and do what she wants. But, with WWE working with a reduced roster, that might not be far from the truth. It’s apparently part of the ‘Brand to Brand Invitational’.
Anyway, she called herself the hardest working woman in the industry and said it was by popular demand. For some reason she ran through her stats and mentioned her legacy, then Bayley and Sasha Banks came to join her.
There was a lot of snark as they reminded Flair Bayley beat her to win the title. Bayley mentioned becoming the only women’s grand slam champion in WWE, which she was but Asuka joined her on Monday. They tried to kick Flair off the show.
Flair said Sasha Banks made Bayley relevant as the NXT Women’s Champion, and now she’s the only reason Bayley is the SmackDown Women’s Champion. Then she turned to Banks and told her she couldn’t believe Sasha Banks was content to stand in Bayley’s corner as an afterthought.
Bayley challenged Flair to a match, which she accepted. But she wanted to ask Sasha Banks a question, is she her own woman or is she’s just going to be Bayley’s lackey and happy being an afterthought.
Next Friday we get a mixed tag match, Sonya Deville & Dolph Ziggler versus Mandy Rose and Otis. Sonya Deville cut a very mean promo about Mandy Rose, her ability in the ring, her choice of partner, and her value as a friend. She reminded Rose she said she was going to ruin her life, and she’s barely gotten started.
That’s it for another week of WWE women’s division action. Join me next week for whatever there is to round-up. In the meantime follow @ArnFuriousCom to make sure you never miss a review. You can also follow me @manda_why. Please stay safe.