Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. Bit of a disappointing week from a matches perspective, with nothing going over five minutes. And another week of talent losses as the WWE roster cull continues.
Nikki Cross def. Charlotte Flair
Reginald def. Shayna Baszler
Mandy Rose & Shayna Baszler def. Naomi & Lana
After Adnan Virk’s departure last week, Jimmy Smith joined Corey Graves and Byron Saxton at the commentary desk. I was impressed, he asked questions instead of diving in and getting stuff wrong and his comments added value. And he didn’t bash Graves and Saxton’s heads together, so he must have the patience of a saint. I think he’ll be good, but who knows what the hell is going on with WWE’s hiring and firing these days.
Miz TV opened the show this week, which is all Miz can do at the moment as he’s on the injured list for the first time ever. He’s decided to use his platform to support other superstars. Admirable, if he was going to raise up talent struggling to find a spotlight, but I’m not sure Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley fit into that category.
John Morrison was wearing a garlic wreath because he’s still a little traumatised by the zombies at Backlash and the first thing Flair did when Miz brought her out was to complain about the smell. Miz and Morrison toadied out some sycophantic laughter at a weak joke. Flair delivered a quick promo saying Ripley’s had her fairytale WrestleMania story but sometimes dreams become nightmares and she’s sending Rhea to hell at Hell in a Cell, then Rhea Ripley came out to join them.
Ripley told Flair to go to hell if she thought she was going to send her to hell. Morrison asked her for her favourite garlic bread recipe to check she wasn’t a vampire (he’s going through some things). Ripley said she wasn’t a vampire, she was a nightmare to everyone on the RAW women’s division. She offered to let them interview her in three weeks, after Hell in a Cell, when she’s still going to be the RAW Women’s Champion.
Flair reminded her she couldn’t beat Nikki Cross last week. Miz chimed in to say that was true and as a champion, she should beat all challenger, then showed footage of her being timed out in the beat the clock challenge. Flair started taunting her again when the video was done, but Nikki Cross appeared and cut her off.
Cross apologised to Miz for interrupting his show and told him she was a big fan. She was there because she beat the RAW Women’s Champion last week and wants a shot at whoever wins at Hell in a Cell. Flair scoffed derisively. Ripley stood and towered over her to say if there were four minutes on the clock last week instead of two, Cross wouldn’t be standing there. But they’re cool and she did earn her respect. Cross thanked her and told Flair she could beat her in two minutes too, and if she did, then would it be ok for her to get a title shot?
Charlotte Flair was outraged at the audacity. She said it was ridiculous and she could beat Cross in one minute… so Nikki Cross slapped her. That had the desired effect and Flair called her a troll and gave her the match.
Charlotte Flair vs Nikki Cross – Two Minute Challenge
Cross took a different approach to this one. She got in and out of the ring and avoided Flair for well over a minute. She even ran behind Rhea Ripley, who had settled herself next to the announce desk to watch, and let Flair waste a few seconds yelling at her.
First contact was made, a knee to Cross’ abdomen from Flair, with 40 seconds left on the clock. At 30 seconds Cross was on her back as a result of a clothesline. Flair sat Cross on the top turnbuckle and Cross DDT’d her from there. Cross fired a kick at Flair’s head before Charlotte Flair grabbed her to attempt the figure four. That was as far as she got before the timer ran out.
Nikki Cross’ win/loss record now states she beat Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair on consecutive weeks. Flair was furious and tried to blame Ripley. Ripley gave Cross a round of applause and laughed a lot.
WWE really need to use Nikki Cross more effectively. She’s pure joy in human form. Even Miz was smiling when she interrupted Miz TV, and Ripley clearly enjoys interacting with her. I think they could have great chemistry in a proper match, so let us find out.
Shayna Baszler vs Reginald
Before he went out for the match, Reginald told Nia Jax he didn’t need her help in the ring because he could handle Shayna Baszler alone. He asked her to stay backstage and promised her he’d be fine.
This was almost an intergender match, and I’m sure there will be people who argue it was one. It started as expected, with Reginald using his acrobatics to evade Baszler. He tried to roll her up for a sneaky pin and failed. Then he picked her up and bodyslammed her. He immediately looked like he regretted it and Nia Jax was shown looking shocked backstage. Baszler made him pay by absolutely destroying his left leg.
Despite the punishment, Reginald didn’t tap, and freeing himself from an ankle lock sent Baszler face-first into the corner, albeit gently. Somehow, he landed the most awkward-looking spinning crossbody that floored Baszler and hurt her… I’ve watched it in slow motion and maybe he landed on her shoulder. He hopped up to the top, but missed his moonsault and ended up in the Kirifuda Clutch.
Before he could tap, fire shot out of the ringpost behind them and while Baszler was wondering what the hell was going on, Reginald grabbed her and pinned her.
I suspect he’s going to pay for that, but he got the hell out of there before Baszler got back up, and celebrated backstage with Nia Jax.
Naomi & Lana vs Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke
Natalya and Tamina joined commentary for the short match. As far as we knew then, it was a match between two teams hoping for a tag title match down the line. Annoyingly, as usual, it meant most of the match was completely ignored while Natalya talked in soundbites.
It was decent enough. Naomi was taken out of the match by a knee from Mandy Rose that knocked her from the apron to the floor. Lana fought on for a while but succumbed to Brooke and Rose’s double team pin.
No one, presumably including Lana, knew this would be her final match in WWE.
Later in the show, Alexa Bliss invited Reginald to join her and Lilly in Alexa’s Playground. He accepted, which might have been braver than facing Baszler. She congratulated him on his victory and asked him how he felt. He said apart from what Baszler did to his leg, he feels great. Lilly wanted to ask him a question and Bliss got upset he wasn’t answering until she remembered only she can hear Lilly. She wanted to know about his time at Cirque du Solei, but we didn’t get to hear it because Shayna Baszler appeared and beat him up so she could take his place.
Bliss said Baszler wasn’t invited because Lilly doesn’t like her. Baszler said Bliss was becoming a big problem and she just saw how she handles her problems. Before this gets out of hand she thinks they should have a chat, so she’ll see her next week. Baszler crouched down and told Lilly she was just a stupid doll then left. Bliss looked at Lilly and nodded and stared after Baszler.
Eva Marie’s vignette this week actually showed her training in the ring. That’s a little more hopeful. There’s still no debut date.
Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell def. Zoey Stark & Zayda Ramier
Ember Moon stormed to the ring between matches and called out Raquel Gonzalez. She’s angry about the post-match attack on Shotzi Blackheart last week. Gonzalez came out, despite William Regal trying to get in her way and stop her. Moon kicked and punched her out of the ring as soon as she got in and security pulled her away. Dakota Kai attacked Moon while Regal and security were still occupied with Gonzalez.
Later in the show, Moon had an angry interview with McKenzie Mitchell. She said one of the things she finds it hard to get her head around is that Gonzalez is one of the most dominant champions in NXT history but she consistently uses her lackey, Dakota Kai to fight her battles for her. But she’s going to hit Gonzalez where it hurts. She starts next week by taking out Dakota Kai, then at TakeOver she’ll take the title.
Candice LeRae was not in a good mood. She yelled at McKenzie Mitchell for being excited about Poppy coming back. When she looked to Indi Hartwell for backup, she found Hartwell was listening to 80s power ballads. She dragged Hartwell off and left the headphones behind. Dexter Lumis appeared a few minutes after they’d left and put the headphones on.
Xia Li has been holding a grudge against Mercedes Martinez since Martinez beat her in her very first match, at the Mae Young Classic. She has to finish her to restore her destiny now she’s a true warrior, and she’s planning to do it at TakeOver.
Mercedes Martinez said she’s been a marked woman her entire career. Xia Li isn’t the same person Martinez beat in the Mae Young Classic, she’s more badass and dangerous, but so is she. She’s not standing in the way of Li’s destiny, Li is standing in her path to another title match. At the Mae Young Classic, but at TakeOver, she runs through her.
Candice LeRae & Indi Hartwell vs Zoey Stark & Zayda Ramier
Fun fact, Candice LeRae has wrestled two and a half times as many matches as the other three women in this match added together. This short non-title match was overshadowed by commentary talking about Hartwell and Lumis, but the match itself was decent. Stark and Ramier had a couple of chances on the champs, including a double team which had to be broken up by Hartwell. Hartwell was also responsible for tipping Stark out of the ring. Zoey Stark hit her had on the way down, taking her out of the match. LeRae delivered the Wicked Stepsister to Ramier and Hartwell finish things with her Pretty Savage springboard elbow.
WWE Releases – Again
Another week another round of WWE releases, but there were some huge names on this week’s list. Braun Strowman was quite literally the biggest of the releases, but the women’s division took a hard hit as well. Santana Garrett was cut from NXT, which is a shame but they never used her properly anyway. Shockingly, Lana and Ruby Riott were also let go. They were both on tv within the last week, which makes it extra shocking, but Strowman was in a title match at the last PPV so you can never tell. Aleister Black said on Twitch that budget cuts had been cited to him – the indies will be thrilled to get Tommy End back – but it must be a very uncomfortable time to work for WWE.
Ruby Riott will probably revert to being Heidi Lovelace and be welcomed back to the indies with all the love WWE never managed to find for her. I’ve no idea why, she’s genuinely great, but they couldn’t seem to find a place for an extremely talented, original, and authentic wrestler who the crowd actually liked. Liv Morgan summed up Riott/Lovelace’s future with a tweet saying whoever is lucky enough to get Heidi Lovelace on their roster wins. She’d slot straight into AEW or Impact’s women’s divisions, but there are also opportunities for her in Japan, so it remains to be seen who makes her the best offer.
Of all of them, Lana is probably the one I feel most sorry for. It’s well documented that she knew how bad she was when she started, and she worked her butt off. She took every scrap of opportunity they gave her, and created a few of her own. She allowed herself to be put through terrible and humiliating storylines just to stay relevant. And she continued to work and learn and improve. That was her thing. Every partner they paired her with, she learned from. Every storyline they gave her, she put everything into it. She never stopped working to improve. I wish her every success whatever she does next. With that work ethic, she’s bound to be a success.
For the second week running, NXT UK didn’t feel the need to showcase their women’s division. The closest we got was Jinny accompanying Joseph Connors to the ring and costing Flash Morgan Webster their match. Dani Luna ran in with Mark Andrews at the end and she and Jinny stared at each other a bit. Aoife Valkyrie got a vignette about testing her limits and coming back stronger from failure. Kay Lee Ray and Meiko Satomura got a hype package for their match next week, but only the pre-recorded one. At least we know we’re getting a match next week.
Carmella def. Liv Morgan
Carmella vs Liv Morgan
Michael Cole said Liv Morgan was ‘going it alone tonight’, with no reference, of course, to the fact she was alone because they fired her teammate. He also said she was feeling ready for the opportunity and they played a video of her saying she was going to improve Carmella’s looks with a boot to the face. Hopefully, this is the start of a big push for Morgan, but I’m sure it’s not the way she would have wanted to get it.
She had a great match. Bigger, louder, more assertive, and she had a fair measure of control. Sadly, it wasn’t a long match and she tapped out in the Code of Silence, but it looked like a new start for her (how many is that now? I hope this one sticks).
Bianca Belair addressed the WWE Universe and said that ever since she won the title Bayley has been so pressed, but all she’s done about it is laugh. She needs to realise most of the WWE Universe isn’t laughing with her, they’re laughing at her. But that laugh is getting to Belair more than she thought it would, which is funny because it’s not like Bayley’s the first person to ever try her. People have been trying to make her shrink herself to soothe their insecurities since she was three feet tall and she left them all in the dust and kept winning and achieving. She’s dealt with all that, but she’s never had anyone laugh in her face. That’s utter disrespect and she’s not standing for that. She has a solution though, she’s challenging Bayley to a match at Hell in a Cell… which presumably is exactly what Bayley wanted in the first place.
Bayley didn’t immediately answer the challenge, but the awful fake laugh began to ring out and she eventually appeared on the big screen. She’s not coming out because the world doesn’t revolve around Belair, and anyway, she’s not even in the building. She was responding from her oasis, a sofa surrounded by pictures of herself. She accepted the challenge, claiming it was Belair easing her conscience by giving her a fair rematch, and said she wouldn’t be the only one laughing after she beat her. The ThunderDome changed to show every screen with a laughing Bayley to end the segment.
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.