Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It should have been a happy and busy week, with it being the go-home for Survivor Series. We got busy-ish, but we didn’t get happy because this was another of those “Budget cuts” weeks where people who deserved better lost their jobs.
Bianca Belair def. Tamina
Queen Zelina def. Nikki A.S.H.
Rhea Ripley def. Carmella
Bianca Belair told McKenzie Mitchell that Doudrop made it clear she thinks she should have Belair’s place on the Survivor Series team, but Belair doesn’t make the rules. Doudrop did what she did and said what she said and Belair feels how she feels about it, so if Doudrop wants to mix it up with her that’s fine. She’s not trying to take away from Doudrop’s athletic abilities, but she’s the one who keeps sticking her nose in Belair’s business.
Tamina appeared and said tonight Belair is her business. Belair said she was hoping for Doudrop, but Tamina will do.
Bianca Belair vs Tamina
It’s rare for Belair to face anyone a little bigger and at least as strong, so it was an interesting watch. Despite their relative longevity in the business, Belair is twenty times the wrestler Tamina is, but that didn’t stop her getting brutalised when Tamina caught her. There was a rough patch mid-match where Belair looked to be struggling to pull it together and work out how to beat her.
Tamina felled her with a superkick but took too long going to the top and Belair threw her down, but Tamina got her knees up for the follow-up moonsault. A short exchange later, Belair powered Tamina onto her shoulders and delivered the K.O.D. for the win.
Doudrop had been shown watching from backstage on a monitor. After the match, she came to the stage. She said it wouldn’t be fair of her to come down and take advantage when Belair has just had a match, but she’ll be looking for her once Survivor Series is over on Sunday.
Becky Lynch had a lot to say after Charlotte Flair’s verbal assault on last week’s SmackDown. She showed us the footage in case anyone missed it (Flair accusing her of having an identity crisis and suggesting the next catchphrase would be Becky Uh Oh).
There was an extra serious air to the way Lynch delivered her reminder of who she is. It’s no secret from the wrestling media that their real-life friendship is no more, so maybe that fed into it. Or maybe Becky Lynch is just that good. She’s the person who used to be Flair’s best friend. The person she rode everywhere with. The person who was there, so happy for every opportunity she got or title she won, and was also there with a shoulder to cry on every time things didn’t go her way. But she’s also the person who realised a friendship with Charlotte Flair comes with conditions, that Flair is the star and she is the one in the background. She’s the person who said to hell with that friendship and slapped her so hard across the face she catapulted herself into a different stratosphere. She’s the person who had to do so much more than just be a one-note rip off of somebody else. The person who had to tear herself apart and recreate herself time and time again so she could be the biggest star in this industry. She’s the person whose success has made Flair the most miserable human being she’s ever met. Who has made Flair so bitter she doesn’t even like herself anymore.
And most importantly, she’s the person Flair has to go one on one with at Survivor Series. The one who’ll make her face all her insecure demons. This is not about brand supremacy, it’s about personal legacy. And if Charlotte Flair really doesn’t remember who she is, on Sunday, she’ll be the person who beats the ever-loving piss out of her. Uh Oh.
Liv Morgan interrupted her and apologised for the whole love/hate/obsession thing she and Charlotte have going on. But last week Lynch just walked away from her and she can’t let her do that again. Especially now she’s finally won the opportunity she’s been waiting for. The chance to take the RAW Women’s Championship off the person she once admired the most.
Becky Lynch said she only left last week to give Morgan a moment with her victory, as she doesn’t get many of them. She had been expecting her and had a video clip lined up for her from just after she came back from maternity leave. It was Morgan giving an interview and telling them Lynch had hugged her and said she’d be a champion when she got back. She wasn’t, of course, but she was looking forward to getting there and she would like to take it off Becky Lynch.
Lynch apologised for getting her hopes up and said she had no idea she would underperform so badly. The crowd booed and Lynch said it wasn’t her fault, she wasn’t even there. The truth is, some people have it and some people don’t. For example, she went away for a year, came back and won the title in 26 seconds and has been killing the game ever since. And in all that time, Morgan has done nothing. She told her to get the title while she was gone because now she’s back she’s not getting her grubby little hands on it.
Liv Morgan said, ‘On behalf of the entire WWE Universe, I think we all can agree that big Time Becks is really just a big-time bitch.
Lynch went for the Manhandle Slam, but Morgan rolled through and took Lynch down. Lynch escaped without her title, so Liv Morgan held it aloft before putting it on the apron for her.
Nikki A.S.H., with Rhea Ripley, vs Queen Zelina, with Carmella
Corey Graves rhapsodising about his fiancée while on commentary, is getting exceedingly boring. Her match was second, but he still managed to talk about her instead of the action in the ring. They had to mention her for the finish because she distracted Nikki and delayed her climbing the turnbuckle. Vega knocked her down and pinned her off a code red.
Carmella went into the break mocking Nikki while Ripley was comforting her. Their match started during the ads, after Carmella’s glitter mask had been put on.
Rhea Ripley vs Carmella
Nikki A.S.H. and Queen Zelina were still at ringside. We joined the match with Carmella taking a beating, but she turned it around by kicking Ripley’s head into the ringpost. Things went well for her until she slapped Ripley on the back with both hands. Ripley’s expression changed and she raised a fist. Carmella screamed and turned her back, and Ripley gave her some payback.
Ripley has one of the nicest northern lights suplexes in WWE, but Carmella kicked out of it. Carmella’s superkicks were right on target after Ripley missed with a dropkick. She screamed when Ripley kicked out and didn’t seem to know what to do. Rhea Ripley saved her from the indecision by headbutting her and pinning her off a Riptide.
Queen Zelina grabbed a mask and congratulated Ripley on her victory and Nikki on being friends with a winner. But Ripley’s fluke victory doesn’t change anything. Queen Carmella and the most beautiful woman in WWE will lead Team RAW to Survivor Series victory, while Nikki is home alone with the losers.
I’m not sure where they’re going with humiliating Nikki repeatedly, but it needs a good payoff.
Persia Pirotta def. Gabby Stephens & Jenna Levy
Raquel Gonzalez vs Dakota Kai – No Contest
McKenzie Mitchell asked Raquel Gonzalez what we could expect to see in the main event against Dakota Kai. She said she hasn’t slept properly since the night before Halloween Havoc. All the time she had the title, it went everywhere with her, even to the gym. But Kai took it away with one shovel shot to the back. Now she has to watch Mandy Rose walking around with the title. She’ll deal with her later. Kai was always jealous of her success because she knew she couldn’t beat her. Tonight is about revenge and she’s going to beat the hell out of Kai. She hopes she brings the shovel because she’s going to bury her with it.
Lash Legend talked a bit about Kay Lee Ray pushing through Toxic Attraction to get to the ring last week. She thinks it’s going to get messy, and she’s almost certainly right.
Persia Pirotta vs Gabby Stephens & Jenna Levy
Persia Pirotta was alone because Dexter Lumis got injured earlier in the show and had to be taken to a medical facility. She let her tag partner, Mrs Dexter Lumis, Indi Hartwell go with him.
Robert Stone, alone again now Franky Monet has been released to become Taya Valkyrie again, Jessi Kamea has gone, and Aliyah is on SmackDown, came out to watch her. She was briefly distracted by him, but we’ll have to wait and see if she’s interested in gaining a spectacularly unsuccessful manager. He got to watch her win after a short but dominant performance though.
Dakota Kai seemed erratic and jumpy during her interview with McKenzie Mitchell. She asked Mitchell if she and Gonzalez had become best friends. Ever since their match at TakeOver, she’s been lost. She doesn’t even know who she is anymore. Her mind has been cloudy and the only way to purge that is to get rid of the past, which begins with ending Raquel. It all started at Halloween Havoc…
Mandy Rose butted in, with Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne beside her, to say it all ends tonight. Kai turned on her and said Rose would like that. The title would be protected and she’d owe her twice.
Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro got a little more character definition in the form of a vignette. It’s worth taking a look at. I’m hoping it’s the beginning of bigger things for them. They’ve been patiently working hard and waiting. It’s about time it paid off for them. I would have added the video, but WWE didn’t put it on their YouTube channel.
Raquel Gonzalez vs Dakota Kai
Gonzalez piled straight into Kai on the bell. Dakota Kai got battered and thrown around, barely even managing to land anything defensively for the first minute or so. She was still on the back foot after that, but it was a little less one-sided.
Kai was in control of the match when we came back from a break, after dodging Gonzalez in the corner so Gonzalez’ shoulder hit the post then kicking her in the face at ringside. They ended up fighting on the turnbuckle until Kai held on and jumped down, smashing Gonzalez chest into the corner. It wasn’t enough for the pin and Kai began to unravel. Gonzalez slammed her into the mat then took her down repeatedly.
Kai pulled off a bottom turnbuckle pad. The ref took it but didn’t put it back on because Gonzalez was mid pin attempt. Kai countered the Chingona Bomb. Gonzalez caught Kai’s foot in a kick. In the mad scramble to get the upper hand, Kai knocked Gonzalez into the exposed turnbuckle. She laid there cackling instead of covering, then went to get the shovel. The match wasn’t a no DQ, so if she’d used it she would have been disqualified, but Gonzalez kicked her in the stomach and took it off her.
As she stalked towards Kai, shovel raised, Toxic Attraction attacked her from behind. Cora Jade came down to help out and made it four on two, but she did have a skateboard for a while. Mandy Rose ended her heroism, and Jade got beaten up as well. Zoey Stark came out, one-week post-surgery, but she was just there to lend Io Shirai a crutch to pile in and join the fight. In the end, Shirai, Gonzalez, and Jade held the ring. Io Shirai grabbed a mic and yelled ‘WarGames’.
So that’s one complete WarGames team, and one with one place to fill (there is no way Zoey Stark will be back before December 5th). It would be nice to see one of the more experienced women on the roster take that place, if there’s anyone left. No matter how well prepared the WarGames matches are, they’re still dangerous matches and the more experience in there the better.
Aleah James def. Nina Samuels
Aleah James vs Nina Samuels
Nina Samuels accidentally set this one up for herself by badmouthing James within earshot. James is tiny but quick. She looks like she’s having fun, which is always endearing, and she was winning the skill battle in the early going.
Samuels made herself a break by dragging James’ throat down onto the rope. She inflicted a five-count of punishment by standing on James’ hair and pulling her arms, then set about bringing her strength advantage into play. She was in complete control as long as she held on, throwing James around at will. Bending James double so she could kick herself in the back of the head with her own foot was an interesting submission attempt.
Aleah James almost rolled Samuels up and pinned her, and had a pin attempt from a crossbody. Samuels tripped her into the corner and delivered what she thought was the finishing suplex, but James shifted her weight and got her shoulders down so she had to let go. When and angry Samuels was trying to finish her, James shifted her weight got her in a small package and pinned her.
Backstage, Aleah James had a quick interview about how happy she was, then Isla Dawn attacked her and stole the scrunchie out of her hair. James needed medical assistance when she left.
A trainer interrupter Xia Brookside telling a reporter she was going to see Sid Scala, to inform her she was late for training. Brookside said she didn’t have to go because she had her own private classes, and produced a note.
So, they’re really taking it down the princess of nepotism route then. I’m so disappointed for her.
Tiffany Stratton def. Amari Miller
Yulisa Leon & Valentina Feroz
Amari Miller vs Tiffany Stratton
It was Tiffany Stratton’s debut. Her gimmick is Daddy’s little rich girl, and she has an Instagram. They gave her mic time to talk about how shallow she is, but it’s ok because she’s beautiful. She’s all about the best of everything and she promises she’s too much to handle. Honestly, the mic time might have been a poor judgement call. And does WWE really need yet another ‘everyone’s jealous because I’m hot’ gimmick in the women’s division?
Miller is in the process of trying to build herself some momentum and get noticed, which she should because she’s actually decent. Stratton spent a lot of the match in a headlock, so it was kind of hard to tell what she’s got to offer. Commentary told us she has a Crossfit background and she showed off some gymnastics. Miller kicked her in the face in response to that, but Stratton definitely has some aggression.
The pin was shoddy. A reversed roll up pulling Miller’s arms to keep her down, but it’s a debut win for Tiffany Stratton.
Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro’s vignette from NXT 2.0 was shown on 205 ahead of their match. I hope they get a quick push, maybe a brief title run, then move on to prop up the struggling main roster.
Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter vs. Yulisa Leon & Valentina Feroz
Kayden Carter and Yulisa Leon had a bit of a dance-off, so at least everyone was having fun. Carter and Catanzaro’s teamwork is exceptional. They’re popular with the crowd. And they can go. It’s time to let them out of the kiddie pool. They got the main event here.
Leon and Feroz had a good match considering they’ve never teamed. They got Carter isolated for a while and kept her there with some fast tags. Catanzaro almost got pinned when she came in. It finished with Yulisa Leon taking the double team finisher and getting pinned though, as well it should.
Thursday – More Releases
Another round of gut-wrenching WWE releases happened on Thursday night. This one mostly hit the men’s division. The rest of Hit Row (Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott, Ashante ‘Thee’ Adonis, Top Dolla) followed B-Fab who was released in the last round. Completely unfathomable as the group were just money. John Morrison was released, just a couple of weeks after his wife (Taya Valkyrie/Franky Monet). Drake Maverick again, after the humiliating crap they put him through last time, Shane Thorne, and Jaxson Ryker were also let go (as per Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful). The women’s division suffered only one loss, but it was a big one, Tegan Nox.
She’s had the worst luck possible in WWE with injury after injury and I don’t think she ever got to show what she’s really got to offer. She was a favourite of mine as Nixon Newell on the indies, and she’s already changed her Twitter name back, so I can’t wait to see what she does from here.
The WWE Superstar pages are rarely correct, but with the release of Tegan Nox, RAW are down to 11 active members of the women’s division, 12 if you include Sonya Deville who is listed on both rosters but is currently not quite back in the ring. SmackDown have 9 listed active women’s division members. Bayley and Asuka are not attached to a brand. NXT are doing ok at 18, although Candice LeRae is on maternity leave and Zoey Stark is currently injured. Even NXT UK is listing ten superstars in the women’s division. So how does the one hour per week pre-taped UK offshoot have more women on their roster than SmackDown?
I feel strongly about writing this column because women’s wrestling is still woefully underrepresented. But it’s getting harder and harder to watch WWE. I’m tired. Tired of watching people I have followed and supported get their dream job, only to be treated terribly and released without a chance to shine. The way WWE trickle releases in batches every few weeks with no more reason than “Budget cuts” is cruel. Morale can’t be good.
Shayna Baszler & Natalya def. Naomi & Aliyah
Sasha Banks def. Shotzi
The build for Charlotte Flair vs Becky Lynch at Survivor Series was done via video package. Long package. Lots of promos.
Naomi & Aliyah vs Shayna Baszler & Natalya
After Aliyah was removed from the Survivor Series team last week, immediately after being asked how long she’d known Naomi, they were teamed up this week. It was a sham match. After a couple of minutes, Natalya briefly got Naomi’s shoulders on the mat and the ref fast counted the pin.
Shotzi called Sasha Banks a “Petty vindictive little brat” and said that when she gets screwed over she doesn’t forget, ever.
Banks said no one would know who Shotzi was if it wasn’t for her and if she had a nickel for every time someone tried to make a name off her she’d be rich… which she is.
It got heated, so Sonya Deville gave them a match and told them she expects them to shake hands at the end of it. On Sunday, they have to be teammates.
Sasha Banks vs Shotzi
We need a long-running feud between these two because the PPV payoff would have some truly terrifying moments, being as they’re both fans of the “has she hurt herself?” big move style.
Shotzi trapped Banks’ arm in one of the handholds for the steps and kicked at it a couple of times. Banks was clearly in a lot of pain after that, but it didn’t seem to slow her down, and it didn’t stop her landing double knees from the apron to put Shotzi down going into a break.
It was a vicious battle for an early feud match. Shotzi fired Banks up with some trash-talk, but halted her momentum by dragging her into the post by her injured arm. She landed the Ball Pit senton cleanly, but Banks rolled out of the ring to deny her the pin.
When Shotzi rolled her back in, Banks scrabbled off Shotzi’s shoulders and modified the Bank Statement to avoid using her injured arm.
Sonya Deville came to the stage and put her hands on her hips and glared at Banks. Sasha Banks dragged Shotzi to her feet and stuck her hand out. Shotzi looked back at Deville before reluctantly shook Banks’ hand. As soon as they let go, Banks gave her a backstabber. On the way out, she protested to Deville that she did what she wanted, and said she’d see them on Sunday.
Xia Li’s vignette was a harrowing story of bereavement and exploitation, set to a cartoon with superhero undertones. Here. Watch it.
On Thursday, Toni Storm was announced on social media as Aliyah’s replacement in SmackDown’s Survivor Series team. Storm is very excited about it.
Kayla Braxton asked her what made her challenge Charlotte Flair last week. Storm said Charlotte Flair is consumed by her match against Becky Lynch and when you’re consumed by something you become vulnerable. She’ll be even more vulnerable after he loses to Lynch on Sunday. We all know that Flair’s ego can’t handle that, so she’ll come for Storm all guns blazing because she didn’t care who Flair was. Lots of people are afraid of Charlotte, but she’s not. When Becky Lynch beats her on Sunday, which Storm is confident she will, Flair will want to take it all out on her. Toni Storm just wants her title match.
Flair appeared and said after she proves her superiority against Becky on Sunday and beats the crap out of her, Storm is next. She’s not worthy of a title shot, but she’ll give her a match and do to her what she’s going to do to Becky Lynch.
When Flair left, Toni Storm grinned and said it was exactly as she thought.
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.