Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. Survivor Series kicks us off this week. The hope is that once it’s over, all the bickering will stop, but that doesn’t sound like WWE.
Sasha Banks def. Asuka
Team RAW def. Team SmackDown
Bianca Belair had a Kickoff Show panel interview. It was all going well until Natalya hijacked it, then it got really and truly cringeworthy, as it does any time Natalya is allowed to open her mouth around a microphone. Natalya is still deluding herself that she’s the best of all time, or any time. Belair just wants to be sure Natalya won’t be the reason Team SmackDown gets beaten.
Billie Kay tried to give her resume and headshot to Baron Corbin, apparently trying to help him with his interpersonal skills based on her studying psychology at uni. He wasn’t impressed. I hope they do something with her. They split the IIconics up and now Peyton Royce is hanging out with Lacey Evans and Kay is begging for any kind of work. It’s still feeling like it was a stupid idea.
Sasha Banks vs Asuka – Champion vs Champion
There are no stakes in a champion versus champion match except pride, but there was a lot of that at stake. Sasha Banks arguably needed the win more than Asuka, as she’s still regaining her confidence post-Bayley, but a loss wouldn’t be great for either of them. That said, wins and losses aren’t everything and this was a great showcase for them.
I thoroughly enjoyed this match. Watching Asuka is a joyful thing. She does everything with humour and personality, and she’s so damned good.
They nearly got themselves counted out when Asuka met Banks’ leap off the barricade with double knees to the face. It took them both until nine to get back in. They’d both taken a huge amount of punishment by then. Each time one of them got close to a pin, the other stepped it up a gear. It was great.
It was either going to take something huge or something ridiculously simple to finish it after they’d kicked out or struggled out of everything they’d normally use to finish matches. They went with the simple approach. They’d rolled around on the mat exchanging pin attempts to no avail, and Asuka had landed a knee to Banks’ face. She rebounded off the ropes to deliver another but Banks tripped her and rolled her up for the win.
Team RAW – Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Lacey Evans, Peyton Royce, & Lana vs Team SmackDown – Bayley, Bianca Belair, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, & Natalya – Survivor Series match
When the cameras looked in on Team RAW’s preparations, Lana was stood away from the rest of the team and Nia Jax was telling the others not to tag her in. During Lana’s entrance, commentary made a point of mentioning that Lana was the only member of Team RAW to have earned her place. SmackDown’s men’s team lost without eliminating a single member of Team RAW, so SmackDown’s women were anxious not to do the same.
Inevitably, Lana tagged herself in. She had a go at pinning Liv Morgan but ended up settling old scores with Natalya. Or trying to. She was tagged out by Jax after Evans and Royce refused to tag her, then forced to stand on the steps by Jax and Baszler.
It took ages for anyone to be eliminated. Peyton Royce superplexed Bayley off the top turnbuckle to the outside onto everyone except Lana, who was still on the stairs. Royce and Bayley made it back in before the count and Royce eliminated Bayley. Natalya came in to replace her and eventually eliminated Royce with a Sharpshooter. At least that saved SmackDown from losing in a clean sweep.
Natalya was eliminated as she tried to put Baszler into a Sharpshooter for invading the ring. Lacey Evans was the legal superstar, and she gave Natalya a Woman’s Right. Lacey Evans came close to eliminating Bianca Belair with a top turnbuckle Spanish fly, but The Riott Squad saved her.
Baszler eliminated Riott, but it was a dodgy one. She had Riott in a Kirifuda Clutch and Riott flipped over and pinned her shoulders. The ref was dealing with Nia Jax causing a distraction on the outside and didn’t see it. By the time he turned back, Riott had passed out because Baszler hadn’t let go of the Kirifuda, so Baszler pinned her.
Liv Morgan eliminated Lacey Evans with a crucifix bomb after a barrage of furious offence at Riott being eliminated. Nia Jax eliminated Liv Morgan, leaving Belair alone on Team SmackDown with Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, and Lana remaining on Team RAW. Lana was still on the steps.
Shayna Baszler got the Kirifuda in tight on Belair but Bianca Belair would not tap. She struggled to her feet with Baszler on her back and collapsed with one arm over the ropes. Baszler refused to let go of the hold and argued with the ref that Belair was unconscious. He disqualified her. Belair and Nia Jax fought on the outside and Belair tipped Jax over the barricades. Unfortunately, she didn’t keep track of the referee’s count and she and Jax were counted out.
Lana was the sole survivor, which was the only way to end this storyline, however ridiculous. I really hope this is the end of the bullying storyline.
That match was pretty great. It elevated everyone and hurt no one. Bianca Belair, Peyton Royce, and Liv Morgan were standout, which can only help in establishing their places in the pecking order. Bianca Belair, Nia Jax, and Shayna Baszler weren’t pinned or submitted, so their claims of dominance are untarnished. It all just worked. And Lana didn’t go through the announce desk.
The next PPV is TLC on December 20th. Let the build begin.
Asuka def. Lana (DQ)
Asuka & Lana
Lana was interviewed by Sarah Schreiber about being the sole survivor on the RAW team. She said she was shocked and it was the greatest moment of her career. She refused to be drawn about the possibility of a RAW Women’s Championship match, saying she just wanted to live in the moment and not to wake her up if it was a dream.
Asuka found Lana in the corridor a little later and said she’d heard Lana wanted to challenge her for the title. Lana protested but Asuka said she likes challenges and she accepts. And who knows, tonight she may go home the RAW Women’s Champion.
Asuka (C) vs Lana – RAW Women’s Championship match
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler came to ringside before the match started and yelled at Lana before they joined commentary. Neither of them were happy about Lana having a title shot. And the match didn’t really get to happen. Asuka ended up in front of the announce desk and Jax and Baszler talked some trash. Asuka threw water on them and Jaz hit her, causing Lana to be disqualified. Jax and Baszler beat on Asuka a bit then Jax hoisted her onto her shoulders while Baszler cleared the announce desk. Lana pulled Asuka down and they escaped through the ring.
Jax and Baszler grabbed mics and challenged them to a tag match.
Asuka & Lana vs Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler
Lana got beaten up a lot by Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler. They weren’t even trying to pin her, just making her pay for being the sole survivor. Which she only did by following their orders and staying out of the way. She finally caught a break by kicking Baszler away while she was trying to pull her out of the ring and making the tag.
Asuka had been watching for too long and took it to Baszler hard. Nia Jax attacked Lana on the outside and dragged her towards the announce desk. Lana fought her way off Jax’ shoulders so Jax pushed her against the desk and charged at her. Lana moved and Jax went tumbling over the desk. While Lana was staring after her with her back to the ring, Baszler reached through the ropes and locked in Kirifuda Clutch. Asuka grabbed Baszler from behind and rolled her up for the pin. Lana ran off up the ramp before the first bars of Asuka’s music had finished and stood on the stage declaring her love for Asuka.
I’m going to add the Firefly Fun House video in again because it’s either that or write an essay on how funny, silly, creepy, and clever it is. You’ll be much more entertained by the video, I promise.
The Firefly Fun House episode was to build to Alexa Bliss’ match against Nikki Cross.
The video package for the match was excellent and led into Nikki Cross’ pre-match interview. She knows she said friends don’t give up on friends, but she didn’t give up. Alexa Bliss gave up on her and their friendship. All Cross has done for the last few weeks is try to get through to Bliss and make her see she’s being controlled and manipulated. Last week Bliss made it perfectly clear that she doesn’t want Cross’ help, she wants The Fiend. That’s fine. Message received. But tonight she’s going to beat The Fiend out of Alexa Bliss.
Nikki Cross vs Alexa Bliss
Alexa Bliss played mind games throughout this much too short match. To start with it was childish games, slapping hands and getting Cross to chase her around the ring, all with the creepy childlike smile. When things got serious, she tried smiling and laughing through Cross’ beatdown then changed tactics. Cross was in full flow and Bliss started crying. She didn’t appear to recognise what she was wearing or know what she was doing and cried for Cross to help her. She was apologising as Cross pulled her to her feet and hugged her. As soon as Cross was holding her, Bliss planted her face into the canvas and pinned her by laying on her with her hands under her chin.
Cross was left crying in the ring while Bliss walked off giggling.
Candice LeRae def. Ember Moon
Kevin Owens joined commentary in place of Wade Barrett this week and was an absolute delight for the whole show.
Candice LeRae, with Indi Hartwell, vs Ember Moon
Candice LeRae matches are now all two on one effectively. Indi Hartwell wasted little time getting involved, but Ember Moon punched her in the face for her troubles and kept her out of the way for a little while. LeRae didn’t want to take part in the match, but once it was clear that Moon wasn’t going to let her escape, she made the best of it.
It was a good back and forth match until Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez turned up and Moon found herself outnumbered four to one. The match carried on, but there’s no way Moon wasn’t distracted by LeRae’s entourage. Kevin Owens made me laugh when he corrected Vic Joseph saying LeRae almost had a Gargano Escape on and told him it wasn’t almost, it was a Gargano Escape.
The entourage came into play when Ember Moon went to the top for the Eclipse. Kai and Gonzalez got on the apron to distract the ref while Indi Hartwell pushed LeRae out of the way and took the move herself. Before Moon had a chance to recover from delivering it, Candice LeRae kicked her in the head and delivered the Wicked Stepsister for the win.
After the match Moon found herself facing a beatdown from LeRae, Kai, and Gonzalez. Toni Storm arrived and pulled Moon to her feet. They hugged and agreed to rush the ring, except instead of sliding into the ring next to her, Storm pulled Moon back out by her feet. She punched Ember Moon in the face and threw her into the steps then rolled her back into the ring to get beaten up.
A little later, Candice LeRae formally introduced her WarGames team, Dakota Kai, Raquel Gonzalez, and Toni Storm. Storm said she did tell people they were going to see a whole new Toni Storm when she came back.
Weirdly, Candice LeRae and Johnny Gargano did the Black Friday merchandise push this year. Not entirely in keeping with where their characters are.
Shotzi Blackheart is doing the WarGames promos now, while rebuilding her tank. I’m completely on board with her doing all the PPV advertising from now on.
Rhea Ripley had an in-ring segment to tell us that Io Shirai is one of the toughest women she’s ever stepped in the ring with but we were all wrong and she’s not going anywhere. The hug that caused so much speculation was pure respect, nothing more. She’s not going anywhere and she’s focused on getting the title back.
Candice LeRae turned up at that point, with Toni Storm. She made some condescending remarks then told Ripley that the difference between her and Ripley was that Ripley talks and talks but can’t back it up. She, on the other hand, talks the talk and walks the walk. While she was talking, Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez arrived. Gonzalez had Io Shirai draped over her shoulder unconscious.
They dumped Shirai on the ramp and rushed the ring. Ripley dodged past Storm, LeRae, and Kai and kicked Gonzalez to the mat, then went back to take on the rest. Gonzalez was up fairly quickly and however hard she fought, Ripley had no chance against all four women. Interestingly, no one came to help Ripley, they just beat her up until she stopped getting back up then went and stood over the still unconscious Io Shirai and watched Ripley writhing in agony.
Candice LeRae gave a quick interview in the parking lot while helping Indi Hartwell, who was in a neck brace, to the car. She said anyone stupid enough to join Shotzi’s team is getting run over. And next week Raquel Gonzalez will defeat Shotzi Blackheart to give them the advantage. There was another person in the car wearing a ghost face mask, so I guess there is still a mystery helper.
Boa and Xia Li appeared in a segment this week. They were driven somewhere and met someone they called master then were taken in to see a hooded figure. They cried and apologised but were told ‘Enough’ and had a symbol painted on their hand. We saw the eye of the hooded figure before the segment ended.
Jinny def. Isla Dawn
Jinny vs Isla Dawn
Poor Isla Dawn didn’t even get a televised entrance for this sub-three-minute match (which was interrupted by a WALTER ident clip). She started well and it could have turned into a decent match, I think. It didn’t get a chance though. Jinny tapped Dawn out and there weren’t even any post-match shenanigans to justify making the match so short.
NXT UK have a lot of work to do on their women’s division but I’m yet to be convinced they care enough to do it. If you make the comparison with NXT’s multi-layered storylines in the women’s division which include a good percentage of the roster, NXT UK’s barely there women’s division is just disrespectful to the superstars.
Bianca Belair def. Natalya
Bianca Belair vs Natalya
Bayley arrived unannounced before the match and joined commentary. Bayley was trashing Bianca Belair as the woman who ruined it for all of them at Survivor Series, despite Bayley being the first woman eliminated. She also offered Michael Cole a one on one match with her. But she got punched in the face by Belair when she started some trash-talk while Belair and Natalya were on the outside, and knocked off the apron by Natalya. The punch was aimed at Natalya, but she ducked.
Natalya knocking her off the apron was an accident as well, but it left to the end of the match. Belair kicked Natalya away to prevent her locking in the Sharpshooter and that sent her into Bayley who was on her way to get payback for the punch. Natalya got rolled up and pinned before she recovered from the collision. Not a bad match, Natalya is good at making the
Judging by their ongoing exchanges after the match, Bayley could be Bianca Belair’s first proper main roster feud. If that’s the case, not only will it be great, but it shows the kind of trajectory Belair is on. Corey Graves and Michael Cole once again agreed she’ll be champion within a year, and I hope they’re right.
Billie Kay is still handing out her headshot and resumé. This time she crashed in on commentary with it and offered to take over. They declined.
In a promo aimed at Sasha Banks, we found out that Carmella thinks the reason she lost the title and status she had was that she was doing things for her fans and other people and not being herself. She’s not doing that anymore. People jump on her command now.
When she finished her promo and clicked her fingers for a drink, it didn’t happen. She clicked them again and the drink appeared, but the hand carrying it had a BOSS ring on it. Banks threw the drink in her face and beat on her until she could get her into the Bank Statement. It took two officials to get her to let go.
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.