Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. Once again, NXT had the best of the women’s division action this week. It was go-home week for NXT TakeOver WarGames, and they marked it with a brutal ladder match to decide whether Team Blackheart or Team LeRae would get the advantage in the WarGames match. There is stuff going on for the main roster brands as well. We found out who Sasha Banks TLC challenger will be on SmackDown.
Asuka & Lana def. Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler
Dana Brooke def. Reckoning
I decided to keep covering Alexa Bliss’ interactions because, while she’s not wrestling, I’m really enjoying the stuff she’s doing since she joined with The Fiend. She’s great in this storyline. She hosted A Moment of Bliss, with Randy Orton as her guest, to open this week’s RAW. The set has changed. The chairs are now kiddie style, Bliss sits on them cross-legged, and the coffee table is a doll in a cage. It was an interesting segment. Randy Orton is the best he’s ever been right now. It finished with Orton saying he thinks he’s found The Fiend’s weakness and it’s Bliss. She played mind games with him, asking ‘Who’s manipulating who?’ He scooped her up when The Fiend came for him, she’s so tiny she doesn’t even come up to Orton’s shoulder, and instead of attacking The Fiend walked over very carefully and offered his arms for Bliss to be placed in. Orton was out of the ring within a second of handing her over and backed up the ramp asking, ‘Who’s laughing now’.
Sarah Schreiber caught Lana for a quick word while Asuka was making her entrance for their tag match. She asked about the strategy they’d just discussed. Lana said Schreiber wouldn’t understand, but Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler were about to.
Asuka & Lana vs Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler
This came about because Lana and Asuka beat Baszler and Jax in an impromptu match last week and they weren’t happy about it. Baszler and Jax are never happy about anything. During their pre-match interview, they argued over whose fault the loss was and Baszler let slip that they’ve been at each other’s throats all week. Baszler also said that, as an athlete, it was one thing to lose to Asuka, but another to lose to Lana.
Lana is looking smoother and more confident with each outing. Sadly, that didn’t stop her and Asuka getting caught on tandem baseball slides. As we went into a break, they were upside down being swung into the barricades by Jax and Baszler.
Of course, it was Lana who took the majority of the punishment in the match, and what a heavy punishment it was. She got a break when she slid of Jax’ back and shoved her into the post. Jax tagged out, but Baszler couldn’t prevent Lana getting to Asuka. Asuka came in and destroyed Jax and Baszler, but caught a kick from Baszler and Lana tagged herself in when she staggered into their corner.
Lana went to the top and flung herself at Baszler, who caught her, rolled through, and manoeuvred her into the Kirifuda Clutch. Jax pulled Asuka off the apron to stop her breaking it, but she got free and got there in time to knee Baszler in the head. Lana landed on top of Baszler and got the pin.
Lana was limping as Asuka helped her up the ramp, but they got away from the pursuing Nia Jax.
Dana Brooke vs Reckoning, with Mustafa Ali
I’ve wanted to see Mia Yim wrestling on RAW for a long time and, due to Reckoning’s mask falling off in the first thirty seconds of the match, that’s what we saw. According to Yim’s Twitter bio, Reckoning is her evil twin sister, so let’s go with that.
Reckoning is very unhappy that Dana Brooke took her anger at her out on Mustafa Ali. She said that RETRIBUTION don’t play games, if they have a problem, they annihilate it. Brooke is her problem, and she will meet her Reckoning.
Nice words, but it didn’t work out that way. Dana Brooke has had enough of being pushed aside and the new aggression suits her. She didn’t have it all her own way in the short match, but she got her revenge for the corridor attack that took her out of Survivor Series with a rollup pin.
Mustafa Ali yelled at Reckoning in the middle of the ring, telling her she embarrassed him and there’s no failure in retribution.
Shotzi Blackheart def. Raquel Gonzalez
Pat Patterson passed away on Wednesday, so NXT started with everyone on the stage for a tribute. They played ‘My Way’ with bits of Patterson singing it, interspersed with photos and video clips from his long career. A ‘Thank you Pat’ chant broke out from the podded crowd at the end. It was a very moving tribute.
Ember Moon and Rhea Ripley presented Shotzi Blackheart with something we didn’t see. Ripley said, ‘A war machine needs an engine’ and it was very brightly lit when they lifted the cloth. I guess we’ll see it on Sunday.
Candice LeRae and her team aren’t impressed by Shotzi Blackheart’s team, calling them damaged goods. She said Indi Hartwell, who was still in a neck brace, took a bullet for her last week and she still has everything she needs in her team to win WarGames, unpredictability, strength, and resilience. Raquel Gonzalez said her team were going home with the advantage and Shotzi was going to feel like she got run over by a tank.
Xia Li and Boa are paying some kind of penance for their failings. They were dunking themselves underwater and they got hit with a kendo stick. Still not sure what’s going on.
Shotzi Blackheart vs Raquel Gonzalez – WarGames Advantage Ladder Match
This followed exactly the same format as the men’s advantage ladder match last week. The other members of the WarGames teams watched the match from team podiums to stop them interfering. I question the sense of involving two of your Wargames participants involved in a brutal ladder match less than a week before the hellish ordeal WarGames will undoubtedly be.
It was a brutal ladder match as well. Everything Gonzalez does looks like it hurts, and Blackheart wrestles like she has little regard for her own safety. She’s awesome, but I worry for her, much like Sasha Banks. That said, I was a little worried about Gonzalez after Blackheart threw her body into her while her arms and chin were hooked over a ladder laid across the middle rope. Her body bent in the most uncomfortable looking way. Blackheart followed that up with double knees from the top rope to the outside, but hurt herself as much as Gonzalez.
That’s when it got messy. Indi Hartwell put a ladder up against the podium containing Candice LeRae, Toni Storm, and Dakota Kai. They climbed down and ran to ringside, but Rhea Ripley and Ember Moon weren’t far behind (no idea how they got down). While refs were trying to keep them apart, Indi Hartwell tried to climb the ladder. She was dragged down and kicked in the head by Blackheart, who was immediately levelled with a clothesline from Gonzalez.
Raquel Gonzalez climbed the ladder, while a brawl broke out at ringside. Everyone was too busy to see Io Shirai jump on Gonzalez back when she was halfway up the ladder. It took climbing down and getting to the ropes to get Shirai off her back and when she charged at her Shirai pulled the top rope down and tipped her out.
Io Shirai climbed to the top turnbuckle and landed a moonsault on everyone in both teams and a couple of officials. Except Shotzi Blackheart had rolled out on a different side after the clothesline. She was the only person standing, so she climbed the ladder and took the advantage for her team.
Team Blackheart – Shotzi Blackheart, Ember Moon, Rhea Ripley, and Io Shirai – posed on the ladder to close the show.
Aoife Valkyrie def. Aleah James
Piper Niven stormed into the Performance Centre and slapped Jinny. They had to be dragged apart while screaming at each other.
Aoife Valkyrie vs Aleah James
Valkyrie went into this match undefeated. Commentary made a point of telling us this alongside the information it is only James’ second match in NXT UK and she’s at the beginning of her career. It was a nice match. James got to show off her skill and her resilience. She spent a long time in a submission hold without giving up and she had a couple of credible chances. Valkyrie remained undefeated though.
I really want a reason to invest in this division. I want storylines and character development.
Natalya def. Bayley
SmackDown also started with everyone on the stage for a moment of silence and a ten bell salute to Pat Patterson, followed by a ‘Thank you Pat’ chant piped into the ThunderDome, which was a bit bleak. Later in the show they played other tributes, lots of tweets mourning his passing, the nice video package from Wednesday, and a look at the very first Intercontinental Championship, which Patterson won. There was also a Pat Patterson Tribute Match, a six-man tag featuring Daniel Bryan, Rey Mysterio, and Big E taking on Dolph Ziggler, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Sami Zayn.
Bayley vs Natalya
This came about as a result of the shenanigans in Natalya’s match last week which led to her getting pinned by Bianca Belair. Belair joined commentary for the match and it took less than a minute for Bayley to start yelling at her. Her inability to keep her mind on her opponent led to Bayley taking a quick trip into the steps heading into a break.
It only got a couple of minutes after the break, which still sadly makes it longer than a lot of SmackDown’s non-title matches. Interestingly, Bayley tapped out in a Sharpshooter. She was very offended by Belair applauding as she tapped. There was an exchange, but we didn’t get to hear it.
Carmella and Sasha Banks had a split-location joint interview… because they always go so well. It started badly when Cole wanted to go to Carmella first and Banks objected. When they paused their argument, he asked Banks if they were maybe more alike than they think. Neither of them liked that, but it led into Banks talking about their history together from the Performance Center, where Banks acknowledged they used to train together. As far as Sasha Banks is concerned Carmella has needed help to reach all of her accolades, and the reason they’ve never faced each other is that she’s out of Carmella’s league. Carmella thinks Banks is jealous because wrestling is all that Banks has wanted to do, she struggled for it. And Carmella walked into WWE on a whim and is better than her.
It finished with Sasha Banks giving Carmella what she wanted, a SmackDown Women’s Championship match at TLC.
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.