Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. Bit of a ranty one this week, but let’s get straight into RAW for Night 2 of the 2021 WWE Draft.
Shayna Baszler def. Dana Brooke
Nikki A.S.H. & Rhea Ripley def. Natalya & Tamina
Becky Lynch opened RAW this week, because it’s draft week. She wanted to tell everyone she was RAW’s number one draft pick of the night and it was her show now. She’s still SmackDown champion but she was the longest reigning RAW Women’s Champion and she technically never lost the title. She doesn’t think Charlotte Flair has been the same since she last beat her, whereas she’s just kept getting better. It might be time to be Becky Two Belts again.
Charlotte Flair came out, with her entrance which is now as long as some of the women’s matches. She told Lynch that before she beat her she was just Becky Pre-Show and said they’ve got some unfinished business.
Bianca Belair joined them because she has some unfinished business with both of them after the cheap shots they took at her on Friday. Flair tried to patronise her and Belair asked her who she was talking to because she know she wasn’t talking to her. On a side note, Belair needs to drop the ‘You don’t go here’ line. It was cute. It’s over.
Charlotte Flair acknowledged Belair’s achievements but told her she should be asking for her autograph and thanking her for paving the way.
Becky Lynch tried to stir the pot, telling Belair that sounded disrespectful to her. If she was Belair she’d fight Flair right now, but she’s beaten her so many times she’s got nothing left to prove. Just like she’s going to beat Belair and Banks to retain her title at Crown Jewel. But Belair and Flair have never fought and she wonders what would happen.
Flair said she only gives out opportunities, not charity. Before it could come to blows, Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville came out to make it the main event. They also announced Natalya and Tamina’s rematch for the tag titles.
Shayna Baszler vs Dana Brooke
It was good to see Dana Brooke as she’s been missing from RAW since Mandy Rose was moved to NXT. Sadly, she was there as cannon fodder for Shayna Baszler, who is going back to her NXT style persona of ruthless demolition machine who likes to hurt people.
The match didn’t last long, and Brooke was never supposed to look like a threat. Corey Graves upset a lot of people by suggesting Dana Brooke hasn’t accomplished much of anything and it might be time to cut their losses.
What he said was entirely unacceptable and he doubled down when challenged by Jimmy Smith. It’s not true either. Brooke has worked her ass off and she’s considerably better than she was when she was dragged to the main roster too early (something entirely out of her control). Hopefully, it was a scripted comment and the reason for it will become clear in the coming weeks.
As Baszler was setting Brooke up to get elbow stomped on the base of the steps, Doudrop skipped to ringside. She told Baszler to leave Brook alone and stared her down. Baszler turned to leave while Doudrop bent to check on Brooke, then hit her from behind. Doudrop didn’t fall, just gave Baszler a look of distaste.
I got all excited about Doudrop and Baszler having an amazing feud that showcases what Doudrop can do… then Shayna Baszler was immediately drafted to SmackDown, so they’ll have to be quick.
Nikki A.S.H. & Rhea Ripley vs Natalya & Tamina – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships match
Nikki and Rhea Ripley might not quite have got their messaging on point, judging by Ripley’s reaction to Nikki’s enthusiasm in their pre-match interview, but it works in the ring and that’s what matters.
Ripley had to make a save after Nikki got into trouble early on and tagged in shortly after. She dropkicked Tamina off the apron but didn’t put her down quite long enough to put Natalya away. Tamina dragged Natalya to their corner to tag herself in. Nikki A.S.H. dived off the top to the outside and took Natalya and Tamina down before Ripley gave Tamina a Riptide. Instead of taking the glory for herself, she tagged A.S.H. to deliver a new team finisher from her shoulders (yeah, the setup was a bit wonky, but these things happen).
The pathetic four-ish minutes that the title match was granted became even sadder when they split Natalya and Tamina up on RAW Talk.
Bianca Belair vs Charlotte Flair
Becky Lynch turned up and joined commentary before the match began and if I gave the match as much attention as commentary did, I’d end the review now. In fairness, Byron Saxton and Jimmy Smith occasionally tried to interrupt Corey Graves interviewing Lynch, but largely fruitlessly. For what it’s worth, Lynch is going to win at Crown Jewel. She writes bad poetry. And she is smarter than her opponents, which is why she wins.
The match had been pretty even until the run-up to the ad break, when Flair used Belair’s hair to wipe her out on the apron, then chucked her over the barricades. Back from the ads, it was once again a solid back and forth. Belair held her delayed vertical suplex for ages. Flair got both knees up for Belair’s springboard moonsault. It was a really good match if you watched it on mute. Belair evaded Natural Selection. Flair flipped out of the K.O.D. setup and delivered a spear, but Belair kicked out.
In the end, it didn’t get a finish. It would have been Belair, via K.O.D., but Becky Lynch pulled her out of the ring and threw her into the steps and barricades then put her back in the ring and plant her in the centre.
Sasha Banks attacked Lynch while she was shouting at Belair, and dished out double knees to both of them before putting Lynch down with a backstabber.
Draft Picks RAW
- Becky Lynch
- Bobby Lashley
- Seth Rollins
- Damian Priest
- AJ Styles & Omos
- Kevin Owens
- The Street Profits
- Finn Balor
- Karrion Kross
- Alexa Bliss
- Gable Steveson – Not debuted yet.
On RAW Talk
- Dana Brooke
- Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode
- Jaxson Ryker
- Liv Morgan
- Mia Yim
- Tegan Nox
- Shelton Benjamin & Cedric Alexander
- The Miz
Draft Picks SmackDown
- The Usos
- Shasha Banks
- King Nakamura & Rick Boogs
- Shayna Baszler
- Xia Li – which explains why she disappeared from Tian Sha
- The Viking Raiders
- Humberto Carrillo & Angel Garza
- Ridge Holland – without Pete Dunne, which is interesting.
- Sami Zayn
On RAW Talk
- Jinder Mahal & Shanky
With the break up of Natalya & Tamina and Shotzi & Nox, we are looking at the total decimation of a women’s tag division that was already looking a bit sparse. Looking at the new rosters, I have no idea where Rhea Ripley & Nikki A.S.H.’s next opponents are going to come from. In combination with the problem of tv time (see SmackDown), it’s a really worrying development for WWE’s women. We love to see the best of the best getting the big matches and the big moments, but the rest of the division is getting nothing. Undermining the tag titles by having only throw-together teams, isn’t going to help.
Bayley and Asuka are among the superstars who are undrafted, so currently free agents. Both are injured, so they’ll presumably be allocated to a brand on their return (at least, that’s what has happened in previous drafts).
WWE later published the full draft results.
Mandy Rose def. Ember Moon
Cora Jade def. Franky Monet
Indi Hartwell def. Mei Ying
Mandy Rose, with Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne, vs Ember Moon
An interesting match to open the show. I still don’t like the new studio much, it’s too light and bright and spacious. Even a loud and enthusiastic crowd don’t seem to generate much atmosphere. But I guess that’s the 2.0 difference and maybe it’s different as a live experience.
Jayne and Dolin helped Rose out of the tree of woe. Jayne took a suicide dive for her trouble and Rose got powerbombed on the edge of the ring. If Moon hadn’t gone back to shove Gigi Dolin, she’d have been fine. As it was, Rose caught her getting back into the ring and took over the match.
This is a new Mandy Rose. The version who teamed with Dana Brooke was having fun and kicking ass. This version has decided fun is overrated and she wants success instead. She weathered the storm of Ember Moon’s comeback and avoided the Eclipse. Before Moon could recover, Rose kneed her in the face and pinned her.
I know Toxic Attraction are getting a big push, but I’m really starting to wonder what NXT are doing with Ember Moon. She’s much too good to be muddling around, losing matches and not having anything significant to do. Give her a mentee to tag with, or someone to build an actual story with.
Cora Jade vs Virginia Ferry didn’t happen because Franky Monet attacked Ferry at ringside and took the match herself.
Cora Jade vs Franky Monet
Annoyingly, what was supposed to be Cora Jade stepping away from being Trey Baxter’s girlfriend and making her own name, turned into a beatdown. Baxter came to ringside to cheerlead for her while she was getting beaten up by Monet.
Hilariously, Cora Jade rolled through Monet’s attempted Road to Valhalla (or whatever she’s calling it now) and pinned her.
Franky Monet was furious, which is exactly the Franky Monet we need to see.
Indi Hartwell, with Persia Pirotta, vs Mei Ying, with Boa
Indi Hartwell didn’t know how to approach Mei Ying, so it was all a bit tentative to start with. Once Mei Ying got going, Hartwell had to focus entirely on defending herself. After Mei Ying rammed Hartwell’s spine into the ringpost on the outside, she backed up to kick her head into it. Persia Pirotta took Hartwell’s place and Hartwell shoved Mei Ying face-first into the post.
After that, it was a simple matter of rolling her into the ring and delivering the top rope elbow drop for the win.
Lash Legend will be doing another show next week. I’d rather see her in the ring.
Malcolm Bivens gave us an introduction to the members of Diamond Mine. Ivy Nile looks special. I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do.
Raquel Gonzalez was sending a message to Toxic Attraction via a piece to camera when they came out to hear it for themselves.
Mandy Rose said she used to admire Gonzalez but not she thinks she’s a desperate champion who knows her title reign is coming to an end.
When Gigi Dolin got mouthy, Gonzalez told her all she could see was the six staples Dolin received after she hit her with the title belt. Dolin got mad and took her place at the far side of the ring. Rose and Jayne took two other sides once Jayne had said her piece.
Before they could start the attack, Zoey Stark and Io Shirai arrived to even the odds. Toxic Attraction didn’t fancy their chances anymore and left without a fight.
From the conversation Stark, Shirai, and Gonzalez were having backstage, there’s a six-woman tag in our near future… but we knew that. Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta turned up and made it clear they’re after the tag titles.
Pirotta has yet to debut on NXT 2.0. According to Cagematch she’s been wrestling since 2017 and had her last indie match in March of this year. It would be nice to see her in the ring before she goes for the tag titles. But in this colourful new 2.0 world, who knows what will happen.
Jinny def. Emilia McKenzie
Jinny, with Joseph Connors, vs Emilia McKenzie
It seems like Jinny’s been telling Emilia McKenzie she’s not ready to share a ring with her since PROGRESS days, during which time McKenzie has surpassed her. Jinny’s still the ultimate opportunist though, and she knows how to dish out the punishment and how to keep control of a match. She just wasn’t ready for some of McKenzie’s comebacks.
Joseph Connors tried to grab at McKenzie while the ref was checking on Jinny, so Meiko Satomura came out and kicked him in the back. Satomura’s appearance fired McKenzie up, and she came close to pinning The Fashionista. Jinny kicked out and caught her with a Liger Kick after McKenzie went shoulder-first into the post.
After the match, Jinny challenged Meiko Satomura and Satomura accepted.
Sid Scala honoured Stevie Turner’s request to reinstate Blair Davenport so they could fight. Davenport said she’d play by the rules, but she always gets what she wants.
Sarray def. Amari Miller
Can we still call it 205 Live when it’s clearly filmed on a Tuesday and shown on a Friday?
Sarray vs Amari Miller
I still wonder if Sarray knew what she was letting herself in for when she signed. It’s certainly not what I expected her to be doing at this point. She’s always a joy to watch though, and this was no different. Amari Miller is getting a lot of opponents and a big talking up, so I guess they see something special in her. It’s going to be interesting to watch her development into main roster material, and I suspect it won’t be a hugely lengthy journey.
Sarray should already be there though. She is the total package and she finished the match by kicking Miller’s face off against the ropes.
Zelina Vega def. Toni Storm
Carmella def. Liv Morgan
The show opened with Bianca Belair arriving at the ring for the weirdest of contract signings. Sasha Banks was stood on the announce desk. Becky Lynch was sat at a table halfway up the ramp. And Belair joined Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville in the ring. It was apparently the season premiere, which is extremely odd as the new rosters don’t come into force until after Crown Jewel.
The introductions for the three women in this match got longer than either of the women’s matches that followed and everyone had a say.
Becky Lynch called Sasha Banks a glitterball. Sasha Banks said they’re jealous because her spotlight is brightest. Bianca Belair said she’s the common denominator in all the big moments this year, and she’s not wrong. She invited them to get in the ring now, when she’s ready, instead of all the cheap shots.
She threw a chair out of the ring. Lynch turned her table over. And Banks attacked Belair from behind while her attention was on Lynch.
Everyone got a bit of everyone in the resulting brawl.
It finished when Belair picked up both of them for a K.O.D. Banks slipped down so Belair used Lynch’s legs to knock her onto the table, then K.O.D’d Lynch onto Banks and through the table.
Becky Lynch signed the contract in Deville and Pearce’s office later in the show, but she had a huge rant at them first and hit Pearce low with the clipboard when she gave it back.
The brand-new Queen of the Ring tournament started this week, alongside the King of the Ring for the first time. Except instead of calling it Queen of the Ring, they’re calling it The Queen’s Crown Tournament. Better late than never, I guess. It’s supposed to bridge a gap between the draft and the roster change, and the final will be at Crown Jewel.
Half the brackets are exceptionally dull, Liv Morgan versus Carmella, again, and Shayna Baszler versus Dana Brooke, after Baszler destroyed Brooke on Monday. Doudrop versus Natalya is interesting, as was the match that kicked the whole thing off.
Zelina Vega vs Toni Storm – The Queen’s Crown Tournament – Round 1
Neither of these women are tournament favourites, but you wouldn’t write either off. It’s a nice honour, getting the first match in a historic new tournament. It tarnishes it slightly when the match is so short there’s no time for much in the way of development.
Zelina Vega progressed with a sunset flip.
Liv Morgan vs Carmella – The Queen’s Crown Tournament – Round 1
Carmella had people put the ridiculous mask on her before the match. It still looks ridiculous. She tried to get an early finish with a Code of Silence but Morgan grabbed at the mask to get free. This match made the first one look like a marathon, but they packed a lot in before Carmella put Morgan down with a Superkick and pinned her.
Carmella will join Zelina Vega in next week’s semi-final
Naomi approached Sonya Deville and Adam Pearce to ask why she wasn’t included in the Queen’s Crown Tournament. Deville told her she wasn’t worthy and she wasn’t even worthy of being on the SmackDown roster. Naomi asked Pearce if he could trade her to RAW but Deville said she’s not done with her on SmackDown yet. Next week Naomi has a match, against her. Naomi was happy with that, but if Adam Pearce had rolled his eyes any harder they would have fallen out of his head.
So, here’s the problem. Neither of the first round Queen’s Crown Tournament matches broke two and a half minutes. Vega and Storm got two minutes and fifteen seconds by my timings, while Morgan and Carmella got a fraction over a minute and a half. Under four minutes for both matches. Roman Reigns takes almost that long to get to the ring (his entrance is over three minutes last time I checked. It’s long enough to go and put the kettle on without missing anything).
It’s easy for WWE to claim the nice ‘History-Making Moments’, but week on week we’re in no better position than we were when it was #GiveDivasAChance. NXT’s women’s division came closest to being given equal footing with the men, if not quite equal time. But, like everything else that made NXT special, that’s over now. In a 2.0 Universe, things look likely to follow the main roster format.
I fear there will be no real change in Vince McMahon’s lifetime. A small and bitter part of me believes he would take the women’s division back to bra and panties matches and wrestling in pudding if he thought he could get away with it. But while WWE still houses some of the most talented women in wrestling today, we will continue to hope they’re given the platform they deserve.
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.