Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. The second half of the WWE Draft 2020 kicked off this week. NXT are building to Halloween Havoc, and the main roster are heading for Hell in a Cell. All in all, it feels like there a lot going on for WWE’s women.
Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke def. Natalya & Lana
Lana won the Battle Royal
By the end of the night we would know where most of the big players were going to be for the next few months at least. A quick reminder of the rules: For every two picks for SmackDown RAW gets three, due to show length. Tag teams drafted as one unless the show/tv execs only want one of them. Anyone not drafted on the shows becomes a free agent and can sign with either brand.
Draft Night 2
RETRIBUTION, which includes Mia Yim’s ‘Reckoning’ incarnation but no longer includes Mercedes Martinez
Alexa Bliss – The Fiend was also drafted to RAW, so that storyline continues
Lana – Drafted on RAW Talk
Natalya – Drafted on RAW Talk
The Riott Squad – Drafted on RAW Talk
Bayley was the first SmackDown pick of the night and the only woman drafted to SmackDown until the final round. Not a surprise and means all singles champions stayed on their own brand. The men’s tag titles switched over though, which is good because it puts Bianca Belair on the same brand as Montez Ford. They just swapped the belts over. The fact SmackDown only picked two women over six rounds of picks says everything you need to know about the importance they place on their women’s division. They redeemed themselves a bit on RAW Talk.
Mickie James is still a free agent, having been undrafted on Friday. Billie Kay and Tamina were not picked from tonight’s pool, so they become free agents. Zelina Vega is also a free agent, alongside Andrade who she may or may not be managing again. Vega is likely to go to SmackDown as her husband, Aleister Black, was drafted there.
Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke were the guests on Miz TV (Miz and Morrison were drafted to RAW on Friday). Rose and Brooke have a tag team entrance graphic, that’s the first time I’ve noticed that.
Miz tried to tell Rose that she should be thanking him for her opportunity on RAW, but she let him know exactly what she thought of his pettiness. There was a lot of eye-rolling from Brooke and Rose while they were questioned about whether they’ll be loyal to each other and what would happen in the battle royal later. They agreed to ‘let the best woman win’.
Natalya and Lana came out to tell Miz and Morrison off for having Rose and Brooke as guests instead of them. One thing I will say for their pairing, Lana working as Natalya’s mouthpiece most of the time works. She’s annoying, but she sounds like a person which Natalya doesn’t always manage (sorry, I have so much respect for everything Natalya has done, but she’s awful on the mic). Anyway, Lana said a lot of stuff, there was an argument, then a fight, and the match happened a little later in the show.
Natalya & Lana vs Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke
At this point in the show, Lana and Natalya were still undrafted. It wasn’t a bad match, just a bit run of the mill. Considering all four were appearing in a battle royal in the same show, it was fine. Mandy Rose looks pretty good. She’s clearly pegged to be the standout, and if she can raise Dana Brooke’s profile on her way up that’s great.
Rose and Brooke’s new finisher, if that’s what it was, needs a bit of fluidity work. Dana Brooke climbed on Mandy Rose’s shoulders and delivered a senton to Lana. It worked, but it wasn’t elegant. Give it some time.
After the match, Natalya told Lana she’s done with her and left her crying in the ring.
Zelina Vega joined commentary for Andrade versus Angel Garza and spent part of her time there running her mouth about Alexa Bliss. After the match, while she was consoling Andrade, The Fiend’s approach tones sounded and the lights went out. They came back on red and Bliss was in the corner in The Fiend’s upside-down pose. Vega and Andrade backed away only to find The Fiend behind them. He grabbed Andrade, Bliss grabbed Vega, and they delivered tandem Sister Abigails.
Asuka joined commentary for some of the dual-brand battle royal to decide her next challenger. She didn’t contribute a lot to the conversation, but she was excited and laughing her ass off in places. She’s always a joy to have on commentary.
Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Natalya, Dana Brooke, Liv Morgan, Ruby Riott, Lacey Evans, Bianca Belair, Mandy Rose, Lana, Tamina, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Nikki Cross – Number One Contender’s Battle Royal
The match main evented the show, but only got 15 minutes. Lana took tandem headbutts from Nia Jax and Tamina, then rolled out under the bottom rope. Tamina went out first, courtesy of Nia Jax. Billie Kay met the same fate moments later. Closely followed by Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke who were trying to eliminate Baszler. Everyone ganged up on Jax and Baszler helped them get her out. To get rid of some of her frustration, Jax put Lana through the announce desk.
Not only did we get an ad break mid-match, there was also a cutaway to Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre brawling backstage. Peyton Royce went out during the break. Nikki Cross was eliminated by Bianca Belair, who also dumped Shayna Baszler out. The Riott Squad eliminated Belair together but were eliminated by Natalya and Lacey Evans, at the same time from opposite sides of the ring.
We were left with two of the least interesting options, Natalya and Lacey Evans. Asuka left commentary at some point and was shown watching backstage. There was a lot of fighting on the apron, but it finished with Natalya swinging Evans into the ringpost and dropping her on the floor. Except it didn’t finish there. Lana had not been eliminated before she was put through the announce desk. She appeared behind Natalya and pushed her off the apron to win the match. So, next week, Asuka will defend her title against Lana. Lana has a title match. Lana.
Poor Lana didn’t get a proper celebration to end the show, it was cut short by Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton beating the crap out of each other.
Lana appeared on RAW Talk and cried through the first part of her interview then went all motivational speaker. Fair play to her. The number of crappy storylines she’s been put through, and the number of times she’s gone through the announce desk, she deserves a highlight moment.
Candice LeRae def. Shotzi Blackheart
Toni Storm def. Aliyah
The best news from the WWE Draft 2020 was that NXT remained untouched in the draft pools. That doesn’t mean there won’t be transfers, but the wholesale robbery I was half-expecting didn’t happen. I’m grateful for that. The NXT women’s division is the best of any company right now, and as such, it should be protected.
Ember Moon had a video package about her injury and return. Nice video. She’s another in the growing list of superstars who asked to come back to NXT.
Candice LeRae isn’t impressed by having an opportunity to become number one contender by beating Shotzi Blackheart. As far as she’s concerned, she’s the uncrowned champion.
Raquel Gonzalez wants Rhea Ripley at Halloween Havoc. Ripley accepted while she was cutting her promo and they didn’t want to wait that long. They didn’t quite come to blows, just got shouty at each other while officials held them back.
Candice LeRae vs Shotzi Blackheart – Number One Contender’s match
Shotzi Blackheart is hosting Halloween Havoc, and not trying to compete in it as well. She deserves it because she’s been on a hell of a run of momentum. Even though she lost her recent non-title match with Io Shirai, she absolutely killed the performance. I don’t really want to see Candice LeRae against Io Shirai again so soon. She had her chance and should have to compete in more than one match to get another shot.
Predictably, this was great, and it got a good amount of time to develop. LeRae undoubtedly had the majority of the control, but Blackheart just kept kicking out and getting back up. The frustration started to show on LeRae after her springboard moonsault failed to get her the win. Then she got stuck in a Blackheart submission and barely made it to the ropes.
While LeRae was regrouping on the outside having rolled out to avoid a senton from the top, Indi Hartwell reached through a gap in the barricades and handed her a knuckleduster. When Shotzi Blackheart leaned out of the ring to pull LeRae back inside, LeRae used the brass knucks to smack her on the side of the head. That made for an easy pin, so it will be Io Shirai versus Candice LeRae for the title at Halloween Havoc.
Toni Storm vs Aliyah, with Robert Stone
Robert Stone said some stuff about how no one wants to work with him but their loss will be someone else’s gain. If he means he secured this match for Aliyah, I’m not sure she should really be thanking him. She started off ok, but it was never going to last. Toni Storm powered out of a submission attempt, and that was the last of Aliyah’s offence. The end came relatively quickly, via a Storm Zero.
William Regal isn’t happy with the way Candice LeRae won her match, but the referee’s decision is final so LeRae gets the match. He’s considering raising the stakes for the match, but he hasn’t decided how yet. Rhea Ripley and Raquel Gonzalez will also get their Halloween Havoc match.
Xia Li appeared with Boa and asked Regal for a match next week. She was insistent, quietly desperate, but all he said was he’d take it into consideration.
He’d decided by the end of the show. He came to the stage while LeRae was helping Gargano celebrate having hit Damian Priest with a chair. He said he was raising the stakes, but let Shotzi Blackheart, as the Halloween Havoc host, deliver the news. The stipulations for their matches will be decided by ‘Spin the wheel, make a deal’.
Piper Niven def. Isla Dawn
Piper Niven vs Isla Dawn
Not a bad match at all. I adore Piper Niven, but I’ve struggled to invest in Isla Dawn. Dawn did pretty well in this one. She got Niven down and had a couple of decently close pin attempts. She got increasingly desperate as she failed to keep Niven down though. In the end, Piper Niven’s strength advantage proved overwhelming and a Piper Driver finished the job.
This week was the official Season Premiere of Friday Night SmackDown. Bianca Belair, Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Zelina Vega made it into the new opening credits.
The locker room were introduced in the opening segment of the show, but not a single woman was mentioned. It broke down into a huge brawl, and the women didn’t get involved in that. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were running through the card for the night and hyping everything up. Very annoying to have no mention or hype of the women’s division on your season premiere. Makes it feel super important.
Bianca Belair got a video package to introduce her to the blue brand. Here’s a thought, introduce her to SmackDown by putting her in the ring. Twice during the show, Belair was referred to as ‘The future of the women’s division’, which is a really positive sign for her, and Corey Graves declared she will be SmackDown Women’s Champion within a year. She also got the first shoutout in the list of people Daniel Bryan is excited to see on the brand (The Riott Squad were second). I have little to no doubt she will be the top player on whichever brand she’s on for years to come, but I’m impatient for it to start.
Bayley and Sasha Banks had the contract signing for their Hell in a Cell match. Adam Pearce officiated.
Sasha Banks was first to sign the contract. She didn’t hesitate and said she’d been waiting for this for a very long time. Bayley said she just wants to be done with it and get rid of Banks so she can continue her historic reign, that she did all by herself.
Banks questioned whether that’s the lie Bayley was going to tell everyone and told her to look her in the face and tell her that.
Bayley called her vindictive and said she knew from the way Banks looked at her that she had been waiting to turn on her for years. She just beat her to the punch and that’s why Banks is so upset now.
Banks said if she’d wanted to turn on her she’d have done it years ago. Friends don’t turn their backs on each other. She asked Bayley who was the first person to call her when she got left behind at NXT, who brought her to the main roster as her partner, who was there when she won her first RAW Women’s Championship, what about the tag championships? Yes, Bayley is the longest-reigning SmackDown Women’s Champion of all time, but let’s not forget who helped her every step of the way. And Bayley still turned her back on her and tried to end her career. So, at Hell in a Cell, she’s going to end Bayley because she’s Sasha Banks and her name is bigger than Bayley’s title. And when she walks out of Hell in a Cell with Bayley’s title, that will just be the icing on the cake.
Bayley stood up and grabbed the chair but didn’t sign the contract. Instead, she took her title and left the ring.
Banks told her to go ahead and run away like the coward she is. But in the cell, there will be nowhere to run, and one way or another she will be signing that contract.
Bayley was yelling at her as she backed up the ramp. I think she was telling her it wasn’t going to happen and she earned her title, but Banks’ music was playing and Bayley didn’t take the mic with her when she left the ring.
Now, I could go on a rant about the fact the much-hyped season premiere didn’t bother including a women’s division match, but what’s the point at this stage. SmackDown don’t care about their women’s division, despite having some of WWE’s strongest performers on their brand. At the moment, Bayley and Sasha Banks are the only women on the brand who matter, but hopefully, that will soon change. Not the best start though, is it?
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.