Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. Crown Jewel is on Thursday of this week and next week is NXT 2.0’s first big special, in the form of Halloween Havoc. It should be a busy week, but the recent problems with the women’s division getting tv time have not gone away.
Doudrop def. Shayna Baszler
Bianca Belair def. Charlotte Flair (DQ)
Charlotte Flair opened the show to complain about the lack of fuss being made about her last night on RAW. She wanted balloons and ‘Thank you, Charlotte’ chants, and the RAW roster lined up on the stage, as befits the most decorated woman in Sports Entertainment history. Instead, she has to defend her title against some rookie – or former SmackDown Women’s Champion Bianca Belair as the rest of us know her. Belair couldn’t beat her two weeks ago and she never will. It’s favouritism or a conspiracy.
She just carried on with how great she is until Belair interrupted her. Belair said it’s not favouritism, it’s nothing more than she deserves because she shows up and she shows out every time. Belair’s great o the mic, but needs some new promo material, but I did enjoy her talking to Flair about taking the L she’s going to give her and using it to learn and grow and maybe become a little kinder.
Belair ended up kicking Flair off the apron in the resulting scrap.
Backstage, Charlotte Flair yelled at Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville about much the same stuff, except heavier on the conspiracy accusations.
Last week Shayna Baszler and Doudrop progressed to the semi-final of the Queen’s Crown Tournament. The winner of their match will face Zelina Vega at Crown Jewel.
Before the match, Doudrop described Baszler as the most dangerous opponent she’s had since coming to RAW, and an insecure bully.
Shayna Baszler vs Doudrop – Queen’s Crown Semi-Final
Zelina Vega watched the match from the stage, sitting on the throne wearing the crown. The woman in the ring might be named Doudrop, but Baszler (briefly) got to fight Viper/Piper Niven and she struggled. She had a go at kicking Doudrop’s legs from under her, and got thrown across the ring. She tried to knee her in the face and got suplexed and took a cannonball. And she tried for the Kirifuda Clutch, twice.
The first one ended with Doudrop smashing her into the corner then tossing her over her head. The second lasted longer, but ended with Doudrop rolling back so Baszler’s shoulders were on the mat and pinning her. Under three minutes yet again, and there was so much potential in that match. If the best of WWE become the best of AEW or Impact, WWE only have themselves to blame.
Vega and Doudrop had a little standoff on the stage, with some gentle looking trash-talk.
Nikki A.S.H. and Rhea Ripley approached Bianca Belair backstage while she was warming up for her match, to welcome her to the RAW roster and give her a RAW hat. She thanked them and said she’s going to give Charlotte Flair a proper farewell.
Charlotte Flair (C) vs Bianca Belair – RAW Women’s Championship match
There was half an hour of the show left when Bianca Belair’s music hit, but that was down to twenty minutes by the time they started the match.
I found the way they played the opening minutes fascinating. There was lots of mirroring, or mirroring with an extra flourish. Compared to Flair, Belair has been in WWE for five minutes, and she could be the one to take her place at the top.
Just before a break, Flair threw Belair over the announce desk. She bounced her off it during the ads. By halfway through the match Flair was bleeding from the mouth. A spinebuster would probably have been enough for Belair had Flair not rolled out of the ring, but she followed her out and it was Flair who took the trip over the announce desk for the final break.
The final few minutes were ever-increasing intensity of attempts to get it finished. Belair nearly got Flair with a rollup. Flair just about landed to moonsault to the outside, but couldn’t capitalise once she got her back in the ring and nearly got pinned with a backslide. The double chicken-wing didn’t work out for Belair either. Flair was too close to the ropes for the K.O.D. attempt and bounced Belair’s throat off them.
Belair kicked out of a spear, and Flair started to lose it. She dragged Belair across the ring by her braid, but missed with a moonsault and had to kick out after a Belair suplex. Flair kicked Belair’s feet out from under her on the turnbuckle, looking for a superplex, but took a sunset flip powerbomb instead. She kicked out and Belair started to wonder what it would take.
Annoyingly, she never got to find out because Flair hit her in the stomach with a chair. She took it off her and smacked her across the back with it before Flair could roll out of the ring, but the chance at the title was gone.
I didn’t expect this to get a clean finish. Putting the belt on Belair here was too obvious a move. It was important that Flair got that DQ, knowing she couldn’t win clean. And now they’re separated until at least Survivor Series and Belair has a case for another match without the possibility of us getting sick of the pairing in the meantime.
Of course, the argument fielded when we complain about all the short women’s division matches (yes, I know there are short men’s matches too, but overall the women’s division is hit worse) is that the women main evented and got 20 minutes. This is true and Bianca Belair and Charlotte Flair deserved that time. But unless it’s those two, Becky Lynch, or Sasha Banks, the women’s division are lucky to get three minutes.
Cora Jade def. Elektra Lopez
Io Shirai def. Persia Pirotta and Jacy Jayne
On commentary during a discussion about last year’s Halloween Havoc, Wade Barrett said hosting it shot Shotzi Blackheart into the stratosphere, and she’s still there as a big star on SmackDown. I wish it were true and I hope it’s prophetic, but Shotzi Blackheart has barely been seen since she hit the main roster wasteland. If they want to make this year’s Halloween show really scary, they should tell stories about all the NXT talents whose careers have died on the red and blue brands.
Elektra Lopez vs Cora Jade
Cora Jade made the mistake of interrupting Lopez when she was about to send a message. Lopez made her pay for it, but Jade got lucky with a very iffy three count on a rollup.
Lopez yelled at Jade later while Legado del Fantasma were beating someone up, presumably Trey Baxter.
Io Shirai vs Jacy Jayne vs Persia Pirotta
This match was to pick who spins the wheel to get the stipulation for the triple-threat tag match at Halloween Havoc. Jacy Jayne took a terrifying fall out of the ring when she caught her feet in the ropes and went down headfirst. She was removed from the match by the medical team during a break. Hopefully, she’s ok.
Io Shirai won it with a moonsault, but she made Pirotta look good on the way to it.
Zoey Stark and Indi Hartwell came out to join their partners for the spin. It will be a Scareway to Hell Ladder Match.
So, the premise for Raquel Gonzalez vs Mandy Rose at Halloween Havoc is that Gonzalez is working day in and day out to stay the toughest and keep the title. Mandy Rose is going to win it because she’s pretty… or something like that.
Zelina Vega def. Doudrop
Becky Lynch def. Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair
The Kickoff Show was US-studio based, with Kevin Patrick on location. WWE took Ref Jess with them though and she officiated some of the night’s biggest matches including Edge and Seth Rollins’ Hell in a Cell. She’s the first woman to ref a Hell in a Cell match, and the first to ref in Saudi Arabia (source, a Facebook post from Edge). She’s a great ref and her success makes me smile. She wore long sleeves under her shirt, and the women in the ring were all covered to the wrist and ankle, with high necklines and loose t-shirts over their gear.
There was a lot of hype for the triple-threat throughout the show. Bianca Belair was hyped for RAW’s season premiere on Monday, with a long intro package, like she wasn’t in the main event this week.
Kevin Patrick interviewed Becky Lynch backstage in the middle of the show, or tried to. He asked a couple of questions and she told him off while answering them. She said it was time for the champ to show everyone just who the hell she is.
Zelina Vega vs Doudrop – Queen’s Crown Tournament Final
I wanted this for Doudrop, she deserved it for having to deal with Eva Marie, and for being called Doudrop. On the other hand, Vega has been consistently underappreciated, so I guess it’s all good either way. The crowd were politely enthusiastic, but they didn’t really care about this one to start with. Doudrop got them roused and interacting not long before the end.
A good, if once again much too short, match. Vega played it sneaky and resourceful, which is necessary when your opponent can pluck you out of the air mid-flight and throw you around like a bag of sugar. And she showed off her resilience as Doudrop dropped her time and time again. Vega’s tornado DDT pin attempt didn’t pan out, and neither did her next one, or the submission attempt that got her squished in the corner.
Doudrop’s pin attempts should have put Vega away, but she just kept kicking out. After the senton failed to keep Vega down, Doudrop missed with a splash Before she could recover, Zelina Vega delivered a Code Red and pinned her.
I honestly think both women came out of that looking pretty good.
Becky Lynch (C) vs Sasha Banks vs Bianca Belair – SmackDown Women’s Championship Triple-Threat Match
Bianca Belair got a pop from the fans early on by pressing Banks over her head then letting go with one hand. Banks had to put her hands on Belair’s shoulder to stay balanced, but the crowd liked it. The crowd were into the match, and all three women in it, but it’s Lynch who gets the love.
The sensible result would be for Sasha Banks to win and take the title back to SmackDown, as Lynch and Belair are on RAW as of Monday. But the sensible result would have been for Belair to take the title off Flair on Monday, and that didn’t happen so it was anyone’s game.
An excellent triple threat and I still think the chemistry Belair and Banks have is exceptional. There’s just something special about them. But Becky Lynch is on a mission to prove she hasn’t lost a step and has come back better than ever, so she was everywhere at once for a lot of the match.
The frustration was obvious after she failed to pin Banks and Belair at the same time. She yelled at them about it being her title while she was punching them, then she went to the top and they caught her and gave her a double buckle bomb.
Banks got the Three Amigos on Belair but stopped to stamp on Lynch on her way up for the frogsplash and missed. Belair shoved Banks out of the ring mid-run, with a nasty looking landing. Lynch got out of the K.O.D. and got her knees up for Belair’s splash. Belair bridged out of Banks and Lynch trying to pin her and gave Lynch a delayed vertical suplex before she went for the springboard moonsault onto both of them. They rolled apart so she got nothing but canvas. Banks got the Bank Statement on and Lynch locked in the Dis-Arm-Her, but Belair wouldn’t tap.
The next attempt at the moonsault was successful. She landed square on them while Banks had the Bank Statement locked in tight, but couldn’t capitalise. Banks used Belair’s braid to keep her in place while she kicked her in the head.
Belair broke up Lynch’s pin on Banks off a Manhandle Slam, by punching her in the face as she collided with them. She and Lynch took a few moments after that to just trade punches. Lynch used the braid to keep Belair in place while she punched her in the face and climbed the turnbuckle. She let go and fell off the apron when Banks used Belair as a steppingstone to kick her in the face.
Becky Lynch took Banks and Belair down on the outside with a dive. She chose to roll Belair in but Banks interrupted the Dis-Arm-Her, so she locked in a double Dis-Arm-Her. There was too much power left in her opponents to hold it. Belair took a backstabber. Banks resisted a Manhandle Slam. Lynch took a K.O.D. but Banks prevented the pin and threw Belair out of the ring.
Before she could get back, Lynch had rolled Banks up with an inside cradle and clung onto the ropes for the count. Perfectly legal in a triple-threat, so the champion retains.
With Crown Jewel being the last show before the roster changes take effect, that leaves both main women’s titles on the wrong brands. They could just make Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair swap. That was done with the men’s tag titles one year, but that’s the most boring option. Survivor Series is only a month away, they could do something there. Belair is due a rematch against Charlotte Flair after the DQ on Monday and I’m sure there will be a queue for Becky Lynch’s SmackDown title… although they’ll probably just give the match to Sasha Banks. All will be revealed when WWE either reveal it themselves or leak it to the trusted few.
Aleah James def. Xia Brookside
Not doing a column last week meant I missed Blair Davenport beating Stevie Turner, and apparently the set-up for this week’s match.
Xia Brookside vs Aleah James
Brookside has been with NXT UK forever but doesn’t seem to have gone anywhere. Commentary noted that Blair Davenport called Brookside a stepping stone to bigger things on her arrival, and that seems to be her level. Leah James looked to be trying to use her in much the same way. Brookside actually had the majority of the control in the short match, but James got her pinned with a roll-up.
Post-match, Brookside slapped away James’ proffered handshake and hit the steps in frustration.
Meiko Satomura is ready for her title match against Jinny. She knows Jinny is good, but she’s not the final boss.
Amale is back in action next week and she’s determined to make up for her loss last time out.
Valentina Feroz & Amari Miller def. Katrina Cortez & Yulisa Leon
Valentina Feroz & Amari Miller vs Katrina Cortez & Yulisa Leon
This was a decent match. There’s no pressure in 205, or so it seems. It’s a place to try stuff and develop and let the crowd know who you are. Not a long match, but so few are and it’s a three-match half-hour watch. Amari Miller got the pin on Yulisa Leon.
Once again, SmackDown didn’t bother to have a women’s division match. At this point, I don’t know what to say anymore. I’ve been writing this column since the days we were lucky to get a women’s match on either RAW or SmackDown and it saddens me to see us going so far backwards. If you’re not Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Bianca Belair… or Bayley when she returns, then your chances of getting tv time are small and your chances of getting more than five minutes are practically non-existent. So many talented wrestlers just sat there waiting for their sub-three-minutes to shine. Well, this week they didn’t even get that.
An hour into the show, the women’s division got its first mention, the announcement of a Women’s Championship Title Exchange. Of all the ways to get the titles on the right brands, they picked the most boring.
Becky Lynch agreed. She reminded us she never lost the RAW Women’s Championship and suggested it was time for Becky Two Belts to come back.
Charlotte Flair just wanted her to hand over the title.
The exchange got the last ten minutes of the show. Sonya Deville officiated alone because Adam Pearce got beaten up by Brock Lesnar when he suspended him. She explained what was supposed to happen, but Becky Lynch didn’t hand over the title and told her to get Flair’s first. Neither wanted to give their belt up first, but eventually, the switch was made.
Flair said if Lynch wants to be Becky Two Belts so bad, why not winner take all tonight (with four minutes left of the show). Sasha Banks came out and told Flair it was her show and no one was taking over.
Lynch said she was off to RAW and she’d see one of them at Survivor Series, and left them to it.
Banks was arrogant, Flair was condescending. Sasha Banks came out on top in the inevitable scrap.
That was the most boring and unimaginative thing they could possibly have done. It’s not good enough, but that’s very on-brand for SmackDown’s treatment of the women’s division. And RAW really aren’t much better despite the main event fanfare.
There were widely reported rumours that neither Lynch nor Flair, especially Flair, were happy with the segment. I can’t imagine Charlotte Flair in AEW. But it’s looking more and more likely that imagination may not be necessary for much longer.
Hit Row debuted, but B-Fab got mic time only. She’s so good on the mic and she’s going to improve every time she steps into the ring.
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.