Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It’s been a pretty good week for WWE’s women’s divisions in the ring. RAW was much improved, with two women’s matches that weren’t over in the blink of an eye. There was an interesting return on NXT 2.0. NXT UK had a title match. But out of the ring, it was a different story. There is an extra section in this week’s column, to deal with the latest round of superstar releases.
Becky Lynch def. Bianca Belair
Queen Zelina & Carmella def. Nikki A.S.H. & Rhea Ripley
WWE announced earlier on Monday that Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair’s match would open the show. But with pre-match interviews with both of them, they still managed a good few minutes of chatter before the action got underway.
Sarah Schreiber conducted the interviews. She asked Bianca Belair if tonight was the night the rivalry she and Lynch started at SummerSlam would come to a head. Belair admitted she wasn’t ready for Lynch when she made her surprise comeback. She’d trained for Sasha Banks, thought she’d have to deal with Carmella, then all of a sudden Lynch was there. She was happy when Lynch challenged her. Becky Lynch is someone she’d admired, so she was up for the challenge. Then 26 seconds later she’s wondering what happened, with no title.
But she’ll never regret her mistakes because they’re only opportunities to make her stronger. Lynch has lost sight of what it takes to be a champion and downplays Belair’s accomplishments like she doesn’t see her as a threat. But Belair has always showed up and showed out and tonight’s no different. There’s no bigger match than for the RAW Women’s Championship.
Schreiber spoke to Becky Lynch after Belair had gone to the ring. Lynch gave Belair credit for her rise to the top, qualified by the fact she wasn’t there to stop her. She talked about doing push-ups the day after her baby was born, and how hard she’s worked. She doesn’t think people understand how hard it is to be her and balance this new life she’s created with the pressures of being a champ. People aren’t appreciating her. Some of them are even booing. But she’ll use that as motivation to beat Bianca Belair again.
Becky Lynch (C) vs Bianca Belair – RAW Women’s Championship match
This was a great match to start the show with because Lynch and Belair are two of the most over superstars on the roster. Lynch started it with disrespectful shoves and some trash talk until Belair’s expression changed, at which point she tried and failed to escape the ring. Belair got to show off some of her strength, but the pin attempt a minute in was wildly optimistic.
Nefarious use of Belair’s braid backfired on Lynch and she took a face full of ringpost and a delayed vertical suplex going into a break.
Lynch was not only back in the ring after the ads, she was in control after throwing Belair shoulder first into the post while we were away. You could see the frustration growing with every counter and kick out from Belair. The only person Lynch needs to prove she’s better than ever to, is herself. Instead, she began to worry she’d lose the title because Belair just kept coming back at her.
Belair missed with the braid and had her double chicken wing facebuster counter. She had to find her way out of a Dis-Arm-Her, which she did by standing up with Lynch still on her shoulder. Becky Lynch tipped them both over the ropes to the outside for the next break.
It was increasing desperation for the finish when we came back. Lynch got dropped on her face but got her knees up for Belair’s moonsault. Belair took a Manhandle Slam but got her foot on the ropes. On the outside, Belair dropped Lynch on the announce desk but took too long getting her back in the ring.
The finish wasn’t clean. Belair got Lynch on her shoulders for the K.O.D., but they were in the corner and Lynch hung on and ripped off the turnbuckle pad. As it came free, she fell off Belair’s shoulders and shoved her into the exposed metal. A quick roll-up with a handful of tights was how the champ retained.
Later, in a backstage interview with Sarah Schreiber, Lynch objected to the use of the words nefarious tactics to describe her win, insisting she just used what was available. In her mind, the bigger issue is the fickle crowd booing her because they don’t know what success is like and can’t take hers. She said Belair had to go to the back of the line now and someone else should step up. Liv Morgan walked into shot and Lynch left.
Zelina Vega and Carmella have joined up to form a mutual appreciation society. They met up with Nikki A.S.H. in the corridor and did the fake-nice mean girls things. Rhea Ripley heard them make a bitchy comment as they walked away and stopped them. After Carmella informed them they, and the rest of the women’s division, were beneath them, the match was set.
Rhea Ripley & Nikki A.S.H. vs Queen Zelina & Carmella – Championship Contender’s Match
Somehow, between the corridor and the ring, this became a championship contender’s match. Vega and Ripley started things off because Carmella was still getting her mask put on. Vega is so tiny she doesn’t quite reach Ripley’s shoulder. All Ripley did was shove her over, and she tagged Carmella in.
Carmella started her stint with a slap, so Ripley headbutted her. Doudrop, Liv Morgan, Dana Brooke, and Tamina were shown watching backstage while Carmella screamed at being manhandled by Ripley. Nikki A.S.H. took Vega and Carmella down with a dive from the apron to send us into the ads.
Nikki knocked Carmella off the apron after the ads, so she could focus on Vega. It would have worked if she’d been a fraction quicker with the swinging neckbreaker, but Carmella just made it in time to break the pin with a kick in the face. Ripley’s attempt to keep her out of it ended with Ripley’s face meeting the ringpost before Carmella threw her into the barricades. She was still on the floor when Carmella distracted Nikki long enough for Vega to pin her.
Technically, that earns Carmella and Vega a title shot.
Dakota Kai def. Cora Jade
The show opened with Mandy Rose, who is very happy to have won her first title. The crowd set up duelling, ‘You deserve it – No you don’t chants, but Rose said she knows and doesn’t need their validation. She defeated Raquel Gonzalez and is now laying claim to being the baddest bitch in the whole company. Then she appeared to run out of interesting things to say and talked about how good the title looks on her.
She eventually mentioned Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne winning the tag titles and the cameras cut to the end of them beating up Zoey Stark in the locker room. Rose said she taught them well. There’s no one there to stop them and if anyone thinks differently…
Enter Io Shirai. She saw what Jayne and Dolin did to Stark and while she doesn’t like Zoey she likes Mandy Rose even less. She wants the leader of Toxic Attraction, right here and now.
Mandy Rose said everyone in the locker room used to be scared of Shirai, but this is her world now. She called for a referee but blindsided Shirai as soon as she looked away. Io Shirai didn’t have a chance to find her feet for a comeback, she just took a beating. Rose retrieved the mic and said this isn’t the old NXT, it’s NXT 2.0 and Shirai will never look like her.
Io Shirai got back up and beat on her until Dolin and Jayne arrived to stop her. When the numbers overwhelmed her, Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro arrived to save the day and clear Toxic Attraction from the ring.
Backstage, Toxic Attraction ran into Dakota Kai. Mandy Rose put a hand on her shoulder. Kai said she didn’t do it to help her (it being hitting Gonzalez with a shovel mid-match) she did it to end Raquel.
There was a very odd segment later on to announce the inevitable six-woman tag match. Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne interrupted Imperium’s interview to flirt with them and suggest they watch their match next week. Imperium said they would, made a comment in German about America having its benefits, then leered at them as they walked away. That’s just creepy and weird, especially on a show clearly primarily targeted at children (you will never convince me 2.0 isn’t a kid’s tv show. If it’s not for children then who is its target audience?).
Commentary announced that Zoey Stark was taken to hospital as a result of the attack by Dolin and Jayne. I guess that probably means they’re just writing her off tv for a while, especially if Io Shirai is title hunting again.
Dakota Kai vs Cora Jade
Cora Jade has had a couple of lucky wins recently, but it just says win in the record books so they all count. Sadly, her lucky streak ran out this time. Instead of getting beaten up and stealing the win, she got beaten up and pinned. Kai didn’t have it all her own way, but it wasn’t far off.
She got beaten up a bit more after the match and Kai laid her out at ringside and laid a table over her. She got on the apron to jump off, but changed her mind. She was clearly wrestling with herself as she picked up Jade’s skateboard and placed it on her then backed away.
Kay Lee Ray didn’t come to NXT 2.0 to make up the numbers. Next week she starts to rage. And rage is probably the right reaction. Unless she got a heads up on the changes, the NXT she was promised is not the NXT she has found herself in. I don’t think 2.0 is the place for the kind of stories KLR is used to telling.
Thursday – More Releases
The latest round of “Budget cut” releases came this week. Again, some of the names were just inexplicable. The women’s division, particularly NXT 2.0’s women’s division took a huge hit. Perhaps the biggest name, and one of the most surprising, was Nia Jax. This is the full list, men included. None of the people deserved to lose their jobs.
- Nia Jax
- Ember Moon
- Eva Marie
- Mia Yim
- Scarlett Bordeaux
- Franky Monet (now Taya Valkyrie once more)
- Zayda Ramier
- Jessi Kamea
- Katrina Cortez
- Keith Lee
- Karrion Kross
- Oney Lorcan
- Lince Dorado
- Gran Metalik
- Trey Baxter
- Jeet Rama
- Harry Smith (Davey Boy Smith Jr.)
There is a link here to Denise Salcedo’s list of WWE 2020/2021 releases. It’s honestly horrifying. There are a handful who were released for good reason (Velveteen Dream and Travis Banks as examples). And the list might not be completely accurate because I don’t recall Kairi Sane being formally released. But it’s getting harder and harder to justify carrying on watching, knowing what it must be like working there.
Two couples were released on the same day Karrion Kross and Scarlett, and Keith Lee and Mia Yim, which always feels extra harsh.
Rumours started to circulate shortly after the releases were reported, that some of them may have been due to vaccination status (unconfirmed at time of writing). Nia Jax has been vocally anti-vax on some of her past social media, so that could explain the otherwise seemingly out of the blue decision.
I don’t know how you mess up Mia Yim or Franky Monet/Taya Valkyrie. They are a gift to any women’s division. Impact or AEW will be lucky and hopefully grateful to have them. It makes no sense for WWE to have got rid of them without either having a proper chance. Mia Yim was drafted to RAW and never even made an appearance.
Speaking of never having had a proper chance, Jessi Kamea had a lot of promise, but never really got the chance to do anything with it. Katrina Cortez and Zayda Ramier barely got any chance at all.
The other two women’s division releases make me particularly angry, Ember Moon and B-Fab. Ember Moon because she’s been misused and jerked around since the end of her first NXT run. She will also do exceptionally well wherever she lands. B-Fab because she’s everything WWE said they wanted going forward, and it still wasn’t enough. She’s athletic, she’s a complete rookie, she’s incredible on the mic and she has a fabulous look. Hit Row are over as hell, and they’ve barely arrived on the main roster. They didn’t even give her a chance to sink or swim. Removing her from the faction significantly diminishes it, which makes it doubly sad because Swerve has waited a long time for this. I’m just baffled by it.
To lose ten members of the women’s division in one hit is crushing. I wish them all the best of luck wherever they wind up. Impact have long had a fabulous women’s division, and while AEW’s was slow to come together, it’s quickly becoming the place to be.
Angel Hayze def. Isla Dawn
Meiko Satomura def. Jinny
Xia Brookside asked Sid Scala if she could face the winner of Meiko Satomura vs Jinny. He pointed out her win-loss record of late didn’t put her in a number one contender’s position. She threw a pouty tantrum and said it wasn’t fair, then she called her dad and left the office complaining to him.
What an absolutely terrible direction to take her in.
Isla Dawn vs Angel Hayze
Another debut on NXT UK, but it was more about Isla Dawn showing if her ‘quirkiness’ than anything else. Hayze got the victory by disqualification when Dawn repeatedly refused to get off her hair. Dawn didn’t take it well. She grabbed Hayze by the hair again, hoisted her up, and planted her into the mat.
Stevie Turner interrupted Subculture’s chat to talk about how much better than everyone she is. So, she’ll be having a match with Dani Luna then.
Blair Davenport interrupted Jinny trying to psych out Meiko Satomura before their match, to tell them both that it doesn’t matter which one of them wins because she’s back and they’re both on notice.
Meiko Satomura (C), with Emilia McKenzie, vs Jinny, with Joseph Connors, – NXT UK Women’s Championship match
This was, of course, the main event. It doesn’t seem like time for Satomura to lose the title. For the first time, the NXT UK women’s division feels like it has purpose and direction, and that’s largely due to Satomura’s presence.
Good match, with added atmosphere from a small crowd. You can really tell when only a handful of people are doing a chant though and it sounds almost mocking. Satomura sustained some damage to her knee and Jinny capitalised mercilessly. But even on one leg, Satomura is incredible.
Jinny probably is the natural successor to Satomura, and a few times it looked like that succession would be this time around. Satomura kicked out of the makeover and had to fight hard out of a submission on the injured knee. It took her an age to get to the ropes, and Jinny held for the whole ref’s break count. Jinny had to do the same after missing with a kick and kicking out of a frogsplash.
Inevitably, Joseph Connors got on the apron to interfere. Happily, Emilia McKenzie dropped him on it face-first. The distraction allowed Jinny to connect with a kick, but Satomura kicked out. When Satomura returned the favour, Jinny kicked out again.
It took a Scorpio Rising that didn’t quite fully connect and a Death Valley Bomb that did to keep Jinny down.
Valentina Feroz def. Erica Yan
Valentina Feroz vs Erica Yan
This was Erica Yan’s debut but it didn’t stop the crowd providing duelling chants for them. NXT crowds are so supportive. It was a fun match. Commentary informed us Yan is best friends with Xia Li and hoping to follow in her footsteps (which is nice. I’ve heard good things about the catering at SmackDown). She put on a good showing, but she tapped to Feroz, giving her a much-needed win.
Shayna Baszler def. Naomi
Naomi vs Shayna Baszler
Sonya Deville spoke to Kayla Braxton during Baszler’s entrance. She said Naomi has never had the passion and fire she has now, and that’s all down to her. She also said she might challenge Naomi one on one if she could beat Baszler.
Naomi was definitely fired up, but that only took her through the initial flurry of punches. After that, she was in a fight. It’s an interesting mix of styles, and it works quite well.
Naomi got the pin off a roll-up, but Sonya Deville came out and made up something about Naomi touching the ropes before the roll-up meaning there should have been a rope break and the match had to restart. The bell went and Shayna Baszler put Naomi in the Kirifuda Clutch until she went to sleep.
Xia Li is still Coming Soon.
Shotzi has had enough. Since she’s been at SmackDown, she’s lost a title opportunity, her tag partner, and the support of the WWE Universe. And thanks to Sasha Banks, last week she lost the biggest match of her career. She’s not going to smile and pretend everything is ok anymore. Banks’ patronising attitude was her breaking point and now Banks is her target. She’s going to run over Sasha Banks and anyone else who gets in her way, and she doesn’t need a tank to do it.
Looks like we’re getting a new Shotzi for this single’s run.
Hit Row appeared for the first time without B-Fab. They are significantly diminished as a group without her, and social media was rightly outraged by her removal. She trended during and after the show on Twitter.
Aliyah was backstage talking to Jeff Hardy. She left him to have an interview with Kayla Braxton, but he had to follow her and save her from being talked at by Sami Zayn instead. Hardy welcomed her to SmackDown, which is lovely, but it would be nice to see her in the ring and find out what they’re going to do with her. She’s paid her dues and worked her ass off on NXT. I just want her to get something good.
On Saturday, WWE announced the full Survivor Series teams. That seems like an odd move as they usually have some kind of competition to earn a place. Survivor Series, as in the last couple of years, is too close to the draft to feel meaningful. Anyway, here are the women’s Survivor Series teams.
Team RAW – Bianca Belair, Rhea Ripley, Liv Morgan, Carmella, Zelina Vega.
Team SmackDown – Sasha Banks, Shayna Baszler, Shotzi, Natalya, Aliyah.
Big congratulations to Aliyah. I’m so happy for her.
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.