Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. It’s a bit of a nowhere time for WWE at the moment, coming off back to back PPVs and still a couple of weeks out for the next one. That didn’t necessarily make for a dull week though. Not with Rhea Ripley and Mercedes Martinez in a steel cage to look forward to.
Peyton Royce def. Billie Kay
Asuka & Mickie James def. Natalya & Lana
The Riott Squad def. Shayna Baszler
Nia Jax vs The Riott Squad – No Contest
Peyton Royce vs Billie Kay
The was no reason to do this match now and it made no sense. If they’d split because they wanted to it might be different, but they were forced to separate and were clearly upset about it. Ok, so Royce pushed Kay onto the platform in RAW Underground and she got knocked out by Jessamyn Duke, but that hardly justifies putting them in a match a week after the split.
It honestly wasn’t the best match. Their new music is very generic and there is nothing special about the entrances. Maybe it was deliberate, but it all looked a bit awkward and hesitant, including the in-ring action.
Peyton Royce got the win with a neckbreaker. She helped Billie Kay up and hugged her after she’d had her hand raised.
If the rumour mill is to be believed, things don’t look good for Billie Kay. It is being widely reported that there are no current plans for her. I hope they find a way to put them back together or I fear we’ll lose them both eventually and Kay sooner rather than later.
Adam Pearce spoke to Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax backstage. Baszler was questioning why she had a handicap match against The Riott Squad. He said it came from Jax boasting Baszler could beat both of them, but they thought it only fair for them both to have the same opportunity so Jax also has a handicap match against them. Jax seemed less than thrilled, but she wandered off to speak to Drew McIntyre and left her complaining.
Asuka & Mickie James vs Natalya & Lana
Asuka defends her title against Mickie James next week and it is a time-honoured tradition at WWE to make future opponents team together for no obvious reason. They didn’t do badly as a team, but there were a few moments of healthy tension around tagging.
Natalya and Lana are learning to be a team. Much as I find their mic work cringeworthy, I think them teaming makes a lot of sense and I hope they make it work. I wouldn’t even object to them having a quick tag title run down the line to give Natalya that accolade to add to her career highlights.
It wasn’t a bad match at all. There was tag tension at the end when Mickie James had Lana primed for pinning and Asuka tagged herself in and submitted her with an Asuka Lock. James still did her bit and kept Natalya from breaking it up. The camera was watching James deliver the Mick Kick to Natalya and missed Lana tapping.
Shayna Baszler vs The Riott Squad
Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott had to tag in and out. Nia Jax was watching from ringside, ready to take her turn next. Riott and Morgan are back on the same page and looking like a team. Jax was talking to Baszler throughout, but it was more trash-talk than cheerleading. It was after one of their exchanges that Morgan rolled Baszler up and pinned her. Nia Jax found that hilarious.
Nia Jax vs The Riott Squad
They got underway with the second match after a break and a visit to RAW Underground. The first one was particularly long, but it still put Morgan and Riott at a disadvantage. Baszler returned the favour with the trash-talk from the outside. Jax tried to do Baszler’s elbow stomp on Riott but missed.
The lights went off a couple of times just as things really started to get rough for Jax. She’d just taken a double team from Riott and Morgan when they went off completely and a logo flashed up on the big screen and ThunderDome. RETRIBUTION have a logo now. And this week they had something to say via the big screen.
Using voice changers, one of them said, ‘This ThunderDome is one a façade. Behind this mountain of screens is the same foundation, the same WWE as before. The same behemoth who discarded and disowned us, leaving us to survive in an unfair world where the powerful continue to grow while we are left to feed on nothing but the scraps of contempt.’
A second one (widely thought to be Dominik Dijakovic) continued, ‘But contempt is a powerful motivator. We are driven to destroy, to lay waste to every superstar and every fan. Blinded, you cannot see what you do not have, so the locusts of contempt will feed upon all of you. The darkness of RETRIBUTION will seep into the pores of every superstar and all of your so-called universe. We are RETRIBUTION.’
There were five of them in the shot, two women at the front. The biggest speculation is that the taller of the women is Mia Yim and it very well could be. My facial recognition is way too poor to speculate, but the figure seems to be about the right height and build. I’m glad they’re moving the storyline on. I don’t mind so much not knowing who they are, but it’s nice to have at least the beginnings of an idea why they’re here.
Rhea Ripley def. Mercedes Martinez
In her pre-match promo, Rhea Ripley said Mercedes Martinez has spent months trying to make herself at her expense. She’s not the first and she won’t be the last. Inside the steel cage, she’s going to show Martinez why she’s The Nightmare.
In her answering promo, Mercedes Martinez said when a lion wants to be king they don’t go after the weaklings. They challenge the strongest, fiercest animal they can find and take them out. Rhea Ripley is a bad woman but she’s not as bad as her, and when the steel cage shuts she’s not going to stop until there’s nothing left.
Robert Stone tried to take a pipe to Shotzi Blackhearts tank, and dragged McKenzie Mitchell over to watch him do it. Blackheart caught him and punched him in the face. When Aliyah ran to his defence and attacked Blackheart from behind, they crashed through a curtain and knocked over Io Shirai who was in the middle of a photo shoot.
Shirai chased Aliyah to the ring and Blackheart met them there, trapping Aliyah between them. They took turns smacking Aliyah around then Shirai gave her a backbreaker.
Robert Stone climbed up to the top turnbuckle but Blackheart saw him and shoved Shirai out of the way so she could smack him in the stomach on his way down. Stone took a moonsault from Shirai. Aliyah took a senton from Blackheart.
When Shotzi Blackheart picked up the title belt she faked not giving it back for a second. Io Shirai said, ‘I like you Shotzi. Don’t make me hurt you’.
There were three visits to the home of the Garganos this week, to monitor Tegan Nox and Candice LeRae trying to reconcile. The first visit started before Nox’ arrival. Johnny Gargano wasn’t convinced it was a good idea, but LeRae said she needed it to work because she needed this friend in her life. When Nox arrived Gargano was overly cheerful and fake and everything was painfully awkward.
Visit two didn’t start off much better. Gargano suggested he was the one making it weird and excused himself. LeRae and Nox immediately got into an argument over who betrayed who and how and about The Gargano Way. At the end of the second visit LeRae was telling Nox that she’d always had her back and had never steered her wrong, so why should this be any different. Tegan Nox looked like she was considering it.
Things got out of hand in the third and final visit. It started nice and friendly with LeRae making a toast, but part of it was to her as the next women’s champion. Tegan Nox questioned why LeRae should be champ, and it went downhill from there. LeRae threw the salad over Nox for reminding her she hasn’t beaten Io either. Nox threw a drink over LeRae in return. When Gargano reappeared and said some nasty things to Nox, she upturned a big bowl of spaghetti over his head. LeRae threw a remote at her, which hit the tv when Nox ducked, and chased after her when she left, leaving Gargano mourning his broken tv with spaghetti on his head.
Rhea Ripley vs Mercedes Martinez, with Robert Stone – Steel Cage match
Mercedes Martinez’ entrance is perfect, or it would be without Robert Stone trailing along behind her. She was carrying a kendo stick and stopped to get extra toys from under the ring instead of getting in the cage. Rhea Ripley jumped her from behind while she was getting a table out, squished her between the cage and the door a few times then rolled her into the ring. Then Ripley put the table in the ring and got in the cage.
They delivered every bit of the brutality and viciousness they promised and it made it a very good match. At one point Martinez got her head poking out between two of the corner posts of the cage, which could have been dodgy as hell. It was fine. I mean, she was superplexed off the top turnbuckle, but there was no damage from the cage.
The kendo stick Martinez brought to the ring came in handy. She used it to make Ripley let her out of the Prism Drop. Rhea Ripley picked it up and hit Martinez with it, then used it to swipe at Robert Stone as he tried to climb the cage.
He kept climbing and they met at the top. She headbutted him and was trying to superplex his limp body from the top of the cage when Martinez hit her with the kendo stick and climbed up with her. They came down via a Mercedes Martinez neckbreaker, but she couldn’t capitalise in time and Ripley kicked out.
Martinez set a table up near the opposite corner from where Robert Stone was still dangling over the top. She dragged Ripley up onto the second turnbuckle and tried to suplex her off it. Ripley fought back and delivered a Riptide from the second turnbuckle, through the table for the win.
Next week is NXT UK’s return to action. In two weeks, Kay Lee Ray will defend her NXT UK Women’s Championship against Piper Niven. There was a long hype package for the match this week, with Ray and Niven talking about their journey and their friendship. Then they showed Ray’s ‘I Quit’ match title defence against Toni Storm. That was the match where Toni Storm spent half the match with her hands bound behind her back and Kay Lee Ray jumped on the chair her neck was trapped in. Piper Niven came to ringside and persuaded Storm to quit before Ray did it again.
Kay Lee Ray will be on next week’s show to talk about the upcoming title match.
Nikki Cross def. Tamina, Lacey Evans, & Alexa Bliss
Bayley brought the chair she battered Sasha Banks with to the ring with her and sat on it to address the WWE Universe. She stayed silent until after she’d shown the footage of her attack on her best friend. When it was done she complained that everyone is asking how Sasha Banks is and when she’ll be back but no one is asking how Bayley is. She loved every minute of the attack but she’s full of questions now. She knew Banks was biding her time to make her move, keeping her close, pretending to be her best friend but using her the whole time. But Bayley was using her too and never cared about their friendship, just what it could do for her. And after last week, she’s completely useless to her.
Lacey Evans vs Tamina vs Alexa Bliss vs Nikki Cross – Fatal Four-way Number One Contender’s match
Bayley hit Nikki Cross on the back as Cross was making her entrance and Bayley was leaving after her rant. Alexa Bliss was comforting her while medics checked on her after a break, but Cross insisted she wanted to take part in the match. She immediately got thrown out of the ring by Tamina, so she got some time out anyway.
Alexa Bliss looked to be back to normal until Michael Cole mentioned that The Fiend didn’t seem to be affecting her anymore. They were all at ringside in front of the announce desk, Cross had just levelled Tamina and Evans with a crossbody, and she clearly heard him. Bliss posture changed and she spaced out, then she grabbed Nikki Cross by the hair and delivered a Sister Abigail while staring at commentary. During the ad break which followed, Bliss left the arena.
With Bliss gone and Cross still down on the outside, it was down to Tamina and Lacey Evans for a while. Cross came back just in time to prevent Evans winning the match.
It was Nikki Cross who got the pin. After everyone exchanged finishers, she rolled Tamina up and scrabbled to keep her there for the three. It will be Bayley versus Nikki Cross at Clash of Champions and it will be very interesting to see how Bayley fares without her backup.
My big question about this match is, why wasn’t Naomi in it? She beat Bayley in the recent Beat the Clock Challenge. Unless she’s injured, she should definitely have been included. I’m not complaining about another round of Bayley versus Nikki Cross, it’s going to be a great match. But I would have liked to see Naomi get the opportunity.
There was another vignette for the mystery woman in high heels and a fur coat. I still think it’s Carmella.
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.