Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. I’ll admit to some apprehension at the start of this week. NXT was my brand and it had been for several years. I wasn’t looking forward to its replacement. NXT 2.0 is a brand new show and, while I understand wanting to keep the familiarity of the NXT name, I wish they’d called it something else. It will be an interesting few months for NXT’s women, but this week has just been a busy one.
Charlotte Flair def. Shayna Baszler
Nikki A.S.H. def. Tamina
Rhea Ripley def. Natalya
Doudrop def. Eva Marie
Charlotte Flair vs Shayna Baszler – Championship Contender’s match
Charlotte Flair had a backstage interview before the match, but Flair’s heel promos are a little repetitive. She’s the best, she did it on her own, no one is on her level etc.
For Shayna Baszler we were just shown footage of her talking to Nia Jax backstage earlier in the day. Jax wanted to know why Baszler cost her the title match. Baszler told her she only did what she would have done to her, and she stands by her belief that Jax can’t beat Flair. Unsurprisingly, Baszler came to the ring alone.
It was a better match than Flair and Jax, which wasn’t a high bar, and it got a good amount of time. Jax still managed to get involved though. She arrived after Flair had landed a moonsault to the outside and distracted her long enough for Baszler to throw her into the steps for the ad break.
Jax stood quietly at ringside while Flair was destroying Baszler’s leg, but when Baszler rocked Flair with a knee to the face she got on the apron. Shayna Baszler stared at her until Flair’s big boot put her lights out.
Alexa Bliss and Lilly turned up after the match, with a present for Flair as a thank you for accepting the match at Extreme Rules. Bliss put Lilly on the turnbuckle to watch, but Flair initially refused the gift. The crowd convinced her to open it.
Inside was a doll just like Lilly, but with long bright yellow hair and a mini RAW Women’s Championship. Her name is Charly. Flair was not impressed, especially when Bliss said it was so Flair would have someone to play with when she takes her title. She knows Flair said she didn’t need anyone, but everyone deserves a friend. Even a narcissistic self-absorbed bitch like Charlotte Flair.
Flair agreed she’s narcissistic, and she did like the accessories. She called Bliss crazy, twice, during her diatribe, then threw Charly at her. Bliss was incensed and launched herself on the champ. She kicked Flair out of the ring and gave her a sunset bomb when she got back in. She posed with the title while Flair sat with her back against the ring wondering what happened.
Backstage, later in the show, Sarah Schreiber asked Flair about Charly. Coincidentally, just as they found her sitting on a packing crate. Flair threw the doll in the bin, but it’s not going to be that simple is it.
That’s apparently the end of Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax as a team. They’re facing each other next week. I expected something more explosive leading to the match, but I guess not. We didn’t even see the fallout because of the segment with Alexa Bliss and Charlotte Flair.
The WWE Draft 2021 starts on SmackDown on October 1st and finishes on the October 4th episode of RAW.
Rhea Ripley was gently trying to explain to Nikki A.S.H. that right before her match wasn’t the best time to start thinking about a special team celebration, when they were interrupted by Natalya and Tamina. Ripley vs Natalya had been the scheduled match, but after the insults deteriorated into a scrap requiring intervention from Sonya Deville and a couple of officials, Nikki A.S.H. vs Tamina was slotted in first.
Nikki A.S.H., with Rhea Ripley, vs Tamina, with Natalya
I really like the Nikki and Rhea dynamic, it’s cute. Ripley was a good cheerleader on the outside, attempting to get the crowd to support her partner and yelling encouragement between wincing. Honestly, A.S.H. needed all the support she could get because Tamina was battering her. She made a couple of comebacks, because that’s her thing, but she was in trouble.
The finish was really odd. Nikki A.S.H. got the pin off a tornado DDT despite Tamina clearly kicking out. Tamina’s music played, and the ring announcer declared her the winner, so Tamina was obviously supposed to win the match (music cued, ring announcer saying what they had been told to instead of watching the action). It was later confirmed by multiple sources that it was the referee’s error.
Tamina attacked her after the match and Natalya put Ripley down before she could help. We went to the ads after Tamina smashed her into the barricades.
Rhea Ripley vs Natalya, with Tamina
Nikki A.S.H. was taken to the back for medical attention during the break, so Ripley was all alone. This might be the most dynamic and watchable Natalya’s ever been. She’s lost a lot of the cheesy stuff since pairing up with Tamina, and something has changed in the ring as well. Whatever it is, I like it and I enjoyed this match. It got a nice amount of time as well.
Tamina took one for the team on the outside. Ripley dropkicked her into the barricades while aiming for Natalya, giving Natalya time to drop her with a discus lariat. Twice, Ripley kicked her away to prevent a Sharpshooter.
Nikki A.S.H. came back when Tamina got on the apron to stop Ripley delivering a Riptide. She tripped Natalya on the other side of the ring and Ripley dropkicked Tamina into the barricade as she went towards her. Natalya tried to pin Ripley with her feet on the ropes. Nikki pushed them off and watched Ripley pick up a submission victory.
I think they already have the special celebration Nikki wanted because she jumped into Ripley’s arms again after the match and Rhea Ripley is definitely used to it now.
Doudrop vs Eva Marie
After all the anticipation, with nowhere left to run and hide, we finally answered the question of whether Eva Marie learned to wrestle in her time away from WWE. No. No, she did not. Normally I’m the first to complain about ridiculously short matches, but thankfully this was one of them.
I don’t know what to say except I feel sad for Doudrop having to endure the damage to her reputation caused by those couple of minutes. She put us all out of our misery with a senton and a crossbody.
I was shocked, when browsing the reactions to RAW on Twitter, by how many people appear to believe that Doudrop is actually a rookie. Hopefully, once Eva Marie is behind her, she’ll get a proper feud and people will get to see what she’s capable of. If you’re unfamiliar with her previous work, check out her Cagematch listing.
B-Fab def. Katrina Cortez
Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter def. Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne (DQ)
Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin, & Jacy Jayne def. Sarray, Kacy Catanzaro, & Kayden Carter
NXT is gone and NXT 2.0 has arrived. There’s a new logo, new look, new studio, new ethos, new everything. We don’t know what it will mean for the existing roster or what impact it will have on the women’s division. We just have to wait and see.
If I look at NXT 2.0 and compare it to the NXT I have reviewed for the last five years it will make me sad. So this is a whole new show. It’s bright and colourful and has a very light and open feel. The ropes are white and everything is extremely well lit. Maybe it’s because the logo reminds me of a children’s art show, but the studio setup feels very children’s television. It’s like the anti-NXT. I’m reserving judgement for the few weeks it will take me to get used to it.
There were a lot of new and new-ish faces, as promised. It seems harder to get a really loud crowd reaction due to the layout of the room. There was crowd noise, it’s just… different. They did have eight members of the women’s division in the ring tonight, and Elektra Lopez’ match set up makes it nine. That’s a promising start.
B-Fab, with Hit Row, vs Katrina Cortez
The first women’s division match of NXT 2.0 brought in the new ethos with B-Fab’s debut match. She’s got a lot of charisma, a strong character and ring presence, and is great on the mic. The rest will catch up. According to Cagematch, it was her ninth match ever and only her second single’s match. She’s been with WWE for three years and her previous matches were all on house shows, mostly tags, under the name Briana Brandy (which as far as I can tell is her actual name).
She won, of course. To prove some things never change, it was a sub-two-minute match and there was a picture in picture of Pete Dunne and Ridge Holland standing around during it.
After the match, she had some things to say about Legado del Fantasma’s Elektra Lopez. Legado immediately came out to set up the inevitable match. B-Fab suggested they do it there and then, but Santos Escobar held Lopez back.
Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne were shown backstage telling Mandy Rose she looked amazing and the old her was never the real her. This is the real her. New NXT, new Mandy Rose. We didn’t get to see what she looked like, just a shot of the back of her head in a hoodie. She didn’t accompany Dolin and Jayne for their match.
Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter vs Gigi Dolin & Jacy Jayne
Two women’s division matches in the first hour of the show is a good start, even if one of them was under two minutes. This one didn’t get to finish. As with the first women’s division match, there was a picture in picture of something going with the main event competitors, this time an attack on Kyle O’Reilly.
Commentary had barely finished talking about that when Mandy Rose ran in and caused a disqualification by attacking Kacy Catanzaro. She’s brunette now. It suits her. Sarray ran down to even the odds and two teams of three were yelling at each other heading into a break.
Kacy Catanzaro, Kayden Carter, & Sarray vs Gigi Dolin, Jacy Jayne, & Mandy Rose
Predictably, this was in progress when we got back from the ads. It was fun though, and it lasted longer than two minutes. The crowd were into it as well, which is a good sign.
Easily the most entertaining match of the first hour. Six very talented women who I’m very hopeful will thrive under the new regime. Mandy Rose got the pin on Kayden Carter, but this is probably a long way from over.
Ivy Nile is the newest member of Malcolm Bivens’ Diamond Mine. She’s got a very MMA look and a heavy chain draped over her shoulders.
I’m not spending much time on the InDex wedding because it’s got nothing to do with wrestling. Indi Hartwell looked very pretty. Candice LeRae’s baby bump is showing, and she also looked very pretty. Everyone looked lovely. No storylines or angles were set up. Apart from Dexter Lumis revealing an axe inside his jacket to stop anyone objecting, it all went very smoothly. Lumis even spoke for the first time, to say ‘I do’.
Emilia McKenzie def. Stevie Turner
I haven’t kept up NXT UK while I’ve been taking a break from this column, so I had a bit to catch up on. In my absence, Jinny and Aoife Valkyrie had a no DQ match, with Joseph Connors locked in a cage to stop him interfering. That was a fun watch but would have been better if they’d gagged him as well. Valkyrie put herself through a table and hurt her knee, which was aggravated when Jinny held the ropes on a sunset bomb. Medical staff cleared her to continue and she won after beating the hell out of Jinny with a chair that Jinny introduced. The following week, Valkyrie was confirmed as out for an unspecified amount of time due to a serious knee injury and Jinny gloated.
Blair Davenport had her match against Nina Samuels abandoned after She attacked Samuels during her entrance. Davenport then got herself suspended by attacking Sid Scala when he tried to get her back to the dressing room.
Emilia McKenzie beat Amale in another good match. McKenzie, who is now firmly the ‘You have to go through me first’ girl for Meiko Satomura, also set herself up a match against Stevie Turner because Turner was running her mouth. That match happened on this week’s show.
Also on this week’s show, Jinny discovered Isla Dawn in her dressing room, giggling “spookily” (think, too many magic mushrooms at a festival). She kicked her out, but I guess that means Jinny is Dawn’s next target.
Emilia McKenzie vs Stevie Turner
NXT UK’s women’s division is getting very interesting, after way too long being completely neglected. McKenzie and Turner are a big part of the reason why. Great match. Well-paced, skilled, aggressive, and engaging. I’m interested to see where both of them go in the coming months, and that’s the first time I’ve honestly been able to say that about the NXT UK women’s division for a very long time.
Emilia McKenzie got the win with a suplex and double knees to the face.
Blair Davenport attacked Stevie Turner after the match to send a message to Sid Scala. Bad things will keep happening until he reinstates her.
Valentina Feroz def. Amari Miller
In the last few weeks, 205 Live have been having a women’s division match on the show. It appears they’re giving the newer and/or greener members of the NXT women’s roster an opportunity. I’ll be honest, I rarely get around to watching 205. That’s not saying anything about the quality of the show, the occasions I have watched have all been decent, but there’s a lot of wrestling and sometimes I like to do other stuff as well. Now, of course, I will gladly make the effort.
Valentina Feroz vs Amari Miller
This opened the show and got a good few minutes. They got the crowd behind them, and eventually even got commentary’s attention. Good match. Miller got most of the talking up from commentary, and she controlled the majority of the match. Feroz’ offence was mostly reactive and opportunistic, but sometimes that’s all it takes. She got in a few judo throws during her short resurgence, then turned a pin attempt from Miller into a winning submission.
Liv Morgan & Toni Storm def. Zelina Vega & Carmella
Kayla Braxton asked Becky Lynch if Bianca Belair’s homecoming celebration would give her a little extra momentum going into their match at Extreme Rules. Lynch said momentum is a tricky thing because it keeps going until it meets an opposing force. Belair had a lot of momentum before she met her at SummerSlam, and Extreme Rules is going to end the same way. But tonight is Belair’s night. Lynch has never been to a homecoming though, so she might check it out.
Zelina Vega & Carmella vs Liv Morgan & Toni Storm
This is the match that was supposed to be on last week’s SmackDown, in Vega’s hometown on the weekend she was honouring her father’s memory.
Carmella started the match by cheap-shotting Liv Morgan off the apron, then immediately tagged out to avoid dealing with Toni Storm. Vega is scared of no one, but still needed a distraction assist from Carmella to make any headway.
Morgan fired Carmella into the turnbuckle face first and Carmella started screaming about her nose and holding her face. Vega said she heard the crack and everything. They got counted out while she was still screaming.
Liv Morgan grabbed a mic, said she’s not sorry for breaking Carmella’s nose because she’s tired of her running her mouth then running away. She’s challenging her to a match at Extreme Rules and if Carmella accepts, she’s going to make her as hideous on the outside as she is on the inside.
In the trainer’s room, with Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville looking on, Carmella was revealed to be absolutely fine. No blood. No swelling. Not broken. She accepted the match at Extreme Rules, but Vega said Morgan would have to go through her first.
Naomi demanded Sonya Deville get off her phone and listen to her. She’s done with Deville giving her the run-around and she wants her match. Deville fobbed her off again, saying there’s not much time on the show and talk to her again next week. Naomi got in her face and reminded her of everything she’s done in WWE. She probably shouldn’t have got quite so up close and personal, and telling Deville how much more than her she’s accomplished might not have been the best idea either. There was a staredown until Naomi walked away.
Commentary announced a little later that Naomi has been fined for insubordination.
I’m fine with Sonya Deville getting back in the ring, but I hope it doesn’t mean the end of her backstage work. She’s done a great job in that authority role, although I would have preferred her to be a stronger voice for the women’s division. She’s always on the PPV Kickoff panels talking about the women’s division matches, so they could have shown her being more vocal about pushing the division forward. I’m aware it’s a tv role with no actual power, but showing her as a strong advocate for her division would have been nice.
Bianca Belair had her homecoming on this week’s SmackDown. She’s been quite rightly celebrated in her hometown of Knoxville and the students of her old high school were very excited to see her. Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins talked her up during their promo, because Ford will take every possible opportunity to talk about how incredible his wife is. Seriously, there is no better WWE couple than Bianca Belair and Montez Ford. They are the role models WWE should be getting behind.
Kane is the mayor of Knox County. Well, Glenn Jacobs is the mayor but he’s always Kane in a WWE ring. That said, the Kane entrance, complete with red light and fire, while wearing Corporate Kane’s smart suit and tie, is still super weird. He didn’t take too much time for himself, just noted that the entrance never gets old and introduced Belair.
She has the most genuine and radiant smile and she was clearly a bit overwhelmed by the outpouring from the crowd. She talked about how happy she was to be home and thanked her friends and family for being there. Knoxville made her the EST, and her daddy taught her that if somebody starts something with you, you better finish it. Becky Lynch caught her off guard but she’s been down before and she’s always scratched and clawed her way back to the top. She’s going to take back her title at Extreme Rules.
Kane said she has to come back as champion and they’re going to have a huge celebration in her honour. He presented her with the key to the county and she made a short speech of thanks then led the crowd in song.
Becky Lynch interrupted the singing and said Belair was Knoxville’s champion, but she’s not going to be SmackDown Women’s Champion again.
Belair got the crowd chanting, ‘You don’t go here’ and Lynch had to shout them down. She’s not there to steal Belair’s thunder. SummerSlam belonged to Lynch and Extreme Rules probably will as well, but tonight is Belair’s. She offered a handshake to a reluctant Belair, but she eventually took it.
This time, Belair wouldn’t let go. Lynch tried to punch her. Belair went for a K.O.D., but once again Becky Lynch dropped her with a Man-handle Slam. Bianca Belair’s homecoming ended with Lynch’s music playing as she posed on the stage with the belt.
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.