Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions, and what a week it was. The Season Premiere of RAW, the first two-hour live televised NXT, SmackDown moving channels and days to Friday nights on Fox (in the USA), and all that on the go-home show week for Hell in a Cell.
Sasha Banks def. Alexa Bliss
Lacey Evans def. Natalya
RAW had a new commentary team for the season premiere. Michael Cole, Corey Graves, and Renee Young have moved across to SmackDown, and have been replaced by Vic Joseph, Dio Maddin, and Jerry Lawler. Lawler is apparently temporary and, while he’s far from a favourite commentator of mine, I think they need his experience at the moment. Vic Joseph is great though, I think he’s going to be leading WWE commentary desks for a long time. WWE brought back pyro this week as well, and Becky Lynch’s entrance has steam again. Lynch joined commentary for the first match of the night.
Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss
Obviously, this match wasn’t going to be about this match with Becky Lynch on commentary. In fact, within a minute of the start, Sasha Banks was up in the turnbuckle shouting across the crowd to the commentary desk. Lynch responded by standing on the announce desk, taking off her jacket and taping her wrists up.
The match itself was good. Banks won which furthers her and Bayley’s case for a tag title match. As soon as Banks got the pin, Lynch got off the desk and made her way to the ring. Lynch pounded on Sasha Banks until Banks escaped into the crowd. Lynch grabbed a mic and told her she could run now but on Sunday she’s not getting out of the cell until she’s done with her. Sasha Banks made it personal, she’s going to make it painful.
Later in the show, Sasha Banks interrupted Maria Kanellis confirming Rusev is not the father of her child, to send a message to Becky Lynch. She’s going to make Lynch cry, beg, and tap out at Hell in a Cell.
Natalya vs Lacey Evans
I wish I could get invested in this feud. In principle, it’s actually a good one for both women, I’m just not feeling the matches. There was nothing wrong with it. It was methodical and deliberate without being too slow, and it was fine. Lacey Evans raked Natalya’s eyes and rolled her up to get the win, then delivered a post-match Woman’s Right. I have a feeling this still isn’t over.
Lana reappeared on RAW this week, but she’s not back in the ring and it looks like another godawful personal life storyline. That’s as much coverage as it’s getting unless she’s wrestling again.
Charlotte Flair & Becky Lynch def. Sasha Banks & Bayley
Becky Lynch opened the brand-new Friday Night SmackDown (after a brief pre-credits appearance from Vince and Stephanie McMahon), carrying the RAW Women’s Championship with her. She said SmackDown is in her blood. This is where she changed the game and the people raised her up. She wanted to thank the SmackDown fans by kicking someone’s ass, but she got ‘King’ Corbin instead – honestly, I’m good with that being the ass she kicks.
He said he should have been opening the show and when he got to the apron he asked if Lynch still thinks she’s The Man. She told him to take one more step and they’d find out. He did, but before she could kick his ass, The Rock arrived. He greeted Becky Lynch and denied Corbin a high five during his entrance.
The Rock talked a lot about the origin of SmackDown, did all his catchphrases and bits, and threw in a few insults to Corbin for good measure.
Corbin told The Rock SmackDown is no longer his home and he’s no longer The Great One. In fact, Corbin is the great one etc. Rock and Lynch roasted him while he got more irate, then they teamed up and kicked his ass. No match, just a bit of back and forth, a People’s Elbow and a Rock Bottom.
That is one hell of a commentary on Becky Lynch’s position within the company.
Becky Lynch & Charlotte Flair vs Sasha Banks & Bayley
This was the first match of the show. Making the four horsewomen the opening match of the brand new era is a statement, and I like it. They got a good long match and they made the most of it, as you’d expect.
It was a slightly uneasy alliance between Flair and Lynch, but an effective one. Becky Lynch tried to save Flair from interference from Bayley by shoving her off the apron, but Bayley got back up and shoved Flair off the turnbuckle to the floor while the ref was ushering Lynch out of the ring.
Sasha Banks wasn’t at all keen to get involved with Becky Lynch, jumping off the apron any time Lynch so much as glanced at her. They got into a brief brawl after Banks broke up Flair’s pin on Bayley, but Bayley put a stop to that, and chaos broke out.
Once that had resolved, and Flair had taken both Banks and Bayley down with a moonsault, Charlotte Flair tapped out Bayley with the Figure Eight.
Carmella lost the 24/7 Championship to something called Marshmello (nope, not a clue, commentary said DJ). Annoyingly, we were told to go to the WWE YouTube channel if we want to know who now holds it.
Renee Young is no longer on commentary. They’ve gone with a two-man booth of Michael Cole and Corey Graves. She’s listed as a special contributor, and she was doing something on the pre-show on Fox (so I have no idea what). Twitter seemed to like her in her new role, and I won’t miss her and Corey Graves sniping at each other through every show, but I hope she gets some commentary roles, representation is important.
The new SmackDown set is very retro. I like it.
Putting the four horsewomen on as the first match felt like a good strong statement of intent. Unfortunately, no other women were featured on the historic show, except for the brief Carmella segment, and that’s not great.
Next week’s SmackDown is when everything changes. The draft begins on SmackDown and continues on RAW the following Monday.
Io Shirai def. Mia Yim
Shayna Baszler def. Candice LeRae
Io Shirai vs Mia Yim
I loved this match, so much talent and experience in one ring. Mia Yim has a lot to prove. She failed to beat Shayna Baszler and needs to make her case for another shot and solidify her position in the pecking order. Io Shirai just wants to watch the world burn and it’s beautiful.
That kind of reflected the story of the match. Mia Yim went all out from the start, Io Shirai took what Yim had to give and showed us moments of brilliance in between.
Shirai kicked out of a Code Blue, and that was probably her closest chance of the match. It finished soon as a result of an Io Shirai moonsault, but not until Yim had kicked out after a superplex.
Tegan Nox got a return hype package, detailing her injury and rehab. It doesn’t get any less horrifying to watch that injury, no matter how often you see it. It’s good to see her healthy again.
Shayna Baszler (C) vs Candice LeRae – NXT Women’s Championship match
Shayna Baszler brought Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir as far as the stage but came to the ring alone. There was something Candice LeRae said in the excellent hype package that I really liked. She said, ‘I haven’t been waiting my whole life for this moment, I’ve been working my whole life for this moment’. It felt unlikely that Baszler would lose the title on a tv episode, even an ultra-special one, but there’s always just a small chance.
Shayna Baszler found her target limb when she threw Candice LeRae into the step the stomped her left arm into them. She returned to it often and LeRae was holding it for the rest of the match, but it didn’t slow her down much. She got quite a few runs of momentum, including three suicide dives, but all were halted by Baszler. LeRae even got Baszler in a Kirifuda Clutch at one point, but Baszler introduced her to the hanging Kirifuda Clutch as a result of that.
It was the Kirifuda Clutch that ended the match in the champion’s favour as well. LeRae fought like a wildcat to get out of it, but it wasn’t to be.
It was a good match for LeRae, extinguishing the last vestiges of her presentation as just Mrs Gargano. It won’t be her last title match.
Piper Niven def. Isla Dawn
Kay Lee Ray def. Tegan Nox
Piper Niven vs Isla Dawn
Isla Dawn doesn’t seem to have been around much recently, but she was a staple in the opening months of the show. This match opened the show, which might not have been the greatest move because the crowd were asleep. They didn’t even really wake up when Isla Daw suplexed Niven and almost got the pin. That was Dawn’s only real run of momentum. Piper Niven finished the match with a Michinoku Driver shortly after.
After the match, Piper Niven had an interview. She was talking about having her eye on the NXT UK Women’s Championship when she was interrupted by Jinny. Jinny said she is the next NXT UK Women’s Champion, then Jazzy Gabert attacked Niven from behind and Jinny piled in when she was down.
Piper Niven and Jinny go one on one next week.
Kay Lee Ray vs Tegan Nox
So the women’s division bookended the show, because this one main evented. It was a non-title match, this time. Nox’ knees were heavily braced, just a reminder of the fight she’s had to get back into the ring.
She was clearly anxious to prove she was ready to return. Kay Lee Ray quickly had enough and tried to walk out, but Nox chased her down and dragged her back. Once back in the ring, Ray took over and started working the injured knee. She remained in control until Nox rolled out of the way of a dive from the top, then dodged a charge into the corner that sent Kay Lee Ray shoulder first into the ringpost.
Tegan Nox was in clear pain, but she battled through. She had a couple of near falls, had to struggle out of a couple of submissions, and nearly finished Ray with the Shiniest Wizard. Unfortunately, Kay Lee Ray was able to get a foot on the ropes.
Frustration started to show for Nox and she charged along the apron to aim a kick at Kay Lee Ray. Ray moved, Nox kicked the post and Kay Lee Ray finished her off with a Gory Bomb.
No original women’s division action on Main Event this week. There was a bit of coverage of the Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss from RAW, more focused on the aftermath with Becky Lynch. Oh, and Mickie James is now doing Main Event commentary.
That’s it for this week’s WWE women’s division action, and it really was a big week. Enjoy Hell in a Cell and join me next week for another instalment and in the meantime follow @ArnFuriousCom to make sure you never miss a review. You can also follow me @manda_why.