This edition sees the WrestleMania battle of AJ & Paige against the Bella Twins take place, Naomi push herself into Divas Championship contention with some strong victories, and Bayley and Emma have some issues to settle in NXT. Also, Gail Kim faces Angelina Love, and there is a shocking departure from the WWE roster.
AJ Lee & Paige vs The Bella Twins
WrestleMania 31 was a fantastic edition of the Grandest Stage in professional wrestling, with some amazing matches on show. The Divas division also got into the occasion of the event, Alundra Blayze entering the Hall of Fame and Ronda Rousey making her presence felt on the Authority. The sole women’s match on the card was a tag team match that had been built on television for weeks since AJ Lee’s return to the ring. Her and former rival Paige put up a united front against the Bella Twins, and this feud culminates at WrestleMania.
The match was not particularly long, which I guess was to be expected considering some of the other bouts booked. The Bella Twins dominated the first half of the contest, much like they were in control of their Royal Rumble match against Paige & Natalya. They isolated the British Anti-Diva, and consistently knocked AJ Lee to ringside. Both Bellas are very good at controlling the pace of a contest and inciting a reaction from the crowd as heels, and are effective ring generals, even against two technically sound opponents.
Eventually, Paige was able to fight free of the sisters, kicking out of Rack Attack and then connecting with a sunset dive off the apron onto both rivals. A tag was made to AJ, and the action kicked into a higher gear. There was a really nice spot where AJ missed a kick, and Nikki lifted her into an electric chair, only for this to be countered into a DDT. Paige handled Brie on the outside, throwing her into the steel steps with force, before AJ caught Nikki in the Black Widow which forced the Divas Champion to tap out. A solid match that certainly added value to the awesome experience of WrestleMania 31, although a title match would have been more appealing.
Naomi, Paige & AJ Lee vs The Bella Twins & Natalya
Following on from the events of WrestleMania, Naomi and Natalya entered the fray on the most exciting RAW of the year, and certainly they joined in on the night after Mania festivities. The crowd really added value to this match, and got behind these six women who were putting on a very good contest for their entertainment. Chants of “We Want Bayley” blared out early, due to AJ adorning one of the bubbly NXT Diva’s shirts. All the while, the starting action between Naomi and Natalya built upon their great technique and chemistry. Paige and Brie continued this, the fans really behind the British Anti-Diva.
Some unflattering but very funny chants were directed towards the Bella Twins in reference to their relationships with John Cena and Daniel Bryan, but this added to the atmosphere of the contest as the heels dealt with it in their stride. When action returned from the break it was AJ going through the pain, as her three opponents took turns contorting her in every stretch imaginable, particularly with Nikki Bella’s modified surfboard. But, the three-time Divas Champion held on despite the pain, creating separation with the current champion and reaching Naomi for the tag.
The athletic Diva got going with a hard kick from the apron to Nikki, then diving across with a crossbody. Whilst Nikki’s power was able to halt Naomi in her tracks with an Alabama Slam, which brought everybody into the fray. Natalya threw Paige across the ring with a German Suplex, AJ took the Canadian down, and Nikki accidentally eliminated Brie with a forearm smash. Naomi took advantage of this confusion to connect with the Rear View, pinning the Champion and pushing herself into potential contention for a title shot.
As a side note to this, this six-man tag proved to be the final match in a WWE ring for AJ Lee, who retired from in-ring competition at the end of the week. The longest ever reigning Divas Champion did it all in WWE, and became the most popular woman of the PG Era. Her technique, charisma and desire to be the best wrestler pushed her to the summit of the division, and she was also RAW General Manager and involved in many love interest stories. Her presence will be a huge loss for the company, and hopefully the upcoming stars from NXT will be able to step into her Chuck Taylor’s and leave as much of a lasting impression.
Paige & Emma vs Summer Rae & Cameron
Paige was back in action on Main Event, teaming with sometime friend, sometime rival Emma to face the catty combination of Summer Rae and Cameron. I think in recent months both Summer and Cameron have improved in the ring, and the more opportunity they receive, the more likely they are to perform. Cameron did not waste any time getting in the face of the Anti-Diva, slapping her across the face before raining down strikes. This was short-lived, and soon Summer was the victim of some effective tandem offense by Paige and Emma.
Summer kept taking damage, be it from Paige’s knees or the Dil-Emma. Eventually Cameron rescues her partner by dragging her from the ring, and the next stages after the break saw both her and Summer take control of Emma. Both have some charisma as heels, even if they are lacking in technical finesse – the upsides on this occasion outweighed the negatives, even though they have to work on taking bumps realistically. However, the crowd were getting into the match and behind Emma, so they were all doing their jobs well.
I also really enjoyed how Summer and Cameron would celebrate their success in singling out Emma, but also make it look like they were trying to convince themselves they could win. But, the Aussie was able to survive their persistent onslaught and make the hot tag to Paige, which received a big pop. She performed her usual flurry of clotheslines and kicks to floor the former Funkydactyl, before locking her in the PTO for a submission victory. A solid match, making me feel slightly more optimistic following the departure of AJ Lee.
Sexy Star, Superfly and Pentagon Jr. vs Big Ryck, The Mack and Killshot
Lucha Underground this week unveiled a tournament to crown the first ever Trios Champions, and the first six-person tag would prove to be a hard-fought affair. Whilst Sexy Star and Superfly are strong allies, Pentagon Jr. has no allies, and has made a career of taking other luchadores out of action. And this became apparent from the outset, as Pentagon battled The Mack with the distinct intention of winning without bringing any partner in. Eventually, Superfly tagged himself in to go opposite Killshot, and after a rapid fight tagged in Sexy Star.
Sexy has always had no issue with battling with her male counterparts, and clearly Killshot didn’t mind treating her that way with a hard back elbow. She responded with one of her own, followed by a stylish headscissors. However, Big Ryck soon had her sailing over the top rope onto both of her partners. This finally instilled some teamwork into their team, Pentagon throwing Sexy into a hurricanrana on Killshot sitting on the turnbuckle, and a frog splash by Superfly. Nevertheless, they ended in a defeat as Superfly was pinned by Mack, and Sexy was forced to rescue her partner by a post-match attack by a frustrated Pentagon.
Bayley vs Emma
A story that has been simmering in NXT for the last couple of weeks has been the interaction between Bayley and Emma. The Aussie has been attempting to get Bayley to get more aggressive, and that the love of the fans won’t get her anywhere, citing her own WWE career as an example. Bayley refused to accept that the fans’ support meant nothing due to the opportunities they have granted her, but this simply resulted in Emma connecting with a slap across her face, leading to the match this week.
This was one of the most bizarre matches I recall seeing recently, but I couldn’t help but find the story captivating. Emma appeared to be playing a parody of herself, and treated Bayley as if she was wrestling a child. She tried to encourage her opponent to get aggressive and show some fight, and moments like when Emma introduced Bayley into the turnbuckle she would shout to her to fight back. She seemed surprised whenever Bayley actually was able to produce some moves, and was arguably more disrespectful than simply taunting her as a heel would.
The technical ability of the contest wasn’t that amazing, but it didn’t need to be. I think the story they told had so many layers that it also confounded some of the audience. The fans were firmly behind the extremely popular Bayley, not appreciation the lackadaisical attitude of Emma, and eventually this cost the Aussie. A lapse cover following an Emma-Mite Sandwich was reversed into a pin attempt by Bayley, beating her in the center of the ring and leaving Emma despondent and questioning how that happened.
Naomi vs Natalya
Naomi looked to continue to build upon her pinning of the Divas Champion Nikki Bella in a tag team match on SmackDown, as she clashed with Natalya. This contest of course has great potential due to the technique and athleticism of both the ladies involved, and with the Bellas watching at ringside, Naomi would be desperate to impress. They began with their customary skillful chain wrestling ending in a stand-off, before Natalya took the initiative by dropping her opponent on her backside, before running up her back and connecting with a dropkick.
Natalya maintained control with an abdominal stretch, until Naomi was finally able to break away with a kick to the side of the Canadian’s head from the apron. A follow-up sunset flip was countered by Natalya, who went for her Sharpshooter, yet this was reversed by Naomi into a small package. Then she connected with a headscissors, driving Natalya’s face into the canvas, giving her another victory. This was a good match, but sullied by being very short.
Gail Kim vs Angelina Love
Whilst the focus of the Knockouts Division in recent weeks has been Awesome Kong’s pursuit of Taryn Terrell’s championship, this week the attention shifts to Gail Kim and Angelina Love. Kim recently was also part of the title picture, but Love has been out of that scene for a while now. She cuts a pre-match promo about how now she has shed the constraints that had been holding her back for a year (potentially referring to former partner Velvet Sky) she is ready to return to the top of the mountain. And Love starts this by blindsiding Kim before the bell rings.
Love puts on an aggressive opening assault, knocking Kim down with punches and a running crossbody, but Kim is a tough opponent. She fights back with a shotgun dropkick against the ropes that takes the wind out of the Beautiful Person, but Love is once again back in control by reversing a headscissors into a side slam. This match then becomes a showcase of Love’s claims that she is a great wrestler, pulling out every trick in her arsenal to keep Kim down, but the tough Knockout does not go down quietly.
Kim’s reprieve comes through a Russian Leg Sweep against the ring apron, and the tables begin to turn beyond this. With the audience showing appreciation of the efforts of both Knockouts, trading blows in the center of the ring. Kim builds up a head of steam with clotheslines and a dropkick off of the top rope. Her attempt at a hurricanrana from the ropes is blocked by Love, and Kim only survives a Botox Injection by putting a foot on the ropes. A second attempt sees her caught up, and Kim hits the Eat De-Feet to win this very good match.
So there you have it, the breakdown for the week in women's wrestling. What were some of your favorite and least favorite moments from these women? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!