On this edition, Naomi gets another opportunity at the Divas Championship when she battles Nikki Bella on RAW, which preludes a return of another top diva to the ring. And at NXT Takeover: Unstoppable, an epic contest takes place between Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch over the NXT Women's Championship.
Nikki Bella vs Naomi (Divas Championship)
Nikki Bella had her back against the wall when she defended the Divas Championship on the latest episode of RAW. Stephanie McMahon, seemingly buoyant by the potential retirement of Daniel Bryan, chose to add salt to the wounds of his wife Brie Bella by banning her from ringside. Thus Nikki was forced to defend the title without her usual back-up, whilst her challenger Naomi would have the support of Tamina Snuka.
Naomi starts out full of cockiness, playing cat and mouse with Nikki until she is eventually caught out celebrating too early. She is soon sent to ringside, where Nikki dives through the ropes onto both her challenger and Tamina. But, when action returns from the break Naomi has established control, having pulled at the champion’s leg midway through a springboard move. But this doesn’t last long, as this championship match is exceptionally rushed, and not very inspiring in terms of the action it does contain. It really wasn’t anything to shout about.
As soon as Nikki hoists Naomi up for the Rack Attack, Tamina interferes to cause the disqualification, and the pair beat down the retaining champion. However, the crowd finally get something to cheer about, as Paige makes her long awaited return to WWE, charging down Tamina and the woman that put her on the shelf, Naomi, expelling them from the ring. But, before anyone got the impression that the Anti-Diva has formed an unlikely alliance with the Bella Twins, she quickly put pay to that with a PTO laying out Nikki. Clearly, the Divas Championship is the sole concern on her mind, and Paige doesn’t care who she has to go through to get it.
Alicia Fox vs Summer Rae
I have serious problems with this match. Not due to the competitors involved or the quality of match they could put on. I believe Alicia Fox is one of the most polished and consistent performers among the divas, and Summer Rae has the potential to put on solid bouts. But, my problem lies with the fact that Alicia Fox has become a babyface with absolutely no logic attached to it. These lack of storylines are the bane of the women in WWE, as it makes it impossible for anybody to invest time into them when their roles can be changed by a snap of the fingers.
Summer dominated the first half of the match, utilizing her strong legs to knock Fox around. Her flexibility with that appendage choked her opponent against the turnbuckle, before connecting with her roll-through DDT. Summer, although still a little rough around the edges is clearly learning and becoming a more proficient wrestler, but without any character development since leaving the side of Fandango it is hard to see her prospects improving.
This match also gave me another bone to pick, as neither JBL or Rich Brennan on commentary was remotely interested in the match, instead discussing the Divas Championship picture or Tough Enough. That lack of respect is bordering on infuriating. Fox battled back with dropkicks and her wonderful Northern Lights suplex, until she was cut down by Summer’s roundhouse kick to the face. That didn’t keep the former Divas Champion down, and an infuriated Summer tried to slap the taste out of the mouth of her opponent for that. Nevertheless, she ended up getting on in return, and a big boot to the face secured the victory for Fox in a decent but meaningless contest.
Son of Havoc, Angelico & Ivelisse vs The Crew (Trios Championship)
Whilst I am obligated to discuss this match due to the presence of one third of the Lucha Underground Trios Champions Ivelisse, she was pretty much a non-entity for the entirety of this contest. Carrying a broken ankle that she suffered a few weeks ago, she was still limping to the ring when the action was well underway involving her teammates and the Crew in this Ladder Match. She was very soon knocked to the floor with a stiff punch from Bael, and spent the majority of the bout reeling from the effects of that.
If you haven’t seen this match, I would urge fans to check it out, if nothing else than for the unbelievable speed and daredevil antics of Angelico that have become a regular feature in the company. But, with regards to the purposes of Divas Debrief, there isn’t much to commentate on in terms of the performance of Ivelisse. She did feature in the dramatic as conclusion, as despite her injury she scaled the ladder, and grabbed the belts hanging above to retain the titles for her team.
Charlotte & Bayley vs Emma & Dana Brooke
When the word Takeover follows NXT, wrestling fans recognize that they are likely to experience something special from top to bottom. Especially if you are a fan of women’s wrestling, as whilst the main roster consistently lets you down due to the lack of investment from the creative team, the NXT ladies rarely disappoint. The first of two matches on the card, this tag team match was the mixture of two ongoing feuds, showing the depth of the division that they can carry numerous feuds. Bayley and Emma have been warring over whether nice girls finish first, and Dana Brooke wanted to prove herself the new dominant force against the Alpha Female Charlotte.
Charlotte and Bayley have great respect for each other, and had some fun taking turns to beat down Brooke early in proceedings with chops, before Bayley turned her attention to ‘Evil Emma’ with a sliding kick across the apron taking down both opponents. But, a brief distraction by Brooke allowed Emma to take her off the turnbuckle, with her head bouncing off the top rung. If there is anything I took from this match, it was the growing confidence in Emma’s ability as a heel. Brooke was not involved in a significant proportion of the match, which was somewhat disappointing, but Emma carried her side’s effort well.
When Bayley was able to make the quick tag to Charlotte, the daughter of Ric Flair cleaned house, dropping Brooke with a neckbreaker, and then flooring both her rivals with a double DDT. Her passion and crispness in the ring is a real joy to behold, and she locked in the Figure Eight on Emma. Brooke was able to hesitantly break it up, but only after Bayley had slipped underneath her partner to connect with the Belly-to-Bayley. Some Natural Selection from Charlotte and her team was victorious, with some buoyant celebrations lighting up the conclusion.
Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch (NXT Women’s Championship)
The previous tag team match though was simply an appetizer for the main event, which in my opinion was the best match of the show, and one of the greatest women’s matches ever under the WWE banner. Of course, that is fairly true of most NXT women’s contests at Takeover, but this was something special. The former allies of Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch had used each other to claw their way to the top of the division, but with the coveted NXT Women’s Championship, that went out of the window. Lynch was desperate to culminate her rise with the title around her waist, but the Boss would be difficult to dethrone.
From the moment Lynch’s fabulous entrance and stylish new look took stage, you had the sense this was going to be special. After some excellent chain wrestling and quick pinfalls, the Irishwoman fired a warning shot at the champion by going for her terrifying armbar. What was interesting, but not entirely surprising, was Banks was the significant favorite among the crowd, but that would gradually change. But, the Boss definitely earned some plaudits with a wicked arm whip that sent her rival crashing onto the ring apron.
This fight was unbelievably captivating, and did something which strangely few contests do nowadays, which made me wince for the safety of the performers. With both ladies targeting their opponents’ arm, the stretches and wrenches they placed them in were excruciating to watch. One slip or botch and who knows what could have happened, which demonstrates the immense trust shared between the women in their capabilities.
The biggest thing to take from this bout, besides the massive enjoyment of simply watching it, was the growth in Becky Lynch as a star. When she seemed the odd one out of the huge names of Banks, Charlotte and Bayley, this was the night Lynch set herself as one of the elite. Her powerful suplexes, determination and passion exuded throughout the battle, and the crowd responded very favorably. Nevertheless, it was not enough to secure her the belt, as Banks connected with an armbreaker from the second rope, and Lynch tapped to the Bank Statement. Yet, her saving grace was a standing ovation from the audience as a firm display that she had made it in the eyes of the fans.
Fresh off her return to the ring on RAW, Paige made her way out on SmackDown to discuss her goals upon coming back. The Brit immediately looked towards the reason behind her enforced departure, the assault by Naomi in London a few months ago after Paige became number one contender for the Divas Championship. However, she understood Naomi taking the chance to make a name for herself. The next part though was a little hard to listen to, as Paige rattled on about how Tamina had masculine characteristics.
I mean come on; does it always have to come down to insults regarding looks in WWE? Especially for someone like Paige, whose gimmick is to shun the traditional Barbie doll image of the Divas, is it really right that she demeans someone for the way they look? It was just a little bit tasteless from the writers. These words brought out Naomi and Tamina, with the former dishing out a passionate promo about how Paige received a title opportunity on her first night without earning it, and that Naomi had been scratching and clawing for a shot for years. It was hard to argue with her, and this reality made it very compelling.
Paige and Naomi then began trading insults about their claims to be the top diva, with the Anti-Diva pointing out she’s achieved more in one year than both Naomi and Tamina have in their combined careers. This resulted in a two-on-one brawl against the Brit, which was only broken up by the presence of Nikki Bella from backstage. The Divas Champion charged the ring, dropping Tamina, before taking out both Paige and Naomi when the latter was set up for the PTO. A Rack Attack paid Paige back for her assault on RAW, showing the champ is not going to back down from this new threat easily.
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!