On this edition, the Bella Twins continue to assume control of the Divas Division, challenging both Paige and Naomi before Nikki Bella defends her Divas Championship in Tokyo. Evil Emma features on NXT against Carmella, and Taryn Terrell defends the Knockouts’ Championship in triple threat match opposite Awesome Kong and Brooke Tessmacher.
Paige vs Alicia Fox
A few weeks ago, Paige gave what she believed to be a rousing speech to the Divas locker room, calling for support against the domination of the Bella Twins. But, this achieved nothing but alienate herself, and led to Alicia Fox joining forces with the sisters in order to improve her own position through their assistance. Therefore, Paige returned to RAW after her absence last week to confront Fox, who naturally had her new allies at ringside.
The Anti-Diva controls the early exchanges, and shows some aggression in her mat-based offense, which is a good touch. Recently, many Divas matches have been clunky, but this at least presented promise of a crisp encounter through the precision of Paige’s holds. Fox temporarily stunned her rival with a slap, followed by some forearm smashes, but was sent into retreat by a Lou Thesz Press and punches by Paige. Yet, escaping outside the ring was the ideal environment for Fox, as Paige being distracted by her hatred of the Bellas allowed Fox to floor her opponent from behind.
Action returned from break with Fox still in control, and this was building into a solid match. Fox has been one of the best performers on the roster over the past five years, and looked good in controlling the pace against Paige. The Brit’s attempt at recovery with back elbows in the corner were rapidly snuffed out with a high kick to the face by Fox. This is soon followed with her excellent tilt-the-world backbreaker, with Paige’s kick out getting the crowd more and more invested in the action. Fox’s enraged reaction was great selling, and it actually looked like this contest mattered, which is always a good signal for success.
Even Paige’s comeback, which has been somewhat stale and repetitive in recent matches, took place with added vigor and intensity, as the audience cheered on her recovery. This bout was arguably Paige’s best of 2015, as it was fluid, fast and technically sound. Nikki Bella on the apron briefly caught the Brit out, allowing Fox to roll her up, but Paige used the momentum to apply her own pin attempt, overcoming the numbers and earn a hard-fought victory. Very good match, and a lot of credit there goes to Alicia Fox for that.
Emma vs Carmella
In the greater freedom and creative direction on NXT, Emma has thrived, with her transition to a heel far more expressive than anything she has achieved on the main roster. The Aussie is fierce and full of herself, which makes her allegiance with Dana Brooke understandable, as they definitely share those traits. The match that took place on the latest episode also gave an opportunity for Carmella to display any improvement in the ring. The Queen of Staten Island can certainly rock a microphone, but this was an opportunity to shine in the ring against an accomplished professional.
One thing that endears me to Carmella is that she is playing to her inexperience in the ring, and absorbing that into her character, as she gets excited after performing a headlock on Emma. This is comparable to her friend Enzo Amore, who lacks in-ring prowess but makes up for it with charisma. A hurricanrana and running clothesline get the crowd behind an improving Carmella, but Emma shuts down her momentum by slamming the back of her head against the mat.
Emma’s added viciousness is on full display with a bodyscissors, repeatedly beating on the back of her victim to inflict more punishment. Carmella does escape however, and launches a brief comeback with kicks and a sit-out mat slam. She is obviously still raw in between the ropes, but Brooke at ringside could learn something from her persistence and development. But Emma earns a relatively simple victory, forcing Carmella to submit to the Emma Lock. Later in the evening, her and Brooke are confronted by NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks, and the Boss sets the wheels in motion for a tag team battle next week.
Taryn Terrell vs Awesome Kong vs Brooke Tessmacher (TNA Knockouts’ Championship)
The Knockouts Division has been overcome with the unified strength of the Dollhouse over the last few months, but this is arguably its matriarch’s toughest test to date. Knockouts’ Champion Taryn Terrell is challenged for her belt by the monstrous Awesome Kong and the plucky Brooke Tessmacher. Whilst Jade and Marti Belle would be offering support from ringside, Kong and Brooke have proven capable of neutralizing their threat. But Terrell hasn’t been champion over 270 days for no reason, and could easily find a way to retain her title.
Unsurprisingly, both Kong and Brooke concentrate their assaults on Terrell early on, flinging her across the ring by her blonde locks. Kong does not let up, splashing the champion against the turnbuckles, with Brooke following up with a facebuster. Eventually Terrell escapes this mugging and slinks out to ringside, leaving Kong in charge of her much smaller opponent Brooke. This change of focus allows Terrell to dropkick the behemoth out of the ring, yet being left with Brooke was certainly no walk in the park either.
This might be an unpopular opinion, but I’ve been distinctly unimpressed with Kong since her return to Impact Wrestling from an in-ring standpoint. Of course, her size is something that limits her in some areas, but she still has been lethargic and sloppy on some strikes and maneuvers, and this match proves no exception. She is dragged out to ringside by the Dollhouse with Terrell prone on the mat, allowing Brooke to take her chance to dethrone the champion. But, the presence of Jade and Marti rear up again, as their constant distractions and interference leave both Kong and Brooke outnumbered, and a cutter on the giant seals the victory for Terrell.
I wasn’t too enamored with this match, as it felt restricted by time and lacking in creativity, like all three competitors were simply going through the motions. It does mean that the Dollhouse remains firmly atop the roster with the Knockouts’ title their centerpiece. Yet, an ominous promo from Gail Kim following this defense shows that Terrell has even more threats on the horizon.
Brie Bella vs Naomi
In another exciting edition of “Guess the Heel”, Brie Bella battled Naomi on SmackDown. Ringside was conspicuously absent for this encounter, as both Nikki Bella and Tamina were traveling to the Far East on tour, but Brie could rely on the support of Alicia Fox. Naomi has been troubled by dealings with the Bella Twins as of late, suffering two losses last week, but would be hoping to bounce back against Brie, and produce a strong showing in the process. And when she acrobatically escaped an arm wrench from her opponent, there was plenty of promise.
The problem with this encounter is not the quality of the performers though, it is their roles, as Naomi certainly has not been behaving like a babyface in recent months. But when Fox’s attempted interference allowed Brie to take the initiative, this seemed to be the flow the match adopts. Brie is arguably the more polished competitor of the Bella sisters, and shows some firm offense with a dropkick from the corner and a running knee to the face. The crowd also began to get behind her, as she has always carried a lot more natural likability than Nikki also.
Naomi’s return of offense was brief to say the least, as her thrust kick to the chest of Brie sends her spiraling into the corner. The brash Diva is then lifted onto the apron, where a quick grab of the ankles by Fox is enough to interrupt her flow before it even begins. Brie connects with the Bella Buster, and earns the win at ease due to the aid of her ally at ringside. Very short, and sadly very forgettable.
Nikki Bella vs Paige vs Tamina Snuka (Divas Championship)
WWE headed to Asia for a highly regarded tour of the continent, which culminated with a July 4th celebration show coming from Tokyo. With huge stars such as John Cena and Brock Lesnar present, Beast in the East also featured a Divas Championship bout. Paige looked to cement her crusade against the Bella Twins by capturing her third title, whilst Tamina Snuka looked to emerge from Naomi’s shadow with victory. But, Nikki Bella, even without her sister at ringside, would not relinquish her gold without a significant fight.
To say the match started clunky would be an understatement, until order was restored with a pair of powerful clotheslines from Tamina. The physical Samoan was the early aggressor, yet all three were trading big strikes in the opening exchanges in a bid to earn a quick pinfall. Nikki and Paige form an uneasy alliance to dispatch the stronger Tamina from the ring with a pair of dropkicks. This left the warring rivals to pick-up on their animosity towards each other, with their offense varied in both style and quality. Occasionally these two can produce magic, and other times they don’t mesh at all, and both of these were illustrated throughout.
Tamina reasserts herself into the contest in a big way, as the bottom rung of the Tower of Doom, which can only earn her some near falls. Again some unforeseen allegiance sees Nikki and Paige use their versatile legs to clear Tamina away, before the champion breaks this bond with an Alabama Slam. Paige returned the favor with a RamPaige, with Nikki just barely kicking out of the resulting pin attempt. The Brit attempted to lock in the PTO, only to be halted immediately by a Tamina superkick. Her homage to her father Jimmy Snuka’s splash followed, but it missed the target, allowing Nikki to react with a hard forearm, which retained her title in a decent bout.
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!