This week is headlined by NXT Takeover: Brooklyn, where Bayley looks to finally join the other members of the Four Horsewomen in the elite when she battles Sasha Banks for the NXT Championship. Banks will also have one eye on SummerSlam, where she will represent Team B.A.D in a triple threat tag team match against Team Bella and Team PCB.
Becky Lynch vs Tamina Snuka
Heading into SummerSlam, the three Divas factions continue to vie for momentum in the battle for bragging rights and dominance. In the first of two women's matches on RAW, Becky Lynch of Team PCB clashed with the enforcer of Team B.A.D, Tamina Snuka. These two have kind of faded into the background, lost in the shadows of their teammates with greater star power, but they were given the opportunity to shine themselves Monday night.
Tamina's strength allowed her to assume control early on, hitting the first big move with a swinging side slam. She continued to keep Lynch grounded, with an attempt from the Lass Kicker to fight back derailed by a firm clothesline. Lynch finally was given the opportunity to launch her counterattack when Tamina misplaced a splash into the corner, and the flame-haired fighter followed with a missile dropkick.
After kicking out of the resulting pin attempt, Tamina tried to regain the initiative with another side slam, but Lynch clearly learned from her previous fall. The Irishwoman countered with a crucifix pin, transitioning into the Dis-Arm-Her to earn yet another submission victory for Team PCB.
Sasha Banks vs Nikki Bella
The second contest of the night was Champion vs Champion, as Divas champ Nikki Bella took on the current standard bearer of NXT's famed women's division, Sasha Banks. A win for either woman would be a massive statement of intent heading into SummerSlam, but especially for Banks, who had a huge chance to cement herself as the new Boss of WWE as well as NXT through a triumph over Nikki, who is closing in on the record reign with the Butterfly Belt.
This was a step up from the night's earlier women's contest, which is to be expected considering these are the two best in the business right now. Banks of course shows a brashness, and no qualms of disrespecting the Divas Champion with mocking taunts. This seems to only spur Nikki in the opening exchanges though with a slingshot suplex, and using her power advantage to keep Banks punished. The Boss though has a perfect answer, dropping her knees hard across the ribs of Nikki in the corner.
When action returns from the break, it is now Banks atop of Nikki wearing her down, but the Divas Champ quickly responds with a springboard kick. Nikki presses her comeback with an Alabama Slam, until Banks cuts her off with a hangman's neckbreaker. Banks slaps her opponent down, asserting her dominance, but all that earns her is a trip to the Electric Chair. A forearm splash leaves Banks prone to the Rack Attack, yet a brief distraction from Naomi sees Nikki tapping out soon to the Bank Statement. And what a statement this was for the Boss.
Charlotte vs Alicia Fox
After Nikki Bella was forced into the indignity of tapping out to Sasha Banks, it was left to Alicia Fox to try and restore some form for Team Bella before SummerSlam. However, she would have her work cut out for her against Charlotte, who has been a one-woman wrecking ball in her short time on the main roster. A close opening was then broken by the Nature Girl, the Charlotte's Web pin attempt followed by a leg sweep and knee drop.
Both struggled to gain an outright advantage early, exchanging chops, kicks and quick pins, until a dropkick from Fox sent Charlotte from the turnbuckle to the floor. Fox pressed this gain with her wonderful tilt-the-world backbreaker and Northern lights suplex. The frustration of failing to keep her adversary down was evident on Fox's face, but it was soon replaced by panting to deal with Charlotte's response.
This began after a pair of simultaneous big boots took both women down, and Charlotte recovered the better. Chops were followed by her powerful Spear, and Fox was right where she didn't want to be. Trapping her in the Figure-Eight, it wasn't long before Fox was tapping out and Charlotte had another notch on her belt.
Sasha Banks & Bayley Contract Signing
Before one of the most highly anticipated women's matches in NXT, Sasha Banks and Bayley participated in a contract signing. Bayley had worked incredibly hard to build herself into a position to challenge for the NXT Women's Championship, defeating Charlotte and Becky Lynch along the way. But, as this segment clearly illustrated, this hadn't done much to bring out the fear in the Boss. In fact, this was one of her strongest performances on the microphone, as she berated both the audience and her opponent to their last nerve.
Banks stated that Bayley is not on the same level of competition that Charlotte and Lynch were for her, calling the nice girl a pathetic loser. Whilst Bayley adamantly defended herself, claiming she feels incredibly confident heading into Takeover: Brooklyn. But, Banks pointed out her previous failures, and said she'll prove a true role model on Saturday by showing little girls that their fanciful dreams don't come true. This sent Bayley over the edge, chasing the champ up the ramp for a beatdown, setting a marker for their upcoming title match.
Gail Kim vs The Dollhouse
Gail Kim has made it her mission in life to decimate the Dollhouse, especially their matriarch Taryn Terrell, for the pain imposed on her at their conniving hands. She was given another opportunity to unleash a beating on her cohorts Jade and Marti Belle in a handicap match this week, contained inside of a steel cage. Just like last time, Kim started out in good form, taking both opponents down with clotheslines and dropkicks.
However, this time Jade and Marti were able to secure a prolonged advantage, wearing down Kim with the advantage they could legally assault her simultaneously. Marti wore her down with a Camel Clutch, but as they attempted escape, Kim took them down from the cage, Jade in particular via a hurricanrana. Jade fought back, showing great strength by slamming Kim against the steel walls, until their sole rival took to the sky with a crossbody off the structure.
From that moment on, Kim was in complete control, halting any counter Jade and Marti attempted with focused aggression. She even renegaded on the easy decision of escaping the cage, instead taking out more punishment on both against the cage, before finishing off Marti with Eat De-Feet. After the match, Kim fervently sought after Terrell backstage, locating her with some help from Velvet Sky, with the cameras departing before we found out her penance.
Brie Bella vs Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch
Brie Bella stood as the final hope for Team Bella gaining some momentum prior to SummerSlam's tag team elimination match, standing against a member of Team PCB and Team B.A.D. Brie would compete against the two conquering Divas on RAW earlier in the week, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch, in a triple threat prelude of what we can expect on Sunday night. After the Bellas and the Bad Girls engaged in a war on the microphone, the action was underway, the Lass Kicker gaining the earliest blows with a pair of armdrags sending both her rivals scrambling.
The match returned from the commercials to an entirely new scene, as Brie was challenging her inner goat with a flurry of kicks to the chest of Banks. Brie was all over the upstarts on the main roster, taking them both down again with a pair of running knees to the face. This wouldn't last though, as the Boss took on the starring role with her double knee drop going through both Brie and Lynch, leaving them writhing in agony. Banks and Brie would pair off for a fairly even brawl, ending with a clothesline collision, to the gain of the absent Lynch.
Lynch fired up with clotheslines wearing down both Brie and Banks, before utilizing her powerful range of suplexes and throws. But, she was not given time to press this advantage to the fullest, as Brie reversed a lift to get behind Lynch. Pushing the Irishwoman into the ropes and Banks, who fell from the apron to the floor, Brie rolled her up, grabbing the tights and securing a rare win for Team Bella in this Divas Revolution. Is this a sign of a Bella Bounce-Back at SummerSlam?
Sasha Banks vs Bayley (NXT Women's Championship)
I have to say one thing very clearly before I go into greater detail on this match: this was the greatest women's wrestling match I have ever witnessed. Bar none. I'm sure some have been more violent, more technically sound, in front of larger audiences. But on this night in Brooklyn, nobody on that card came close to touching the masterpiece that was Sasha Banks vs Bayley. Billed as the co-main event of the evening, these two became THE main event, the quality of their encounter taking every element of the brilliance of NXT's women's revolution and pushed it to its limits.
I cannot really do the match justice with a play-by-play of all the moves and highlights, as there are far too many to list. Bayley put on the performance of her life, and demonstrated as clear as day that she belonged among the Four Horsewomen of NXT. Whilst Banks, Charlotte and Becky Lynch have consistently been heralded for their in-ring skill, Bayley has stood on the cusp as the plucky and popular underdog. Until now, as nobody can deny that she can match any of these women at her best.
Highlights did include Banks pinpointing the injured hand of Bayley, crushing it between the ring steps and ring apron with a grisly kick. Banks would target that injury for an extensive time, exploiting it during the Bank Statement submission by treading on Bayley's hand as she desperately clawed at the ropes. Bayley though showed her heart and determination, rolling back and reversing into her own crossface, which Banks barely survived. After this, Banks kicked out of the Bayley-2-Belly, leading Bayley to question whether her dream title win would ever come true.
But what would a wonderful story such as this be without a happy ending. With Banks teasing a back body drop from the top rope, Bayley beat her away. She then pulled out an amazing reverse hurricanrana, dropping Banks on her head, before a second Bayley-2-Bayley allowed her to capture the gold. The crowd stood in unison to applaud this amazing sight, and give thanks to both ladies for their incredible effort. They were left with the sight of all four Horsewomen embracing in the ring, reveling in the adulation of the fans and the knowledge that they had led women's wrestling from the gutter to glory. Bayley moves up the ladder in NXT as the top of the food chain while Sasha Banks moves on to the bigger screen on the main roster. The sky's the limit for the Four Horsewomen.
As somebody who has wanted to see women's wrestling become a focal point in WWE for years, and feeling so disappointed with the lack of significance they were held in from backstage and other wrestling fans, I couldn't help but shed a tear after Saturday night. Banks/Bayley is a genuine contender for Match of the Year, as it took the crowd on a journey they will never forget, produced a respected and beloved champion, and proved a fitting ending to the Four Horsewomen of NXT.
Hopefully, this end is also the start of a new chapter, as Bayley will lead the NXT women's roster with pride, whilst Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch ride this wave of emotion into dominating the main roster.
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!