WWE Monday Night Raw
Lita Interviews Charlotte and Sasha Banks
Hall of Famer and former Women's Champion, Lita, sat down with both Charlotte and Sasha Banks in separate backstage interviews. This was an interesting choice, as she does not usually perform backstage interviewing duties. However, her credibility brought something new to these promos than what we're used to seeing. Until the Four Horsewomen arrived on the scene, Lita and Trish Stratus were very arguably the greatest female rivalry of all time. It was better to hear those questions from her than Micheal Cole.
First up was Charlotte, who was on the top of her promo game. She maintains her heel character, saying she doesn't bother preparing because she was born to do this. Lita brings up that Forbes recently called her the "greatest female superstar of all time". Not only did Charlotte agree, she upped the ante to "greatest superstar, male or female, of all time." When she says it with that level ov confidence it's hard to tell her otherwise. At the same time, she showed just the smallest bit of her heart. She didn't outright admit she respected Sasha, but she did say, "I'm the best, she's the best, on any given day one of us is better than the other," and ensured that at Hell in a Cell, that will be her.
Sasha Banks also put on an incredibly good showing. Her weak spot is backstage interviews and segments, sometimes sounding like she's forcing it. Monday night, however, she really knocked it out of the park. Looking comfortable opposite Lita, she came off heartfelt and determined. Sasha, more so than her opponent, brought up their long history together dating back to NXT. She gave us a glance at how important they have been to each other's careers. Everything they've done, they've done together. Sasha admitted she respects Charlotte for the competitor that she is, but there's no way she's walking out of her hometown without her title. "I'm here to make history" is her last remark.
Dana Brooke Vs. Bayley
Dana Brooke had to come face to face with the girl whose hometown victory she ruined last week. This is likely a set up for a match at Hell in a Cell, and it's a good feud for both of them at the moment. Dana has a lot to learn still, and Bayley had been in a peer leadership role in NXT for quite a while. Working together seems to have benefited the newer performer, as she looked better in this match than she had since her debut.
Starting off with some coward heel tactics, Dana rolls out of the ring and forces Bayley to chase her around it. The first true offensive move is a Facebuster from Bayley, followed by a corner combination that included Dana's face being smashed against the turnbuckle. Dana regains some momentum and shoves Bayley down to the mat. She kicks Bayley's head against the lowest turnbuckle, a surprising show of aggression between these two, and goes for a cover. Bayley kicks out in the only near fall of the match.
A double Clothesline grounds both of them, Dana taking advantage. However, Bayley does a couple of roll-through maneuvers and Dana retreats to the outside. Bayley takes the fight to her with a Baseball Slide through the corner, knocking Dana down. She tosses Dana back into the ring, climbs up on the top rope, but then gets slammed into the ring post by Dana. She pulls Bayley back in and pins her for a count of three that felt off. It felt like they skipped a spot that would have made it appear more devastating, or perhaps Dana was supposed to have her feet on the ropes.
Winner: Dana Brooke
WWE SmackDownAlexa Bliss vs. Naomi
In a rematch from No Mercy, no. 1 contender Alexa Bliss took on Naomi, who had picked up a win in their last meeting. As commentary pointed out, if Naomi were to win again, it could mean she would be in the title conversation. They two of them started off by shoving each other and dancing around. Naomi grounds and pounds Alexa, but she comes back with a knee to the midsection and gets some offense in on her opponent. Naomi's signature leg kicks are transitioned into a Drop Kick and then a Springboard for a cover. Alexa kicks out and mounts some offense, by slamming Naomi down. Naomi returns the favor, slamming Alexa's head into the bottom turnbuckle and Alexa plays her heel role by rolling out of the ring.
When we return from commercial, Alexa has the upper hand again, with Naomi in a choke hold. She fights out and shows how easily she can toss the smaller woman around with a Backbreaker. She almost picks up the win with a Wide Leg Moonsault to cover, but Alexa kicks out again. Naomi goes to the top rope but is pulled down by her hair by Alexa, who goes up there herself. She taunts the crowd and hits Twisted Bliss for the cover and three-count. The match pushed Alexa's story forward and was technically perfectly good, but it really missed some chemistry between these two.
Winner: Alexa Bliss
Carmella and Nikki Bella Promo
After a devastating defeat at No Mercy, Carmella came out Tuesday Night to "reveal" Nikki Bella for who she truly is. Nikki took no time to interrupt and tell Carmella that whatever she has to say, she can say it to her face. The big juicy secret Carmella had up her sleeve? That Nikki is dating John Cena. Shocker, I know.
At first, this seemed pointless and cringeworthy, but Nikki took a "keeping it real" approach, and she actual had a chance to shine during this segment. She laughed at Carmella for acting like this was a secret when there are two reality shows about their lives. Carmella calls her a gold digger plays some edited clips of Total Divas and Total Bellas that makes Nikki seem needy and dependent while John showers her with gifts. Nikki tells her that she has no idea how hard Nikki has fought to get to where she is, or how it feels to be told that she can never wrestle again. She says she's fearless because she worked day in and day out to prove everyone wrong. Nikki won't stand for someone trying to take away her accomplishments because of who she's dating, or her looks, or anything else. The best part about this is that we all know she's not just talking to Carmella in this segment, and she's never really had a chance to defend herself like this (at least as a sympathetic character) on the show before. She ends with reminding Carmella that she is no women's champion saying, "I'm not afraid of a boss and I'm not afraid of a queen and I'm sure as hell not afraid of some princess from Staten Island." Carmella got in the last word to keep their feud going. These two might just be hot enough for a no DQ match at TLC.
TNA Impact Wrestling
Maria Kanellis-Bennett Promo
Maria Kanellis-Bennett and her flunkies of Allie and Laurel Van Ness came out so that Maria could once again declare herself the greatest Knockout Champion ever. She puts the blame on Allie for losing her the championship against Gail Kim. However, Allie stands up to her this time, saying that it's Maria's fault that she lost and that she will not take responsibility for it. Allie is attacked from behind by Laurel Van Ness and is left laying on the mat. Maria announces next week Allie will face Laurel Van Ness.
Nikki Cross vs. Danielle Kamela
In Nikki Cross' first match under her new persona, she took on Danielle Kamela, a recent debut who has shown good potential. Sanity came out as a group, lead by Eric Young, and the three men stood ringside for her match. It was over as soon as it had started, with Nikki getting early offense that showed brutality right from the bell. Danielle fought back valiantly, but she also was very conscious of her role and played perfectly. For as abbreviated as it was, Nikki got across her character concisely. In one particular moment, she had Danielle in a choke hold and proceeded to bite her own hand and claw at her face. While that could feel a bit played out, as it's not the first time WWE has introduced a crazy character, there's something about Nikki Cross's charisma and her absolute commitment to the bit that makes it feel fresh. A Suplex leads to the 3 count pinfall victory for Nikki.
After the match, she takes it to Danielle again. It isn't the frustration or trying to cheaply get rid of her opponent like we normally see. This is very clearly just because she feels like it. So much so that Eric Young has to pull her off of Danielle. He's met with a forearm to the face by Nikki, and as Alexander Wolfe and Sawyer Fulton try to calm her down, Eric is laughing and seems to enjoy her violent tendencies. The referee decides that this beatdown will cost her the match, reversing the decision, and Sanity walks out angry. For a squash match, it told us everything we needed to know and really made me excited for Nikki Cross.
Winner: Danielle Kamela (reversed from Nikki Cross)
WWE Total Bellas
This week on Total Bellas the main storyline focused not around Bri or Nikki, but on Bryan. As it's been a short while since he had to announce his retirement, we get a glimpse into how he's feeling about the whole thing. It's clear that it isn't easy for him to be anything other than a wrestler. Nikki tries to help him find something else, comically taking him to high tea and going to the WWE Performance Center. She talks about how Bryan should become a trainer, pointing out how good of a job he was doing with Sami Zayn. The whole thing makes Nikki seem pushy and stubborn, but you get the feeling that she's actually well-intentioned.
This show, which I noticed this week is actually executive produced by Nikki and Brie Bella, is much braver than the original Total Divas in discussing issues and serious topics. Later in the episode, Bri tells the audience that Bryan has been dealing with anxiety and depression since he was 25, and it's always been something they've kept private. With them living under Nikki and John's roof, it's become impossible to keep it a secret. Of course, she's talking about it to the whole world now, but welcome to reality television. Bryan seems to be struggling with it more consistently now that he's unable to do what he loves, and Brie grapples with not knowing what to do about it. As the audience, we know he eventually was offered a job as the General Manager of SmackDown, but everything for them is very uncertain at the time this was taped. This week's episode wasn't as entertaining as others, but it was down to earth and reminded us that they're just people.
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!
MATCH OF THE WEEK: Nikki Cross vs. Danielle Kamela
WOMAN OF THE WEEK: Nikki Cross