WWE Monday Night Raw
Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox and Nia Jax
It’s announced in the opening segment that Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks would have to team up against Alicia Fox and Nia Jax. I like the concept of putting together rivals as tag teams, it’d be really easy to put the faces against the heels, which it feels like they do every year, and this at least is different. It also gives us a taste of the former BFFs (minus Summer Rae) and a really effective backstage promo where Sasha tells Charlotte that no one around here likes her and Charlotte accuses her of being jealous.
As the match starts, the dysfunction is apparent. First, Sasha and Charlotte shuffle over who will start the match against Alicia, but once she and Charlotte lock up, Nia tags in just because. Charlotte tries to tag out but Sasha drops down and makes her face Nia herself. Unable to out-muscle Nia, Charlotte gets hit by a Clothesline and tags Sasha in. Sasha is actually able to hang with her for a minute, using her quickness and jumping on Nia’s back to wrap around her neck and cut off her air supply. It only lasts so long as Nia knocks her down eventually and she rolls out of the ring to be yelled at by the team captain.
Things start to devolve as another hard tag from Charlotte leads to the two of them pushing each other. Sasha knocks Charlotte down and Nia goes to capitalize on their distraction. She catches Sasha mid-move and goes for the Samoan Drop, which Sasha fights her way out of. It sets up Charlotte for a big boot. Another hard tag and some more pushing later, Alicia goes for a top rope Cross Body, which Sash is able to counter into the Bank Statement while Charlotte handles Nia Jax. The submission victory is not enough for the two of them to get along still, and they start bickering before Bayley comes into the ring and tries to bring some unity into the team. It was a good match with a great story
Winner: Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair
Nikki Bella vs. Carmella
In a last effort to let Nikki Bella and Carmella get out their frustrations before Sunday’s Survivor Series, the two locked up on SmackDown We’re reminded that the captain of team SmackDown has had her share of issues with Carmella since SummerSlam. The two fight for early dominance, and end up chasing around the ring again before Carmella gets in a real shot. Nikki regains momentum with a Suplex and Drop Kick. Carmella stops her Baseball Slide, and then drags her down to the ground with a Neck Breaker. Nikki almost manages a roll up but Carmella kicks out and then hits a Super Kick. Carmella targets Nikki’s neck, but Nikki powers out each time.
The match is brutal and well-excuted but it becomes obvious at the end that it is just a vehicle for a Raw invasion when Charlotte Flair shows up with a ticket in hand. She distracts Nikki, who lost her Diva’s Title to the team RAW captain. She manages to hit an Alabama Slam, but is taunted by the Raw Women’s Champion. Finally she is so frustrated that she attacks Charlotte and drags her into the ring. Sasha Banks and the rest of team Raw appear to make the save but then start ganging up on Nikki. Team SmackDown join the fight and it turns into an all out brawl
While it was great to see the women invading, it is just so out of character to see Sasha and especially Bayley to be ganging up on anyone like that. It would’ve been more effective for the story if Nia and Dana made the save while Sasha and Bayley hung back until Charlotte ordered them to attack her. That would’ve shown resistance to the Raw team captain that could be very important come Sunday.
Winner: No contest
Peyton Royce vs. Liv Morgan
NXT’s most recent mean girl duo, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay have been picking on Liv Morgan for the past few weeks. Liv goes right for strikes rather than a lock up but it doesn’t go her way as Peyton knocks her down and gains offense. She wraps Liv up in a really nasty looking rope submission move. Liv regains some momentum with a flying move from the top rope into a roll up, followed by a few takedowns and a Drop Kick. Liv hits a Bulldog and knocks Billie Kay off the apron before locking in a Guillotine.
Billie Kay breaks it up, causing a DQ and the two start ganging up on Liv. First Aliyah comes to the rescue, but that doesn’t seem to accomplish much as Billie and Peyton dominate the 2-on-2. Peyton sends Liv into the LED board. It takes a surprise appearance by Ember Moon to break it up. A second rope Cross Body takes down Billie and then Peyton, before hitting double Drop Kicks with Liv. After the match the three challenge them to a 3-on-3, presumably at Saturday’s NXT TakeOver: Toronto. I’d expect to see either Mandy Rose or possibly Daria as the third member of their team.
Winner: Liv Morgan by DQ
WWE Total Divas
This Wednesday was the season premiere of Total Divas, and as usual, the cast has changed again. Alicia Fox, Mandy Rose, and Rosa Mendes are out, while Maryse, Lana, and Renee Young have joined the regular cast. It’s the first time that the additions are not in-ring competitors but performers in different aspects of the show. Although Lana has her first match at WrestleMania, fans will know she hasn’t been seen in a ring on television since, and it’s been many years since Mayrse has stepped outside of the manager role. Renee Young, meanwhile, is a backstage interviewer. It could be argued that all three were cast based on their significant others, Rusev, The Miz, and Dean Ambrose, respectively, but we’ll give E the benefit of the doubt on this one.
As this episode focuses on the week leading up to WrestleMania 32, we see how all the women handle the pressures of the biggest show of the year. Most are involved in the 10-woman tag on the preshow, except for Mayrse and Renee, so they’re all interacting throughout the week and at the show. Early on, Renee proves to be a great addition to the cast, as she’s naturally really funny and has history, specifically with the Bella Twins. Sometimes in these shows the interactions feel forced, probably because they are, but with Renee everyone seems comfortable. The episode ends with the unveiling of the new Women’s Championship and Nikki vowing that she will be back and she will become the longest reigning Women’s Champion.
One of Lucha Underground’s advantages over mainstream competition is that it books intergender matchups. This week’s Aztec Warfare match featured multiple of the promotion’s top female competitors. Similar to WWE’s Royal Rumble, every 90 seconds a new competitor entered the ring, though only pinfall and submission eliminations. At #7, Mariposa enters and immediately hits a Dropkick from the top rope. She gets a Samoan drop but is distracted while posing and Jeremiah Crane hits her with a Crane Driller. For a moment it looks as though she might “humanize” Matanza Cueto but he ends up Chokeslamming and eliminating her.
Sexy Star enters at #12, and goes for The Worldwide Underground, but the guys outnumber her. They pick her up and dump her out of the ring. While she’s preoccupied on the outside, four more women make an impact on the match as Black Lotus leads a faction in attacking Pentagon. One of them hits a beautiful Sunset Flip Powerbomb and they exit, leaving Johnny Mundo to pin Pentagon. Although being targeted by The Worldwide Underground for most of the match, Sexy Star gains momentum and is seen taking them down one by one.
#19 brings another woman, Kobra Moon, who instead of getting in the ring, sits on the announce table, much to the commentator’s shock. Sexy Star gets her first elimination of the night by pinning PJ Black. Kobra Moon doesn’t get involved until the next entrant, Drago, goes right for her, she kicks him off and hits him with a beautiful Hurricarana. They battle it out, Drago sending Kobra Moon into the fence. Back in the ring he eliminates her with the Dragon Slayer. Sexy Star hits Matanza with a Code Breaker and slides out of the ring to bide her time. A few eliminations later it’s her and Johnny Mundo in the ring. With aid from his eliminated partners, they triple team her again. Off of an outside interference, Sexy Star manages to pin Johnny Mundo despite the brutal attack. It comes down to her and Mil Muertes and she goes right for him with strikes. He kicks her down before getting a table and a chair. As he lifts her up for a Chokeslam, she reverses it and drives his face into the steel chair. She beats him down with it, though is caught and tossed towards the table after running the ropes. She manages to move out of the way, causing Mil to dive into the table, and almost gets a roll up but he kicks out. Picking her up, he attempts a Flatliner from the top rope onto a table, but Sexy Star elbows her way out of it in a display of pure determination and sends him into the table. She hits a double stomp from the top and hooks the leg, becoming the Lucha Underground Champion. It was an amazing showing from Sexy Star and all of the women who were involved with Aztec Warfare.
Winner: Sexy Star
TNA Impact Wrestling
Madison Rayne and Brandi Rhodes vs. Lauren Van Ness and Sienna
In a backstage segment, Maria Kanellis-Bennett schemes with Sienna and Laurel Van Ness about their tag match against Brandi Rhodes, while ensuring Allie doesn’t try to team up with her. They are confident that no one in the division would go against their faction. However, former Knockouts Champion Madison Rayne does join Brandi as her tag team partner
Laurel and Brandi start but Brandi gets easily distracted, chasing Maria. Annoyed by it, Madison tags in and takes down Laurel. However, she’s grounded by Sienna, who takes turns beating up Madison while she’s in their corner. Laurel wraps her up the ropes and kicks stomps on her in the corner. Madison almost gets a roll up on Laurel, but she kicks out. Several times Laurel goes for a nonchalant pin to embarrass Madison, but she is able to kick out each time. Frustrated, Laurel shouts that she doesn’t have time for this and goes on the attack, but a double Clothesline grounds them both. They crawl to their corners for the hot tag, and Brandi and Sienna both come out swinging. Brandi has multiple unsuccessful attempts at Clotheslines and big kicks, and Sienna is able to out-muscle her. She manages to hit a Back Elbow and goes for a cover which Laurel breaks up. Madison takes care of Laurel and allows Brandi to counter the AK47 into a finisher. The whole thing was clunky and a bit awkward. I think Brandi has a lot of potential but perhaps they should’ve held off with her in-ring debut.
Winner: Brandi Rhodes and Madison Rayne
NXT TakeOver: Toronto
Auska vs. Mickie James
With the NXT women's division largely cleaned out, it was up to a returning legend to take on the NXT Women's Champion Auska at TakeOver: Toronto. As it was announced a few weeks ago, former Women's and Divas champion Mickie James challenged Auska and returned to a huge pop from the Candian crowd. Unlike a lot of the recent championship matches which Auska has completely dominated, this one was evenly matched. It started slowly at first, them locking up in holds before breaking apart. The chain wrestling is good on both ends, showing that Mickie still has the technical chops, but it's not until she hits Auska with a Sliding Dropkick that things get interesting.
Auska rolls out of the ring to regain her composure, something we don't see a lot of from this competitor. Mickie, the original queen of mind games, taunts her, holding the ropes open for her to come back in. Not to be outdone, Auska says thank you and then ducks under the second rope. Auska puts on a Hammer Lock that Mickie can't seem to get out of, rolling around the ring in attempts. For the first part of the match, Mickie kept the pace slow, but Auska starts with her signature kicks to speed it up to where she's most comfortable. It works and she gets a Hip Attack, sending Mickie to the outside and allowing her to return the favor from earlier by holding the ropes open. When Mickie ducks under the rope as she did, Auska takes advantage and sends her back onto the outside with another Hip Attack. That may not have been the right call, however, because on the outside Micke is able to hit a nasty Hurricarana. After an unsuccessful Mick-Kick gets her into an Ankle Lock, Auska sends Mickie flying with a german suplex on the concrete. It looks like Mickie might get counted out, but she makes it back in.
Back inside, it's all Auska, including tying Mickie up on the ropes and counting along with the referee. Auska's offense is effective until Mickie counters a kick into a Single-Leg Crab in the middle of the ring. It's the first time we've really seen Auska look like she might be in trouble and she sells it on her face. She manages to get to the bottom rope and is clearly infuriated. A big slap across Auska's face seals Mickie's fate, but not before she leaps at Auska from the top rope, almost gets a roll up, and finally hits the Mick-Kick. It was the first time in months, or really since Auska's debut, that it was believable someone might beat her. However, a Cross Face Chicken Wing makes her tap. There's a great moment after the match where Mickie goes to shake Auska's hand and she just holds up the championship. The psychology was incredible in this match, but the actual spots weren't particularly exciting.
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: Aztec Warfare
WOMAN OF THE WEEK: Sexy Star