WWE Monday Night Raw
Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Championship
Fans were less than excited to see that once again, Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks would be having a rematch for the Raw Women’s Championship. There seemed to be a consensus that they were tired of seeing the division revolve around one feud. However, the ladies not only delivered, they knocked it out of the park.
Their match begins and it’s clear Sasha is frustrated. Maybe that has to do with losing in her hometown or from being eliminated early from Survivor Series. Either way, she goes for a Bank Statement early, which Charlotte easily kicks out of, and spends the first few minutes without much in the way of strategy. She’s savvy enough to knock Dana into the steel steps, but soon the match spills out to the outside and eventually into the crowd. The two are so preoccupied with hurting each other than Sasha doesn’t notice as the referee’s count slowly inches up to 10. Charlotte seems to be just as distracted but is pleased when she realizes they were both counted out. Mick Foley comes out and makes a new match for the main event, this time a Falls Count Anywhere, No-Holds Barred, No DQ match.
Backstage, Bayley tells Sasha about how excited she is and starts talking about what Charlotte did to her at Survivor Series. Sasha cuts her off and says it’s not about Bayley, and it isn’t even about her. It’s about how Charlotte disrespects everyone she meets, including her own father. She ends the segment dedicating her victory to Rick Flair.
The second match begins with both of them, especially Sasha, appearing more focused on the task at hand. Their lock up is even and it takes a while before one is able to get the upper hand. They waste no time getting out of the ring, and Sasha goes for one of her signature Suicide Dives and then Suplexes Charlotte. A double Clothesline on the outside grounds both of them, but Charlotte regains control in the ring with knees to Sasha’s back. She fights back but can’t get the roll up so she goes for Double Knees to Charlotte’s face and tries to wrap her up in the corner for another Double Knees. Charlotte slips out and kicks her off of the apron for a quick cover. When it’s unsuccessful, she hits a Natural Selection but Sasha kicks out and finds herself a kendo stick.
She unloads on Charlotte with the kendo stick and it adds a level of brutality that matches if not usurps their meeting at Hell in a Cell. This becomes especially true when Charlotte locks in the Figure 8, and jus as Sasha looks like she’s about to tap, she slams Charlotte with the kendo stick to break up the hold. It was easily the spot of the night and might make some spot of the year lists. Their physicality continues all the way up the ramp and onto the commentator’s table. Sasha is shoved down to the cement floor bellow, and Charlotte goes to the top of the table, hitting a Moonsault onto her. After two covers and kick outs, she drags Sasha down back to ringside and tries to throw her into the barricade, but Sasha reverses. She goes up to the top of the barricade and hits the double knees to another kick out.
The pair spill out into the crowd again, climbing the steps and striking each other. After several back-and-forth brawling spots, Sasha manages to push Charlotte through the opening of one of the steel railings. There, she hits the Bank Statement and Charlotte is forced to tap out. Rick Flair comes down and holds up Sasha’s hand as she becomes a three-time Women’s Champion. While I do agree they’ve played this out, at least for the time being, I’d be amiss to ignore how fantastic and entertaining of a match they put on. This match style forgives some messiness, and between the kendo stick, the Moonsault, and the Bank Statement spots, it was a memorable encounter.
Winner: Sasha Banks
Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss contract signing
SmackDown this week was a go-home show for TLC. Since the turn around was so fast, everything in the show, including the women’s segments, felt a bit rushed. We open with Alexa Bliss and Becky Lynch with another contract signing. Since they did one before their last encounter just a couple months ago, it felt like there was that much left to do. Alexa calls out how her foot was on the rope and Becky agrees and says she had a choice. She could’ve either used her foot, or lost her arm, and at TLC Becky won’t give her that option again. Alexa goes on to give another quality promo, save for some slightly concerning stereotyping comments. She tells Becky that it doesn’t matter how good you are or how hard you work, there is always someone better than you. “She is standing right in front of you,” Alexa tells Becky, proving her mic skills are on a level well above most of her competitors. Frustrated, Becky punches her in the face and sets up the table. On the top rope, Alexa fights back and ends up sending Becky through the table herself, setting up a Table match stipulation for Sunday.
Carmella comes to the ring before a match with a mysterious opponent who never shows up. She takes the opportunity to cut another promo on Nikki Bella, apologizing to John Cena for what she’s about to do to Nikki. She says she’s going to take a chair and hit Nikki’s chest so hard her “Bella twins” will come out her back. So clearly she’s following her boys, Enzo and Cass, in their recent habit of delivering gross promos. Following Alexa Bliss’ top notch heel work from earlier, this is really disappointing. Hearing enough, Nikki Bella runs to the ring and spears Carmella beautifully, the two start going at it until they’re pulled apart by the referee. Carmella manages to roll out of the ring and run away even though she was the one who was supposed to have a match. Obviously, that match never happens.
TNA Impact Wrestling
Maria Kanellis-Bennett, Allie, and Laurel Van Ness segment
Maria calls Allie out to the ring, who ends up standing up to her. Maria runs her down, saying Allie is the worse assistant she’s ever had. Laurel taunts Allie about her relationship with Braxton Sutter and Maria says that Allie is a loser. Maria calls her a “stupid bitch” and Allie slaps her in the face. Laurel hits her with a forearm and beats her up, leaving her laid out in the ring.
Rosemary vs. Jade Six Sides of Steel for Knockouts Title
Gail Kim is injured and must vacate the Knockouts Title. As a result, Rosemary and Jade compete in a Six Sides of Steel match for the Knockouts Title. Rosemary delivers a video package on Jade about how she will “end your pathetic career and Gail’s silly crusade for a chosen one.” This was actually the main event, marking the second women’s main event in a week.
Rosemary attacks Jade before the bell even rings and they brawl on the outside. She slams Jade into the steel steps and tosses her and a trash can back into the ring. The cell is closed and Jade fights back with kits. A quick cover leads to a kick out but she maintains control and Suplexes Rosemary. Jade is sent into the ropes but comes back with a Hurricarana. She runs at Rosemary who cuts her off guard and hits her with a knee to the face. She ground and pounds Jade, and grounds her again after an unsuccessful roll up. They trade strikes but a Flying Clothesline leaves Jade on the mat again.
Instead of going for a cover, Rosemary pushes her face into the steel cage and chokes her in the corner. Rosemary licks Jade’s face in a mind games move, and pushes her face into the cage again. It’s clear she flourishes in this environment. Jade fights back again but Rosemary throws her against the cage. She picks up the trash can from earlier and sets up for the Cost to Cost. Jade is on her feet though and throws the trash can at Rosemary herself. Jade hits a powerful top rope Hurricarana and gets her offense back. She returns the favor of slamming Rosemary into the cage several times and almost gets a pin, but Rosemary kicks out. A German Suplex takes the wind out of Jade’s sails. Both women climb the cell, and a Jade knocks her down to the mat while she continues her climb. From the very top of the cell, she hits an intense splash onto Rosemary, but struggles to capitalize. She goes to the top rope again, but Rosemary has other plans, hitting her with the Mist and setting her up for the Red Wedding for a pin. Rosemary walks out Knockouts Champion.
It took a little while to get going and that’s a problem in a match that only lasted about ten minutes bell to bell. However, once it did, it was brutal and the splash from the top of the cage was a bold spot that really brought it all together. Rosemary as Knockouts Champion is sure to be interesting.
Black Lotus Triad Gauntlet
This massive gauntlet match takes up the entirety of this week’s Lucha Underground and involves all the women from its namesake, the Black Lotus Triad. Doku, looking just as tough as the boys, squares off with Pentagon Dark to start the gauntlet. He muscles her into a corner, but she unloads with strikes, showing she’s not afraid of him. He hits back with a high Drop Kick, which infuriates Daku. She uses momentum to get extra power behind her strikes but he comes back with a kick that grounds her. Throwing her to the floor and tosses her around. Pentagon picks her up and Gorilla Presses her down again. Back in the ring, he continues to kick her and prevents a Spear. She manages one later, allowing her to go up to the top rope and hit an elbow drop. However, Pentagon reverses it into an Arm Bar that breaks her arm.
Next, is Yurei, the second member of the Black Lotus Triad. The beginning of this match is quick, with arm drags and acrobatic moves, she goes to the top rope and onto Pentagon before hitting his head against the apron and the ring post. She has the upper hand for a while, throwing him around the way he did to her Black Lotus partner earlier. The way it’s presented makes it believable that even though she is much smaller than him, she’s able to overpower him. Pentagon fights back with kicks. They brawl around the steps before returning to the ring, and she hits multiple knees to his face, but he reverses into a submission move. Yurei makes it to the ropes and Pentagon targets her injured knee. Fighting back she goes to the top and hits a Huricaranna and then a Double Stomp. Pentagon Kicks out. She hits an Around the World DTD but he catches her next move and reverses it into a package pile driver. He breaks her arm as well.
Hitokiri gets a jump on Pentagon as he’s distracted. Up on the top rope, she Drop Kicks him. On the outsid, she Moonsaults him and gets a chair from under the ring. She gets some serious offense on him on the outside, tossing him around and striking. Hitokiri is presented as the toughest member and she delivers on that promise. Exposing the concrete she drags Pentagon over and slams him onto it. Again, she drags him into the ring and strikes, however, he hits a Drop Kick into the ropes that grounds her for the first time. He kicks the back of her head and then the face. He tosses her back down and throws her right into steel chairs. He gets a cable and wipes her, then chokes her with it against the ring post. Beating her up on the outside, he drags her out of the wreckage and onto the concrete, dropping her onto her back and then pulls her to her feet. She’s able to dodge him and get away quick enough to make it up to the top of the stands. From the roof of the office, she hits a beautiful Splash onto him to the sound of “Lucha!” chants. Although she gets him in the ring, he’s able to reverse and attempt an unsuccessful package pile driver. In response, she hits the Canadian Destroyer for the pin.
Black Lotus comes out with the other members of the Triad, plus their broken arms. Despite not being the winner, Pentagon is forced to fight Black Lotus. She hits the ref and unloads on Pentagon in revenge for breaking her arm previously. She returns the favor by breaking his arm and the four stand over him victorious.
All of the women brought it in this match, from both a technical and story-telling standpoint. It was strike-heavy, with only a few major spots like the Splash from the top of the roof. However, that’s a stylistic choice and Lucha always maintains its style. The Black Lotus Triad might be the coolest thing happening in women’s wrestling at the moment. Their roles in the Black Lotus Triad are clear and so are their motivations. You have to suspend your disbelief a little more, especially with the dark arts aspect, but this is inter-gender wrestling done right.
Winner: Hitokiri and the Black Lotus Triad
Auska vs. Nicole Matthews
Auska makes her way down to the ring where Nicole Matthews is waiting for her. Who? Well turns out Nicole Matthews is a well-versed indie wrestler who has held championships in Shimmer and Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling, and has ranked in top 50 female wrestlers by PWI for the past two years. WWE didn’t feel this information was important and so it seemed like an odd choice of opponents for the champion.
The beating looks like it’ll be quick, as the NXT Women’s Champion grounds Nicole out of the gate. Still, Nicole shows some fight, kicking Auska off and going after her. That’s probably not her best move, as she’s met with the Hip Attack and some stiff kicks that leave Nicole laying face first on the mat. Though she manages to get to the top rope for an attack, Auska outmatches her again by reversing into a Cross Arm Breaker. Even though Nicole gets out of that one too, Auska just gets the Auska Lock and makes her tap. Backstage, Auska says there is no more competition. Unless you knew who Nicole Matthews was beforehand, you were probably left wondering why William Regal thought this seemingly unknown jobber would qualify as competition for the champ. I’d rather they had either let us know who Nicole actually was or given the spot to a newcomer like Daria Berenato.
WWE Total Divas
Total Divas is in full force, with five of the ladies taking a trip to Santa Monica to do a bikini shoot for WWE. Renee, Paige, Lana and the Bellas enjoy their weekend together, and Brie says that after finding out she’s not pregnant, she wants to let loose a little. She feels that once she has kids, she won’t have the opportunity to party or express her sexuality in the same way and she wants to take advantage of the chance while she has it. Also, she wants another tattoo. Nikki tells her she can’t get a new tattoo because Bryan will be upset about it and generally is shutting down Brie’s plans to go all out during the weekend. The two get into a fight about it at dinner and Nikki tells her that when Brie talks about it like that, she worries they’ll never get to have fun sister-time again. Ironically, E was playing reruns of season 3 earlier this week, and these two were having the exact opposite fight. It seems like no matter what one of them is doing, the other wants them to do the reverse.
Meanwhile, Maryse and Trinity both have to work through marital issues. Maryse seems to have a habit of making decisions without talking to her husband Mike (better known as The Miz). First, she adopts yet another dog from the animal shelter, who she is then forced to take to a red carpet party with Eva Marie. He’s not pleased when he finds out about the dog. He’s even more upset with her when she takes him to a house that she wants to flip and tells him she already bought it. The two settle their disagreement over dinner, where he tells her they need to have good communication and she apologizes. She also gives the new dog to her sister and nephew. Trinity is preparing for a role in the Marine 5 and takes out some of her stress on Jon. All of his attempts to help her come off as him goofing around and he admits that he doesn’t always know what she needs from him. He also books a flight to visit her so that he can be by her side at least once during the process
MATCH OF THE WEEK: Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks for the Women’s Championship
WOMAN OF THE WEEK: Hitokiri