WWE Monday Night Raw
Bayley vs. Nia Jax (RAW Women's Championship Number 1 Contender's match)
After a Daniel Bryan-esque backstage segment with a very condescending Stephanie McMahon, Bayley went to face the beast of RAW's women's division: Nia Jax. Charlotte joined the commentary team for the match.
Bayley had a lot to prove after being called ordinary not just by McMahon herself, but by Charlotte on commentary. Jax cared not for her motivations, tossing Bayley around the ring with ease. Bayley fought back with as much gusto as she could, but it took a distracting entrance from Jax's newest rival Sasha Banks to allow Bayley to hit a Bayley to Belly from the second tope to secure her a date with Flair at the Royal Rumble.
While the match was mediocre at best due to its short time and screwy finish, the story it sets up is excellent. Fans like to complain about this being a blatant rehash of Daniel Bryan's Yes Movement, but here's the thing: there are precious few original stories left to be told. What makes stories in professional wrestling memorable are the characters themselves. Bayley has all of the tools to be RAW's biggest babyface: the storytelling ability and underdog charisma of Daniel Bryan, the marketability of John Cena and an enthusiastic passion that is all her own. If given the chance, Bayley and Charlotte can build a story and rivalry for the history books. Fans and Creative just have to let them take the ball and run with it.
Becky Lynch vs. La Luchadora
La Luchadora made an unsurprising return in a grudge match against a fired up Becky Lynch. Lynch started off strong, taking out her frustrations on the tackily-dressed mystery woman, who swiftly retreated to ringside before sliding under the ring. Miraculously, La Luchadora re-emerged on the other side, attacking Lynch from behind. She then attempted a Twisted Bliss, but Lynch dodged, locking in the Dis-Arm Her for the submission victory.
After, Lynch unmasked La Luchadora, revealing Alexa Bliss, but then the original La Luchadora emerged from beneath the ring, and the two attacked Lynch before retreating, arm in arm.
And so the mystery continues. Allegedly, Deonna Purrazzo is currently underneath the mask as a stand-in, but Mickie James will ultimately be the woman unmasked. This makes sense. James could be an excellent WrestleMania opponent for Bliss, Lynch, or both. Her character excels as a face or heel, and her veteran presence alongside Nikki Bella will make SmackDown's roster even deeper than before.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Carmella vs. Aliyah
With her new flame James Ellsworth by her side, Carmella took on NXT Superstar Aliyah in singles action. This was a glorified squash by the Princess of Staten Island, though Aliyah showed hints of offense every once in a while, capitalized by a distraction from Ellsworth which allowed Carmella to lock Aliyah into the Code of Silence for the victory.
While it's nice to see Ellsworth finally out of the main event scene and in a managerial role (a fun reversal from WWE's normal practice), my only concern is who Carmella squares off against now that she's finished with Nikki Bella.
Hey, I hear that Naomi's available to feud with. Just an idea.
A War of Words
Nikki Bella and Natalya shared the ring for a summit of sorts. Bella said that she couldn't bring herself to hate Natalya, and the third generation Superstar responded with unhinged contempt. Bella said Natalya was just using her family name, and Natalya replied that Bella used her looks to get to the top. She then added that when her beauty faded, John Cena would leave her and she would die alone, prompting Bella to clock her with a wicked right hook.
Oh, how lovely it would be for Nikki Bella and Natalya to be involved in feuds that don't involve breast enhancements or the Hart family name. For some reason, SmackDown cannot seem to escape the easiest and laziest storytelling strategies when it comes to these two. Hopefully, that changes quickly, or this rivalry will fade into the lower midcard.
TNA Impact Wrestling
Sienna vs. Allie
Allie's continued foray into wrestling was a crowded segment indeed. Madison Rayne was on commentary while Maria and Laurel Van Ness accompanied Sienna to the ring. Sienna started the match off strong, but Allie managed to rally with words of support from Braxton Sutter, hitting Sienna with a dropkick. She went for a suplex, but Sienna reversed it, hitting Allie with it instead.
At ringside, Van Ness attempted to distract Sutter from coaching Allie. Allie gained momentum despite this, but a third and final distraction allowed Sienna to hit the Silencer on Allie for the pinfall. Sutter attempted to console a despondent Allie, but the three Mean Girls pushed him away from her.
Allie continues to shine as a more likable Ellsworth type, except as she continues to get better, her chances of winning grow. Her budding relationship with Braxton Sutter doesn't overly dominate her story, and it's refreshing to see a man in a manager position for a woman. Sienna continues to impress as well, though she lacks slightly in charisma. That being said, she is doing fine as she is and the Knockouts continue to be entertaining in the new Anthem era.
Sexy Star vs. Mariposa
Sexy Star demanded this match after coming to the conclusion that Mariposa had been stalking her and costing her opportunities. The two old foes met again in the Temple, though this time there were significantly less f-bombs dropped and less blood. That being said, they still put on a fantastic show under normal stipulations.
Star began the match with intensity, knocking Mariposa to the ground before tossing her out of the ring and leaping onto her. The match quickly devolved into an all-out brawl at ringside, and Mariposa gained much-needed momentum by slamming Star head-first into the announce table. Mariposa dragged Star back into the ring to attempt a pin, but Star escaped, hitting a big boot. Mariposa attempted a moonsault, but Star dodged, ascending to ropes and hitting a double stomp for the pinfall.
While their match was incredible, as any match between these two always is, it's what happened after that is most intriguing. Mariposa's brother Marty the Moth came to comfort her after the loss, but ended up chokeslamming her, while The Mack declined having Sexy STar at ringside for his match against Johnny Mundo.
I've said a lot about Sexy Star that doesn't need to be repeated, but someone who still deserves a lot of praise is Mariposa. She carries herself int he ring with a special kind of unpredictable ferocity that makes all of her matches impossible to look away from. Whether she reconciles with her brother or enters a feud with him, she is one to watch.
Winner: Sexy Star
Billie Kay vs. Liv Morgan vs. Billie Kay
The two babyfaces tried to double-team Kay early on, but she managed to evade them, retreating from the ring and leaving Moon and Morgan to test each other out with a quick-paced pinning sequence. Kay returned to action as Morgan was sent out of the ring, driving Moon into the turnbuckle. Morgan attempted to re-join the match, but Moon sent her right back out with a quick kick.
Morgan and Moon both then went on the offensive against Kay, who ended up being slammed onto the apron as she attempted to take Liv Morgan out. Back in the ring, Kay attempted to take both women out with the Tower of Doom, but only hit Morgan with a powerbomb, turning around right into Moon's Eclipse stunner, giving the rising star another victory.
This was a highlight for all three of these women attempting to establish themselves in a division dominated by Asuka. Liv Morgan's strikes looked crisper than ever, Billie Kay looked comfortable and Ember Moon worked the crowd well. NXT's roster continues to impress, all these three need is character development.
Winner: Ember Moon
WWE Total Divas
Alright, let's get the boring stuff out of the way first. In Bella-land, Brie and Nikki hang out in Napa for a weekend together. Nikki misses John, Brie just wants to relax. The usual. Nikki suggests they start a winery, and Brie says Nikki just wants to be as busy as John. Which is true.
Natalya and Paige talk about Natalya's impending heel turn while Paige drools over her "Papi" Alberto Del Rio. That night, at Money in the Bank, Natalya ambushes Becky Lynch and the crowd goes wild with cheers, which gets Natalya freaked out. Spoiler: she remains freaked out for the entire episode.
Later on, Paige is having neck issues. She and Eva Marie decide to hang out before a live event, and when Eva asks about Paige favoring her neck, Paige brushes her off. Paige talks about her relationship with Del Rio and about how she already feels like a stepmom. Eva (along with most of us) just tries to take it all in stride, considering Paige just started seeing the guy.
Natalya, whose heel turn is not going as smoothly as she wants it to, asks Mark Carrano to pair her with Eva Marie to help her get some heat. Wisely, Carrano says no and tells Nattie to be patient. Meanwhile, Eva helps Paige get a neck brace, and asks Eva not to tell anyone so she doesn't lose any TV time. Later, when Carrano approaches Paige about her injury, she blows up on Eva, who she believes leaked her injury for some...reason.
Renee, always the voice of reason amidst this chaos, points out that the entire locker room could see Paige's (neck) issues. Eva says she's done with Paige.
On a bright note, after attacking Becky Lynch during her entrance, Natalya gets booed. So, in short, all is well. Sort of.
This section includes recaps of matches from around the world in various lesser-known independent promotions throughout the week.
DDT: Tokyo Joshi Pro
Match: Yuu vs. Syoko Nakajima (Princess of Princess title match)
Highlights: Yuu hits Nakajima with the Last Ride to retain her title
Match: Ivelisse vs. Lana Austin
Highlights: Ivelisse hits a Fisherman's suplex for a near-fall despite unsurprisingly disrespectful commentary and chants from the announce team and crowd.
MATCH OF THE WEEK:
Sexy Star vs. Mariposa
Sexy Star vs. Mariposa
In a week with minimal televised women's matches and few indie events due to the new year, Sexy Star and Mariposa's brawl on Lucha Underground cemented how dominant and progressive Lucha Underground's treatment of its women truly is. Filled with intense, physical spots and stellar storytelling, this match managed to not only tell a different story than their No Mas match, but make both women look fantastic.
WOMAN OF THE WEEK:
Despite a short match against Nia Jax that ended in a questionable victory, there is nothing questionable about how bright Bayley's 2017 is looking. Bayley held her own as the scrappy underdog in a segment with an on point Stephanie McMahon, instantly drawing comparisons to Daniel Bryan. She looked gutsy and brave even as Nia Jax tossed her around like a ragdoll, proving herself more than worthy of RAW title contention.
The Hug Movement began this week, and with good booking, it could very well steal the show at WrestleMania in April.
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!