WWE Monday Night Raw
Best Friends For Now
Backstage, Sasha and Bayley are gushing about the fact that Bayley is the number 1 contender to Charlotte’s Women’s Championship. It’s their usual best friends/friendly competition stuff, with Sasha implying that if Bayley wins she’s owed a title shot. Much as these two have it figured out in the ring, backstage they might have so much chemistry that they actually don’t know what to do with it. But either way, their awkwardness is cut short by Charlotte interrupting and calling Sasha out for not actually caring about Bayley. With the help of her own BFF Nia Jax, they attack Sasha and Bayley, leaving them laid out.
Later, Sasha and Bayley insist to Stephanie McMahon that they should get a match with Nia and Charlotte next week. It sets up that tag match tonight, as Stephanie is annoyed by their attitudes, but more importantly it sowed seeds of a Stephanie/Sasha Banks feud that absolutely, 100% should be WrestleMania. For now, however, Sasha has to compete with her knee still in a brace.
Nia Jax and Charlotte Flair vs. The Boss and Hug Connection, Sasha Banks and Bayley
Things start to look bad for the Boss and Hug Connection the moment Sasha comes down to the ring with her knee in a brace. Bayley doesn’t want her to start, for a good reason, but Sasha insists. Despite Charlotte trying to lock in the Figure 8 immediately, Sasha kicks her off and actually puts on some good offense. She even takes a shot at Nia in the corner. She drives Charlotte into the turnbuckle and sets up for the double knees, but Charlotte moves out of the way and it causes Sasha to reel in pain from her knee.
A tag to Baylye saves her, and the number 1 contender also puts on a good showing even though in kayfabe she was attacked less than an hour ago. Her signature elbows give the champ pause, and she even manages to drive her abdomen into the ropes. However, Charlotte comes back with a Big Boot straight to Bayley’s face, my new favorite move of hers, and goes for a cover. Bayley kicks out and from this shot we can see how much Sasha continues to sell the knee on the outside, her face is in a constant grimace.
Charlotte breaks out the big guns by tagging in Nia, and it all falls apart for Bayley and Sasha. She drives Bayley into the turnbuckle and then throws her down into the mat. They double-team on Bayley and though she manages to kick out, she can’t regain offense. Charlotte lets Nia do the heavy lifting with a Powerbomb. Nia knocks Sasha off the apron and she sells it to perfection, unable to get back up. A Suplex by Charlotte almost costs her a roll up, but Bayley had missed a tag to Nia who runs her down and hit a Leg Drop for the one, two, three.
It wasn’t the most memorable match I’ve ever seen, nor the longest. However, the sense of urgency on both sides really worked here. Sasha and Bayley are desperate to get the upper hand against these two bullies, and Charlotte and Nia just want to be done with this. Sasha’s the best seller in the women’s division by far, and that will be valuable as she finds her way in the non-title picture.
Winner: Nia Jax and Charlotte Flair
Nikki Bella vs. Natalya
After exchanging harsh words the past couple of weeks, Nikki Bella and Natalya are to settle their differences in the ring. However, Natalya jumps Nikki backstage before the match begins. Waiting in the ring, it seems like Nikki might be too injured to compete, but she charges the ring last second. I like the trend of Nikki being targeted backstage because of her position in the company. When she’s unable to compete due to that it makes her human and relatable, but when she toughs it out, she looks completely unstoppable.
The match never truly gets underway, as Nikki gets right to it with Natalya. It takes several refs to restrain the two, which is a nice tough for a women’s matchup. Any time they let up, Nikki and Natalya go at it again. They brawl for several minutes and eventually spill out to the outside where Natalya locks in a vicious Sharpshooter.
Winner: No contest
Carmella vs. CJ Laude
With James Elsworth in toe, Carmella makes her way to the ring for a match with CJ Laude, better known as Kitty Thunders on the independent circuit. The throw-back wrestler works a style reminiscent of Mae Young, and while it’s really cool, Carmella just can’t adapt. They go through the movements, including more than a couple awkward holds and sequences. CJ is putting on too much offense for James’ comfort, so again he grabs her leg on the apron, giving Carmella an opening. She locks in the Code of Silence and makes CJ tap. Despite this disappointing showing, I believe CJ will be very impressive with a more seasoned opponent and hope to see her more in the future.
Lower the Cage!
Backstage, Becky Lynch is petitioning Daniel Bryan to give her another title shot due to the fact that the La Luchadora who tapped out was Alexa Bliss. As they run through the tape, Alexa comes in to dispute the request. She claims that it was a misunderstanding, as she went undercover to find out who La Luchadora really was when this incident occurred. Although it’s silly, there’s something really endearing about Alexa fancying herself a Veronica Mars type, so in all likelihood, she’s in cahoots with La Luchadora herself. Bryan doesn’t buy her excuse, and announces that next week Alexa will defend her championship against Becky Lynch in a steel cage. Becky is ecstatic, Alexa less so. There’s no denying that SmackDown is ready to take the women’s division to the next level like Raw has with gimmick matches, but I can’t help feel like they’re giving away a lot on TV. If they just waited for the Royal Rumble, this would be a huge attraction and could rival Charlotte and Bayley. After next week, what’s there left to do in this feud?
TNA Impact Wrestling
Allie and Maria Butt Heads
Although Maria Kaniellis-Bennett and Allie did not get a match of the own this week, they were heavily featured in the story between Braxton Sutter and Mike Bennett. Their spat in the beginning of the show, where Allie stood up to her boss, set up the match with the idea that Mike beating up on Allie’s trainer Braxton would teach her a lesson. Allie ran into stop a post- match attack, and while she was stopped by Maria, she allowed Braxton to escape and set up more story in the future.
Rosemary came to the ring to deliver a promo against the entire Knockouts division. She was interrupted by Jade who demanded a rematch for her title. The champ agreed, provided it would be a Monster’s Ball match. What’s a Monster’s Ball match you ask? According to Wikipedia:
“A Monster's Ball match is a professional wrestling, hardcore match staged by Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. The key premise of the match was that all contenders are sequestered alone in a locked room without light, food or water for twenty-four hours before the match.”
Well alright then. Jade reluctantly accepts this stipulation and the match is set. We’ll see how it plays out, but I find the builds of Knockout matches to be mediocre compared to the rest of the women’s wrestling landscape. This feud doesn't seem to have much meat on its bones beyond #RedvsBlue.
Spiders in the Locker
Following his victory over Veneno, Cage is confronted by Sexy Star. She shouts at him “It was you! It was you!” implying that she believes it was Cage who has been leaving spiders in her locker. There’s no real additional explanation of why she feels that he is the one, but perhaps that’s question that will be answered at another time.
Sarah Bridges and Macey Evans vs. Billie Kay and Peyton Royce
Savvy fans may recognize Billie Kay and Peyton Royce’s opponents as indie darling Crazy Mary Dobson (Sarah Bridges) and NXT superstar Macey Estrella (Macey Evans). The dangerous Australian duo play their usual game, cutting the ring in half and using number advantages whenever they can. Peyton distracts Macey to give them control and they quick tag in their corner for several minutes. Eventually, Macey manages to get away and get the hot tag from Sarah Bridges. She puts up a big fight with a Drop Kick to both of her opponents. However, it’s not enough as Billie rakes her eyes to give Peyton the advantage and pick up the win.
After the match, Auska charges the ring, furious at the pair for attacking her in the parking lot earlier. The two-on-one game grounds her in a rare moment of non-dominance until an unlikely ally comes to her aid. Nikki Cross storms the ring as well and takes out both before hitting Auska with a missile drop kick.
Winner: Billie Kay and Peyton Royce
All of the above
Auska is not a happy champion. She wanted competition and it looks like competition has come in spades. After shrugging off medical staff, she marches into William Regal’s office and screams at him to book the match. He asks who with and she responds “all of them!” As of this writing, a fatal four-way for the NXT Women’s Championship is confirmed for NXT Takeover: San Antonio.
WWE Total Divas
This episode of Total Divas came with plenty of Brianiel as the on-screen and in-life couple took a trip to Orcas Island with Renee Young. The plan was for it to be a couples trip with Dean Ambrose accompanying Renee, but he decided to cancel. Brian and Brie talked more about how they’ve been trying to get pregnant and start a family, but that might be even harder when Brian is offered a new position at WWE. He was asked to come commentate for the Cruiser Weight Classic, which we know turns into the General Manager position on SmackDown. Brie struggles with being happy for him but also worried they’re never going to be able to settle down and have a family.
For weeks now, Total Divas has been desperately trying to spin some dramatic story between Dean and Renee, and it never comes to fruition. This time, the previews made it seem like they would be in some huge fight over Dean not coming with her on the trip. In reality, she told him it upset her and he responded with news that he was taking her on her dream vacation. Dean’s known for having a bit of a short fuse, and according to Renee yelled at the Total Divas camera crew on more than one occasion, but seems to be pretty level-headed when it comes to his relationship. Hopefully E! won’t decide it’s not enough drama and drop her from the cast like they did with Mandy, because her normalcy actually adds a lot to the show.
Finally, Paige is still dealing with her neck injury. She’s struggling with being out of commission when she’s gone hard since the time she was 13. This is a woman who won her first championship at the age of 16, she’s not used to being on the shelf, and she’s not responding well to it. At the end of the episode, she goes in for an MRI to find out the extent of the injury.
Oh, and Lana asked Nattie to help her out with wedding planning and for some reason, Nattie decided to follow R-Truth’s advice (please stop taking this man's advice) and try to get herself fired by picking out ugly things. It was weird. The more seasons we get into Total Divas, the more contrived Nattie’s stories seem. Maybe the real issue here is that her life was largely consumed by TJ’s career and almost life-threatening injury, but WWE doesn’t want to air that dirty laundry.
This section includes recaps of matches from around the world in various lesser-known independent promotions throughout the week.
Ivelisse will fight for the WCPW Women's Championship at the WCPW: Lights Out tonight!
MATCH OF THE WEEK:
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Nia Jax and Charlotte Flair
Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Nia Jax and Charlotte Flair
Was this anyone’s best or most memorable work? Not even a little. But, Raw is doing a better job at building up these stories and making everything feel very personal. Across the board, every segment leading up to this match created a well told, if not so well acted, story. Sasha’s killer selling just amped up the stakes and has me looking forward to the respective one-on-ones that will come from it.
WOMAN OF THE WEEK:
It’s going to take three women to take Auska down, and I’m not convinced we’ll even see a title change. She may have been knocked off her spot at the top of the mountain momentarily, but that took a surprise attack, two women, and a cup of hot tea. Despite all that, she stormed into management and insisted she could take them all at once. And you know what? I believed her.
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!