WWE Monday Night Raw
Talk, Talk, Talk
Raw once again toed the line with its self-proclaimed Women's Revolution. In its entire three hours of content, it only allotted 8% of its programming time to its two ongoing women's feuds and additional women's storylines. An Emmalina vignette aired, but the elusive Aussie continued to be absent.
Sasha Banks was taken out by Nia Jax during warmups before the show. Normally, I would praise WWE for being more creative in its progression of long-term feuds. But neither beast nor boss was anywhere to be seen in the actual show, aside from a brief backstage promo from Nia Jax, where she said that the WWE Universe would be buzzing about her now instead of Banks. A shame, really, that WWE couldn't even give Jax a squash match.
The biggest women's segment of the night went to Raw Women's Champion Charlotte Flair and her underdog challenger Bayley. Flair came out to the ring, mic in hand, and proceeded to gleefully mock Bayley for her lifelong fandom of wrestling. She displayed poems a young Bayley wrote about wanting to wrestle, showed an old video of Bayley reading one of her essays aloud, and said that while Bayleyw as dreaming, she was winning.
Bayley finally came out to confront Flair, and said she wasn't ashamed of her love of wrestling, adding that in two weeks, it would be her standing tall as Raw Women's Champion. The segment was worrisome at first, uncomfortable. Flair's mockery of Bayley was blatant bullying, sure to bring back bad memories for past victims and make children feel awkward. But it worked. Bayley's fearless response to Charlotte was inspiring, her enthusiasm heartwarming. If WWE books her right, she'll be their brightest babyface.
Nikki Bella came to the ring and called Natalya out, demanding to settle their score then and there. Natalya appeared in the audience and then told Nikki to watch the screen, retreating to one of the merch tables out in the FedEx Forum. Natalya railed on the extensive Bella merchandise and Bret Hart merchandise, and slammed them for not having any of hers out for sale.
Nikki followed her out, and the two brawled at the table until guards forced them apart.
This was a great utilization of the FedEx Forum to shake up the show a bit and explore the arena. The merch table argument was a unique approach from the "heel," but a good motivation beyond Nikki's relationship with Cena. This feud has been decent so far, but it does feel like a bit of a filler feud for both women. Hopefully, WWE can find some way to expand their animosity beyond the family arguments. More brawls could certainly do the trick.
Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch (SmackDown Women's Championship steel cage match)
Memphis was treated to a steel cage match that, instead of being a mere spotfest, worked to highlight the cores of its two characters: the fierce yet fearful Alexa Bliss and the gutsy, determined Becky Lynch.
Early in the match, Bliss' main focus was escape. She hit some early offense on Lynch, trying to go for the door and over the cage, but Lynch caught her each time. Lynch herself decided to try and escape, but Bliss dragged her back down. Lynch responded with a dropkick and a series of vicious arm drags. She tried rolling Bliss up, but Bliss escaped and brought Lynch down, going for the escape again, and was caught by Lynch. Lynch send Bliss hard into the turnbuckle, hitting another dropkick for a near-fall.
Lynch attempted to climb the cage once more, but Bliss brought her down to the top rope, only to be Bex-plexed off the top rope for a near-fall. Bliss gets to the cage door, but Lynch stops her. However, when Lynch goes for the escape, La Luchadora appears, blocking her exit. Bliss goes for the cheap shot, but Lynch catches her in the Dis-arm Her. La Luchadora breaks the hold, and Bliss hits Lynch with a DDT for the pinfall.
After the match, La Luchadora and Bliss both attacked Lynch, who tried to defend herself. She managed to unmask La Luchadora, revealing to her utter shock...Mickie James! Bliss attacked the shell-shocked Lynch and the two stood tall over Lynch to end the segment.
SmackDown Live's roster just went from impressive to positively stacked in an instant. Mickie James is one of the best female talents to come from WWE, only getting better from her time on the indies, as she proved with her stunning match against Asuka in Toronto. James is the perfect talent to foil against Lynch and make Bliss' reign even more threatening than before.
Winner Alexa Bliss
TNA Impact Wrestling
Brooke Adams vs. Deonna Purrazzo
After a brief confrontation with Maria, Brooke Adams made an unsurprisingly impressive return to the Impact octagon, taking on a familiar face on basically every wrestling company out there Deonna Purrazzo. Madison Rayne was on commentary, having a storied past with Adams.
Purrazzo started off strong, grounding Adams with a mat-based offense, but Adams soon got physical, sending Purrazzo out of the ring with a hard clothesline before ramming her into the barricade. Back in the ring, the two exchanged momentum, with Purrazzo beating down on Adams stiffly.
Adams regained control of the match with a series of forearms and secured the pinfall with a face suplex. After the match, Sienna ambushed Adams and dropped her with the Silencer.
Brooke Adams is a sight for sore eyes in the octagon. She and Purrazzo put on a glorious squash (a talent of Purrazzo, who will get a chance to shine someday) match and Adams doesn't seem to have any ring rust at all.
Winner: Brooke Adams
Nikki Cross vs. Kennedy Lewis
Kennedy Lewis never really stood a chance. In a completely one-sided affair that went two minutes at the most, Nikki Cross destroyed Lewis, finishing her with her gorgeous and nasty-looking fisherman's suplex.
Squash matches can do wonders for Cross, but only up to a point. Hopefully, after what's sure to be a thrilling NXT: Takeover match against NXT's top tier talent, she'll be able to put on truly competitive matches with the likes of Ember Moon, or even NXT's newest indie signings.
Winner: Nikki Cross
WWE Total Divas
Yeah, yeah, Lana's bachelorette party might have been the central focus of this week's episode, but let's just state the obvious: Renee Young is the best thing about this show. Okay, onto the recap...
Rusev, to put it bluntly, is not happy about Renee and Trinity's plans for Lana's bachelorette party. That doesn't work for the dynamic duo, who want to utilize Vegas to the fullest extent they can for Lana's big night, or, more accurately, big DAY. Renee and Trinity get Lana to join them, but as they go, they run into the Old Spice Guy, who is apparently Lana's ex.
Well done, Lana.
Renee, with extreme tact (pfffttt), invites Old Spice Guy (they gave his real name, but this is more fun) to join them at their pool party. Trinity has her doubts, but the three girls board a party bus and begin their day of fun. Their host, Zach, is kind of weird and apparently is usually in accounting, but Renee tells the girls to just roll with it. They go to a show with Australian strippers called Thunder Down Under. This doesn't please Rusev, but he assures Lana he won't try to control her.
At dinner, some fans who had been invited by Renee to hang out with them the day before get into a fight on the dance floor because of spilled drinks. One of these fans also comes on to Rusev, and Lana gets upset because he doesn't tell her. The next day at their pool party (which features a crazy cat lady, truly), Lana confesses her fears over getting married, but Old Spice Guy gives her some super sage relationship advice. Lana talks to Rusev, who is perfectly chill about everything, and realizes that marriage to him is truly what she wants. Phew!
At dinner, the entertainment is two luchadors, who unmask to reveal themselves to be the weird fan couple! And then cat lady and Zach both come out! Turns out, Renee swerved everyone....? Yup. Makes total sense.
Meanwhile, in Bella World, Nikki is excited for the ESPYs, so much so that she can't focus on anything else. She freaks out over her ESPY look, her brother throws her phone in the tub (?!), but everything turns out just fine.
This section includes recaps of matches from around the world in various lesser-known independent promotions throughout the week.
Match: Iro Shirai vs. Kairi Hojo (We Are Stardom Title match)
Winner: Iro Shirai
Highlights: Viper stares down the Stardom roster following the match.
Match: Will Ospreay & Bea Priestley vs. Ricochet & Tessa Blanchard
Highlights: Blanchard dives through Ricochet's legs and the ropes to take out both Ospreay and Priestley at ringside.
MATCH OF THE WEEK:
Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch
Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch
Bliss and Lynch took a match that can easily forgo all storytelling for the sake of physicality and told a wonderful, engaging story that brought a lethargic Memphis crowd to its feet. The return of Mickie James only added to a match that was fun, well-paced, and a well-deserved main event on SmackDown. Here's to many more!
WOMAN OF THE WEEK:
Mickie James first came to WWE in a time when the company was not ready for her. Not really. Now, in a highly competitive division, she has a chance to truly shine and show the world what she is capable of. Her match against Asuka was only the beginning. With proper booking, WrestleMania could very well be her stage once more.
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!