WWE Monday Night Raw
Where are the Women?
For this week’s Raw, I’m taking a different approach seeing as there were literally no women’s matches. No, Nia’s segment doesn’t count, you need more than two moves to be considered a match and it was really the intro to her promo. So let’s just look at the segments involving women and review those instead.
Corey Graves Interviews
Although I was surprised to see no video package for Bayley and Charlotte Flair’s match this Sunday at Hell in a Cell, the backstage interviews Corey Graves conducted with each were outstanding. When did Bayley get this good on the mic? Sit down interviews are not an easy scenario for wrestlers, sure they can do multiple takes but there’s one person and one person only to respond to, which is limiting. Bayley proved she can do more that be cute and genuine, this was a properly great promo. Charlotte also performed, talking again about her goal is to ellipse her father Rick Flair and she says it with such conviction that I believe she can do it. It accomplished what it set out to do: I am very excited for their Royal Rumble match.
20 Seconds of Doom
Back to Nia’s promo, the jig is up at this point about these female jobbers. As an International Women’s Tournament appears to be in the works for this summer, more and more enhancement talents are turning out to be big indie names. When I saw a small blonde in bright colored gear who’s name was “Ray Lyn,” I got really excited for a moment that this was Candice LeRae. It wasn’t, instead, a wrestler from the Shimmer/Rise circuit. but as I was typing that comment in my notes, I missed the entirety of the match. In the span it takes me to write a funny joke, it was over. Nia then gets on the mic, and delivers what I personally thought was not a half bad promo, and if she continues to improve, that could really set her apart from any other “me smash” gimmicks. Sasha interrupts and throws her crutch at Nia before wailing on her with it and if the Boss can bring that level of aggression to their match, it’ll be just fine. I hate seeing women relegated to the pre-show, but this has potential to fight out of there.
The Beautiful Alicia Foooox
Alicia Fox is now valeting Noam Dar, supposedly dating him, though they don’t act like an on-screen couple. I’m not going to deny this whole thing is ridiculous, or that there’s probably much better uses of Cedric Alexander’s talents. Here’s the thing though, Alicia Fox is so charismatic that no matter what they hand her she manages to make it super entertaining. She plays off Noam well so I hope they keep them together for a while. She really has an ability to spin anything into something worthwhile, I just don’t know why she can’t wrestle with Noam in her corner sometimes too.
Emmalina is still premiering soon, and maybe they’ve missed the moment here, but I’m still 100% invested. There’s just no way that it’s all it seems, and it ought to be a title picture-level push when it’s over. Raw is seriously suffering from a lack of depth, where either they’re a broken record, Dana vs. Balyey for the umpteenth time, or like this week where we were starting to doubt if they’d have any women’s wrestling at all.
What’s the solution here? Do they let these indie darlings wrestle semi-competitive matches against the protected stars like Charlotte, Nia, Sasha, and Bayley? That sounds great but what story can really be told when they’re only one match each? Maybe they need to pull from the NXT pool and beef up the roster, but are girls like Liv Morgan ready? Weigh in bellow.
No, Seriously, Where are the Women?
Really guys? I’m not sure what’s up with WWE this week, if they’re in a holding pattern until some big call ups after the Rumble or just out of ideas but once again, no women’s matches. Now, granted, SmackDown did have multiple great promo segments that we’ll highlight, but still, no bells rang for the Women this week.
In case you missed it, Mickie James is officially signed to SmackDown Live, oh and she hasn’t missed a beat. I didn’t watch wrestling during her first career run with them, but from what I’ve seen of her work she was an incredible athlete with just an unbelievable amount of charisma who was too ahead of her time. This is an opportunity for her to reach heights, at least in terms of creative satisfaction, that she wasn’t able to before. Not only does Mickie look great, she quickly proved to be the best talker in the division, and found her groove instantly. Renee looked stoked to be interviewing her, but she didn’t back down from hard questions.
Mickie’s promo was phenomenal. She walked a very thin line for a heel, where she’s intolerable and you find yourself hating her, but she also sort of has a point. I simultaneously want to see her get punched in the face and win the SmackDown Women’s Championship. She claims that Becky Lynch and the rest of the Four Horsewomen are taking credit for the trail that she blazed, and only Alexa Bliss is down off this high horse of self-righteousness. It’s not inaccurate, and a fair thing to bring to light, that although the 4H were talented, determined, and hardworking, they were also lucky. They were in the right place in the right time.
But Becky Lynch doesn’t want to hear that. She rushes the ring and Mickie is more than happy to give her a fight. It’s refreshing from the chicken heel angles that we’ve been getting with Carmella and Alexa Bliss. The two spill out to the crowd and Becky eats a punch from Alexa who was waiting. Pulling her into the ring, Mickie hits a beautiful kick and Alexa gets Twisted Bliss. Becky finally feels like the underdog again.
Not Everyone’s Feeling the Glow
We should be set for Natalya versus a returning Naomi, who has been out with an Ankle injury for a while. After she makes her glow in the dark entrance, however, Natalya no-shows. It turns out she’s busy brawling with Nikki Bella backstage, though it’s unclear if Nikki has attacked her or the two just got into a shoving match at catering. Naomi calls for the mic and delivers what is again, a big improvement on her previous promos. She claims she is not leaving this ring until somebody back there steps up and gives her a match.
Then Alexa Bliss’ music hits. But calm down, she’s not here to answer Naomi’s call, she’s here to put her in her place. She acts like she doesn’t even know who Naomi is and doesn’t know why she’s walking around here like she matters. Naomi says she wants to fight Alexa, and she wants to be SmackDown Women’s Champion. Naturally, Alexa fakes her out and pretends to get in the ring before backing out and delivering a great one liner to the fans, “yeah you can boo me all you want I’m still the champion it doesn’t matter.” She’s not giving up her spot of queen of the heels that easy.
There’s the thing, I’m all for Naomi in championship matches, but I feel like there’s a lack of groundwork here and oh by the way the Royal Rumble is tomorrow. I wish they would build her up a bit first, but Naomi vs. Alexa and Mickie vs. Becky still sounds pretty good to me.
Since James' Last Court Date
Carmella took James Elsworth shopping. It was weird. They went through a bunch of costumes before landing on an outfit that more closely aligns with Carmella’s gimmick. So I guess this is here to stay for a while.
TNA Impact Wrestling
Jade vs. Rosemary Monster Ball for the Knockout’s Championship
In a match of Rosemary’s choosing, Jade challenges her for the Knockout’s Championship. This Monster Ball stipulation, at least according to Wikipedia, was supposed to mean that they would be locked in the locker room for 24 hours without food or water. That definitely didn’t happen, or at least they didn’t bother mentioning it and instead just treated it like a regular no DQ match. But for a regular no DQ match, it was pretty great.
It starts a little awkwardly, Rosemary grabs a trash can and botches a spot, but it smooths out once she goes for a knedo stick. With Jade laid out, she goes under the ring and retrieves a bag of thumbtacks. Although it had a slow start, this turned things around. You have to respect the brutality they went for, and that I can’t imagine we’d see thumbtacks in a WWE women’s match anytime soon. To counter, Jade gets Rosemary down and takes off her belt, whipping her with it. She uses the kendo stick, and then the trash can, which again is awkward, before managing to send Rosemary into the tacks with a German Suplex. She stays in it by kicking out of a cover.
Rosemary tries to hit the mist, but Jade uses the lid of the trash can to block, and introduces a table to the mix. Rosemary regains control, hitting a Snap Suplex, but Jade kicks out. Not to be outdone by the table, she retrieves a barbed wired board and sets it up in the ring. Perhaps Rosemary should stop setting up the weapons, because again Jade uses it against her, slamming her into it. Still Rosemary kicks out, leaving Jade to go high risk from the top rope. It’s a mistake, as Rosemary knocks her down and then Superplexes her right into the table. Jade’s shoulders are down and Rosemary just manages to cover her, retaining the Knockout’s Championship.
Considering I gave my lowest rating ever to a TNA Knockout’s match, this was a huge improvement of some of the performances we’ve seen. It was a little spotty, there were definitely a couple of botches and the spots themselves, while brutal, were not the most technical. It also felt too short. However, the ambition and willingness to go the extra mile to make it feel like it was a proper hardcore match that to me always overrides sloppiness. The storytelling was fine, I would’ve liked to see more from Jade about how she felt about this stipulation.
Ember Moon vs. Liv Morgan for the No.1 Contendership to the NXT Women’s Championship
We finally got a women’s match! And it was…fine. It was not on the level of the contender’s matches that came before it, the triple threat where Becky Lynch snuck in a pin comes to mind- NXT has always done a great job of making these matches feel huge. This one fell a bit short. Which, of course, isn’t to say it was bad. Instead, it just didn’t have a whole lot get up and go. The competition between these two babyfaces and former teammates starts out friendly, they lock up, one gets a hold, a roll up, kick out and repeat. They have a series of roll ups that transition into them rolling around the ring and it sort of starts to feel like maybe Ember is taking Liv light. I wish they pushed that story a bit more.
Liv manages some decent offense, getting in several big moves including a Facebuster, and it finally seems to wake Ember up. In quick secession, she hits a knee to Liv’s face, a Fall Away Slam, and gets her into a Cross Face. After getting out of the hold, Liv responds with a Bulldog and locks in a Guillotine. Ember picks her right up and throws her out of the ring, perhaps auditioning for the Royal Rumble. Liv crawls back in, but Ember goes to the top rope and hits her beautiful finisher, the Eclipse to win the no.1 contendership to the NXT Women’s Championship. I’m glad to see Ember in this spot, I just wish her match to get there was a bit stronger. It was the definition of good, not great.
Winner: Ember Moon
A Nice, Pleasant Chat Between Competitors
William Regal took to the ring Wednesday night with NXT’s backstage interviewer, Dasha to hold a face-to-face between the four women who will compete for the NXT Women’s Championship this weekend. Each competitor assured Mr. Regal that it would not devolve into violence, and as you might imagine that lasted about a minute. Peyton Royce and Billie Kay came out, note that they entered to Peyton’s music as opposed to Billie’s, and made it clear that they were still in this together. The crowd cheered “Auska’s gonna kill you” and Peyton took the mic right out of Regal’s hand to say “I think not.”
A quick aside, Peyton’s promo this week, though treading over the same ground again, was actually pretty strong and a big improvement over any of her previous work. She’s also not half bad in the ring, and although her learning curve isn’t the lightning speed we saw from Alexa Bliss, I do think she has a lot of potential. At the time, I was starting to think that it may not be out of the question to see her sneak in a victory after Auska or Nikki do all of the heavy lifting.
Anyway, she tells the NXT Universe that they’ve seen what the two of them can do to Auska and they’re not afraid of her. When Nikki Cross is called to the ring, however, it’s clear they are definitely afraid of her. They play it up well, telling her to stay back like she’s a dog who has a tendency to bite. When it’s Auska’s turn, she doesn’t even bother with her entrance, rushing the ring as though she were breaking out in WWE 2K17.
Peyton and Billie get out of doge, and it leaves Nikki and Auska staring at each other with equally crazy eyes. The get jumped from behind by the Australian Duo, who are quickly taken care of before security runs to the ring. Auska and Nikki take out them easily, because of course they do, and from the top rope, Nkki jumps onto the entire security team and Auska. Peyton and Billie are seriously disturbed. This match is shaping up to be one of the most interesting on the card for NXT TakeOver: San Antonio.
WWE Total Divas
On the mid-season finale of Total Divas, we were treated to an extra-long episode that featured Lana and Rusev’s wedding. Although I love this couple and think they’re particularly adorable together, let’s count the number of weddings we’ve seen on this show: Brie, Naomi, Natalya, Eva and now Lana. It’s been basically one every season, and personally, I’m starting to feel the diminishing returns.
But regardless, the episode centered around Lana preparing for her wedding and struggling with Rusev’s inability to compromise. They both came together at the end, Rusev buying Lana a flower arch for the big day, and Lana agreeing to take his last name. Their vows were sweet, particularly Rusev saying that a soul mate is someone who “doesn’t annoy you as much as other people do.”
Renee took Dean home to hang out with her family, and the pair fought over Dean acting like a bit like the Lunatic Fringe in front of them. From here it looked like he probably was nervous about the weekend and it came out in the form of shots and chasing after a guy who stole Renee’s hat. Eventually, Renee acknowledges that she loves Dean for him and that it was wrong to tell him to tone it down. Maybe E! won’t boot her for not being enough drama now.
Meanwhile, Nikki got her final test, which came back good and was cleared to wrestle. However, after a rough start to training, she was not considered ready to get back to a full-time schedule and was left off the draft list. It looks like the second half of the season will center around Nikki’s training to get back at SummerSlam.
WWE NXT Takeover: San Antonio
After winning Break-Out Star of the Year, Billie and Peyton continue their team mentality and come out to Billie’s theme together. Auska and Nikki make their entrances like they’re ready for a fight. The match begins with Auska and Nikki ready to go, while Billie a Petyon stand back to back, terrified, like they’re in a Scooby Doo movie. They duck out of the ring and leave them to it. They wait for Nikki and Auska to distract each other and then each pick off one. Auska however, isn’t having it, and she sends both back out. Nikki’s ready to go again, screaming intelligibly at Auska. Again, Billie and Peyton rip them off, but as Billie tries to help Peyton, they both get a German Suplex from Auska.
She locks up with Nikki and gives her a Bridged German suplex. Every time Peyton and Billie try to get back into the match, Nikki and Auska have other plans. They go back and forth for a while, not able to put each other away. It feels like Auska has finally met her match, but she also has these two pesky characters to deal with. Nikki plants Auska on the outside with a vicious move and climbs up to the top rope. She Cossbodys both Peyton and Billie, but as she tries to capitalize, the two are able to catch her by surprise. They ram her into the barricade and heard her up to the top of the ramp.
Nikki comes up to the announce table, ready to jump off it, but Billie has other plans. Peyton gets in position and the two of them pull Nikki up to the table. Together, they Suplex her onto the nxt table and laugh, seemingly amazed that they managed to pull this off. They get Auska in the ring and knee her in the face, but she kicks out. Peyton and Billie don’t know what to do, and a major flaw of this, fail to make it clear why they won’t just pin each other. Perhaps there was an agreement that they would help each other win, but not like that. It would’ve been good to know.
Their hesitation gives Auska some time to get back in it, and when Peyton attempts to throw her into Billie’s knee, she kicks her in the face instead. Peyton’s not done for yet, however, as she fights through Auska’s moves and gets just a fantastic Widow’s Peak on the champ. It’s still not enough and Auska manages to kick out. It’s a bit much, but she does sell the frustration well. She gets sloppy and Auska goes onto a kicking spree and pins Peyton to retain the championship. The end was a little predictable, but if they want her to drop it to Ember Moon, it’s what had to happen.
The storytelling here was really great, and I felt like I saw more from every single competitor than I had before. Nikki Cross is a star, her feuding with Ember Moon later in the year would be incredible. Billie and Peyton may be intolerably annoying but they also know their role and play it to a tee. And of course, Auska again proves she is the best female competitor WWE has ever seen.
This section includes recaps of matches from around the world in various lesser-known independent promotions throughout the week.
IWC Reloaded 3.0
Match: Britt Baker vs. Chelsea Green
Winner: Brit Baker
Highlights: Chelsea Green, also known as TNA’s Laurel Van Ness, hits a dropkick off the top rope but can’t get the job done against the champ.
RISE had a big taping of RISE 2-Ascent, including a defense of the Phoenix of RISE title by Champion Angel Dust. Match coverage to come as matches become available.
MATCH OF THE WEEK:
Fatal Fourway for the NXT Women’s Championship
Fatal Fourway for the NXT Women’s Championship
I think we were all nervous about this living up the Four Horsewoman Fatal Fourway that tore the house down a few years ago. Those fears were wrong, because this match didn’t attempt to live up to that match, it was its own thing. It was great in its own way, specifically the storytelling, and I didn’t find myself thinking back to the 4H match once.
WOMAN OF THE WEEK:
Auska, Nikki Cross, Billie Kay, and Peyton Royce
Auska, Nikki Cross, Billie Kay, and Peyton Royce
I know, I’m cheating, but honestly, every single one of them had a moment to shine in this match. Billie and Peyton accomplished far more than anyone expected from them, and Nikki Cross came to play. Auska is the champ, the female competitor of the year, and one of the greatest of all time. But she didn’t put this match on her back and carry it to victory, they all were a part of it.
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!