WWE Elimination Chamber
Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James
Lynch and James wrestled evenly throughout. The early portion of their match was largely chain wrestling; the pair wrestled out of the ring and James forced Lynch into the barricade. Back in the ring, Lynch applied a wristlock, but Lynch escaped. The two exchanged armbar attempts before Lynch landed a diving forearm from the apron out of the ring on James. Back in the ring, James grounded Lynch before hitting a Lou Thesz from the ropes.James hit a Mick Kick, but Lynch fell under the ropes, and by the time James got her to the center of the ring she had the strength to kick out at two. Lynch got the pin for herself with a rollup.
The match was a good, energetic opener, but could have benefited from more time. Mickie James' presentation, as well, could use some tweaking. She smiles far too much for a babyface, only truly sinking into the story when she goes full-on crazy. Despite that, however, she is as crisp in the ring as she has ever been, and she and Lynch work well together. I am interested in seeing where their feud goes as WrestleMania inches ever closer.
Winner: Becky Lynch
Natalya vs. Nikki Bella
The two rivals exchanged waistlocks to kick off the match. Natalya was vocal throughout, taunting Bella, who responded with a kneebar, which Natalya broke by grabbing the ropes. Natalya began to target Bella's legs with kicks, maneuvering into a submission-based, grounded technique. Natalya attemped a Michinoku Driver for a two count, and Bella landed the Bellahammer, but neither could keep the other down for the count. Bella got two more near-falls before ascending the ropes. Natalya joined her, and hit a superplex, knocking the wind out of both of them. Natalya locked in the Sharpshooter, but Bella flipped over, locking in the Fearless Lock. Natalya dragged them out of the ring, and they brawled up the ramp until they were both counted out. Nikki landed a spear on Natalya, who fled as security held Bella back.
This was a good display for both women, who both can remember the days when women's matches were throwaways. Bella looked like a star in the ring, working well. Natalya, as always, was a reliable technician and storyteller, falling comfortably into her heel role.
Winner: No contest
Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi (SmackDown Women's Championship match)
Naomi took advantage of Bliss' ego to take early control of the match, throwing Bliss hard into the turnbuckle and landing a roundhouse kick. Bliss ground and pound Naomi in retaliation, and maintained control with a series of slow, methodical moves: choking Naomi against the turnbuckle and slow waistlocks. Naomi responded with a series of aerial moves, including a blockbuster, before hitting the Rear View for a near-fall. Bliss kicks out, landing a DDT for a near-fall of her own. Bliss went for Twisted Bliss, but Naomi got her knees up, taking the match and Bliss' title with a split-legged moonsault.
In the first women's title match since the brand split without a Horsewoman in it, Naomi and Bliss put on a spectacular match. Even without a substantial storyline to build off of, they told a solid story in the ring. Naomi looked very good in her first title win since joining WWE. Her joy was infectious, and her victory was hard-fought. Bliss looked great in defeat, dropping her title after a series of impressive wins and a history-making match against Becky Lynch in Memphis.
WWE Monday Night Raw
So, here's the short and the long of it all: Emma got her makeover to Emmalina, and is now getting another makeover back to Emma.
WWE Universe...we just got swerved.
Charlotte vs. Bayley (Raw Women's Championship match)
Charlotte controlled the match early on, taunting Bayley with easy cruelty. She send the huggable one crashing into the turnbuckle before slamming her into the mat. Charlotte caught Bayley in a reverse chinlock but Bayley reversed out with a stunner. Charlotte cut off Bayley's momentum with a neckbreaker, applying a dragon sleeper which Bayley reversed. After knocking Bayley out of the ring with a big boot, Charlotte hit a moonsault on her from the barricade, bringing her to the ring for a near-fall. She went for more chops, frustrated, but Bayley went on a full babyface comeback, only hitting a flying elbow for a near-fall. Charlotte ascended the ropes, but Bayley followed her up for an avalanche frankensteiner for a near-fall. Dana Brooke, who still exists, apparently, came out as Bayley was about to finish the match, and Bayley knocked her away, but was caught by Charlotte, who bridged into the Figure Eight. Then, Sasha Banks came out, hitting Charlotte with a crutch, forcing the break. Bayley hit Bayley to Belly for the three count and won her first main roster title.
Bayley's win was a joyful moment, but the pessimist in me cannot for the life of me understand what WWE gains by wasting Bayley's first title win on an episode of Raw. Bayley's big win is the kind of moment tailor-made for WrestleMania. Putting her moment on the end of Raw feels like a short-term victory for the red brand, not a long-term one, especially because it is highly unlikely that Charlotte is going to lose at a second-rate pay-per-view like Fastlane.
On the bright side, Sasha's interference has started planting the seeds of a much-anticipated heel turn, and THAT is a long-term win if I've ever seen one.
Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James
In an Elimination Chamber rematch, Becky Lynch and Mickie James continued to show how evenly matched they truly were, colliding in a spectacularly wicked double clothesline. Lynch and James exchanged control of the match often, with Lynch relying on her whirlwind suplexes and James using a faked shoulder injury to throw Lynch off her game, allowing James to hit the Mick Kick for the pin.
Once the women got in their groove, the match was fun. Mickie James, showing off a more clever side, looked fantastic in defeat, and Lynch's compassion remained endearing.
Winner: Mickie James
Interviewed by Renee Young, Naomi told the gathered crowd that she had been injured in her match at Elimination Chamber. She was interrupted by Bliss, who accused her of making excuses for her own weaknesses, then challenged her for a rematch at the next week's SmackDown.
Wise to rest up Naomi if the injury is legitimate, especially with WrestleMania looming. She is a great fan favorite champion, and Bliss on the prowl is almost more engaging than Bliss the smug champion.
TNA Impact Wrestling
Rosemary & Crazy Steve vs. Brandi Rhodes & Moose
The women remained at the corners of their partners for the majority of the match, with Rosemary stepping in for cheap shots often and Rhodes trying to alert the referee to the shenanigans. When Rosemary forced her way into the match, Rhodes landed a missile dropkick, and Moose secured their team the victory.
Rhodes is still green, but she shows promise. Letting her work with the likes of Moose and Rosemary is a good idea as she continues to hone her craft.
Winner: Brandi Rhodes & Moose
Sienna vs. Brooke Adams
This match was a brawl more than a match, with the two combatants trading momentum frequently. The end itself was a short affair, as Sienna went to set up the AK-47 before being rolled up by Brooke for the victory.
I've waxed poetic about Brooke before, but something remains to be said about Sienna's ferocity in the ring. She consistently puts on fun, engaging matches, and is a blast to watch.
Winner: Brooke Adams
Liv Morgan & Ember Moon vs. Billie Kay & Peyton Royce
Looking to continue to move up in the women's division, Liv Morgan recruited the still-undefeated Ember Moon to battle against NXT's two resident Aussie bad girls. Royce and Kay isolate Ember Moon early on, keeping her from Morgan with their usual underhanded tactics, but Moon managed to tag in Morgan as Royce was tagged in by Kay. Morgan gets momentum with a bulldog, but her cover is broken by Kay, who sends an assisting Ember Moon out of the ring with a big boot, allowing Morgan to eat a finisher and the heels to pick up a victory. A triple threat match to determine a No. 1 contender to face Asuka is announced: Royce, Moon and Kay.
While brimming with developing talent, something in NXT's women's division feels lacking. Perhaps it is the lack of clear, one-on-one feuds. Asuka vs. Nikki Cross is fresh and exciting, but we've heard little from them in regards to that. The biggest money match, however, Ember Moon vs. Asuka, is smartly being given a slow, methodical build. Ember Moon should be portrayed as a Titan, for only Titans can accomplish the impossible.
Winners: Billie Kay & Peyton Royce
This section includes recaps of matches from around the world in various lesser-known independent promotions throughout the week.
Match: Deonna Purrazzo & Shayna Baszler vs. Queen's Quest vs. Toni Storm & Zoe Lucas
Winners: Deonna Purrazzo & Shayna Baszler
Match: Nixon Newell vs. Bea Priestley (WCPW Women's Championship No DQ match)
Winner: Bea Priestley
Highlights: Bea Priestley reclaims the WCPW Women's title one day after losing it to a returning Nixon Newell.
Women of Honor
Match: Kelly Klein vs. Scarlett Bordeaux
Winner: Kelly Klein
MATCH OF THE WEEK:
Charlotte vs. Bayley
Charlotte vs. Bayley
Main-eventing Raw once seemed like a feat only Trish Stratus and Lita would ever accomplish. But now, it has happened on multiple occasions. The women have delivered before, and they delivered again, telling a magnificent underdog story with a beautiful moment of victory for Bayley closing out the night. Despite my qualms with the timing of the title switch, the match itself was amazing in its own right and deserves praise.
WOMAN OF THE WEEK:
It's easy to forget that the new SmackDown Women's Champion started her WWE career as an NXT "rookie" and then a cheerleader "Funkadactyl." For a long time, I believed Naomi's athleticism would carry her far, but only so far. Before the Women's Revolution, matches really were just going through the motions. Naomi was limited by the environment she was in. But now, with the sky as her only limit, Naomi's skill and creativity have led her to the top of SmackDown's women's division.Naomi's growth as a performer in the ring has been a pleasure to watch over the years, and seeing her hard work rewarded was incredible and, quite frankly, inspiring.
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!