Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair (Raw Women's Championship match)
Charlotte did not even bother locking up with Bayley, slamming her to the mat and going for an early pin, which Bayley kicked out of. The women never really locked up, going for quick pins and reversals until Charlotte took early control with a series of shoulder tackles. Bayley went for several quick covers, but Charlotte stayed alive. Bayley went Charlotte out of the ring, hitting a hurricanrana off the apron, even going for an early Bayley-to-Belly, but Charlotte escaped. Back in the ring, she pounded Bayley onto the mat, using her strength to her advantage and ragdolling the champ.
She maintained control for a while, taunting Bayley about Sasha, until Bayley had enough, rallying with chops of her own until Flair's strength once again halted her advance. She hit a moonsault and senton, and Bayley barely kicked out of it. The champ regrouped with a wild clothesline from the corner. The two exchanged blows, brawling until Charlotte planted Bayley out of the ring. She went for a moonsault, but Sasha Banks ran out, going for the challenger. Charlotte planted her against the apron, but fell right into a Bayley-to-Belly outside and then inside the ring. And just like that, her pay-per-view streak came to an end.
I don't know if WWE just loves the number 16, but I feel like having Charlotte's streak end at a pay-per-view as unimpressive in the grand scheme of things as Fastlane is an absolute waste. It takes away the opportunity for the company to have something truly substantial happen at WrestleMania and lessens the credibility of Bayley as champion. Sure, it's probably their plan, but WWE has been missing so many good story opportunities lately that I wonder what their real game plan is. The match itself had pacing issues and a few uncharacteristic botches from Bayley, but was otherwise enjoyable. The women worked hard, and it showed.
WWE Monday Night Raw
Bayley vs. Sasha Banks
Following the shaky finish to Bayley's title defense, Sasha Banks was forced by Stephanie McMahon, who accused her of manipulating Bayley, to fight her way to WrestleMania. If Sasha won her match against Bayley, Bayley would defend her title against Banks and Flair both. If Bayley won, she would face Charlotte alone.
The two chain wrestled early on, testing the waters, and Bayley went for an early and unsuccessful pin attempt. Showing growing frustration, Sasha began to use more heelish, physical tactics against her friend. Sasha sent Bayley out of the ring and went for double knees, but Bayley dodged, returning to the ring. The action picked up there, as the two exchanged strikes and kicks while Charlotte and Dana Brooke came to ringside from the commentary table. Banks drove Bayley into the turnbuckle, Bayley dodged further harm and went for a crossbody off the ropes, but Banks dodged as well. She went for a desperate Banks Statement, and Bayley escaped. She locked it in again, but this time, Banks was able to kick off the ropes (and kick Charlotte over) to bring them back into the ring's center, forcing Bayley to tap, signing her ticket to join Bayley and Charlotte at WrestleMania.
This triple threat should be one for the record books, if past matches are any indication. Sasha Banks is teetering closer and closer to a heel turn, which could give Bayley the ultimate underdog story to tell in Orlando if it comes to fruition.
Winner: Sasha Banks
Nikki Bella & John Cenna vs. Carmella & James Ellsworth
Bella and Carmella looked to start their match off, but before the two could even lock up, The Miz and Maryse entered to join the commentary team. Carmella took advantage of the distraction, planting Bella with a Superkick. This gave Carmella early control of the match until Bela tagged in John Cena, much to James Ellsworth's chagrin. Carmella tried forcing Ellsworth into the match, but Cena just threw him into the mat with ease. Carmella began antagonizing Cena, but Bella just shoved her to the ground. The pair hit a dual Five Knuckle Shuffle into their respective finishers and submissions for the victory.
Cena looked to plant a kiss on Bella after the match, but the Miz and Maryse ambushed the pair and wiped them out.
This match was fun to see. Cena and Bella pulled out their usual bag of tricks and put together a fun match. Don't be surprised if this feud with Miz and Marye winds up being twice as entertaining as everyone expects.
Winner: Nikki Bella & John Cena
Alexa Bliss & Mickie James vs. Becky Lynch & Natalya
Alexa Bliss came to the ring to gloat, listing off the women she would certainly not be defending her title against, which, to Mickie James' disgust, included James herself. However, after Becky Lynch and Natalya came out to plead their cases, General Manager Daniel Bryan announced Bliss would be defending her title against every available woman on the SmackDown roster and then made a tag match.
The dynamics of the match turned out to be more important than the match itself. Bliss and James' friendship now seemed to be treading thin ice. Natalya and Becky Lynch still hadn't gotten over their old rivalry. Lynch and James locked up early on, and Lynch caught James with a series of arm drags. Bliss tagged in, working Lynch over briefly, until Lynch regained momentum with two leg drops. Bliss retreated from the ring, but Lynch hit her with a forearm off the apron. Interference from James let Bliss regain momentum enough for a near-fall. James tagged in, catching Lynch in a chokehold. Bliss tagged in next, and the heels kept Lynch isolated from her partner. Becky managed to rally, unwilling to tag her partner in, but Natalya hit Lynch with a suplex from behind and left her partner behind to be pinned.
Mickie went for the pin, but Bliss tagged herself in for the moment of glory. As the two celebrated their win, James stunned Bliss with a Mick Kick, taking the title and holding it high: a clear challenge.
Winner: Alexa Bliss & Mickie James
TNA Impact Wrestling
Sienna vs. Rachael Ellering
I'll be frank: I could barely make it through this match. And it isn't the fault of Sienna or Ellering, who are both immensely talented. The commentary was headache-inducing. Just two men arguing about themselves while the women work in the ring. What a nightmare.
The match itself, when not being drowned out by the sound of Josh Matthews damaging his vocal chords, was full of rapid-fire offense from both women. Ellering put on a fantastic, albeit quick, showing in her Impact debut, almost pinning the former Knockouts Champion with a springboard twisting leg drop, but in the end Sienna had her pinned with the Silencer.
Ember Moon vs. Billie Kay
Ember Moon took the early lead in the match with a hard dropkick to Billie Kay after the latter took a little too much time chatting with Peyton Royce. She then landed a springboard crossbody on the "iconic" Aussie for a near-fall. However, a distraction by Royce allowing Kay to land a strike on Moon's back. Kay enjoyed a lengthy advantage over Moon, utilizing her reach and strength to keep the war goddess grounded. Moon powered back with a series of kicks and then a flying knee before hitting Kay with the Eclipse for the win.
Kay looked to be injured by the twisting stunner. I watched the clip over and over again, and it looked like her neck took too much of the pressure of the move. I don't blame either Superstar, especially not Ember Moon. Kay has taken that move numerous times without injury, so I hope the Eclipse doesn't get a reputation for being dangerous.
Winner: Ember Moon
This section includes recaps of matches from around the world in various lesser-known independent promotions throughout the week.
Match: Iro Shirai vs. Kagetsu (World of Stardom title match)
Winner: Iro Shirai
World Women Pro-Wrestling Diana
Match: Kaoru Ito vs. Keiko Aono
Winner: Kaoru Ito
Match: Bea Priestley vs. Kay Lee Ray
Winner: Bea Priestley
Women of Honor
Match: Sumie Sakai vs. Jenny Rose vs. Mandy Leon
Winner: Sumie Sakai
MATCH OF THE WEEK:
Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair
Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair
Despite botches, Bayley and Charlotte told a compelling story in their Fastlane battle. I didn't much love the match on first watch, but watching it again I caught the clever use of ring psychology and little storytelling tricks they used throughout. The shocking finish may not make sense to me, but it was certainly monumental.
WOMAN OF THE WEEK:
Oh, man. What a fun week to be a Mickie James fan. With a single kick, Mickie James (maybe) turned face and cemented herself as a woman to watch in SmackDown's upcoming WrestleMania free-for-all. Since her return, James has shown how ahead of her time she truly was, fitting comfortably in with the new generation of talent and also doing wonders to elevate everyone around her, from her foe Becky Lynch to her former ally Alexa Bliss.
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!