Bayley vs. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Nia Jax (Raw Women's Championship match)
Despite their mutual issues with each other, Bayley, Flair and Banks immediately realized that neutralizing Jax had to be their priority. The three women worked to triple-team on Jax, but the Samoan was relentless, not falling to any of their attempts at subduing her. However, the numbers game eventually wore her down as the three Horsewomen hit her with a triple powerbomb and fell over her for the first elimination. Flair retreated, leaving Banks and Bayley to scrap in the ring, and in the confusion Banks hit Bayley with a dive meant for Flair. Flair hit a moonsault out of the ring, then brought Banks in the ring and attempted to hit Natural Selection, but Banks reversed it into a Banks Statement, which Flair escaped. She threw Banks into an exposed turnbuckle, and Banks was the next to go. Flair and Bayley ramped up the action, with Flair punishing Bayley with physical dominance, but it was a flying elbow in tribute to Randy Savage that scored Bayley the pinfall and her first ever WrestleMania moment and victory.
Eliminating Jax early on was a smart move. She was a fun addition tot he match, but the real story had nothing to do with her. The real story was Bayley. We can argue until the end of time whether or not WWE wasted a massive moment by having Bayley pick up her first title on Raw or ending Flair's streak on Fastlane, but in the end, the match itself did not suffer for it. Banks, surprisingly, never turned on her friend, and it was instead Flair who proved to be Bayley's final hurdle in retaining her title. Regardless, seeing Bayley's sincere emotion at her first ever WrestleMania felt special, and hopefully her reign proves to be longer than most on Raw are.
Nikki Bella & John Cena vs. The Miz & Maryse
Maryse and Bella seemed to be starting the match, but Maryse tagged her husband in before Bella could even touch her. Miz and Cena then played a game of cat and mouse before Maryse interfered, slapping Cena right in the face. Miz took control of the match and Maryse prevented a tag by pulling Bella off the apron. However, once Bella tagged in, it was mayhem. She hit a spear and caught Miz with a wild dive before hitting Maryse with a Bellahammer. She and Cena performed his five moves of doom to scoop up a victory.
After the match, however, John Cena proposed, ensuing the rest of the non-wrestling world would know that something important to non-wrestling fans did, in fact, go down at WrestleMania. Itw as a sweet proposal and the ring was beautiful. The match itself was fun to watch and exactly what most suspected it would be: a showcase of character and story, not wrestling prowess.
Winners: Nikki Bella & John Cena
Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Carmella vs. Mickie James (SmackDown Women's Championship match)
Though a quick match, the SmackDown women took the opportunity to tell a variety of stories in a rapid amount of time. In the ring, Lynch went on the offensive, passing out kicks and strikes to anyone within reach while Natalya and Bliss targeted Naomi. Ellsworth attempted to interfere on Carmella's behalf, but ended up being suplexed by Lynch. Natalya took the spotlight then, locking Naomi and Carmella both in the Sharpshooter at the same time, but James and Lynch broke it up. Soon it was just Bliss and Naomi in the ring, and Naomi caught Bliss in a new neck submission to pick up a triumphant victory.
What a journey it has been for Naomi, whose "funky" start with the company could have kept her as a valet forever. However, her determination and dedication to her craft has allowed her to capitalize magnificently on WWE's growing commitment to its female performers, and she got the moment of a lifetime at WrestleMania.
WWE Monday Night Raw
Bayley, Sasha Banks & Dana Brooke vs. Charlotte Flair, Emma & Nia Jax
Wonder of wonders, Emma (not to be confused with Emmalina) made her long-awaited in-ring return in the infamous Raw after WrestleMania, tagging with unsteady allies Charlotte and Nia Jax against her own former ally Dana Brooke and Raw's last remaining friendship, it seems. Charlotte and Dana began the match before Emma tagged in for a fun interaction with her former partner in crime. Bayley tagged in much to Emma's wicked delight, and Emma kept control over the champion. Jax joined the fray next, and the heels took turns working over Bayley until Banks tagged in, locking in the Banks Statement on Charlotte for the victory.
As good as the tag match was, Raw is teetering dangerously close to just sticking all of its women into single segments for the sake of showing that they do indeed have a division. If they are going to truly build the division, they must establish more individual conflicts and storylines. Quickly.
Winner: Bayley, Sasha Banks & Dana Brooke
Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss (SmackDown Women's Championship match)
Alexa Bliss invoked her rematch clause against Naomi in spectacular fashion. Naomi began the match strong with hard-hitting offense, but Bliss slowed the action down and began to work over Naomi's leg. She continued her malicious assault until Naomi countered with a sunset flip. The two exchanged momentum desperately, with Bliss kicking out of a Rear View until Naomi finally got her new submission locked in, forcing Bliss to tap.
With Alexa Bliss rumored to be moving to SmackDown, her her two biggest loose ends were Naomi and Mickie James. Giving Naomi a decisive victory was the right move as SmackDown looks to establish her the way they wanted to before her small injury. And if audience reactions were indication, they invested in the right woman.
TNA Impact Wrestling
Knockouts Championship No. 1 Contendership Battle Royale Gauntlet match
Try saying that five times fast.
Madison Rayne and Ava Storie were the first two in. They were soon joined by Rebel and then Amanda Rodiguez. MJ Jenkins and Diamante were out next before Rodriguez became the first woman to be eliminated. OBD joined the fray and began her usual pattern of domination, splashing literally everyone at once before eliminating Storie. Brandi Rhodes was the last to join the match, eliminating Diamante and then working with OBD to eliminate Jenkins. Rayne then eliminated Brandi before falling to OBD.
I remain unconvinced that the future of Impact lies in its veterans, but I was impressed by the overall tidy nature of the match. Battle royals are usually very messy, but the Knockouts handled themselves well. Rayne showed particular star power. I hope she is given a decent push soon enough. OBD also shows that she's still a very skilled wrestler, and plays the role of the powerhouse well. She and Rosemary should put on an excellent showing.
Peyton Royce vs. Aliyah
Post-TakeOver episodes of NXT are typically very good action-wise, but advance no plots, as they are all taped before TakeOver itself. This week, Peyton Royce, with Billie Kay at her side, took on the consistently improving Aliyah. Aliyah started off strong, working over Royce with quick-paced offense, but intervention from Kay allowed Royce to gain control and keep it, scoring a victory with a fisherman's suplex.
Aliyah is an interesting variable to be considered going forward. She has yet to be prominently featured on NXT programming, overshadowing in booking by Liv Morgan. However, she is improving rapidly and has the look and potential to really grow into a mainstay on NXT television. Keep your eyes on her.
Winner: Peyton Royce
WWE Total Divas
Draft, draft, baby!
Well, I now feel like a total airhead for thinking my stress about the WWE Draft was in any way relevant to anyone, because watching this episode made me feel very stressed, and it isn't even MY life. The idea of only seeing your spouse or significant other once a week is wildly unpleasant.
Two weeks before the draft, all of the women are stressed. Nikki's status is up in the air because of her neck injury. Paige's status is up in the air because of, you guessed it, a neck injury. Eva Marie's status is up in the air because...she's Eva Marie. Meanwhile, Trinity and Renee Young are stressed about what the draft could mean for their relationships. Mark Carrano is as unhelpful as you would expect him to be. The women discuss possibly finding new places to work if they are forced to be split from their husbands or boyfriends.
Meanwhile, Nikki is frustrated because Nattie is being overly cautious with her while training. Understandable, considering who Nattie's husband is. Paige hears back from doctors telling her the injury appears minor and thats he will not need surgery. Trinity tries discussing the draft with her husband, but he tries joking about it and she's not in the mood.
Eva Marie has lunch with her family and complains about all of the work she's being forced to do in WWE, saying she will be heartbroken if she is not drafted. I can't help but snort a little at this, since she never even got the chance to wrestle once after being drafted. It's hard for me to truly sympathize with her here, considering the years of work many women on the indies and in NXT put into their craft just for the chance at being noticed by WWE. I can, however, respect her willingness to work.
We already know who got drafted where, so I'll just summarize their reactions. Lana is sad to be separated from Natalya. Renee is relieved to be on the same brand as Ambrose. Trinity is happy to be drafted with her husband. Paige, however, is dejected when she is drafted to a separate brand from Alberto Del Rio. Eva Marie is upset when Nia Jax is drafted ahead of her. Funny how that happens. She is then drafted to SmackDown, but thinks she is drafted to Raw. Classic Eva.
Weeks later, Lana wants to know if there are any plans for her to continue her NXT training. The answer is no, which angers her. She tries talking to Nia Jax about her issues with Paige, but Jax wants no part in it. Later, Paige confides in Alicia Fox that she's breaking down because Del Rio broke up with her, and that she needs to re-evaluate her life.
Hindsight really is 20/20.
This section includes recaps of matches from around the world in various lesser-known independent promotions throughout the week.
WrestleCircus/Pro Wrestling Revolver
Match: Rachael Ellering vs. Angel Rose (Lady of the Ring Title match)
Winner: Rachael Ellering
Pro Wrestling Eclipse
Match: Leah Vaughan vs. Stacy Thibault
Winner: Double Pin
Full Impact Pro/WWN
Match: Priscilla Kelly vs. Aria Blake
Winner: Priscilla Kelly
MATCHES OF THE WEEK:
Let me explain. WrestleMania is rarely about showcasing technical skill alone. It is a culmination of storylines and feuds, a celebration of spectacle. In that regard, the women of WrestleMania all succeeded. But I could not choose one match over the others because each had something that made it special. The Raw women were given 12 minutes and put together a fun though awkwardly paced at times match. They were given star-quality entrances. The SmackDown women had less time, but Naomi's victory was treated as a big deal and each woman was given time to shine. It wasn't a week of 5-star classics, but it was a fun week nonetheless.
WOMAN OF THE WEEK:
Picking between Bayley and Naomi was hard, but in the end, Naomi gets it this week. She competed in two title matches, won them both, and all in her first week back after an injury. She won her title back in her hometown during WrestleMania, with an entrance that still has people buzzing. Her story is just as incredible as her in-ring improvement. I hope her reign is long and fruitful, because if this is feeling the glow, I'll glow for all of 2017.
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!