WWE Monday Night Raw
Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James
Cheerio, Raw is in London this week and that means good matches, because WWE wants to give its British fans a treat since they only come to London every so often. I apologize for saying, "cheerio." Anyways, down to the action. After a hilarious interaction backstage where Alexa Bliss lucked out by getting monstrous new best friend (for the time being) in Nia Jax, Bliss took on her former BFF (she really can't keep a pal), who was accompanied by Bayley.
Bliss started the match off in command, but her attitude enraged James, who grounded her for a series of strikes followed by a mean neckbreaker. Bliss responded by twisting James' arm on the ropes before landing a Frankensteiner. James rebounded as Bayley took on Nia at ringside, but Bliss got the better of her in the end for the pinfall. She continued her assault after the bell rang before Bayley chased her off. To end the segment, Nia hit a leg drop, because why not?
Bliss and James have wonderful chemistry in the ring and told a solid story despite limited time in the ring. Adding Jax to the fold is especially fun for Bliss, as the two are friends in real life. They played off each other well, and it sets up an interesting story for Bliss in the future.
Winner: Alexa Bliss
Sasha Banks vs. Alicia Fox
Well lookie here, we're back to two women's matches in one episode! Excellent!
Except... blink, and you would have missed this match. After Fox hit her stunning Northern Lights suplex, Banks controlled the entire match, hitting her signature double knees and getting a pinfall (not submission) with a meteora. However, after the match, commentary pointed out that Fox had a shoulder up.
Honestly, as long as Alicia Fox is actually wrestling, I can't exactly complain, but really, would it kill WWE to give these two something with at least a modicum of substance? I'm not sure if the shoulder up was planned or not (I assume it was, considering they acknowledged it so quickly) but either way, if Banks is turning heel sooner or later, she should have a chance to show hints of darkness and cunning against Fox.
Winner: Sasha Banks
Becky Lynch vs. Natalya
One of the earliest complaints about SmackDown's women's division was that the small number of women would mean repeat matches all the time. However, that worry feels so far away when we get what we got this week. Obviously, Lynch and Natalya have gone toe to toe several times, but this story feels so different that this matchup feels fresh.
Following a very typically Ellsworth promo, Lynch went on the offensive, but Natalya lured her out of the ring and hit a suplex on the unforgiving floor. Back int he ring, Lynch went on the offensive, but Natalya had an answer for her every move. Lynch managed to hit a swift exploder suplex, and Naomi and Charlotte attempted to prevent interference at ringside, but Natalya took advantage of the confusion and got Lynch down for the count.
Face Charlotte is very...weird. I'm starting to really miss heel Charlotte. And if rumors are to be believed, so is management. Here's hoping she goes back to the dark side soon so we can have that Lynch/Flair feud we all want.
TNA Impact Wrestling
Laurel Van Ness vs. Ava Storie
So, hypothetically, let's say there was this wrestling company. This wrestling company gave its women a chance to showcase their athleticism on the mainstream before WWE did. This HYPOTHETICAL company called its women Knockouts instead of Divas. This company allowed athletes like Gail Kim and Awesome Kong to become stars. How frustrating would it be, hypothetically, to see this company shrivel into a hot mess of oversaturated weekly episodes with barely any decent women's wrestling?
You know, hypothetically.
Laurel Van Ness, who apparently never decided to change clothes after her beautiful disaster of a wedding, took Storie down with a spear and kept control for the rest of the match, planting Storie's head to the mat for a quick pinfall. She also let out a ton of primal screams. It was odd. After the match, she continued to attack Storie.
I just wanted a normal match, you guys.
Winner: Laurel Van Ness
Angelina Love vs. Alisha Edwards
Well, this match descended into chaos rather quickly. As soon as the two were in the ring, a fight broke out, leading outside of the ring, where Edwards got the upper hand. However, in the ring, Love took control with a clothesline and a series of brutal stomps. Edwards responded with a DDT, and Davey Richards tried distracting the referee from ringside. Love attempted to attack Edwards with a chain (wow, violent) but the referee saw the weapon, ending the match with a disqualification. After the match, Eddie Edwards attempted to prevent any further violence from Love, but Love and Richards just attacked his injured leg. As heels do.
This match was more my speed. Love is an infuriating presence, and she and Edwards worked well together. Here's hoping Impact doesn't get too caught up on the male half of this storyline and remembers that Love and Edwards are entertaining on their own as well as with their boys.
Winner: Alisha Edwards
WWE Total Divas
It's been a wild season of Total Divas for this reality television non-fan, but somewhere along the way I've kind of gotten used to covering this along with the wrestling. I'd say I'll miss covering this while it's on hiatus...but I'm no liar. Anyways, let's get to the good stuff.
The episode opens with Natalya and Naomi wondering who will be in their match at SummerSlam with Eva suspended, and Natalya predicts it will be a "disaster." Sure, Nattie, sure. Backtrack two weeks, so this all makes sense.
As The Miz gives Maryse breeze for a selfie using a leafblower (what an awesome husband), she suggests throwing a party before SummerSlam in Brooklyn, since parties are a thing of theirs, apparently. I wish I would be invited to a Maryse party. A suggestion from Nattie gives her the idea to make the party prom-themed. However, she then finds out that Eva (who we just heard talking about her excitement for SummerSlam) has been suspended and can't be in SummerSlam. Eva explains her prescription paper mix-up, and it really is sad to see.
Lana, however, is excited about this, thinking she can step in to replace Eva. Sure. Lana decides to wear a tuxedo to the WWE prom, and for some reason, decides to challenge ACTUAL DANCER Trinity to a dance off. Your funeral, Lana. I bring this up only because it kind of infuriated me. Inw hat world is Lana a better dancer than Trinity? Psh.
Nikki's story, of course, is the focus of the finale, with good reason: she is growing increasingly frustrated waiting for her return to WWE television. She is told she might not be needed until after SummerSlam, and feels very down because of it. She doesn't want to be forgotten. Brie asks Bryan (congratulations to them on the baby, by the way) to put in a good word for Nikki, and he agrees to do so. When she tells Nikki, however, Nikki gets upset. I would be too, in all honesty. Brie apologizes.
At the prom, Naomi totally wins the dance off (her husband adorably cheers her on), but it's declared a tie. But the prom isn't where the show FINALLY gives us what we've been waiting for. At SummerSlam, Nikki makes her long-awaited return to the ring to celebration among the cast, and Brie...finds out she's pregnant! What fantastic timing on the show's part, am I right?
I really like how the show tackled Nikki having to deal with sexism across the board with people attributing all of her successes to John Cena. She really does have twice the hurdles to leap over to gain respect in the industry. All in all, this season was a lot of fun. Renee Young was like a fresh breath of air and it was fascinating to see Nikki work through her injury. See you all next season, I suppose!
This section includes recaps of matches from around the world in various lesser-known independent promotions throughout the week.
Women of Wrestling
Match: Santana Garrett vs. The Beverly Hills Babe
Winner: Santana Garrett
Ring of Honor
Match: Karen Q vs. Kelly Klein
Winner: Karen Q
Tokyo Joshi Pro
Match: Mizuki vs. Azusa Takigawa
MATCH OF THE WEEK:
Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James
Alexa Bliss vs. Mickie James
I'll be honest, there wasn't a lot to peruse through in regards to women's wrestling this week. Most matches were short, and overall quality suffered because of it. However, Bliss and James managed to put on a fun match that thrived despite the British crowd's insistence on serenading Bayley with other women in the ring. James, especially, handled it like a pro. She and Bliss have great chemistry between the ropes and told a good story. Bliss strikes like a professional and James wrestles like a veteran should: with skill and a mindset of making her opponent look just as good as herself.
WOMAN OF THE WEEK:
As previously stated, not much happened this week to warrant much attention, but I wanted to recognize Mickie James this week for one simple, small thing. When she and Bliss began their match, the British crowd attempted to hijack the match with their signature song for Bayley. James could have ignored the singing, but instead, she had fun with it, saying, "She's MY girl" before beginning the match in earnest. This small thing is easy to forget, but it stuck with me because in WWE, it's easy to forget that the performers are very aware of crowds and how to work them. There's a bit of a barrier there that doesn't exist at indie events. So seeing James work the crowd the way she did is a good reminder of how good she really is. You go, Mickie. You go.
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!