Women's Wrestling Weekly Recap & Review: 6/25/2017 | Smark Out Moment

Women's Wrestling Weekly Recap & Review: 6/25/2017

Posted by Callum Wiggins Sunday, June 25, 2017
Welcome to another edition of WOMEN'S WRESTLING WEEKLY—a rundown of the events which have transpired in the world of women's professional wrestling over the past several days not just with the Superstars on WWE programming, but with TNA's Knockouts, Lucha Underground's luchadoras, and even a glimpse at the women on the independent circuit.

logo for Divas Debrief Women Wrestlers weekly rundown

WWE Money in the Bank

Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Carmella vs. Tamina Snuka

Not much to talk about with this match, right?

It is very rare for anything in WWE to cause as much anger, heated debate and hostility than the finish of this match. In the very first Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match, which had been billed as the culmination of the development and evolution of women's wrestling in WWE, conjuring up the images of legendary pioneers and the struggle to be given equal billing and due respect as athletes, the briefcase was taken down by a man.

If you would like to read my thoughts of James Ellsworth claiming the briefcase on behalf of Carmella, I have written a more in-depth piece here. In short, I think this was an idea that was good in theory, woeful in its execution. Prior to the match I wanted Carmella to win - her character and lack of experience among this talented field made her the perfect choice for such a devious device as a Money in the Bank briefcase. I even wanted Ellsworth to get involved as it fit Carmella's desperation to win at all costs. However, the visual of a man taking it down and the lack of initiative from Carmella in capturing the briefcase was always going to turn the heat that was intended for WWE's hottest odd couple towards the creative team instead.

Regardless of how you viewed the ending, it was special to see WWE's female superstars competing in a match of this nature. However, it did leave me underwhelmed as a whole. There were flashes of brilliance - nobody was afraid of taking bumps from the ladder, Becky Lynch took a sick body slam onto the ladder from Natalya, and Charlotte Flair's twisting moonsault to the floor was a thing of beauty. But overall, if we compare this to the many other matches of this type that have happened before, it was tame in comparison.

It honestly felt it had been cut short by five or ten minutes - to put it into perspective, the men's match in the main event was nearly twice as long. Plus, silly spots like Becky and Natalya playing tug of war with a ladder for a couple of minutes aren't going to leave you sitting on the edge of your seat. It was a good, relatively exciting match which will be a launching pad for more of these in the future, although hopefully with a more universally satisfying finish. This did though build into a must-watch episode of SmackDown built around a women's storyline, which is a refreshing change of pace.

'Winner': Carmella
Rating: 3.5/5


WWE SmackDown Women's Championship: Naomi vs. Lana

Lana's in-ring debut on SmackDown saw her challenge Women's Champion Naomi for her title, and I for one was convinced we would see the Ravishing Russian sneak a victory here. So, I was quite surprised when Naomi continued her reign with the blue belt, although the course getting there was a little stilted and confusing.

I genuinely don't know how I feel about Naomi in her current role. She is extremely athletic, decent in the ring and has a memorable entrance. But there are things that irk me about her - her promos, her inconsistent matches, the fact she says things like 'it's glow time'. Her championship reign has so far been rather disappointing, and a match against the very inexperienced Lana was not going to change that.

The match itself was okay, but that's when you take into account this was Lana's first match in WWE since WrestleMania 32. Most will use that to defend her, but with half the women in NXT currently beyond her in-ring ability, it makes me question whether she's been placed on the main roster too soon. Her offense was good, she took some stiff head kicks from Naomi and targeted the leg of Naomi, but the screaming whenever she was about to bump and whatever that submission was on Naomi's leg shows she has a lot of fine tuning ahead of her.

The ending, as was the case throughout Money in the Bank, was all kinds of confusing. First, Naomi kicks out of Lana's finisher with relative ease. Great way to get that over. Then Carmella comes out to tease a cash-in, only to renege on that decision. Why was that necessary? Lana was the one on offense, so was it to distract her rather than Naomi? And if so what problem does she have with the Ravishing Russian? All these questions almost distracted me from Naomi locking Lana in the FTG for the submission victory. A forgettable match with another bewildering conclusion.

(Also, enough with the 'We Want Rusev' chants guys. I know, I like the beguiling Bulgarian too, but show some respect to the performers in the ring. Thanks.)

Winner (and still champion): Naomi
Rating: 2/5


Also, a quick warm welcome back to Maria Kanellis, along with her husband Mike Bennett, who debuted on SmackDown at Money in the Bank. Maria joined WWE in 2004 as part of the first televised Divas Search, but don't hold that against her. She became one of the most popular women in the company before her release in 2010, before her successful stints in ROH, NJPW and TNA alongside her husband resulted in her return. Great to see her back.


WWE Raw

Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax

The finish of the Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match left many angry and understandably so. However, it did become the threading narrative of the next episode of SmackDown Live, which is extremely positive for women's wrestling. In my opinion, there are bigger fish to fry when it comes to complete mismanagement of WWE's extremely talented female superstars, and that brings me onto the latest edition of Monday Night Raw.

Let's start off with the fact not a single women's segment occurred until the third hour of the show, and only consisted of one match. Because, everyone was so desperate to see two meaningless tag team matches, teddy bears beating up Dean Ambrose, another Goldust vignette and Big Cass going on, and on, and on, and on. Then, the match itself, Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax (one we've seen quite often in 2017) lasted less than 40 seconds on television before Emma confronted Raw Women's Champion Alexa Bliss, who was on commentary for those few fleeting seconds.

Emma chased Bliss down to the ring, with the champ hiding behind Nia Jax, causing Emma to misplace her kick into the giant and a disqualification. Banks tried to take down Jax, before she was double-teamed by Bliss and Emma, despite the fact they were facing off only seconds ago. Mickie James and Dana Brooke ran down to enter the fray, followed soon by Bayley (who seemingly had to take extra time to put her music on before charging down), as the babyfaces cleared the ring of the heels.

I'm sorry, this was fundamentally awful on every level. What did this accomplish? Who's the next contender for Alexa Bliss' championship? Why are Bliss, Emma and Nia Jax buddies again after last week? Is it too much to ask for a couple of meaningful women's feuds on a three-hour show? It was such a throwaway segment the commentators were already talking about the main event segment before this was even done. This is the sort of shit that forced WWE into the Divas Revolution, and continues to diminish the impact these diverse and talented performers have on the audience. Sasha Banks, Nia Jax and everyone involved in this abomination deserve much better.

Winner: Nia Jax
Rating: 0/5


WWE SmackDown Live

While no women's matches took place on SmackDown Live, the fallout from Money in the Bank was at the heart of this entire show, resulting in many segments of varying quality. Above all else though, especially after the Raw ridicule of their women's division, it felt great to see the ladies of SmackDown be given centre stage and a significant chunk of the show to develop this angle. While the results of this gesture were mixed, I can't fault the effort.

After Daniel Bryan returned to reassure the other ladder match competitors that the situation would be resolved, Money in the Bank winner James Ellsworth… oh wait, sorry, Carmella, came out to gloat about her triumph. This was an outstanding promo by Carmella. It didn't go too long, it didn't waste anybody's time - it was coherent, impeccably delivered and fitted her character perfectly.

Talking about how the other women in the match were so focused on making history rather than winning the match, not caring about how she won, calling the fans pathetic for crying about her underhanded tactics and even listing off other examples of interference in past Money in the Bank matches - brilliant, and created legitimate heat that she can use for weeks and months going forward. This was the night Carmella demanded the spotlight and made use of every second she was in it.


Throughout the night Daniel Bryan held talks with every other woman involved in the match, to the point it almost became tiresome. Personally I thought it was good character work for the most part, but I understand why some were put off by the pleading to Bryan. Charlotte talked about the history of the match, Natalya tried to suck up to the GM, Tamina showed her aggressive nature, and Becky Lynch poured out her frustration at being constantly screwed out of opportunities, which I felt was the most effective of all of backstage segments.

The conclusion to this narrative is where my feelings get a little more jumbled. Daniel Bryan rightly brought up there has never been an instance of someone passing the briefcase to another person, leading to Carmella getting increasingly defensive and aggravated. All the other women laid into one another, including a pretty laughable attempt at an insult by Tamina. In the end, Bryan forced Carmella to relinquish the briefcase, saying there would be a rematch between all five competitors on SmackDown Live next week.

This is where I have an issue: all of the anger, turmoil and frustration about the Money in the Bank finish was just leading to another ladder match - it doesn't seem to correlate. Plus, Carmella being the briefcase bearer made total sense, so she either has to win it again, rendering this fairly pointless, or another less fitting winner will be crowned. Of course, the match will be fun to watch and I've been wrong about these things before, so hopefully it's a positive, creative surprise. Also the brawl at the end left me flat, primarily because it became a babyface-heel split rather than all of the women turning on Carmella, which seemed a more logical step. Charlotte laid the former Miss Money in the Bank out with Natural Selection to close the segment.


Also, in another case of ask and you shall receive on SmackDown Live, Lana demanded a rematch against Naomi, despite being decisively beaten at Money in the Bank. Naomi, in an act some would view as courageous, others would view as stupid (I tend to follow the latter of these), Naomi agreed to put the SmackDown Women's Championship on the line against Lana once again. Naomi's overconfidence and fighting spirit could come back to haunt her next week, but it would be odd to see the title change hands on TV.

TNA Impact Wrestling

Rosemary & Allie vs. Sienna & Laurel Van Ness

We journey back to India for Impact Wrestling, where after last week's challenge, GFW (yep, still a thing) Women's Champion Sienna and 'Hot Mess' Laurel Van Ness entered for a tag team match. Their first opponent, the enthusiastic Allie, was rather unnerved at the threat that awaited her in the ring, especially as her partner, TNA Knockouts Champion Rosemary, was nowhere to be found. Sienna and Van Ness marched up the entrance ramp to take advantage of this handicap scenario, but were blasted from behind by Rosemary, who had been hiding under the ring. Seems a dangerous tactic with Hornswoggle now in TNA, but it paid off.

Action switched to the ring, with Rosemary quickly cut off by a chop block from Sienna. Her and Van Ness worked over the champion, Van Ness with a great running dropkick sending Rosemary flying into the corner. However, her lack of concentration allowed Allie in to clean house with clotheslines and a codebreaker. As Allie ascended the top rope, KM came down as a distraction with a Singapore Cane, before he was taken out by Allie's boyfriend Braxton Sutter.

Amidst this confusion, Allie was knocked to the floor, Rosemary was German suplexed by Sienna and then Curb Stomped by Van Ness, leading to her being pinned by Sienna. Unless something happened while the cameras weren't watching, I'm pretty sure neither Sienna or Rosemary were legal. Then again, who cares, it's TNA. A blink-and-you-miss-it match that does little to entertain viewers or build towards Slammiversary. Thumbs down.

Winners: Sienna & Laurel Van Ness
Rating: 1.5/5


Lucha Underground

Fenix vs. Mariposa

The Cueto Cup continued on the latest episode of Lucha Underground, which meant we finally got to witness a Luchadora in action. Marisposa is one of my personal favorites. The now estranged sister of Marty 'The Moth' Martinez, Mariposa took on former Lucha Underground Champion Fenix in the first round of the tournament. Fenix and Marty have been at odds over their shared interest in ring announcer Melissa Santos, although it is quite clear she only reciprocates Fenix's affections.

Lucha Underground is renowned for fun, watchable matches, and this was no exception. At first, it seemed Fenix was reluctant to hit Mariposa, instead fighting defensively, before hitting one of the most vicious dropkicks I can recall seeing to flatten the Queen Moth. Mariposa responded with some quick, impactful moves, including a beautiful tornado DDT and hurricanrana on the floor. Fenix though was in control for the majority of the match, to the point where he was taking a few liberties with his opponent such as lackadaisical pin attempts.

Mariposa nearly snuck the win with a nice sunset flip bomb, but in the end she was caught from a cross body and nailed with a devastating Fenix Driver. After the Queen Moth was swatted out of the Cueto Cup, her brother Marty came to assault Fenix, only for both to be taken out by an acrobatic suicide dive from the masked aerial assassin. A succinct, fun match.

Winner: Fenix
Rating: 2.5/5

WWE NXT

Ember Moon vs. Peyton Royce

Ah, NXT - where would I have been without you this last month or so. Not just when it comes to women's wrestling but in its entirety, WWE's developmental territory has been consistently strong compared to the drab, predictable and uninspired displays on both Raw and SmackDown. It's not all bad, but I think the good has been too few and far between on the main shows, whereas on NXT it's the norm. So, when Ember Moon's return match against Peyton Royce was announced for this week, I was excited to see it.

My excitement was justified. I have waxed lyrical in previous weeks about quickly Peyton Royce is improving in the ring, and while I'm a little perplexed about Ember Moon's character, between the ropes she is exceptional. At the start there was an ingenious spot where Moon pushed Royce off the top rope, colliding with the referee's leg. His brief distraction meant Billie Kay could pull Moon off, her previously injured shoulder bouncing off the top rope, with Royce launching her into the turnbuckle as a follow-up.

From that point on, the match flowed really well in my opinion. If I'm being hypercritical (which I usually am) I think Royce's strikes weren't quite as fluid as they needed to be, but they will improve with time. Highlights for the remainder of the match included a stylish springboard crossbody by Moon, Royce hitting a picture perfect Widow's Peak, and Billie Kay's antics eventually being punished by Moon diving onto her from the turnbuckle. Add a few quick pinfall attempts and that adds up to an engaging match, even for the often quiet NXT crowd.

The finish was well-worked (WWE's main roster writers could take note of this). Peyton Royce was briefly distracted by the condition of her fallen BFF Billie Kay, which led to her being flung into the turnbuckle pads by Ember Moon. Scaling the rungs, the exclamation point was the exquisite Eclipse, scoring Moon a victory on her return to action. You have to think Asuka beckons at Takeover: Brooklyn III, but will she be able to take the NXT Women's Championship that alluded her in Dallas?

Winner: Ember Moon
Rating: 3/5


Sonya Deville vs. Rachel Evers

Another woman looking to make a statement on this edition of NXT was Sonya Deville. Formerly Daria Berenato, Deville has been repackaged based on her legitimate mixed martial art training. Her video packages were very well produced, but this match with Rachel Evers would test whether she could live up to the hype surrounding her. My view: a successful start, but with room for improvement.

Let's start with the positives: Deville carried herself like a dominant heel, her strikes felt impactful, and she is fitting into her character well. In terms of improvements I would like to see, she could be a little more intense in her approach towards opponents rather than overly confident, just because I think that would suit her more, and her timing was a little off in places. It's called developmental for a reason, and this showcased that Deville has plenty going for her at this early stage - her character screams future NXT Women's Champion.

Moment of the match for me was Evers (who was little more than a punching bag for Deville in this encounter) took a swing for Deville's head. Deville stated Evers had messed up, before removing her glove and launching repeated strikes to the gut of her hapless opponent. Brutal and well presented. Deville locked in the double wristlock and it wasn't long before Evers was tapping. A strong start for a strong performer.

Winner: Sonya Deville
Rating: 2/5


International Corner:

This section includes recaps of matches from around the world in various lesser-known independent promotions throughout the week.

WCPW Built to Destroy

Match: WCPW Women's Championship: Viper (representing Bea Priestley) vs. Kay Lee Ray
Winner (and new champion): Kay Lee Ray


Sendai Girls

Match: Mio Momono vs. Mika Shirahime
Winner: Mio Momono

Match: Aja Kong & Big Bang Nicole vs. Aiger & Alex Lee
Winners: Aja Kong & Big Bang Nicole

Match: Cassandra Miyagi, DASH Chisako & Heidi Katrina vs. Chikayo Nagashima, KAORU & Nyla Rose
Winners: Cassandra Miyagi, DASH Chisako & Heidi Katrina

Match: Sendai Girls Tag Team Championships: Hikaru Shida & Syuri vs. Hana Kimura & Meiko Satomura
Winners (and still champions): Hikaru Shida & Syuri

Match: Sendai Girls World Championship: Chihiro Hashimoto vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto
Winner (and new champion): Hiroyo Matsumoto

CMLL

Match: Dalys la Caribena, Metalica & Zeuxis vs. La Jarochita, La Vaquerita & Princesa Sugehit
Winners: Dalys la Caribena, Metalica & Zeuxis

AAA

Match: AAA World Mixed Tag Team Title: Big Mami & Nino Hamburguesa vs. Lady Shani & Venum
Winners (and new champions): Big Mami & Nino Hamburguesa

GWF

Match: Amale Winchester vs. Kadettin Kati vs. Nicky Foxley
Winner: Amale Winchester

MATCH OF THE WEEK: 
Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Carmella vs. Tamina Snuka (Money in the Bank)

While I maintain this match was underwhelming by Money in the Bank standards, there is no doubt that all the women in this match put in a huge effort and it created a moment that had the whole WWE Universe talking. Several cool spots, all performers given time to shine and some nasty bumps on the ladder mean that the Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match as a concept is off to a strong start, one that will hopefully continue in next week's rematch.

WOMAN OF THE WEEK: 
Carmella

It was always likely I was going to make whoever Miss Money in the Bank was Woman of the Week, but I didn't expect I may have to do it again next week! While her victory was tainted by the help of the Chinless Wonder, Carmella played her part in the match and her promo at the start of SmackDown Live was terrific. I do hope that the briefcase finds it's way back into her grasp on Tuesday, as after this week I would certainly be on board with a Carmella title reign sometime in 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!


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THIS POST WRITTEN BY: CALLUM WIGGINS

Callum Wiggins hails from Essex in the United Kingdom. He recently graduated from the University of York with a degree in History and has been a fan of professional wrestling since 2002. Outside of wrestling, he is also a fan of Arsenal FC and enjoys video games, darts, and Formula One. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

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