Women's Wrestling Weekly Recap & Review: 7/2/2017 | Smark Out Moment

Women's Wrestling Weekly Recap & Review: 7/2/2017

Posted by Callum Wiggins Sunday, July 2, 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

Before getting in-depth into the very best of women's wrestling this week, it was a big week in WWE for its female superstars. The word 'history' is thrown around all too readily by WWE announcers and commentators today, but it was a fantastic achievement to be in the main event of Raw, SmackDown Live and NXT this week. It was a powerful display of the importance of women's wrestling as a draw in WWE and something that few could ever envision as little as two or three years ago. Hopefully, this won't be more than an isolated incident.

WWE Raw

Gauntlet Match: Bayley vs. Nia Jax vs. Mickie James vs. Dana Brooke vs. Emma vs. Sasha Banks

A compelling and meaningful women's segment on Raw? Yes readers, it happened. Since WrestleMania, the Raw Women's Division has been at its best been meandering from week to week and at its worst producing some of the worst television in recent history (This is Your Life the prime example). In the last few weeks, the story of Alexa Bliss making enemies out of everyone on the roster had led to a clustered division which seemed to have no direction. Just a bunch of people brawling to take up space on a show desperate to fill its three hours, This week, it all came together in the best way possible.

I really enjoyed this main event, although the path getting to the gripping conclusion was a slightly rough one. The gauntlet started with former Women's Champion Bayley against Nia Jax, and demonstrated how far Bayley has fallen in the rankings. She was dispatched in a few minutes by the powerful Jax, showing some gutsiness but never really coming close to progressing. I think it's safe to say Bayley's presence in the major stories of Raw's women's division is over for the time being, which I'm personally okay with. She needs some serious rebuilding of her character, so keeping her out of the spotlight during that process is probably for the best.

With Bayley sidelined, this match progressed into becoming a vehicle for the rise of Nia Jax. While she has been a powerhouse since her days in NXT, this was the night she became THE dominant force on Raw. Alexa Bliss might be the champion, but after this showing, Jax is the one to beat. She steamrolled Mickie James, Dana Brooke and Emma one after the other. It did little to help their credibility, which is disheartening, but it's not like any of those three have been positioned for success in recent months, despite James' and Emma's undoubted ability and potential. But that wasn't the aim - the aim was to build Jax as strong as possible, and that they succeeded in doing.

The final hurdle for Nia Jax was Sasha Banks, who has been sorely missing from the major women's storylines. Was this a wrestling clinic? No. Jax was clearly tired, and several times kept Banks in rest holds and threw her from the ring to get her breath back. But in terms of pure drama, this was exceptional. Banks clinging on for dear life as Jax wore her down, while the giant was making more missteps due to her lengthy spell in the ring, kept the crowd guessing on who would win and gripped to the action. Then, when Banks locked in the modified Bank Statement, taking the breath of Jax and raising the excitement in the atmosphere, the tap out was met with a huge reaction. Mission accomplished.

Major props to Nia Jax for this, as while she is still not the finished article in the ring and was worn out by the end, she did a fantastic job heightening the drama and presenting herself as a monster. Sasha Banks, one of the best ring-workers on the roster, played the battling babyface perfectly, and her match with Alexa Bliss for the Women's Championship at Great Balls of Fire should be a great one to watch. I would have preferred more than a week's worth of build, but the match itself I'm hopeful will make up for it.

Winner: Sasha Banks
Rating: 3/5


WWE SmackDown Live

SmackDown Women's Championship: Naomi vs. Lana

Although the biggest story for the SmackDown women's division was the second Money in the Bank Ladder Match, the Women's Championship would also be contested. Naomi, for some reason, had allowed Lana another opportunity at her title, despite handily beating her at Money in the Bank. While I feel this is being booked to demonstrate Naomi's fighting spirit, for me it comes across as overconfidence and not taking Lana too seriously. However, after their match on SmackDown, she might be safe in those assumptions.

Lana assaulted Naomi before the bell could ring, stomping on her in the corner. Naomi agreed to continue with the match despite this assault, leading to her being caught in Lana's sit-down spinebuster. Once again though, Naomi kicked out of what has been established as her signature move. The Ravishing Russian visibly infuriated, she was caught by a high kick from Naomi, and one picture-perfect split-legged moonsault later, Lana's latest attempt to claim the gold was wrapped up. A short mismatch that aptly demonstrated Lana's inexperience and overestimating her ability.

Where does this feud go from here? Well, apparently Lana is getting another title shot due to her shoulders not being down for the three count. Three matches between these two is more than enough - Lana is very green in the ring and Naomi isn't good enough to carry her. Still, part of me remains convinced Lana will eventually take the title in this third and final attempt, which could be the catalyst for the Money in the Bank holder to take advantage.

Winner (and still champion): Naomi
Rating: 1.5/5


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

I feel like I'm going to be in the minority by saying this, but here goes nothing: I think this second Women's Money in the Bank Ladder Match wasn't much better than the first. There were more spots on top of the ladder which was good, and it told a more consistent story of Carmella trying to sneak the victory while the other four took more risks in the ring. But, if I'm judging it against other ladder matches, it was still tame. I counted no more than three times someone got hit with a ladder, and it seemed like most of the match was worked around the ladders rather than using them to their advantage. I'm probably being overly critical (I have a habit of doing that), but I'm not going to pretend to find something amazing because other people did. We're all entitled to our opinions after all.

And while I wasn't astounded by it, the match was still very good. Moments where four of the women were on a ladder being pushed off onto the ropes were cool, Charlotte scurrying up a propped up ladder to battle Natalya at the top was great, Lynch trying to climb a folded ladder held up by Charlotte and Tamina was inventive. Definitely an improvement on their PPV clash, but I couldn't ignore some sloppy moments. Tamina's splash on Becky early in the match looked like she'd never attempted one in her life before. I like her being SmackDown's powerhouse, but she needs to improve in the ring significantly on the strength of this and other performances recently.

The closing moments were very well done, with Natalya and Charlotte battling to the outside when it appeared they would be the ones to battle over the briefcase. James Ellsworth, who had been earlier banned from the arena, charged through the crowd to lift a fallen Carmella back into the ring. Carmella held the ladder steady for Ellsworth to climb, the crowd booing loudly at the thought of him claiming the briefcase again. However, this unwelcome scenario was stopped in its tracks by Lynch, who pushed Ellsworth off the ladder and crotch-first onto the top rope. I'm pretty sure who would have loved to do the same to the Chinless Wonder after Money in the Bank, so it was gratifying to see him get his just desserts.

However, the gratification was short-lived. Lynch's climb was halted by Carmella and a steel chair, allowing the Princess of Staten Island to scale the ladder and now rightly claim the briefcase. It was still by underhanded and dastardly means, but it ended with Carmella taking down the contract, which made this ending infinitely better than the one at the PPV. I maintain that Carmella is the most fitting person to hold the briefcase so I was happy with the result, and it plants the seeds for a feud between Becky Lynch and Carmella going forward while the other women vie for a chance to face Naomi for the SmackDown Women's Championship. Good match, great ending, and excellent potential going forward.

Winner: Carmella
Rating: 3.5/5


TNA Impact Wrestling

Rosemary, Allie & Braxton Sutter vs. Sienna, Laurel Van Ness & KM

(Note: I am aware Impact Wrestling recently had a One Night Only event which featured Rosemary vs. Laurel Van Ness. While the match was pretty good, I'm not going to go in-depth on it as these events are pretty much non-canon. Rosemary wasn't even introduced as Knockouts Champion, seemingly in case she'd lost it by the time this was aired.)

With Jeff Jarrett pushing for the company to be rebranded as his other failed project Global Force Wrestling, this might be the last time I refer to this segment as Impact Wrestling. I'm not going to pretend it's a fond farewell, more like a good riddance. However, Slammiversary is on the horizon, with this six-person tag building towards the title unification match between Knockouts Champion Rosemary and GFW Women's Champion Sienna. With a big supporting cast in place, the action here kicked off between Allie and 'Hot Mess' Laurel Van Ness.

The first two-thirds of the match was performed by Sutter and KM, before the hot tag was made to Rosemary, who laid out Van Ness with high kicks and a nice T-bone suplex. Sienna broke up the pin and everyone began brawling in the ring, Sutter clearing KM from the ring and diving down on top of him at ringside. Meanwhile, in the heat of the brawl, Rosemary attempted to spray her toxic mist in the eyes of Sienna, but missed and hit Van Ness instead. Sienna was taken down by a codebreaker from Allie, leading to Van Ness being dropped by Rosemary's Red Wedding for the victory.

Yeah, another substandard match from Impact Wrestling. A typical six-person tag breaking down with the confusion leading to a win for the babyfaces. There have been far worse examples of this, but Sienna in particular was not impressive in the small amount she had to do in this encounter. Hopefully, when she goes one-on-one with Rosemary at Slammiversary, their bout can be longer and more fluid.

Winners: Rosemary, Allie & Braxton Sutter
Rating: 1.5/5


Lucha Underground

Taya vs. Joey Ryan

The first round of the Cueto Cup featured four more exciting matches, with eight competitors battling with the goal of a future Lucha Underground Championship opportunity. Current champion Johnny Mundo would have had a close eye on this encounter in particular, as it featured his fiancee Taya against the Temple's biggest sleazeball, Joey Ryan. After rightly refusing Ryan's tainted lollipop, Taya took control early on with double knees to the face sending him to ringside, where she dragged him back onto the canvas with a handful of his ample chest hair. However, a hard superkick soon had her reeling.

Joey Ryan pleaded with the referee to count Taya out faster, before throwing her back in the ring and mouthing off the crowd. It was odd to see Taya, who has often drawn the fans ire with her underhanded tactics in support of Johnny Mundo, play the babyface for this clash - such is the magnitude of Joey's sleaziness. As he ascended the turnbuckle, Taya took advantage of his hesitation with a flurry of chops and slaps, before launching him over her head onto the mat. Ryan got his own back with a hard slap to Taya's backside when she missed a splash in the corner, but an excellent Northern Lights Suplex and double foot stomp later and Taya booked her place in the next round.

This was a lot shorter and more one-sided than I'd expected, which goes to show how Lucha Underground positions Taya as a performer. Her next opponent in the Cueto Cup, Jeremiah Crane (aka Solomon Crowe in NXT or Sami Callihan on the indies) should be wary of her capabilities in this tournament. Who knows, maybe Johnny Mundo and Taya's upcoming wedding will be the first to turn into a Bride vs. Groom title match? That would be interesting - I would imagine whoever catches the bouquet is the next number on contender?

Winner: Taya
Rating: 2.5/5

WWE NXT

NXT Women's Championship: Asuka vs. Nikki Cross (Last Woman Standing)

NXT's women's division has been delivering consistently strong matches and segments in recent weeks, but it will be hard to top this physical, aggressive Last Woman Standing Match between Asuka and Nikki Cross. The pair have been feuding over the NXT Women's Championship and overall superiority for a while now, Cross' reckless abandon and unorthodox approach proving the biggest threat to Asuka's unrivalled dominance over this roster. This was a chance for both to up the ante, and they delivered in a big way.

This match was devoted nearly half of the entire show, including a rather hilarious vignette of Nikki Cross jumping on the hood of the car chauffeuring Asuka to NXT. It set the tone for this match, which was utterly chaotic in the best possible way. Cross' offense appears very uncoordinated with the way she strikes and grabs at her opponents, but it just feeds into her character so well. Asuka was forced to meet her head on with equally stiff strikes and kicks, rather than employ a more scientific style if she were up against an Ember Moon or Peyton Royce.

The toys under the ring would soon come out to play, Asuka placing a trash can over the head of Nikki Cross and beating her down with hard kicks. Cross survived this onslaught, responding with a reverse DDT across the ring apron (which I don't know if you know, but it's the hardest part of the ring). Then came the chairs, with Asuka launching Cross from the top rope onto a collection of chairs in the centre of the ring, before she too was dropped across the steel by a Cross back drop. With every hard shot, both would occasionally smile and laugh - both we're clearly revelling the challenge of pushing each other to their limits.

Cross connected with four consecutive fisherman swinging neckbreakers, couldn't keep the champion down for the ten count. Asuka tried to kick the head off her challenger's shoulders and still she rose to her feet. Cross then powerbombed Asuka onto a pile of steel chairs at ringside and that still wasn't enough. It was brutally brilliant. Cross stayed in control as the action moved to around the commentary table, a sweet hangman neckbreaker again going close. More would be needed however, which is why Cross turned once again to the furniture, pulling out a ladder and table.

However, the Scot's ascent of the ladder would prove her undoing. Asuka rose from her prone position on the table, climbed the opposite side, and took both her and Nikki Cross for a hellacious superplex from the ladder through the announce table. It was one of the biggest bumps I recall seeing in a women's match and in NXT period, with both crashing through the structure. Asuka barely scrambled to her feet before the ten count, while Cross was out cold and failed in her quest to topple developmental's most dominant athlete. Fantastic match, I highly recommend you check it out if you haven't already. Both are capable of making big splashes in WWE, but I'm happy to see them clash in NXT for a while yet if this is the outcome.

Winner (and still champion): Asuka
Rating: 4.5/5


Mae Young Classic Update

Here's a quick update on the upcoming Mae Young Classic tournament, including a qualifying match at the bottom between Bianca BelAir and Aaliyah. The following 15 women are confirmed for the tournament:

  • Lacey Evans
  • Sarah Logan (Crazy Mary Dobson)
  • Toni Storm
  • Princesa Sugehit
  • Kavita Devi
  • Taynara Conti
  • Abbey Laith (Kimber Lee)
  • Tessa Blanchard
  • Jazzy Gabert (Alpha Female)
  • Dakota Kai (Evie)
  • Kairi Sane (Kairi Hojo)
  • Piper Niven (Viper)
  • Bianca BelAir
  • Vanessa Borne (Danielle Kamela)
  • Zhao Xia


International Corner:

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

Women of Honor

Match: Mandy Leon vs. Stacy Shadows
Winner: Mandy Leon


Tokyo Joshi Pro

Match: Shoko Nakajima vs. Marika Kobashi
Winner: Shoko Nakajima

Match: Mizuki vs. Azusa Takigawa vs. Maho Kurone
Winner: Mizuki

Match: Yuna Manase & Yuu vs. Nonoko & Rika Tatsumi
Winners: Yuna Manase & Yuu

Match: Reika Saiki & Yuka Sakazaki vs. Miyu Yamashita & Nodoka-Oneesan
Winners: Reika Saiki & Yuka Sakazaki

Stardom

Match: Hanan & Hiromi Mimura vs. Ruaka & Starlight Kid
Winners: Hanan & Hiromi Mimura

Match: Konami vs. Hetzza
Winner: Konami

Match: Shanna vs. Gabby Ortiz
Winner: Shanna

Match: Oedo Tai (Hana Kimura & Kagetsu) vs. Queen's Quest (AZM & HZK)
Winners: Oedo Tai

Match: Mayu Iwatani & Yoko Bito vs. Team Jungle (Jungle Kyona & Natsuko Tora)
Winners: Mayu Iwatani & Yoko Bito

ICW

Match: Kasey vs. Viper
Winner: Kasey

CMLL

Match: Dalys la Caribena & La Amapola vs. Marcela & Sanely
Winner: Dalys la Caribena & La Amapola

MATCH OF THE WEEK: 
Asuka vs. Nikki Cross (NXT)

NXT delivers once again, but this time it was up against some really stiff competition. The gauntlet match on Raw had a very satisfying closing sequence and SmackDown Live's Money in the Bank match upped the ante from the previous one. But, the sheer ferocity, storytelling and high-risk action of this Last Woman Standing match for the NXT Women's Championship allowed it to stand out in a class of its own. Both Asuka and Nikki Cross continue to impress and make a strong case for a rematch at Takeover: Brooklyn III (wishful thinking, but let me hold onto hope for now!)

WOMAN OF THE WEEK: 
Carmella

Again, this was a tough award to give out this week. Nia Jax was an iron woman on RAW, Sasha Banks did a masterclass in underdog babyface psychology, Naomi defended her title successfully, Asuka and Nikki Cross tore the house down, and Taya squashed Joey Ryan in the Cueto Cup. However, for the second consecutive week and for the same exact reasons, Ms. Money in the Bank Carmella secured the briefcase and the amazing opportunity that comes with it on SmackDown Live. It was sneaky and underhanded, but I'm looking forward to seeing how and when Carmella cashes in on her opportunity.

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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