Welcome to this week’s women’s round-up. It seems to have been another busy week for WWE’s women, although we’ve only had the normal amount of programming. The combination of a title match on RAW, the build for TLC on SmackDown and the champion in action on NXT has left us with plenty to talk about. So let’s not waste any more time.
Sasha Banks def Charlotte Flair to become RAW Women’s Champion
Backstage Dana Brooke Charlotte Flair said she would cement her legacy of the greatest female superstar of all time, end the rivalry between her and Sasha Banks forever, and become the only legend from the city of Charlotte.
Charlotte Flair (C) vs Sasha Banks
At the start of the second hour of RAW Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair started their title match. After a quick submission attempt by Banks resulting in her taking out an interfering Dana Brooke they very quickly moved things outside the ring. The ref was lenient with the count as Flair and Banks threw each other around ringside and into the crowd, but eventually he counted them both out for Flair to retain the title.
Before she had a chance to celebrate, Mick Foley came out and said he wasn’t going to let their rivalry end on a double count out. Citing SmackDown’s TLC matches as motivation he told them to have a rest because they would main event in a no count out, no disqualification, falls count anywhere match.
In another backstage segment Sasha Banks told Bayley that when she won she would dedicate her victory to Ric Flair because of his daughter’s constant disrespect.
There has been a lot of criticism, some of it from me, about the feud between Banks and Flair being pursued to the exclusion of the rest of the RAW women’s roster. While that is an issue it’s important to note that it doesn’t reflect on Sasha Banks or Charlotte Flair. They have done everything that has been asked of them, and a lot has been asked of them. Week after week they’ve had to step up the intensity, the aggression, and often the risks. Hell in a Cell possibly should have been the peak, but WWE chose to keep going, so they had to step it up again.
I’m not sure there is much left for them to do after this match (ok there’s ladders but leave something for SmackDown please). They looked like they wanted to hurt each other and I’m fairly sure they succeeded.
I think one of the lessons we all learned this week is not to give Sasha Banks a kendo stick. Something which has come up frequently about Sasha Banks is her risk-taking behaviour. It appears to me that she suffers from a need to prove she isn’t just as tough, fearless, risk-taking etc. as her male counterparts she’s tougher. There’s a sense that she has to do twice as much to get half as much credit. In fairness, I believe there is some validity in that. I also believe it will ultimately shorten her career.
They did all the spots which should be considered big, but have become commonplace with these two. And they stepped it up some as well. Aside from the kendo stick, which left welts all over Flair’s arms, Banks was thrown off the stage to set her up for Flair’s moonsault off the announce desk. Banks delivered double knees from the barricade and they ended up in the crowd. They slugged it out on the arena steps and Sasha Banks pushed Charlotte Flair through the railings and applied a modified Bank Statement using the railing as leverage. Flair tapped out to crown Sasha Banks three-time RAW Women’s champion.
After the match Ric Flair came out and raised Banks hand in celebration.
I’m not sure where they go from here. Charlotte Flair has an automatic rematch, despite Mick Foley saying it was the end of the feud, so I guess we see them at least one more time. Hopefully RAW will find a way to work some of the other women on their roster into storylines soon. Emmalina’s debut/return is long overdue, and it is rumoured that Tamina will be headed to RAW in the near future. It will be far less of a problem continuing the feud between Flair and Banks if some of the other women get thrown in for a bit of variety.
The show started this week with the contract signing between Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss for their TLC match. Renee Young brought out Alexa Bliss then Becky Lynch, and that was the last poor Renee Young got to do. The contract got signed amid a barrage of insults from both sides. Bliss has some of the best facial expression on the roster and she’s very natural with the mic. Eventually though Lynch had heard enough and threw the first punch.
She got Bliss into the corner and positioned the signing table to put Bliss through it. However, the laws of pro wrestling dictate that most of the time the person bringing the table into play is the one going through it, and this was no exception. Alexa Bliss raked Lynch’s eyes and gave her a shove, sending her through the table and leaving her, once again, laying in the ring.
Later in the show, Carmella came out, supposedly for a match, and said she had a message for Nikki Bella’s boyfriend. She wanted to publicly apologise for what she’s going to do to his girlfriend on Sunday. She’s apparently going to hit her so hard in the chest with a chair her breast implants will come out of her back then rearrange her face so badly a wedding will be the last thing on her mind. She went on for a bit, basically promoting the Bella twins’ YouTube channel and series two of Total Bellas, under the guise of wondering how they would cope when Nikki Bella is too damaged to take part.
Eventually Nikki Bella ran in and jumped on Carmella. They brawled for a few moments then Carmella ran off.
After SmackDown Carmella posted this picture on her Instagram accounts showing she ended up with a black eye in the altercation.
In a backstage interview Becky Lynch revealed she has a spine bruise but she will be defending the title as advertised. Renee Young informed her that Alexa Bliss has asked for their match to be made a tables match. Lynch said Bliss can have whatever kind of match she wants and she’ll get her revenge on ‘that little bitch’ (is bitch PG now?). The match was confirmed on Talking Smack.
Slightly disappointing that there was no women’s match on SmackDown this week, but the build to TLC has been good so I’m not going to complain too much.
Asuka def Nicole Matthews
This was the opening match of the show and it was a quick one. Nicole Matthews looks like she might be pretty good. She came in and had a go anyway. Unfortunately, the offence she managed to get in just triggered Asuka’s aggression, and it was all over very fast courtesy of the Asuka Lock.
Later in the show Asuka was interviewed and asked about the apparent change in her persona. She answered with ‘There is no change. I’m Asuka. I’m the NXT women’s champion, I’m the best. I just want competition but I’m afraid there isn’t any left’.
She still has a point. For the last TakeOver WWE had to bring in Mickie James to offer credible competition and, in the latter part of this week, they announced that for NXT’s trip to Osaka Nia Jax will be her opponent. It’s fair enough, that will be a good match, it was last time. But the next TakeOver is only eight weeks away and it’s a concern that there is no hint of a storyline to bring one of the NXT roster to the level required to challenge for the women’s title. That said, NXT can work fast when they want to, so we’ll have to hold faith for a while.
I have to admit I’m intrigued by Nikki Cross’ character. She appears completely unhinged, unpredictable and desperate to hurt people. The rest of SAnitY seem to treat her like some kind of pet, but in an affectionate rather than demeaning way. She’s definitely distinctive. But since SAnitY’s arrival she has only had one match, against Danielle Kamela. She initially won, but the post-match attack led to the referee reversing the decision. She’s still essentially untested in this current characterisation.
Logically, Ember Moon should be the one to take Asuka on next. She was given a huge build before her arrival, and has been portrayed as a big deal on the limited number of occasions we have seen her since. However, I could potentially see a scenario where Nikki Cross challenges the champion and the rest of SAnitY have a hand in the outcome. Time will tell I guess.
Main Event and Superstars
It appears that due to 205 Live starting this week Superstars has been cancelled. Seems like a more than fair trade off to be honest.
Main Even this week showed highlights of Sasha Banks vs Charlotte from RAW.
TLC Preview and Prediction
Nikki Bella vs Carmella – No Holds Barred match
Becky Lynch (C) vs Alexa Bliss – SmackDown Women’s Championship, Tables match
Another SmackDown PPV with plenty of reason for optimism. I like TLC as a PPV, and the card for tonight looks great. The two women’s matches have been built well, both pairs have developed good in-ring chemistry, and there’s no reason to suspect we’re in for anything other than some really decent matches.
Nikki Bella vs Carmella – No Hold Barred
It’s a shame for these two that RAW made the championship main event a no DQ match, but it might work in our favour. There seems to be a genuine sense of each brand wanting to outdo the other and Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair set a high bar on Monday night. The build to this match has seen things get increasingly personal and ever more vicious (see the picture of Carmella’s shiner linked above), and at TLC they get to finish it. This feud has done wonders for Carmella, she’s increased in confidence and ability dramatically since they started out, but Nikki Bella is still the veteran and I expect that to be key in this match. With this kind of stipulation experience must count for something and I expect Nikki Bella to come out on top.
Prediction: Nikki Bella
Becky Lynch (C) vs Alexa Bliss – Tables match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
On the SmackDown pre-show this week the panel made their predictions for TLC. For the Women’s championship match Lita and Booker T predicted Becky Lynch and Jerry Lawler went with Alexa Bliss.
I’m going against the majority for the title match. I think Alexa Bliss is in the ascendency and it makes sense to capitalise on that. She has bested Lynch several times recently and arguably only lost last time due to poor refereeing. There’s an element of unpredictability that comes with a tables match, and I won’t be the slightest bit upset if my prediction here is wrong, but I think we could be looking at a title change.
Prediction: Alexa Bliss
Squared Circle Sirens have reported that Bayley has got engaged to her partner Aaron Solow, although no sources have been cited for the news.
Sasha Banks had some interesting comments in a recent interview for people who call wrestling fake. Not quite as beautiful as Xavier Woods response to the accusation (if you haven’t read it, please look it up), but very nicely put.
That’s it for another week. TLC tonight should be great, and it’s bound to create a few talking points. I’ll address those, along with the rest of next week’s WWE women’s division action, same time next week. In the meantime, if there is anything you think I should cover, or anything you want to discuss, drop me a tweet @manda_why.