Welcome to a brand new week, and a brand new year, of action from WWE’s women’s divisions. We still have a couple more weeks off PPVs, but that doesn’t mean we have any less to talk about.
Bayley def Nia Jax
Bayley questioned Stephanie McMahon about allowing Dana Brooke to be the special guest referee last week. McMahon blamed Charlotte Flair’s lawyers (really?), then told Bayley she never wanted her on Monday night RAW. After a glowing list of Charlotte’s attributes, Stephanie McMahon called Bayley ordinary and said she’s not special she’s just Bayley. Bayley replied that she may not be what Stephanie McMahon thinks a superstar should be, but she belongs in WWE and being ‘just Bayley’ is good enough for her.
It’s worth noting the recurring theme of ‘you’re just ordinary’ when people talk down to Bayley. While they use it in a derogatory way, it’s actually the cornerstone of her appeal to the demographic they target her to. As adults, it’s a blunt instrument tactic, but for kids it reinforces that Bayley is the superstar they can grow up to be like.
Bayley vs Nia Jax
Charlotte Flair joined commentary for Bayley’s number one contender’s match against Nia Jax. Not sure how Jax earned a shot at becoming number one contender when Dana Brooke and Alicia Fox haven’t, I’m going to assume something has slipped my memory.
Anyway, Jax started the match dominating as expected, but there is no quit in Bayley and she’s beaten Jax before. The defining moment of the match came when Jax went to the middle rope and Sasha Banks music hit. Nia Jax was distracted by Banks walking down the ramp, and Bayley hit the Bayley to belly for the win. Bayley will now face Charlotte Flair for the title at the Royal Rumble.
Emmalina is still apparently premiering soon. Whenever, bored now.
Becky Lynch def La Luchadora
Carmella def Aliyah
NXT’s Aliyah got a chance this week against Carmella. A nice temporary addition to boost the roster while Naomi is injured and Eva Marie is filming (not that Eva Marie has competed since before the brand split, but she’s technically still on the roster).
Becky Lynch vs La Luchadora
After the masked La Luchadora interfered during Becky Lynch’s match last week, and cost her a chance of the title, Lynch got her chance for revenge. Well, sort of anyway. A minute or so into the match La Luchadora disappeared under the ring and an identically dressed Luchadora appeared from the other side. The new one delivered Twisted Bliss from the top rope, but missed and was put in the Dis-Arm-Her. After she tapped out, the second La Luchadora was unmasked by Lynch and, unsurprisingly, revealed to be Alexa Bliss. Both La Luchadoras then attacked Becky Lynch, with Bliss leaving her laying in the ring after a DDT.
We still don’t know who the mysterious La Luchadora is. Deonna Purrazzo seems to be getting the popular vote, but my money is still on Mickie James. At least, that’s who I believe the reveal will be. There is nothing to say that the person wearing the costume now, and the person eventually revealed as La Luchadora are the same person.
Carmella vs Aliyah
Camella was accompanied to the ring by James Ellsworth. This had all the makings of a good match. Carmella has improved hugely since being drafted to SmackDown, but is still arguably the weakest on the women’s roster, and Aliyah has really come into her own recently. They seem very evenly matched, I wouldn’t mind seeing a program between the two, it could benefit them both.
A return match, at the very least, was made more likely when James Ellsworth distracted Aliyah by grabbing her leg as she went to the top rope. She got down and was hit with a superkick by Carmella, then locked into the Code of Silence.
I like the use of an NXT star on the SmackDown roster. It gives Aliyah more screen time, gets her name known by the casuals, and means Carmella gets a proper, competitive (if short) match while SmackDown is a little light on women.
In the spirit of using the entire women’s roster, Nikki Bella and Natalya had an in-ring confrontation. Natalya is doing her best to personify everything that is low and nasty and bitchy about some women’s interactions with each other. Her entire issue with Nikki Bella seems to be based on jealousy about her looks and the opportunities Bella has been given. This week was no less uncomfortable.
Nikki Bella started by telling Natalya that the Bella twins worked hard to get where they are, while Natalya has traded off her family name throughout her career. Natalya responded by showing a tweet Bret Hart put out in admiration of Nikki Bella. She suggested Bella must have done something (implying sexual favours) to make Hart tweet that, before telling us she is better than her uncle Bret ever was, and she’s the hardest working person around. She then informed Bella that beauty fades and when it does John Cena will leave her and she will die alone. Quite rightly, Bella punched her in the face and walked away.
This storyline is uncomfortable on so many levels. It feels like the writers just read the darkest and nastiest social media comments about the two women, and turned it into a script. I’m prepared to see how it plays out. Eventually the bully should get her comeuppance, but if they don’t show her learning from it then it’s just a pointless mean girl storyline. Sadly, some women do treat each other like this, but it’s not a good example to set for the WWE family demographic.
Ember Moon def Billie Kay and Liv Morgan
It was another two-hour NXT special this week. This time it was their visit to Melbourne, Australia from early December.
Billie Kay started the match by preventing a handshake between Liv Morgan and Ember Moon, then rolling out of the ring when both women turned on her. Moon and Morgan started things off while Kay looked for her opportunity to get back into the ring, quickly receiving one of Liv Morgan’s signature moves when she did.
Liv Morgan being thrown back and forth between Ember Moon and Billie Kay, while she desperately tried to cover one or the other of them, was an entertaining highlight. And Liv Morgan’s spine appearing to crash into the apron, after being tossed out of the ring onto Ember Moon by Billie Kay, looked painful.
Overall the match served its purpose. With the show being twice as long as a normal NXT episode, the match had time to play out a bit. It turned into a decent triple threat where everyone got to do their bit, and show off some personality and style. It’s exactly what the NXT women’s division needs more of at the moment. It is brimming over with talent (especially with some of the names they have training at the performance centre and coming in over the next few months), but it has lacked properly built and established characters that the audience can feel invested in.
The finish came after Billie Kay powerbombed Liv Morgan, who then rolled out of the ring. Kay stood up just in time for Ember Moon to fly from the top turnbuckle and hit her with the Eclipse.
When Ember Moon was brought in, it looked like she would go straight to feuding with Asuka. Clearly, that didn’t happen. It now looks like Nikki Cross will be the one to take on Asuka, and Moon’s big build up has, so far, not led to her being used a great deal on tv. She’s a remarkable talent though, and I’m sure it’s just a temporary delay. NXT has the potential for an extremely exciting women’s division this year, I hope it pans out that way.
Disappointingly, there was no women’s division action on Main Event again this week.
And that’s everything. RAW’s Royal Rumble build up is in place and SmackDown have given themselves a couple of different directions they could go in. Next week will be the first proper show for NXT so we’ll see what’s on the cards for TakeOver then. Whatever happens, I’ll be back next week to document and comment. In the meantime if there’s anything you’d like me to cover, or anything you’d like to discuss, drop me a tweet @manda_why.