Survivor Series doesn’t really feel like a big 4 anymore, does it?
The show last night was fine, and there were a handful of enjoyable matches, but the whole thing is going to be forgotten about by the end of the week. They didn’t even bother keeping track of which show won this year, which shows you how much of a shit WWE seem to give about the main gimmick of the Pay-Per-View.
Before I start talking about the matches though, I do want to touch on The Undertaker’s final farewell, because I really liked it. I know it wasn’t much when you think about it, but it’s all a character like The Undertaker really needs. Admittedly, I’m not entirely sure why we had to sit through 10 minutes of other legend’s entrances only for them to immediately vanish and never be seen again, but this felt like the ‘series wrap’ on The Undertaker we needed.
After Wrestlemania 36, there was no indication that it was Taker’s last match until the Last Ride documentary came out in the summer, so I liked that we had this. We got that final chance to say goodbye to The Undertaker, and perhaps more importantly, for The Undertaker to say goodbye to The Undertaker. You can criticise the last few years of his career, as the man himself has, but the fact remains that The Undertaker is my favourite wrestler of all time, and is arguably the reason I’m a wrestling fan in the first place. Maybe I’ll do a longer piece about it one day, but for now, I’m glad I got the chance to say goodbye.
Anyway, onto bitching about bad booking!
7 – Team Raw (Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Lacey Evans, Peyton Royce, Lana) def. Team Smackdown (Bianca Belair, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Natalya, Bayley) (5-on-5 Elimination Tag)
I just don’t understand what the goal was here, no-one benefitted from the way this was booked.
The opening section of the match – before any eliminations happened – was pretty enjoyable wrestling if a little basic. It threw off the trope of one or two competitors getting eliminated early and allowed everyone at least a little bit of time in the ring. However, once the eliminations started coming, things fell apart. I don’t mind Bayley being eliminated first, because quite frankly, she took one hell of a beating leading up that point, however, then Natalya tapped out Peyton Royce with a Sharpshooter so bad that even The Rock would think it laughable. From there, the dominos kept falling as Natalya & Lacey Evans were dropped with just one or two moves each.
Then, we got inarguably the best section of the match, as Team Smackdown did everything in their power to topple Nia. Admittedly, I don’t really like how Nia was booked as a Strowman-level monster here, but it worked for this specific part of the story. Morgan & Riott trying to take her down was very compelling, and a bit heartbreaking when they eventually failed. Then, Bianca went on an absolute tear and I was properly enjoying the match again. Bianca looked like a superhero as she fought off both Baszler & Nia, and Baszler’s elimination was perfect.
But then…BUT THEN…
The finish happened, and now we have to talk about Lana because I genuinely don’t understand what the intention of this booking was. Was it supposed to make us cheer Lana? Because if it was, it utterly failed. I don’t care who’s talking down to her, having her spend the whole match stood on the stairs pouting like a pissy schoolgirl who’s just been told to tuck in their shirt doesn’t endear me to her. On top of that, her winning by accident doesn’t make me like her either. If she had just done something in that final section where she actually caused the double-countout, then it might’ve worked, but the fact is she did literally nothing and then celebrated like she carried the whole team. That’s not someone I want to cheer, and based on the story that was told up until this point, I think cheering her was what WWE wanted.
6 – Bobby Lashley def. Sami Zayn (United States Champion vs Intercontinental Champion)
Well, this match wasn’t necessarily bad…it just wasn’t very interesting.
The heel vs heel dynamic didn’t work in this match, and I think the reasons are twofold. One was that commentary did not give us a clear narrative. They kept going back and forth on who they were presenting as the marginalized underdog, and who they were presenting as a dishonourable cheat. For the first half of the match, the face commentators were condemning The Hurt Business being around and oppressing Zayn, but as the match progressed, they changed their mind and decided that Sami deserves it because he’s a bit of a jerk.
Two was the fact that both teams tried to heel it up in different ways. Sami was being braggadocious and cowardly, while The Hurt Business was being oppressive and threatening. It meant that I didn’t like either guy and didn’t want them to win. The action in the ring was largely fine, but the match highlights the flaw with crowbarring in a gimmick PPV like this. It would’ve been so easy to avoid this problem, but because WWE already has plans in place for December, they booked themselves in a corner here and it led to a mess of a story.
5 – The Miz won the Dual-Brand Battle Royal (Kickoff Show)
This may have been a meaningless battle royal, but it was a pretty fun meaningless battle royal.
As always with these kinds of matches, the early stages were full of short exchanges and quick eliminations, then once we started to boil down the competitors, things got more action-packed. Amazingly, almost everyone in the match got a chance to shine, Murphy went on a tear and I liked his small battle with Ziggler & Roode; Nakamura was fairly consistent throughout, making an impact when he was needed; Hardy & Elias touched on their feud again with a small exchange; Chad Gable reminded us that he’s really good at suplexes, and Dominic Mysterio was the MVP of the whole thing.
The way in which The Miz won was pretty easy to see coming, but it was still a good way to do it. Personally, I would’ve preferred to see Dominic get the win, but I certainly can’t argue with keeping Mr Money in the Bank looking strong.
4 – Team Raw (AJ Styles, Braun Strowman, Keith Lee, Sheamus, Riddle) def. Team Smackdown (Jey Uso, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins, King Corbin, Otis) (5-on-5 Elimination Tag)
Well, I knew Team Raw would finally pull it together in this match, but I certainly didn’t expect to see a sweep. It’s the kind of move that I thought I’d be annoyed about, but in reality, who does it hurt? The fact is, the Smackdown team really don’t suffer much from this loss. Seth took the pin voluntarily, and he’s about to take some time off anyway; Corbin can get his ass kicked time and time again, but still come back from it fine; Otis was easily the MVP for his team and only lost because it was 5 on 2, and Jey has this loss play into his story with Roman. The only person you could argue will suffer from it is Owens, but he wasn’t doing anything noteworthy anyway, so I don’t think it’s a big deal.
Once again, the action was fairly basic, but it was still good. There was a consistent pace and it allowed everyone to get a chance to shine. Splitting the eliminations between everyone meant that all of Team Raw looked to be on the same level, and while Keith Lee didn’t get to be the sole survivor, getting the final pin is definitely a good way to go about it. Weirdly, I found myself enjoying Otis’ performance the most in the match, especially when it was down to 5-on-2. However, Jey Uso also did a brilliant job as the final man.
I can’t wait to see them all start beating the crap out of each other on Raw tonight.
3 – The Street Profits def. The New Day (Raw Tag Team Champions vs Smackdown Tag Team Champions)
Here we have ourselves an uncomplicated, high-quality tag team match.
As opposed to the mid-card titles, where the heel vs heel dynamic ruined the match, this one definitely benefitted from face vs face, as it allowed both teams to mix up their styles a bit. New Day definitely took a more heelish role in the match and I’d honestly forgotten just how good they are at it. Xavier started putting a little extra impact on his moves to make them more hard-hitting, and Kofi’s taunting from ringside was fantastic stuff.
Street Profits knew just the right way to respond to all of it though, and they turned all of New Day’s shots into comebacks for them. They spent a large part of the match getting down, but by the end, the Profits felt like a team of equal quality who completely deserved their win. As always with these kinds of matches, when it broke down towards the later stages in when the match reached its peak. The working of Ford’s rib kept the result constantly in doubt, especially when he couldn’t cover after the splash.
Having Street Profits use a different finisher worked wonders for them too, as it showed their ability to adapt when their opponents throw their plans to the dogs. After spending half the year feuding with the same teams, this was a breath of fresh air that reminded me just how amazing Street Profits are when they’re at their peak.
In my predictions, I made no secret of the fact that I wasn’t looking forward to this match due to having seen it a bunch over the summer. However, these two put a lot of work in, and it paid off because this match felt very different to the ones from earlier in the year. Part of this is thanks to the fact that Bayley wasn’t lurking to cost Asuka the match at every opportunity, but also the style they wrestled was very different.
I often struggle to get invested in technical, mat-based affairs, but putting it right at the start of the match pulled me in because of how different it felt. What’s more, is they were able to move through this phase pretty quickly without it feeling rushed. It’s the kind of thing that makes me wish more wrestlers had submission finishers, so we could get stuff like this. The match lulled a bit around the middle, but I don’t mind because things picked up again by the end. The final 5 minutes were very enjoyable and showed a big chunk of what each woman has to offer, which in Asuka’s case is very refreshing given her recent history.
As for the finish, it’s not what I wanted to see, but I don’t think it was the worst. I definitely didn’t want to see either woman tap, especially Asuka, so this seemed like the decent middle ground that didn’t harm the loser too much. It’s the product of the PPV booking WWE into a corner again, and the performers made the best of what they had.
1 – Roman Reigns def. Drew McIntyre (WWE Champion vs Universal Champion)
In this era of smaller guys working technical, faster-paced matches, it’s easy to forget how fun it can be to watch two jacked dudes beat the piss out of each other for 20 minutes.
The match started out VERY slow, but it was slow with a purpose. The pacing and staring they did with each other created a very tense atmosphere that carried large chunks of the match. I spent the whole opening segments just waiting for the first massive strike to land, but they kept me on the hook with it for a while. The early exchanges were able to hold and build the tension into the explosion we saw later in the match. My interest did fade a bit around the middle with all of the rest-holds, but once things started to build up again, I was sucked right back in.
Once those big strikes started to land, business really picked up. Drew was absolute fire when he started his comeback, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen the man move so fast and they did a perfect job of teasing the Claymore for about 15 minutes of the match. Despite Roman overbearing on huge chunks of the match, it always felt like a matter of time before Drew turned it around on him, and as things reached the climax, they knew exactly how to play with those ideas.
The finish seemed entirely designed to make Drew look incredible in defeat. Roman put him through a table and Speared him through the barricade and Drew still kicked out. Then Roman hit another Spear, at which point I was sure it over, only for Drew to kick out again. On top of that, they made sure to protect the Claymore like nothing else, the only time Drew hit it was when the referee got knocked from the ring, which meant Roman never had to kick out of it, which was brilliant. Jey’s interference was definitely the right choice, given the number of people that could’ve shown up, it brought a resolution to the story set up earlier in the night and gave Drew all the sympathy in the world when he eventually took the pin.
It’s the classic WWE trope of booking themselves into a corner, but then escaping it far better than anyone thought possible. Roman looks like a strong champion and Drew still looks like a near-unbeatable champion despite taking the loss.
And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, let me know what you thought of the show, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back here this time on Friday, where I’ll be running down the best multiplayer modes in video games!
While it certainly happened a lot later than we all would’ve liked it to, over the past 5 years, WWE has finally allowed women’s wrestling to take its place as the featured attraction we’ve always wanted it to be. While things still aren’t perfect, women’s wrestling is largely treated as being on par with – and sometimes greater than – whatever the men are doing.
While the depth of the women’s division is a huge factor in this becoming the case, a good indicator for how the women’s division has been treated in recent years is to look at the championships. Since the horribly named, horribly designed, and horribly horrible Diva’s Championship was abolished in 2016, there have been 11 different women to hold either the Raw or Smackdown Women’s Championship at least once. Today, I’m going to rank these women based on what they did during their time as champion.
There are a number of things that play into it. First of all, the pure numbers. How many times have they won a championship, and how many days did they hold it? However, you also have to consider other factors like the calibre of opponents they faced with the belt, or the more subjective factors, like were their storylines and matches any good? Then, lastly, I’ll throw in a little personal bias and we’ve got ourselves a list.
Let’s get ranking.
11 – Natalya
Number of Reigns: Raw – 0; Smackdown – 1 Total Days as Champion: Raw – 0; Smackdown – 86
I honestly forgot Natalya had even won a women’s title, which isn’t a great sign.
Truth be told, I really can’t stand Natalya as a wrestler. I think her promo style is lifeless and boring, and I think her style in the ring is lacking any kind of special shine. Sure, she was one of the best wrestlers during the ‘Diva’s’ era, when there were very few legitimate wrestlers on the roster, but I think that time has passed her by and she can’t compete with the incredibly talented women of WWE today.
Unfortunately, Natalya’s time as champion was equally boring. She won the title from Naomi at Summerslam 2017 in a 10-minute match that was ok. She retained the title on Smackdown a few weeks later in a 7-minute match that was also just ok. Then Charlotte Flair stepped into the picture and the writing was on the walls. They had a match at Hell in a Cell where Natalya deliberately got herself disqualified, which will always be a super lame finish. Then, with Survivor Series on the horizon and a champion vs champion match against Alexa Bliss on the card, she lost the title to Charlotte clean as a whistle in 12 minutes.
Natalya had her rematch against Charlotte at Clash of Champions, lost, and that was that. Natalya would never sniff the title scene again. It did nothing to elevate Natalya, or even Charlotte, as she was already the biggest thing in the women’s division by that point. It didn’t even serve as a nice “thank you” present for Natalya’s decade of serivce to WWE because she was made to look weak and ineffective at almost every turn. None of her storylines were interesting and all of her matches were average in quality, not what you want from your top woman.
10 – Naomi
Number of Reigns: Raw – 0; Smackdown – 2 Total Days as Champion: Raw – 0; Smackdown – 148
I feel bad putting Naomi this low because I remember really rooting for her at the time, but when you look at her time with the title, there really isn’t a lot to shout about.
In the build to her title win, Naomi was a good foil for Alexa Bliss. She’s very easy to love, and her personality clashed with Alexa’s in such a way that I enjoyed the build. Their match at Elimination Chamber should’ve been better than it was, but unfortunately, it was only given 8 minutes, which is not enough time to have the amazing match they were able to. However, it was ok, because Wrestlemania was on the horizon, and it was happening in Naomi’s hometown, so that’s where the real money match could happen, right?
No, of course it didn’t.
Sadly, Naomi suffered an injury and would have to relinquish her title after just 9 days, making it unlikely she would be able to compete at Wrestlemania 33 that year. As it happened, Naomi’s injury wasn’t too severe and she was healed in time for Wrestlemania, but it was so late that she has to be awkwardly crowbarred into the plans WWE had already made. This meant that instead of a big one-on-one match with Alexa, Naomi won the title for the second time in a Six-Pack Challenge. What’s worse is the match was only given 5 minutes and was slotted in between the two main events of the evening, so the exhausted crowd couldn’t have cared less.
Naomi’s second title reign was much longer, at 137 days, but it was no more interesting. She had a rematch with Alexa Bliss that was ok, and a 9-minute match with Charlotte that ended in a no contest. Then, things fell off a cliff and WWE decided they were going to push Lana as a title contender. Lana would have three matches with Naomi. One was a 7-minute snooze fest that consisted of Naomi desperately trying to get something out of Lana, and failing. The second was a 1-minute squash match, and the third was a 10 SECOND squash match. To put it plainly, it was shit.
Then she had a fairly boring feud with Natalya, lost the title and that was that.
As much as I love Naomi, she pretty much only avoids the bottom spot because she held her title for more days than Natalya. What sucks is that I don’t think many of the issues with her reign were her fault. Her matches were constantly being put in bad spots and being given nowhere near enough time on shows. Then, she got thrown in there with Lana, a competitor who even the best of the best would struggle to get a decent match out of.
Here’s hoping she gets a proper chance to shine in the years to come.
9 – Carmella
Number of Reigns: Raw – 0; Smackdown – 1 Total Days as Champion: Raw – 0; Smackdown – 130
Carmella is another woman that I hope gets another chance to run with the title someday because her first go-around wasn’t as good as I believe it could’ve been.
Things started about as well as they possibly can start. Cashing in her first-ever women’s Money in the Bank contract, Carmella rode a wave of momentum into the start of her title reign. She’d cashed-in and taken the title away from Charlotte just two days after Charlotte had ended Asuka’s undefeated streak and pissed everyone off. The problems started to rear their heads right away, however, as her character started to lose the unique charm she had before winning the title. Almost immediately she fell into the template of any heel champion who won thanks to the green & gold briefcase, which didn’t make for exciting TV.
She beat Charlotte cleanly in the title rematch, which sounds like a good thing, but it actually felt pretty underwhelming, especially considering Charlotte left for a while almost immediately afterwards. Next, she entered a feud with Asuka, which seemed specifically crafted to make the unstoppable Asuka look like as much of a chump as is humanly possible. In every instance, Carmella only retained thanks to interference from James Ellsworth, a man who WWE presented as the single most pathetic human being to ever live. It was a nice twist the first time it happened, but quickly became played out and horrendously boring.
Before we knew it, the time had arrived for Carmella to lose the title. This is the most historically significant part of Carmella’s reign, but not because of anything Carmella did. When Charlotte beat Carmella & Becky Lynch to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship at Summerslam, it set in motion the chain of events that would lead to the insane rise of Becky Lynch. I’d love to Carmella’s role in the story some credit for this, but she really didn’t make a difference. It could’ve been any heel champion in that role and it would’ve worked out just the same. Charlotte still would’ve been unnecessarily crowbarred into the match, and Becky Lynch still would’ve ‘turned heel’ only for the fans to cheer her as they’ve never cheered anyone since Daniel Bryan in 2013/14. Carmella was just the spare part.
She rises a few places from the bottom purely through the virtue of having a couple of memorable moments under her belt, but there was sadly very little to enjoy during her one and only title reign.
8 – Nia Jax
Number of Reigns: Raw – 1; Smackdown – 0 Total Days as Champion: Raw – 70; Smackdown – 0
While the numbers aren’t in Nia’s favour, what she did during her run as champion was a lot better than I think many remember.
The story going into Wrestlemania 34 between Nia & Alexa was an odd one. They pressed pretty hard on the anti-bullying stuff, but it always felt pretty disingenuous. The writing wasn’t very nuanced and it felt like they were just trying really hard to make Nia into this amazing role model for little girls. Of course, having role models for little girls isn’t a bad thing, but when you try to force it with a woman like Nia, who is SO much better as a villain, it tends to fall flat. It wasn’t all bad though, the fact remained that Alexa Bliss was an incredible heel, so her work was good enough to make the sympathy roll Nia’s way.
The problem comes in with her matches. The Wrestlemania match was mostly just Nia beating Alexa down with her huge size advantage, which didn’t exactly make her seem like a sympathetic bullying victim. Still, the moment where she won the title was a good one, and the emotion on Nia’s face made the whole thing feel extremely heartfelt. The feud didn’t need to continue from there, but it did, and it was boring. Thankfully, once it was out of the way, we got to the highlight of Nia’s title reign, her match with Ronda Rousey.
Nia has never been the most incredible wrestler, in fact, I find very little to enjoy in the majority of her matches. Her match with Ronda Rousey, however, was an exception. It was, interesting, impactful and an all-round joy to watch. I finally felt like I was seeing Nia’s true potential, and it was an amazing showcase for Rousey too. Things ended in excitement as well, as Alexa Bliss would show up with the Money in the Bank contract she had won mere hours ago, and challenge for the title. A Money in the Bank cash-in is one of those events in wrestling that is always exciting, even when something you don’t like is happening because of it. Bliss won the title back from Nia and that was the end of it.
Her reign wasn’t all that long and didn’t make a lasting impact on the women’s division as a whole (hence why it’s low), but it did begin and end in rather spectacular fashion, which counts for something.
7 – Sasha Banks
Number of Reigns: Raw – 5; Smackdown – 1 Total Days as Champion: Raw – 106; Smackdown – 20+
By far the weakest ranking of any of the four horsewomen, Sasha has always got the raw end of the deal when it comes to title success. Sure, five title reigns is an impressive number, but when you consider that the longest of these reigns was a pathetic 34 days, you’ve got to realise something is wrong.
Her first three title reigns all came and went within the space of 5 months, as it was during her extended feud with Charlotte. These two would hot-potato the title like no-one ever had, with things averaging two title changes every month. The pattern that played out on our screens for half a year was that Sasha would win the title on an episode of Raw at some point during the month, then when the Pay-Per-View rolled around, Charlotte would win it back. I was an extremely odd decision that didn’t do a great deal to raise the stock of either woman, however, it did create a lot of good-great matches.
That’s the thing with Sasha’s title reigns. They were often short and somewhat pointless, but they were almost always surrounded by either good matches or good stories, which I personally value more than the pure numbers.
After Bayley debuted on Raw, Sasha would play a supporting role for the next 6-8 months, backing up Bayley in whatever her endeavours were. One such endeavour was a feud with Alexa Bliss, in which fortune would favour Sasha. The original plan for the match at Summerslam was to be Bayley vs Alexa Bliss, however, Bayley suffered an injury during the month, so Banks was substituted in as a replacement. As WWE always like to pull for shock value Sasha was given the title for no reason. I can prove that it was for no reason too, as Banks would lose the title back to Alexa just 8 days later on Raw.
Banks wouldn’t sniff the title scene again for almost three years, however, her alliance and subsequent heel turn with Bayley turned her fortunes around. Banks & Bayley had already banded together to claim tag team gold, and after the two had spent most of the year ruling the roost over on Smackdown, they set their sites on Raw Women’s Champion, Asuka. The storyline surrounding this was great. Although the duo has recently broken up as of the time of writing, their run as ‘schoolyard bully’ style heels has been one of the biggest highlights to come out of the WWE product this year.
The title win wasn’t perfect though, as it happened in a weird finish where Bayley put on a referee shirt and counted the pin, then a week later, Stephanie McMahon rescheduled the match, and Sasha won the title anyway. Next up was Summerslam, and there, Sasha continued her pattern of not being able to successfully defend a title and lost it back to Asuka. However, Bayley betrayed Sasha at the start of the autumn and this led to what has to be her strongest title win yet. As the reign is still less than a month old, I can’t really judge it very much, but given that she’s already successfully defended the title on Smackdown, it seems she may have finally shaken her curse and is in for a fantastic reign.
Ultimately, Sasha Banks did a lot of great things surrounding her time as champion, however, she held the belt so briefly in almost every title reign, that they don’t feel very meaningful or prestigious.
6 – Asuka
Number of Reigns: Raw – 2; Smackdown – 1 Total Days as Champion: Raw – 154+; Smackdown – 99
For many years, it felt like Asuka was yet another NXT star that got totally destroyed by creative on Raw & Smackdown, but eventually, it seemed like WWE came to appreciate what they have with her, and are finally running with it.
Asuka’s first title reign began in extremely grand fashion. Coming at the tail end of Becky Lynch’s feud with Charlotte Flair, Asuka found her way into a TLC match for the Smackdown Women’s championship. To put it simply, this match was excellent, and most certainly one of the best WWE produced that year. The finish came when Becky & Charlotte were atop a ladder, ready to grab the gold, when Ronda Rousey came down to the ring, pushing the ladder over and allowing Asuka to win her first title. Many would say this cheapened Asuka’s win, as she didn’t do it all herself, but given that the Becky/Ronda/Charlotte story was the hottest thing in the company during that time, I’d say it just amplified the spotlight.
Asuka had several strong defences against, Mandy Rose & Naomi, but her biggest was against Becky Lynch at the Royal Rumble. This was the night that Becky would eventually win the rumble and stake her claim for Ronda Rousey’s title, so for Asuka to get a 100% clean win over Lynch that night was HUGE. Sadly, things would end in disappointment, as Charlotte would beat Asuka for the title in March, as WWE wanted to promote the Becky/Ronda/Charlotte triple threat match at Wrestlemania as being for both belts.
Fast forward a year and a bit to 2020, and things in the world are going a bit mental, and WWE followed suit. Asuka won the Money in the Bank briefcase in a match that I’m still not entirely sure wasn’t some weird fever dream I had, and things seemed to be exciting going forward for Asuka. However, the next night, things took a shocking turn. The champion Becky Lynch appeared on Raw with Asuka’s Money in the Bank briefcase in tow, during a promo, she revealed that she was relinquishing the Raw Women’s Championship, and handing it over to Asuka voluntarily. After some moments of confusion, Becky Lynch would reveal she was pregnant in an extraordinarily heartwarming moment.
Asuka’s title reign following this wasn’t the strongest, but she did get clean wins at almost every turn. Sadly, her first title defence Nia Jax wasn’t one of these, as it ended in a double countout, but Asuka would later defeat both Nia Jax & Charlotte Flair clean as a whistle. In the summer, she entered a feud with the duo of Bayley and Sasha Banks which produced some great matches, even if there was a small case of overbooking here and there. Sadly, moving into the autumn, Asuka has almost vanished completely from WWE TV. She had a short match at Clash of Champions against Zelina Vega, defended the title on Raw in 2-minutes against Lana and then missed Hell in a Cell completely. Her reign is still going strong, there just doesn’t seem to be a lot going on for her right now.
5 – Alexa Bliss
Number of Reigns: Raw – 3; Smackdown – 2 Total Days as Champion: Raw – 396; Smackdown – 109
When the ‘women’s revolution’ kicked into gear around 2015, there were certain women that were virtually guaranteed for stardom. The four horsewomen come to mind for this, and others like Asuka & Nia Jax held qualities that WWE would very clearly value in a main event talent. Alexa Bliss wasn’t one of these women, but she went ahead and did it anyway.
Alexa Bliss wasn’t a huge star in NXT. Her biggest accomplishment on the yellow brand was being the most entertaining member of the Blake & Murphy tag team. This meant that when she was drafted to Smackdown in the 2016 brand-split, I don’t think I was alone in thinking she wasn’t going to go super far. However, Smackdown branded itself as the land of opportunity, and it proved time and time again in 2016 that it was true. Case-in-point: Alexa Bliss.
Bliss wasn’t treated as much of a threat to Becky Lynch’s title reign in 2016, but the somewhat lucky (but ultimately, clean) circumstances surrounding a tables match gave Bliss the title. Bliss then proceeded to show everyone that she could hang with the best. She cut promos like few other women could at the time and created a truly despicable heel persona. Her two reigns with the Smackdown Women’s Title aren’t very significant in the grand scheme of things, but they served as a platform for her to establish herself as a real player in the division by the time she moved to Raw.
After switching the Raw in 2017’s Superstar Shakeup, Bliss wasted no time establishing dominance, beating Bayley for the title at Payback almost immediately. This feud was critically panned for some horrible segments like “Bayley: This is Your Life” and a match at Extreme Rules where Bayley lost because she was scared of a stick, however, you can’t deny that Bliss looked dominant during all of this. Bliss moved onto a feud with Sasha Banks, losing via Count-out at Great Balls of Fire, before losing the title the next month at Summerslam.
It wasn’t over for Bliss though, as she won the title back just 8 days later. Her 2nd run with the Raw title would be her longest, and she beat a great variety of opponents during this time. Defending the title in all sorts of different matches, including five-ways and even the very first Women’s Elimination Chamber match. Bliss felt virtually untouchable during this period, but it’s worth mentioning that for various reasons – including Survivor Series & Royal Rumble getting in the way – Bliss didn’t defend the title at all during November, December or January during this reign, which is a large contributor to her dropping a few places on this list.
She would eventually lose the title to Nia Jax at Wrestlemania 34. She did win it back later that year, but it’s barely worth talking about, as she only won it so Ronda Rousey had a heel to destroy at Summerslam.
At the end of the day, Bliss is the biggest example of someone breaking free of their low expectations and turning themselves into a star. Although it’s been a good few years since Bliss won a singles title, she’s always a feature-player of WWE’s women’s division and will go down as one of the greats.
4 – Charlotte Flair
Number of Reigns: Raw – 4; Smackdown – 5 Total Days as Champion: Raw – 242; Smackdown – 189
I can understand how some may see this as an odd placement. It’s always felt like Charlotte has been CONSTANTLY sniffing around the title scene since her main roster debut. It’s true that she has the most title reigns out of everyone on this list, and her contributions to the women’s revolution in WWE can never be denied. However, when you actually look at the content of her title reigns, it’s not as impressive as you might think.
For one thing, despite having almost double the number of title reigns as Alexa Bliss, she’s spent less total days as champion by quite the margin. Arguably her best title reign was her first one, especially if you include her time as Diva’s Champion before the new women’s title was introduced. Winning the title in what was inarguably the best match of Wrestlemania 32, Charlotte was a ready-made star from that moment onwards. She continued to retain the title with the help of her father, putting away Natalya on several occasions (including a rehash of the Montreal Screwjob, because Bret Hart was in the building).
Come mid-2016, it was time for the brand split to begin anew, and Charlotte’s epic feud with Sasha Banks began. As I’ve already discussed, these two traded the title A LOT, bringing Charlotte’s total number of reigns with the championship to 4. After many excellent matches, Charlotte came away as the winner, cementing her place at the top of the food chain, only for Bayley to come sniffing at her heels. She successfully repelled Bayley at the Royal Rumble, but wasn’t so lucky in their rematch, losing the title for what – as of the time of release – would be the final time.
In 2017’s Superstar Shakeup, Charlotte was traded to Smackdown. It took her a good chunk of the year, but she would eventually win the Smackdown Women’s Championship in November, and here she would have an excellent run with it. She spent a large chunk of the reign feuding with Natalya again, which could’ve been better, but it ended on a high. Then, after tearing through Ruby Riott at Fastlane, she would face down with the then-undefeated Asuka at Wrestlemania 34, and she came out victorious. I and many others view this as a horrible booking decision, but for the purposes of this list, it works in Charlotte’s favour, as the match was amazing & the queen of WWE gained a huge amount of prestige from the win.
Then two nights later, Carmella cashed-in the Money in the Bank briefcase and she lost the title. This is where Charlotte drops some places, as despite winning the title four more times past this point, they were reigns with absolutely no substance.
She won the title back from Carmella at Summerslam, but lost it to Becky Lynch a month later, won the title from Asuka next March, but lost it just two WEEKS later at Wrestlemania 35 (in a match where her presence arguably took away from the quality). Following Wrestlemania, Charlotte beat Becky to get the title back (after Becky had already fought a match against Lacey Evans) and this time, she would lose the title in less than five minutes thanks to Bayley cashing-in her newly won Money in the Bank contract. October rolled around and it was time for Charlotte to win the title back – this time at Hell in a Cell – where she managed to hold onto it for a whopping 5 days before losing it back to Bayley.
During only one of those title reigns did she ever eke out a successful defence of the title, and even that felt more like a formality than a proper feud.
Charlotte seems to exist purely to lose titles to people to get them over. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can get quite tiresome after it’s been going on for so long, and really puts a downer on Charlotte’s status as one of the best.
3 – Ronda Rousey
Number of Reigns: Raw – 1; Smackdown – 0 Total Days as Champion: Raw – 231; Smackdown – 0
I’m sure the internet will want to crucify me for making this placement, and it looks like the numbers don’t support it. However, the cold, hard fact of the matter is that Ronda Rousey’s title reign did more for Becky Lynch, the women’s division, and even WWE as a whole than anyone outside of the company is ever willing to admit. The main event of Wrestlemania 35 would not have been a women’s match for the first time ever without Ronda Rousey’s involvement. There, I said it.
After putting on the best match of Wrestlemania 34, and a match at Money in the Bank that was far better than anyone expected, it was time for Ronda to be crowned champion like everyone knew was going to happen. Her dismantling of Alexa Bliss was expected and did the necessary job of establishing her as a very dominant champion. Plus, after Bliss had been a very despicable heel for the past couple of years, it was good to see someone properly pick her apart for a change.
Rousey dispatched of Bliss again at Hell in a Cell, and then the Evolution Pay-Per-View rolled around. The first (and to date, only) WWE PPV to run only women’s matches. You don’t need me to tell you how big a deal this was, and while it probably would’ve gone ahead anyway, Rousey’s huge star power was a big factor in bringing it to life. There, Rousey faced Nikki Bella, the woman who, to many, was the distillation of everything that was wrong with the ‘Diva’s era’ which held women’s wrestling back in WWE for over a decade. The match wasn’t incredible, but it was still good, and better than people like me thought it was going to be, and it established Rousey as a huge face of WWE’s women’s division.
Rousey was set to compete against Becky Lynch at Survivor Series, but unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately, if you look at the larger picture) Nia Jax broke Lynch’s nose and Charlotte Flair was swapped in instead. This lead to what I believe to be Rousey’s best one-on-one match she ever had in WWE. It told a brilliant story with some brilliant wrestling, and the DQ finish only built the desire to see the match happen again later down the line.
From November through until March Rousey tore through the Raw women’s division. She put away Mickie James, Natalya, Nia Jax, Ruby Riott & Dana Brooke in matches that weren’t a huge deal, but were a lot of fun. She also had some featured matches with both Sasha Banks & Bayley, both of which told extremely compelling stories and were a joy to watch.
Finally, there was the climax to her story, Wrestlemania 35. The build was flawed, but none of that was Rousey’s fault, and even though there were flaws, I still thought it was really cool, and a lot of fun. She took the loss and passed her title onto Becky Lynch in a Wrestlemania moment that will live on in time immemorial. The first women’s match to ever main event a Wrestlemania is a huge deal, and Ronda Rousey was a huge part of what made that possible. Not just through her name value, but through the work, she put in over her 8 months as champion to build up an aura of an untouchable badass, butting heads with a cool character like Becky Lynch to create lightning in a bottle.
2 – Bayley
Number of Reigns: Raw – 1; Smackdown – 2 Total Days as Champion: Raw – 75; Smackdown – 520
For the longest time, Bayley seemed like a hopeless case on the main roster. After being easily the biggest star the NXT women’s division had ever produced up until that point, Bayley absolutely floundered for her first couple of years on Raw.
Her first title win came and went in a flash. It held some good moments but is sadly only remembered for the bad. Beating Charlotte Flair on an episode of Raw in early February, Bayley defended the title on two occasions. The first was a rematch against Charlotte which is barely worth talking about, while the second was at Wrestlemania 33 in 4 way match against Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Nia Jax. The Wrestlemania match was fine, but it was far from the best thing on the show, so it’s sadly been forgotten by history. Then, before we knew it, Bayley had lost the title to Alexa Bliss. Then, in the rematch, Bayley lost again because she was scared of a stick. I’m never letting that go…unlike how Bayley let go of the stick.
For the rest of 2017 and all of 2018, nothing interesting happened with Bayley. The only thing I even vaguely remember from that time was Bayley screaming “You ain’t shit!” in Sasha Banks’ face, and then going to couples therapy with her. 2019 is when things started to turn around. Her & Banks became the first-ever WWE Women’s Tag Team titles…and then lost them a couple of months later. This wasn’t a good thing, but it turned into a great moment for Bayley just one month later at Money in the Bank, where she won the titular briefcase.
Bayley cashed-in that briefcase mere hours later, taking advantage of a worn-out Charlotte and crowned herself Smackdown Women’s Champion, and getting wildly cheered by the audience for the first time in ages. Bayley took that momentum and ran with it. Her face persona suddenly felt renewed and she capitalized on it by reigniting her old feud with Alexa Bliss, this time coming out on top. She defended the title again against Ember Moon at Summerslam, then again against Charlotte at Clash of Champions. Then, things looked like they were going to get a lot worse. In yet another rematch with Charlotte at Hell in a Cell, Bayley lost and was without a title once again…
…for 5 days.
To the shock & relief of many, Bayley regained the championship from Charlotte on Smackdown. However, that wasn’t all. She also turned heel for the first time in her WWE career. Helped by old friend Sasha Banks, the two of them thoroughly beat the shit out of Charlotte and began the most incredible run of Bayley’s career. Alongside Sasha Banks, Bayley created a heel persona that has been wildly entertaining to watch for almost a year now. Dubbing herself a role model and acting like an annoying school-yard bully (in the best way possible), Bayley has beaten everyone there is to beat.
Not only did she tear through ever women on the Smackdown women’s roster over a year, but she even went over to Raw and beat their champion while she was at it. She added to her collection by regaining the Women’s Tag Team Championships and helped Sasha Banks win (and then lose) the Raw Women’s Championship. Her sudden but inevitable betrayal of Sasha Banks came at the start of the Autumn, which led to her losing her title at Hell in a Cell, in one of the best matches on the show.
To put it simply, Bayley has been second only to Becky Lynch over the past year on WWE TV, and after Lynch left in the spring, she stepped up and proved that she could carry the entire company on her own if she needed to. For so long it seemed as if all hope was lost with Bayley, but the past year of her career has undone all of the damage and then some. She tore down every barrier in her way and created really entertaining television along the way, what more could you ask for?
1 – Becky Lynch
Number of Reigns: Raw – 1; Smackdown – 3 Total Days as Champion: Raw – 398; Smackdown – 216
A lot of times with these lists, I try to avoid the ‘obvious’ number 1 pick. I try to give a new perspective and offer a view you might not have considered. However, there’s absolutely no way I could argue anyone being ranked higher on this list than Lynch. When you look at the pure facts, there’s a pretty clear parallel to be drawn between Lynch & Bayley’s career paths. Starting out with a lot of lows, but eventually reaching incredible highs. What separates them is the fact that Lynch’s highs were so, SO much higher.
Becky’s first run at the gold wasn’t anything worth talking about. While she always can lay claim to being the first-ever Smackdown Women’s Champion, she only successfully defended the title once in that reign, and it wasn’t even on Pay-Per-View. Lynch lost the title to Alexa Bliss in 2016, and for almost two years, there was nothing worth talking about in regards to Becky Lynch.
2018 rolled around and it seemed like things weren’t going to turn around for her anytime soon. Then, on Smackdown she started winning on a fairly regular basis. She wasn’t involved in any major storylines, but she was having good-great matches and winning week in and week out, and the fans took notice. In the build to Summerslam 2018, Lynch was announced as Carmella’s opponents and people were very excited to see Lynch inevitably be crowned champion. Then Charlotte returned suddenly and was thrust into the match. People were not happy about this, but it would surely be ok as long as Becky still won, right?
Charlotte won…oh dear.
After the match is when history was made, as Becky Lynch attacked Charlotte in what was supposed to be a heel turn (no matter what Road Dogg claims). However, it was met by mammoth cheers from the crowds, who were sick of Charlotte ‘being shoved down their throats’ (even though, as we’ve already covered, she wasn’t, but that’s not the point). Becky completely transformed her look & persona into that of an absolute badass and people loved it, no matter how much she tried to insult them.
Lynch eventually won the title back from Charlotte. She would then successfully defend the title against Charlotte…three times in a row. It got a bit tedious after a while, but the matches were almost always great, especially their Last Woman Standing match at Evolution, which was a far better match than I gave it credit for at the time. During this reign, Lynch would continue to build her persona and get more and more over with the audience, but she was yet to reach her peak.
In the build to Survivor Series that year, Lynch was gearing up to fight Ronda Rousey in a champion vs champion match that everyone was very excited for. Here is where Lynch reached the white-hot level that she would maintain for the next 6-months or so. Lynch tore into Rousey at every available opportunity and could banter with the best of them. Lynch would school Rousey on the daily over on Twitter, and the pops just kept getting bigger and bigger. In a cruel twist of fate, however, we never got to see that match. A stray punch from Nia Jax broke Becky’s nose and caused her to have to pull out of the event, however, it would turn into a blessing in disguise, as the image of Becky standing up in the rafters, standing tall with a bloody face has lasted in the memory for a long time since.
Lynch was back in action very soon after Survivor Series and lost the Smackdown Women’s Championship to Asuka at TLC. However, there was no stopping Becky’s momentum by this point, especially with Wrestlemania 35 on the horizon. Lynch wasn’t just the most popular female wrestler in the company by this point, she was the single most popular wrestler, gender was irrelevant. She won the Royal Rumble that January in yet another epic moment for her career and the match was set between her & Ronda Rousey at Wrestlemania 35.
Then Charlotte showed up again.
The storyline in the build to this match wasn’t anywhere near as good as it could’ve been, but it was still great. Charlotte’s presence was unnecessary, but I don’t think it detracted too heavily from what was going on. In the end, that match would become the main event of Wrestlemania 35, and while I put a huge chunk of the credit for that on Rousey’s involvement, Becky Lynch was the wrestler who put that epic story on the table. So it was done, and Lynch walked out of Wrestlemania that year with BOTH the Raw & Smackdown Women’s Championships over her shoulders.
The next year belonged to Becky Lynch. She lost the Smackdown Women’s Championship fairly quickly, but she held onto the Raw Women’s Championship for very nearly 400 days and did loads of great things in that time. She had a feud with Lacey Evans that put Evans on the map, had a feud with Sasha Banks that re-established Sasha as one of the best, and had an extended feud with Asuka that made for rivetting TV. Even though she had to vacate the title, how she did it was still extremely memorable, announcing her pregnancy before passing the title on to Asuka.
Lynch has become a truly iconic wrestler over the past couple of years, giving us some incredible memories along the way. Whenever she returns (if she decides to do so) I’m sure her star will only rise even further with more amazing moments & matches.
And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this list. Please, let me know what you think of these women’s title reigns, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back here this time next Saturday, where I’ll be covering WWE Survivor Series!
We’re out the other side of hell and…it was alright, wasn’t it? The three cell matches were all very enjoyable, but the undercard lacked any real spice or intrigue. It’s the kind of show where people will remember key moments, but the majority of it will be lost to time.
I really don’t have anything else to say here, so let’s rank the matches!
7 – Elias def. Jeff Hardy via Disqualification
If the reports are accurate that Vince sees Elias as a future top star on Raw, he’s got a funny way of showing it.
There was very little substance to this match. It was 7 minutes long, but it may as well have been 30 seconds for all the noteworthy things that happened during it. The action the two men produced was fine, but you could tell neither of them was trying very hard, and I can’t say I blame them given the crap finish they were working towards. As for the DQ finish, what can I say? It’s your standard WWE non-finish to needlessly extend the feud to pay off on Raw in a few weeks because Pay-Per-Views just build to TV rematches these days.
It also makes Hardy look like a jerk. I know Elias got the guitar out and was going to use it, but for Hardy to use it as a foreign object in plain view of the referee is just a heelish thing to do. The commentators loosely tried to justify it, but I couldn’t help but agree with the heels in that scenario.
6 – R-Truth(c) def. Drew Gulak (24/7 Championship) (Kickoff Show)
There was a 24/7 championship match on this show, but not a Raw women’s championship one…think about that.
Sure, this was a throwaway 5-minute match, but at least we got some fun character stuff at the start. The inconsistency with which R-Truth remembers Lil’ Jimmy is a thing is quite startling these days, but it gave us a fun opening to this match. Bless Drew Gulak for always giving angles like this his all, I honestly think he could be a fantastic comedy wrestler if he was given the time to flourish. Sadly, I can’t help but sit here and remember the start of the year where it looked like he was going to big places with Daniel Bryan.
Now he’s taking rollup losses for the joke belt on the preshow, and then making a joke about how John Cena sucks. Which is fine, I guess, but he should have better.
5 – Bobby Lashley(c) def. Slapjack (United States Championship)
Well, it was nice thinking Retribution might be going somewhere while it lasted.
Seriously, did Ali spit in Vince McMahon’s face or something? Every storyline with any big potential he’s had immediately goes to shit and gets tossed to the side. I’m not ready to write Retribution off just yet, there’s still time to turn this around, but I’m already starting to give far less of a shit than I did a month ago. I don’t understand why they’re losing and being put on the run so often this early into their time. To protect the Hurt Business? Why? What plans do you have for them? It’s not like you’re going to push anyone other than Lashley as a top star from that group and he can recover from a few quick losses.
Better yet, if you’re so desperate to have Lashley protected, just don’t put Retribution in a match with him. That is an option, there are so many other people they could fight, hell, even within the Hurt Business there are three other guys that you’re always keen to hand losses too. There were just so many other ways out of this situation that it makes the whole thing like a deliberate effort to make Retribution look like chumps.
4 – The Miz def. Otis (Otis’ Money in the Bank contract is on the line)
Small note, why did commentary keep saying the match was “for the Mr Money in the Bank”? That’s got to be the worst possible way you could’ve phrased that.
This may have been ranked as the fourth-best match of the show, but don’t let that fool you into thinking I liked it. As I said in my predictions, there was no chemistry here. These two have particular wrestling styles, and they didn’t work when pushed together in the ring. The only reason this match ranked this high is that it’s the first one that felt like an actual match, and we got two significant status-quo changes out of it.
First of all, Tucker’s betrayal, it’s ok, I guess. I like that they clarified that he didn’t do it for Miz’s benefit, he just did it cos he’s sick of Otis’ shit, which, yeah…I’d probably get tired of him after a while too. It’s something interesting for both guys to do, but I’m not optimistic that it’ll go anywhere interesting. As for Miz with Money in the Bank, it’s hard to see where he’ll slot in. Unless he’s going to lose it to someone of higher status, I highly doubt he’s winning a world title anytime soon.
The only scenario I can see it happening, is if Edge wins the title from Orton at Mania, and Miz comes in to ruin the moment the next night on Raw, but that’s a stretch. Ultimately, I think it’s just going to go down as another waste of the briefcase, as there hasn’t been a fair use of it since 2016.
3 – Randy Orton def. Drew McIntyre(c) (WWE Championship) (Hell in a Cell)
It was a slow-paced, Randy Orton Hell in a Cell match that relied on slow builds to big spots, and I didn’t hate it. This is a miracle.
Now, it wasn’t incredible, and it was definitely my least favourite of the matches these two have had, but I was never really bored during the half an hour runtime of the thing. Maybe the build of this feud has just been good enough to keep me interested, or maybe my tastes have changed over the past year, who can say? All I know is I was engaged the whole time.
The match definitely had the aura of brutality I think it needed. It can be hard in the modern era to make a Hell in a Cell match feel truly horrible without blood, but heaviness with which these two men attacked each other did the job for me. The stuff on top of the cell made the whole thing quite tense, and there was definitely a tremendous sense of intrigue thanks to the fact that I genuinely had no idea who was going to win.
While I would’ve preferred Drew to keep the title, I don’t think he’s in any way been damaged by losing Orton here. For one thing, it was a violent match where he looked like a badass and took one hell of a beating. However, he’s beaten Orton twice already, he’s still got plenty of legitimate claims to come back into the world title scene eventually. As for the immediate future, I’m not sure, I think another Pay-Per-View match would be a bad idea, but I could potentially see a rematch on Raw that gets interrupted by Drew’s next big feud. Hell, if they’re basing Survivor Series around The Undertaker, it could even be the deadman himself.
The problem is that I don’t see who else on Raw could challenge Orton. The Fiend seems like the obvious choice, but given that Orton is definitely holding that title until Mania, I’m not sure that would be such a good idea. Kevin Owens wouldn’t be a bad idea, but I’m sure he’s been built up enough for that kind of feud right now, especially not for a big 4 show. That pretty much just leaves Keith Lee, unless AJ Styles is planning on turning face, which he isn’t.
2 – Sasha Banks def. Bayley(c) (Smackdown Women’s Championship) (Hell in a Cell)
As expected, this match was incredible. Honestly, if you said to me that this was your number 1, I wouldn’t argue with you in the slightest, it’s mostly just down to personal preference as to why this is number 2.
When it comes to action, this match is the highlight of the night. There were some concerns that the match hadn’t been built quite as well as it could’ve, but you wouldn’t know that from the final product. These two women were able to perfectly capture the sense of betrayal and hatred that exists between the two of them in just a few choice moments. The way Sasha punted Bayley’s chair out of the ring as the cell lowered was all that was needed to establish the tone, and they ran with it from there as far as they possibly could.
The action was great, Sasha carried that chip on her shoulder to give every move she made a little extra sting, and it felt a lot heavier because of it. Bayley meanwhile balanced her cowardly heel side, and vindictive predator side well, responding to Sasha’s offence with pathetic whimpering, but relishing the times where she took control. It made sure the flow of the match was near-perfect and made the most of all the factors they had in play.
I didn’t think Sasha would win the title straight away like this, but I’m very glad it did, it made the match feel like a complete story, rather than chapter 1. They’re definitely going to be having a rematch sometime soon, but I’m not sure if that will involve some more trading of the belt. It’s one of those feuds that’s hard to speculate on, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
1 – Roman Reigns(c) def. Jey Uso (Universal Championship) (Hell in a Cell) (I Quit)
This was a masterpiece of storytelling.
I loved the match at Clash of Champions, and I wasn’t sure telling the same story again would be as effective, but man, they blew my expectations out of the water, this was beautiful.
It was a little light on action. There was some fun back-and-forth stuff in the first half, but the headline here is the second half of the match, where the action took a backseat to this fantastic story. We’ve seen the bond The Usos have with Roman over the years, they’ve worked together plenty of times before, and this story really impressed the importance of family in their culture. I felt the bond between these three men, even though they were beating the piss out of each other, the whole story felt real because we know that the familial bond is real.
Reigns’ acting was world-class. The way in which he ran through disappointment, frustration and remorse as he tried harder and harder to put Jey away. What was brilliant about it is that you could tell it wasn’t remorse over beating Jey senseless, it was remorse over the fact he knew he wasn’t going to stop beating Jey. Heyman’s small contributions were perfect too, the expressions on his face as things got more and more heartbreaking, the way he told Adam Pierce “He won’t listen to me!” as the violence reached its peak sold that moment so entirely.
Then there was the climax of the match. The way Roman broke down into tears as Jimmy laid over the unconscious body of his brother, what an image that was. Then there was the touch of Jimmy using his real name to try and get through to Roman, just that line of him saying “It’s Josh” is so powerful, and made the whole thing hit an emotional peak. Then, Roman put the final nail in the coffin, proving once and for all that he’s gone past the point of no return and has no intension of looking back, as he reveals his tears were all a ruse to drop Jimmy’s guard and get the result he wants.
The image of Roman flanked by Afa and Sika, holding the title aloft is the most powerful image of them all. Knowing all the hurt and heartbreak that Roman caused, and the dirty way in which he pulled it off, this is the best Roman Reigns has ever been (even better than his time in The Shield), and I can’t wait to see more of it.
And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you thought of the show, either in the comment below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back here this time on Saturday, where I’ll be running down the best Treehouse of Horror episodes of The Simspsons!
It’s October, so you know what that means…It means it’s time for everyone to get hardcore for no apparent reason, to varying degrees of success.
This is WWE’s one show a year where they either don’t bother or forget to announce more than a few matches, and we’re all left wondering what the hell’s going on. Currently, we’ve only got 5 matches announced, and I can only assume that they’ll hastily add 3 more Sunday morning.
Let’s do some predicting, shall we?
Jeff Hardy vs Elias
On the surface, this seems like a logical feud given past events, but when you take the time to think about it, you realise the whole thing’s bollocks.
I can see the logic behind Elias wanting to get revenge on Hardy for hitting him with a car…except for the fact that everyone knows it wasn’t Hardy who did it. There’s even footage of Sheamus admitting it and saying he framed Hardy. This means either Elias didn’t watch any WWE programming while he was out injured or he’s just a moron; your pick. On top of that, if Hardy’s trying to prove he didn’t hit Elias, ambushing him from behind isn’t exactly the best way to go about that, is it? Even if Elias is mistaken, he’s still technically just trying to get revenge on someone who wronged him, and Jeff’s being a bit of a prick about it.
I really don’t know if this match will be any good. Both men are definitely capable of putting on a great match, it’s just a matter of whether their styles will mesh adequately, and whether they’ll get a decent amount of time. I’m not sure who will win either. WWE hasn’t ever shown a great deal of interest in building Elias up, combine that with the fact that this just feels like a short feud to tie up some loose ends and I think Jeff Hardy is going to come out of this one with a quick and easy win.
Otis vs The Miz (Otis’ Money in the Bank Briefcase is on the line)
When Otis won the Money in the Bank briefcase, I was cautiously optimistic. I didn’t believe he was ever going to actually win a world title, but the potential was there for him to do something fun/memorable. Then he disappeared from TV for ages. Since he’s come back, he’s been far less interesting than before he left and it made me realise that maybe it was actually just the Mandy Rose storyline that was making me like him. He’s still had sparks of good comedy here and there, but for the most part, I’ve not been interested in the man’s work at all.
If I’m being honest here, I feel the same way about The Miz too. A couple of years ago I was begging for Miz to be given another shot with a world title, but now I don’t really care. Rejoining with John Morrison was a highlight at first, but they lost their steam almost immediately, and now this vague bullying angle he’s taken with Otis isn’t holding my interest. On top of that, these are two men who’s styles don’t mesh well at all. I can’t see this match being any kind of great, the whole thing just doesn’t feel like it works.
Now, on the face of it, it seems like moving the briefcase from Otis to Miz would be a good idea, but the problem is, if Miz wins, what on Earth is he going to do with it? Roman Reigns isn’t losing that title until at least Wrestlemania, and it’s damn sure not going to be to The Miz of all people. I guess there’s a possibility that he could cash-in on whoever beats Reigns (fingers crossed that’s Big E), but that’s a very small window, and I doubt he’ll win. Even if Miz isn’t a great candidate, I don’t think anyone on the decision-making level of WWE care, they’ve just decided they don’t want it on Otis anymore and are taking it off of him. So The Miz is going to win, and probably spectacularly lose his cash-in whenever it happens.
Drew McIntyre(c) vs Randy Orton (WWE Championship) (Hell in a Cell)
After Clash of Champions, I really thought we were done with this. Not only has Drew beaten Randy twice now, but the Clash of Champions match pulled in all the elements of Randy’s story over 2020 and tied them all up in a neat little bow. I even said at the time that it felt like the finale in this series. Yet, here we are a month later, and the match is happening again.
I’m still enjoying the story, although it’s become a little bit stale by this point. Drew & Randy are still great at going at each other on the mic, and both men continue to feel like massive stars. While none of their matches blew me away, I’ve still enjoyed all of them, and I wouldn’t mind seeing what they make of a more brutal match like Hell in a Cell. There’s some potential for some suitably nasty stuff to go down, and it might be a nice way to end things.
However, I still have to pick a winner. For both their Summerslam and Clash of Champions match, I picked Drew despite my gut telling me Randy was going to win, and both times I was right. However, this time around, from pretty much the second the match was announced, I’ve been sure Randy’s winning. It’s the only possible reason I can think of as to why they’re still continuing this feud. Maybe they were initially hoping Drew could keep the title until crowds were back in arenas, but it’s become painfully clear that day isn’t even in sight yet. Plus, if the rumours true that WWE still want Randy vs Edge as the Wrestlemania main event next year, I can’t see any other outcome.
As much as I would prefer to see Drew keep the title, he’s definitely had a remarkable reign, and he’ll still be able to say he beat Randy twice, which isn’t nothing. I hate to do it, but I’m going against my heart here and picking Randy Orton to finally hold the title once more.
Roman Reigns(c) vs Jey Uso (Universal Championship) (Hell in a Cell) (I Quit)
If all of the dirt sheets are to be believed, there were never plans for a rematch between these two, but I’m delighted we’re getting one. I adored the Clash of Champions match, and it definitely left room for the story to continue, and continue it has. The weekly TV for this feud hasn’t been as strong as it was last month, but I’ve still really enjoyed it. Now Uso feels a little more desperate to prove himself after getting his arse kicked at Clash, and the tensions between Uso & Roman are far closer to the surface than they were before.
The choice of an I Quit match is a brilliant one that plays perfectly of off the finish to their previous match, putting the decision to quit in Jey’s hands, not his brother’s. The addition of the Hell in a Cell is fine, I guess. It’s perhaps the most transparent case on the show of the cell being added purely because it’s the gimmick of the PPV, not because the feud actually needs it. That said, it definitely doesn’t detract from the match, so I can’t complain too much.
Once again, though, Roman Reigns is retaining, there’s no question. Nevermind how there’s no way Jey Uso could possibly win a world title right now, but there’s just no chance in hell that this new badass version of Roman Reigns could possibly say “I Quit”. It’s a case where the predictability of the outcome doesn’t really matter, though, because the match and story told within it is what makes this match an exciting prospect.
Bayley(c) vs Sasha Banks (Smackdown Women’s Championship) (Hell in a Cell)
It took a hell of a long time to get here, but Bayley vs Sasha is finally happening on the main roster, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve sung the praises of both women’s work over this past year, and that hasn’t changed now they’re fighting each other. The heat, the intensity and the excitement are all still there in spades, and I’m more than ready for the first landmark match in their feud.
I don’t think this will quite live up to their NXT matches, but that’s only because those matches are so untouchably amazing. In my opinion, Bayley vs Sasha from Takeover: Brooklyn is the single best women’s match of all time, and maybe even the best NXT Takeover match of all time, which is perhaps the highest bar there is to clear. Either way, I still think we’re in for a match of the year contender, these women have incredible chemistry in the ring, and the story is so hot that I’ll pop for just about anything.
There’s this little matter of picking the winner though, which is a tricky task. This feud is going to end with Sasha holding the title, that’s the only possible outcome of this whole endeavour, but I really don’t think they’d pull the trigger on it this quickly. Unless they’re planning on replicating the Sasha vs Charlotte feud from 2016, where they trade the belt about 8 times, it just doesn’t make sense for Sasha to get the big win so soon. It’ll probably be by dirty means (although, that might be a bit difficult given the stipulation) but I think Bayley is going to walk out with the title.
So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you think is going to happen on Sunday, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back here on Monday where I’ll be reviewing the show, and this time on Saturday where I’ll be running down the best Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes!
Summerslam is now behind us, and I’m sitting here, looking back on the show the next morning and thinking to myself…yeah, that was a pretty bloody good show. Sure, there wasn’t a match of the year candidate on the show, but there doesn’t always need to be. At the end of the day, there was only one match out of the eight that I didn’t like, and even that had some stuff to like about it. Every other match was good-to-great in quality, and I’m very happy I invested my time into watching it.
It showed hints of greatness, but ultimately, it fell flat.
Let’s talk about the positives first. Firstly, The Fiend is Universal Champion again, this is a great thing, which also means Braun’s title reign is over, this also a great thing. Secondly, Roman Reigns is back, and to that, I give a big HELL YES. Smackdown has sorely missed Roman Reigns this summer, and I don’t think I realised just how much I missed him until he was back. On top of that, it looks like he might have a new ass-kicking attitude, which gets a big thumbs up from me as that has always been the best version of Roman Reigns. Of course, this does probably mean that The Fiend is going to have to lose to Roman pretty soon after winning the title back, but honestly? I don’t care. I said it in the build-up to Wrestlemania, and I’ll say it again now, I am all-in on another Roman Reigns world title run, I think it could be great.
Now, unfortunately, I have to talk about the actual match which…well, it was trash. It didn’t help that I wasn’t overly interested in the story anyway, but this didn’t do much to build that interest either. It was a pretty standard from what we’ve come to expect in WWE when two ‘big-guys’ go head-to-head. It was slow, not nearly as hard-hitting as you would think, and ultimately, pretty dull. I know The Fiend is a fascinating & unique character, that I love, but we’ve got to take a hard look at his history of matches and admit to ourselves that the character’s wrestling style isn’t entertaining. His best match was against Daniel Bryan, which I don’t think should even count because it’s Daniel effing Bryan, so of course it was great.
Still, Roman Reigns is on the horizon, which makes things look a bit more optimistic.
7 – Apollo Crews(c) def. MVP
(United States Championship)
I feel like I’m repeating myself every single month, but this was standard pre-show action.
It did have a bit of an extra kick this time, as there was a proper story surrounding the match, but the action didn’t push any boundaries in terms of what we’ve come to expect from pre-show matches. It served as a good showcase of Crews’ talents and a reminder that he’s a good wrestler who’s deserving of the US title. It didn’t really do anything for MVP, but it didn’t need to, his credibility comes from being a mouthpiece nowadays, not a wrestler.
Crews retaining was definitely the right decision in my books, and based on something that was teased for Raw, I’m hoping a feud with Aleister Black in on the horizon, which should be killer.
6 – The Street Profits(c) def. Andrade & Angel Garza
(Raw Tag Team Championships)
Fun tag-team action from two teams that know each other quite well by this point.
I did like this match, but I thought it could’ve done with a bit more. 8 minutes did not seem nearly enough for this match, especially with the story it was trying to tell. I know WWE doesn’t give a shit about their tag division, but they could at least make it look like they care a bit. The story surrounding Andrade & Garza was paid lip service to in the finish, but that’s about it. The two of them have been showing tension almost all year, with things never changing in any way. Some weeks they’ll work together perfectly, other weeks they just can’t get along, there’s no rhyme or reason to it. Honestly, by this point, even if they do finally break-up, I’m past the point of caring about it.
Like I said though, the action in the match was fun to watch, Andrade & Garza kept the pace going, even when they were doing the ‘work over the face’ thing, and once Ford made the hot-tag to Dawkins, the pace stayed pretty steady. Also, Kevin Owens was great on commentary, first of all, shouting “Look at all my friends!” really aggressively – in reference to the people on the screens of the Thunderdome – was utterly hilarious. However, his best line was after the match, where Ford was celebrating with him, and Owens said to him “You turned in midair! Did you know you did that?” – referencing the move Ford did to win the match – which was a line that caught me off guard and was delivered such a perfect way, that I giggled about it for a good couple of minutes.
This was arguably the best match these two have had so far, and yet it felt like they were holding back for the sake of the story.
There’s very little new to be said about the kind of matches these two can put on. They know each other exceptionally well, and it shows in matches like this. The match didn’t worry about overbearing us with Bayley beating-down on Asuka. Bayley spent much more time on offence, sure, but it didn’t feel like they were just setting up the story for the second match later in the night. Instead, Asuka had to play the plucky babyface, who picked her spots and made impactful moves when they counted.
The finish was predictable, but I don’t mind something being predictable when it’s the right move for the story. Sasha being Bayley’s key to victory is in-line with everything they’ve been doing together for the past year(ish) and sets things up perfectly to go horribly wrong later in the show. I think that Bayley being the one to hold onto her title is the right thing too. Not only is she great with it, but if we are finally going to get going with the Sasha/Bayley stuff, having Bayley being the heel holding the title is the perfect way to go.
My thoughts on this match are very similar to the previous one. However, I thought this match was a lot more exciting, told a better story, and was all-around cleaner than the previous one.
I think the reason for the different feel to this match is straightforward. Bayley vs Asuka was the first half of the story, Sasha vs Asuka was its conclusion. There’s a more significant aura of excitement surrounding this second match because of what the first one set up. It doesn’t feel like they’re holding back here, instead, they’re pulling together to take the story to its natural conclusion.
The story of the match was able to capture the feeling of Asuka coming in, already beaten-down, without boring us with watching Sasha pick Asuka apart for the opening 5 minutes. They went the much more entertaining route and told that story through Asuka wrestling a much faster match, instead of waiting to pick her spots as she did with Bayley, she went in with a proactive strategy and did her best to never let Sasha take control. This led to a match with a much nicer sense of flow as it built steadily and satisfyingly to the finish.
As myself and many others predicted, Bayley would try to get involved, but her involvement would indirectly cause Sasha to lose the match. I like the way they did it though. With the way things went down, there’s an argument to be had over whose fault it was. Yes, if Bayley hadn’t gotten involved, Sasha wouldn’t have been in that position to get stuck in the Asuka lock. However, because Asuka merely reversed Sasha’s attempt to take advantage of the distraction Bayley caused, you could say that it’s Sasha’s fault. I don’t think that’ll have too much of an impact on the story going forward, but I think it’s a good tool for making sure it didn’t look like Asuka was just lucky.
3 – Mandy Rose def. Sonya Deville
(Loser Leaves WWE)
If there’s any match that I wish had an extra 5 minutes, it’s this one. Not because it suffered from a lack of time, but because I was really enjoying it and wanted to see more.
As was to be expected from two women who know each other as well as these two do, they totally clicked in the ring, their chemistry was incredible to watch. The structure of the match was pretty simple, but I think that helped to tell the story. Sonya is so good as the heel who really just wants to hurt their opponent. She’s not cocky, because she doesn’t have to be, sure, she’s constantly taunting Rose, but that’s not out of disrespect, it’s out of a desire to cause pain & misery, a role that Deville just gets. Rose played off it to perfection, she crawled around the ring like someone who was really suffering emotionally, which did more for the story than a month of promos ever could.
As we got to the middle of the match, things became more balanced, both women went back-and-forth getting their licks in. I like that Mandy was the one to go for the weapons first. She’d played quite a reactive role in the feud up until this point, but this gave me the impression of someone who was doing what had to be done. The spot where she hurled chairs at Sonya, who was deftly dodging them was great fun too. The finish was, clean, simple, and exactly what it needed to be. Rose finally broke free of Deville’s oppression and absolutely went to town on her, those series of knees to the face felt really cathartic, and the perfect wrap-up to the story.
I don’t know what’s going to happen to Deville now. I haven’t heard any reports saying she’s planning to take time off, but who knows? Maybe she’ll go away for a while. Personally, I’d love to see her show up to get in Io Shirai’s face on NXT, but that’s fantasy booking. I think something like Raw Underground would be a better fit for her style. Plus, Deville vs Baszler…now there’s a match made in heaven. As for Rose? I honestly hope she picks up one of the women’s titles sometime soon, I’m really digging her as a wrestler now.
2 – Drew McIntyre(c) def. Randy Orton
No, I’m not kidding. It was a 20-minute, slow-paced Randy Orton match…and I actually liked it. I’m just as surprised as you are.
As a stark contrast to Wyatt/Strowman, I think the fact that I was highly invested in the story coming into the match helped my enjoyment greatly. Not only did it mean that I was in a better mood, and more willing to give it a chance, but it meant that when the match leaned heavily on the story-based moments, I was invested. If I didn’t care about the story, I probably would’ve rolled my eyes at Orton slipping in and out of the ring at the start, but because I did care, I saw it as a continuation of the game Orton’s been playing with Drew all month. I know the idea that ‘if I’m invested in the story, I’ll be more likely to enjoy the match’ is one of the most basic pro-wrestling concepts, but you’d be surprised how often WWE seems to forget.
The slow pace worked in this match’s favour, as it gave the impression of two wrestlers really trying to study and figure out each other’s game plan. Neither man was wrestling a reactionary style, they were both trying to do everything in their power to execute their plan. It led to the momentum swinging back-and-forth like a motorised pendulum, and while the pace never accelerated, the build in the drama meant the tension is what carried my excitement.
The finish annoyed a lot of people, and I’m in two minds of it. I see the perspective that it’s a cheap way to end a world title match, and it makes Drew look like a chump who barely scraped by. However, I’d argue it’s the opposite. I won’t deny that ending things with a Claymore would’ve been a lot more satisfying, but I don’t think anyone believed that this was going to be the end of the Drew/Orton feud, I think it’s going until at least Hell in a Cell. By countering the RKO into a win like that, I think it makes Drew look exceptionally smart, as he’s found a way to turn Orton’s greatest weapon to his advantage. If Drew keeps pulling stuff like this, he will have essentially nullified Orton’s main tactic for matches and will force him to innovate, which could lead to some very interesting spots.
Admittedly, a lot of this is based on potential future gain, so it could all go tits-up, but what can I say? I’m in a good mood after the show last night, so I’m going to play the optimist.
Similar to Cole vs McAfee from Takeover, this was never a match that would be carried by action. This was a match that was all about the story and the drama. The story in question that carried this match was told excellently, which is why I rank this match so highly.
Going into it, I was already behind Dominik as a face. Maybe it was just because of the shock of it, but sometimes, watching a heel absolutely murder a guy is enough to make me root for the guy being murdered. This match did the smart thing and continued playing to that trend. The feeling was always that Dominik was out of his league. No matter who his father was, he was a relative rookie going up against a multi-time world champion, so they did the smart thing and built the match around that fact. The action made it very clear that Dominik could not hang in the ring with Rollins, he would get the advantage every now and then, but it was mostly through fluke than through expertise.
The narrative of Dominik not wanting his father to get involved was perfect too. I think this was the key thing that pulled me firmly over to Dominik’s side. It’s that true ‘heart-of-gold’ style of babyface, where he wants to prove that he can do it alone, even when he doesn’t stand a chance. Yes, some of that’s down to his naivete, but it’s so rare we get a wrestler in WWE that’s truly uncorrupted. It’s why we gravitated towards Sami Zayn & Johnny Gargano during their initial NXT runs, and it’s why I’ve found myself gravitating towards Dominik now.
Sure, Seth Rollins got the win, but that doesn’t matter, because this match got Dominik over in my eyes. I am now fully behind Dominik in whatever he does next (probably a tag match with his father), and I am excited to watch him grow as a performer over the next couple of years. I honestly can’t remember a time were WWE has (deliberately) got someone over so firmly in my eyes like this, it’s wonderful.
And there you have it! That’s a full weekend of wrestling coverage! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Please, let me know what you thought of Summerslam, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back here this time on Wednesday, where I’ll be releasing the GRAND FINALE of my 100 Favourite Games of All Time series!