How can one promotion offer such polarising women’s matches on its big shows – and how is it that the show with the bigger audience produce such a bore-fest while the one with less TV time, less fame and a comparatively weaker storyline leads to the best women’s match on TV for 2014?
Charlotte and Sasha Banks put on what was probably the best Divas (or Knockouts, for that matter) match of the year at NXT Takeover: R Evolution with Charlotte retaining the Women’s Championship with a top rope Natural Selection. Granted, the build-up for the event did not have the same depth or spark as Paige’s NXT Women’s Championship defence against Emma, the title tournament match between Charlotte and Natalya, or Charlotte’s defence against Bayley, which had a hell of a build-up. Instead, this match was the consequence of a lot of elements like Bayley and Charlotte’s respect turning to friendship, Becky Lynch’s heel turn to join Banks as Team BAE and there was a title challenge mixed up in all of that. As far as interaction goes, there was precious little between champion and challenger but Banks’ antagonism has helped to push things along – a prime example being her customisation of Charlotte’s t-shirt so it says “If you’re gonna do it, do it LIKE A BOSS”, which at least showed that there was some real negative feelings between the pair rather than it being the professional rivalries of the other Takeover Women’s Title matches we have seen this year.
However, the slightly soft build-up was compensated by the contest itself. Put in the semi-final position and given 12 minutes, Charlotte and Sasha put together a great story in the match with the titleholder on the backfoot because of Banks using a lot of her own moves against her. It also allowed Charlotte to work as a sympathetic babyface for once and also show some fire in the comebacks. Her highspots also worked well to pop the crowd as she adjusted her top rope moonsault because Sasha moved out of the way by landing on her feet and then hitting a senton for a near-fall, as well as the top rope Natural Selection which looks a lot better than the standard version – but should be saved for special occasions.
After the NXT show – a huge success from top to bottom – there was reportedly some discontent amongst the main WWE roster as they did not want to be outdone. As a consequence, it was said that the TLC pay-per-view would endeavour to be better than Takeover. It failed.
Part of that card was Nikki Bella defending the Divas Championship against former titleholder and recent Slammy-winner AJ Lee. The build-up to this match has elements which stem back to June when Nikki’s sister Brie “quit” WWE in order to protect her husband Daniel Bryan’s WWE World Heavyweight Championship reign, which came to an end anyway. That in turn led to Nikki Bella being victimised by Stephanie McMahon, Brie getting reinstated and wrestling Stephanie, though losing when Nikki turned heel. The pair then fought at Hell in a Cell with Nikki winning and making Brie her personal assistant for 30 days, leading to Brie turning heel to gift her sister the Divas Championship at Survivor Series when Nikki pinned AJ Lee in less than a minute.
Unfortunately, the Bella feud was an utter dud and produced some of the worst storytelling and acting in a long time and was seemingly written off by Brie’s heel turn – though any sort of reasoning didn’t come until the pre-match interview at TLC, where Brie said she aligned with Nikki because “blood is thicker than water”, and saying that AJ wouldn’t come between them – though she had never tried, so I don’t see how that was any sort of point. The Bella storyline is the dirt worst, though there has been a glimmer of success in that Nikki has got reasonably better in the ring and her character has improved. However Brie has gone backwards at an amazing rate as her wrestling is sucky and her character and acting are unbelievably wooden and hokey.
The build-up to TLC for the Divas had been sparse at best. AJ made Nikki tap out in a tag team match but that was about it. As for the match itself, it was an awkward watch as the spots did not flow and a lot of the moves which you would hope have a great impact lacked any sort of gravity. You could say that their position on the show didn’t help as it followed John Cena v Seth Rollins but a match can still be good even if the fans aren’t into it. Unfortunately this did not have the fans support and didn’t do much to elicit a reaction. When you consider that the ending came when Nikki hit a Rack Attack after spraying AJ in the face with some sort of substance while the ref was sending Brie away from ringside for interference, it felt really flat.
There’s a yawning chasm between the title picture in NXT and on the main WWE roster. While NXT has minimal women, just one writer and a small segment during a weekly one hour show to push a story, it’s amazing to think that it’s outdoing the army of writers on the main roster, coupled with how there is a combined seven hours of TV to put together a number of segments to push a story. In all honesty, if I was a developmental talent wanting to have good matches which demonstrate my abilities as a wrestler and a character, I’d be wanting to stay in NXT for as long as possible before going into the main roster and collecting the extra payoffs and merchandising deals while having my enthusiasm for excelling ebbing away, one Raw at a time.
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Prior to the NXT Takeover R Evolution show, Triple H led a conference call when he seemed to distance himself from the booking on last week’s Raw where Natalya pinned Charlotte on the latter’s Raw debut. Former TNA Knockout Santana “Brittany” Garrett was also in attendance backstage at the NXT show… AJ Lee reportedly needed treatment after being sprayed in the eyes at the end of her unsuccessful title challenge against Nikki Bella at TLC on Sunday. WWE revealed that she was tended to by trainers in what was described as a “scary incident”. The company’s website said that AJ suffered chemical conjunctivitis but they were able to flush her eyes with saline and that there shouldn’t be any long term damage to her vision… Naomi has confirmed that she will not be a part of Total Divas’ third season… Alicia Fox has revealed that she has returned to education and that she was preparing for an anthropology exam. She also teamed with Natalya on last night’s Raw to beat the Bella Twins. Natalya made Brie tap out to the Sharpshooter, but her husband Tyson Kidd spent the post match checking on Nikki on the outside, which angered Nattie.
Nevaeh was injured at last Wednesday’s Rockstar Pro show. She’s confirmed that she sprained her knee and may also have torn her MCL. She was in a big leg brace last week and may need an MRI. All the best to her… Crazy Mary Dobson defeated Amazing Kong in the main event of Premiere Destination Wrestling’s show on Thursday… Joey Ryan and Candice LeRae retained the Pro Wrestling Guerilla Tag Team Championship on Friday when the defeated Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels… Kc Spinelli was unsuccessful in winning the Magnificent Championship Wrestling Women’s Title on Saturday. She beat titleholder Holly Madison but it was by DQ, so Madison retained the belt… Vanessa Kraven won a 5-way elimination match on Sunday’s Smash Wrestling show, beating Xandra Bale, Veda Scott, Kimber Lee and Cherry Bomb. The Kimber Bombs were pinned simultaneously by Kraven to end the match following stereo chokeslams. After the show, the promotion revealed its 2014 with Cherry Bomb doing very well – she won Women’s Wrestler of the Year, her match teaming with Kimber against Courtney Rush and Xandra Bale from this year’s CanUSA Classic was voted Women’s Match of the Year… SHIMMER’s next DVD tapings will take place on the weekend of April 11 and 12. The promotion says front row tickets (which are only to be sold on a weekend deal and not for individual days) will be slightly increased, saying “the reason for which will be obvious by the time the shows take place”. It has also said it’s looking into the feasibility of a show on WrestleMania weekend, but not decision has been made. However, there will be women’s event as part of the WWNLive Experience on March 28… Kacee Carlisle’s first Valkyrie Women’s Wrestling Title defence will be against Mistress Belmont on January 23… Athena will return to SHINE for the SHINE 24 show on January 23.
Nobody won the Women’s Wrestling honour at the Tokyo Sports Awards last week. Io Shirai picked up 6 votes, while Syuri got 3 – neither got enough to win… Speaking of Syuri, she defeated Marcela by 2 falls to 1 on Thursday’s REINA show to win the CMLL World Women’s Championship. Syuri won falls 1 and 3 to end Marcela’s 1,008 day reign with the title… It was announced at Pro Wrestling WAVE’s show on Sunday that Shuu Shibutani will end her career on May 3. Debuting in September 2004, the 35 year old has won WAVE’s Tag Team Championship and Ice Ribbon’s Triangle Ribbon title. Ayako Hamada & Yuu Yamagata made their first successful defence of the WAVE Tag Team Championship in the main event of the three shows held on the day, beating Cherry & Shuu Shibutani.
Viper’s Electric Chair Drop was enough to score her the Full Tilt Wrestling Women’s Championship. She and Bete Noire were fighting over the vacant title… Chanel won the vacant Bellatrix British Championship on Saturday when she beat Aurora Flame, Violet O’Hara & Lady Lory to win the one night tournament. Elsewhere on the card, Miss Mina and Saraya Knight went to a time limit draw and Liberty defeated Sammi Baynz. The next Bellatrix show will be on February 22… Sammii Jayne v Layla Rose will take place Insane Championship Wrestling’s December 21 show in Glasgow, Scotland… Nikki Storm and Pollyanna will wrestle at the debut Empress Pro show on January 17… Former WWE Women’s and Divas Champion Melina is booked for a Southside Wrestling show in April.
Sexy Star says that Ivelisse Velez is not a match for her in a AAA ring, calling her a “refugee” in a piece posted on the promotion’s website. She also spoke to Variety Latino in her babyface guise to promotion Lucha Underground, reiterating that wrestling saved her from suicide due to depression and pointing out how the promotion is the only one on TV in the US which has intergender wrestling.
Australia & New Zealand
KC Cassidy made Madison Eagles tap out at Saturday’s Melbourne City Wrestling show.
December 9: CMLL (Guadalajara, Mexico) – Zeuxis b Dark Angel, Amapola, Princesa Sugehit, Tiffany, Lluvia, La Vaquerita & Dalys in a cibernetico
December 10: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Risa Sera b Yuri Kotobuki; Rabbit Miyu b Miyako Matsumoto; Eri & Meari Naito b Maki Narumiya & Akane Fujita; Tsukasa Fujimoto & Misaki Ohata b Hamuko Hoshi & Maya Yukihi
December 11: WWE NXT (Orlando, FL) – Charlotte b Sasha Banks
December 11: Premiere Destination Wrestling (New Albany, IN) – Crazy Mary Dobson b Amazing Kong
December 12: REINA (Tokyo, Japan) – Kyoko Kimura & Alex Lee b Kellie Skater & Raideen Hagane ; Keizo Matsuda & Yako Fujigasaki b Yuji Kito & Koharu Hinata; Goya Kong & Muñeca de Plata b Haruka Kato, Erin, Koyuki Hayashi & Miyako Matsumoto; Arisa Nakajima, Kana & Lin Bairon b Tsukasa Fujimoto, Makoto & Maki Narumiya; Syuri b Marcella to win the CMLL World Women’s Championship
December 12: WWE SmackDown (Columbus, GA) – Nikki Bella b Alicia Fox
December 12: Fans United Wrestling (San Diego, CA) – Ashley Grace b Eli Everfly & Rudy in a 3-way
December 12: Pro Wrestling Guerilla (Reseda, CA) – Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae b Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels
December 12: Freelance Wrestling (Chicago, IL) – Melanie Cruise b Darin Corbin
December 13: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Hamuko Hoshi b Akane Fujita; Cherry & Aoi Kizuki b Maki Narumiya & Maya Yukihi; Kurumi & Yuka b Risa Sera & Koyuki Hayashi; Tsukasa Fujimoto & Tsukushi b Mio Shirai & 235
December 13: Melbourne City Wrestling (Thornbury, Australia) – KC Cassidy b Madison Eagles
December 13: Bellatrix 11 (Norwich, England) – Violet O’Hara b Nixon Newell; Chanel b Aurora Flame; Erin Angel b Bacardi; Lady Lory b Addy Starr; Saraya Knight v Miss Mina went to a time limit draw; Chanel b Violet O’Hara; Lady Lory b Erin Angel; Elsie Paige, Holly Burrage & Lillie Fae b Shax, Karama & Leah Elise; Liberty b Sammi Baynz; Chanel b Lady Lory to win the British Championship
December 13: World Association of Wrestling (Norwich, England) – Saraya Knight b Lady Lory
December 13: DOA Wrestling (March, England) – Nina Sparkles b Emma-Jade
December 13: Full Tilt Wrestling (Newcastle, England) – Viper b Bete Noire to win the FTW Women’s Championship
December 13: Magnificent Championship Wrestling (Brantford, ON, Canada) – Kc Spinelli b Holly Madison via DQ
December 13: Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (Port Coquitlam, BC, Canada) – Cat Power & Jaida b Nicole Matthews & Violet
December 14: Pro Wrestling WAVE (Tokyo, Japan) – Masked Tsukka & Yapperman #3 b KAGUYA; Shu Shibutani b Kagetsu; Gabai-jichan b Madoka; Tuskushi v Kyusei Sakura Hirotawent to a time limit draw; Mio Shirai, Misaki Ohata & Tsukasa Fujimoto b Aja Kong, Kurumi & Ladybeard; Cherry & Meari Naito b Yua Hayashi & Hiroe Nagahama; Sawako Shimono, Rina Yamashita, Raideen Hagane, Risa Sera & Manami Kanda b Mika Iida, Kaho Kobayashi, Tsukushi, Eri & Rabbit Miyu; Sawako Shimono & Mari Apache besiegen Mio Shirai & Misaki Ohata; Tsukasa Fujimoto b Mika Iida; Yumi Ohka b Hiroe Nagahama; Kyoko Kimura b Rina Yamashita; Fairy Nipponbashi b Moeka Haruhi; Kana b Kaho Kobayashi; Kyusei Sakura Hirota b Hikaru Shida; Ayako Hamada & Yuu Yamagata b Shu Shibutani & Cherry
December 14: Stardom (Aomori, Japan) – Kris Wolf b Mystique; Kellie Skater b Makoto & Miyako Matsumoto in a 3-way; Lin Bairon & Kinya Oyanagi b Koharu Hinata & Yoshihiro Takayama; Act Yasukawa & Syuri b Reo Hazuki & Takumi Iroha, Io Shirai, Yoshiko & Mayu Iwatani b Nanae Takahashi, Kairi Hojo & Koguma
December 14: Pro Wrestling Kingdom/Shropshire Wrestling Alliance (Dawley, England) – Bubblegum b Lana Austin; Chris Brookes & Nixon Newell b Damian Dunne & Chris Ridgeway
December 14: Smash Wrestling (Mississigaua, ON, Canada) – Vanessa Kraven b Kimber Lee, Veda Scott, Xandra Bale & Cherry Bomb in a 5-way
December 14: WWE TLC (Cleveland, OH) – Nikki Bella b AJ Lee
December 14: Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Austin, TX) – Jojo Bravo, Ricky Romida & Jessica James b Dillon Divine, Donny Brookes & Johnny Dbol; Angel Blue, Dick Money & Wade Olsen b Darin Childs, Jason Silver & Killah Kash
December 14: CMLL (Mexico City, Mexico) – Dark Angel, Lluvia & Marcela b Amapola, Dalys & La Seductora
December 15: WWE Raw (Detroit, MI) – Natalya & Alicia Fox b Nikki & Brie Bella
December 21: Tidal Championship Wrestling (Leeds, England) – Lana Austin & Ruby Summers v Nixon Newell & Violet O’Hara
December 21: Insane Championship Wrestling (Glasgow, Scotland) – Sammii Jayne v Layla Rose
December 26: Absolute Intense Wrestling (Cleveland, OH) – Tessa Blanchard, Jennifer Blake & Heidi Lovelace v Veda Scott, Alexia Nicole & Jasmin
December 27: Squared Circle Wrestling (Elmira, NY) – Cherry Bomb v Mickie James
December 28: Ice Ribbon Ribbonmania (Tokyo, Japan) – Tsukasa Fujimoto v Arisa Nakajima
December 28: JWP Climax 2014 (Tokyo, Japan) – Arisa Nakajima v Tsukasa Fujimoto
January 3: Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (Vancouver, BC, Canada) – Cat Power v Kate Carney
January 4: PROGRESS Wrestling (London, England) – Jinny v Pollyanna
January 4: Inspire Pro Wrestling (Austin, TX) – Barbi Hayden v Veda Scott; Jessica James v Kimber Lee
January 11: Fierce Females (Glasgow, Scotland)
January 17: Empress Pro (High Wycombe, England) – Bete Noire & Viper v Addy Starr & Rhia O’Reilly; Ruby Summers v Chardonnay; Nikki Storm v Pollyanna
January 17: Lone Star Wrestling (Cypress, TX) – Barbi Hayden v Tessa Blanchard
January 18: Alpha-1 Wrestling (Hamilton, ON, Canada) – Seleziya Sparx v Allysin Kay
January 23: SHINE 24 (Ybor City, FL)
January 23: Valkyrie Women’s Wrestling (Woodbury Heights, NJ) – Kacee Carlisle v Mistress Belmont; La Rosa Negra v Aja Perera
January 24: Pure Wrestling Assocation (Kitchener, ON, Canada) – Kc Spinelli v Courtney Rush; Kaitlin Diemond v Beautiful Beaa; Jewells Malone v Alexia Nicole; Holly Madison v Silvie Silver; Ingrid Isley v Skylar Rose
February 7: Family Wrestling Entertainment (Jamaica, NY) – Candice LeRae v Veda Scott; Taeler Hendrix v Katarina Leigh
February 22: Dragon Pro Wrestling (Newport, Wales) – Nixon Newell v Pollyanna
February 22: Bellatrix 12 (Norwich, England)
March 14: Rock N’ Wrassle (Nottingham, England)
April 4: NCW Femmes Fatales (Montreal, QC, Canada) – Courtney Rush v Saraya Knight; Portia Perez v Xandra Bale
April 11/12 – SHIMMER Women Athletes (Berwyn, IL)
– Lee Burton
– Photos by WWE (1-3), Tabercil (4,7), Youji Kawauchi (5), Cory Lockwood (6)
– Data collated from (but not limited to) Cagematch, joshifans.com, PuroLove, Dramatic DDT, Luchablog, Lords Of Pain, Wrestling Observer, Open The Puroresu Gate, Ringstars, PWInsider, NHB Girls, North Starz, WrestlingData