Pretty Great Wrestlemania Weekend for Women
One big problem that women’s wrestling had for a while was that with just a single title in play, it was difficult to come up with the same number of compelling storylines that the men had. Ultimately, the quality of the matches should be enough to put the wrestlers over, and as David Regal has said, the desire to win matches should be enough of a story for anybody. That said, it doesn’t hurt to have a little extra icing on the cake.
What did women get up to on Wrestlemania Weekend?
Nia Jax, the Raw women’s division juggernaut, finally got a championship. Nia was on the losing end of two really great matches that I don’t think she gets enough credit for. Between that gauntlet match where she got all the way to the end before losing, and that long match where Asuka had a submission hold on her for what felt like a good three minutes, I think she deserves more accolades for being a pretty good worker. It’ll probably be some time coming since she looks like she has too much of a size advantage over her opponents, so I guess she’ll just have to be content to hold the title.
Speaking of Asuka, she put her long winning streak on the line against the Smackdown Women’s champion, Charlotte Flair, and she lost. That’s a very high-profile way to end a streak. One of the Undertaker’s greatest gifts to the company over his career was his own Wrestlemania Winning Streak, as it was a great way to give a match jeopardy while still saving a ton of title-based storylines for the other wrestlers. Asuka had something similar, but her first Wrestlemania moment was a pretty momentous loss. That’s no small potatoes.
And… speaking of Charlotte, she had a big moment of her own when, after her victory speech on Smackdown, the popular duo of Iconic (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce) made their debut, and ruined Charlotte’s moment by mocking and then beating the hell out of her. I swear that a lot of those shots looked pretty stiff, and if everything there was safe, then those women are incredible, and on Reddit someone rightly pointed out that Kay’s and Royce’s provocative posing over Charlotte’s fallen body while surrounded by a bunch of male referees trying to get them out of the ring was a great image. In any case (ahaha see what I did there?), after Charlotte was left staggering, Carmella, the first Women’s Money In The Bank holder, ran out, cashed in the contract, and beat Charlotte to become the champion. Money In The Bank cash-ins can be wonderful moments for the crowd because of their unexpected nature, and this one didn’t disappoint. It was a great heel moment, but it shouldn’t be forgotten the great pop that Kay and Royce got when they first arrived.
And… speaking of call-up pops, on Raw the night earlier, Ember Moon showed up to be Nia’s partner in a tag team match against Alexa Bliss and Mickey James. Moon’s got a great look and a fun wrestling style, and it’ll be nice to see how she factors into things in the next few weeks. But that wasn’t Raw’s only moment for the women, as a pretty cool match between Mandy Rose and Sasha Banks ended up furthering problems between Banks and Bayley, something that could lead to a non-title match at a PPV sometime soon, and it would be awesome if Banks and Bayley could give an encore performance of that one awesome Match of the Year candidate from NXT Takeover:Brooklyn in 1995. But getting back to that Rose/Banks match, when it was done, Paige gave her retirement speech… only to be brought back the next night as Smackdown’s new General Manager. It’s a real shame that she got injured just as she was coming back into the WWE, so it’s great to see that she’ll at least be able to be a personality in the ring.
And… speaking of… ok, I don’t actually have a nice segue for this next one, but one more nice moment in Wrestlemania was the mixed tag-team match between Rousey and Angle versus Triple-H and Stephanie McMahon. It was Rousey’s debut match, and it’s also been a long time since Stephanie was in the ring, and all things considered it was as good a match as one could hope for. It went 20 minutes, and Rousey took some bumps, and for all the flack that Triple-H got for a long time when it came to burying talent, he did really well to put the newcomer over. Stephanie did pretty well also, working the story gimmick as well as could be hoped for so that it would be somewhat credible for her to end up with a bit of the upper hand in a matchup against a former UFC champion and Olympic medalist. I suspect they’ll still have to protect Rousey for a while, but she really well considering.
In any case, that’s a pretty good stretch of stories in a division that’s seen some bad ones over the years. And that’s all without having seen what happened on NXT or the pre-show Royal Rumble match.
Great job, ladies!