As Roadblock and the Elimination Chamber approach, the women are getting restless on the Road to WrestleMania. Bayley stands up for her friend’s honor by taking on Nia Jax on Raw. Smackdown features the first ever dual contract signing – as both Mickie James and Smackdown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss make their matches against Becky Lynch and Naomi official. Nikki Bella and Natalya also have to speak via satellite to avoid any rough-housing. Over on NXT Liv Morgan steps into the ring to battle Billie Kay.
Bayley vs Nia Jax
Winner: Nia Jax
WWE continue to mix and match with their feuds on Raw, and this week Nia faced Bayley once again. They have chemistry, and Bayley is able to get a good match out of anyone, so that wasn’t too bad. Bayley is clearly going to be an asset to the division if she’s going to work this hard to make a throwaway match on Raw feel important. But alas we have a rematch against Charlotte booked for next week. Are WWE going to pull the same deal they did with Sasha and have Bayley win on Raw? Just to preserve Charlotte’s PPV streak? I honestly want Bayley to win the title so this feud can be over and done with. The budding program between her and Sasha is far more enticing, and I’d like to see it get started. Actually I think a great twist would be for Sasha to interfere in the match on Bayley’s behalf – giving her the win by doing something dirty. That could cause a nice rift between them – Bayley wanting to have won the title on her own merits, and Sasha expecting a reward for helping her. And if they must throw Charlotte into the picture as well, it does give a way for her to get into the triple threat game. I’m not personally too keen on a triple threat at WrestleMania – since we got that match back in September. Bayley vs Sasha on its own however is far more worthy of being a WrestleMania match. I also find myself looking to the draft. I assume we’ll be getting another one with the brand extension back. Raw already needs its division shaken up. But at the same time – you feel bad for any of the women who will be moved off Smackdown as a result.
One of my friends made a good point this week – Raw has better wrestling than Smackdown. Most of the matches Charlotte, Sasha and Bayley have had with each other have all been above average and PPV quality. The Smackdown women have had good matches but nothing great or really wow-worthy yet. But Smackdown is more watchable due to the good booking and character development going on. As such it can be easier for us to overlook Smackdown’s flaws – because on paper their stuff is very good. The Nikki/Natalya stuff I wasn’t a fan of. Mostly because it felt like a rinse repeat of what they’ve done before; Nattie accuses Nikki of using John Cena to get to the top, Nikki responds with barbs about the Hart family. And their mic work wasn’t really good enough to make up for it. I wanted to like this segment but there was something that wasn’t doing it for me. I think perhaps their feud has gone past the stage where they can have promos – and they need more matches. The contract signing was much more satisfying – despite that again being a repetitive segment. It’s surprising to me that the weakest promo came from Mickie; she was veering dangerously close to Charlotte’s slow way of speaking. This was in stark contrast to Becky and Alexa’s natural delivery. Naomi was in the middle – more solid than Mickie but not as natural as the other two. But her big kick to Alexa definitely added the right punchline to a great segment. I would love for Naomi to go to WrestleMania and continue her feud with Alexa there. But for now I’ll just be happy that she’s getting another PPV title match. Mickie and Becky should be fun too. I expect both heels to go over, acting as building blocks to different matches in the future.
Billie Kay vs Liv Morgan
Winner: Liv Morgan
Once again we’ve got some more wrasslin on NXT. Thankfully it’s with two members under contract and not just a squash. This was a so-so match. I didn’t like it much on my first watch. In contrast to some of Liv’s previous bouts, it looked like a step backwards. She was very slow and sloppy with most of the stuff she did. On paper, the ideas looked good – such as that headscissors from the corner and the unique way she set it up. But the execution needs work. There was also something about her this week; she came across as a little smug and bitchy at times, particularly with the little stuff she was doing at the start. If she wanted to come across as fun and playful, she didn’t quite succeed. She should look at Bayley or Carmella when she was a face to take notes. But if they’re foreshadowing a heel turn for Liv then I guess it makes sense. I am happy that she picked up a win though. I’m also happy that they’re putting more effort into selling Billie and Peyton as a team – with a personalised titantron and that t-shirt Peyton was wearing. One just has to wonder where they’re going to go from here if Ember Moon is the next one to challenge Asuka.
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