Remember the saying “today is the first week of the rest of your lives”? Well that rings true for the women of Raw and Smackdown. The Superstar Shake-Up Happened last week – and several women found new homes on different brands. This is the first week that the new rosters take effect, and they both begin with a bang. Bayley will waste no time in defending her Raw Women’s Championship, so it’s time to crown a #1 contender. Sasha Banks will face Nia Jax and Raw’s two newest women in Alexa Bliss and Mickie James in a Fatal 4 Way. Charlotte made her debut on Smackdown last week, and this week she has some choice words for the Women’s Champion Naomi. Should be a good one!
Alexa Bliss vs Sasha Banks vs Nia Jax vs Mickie James [#1 Contender's Match]
Winner and #1 Contender: Alexa Bliss
We’re also treated to a backstage segment where Emma tries to stir up trouble between Alicia Fox and Dana Brooke.
It was pretty surprising to get such a big match so soon. But with all this excitement surrounding the new rosters, why wait? Having a big multi-woman match to crown a new challenger is a great way to set up a feud. We could have had Alexa predictably come out and call out Bayley or something like that – but I like the idea of crowning her this way. What I liked about this match’s set-up is that it really allowed me to gauge the attitudes of the fans towards each of the women involved. The biggest reaction did not go to IWC darling Sasha Banks or the perpetual favourite Mickie James; it went to Alexa. She got thunderous pops, just as she did last week. In almost no time at all, she suddenly has become massively popular with the casual fans. It’s a testament to the good booking of Smackdown that she’s been able to showcase herself this way – and hopefully Raw can do good things with her. Mickie didn’t seem to get as good a reaction as she normally does. I chalk that up to the awkward character switch that happened quietly before WrestleMania. She was presented as a heel for two months and now suddenly is a face again. Sure we hardcore women fans would know this – but Joanne and Cletus casually tuning in have no idea whether to cheer for her yet. I’d like for Raw to properly establish Mickie’s character for the fans.
The ring work was pretty great all around. It was miles more fun than the lacklustre F4W at WrestleMania, that’s for sure. We got to see a lot of mini-matches that acted as teasers for what we may get in the future, or else call backs to what we’ve already seen and liked. Nia and Alexa had a triple threat on NXT against Carmella last year – and it was really great. The two of them really brought some great intensity and they both really sold the importance of what was at stake. Mickie vs Sasha is a dream match for many fans – the star of the past facing the star of the present – and the fans seemed quite into what they delivered. Nia vs Mickie is a classic underdog vs monster heel – and Mickie fought many such battles against Beth Phoenix back in the day. Sasha/Nia and Alexa/Mickie were both combinations that had delivered in the past and did so again here. I did notice Nia slipping up a little during the part where she was throwing everyone around; some of the deliveries looked a bit awkward and she visibly paused like she had forgotten what to do next. But order was restored with Sasha’s guillotine on her. The end was done very well, Alexa picking up the crafty win and earning herself a title match. She and Bayley did good work on NXT before, so here’s hoping they can do even better on Raw.
We got a continuation in the Emma/Dana saga. I’m pretty impressed that they found a way to further it for two weeks without getting to the ring yet. I imagine that will change now that Dana has Alicia Fox’s wrath to deal with. While I did like the segment, I noticed that Dana had some trouble with how she said her lines. She’s not a heel anymore. So when she’s got Alicia’s temper going, she shouldn’t play off it so comically. She played off it like a heel getting one-upped – which is a big no no if she’s going to be a goodie these days. I do love troll Emma though. I expect we’ll see Dana vs Alicia next week, presumably with Emma attempting to troll Dana even more.
Charlotte makes her arrival to Smackdown LIVE.
Charlotte vs Naomi
Natalya, Carmella and Tamina are up to no good.
…and are not happy when Charlotte blanks them backstage.
Oh Smackdown, what are you doing to me? Raw gave us such a good show and you have to give us this? Well in terms of Smackdown standards, we got some stuff that was partially good on paper; a lengthy promo setting up the new star and a nice long match. But the booking left a lot to be desired. I did like the idea of a Charlotte/Naomi program, but WWE just rushed into it. Charlotte is new to Tuesday nights and now she’s just jumped to the front of the line. I’m okay with her getting a title match against Naomi, but I wish they had gone about it a different way. Maybe they didn’t want to copy Raw by having a big multi-woman match – but they’re not going to get a cookie for that. Naomi is still a fledgling champion. She has been champion for only a couple of weeks, and that was after only returning from a month long absence. So she still needs a lot of time and work into making herself look like a strong champion. She hasn’t been on top long enough for Charlotte beating her to be a big deal. It just makes her look like a weak champion. Charlotte is already an established star, so she didn’t need to be built up by jobbing the Women’s Champion out to her. If this program is going to make Naomi look good then they have to be careful with their booking. And whose bright idea was it to give away the highly anticipated match on the first week? Raw’s match was great because it teased these potential combinations we could get in the future. Smackdown just gave the game away for free.
The extra backstage segment suggests that we’re going to see a lot of interference in the match next week. I’m not quite sure what direction the story is going to go in but it’s not looking too promising. Must we have to deal with yet another stable? How about coming up with individual feuds instead of smooshing the whole roster into the one? I’ll reserve judgement until it unfolds but it doesn’t look like it’ll be riveting TV. I also hope that this doesn’t lead to a face turn for Charlotte. Give it to Carmella or Tamina who could actually do good things in such a role. Let the records state that I did enjoy the match between Charlotte and Naomi however; I just didn’t like that it was given away for free.
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