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The battle lines are being drawn. The fists and claws are out, and the women of SmackDown Live are not playing any games. This week we see them really showcase their aggression as the feuds are made personal, and characters are really developing into their best form.

The night begins as Intercontinental champion Dean Ambrose interviews The Miz and Maryse – the real one, not the fake alligator he named after her. Ambrose and The Miz go at it with their words until the champ gets struck. The Miz then holds his vulnerable opponent up so that he can receive a slap from the Sexiest of Sexy, but unfortunately Dean ducks out of the way, causing The Miz to feel the wrath of his wife’s palm. Cue the anger from the couple and smug look on Ambrose, and we’re off to a brilliant start!

We’re then taken to a promotional video, in which the feud of Natalya vs Nikki Bella is highlighted.

The Fearless One is then seen walking backstage for her scheduled match against Natalya, but is soon struck by the Queen of Black Harts. Bella is then shoved into the wall, where her leg takes the hardest hit. A defenseless Nikki then watches on as Natalya makes her way to the ring.

After being taken to ringside, we see Neidhart ready to wrestle, but Nikki seems to be taking some time to come out. However, before it gets too late, a frustrated Bella storms to the ring, and spears Natalya to the ground. The two go at it, showing their aggression clearly. We see a moment where Natalya tries to escape over the barricade but gets caught, and also a lot of punches, another spear and a bunch of referees holding them back. The brawl ends after Natalya tosses her prey on the outside and applies the Sharpshooter on her, forcing the Fearless One to scream in agony.

Once backstage, Natalya explains that what Nikki received was a simple “taste of her own medicine.” She goes on to state that Bella is “selfish” and a “cobtrolling brat” that she will “shut down” forever. Fighting words, it seems.

Later on in the night, Carmella pops out to fight a local competitor, CJ Lunde. Carmella dominates a majority of the match but Lunde gets in some offense. James Ellsworth, standing outside, attempts to get involved but gets caught by the referee. However, when Carmella grabs the ref’s leg and turns his back from her manager, Ellsworth pulls Lunde onto the outside, keeping her distracted. When the local competitor heads between the ropes, ‘Mella places her in the Code of Silence, forcing her to tap out. Romeo and Juliet then celebrate the well-deserved win to an unappreciative crowd.

To continue their celebration, Carmella talks to Ellsworth backstage to give him the deets.He unfortunately thought that a kiss would be coming his way – so even freshens his breath – but according to ‘Mella, “all good things come to those who wait.” The Princess of Staten Island tells her partner that she’ll be taking him on a shopping spree.

Back in Daniel Bryan’s office, Becky Lynch discusses last week’s antics with him. The Lass Kicker reminds him that she defeated the SmackDown Women’s champion by making Alexa Bliss tap out to the Dis-arm-her. However, before she can get into it a little further, the Wicked Witch of WWE shows up. Bliss warns Bryan to not fall for the “miscommunication” that Lynch is attempting to share. She explains that she was only at ringside to talk to La Luchadora and find out her identity, but Becky ruined that plan by attacking her before she could do so. Bryan refuses to listen to the arguing any longer so states that the pair will face off in a SmackDown Women’s title match next week on SmackDown Live. And, on top of that, it will be inside a steel cage!

Becky also believes that La Luchadora cannot possibly be Eva Marie as the woman is far too vein to be hidden by a mask – and she really could be onto something here.

Bliss and Lynch are then both seen on the panel for Talking Smack. The Lass Kicker swears that she will dislocate Bliss’ arm again, but on top of the cage this time. Bliss fights back and says that as she left 2016 as the champ, she plans on leaving 2017 the same way. Lynch tells her that she’s wrong, but to make the most of it as it will be changing hands next week. But Bliss has the last word as she states that Becky will have an entire week to come up with an excuse as to why Alexa will still be the champ.

Thoughts: The aggression is really all out this week, huh?

All of the work surrounding the ladies of the blue brand is incredibly impressive right now. But let’s start from the top, shall we?

What a brawl from Nikki and Nattie! The women proved exactly how to make a feud feel personal there. They really went in with their attacks and made it feel like they genuinely hated each other. And this is what I’ve wanted to see more, particularly from Nikki. Over the past few weeks we’ve seen her build up the aggression hidden inside, and this week she wasn’t holding any prisoners. Nikki is at a boiling point with Natalya. She isn’t forgiving her for these issues because they’re friends. Bella is done with that, and she proved it when she straight for that spear. And the second one.

What I appreciate the most about this segment is the fact that both were allowed to look tough. Yes, Nattie walked away whilst Nikki was laying on the ground, but it wasn’t a straight up beat-down. What we saw was both women highlight their aggression and prove just how much they could handle. At times Nikki got to lead – with the spears and tossing around – and then Nattie took ahold of the brawl with her punches and the Sharpshooter. Both women have been in the company for a similar amount of time. So with that being said, they are to be seen as equals – and that is how we view them here.

It’s incredible how the lovable Nattie on ‘Total Divas’ has me booing her here. Just last week I wanted to cuddle her out of appreciation when watching her on the reality show. Yet less than a week later she has me impressed by her fighting and in my feelings in regards to her heel work. Incredible.

The Carmella match is probably the only disappointment this week. I wouldn’t say it was a completely terrible contest, as it wasn’t, but it could’ve been better. The formula of the match was almost literally the same as the one we saw with Aliyah just last week. And though it’s just one of the typical local competitor matches, some differences wouldn’t be too much to ask for. But alas, it served its purpose by awarding Carmella with a win and giving her a reason to celebrate with James. So it’s nothing too serious to worry about, really.

But there is something serious on the horizon, and that is the Steel Cage match next week! If you didn’t jump out of your seat in excitement after hearing this announcement then you probably have yet to find out that Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss are fighting in a Steel Cage!!

This is the kind of feud that requires this stipulation. Both women have been at each other’s throats, and the story has been about more than just the title that they’re talking about. Bliss has made this personal by constantly digging at Becky’s insecurities and forcing her into corners by marking her as a useless competitor. She’s been constantly belittling her and finding ways to escape. The feud is at a boiling point and this match could really cap it off well. I’m ready for it. And I’m sure the ladies will do it justice!

Across the board, it’s fantastic that each segment showcases character development, storyline progression or both. From Nattie and Nikki’s personal grudge getting real, to Becky and Alexa’s feud really highlighting just how much the two hate each other… we’re really getting treated here!

How do you feel about this week’s episode? Are you excited for the Steel Cage match? Do you think Nikki will get her revenge on Natalya? What are your feelings regarding Carmellsworth? Let us know your views in the comments below!