SummerSlam left us with a new champion, and now weeks later, we could be finding another new one. In tonight’s episode, the Queen of Black Harts will defend her SmackDown Women’s title for the very first time. Will the former champ rise to the occasion, or will the Hart Dungeon graduate retain her throne?
Before the match begins, we take a quick look at some special members of the crowd. YouTuber Inanna Sarkis is posing for the cameras, and then UFC fighter Ronda Roussey is also shown.
When we get to the action, Carmella is on commentary, holding James Ellsworth with a leopard print leash. Uh, maybe we should ignore this for now.
The match quickly begins – with no entrances for Naomi or Natalya, by the way – and we get into a few grapple holds. We see Naomi aim to get the better of Natalya by copying her taunt. The two throw aggressive moves at one another, sharing a great set of combinations – one ending with both of them hitting a drop body on the other.
We eventually see Naomi take charge of the match. At one point she kicks Natalya right on the bridge of the nose, sending her into a daze. Taking advantage of this, the challenger sits the champion on the middle rope, implanting a heavy leg drop on her neck. Ouch. Neidhart’s days could be numbered…
Unfortunately for Naomi – and the crowd, apparently – Natalya kicks out. The bad luck continues for the challenger as her attempted Split-Legged-Moonsault results in Natalya moving out of the way. Neidhart then tries to lock her opponent in the Sharpshooter but is kicked straight out of the ring. And this is where things get a bit intense.
With Natalya outside of the ring, Carmella confronts her, taunting the champ to spike a reaction. So, Miss Money In The Bank gets pushed back. But the real action takes place when Naomi jumps on the group, though the Queen of Black Harts dodges the attack.
So with Naomi’s attention now on Carmella, an awake Natalya slams her head into the outside ring post. She then tosses the challenger into the ring for a Sharpshooter, forcing her to tape. And there we have it, Natalya retains the title!
A frustrated Carmella and a distraught Naomi look on as Natalya walks away with her crown.
Thoughts: Making Naomi tap twice to Natalya was a great decision for multiple reasons. We need to see Neidhart as a tough competitor, and making the toughest woman on the roster tap does exactly that. Natalya is dismantling everything that Naomi has been building for herself since joining the blue brand. She’s over shining the “glow”, she’s forcing her to give up in the form of a submission, and she is restoring “dignity” into the title that Naomi put work into gaining and rebranding. Natalya is aiming to erase everything that the babyface worked so hard to accomplish. And so far, the antagonist is ruling this story.
The storyline for these two has (probably unintentionally) been laid out for them for a while that it’s somewhat poetic. After fighting for a chance for years – and then achieving her goal – Naomi is no longer the champ, her “glow” is being stopped, and her one chance at getting back on top is now over. She’s overcome a lot since the days of the Funkadactyls; the Glowing one has won the SmackDown Women’s championship twice, reigned victorious at Wrestlemania in her hometown, walked into SummerSlam as the champion, and more. Through all of these years of hard work she’s performed in top tier matches, changed the crowd’s opinion on her, ended friendships and formed alliances. She’s been tossed aside for years on end for the newer women, and she’s overcome it by creating her own space in the spotlight. Yet throughout all of that, the person that managed to dethrone her was somebody that she knew her entire career.
From ‘Total Divas’ and managing their boys at Wrestlemania 31, to rebuilding SmackDown Live and competing for the Women’s title, they’ve been by each other’s side and fighting against one another for a while. And at the end of it all, the real threat to Naomi’s time on top was Natalya; the women she’s trained with, fought with and fought against.
So where does Naomi go from here? She has to find a way to overcome this person that she’s known her entire career. She needs to dig deep into their history and figure out her biggest weakness. And two things that this match proved is that Natalya doesn’t like the numbers game (though Naomi does struggle with this too). Could Naomi reclaim the title in a Triple Threat with Carmella? When ‘Mella got involved, Natalya seemed threatened, and knew that her time as champ was at jeopardy. So if Miss Money In The Bank is allowed to legally get involved in a title match, Neidhart could find herself struggling.
Something else that this match proved was that Neidhart is easily frustrated and made vulnerable by imitation. A simple duplicated taunt resulted in Naomi being able to get into her mind and take control of the match for a while. With this knowledge, could Naomi become a 3x Women’s champion with the use of the Hart Dungeon’s Sharpshooter?
Or maybe Naomi won’t be getting a proper run with the title for a while as the Princess of Staten Island is standing very closely. Carmella is the reason that Naomi loses this match as if the challenger’s attention remained on her opponent, she could have taken charge.
So at this point, the title is anyone’s game. Naomi and Natalya know more than enough about the other to take home the crown, but Carmella is sneaky and can use her distraction techniques to overthrow both of them.
A Triple Threat at Hell In A Cell would be a great next step. And even if Natalya or Naomi come through with the win, Carmella could insert a vicious beatdown and then cash in the briefcase… Who knows?
What tonight’s events could do with however is more time. A big match feel would make Natalya’s win feel a lot more surprising, rather than an average win. It would make the feud feel special, rather than passable. But instead we receive a five minute segment of Dolph Ziggler entertaining a grand total of zero people with a segment he not only did last week, but also does at the beginning of the show. Way to get the priorities straight.
The lack of Tamina and Lana is also frustrating. Two weeks ago, the “Ravishing Revolution” began and Snuka started her reign of dominance. She dismantled a rookie and swore to make her legacy known. Yet two weeks on, she’s yet to make an appearance. The women’s division is moving on without her and she doesn’t even feel like an afterthought because there isn’t enough build around her for anyone to think of her. Audiences are more inclined to ask about the whereabouts of Charlotte Flair or Becky Lynch before they think of the supposedly dominant Tamina. And that’s a problem. Why start this story if we’re not going to see it consistently? Tamina is a good wrestler and Lana is a wonderful mic worker, let them combine their skills on a consistent basis and we will see things work.
What did you think of tonight’s events? Did the right person win the match? What direction should the division take next? Let us know your views in the comments below!