After retaining her title last week, SmackDown Women’s champion Natalya has got to be feeling proud of herself. But with Charlotte Flair making her return to the blue brand, how does this reshape the division? Let’s check out what happened last night!
Flair walks out to the ring, happily tagging fans’ hands as she walks down the ramp. She then grabs ahold of a microphone and thanks the WWE Universe for their support of her father Ric Flair. Ric recently went through a “life or death” situation, and although everything is okay, it definitely left its mark on the former Women’s champion. She states that she now understands just how short life is, and aims to make every moment from this point and throughout matter. But before she can get on, the Queen of Black Harts struts to the ring.
Despite being glad for Flair and her father’s wellbeing, Natalya takes this moment to have a “celebration of women.” Neidhart says that it’s been “women” that have lead “the charge” throughout history, as she references Florence Nightingale, Orphan Winfrey and the women of the Mae Young Classic. And we as a community need to celebrate women like this – by focusing on Natalya – an image of her holding her championship is then revealed to the crowd. Humble as always, Nattie.
Neidhart describes herself as a woman whom “completed the journey” – something Amelia Earheart couldn’t accomplish.
Charlotte then thanks the champ for the “inspiring” speech, as it prompts her to challenge Neidhart for the SmackDown Women’s title! Cue the desperation in Natalya – and Becky Lynch, of course.
Before Lynch gets into why she’s really here, she decides to get under Natalya’s skin first. The Lass Kicker describes Natalya as “the craziest there is, the craziest there was, and the craziest there ever will be.” As corny as it is, it does manage to work its way into Natalya’s mind. Lynch then moves on to what she really wants: and that’s the SmackDown Women’s championship. As much as she openly appreciates Flair and her father, the one thing the besties disagree on – in Becky’s opinion – is that the title belongs to her.
But before Charlotte can react, the Glowtastic Naomi comes out (to a great reaction, by the way).
Naomi tells the champ that she doesn’t represent “all women” – or even the women on the blue brand. And in fact, the only thing she represents is her “stank cats!” Natalya is extremely offended by this, of course. But anyway, since Lynch and Flair are doing the same, Naomi demands a title match.
And then – finally – Tamina makes her way to the ring. The Ravishing Revolution continues!
Lana, whom is by Snuka’s side, tells Natalya to not listen to the “disrespectful, pathetic villagers” in the ring. And although Neidhart is grateful for Lana “respecting” her, the Ravishing Russian dismisses this, and calls her a “crazy cat lady.” Noooow she’s really mad! As Lana makes her way to the ring to state that it’s Tamina’s time for a title match, Natalya is seeing storming out the ring. She yells at the women to be quiet and celebrate women by focusing on her – she’s the most ironically funny person ever. Natalya insists that she’s “not a crazy cat lady” and that she will be the champion forever. That is, until General Manager Daniel Bryan comes out…
Bryan announces that in tonight’s main event, Naomi, Becky Lynch, Tamina and a returning Charlotte Flair will compete to fight Natalya for her championship at Hell In A Cell! Let the competition begin… and Neidhart’s mini breakdown.
So let’s jump right to the match!
As soon as the bell rings Tamina aggressively shoves Charlotte into the corner, followed by a takedown of the other two competitors. Snuka is seen dominating for a while, even after we return from a commercial break. Charlotte then uses her arms to whip Tamina to her knees, which does take a while. Becky soon takes advantage of it by kicking Snuka to ground. A leg-drop by Naomi then follows, leaving Tamina vulnerable.
The other three women then focus on one another now that their biggest threat is down. They each switch between which woman is controlling the match, each impressing the crowd as they go on. Some standouts include Naomi’s Fired Repeated Kicks followed by a Stunner and Lynch’s Dis-Arm-Her.
Snuka soon rejoins the contest by knocking down both Naomi and Becky (whilst Flair rolls to the outside). This is then followed by each competitor taking over the match at a quick pace. Becky and Charlotte seem to know each other’s moves so well that they reverse a lot, whilst Naomi’s quickness scores her some moves and Tamina’s power takes down her opponents.
At a poignant moment, Charlotte has Naomi and Tamina knocked down together, managing to score herself a Moonsault onto both of them. Unfortunately the pair kick out of her separate pins, but the damage is still evidential.
We eventually hear a “this is awesome” chant to the crowd once all four women are laid out – and it truly is an awesome contest.
Towards the end of the match Lana decides to pull Naomi out of the ring to help her friend. Unfortunately for the Ravishing Russian, she falls victim to a kick to the head. As the former champ attempts to get back into the ring, a Superkick from Snuka knocks her back out. But this only proves to be a distraction for Tamina as a Big Boot from Charlotte takes her down and gives Flair the pinfall victory! Looks like it’ll be Flair vs Hart again at Hell In A Cell…
Backstage, Charlotte expresses how excited she was to get back in the ring and to win her match. She reminds us of how well she knows Natalya, citing her victories at NXT and on the main roster last year. Flair says that she is now “bigger, faster [and] stronger” than she was last year, and as she has a lot to prove due to her necessity to hold the SmackDown Women’s championship for the first time, she needs to be completely ready for the battle.
Carmella is also seen backstage with James Ellsworth, whom, is still on a leash. Dasha Fuentes asks ‘Mella about her treatment of Ellsworth, and she explains that she needs to keep him in check. On top of that, she’s also taught him a few tricks such as barking, sitting and playing dead. Looks like she has everything she needs to make sure she gets the championship, I suppose.
Thoughts: What a match! What a main event! The women, on a whim, are given the opportunity to close the show and they truly knock it out of the park! Each woman is given their time to shine and they all deliver! Whilst some parts could be better, the match does its job to showcase the talents and make the title worth fighting for.
Making Tamina appear as the biggest threat is a smart choice. She’s supposed to be seen as a threat, but the past few weeks haven’t exactly done a lot to aid that vision. So, the best way to overcome that is to make sure that she shines in this contest. Flair, Lynch and Naomi all make it a point to target Snuka at the beginning. These three stars (sort of) team up to take her down, ensuring that they can have a better chance of winning. And although Snuka doesn’t walk away with the victory, allowing her to be the threat that is targeted and dominates throughout makes her come across as powerful as needed.
Snuka needs time to truly be the star of the show, so before she takes home the biggest crown, she needs to prove herself to the audience.
Playing with Lynch and Flair’s friendship is something that showcases their strengths and their weaknesses. By being friends for a while, this allows the pair to understand how the other works in the ring. And although that comes with the knowledge to know what the other will do next, it stops either from prospering very much. At times we see either woman so focused on bringing the other down that one of them may face defeat. Just like when the two are in the corner and we see Becky clotheslined by Tamina, Lynch clearly focuses so much of her energy on Flair that she forgets to think about those she isn’t too comfortable with. But fortunately for the more accredited star (what, with five title reigns in the books) she is able to take advantage of the situation and spear Snuka to the ground. Their friendship does have its benefits, but it also exemplifying their weaknesses, as well as highlighting which of the two is the better in-ring competitor.
Naomi’s work in the match is an interesting one. Like Flair and Lynch, her and Tamina have a history. But as they’ve spent a lot of time apart, Naomi has learned less and less about her ex ally. Snuka has clearly taken the time to study the former champ and is able to knock her down when she isn’t looking. Naomi however falls victim to a lot of Snuka’s attacks, whilst most of her attacks on Tamina are due to the work of the other two competitors.
This match also proves that – much like last week – Naomi isn’t too good with the numbers game. An outside distraction proves too much for her as this is what causes her loss. So whilst Naomi has flashy moves and connects with the crowd, she needs to focus on working multiple women at once and understanding their individual tactics.
I must say, though, that the star of the night is Natalya. She may not compete in the ring, but her mic work is hilarious and she plays her character wonderfully. I can’t help but adore how she is the only person that takes her seriously, as even the General Manager and Lana mock her. The whole over-the-top ego and her easily deflatable confidence makes her reign so unique. It takes what makes a good heel – the cockiness and cowardice – whilst combining it with her one of a kind self absorbed personality and odd humor to make her stand out.
The idea of another Flair vs Hart feud is exciting, as this time it feels different. This time round, Natalya is a lone wolf and doesn’t associate with her ex-uncle Bret Hart. And as Flair is a good guy now, the idea of Ric cheating for her doesn’t feel relevant. Now we’ll get to see Charlotte be Charlotte and Natalya be Natalya in a good battle.
Hopefully, Neidhart can finally score a big win over Flair that isn’t in a three minute pre-callup/tag-team match. Natalya deserves to look good as a champion, and defeating Charlotte – one of the best right now – will be a brilliant way to solidify that.
What do you think of tonight’s events? Is Charlotte the right winner? Are you Team Flair or Hart? Let us know your views in the comments below!