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Not so long ago we were in a period where women’s matches would end within three minute and few would bat an eyelid. But tonight, we end up having around 40 minutes of women’s wrestling, with surprise endings and impressively aggressive matches. The storytelling of tonight’s show was important, and the blue brand didn’t fail to impress. So let’s take a look at what happened throughout this explosive night…
Carmella hosts the kickoff show alongside Renee Young, Booker T and Sam Roberts. When the topic moves to the Women’s title match, ‘Mella appears to be on her phone, as James “Jimmy” Ellsworth is running some errands for her. However, she soon responds by saying Alexa Bliss will most likely win as sometimes you have to play dirty to win – plus, she has Mickie James on her side. She then says that Naomi can simply “glow in the dark,” but that doesn’t make you a champion. Shots fired!
When the topic moves to the “brutal betrayal” between Nikki Bella and Natalya, Carmella takes it upon herself to take credit for the entire feud. She then says that Bella didn’t learn her lesson from when she faced Carmella as she is too focused on “shopping” and “filming everything for her reality shows”. The Princess of Staten Island believes that because of that, Natalya is basically just picking up from where ‘Mella left off. As the conversation moves on, Ellsworth interrupts and tells his “boo” that he got her skybox tickets to the show. And although Carmella is far from impressed, she says that it’s “at least” better than hanging with the panel. She then demands someone to take her microphone equipment off of her and then the two walk off to their seats.
Becky Lynch is then interviewed by Dasha Fuentes in the social media lounge, where fans get to ask the Lass Kicker questions via social media. One fan asks Lynch who her dream tag partner would be, and the answer is none other than Shawn Michaels! Lynch elaborates by saying that with Michaels being the “Heartbreak Kid”, Becky could be the “Armbreak Kid”. Insert audience facepalm here. Her second reason is that Michaels retired Ric Flair, and with Flair’s interruption with her match against Charlotte Flair, the same could happen with the women.
When asked about having studies Mickie James, Lynch admits to the efforts the women of the past have done for today’s generation. She compliments James for being such a great talent and says that the women of today would not be where they are without them. However she does say that although she won’t take any of that away from Mickie, she reminds us of the fact that Mickie took away the SmackDown Women’s title from her. Some fight words…
A little while later, the Kickoff comes to an end and the official show begins. And it appears that out of the three women’s matches we’re getting, Mickie James and Becky Lynch are kicking the whole thing off!
The match starts off fairly slow, with some aggressive holds and a small fight outside the ring. Both women start off by one-upping the other, and things are looking even throughout. Some highlights are Becky’s Flying Firearm on the outside, Mickie’s Mick-Kick (that leads to a 2-count) and the Diving Seated Senton by James. Throughout the match both women have impressive offense and defense, but after the Mickie-DT gets turned into a Back-body drop by Lynch, things are looking up for the Lass Kicker. She gets a vulnerable James into position for a Dis-Arm-Her but Mickie attempts to reverse it into a roll-up. However, Lynch is one step ahead and does the same, except this time she gets the three-count and thus, the victory.
On Talking Smack, Mickie is discussing the match with Daniel Bryan and Renee Young. The veteran bitterly credits Becky, but in the same breathe claims that she “went easy on her.” And when asked about whether she underestimated the Lass Kicker, she says that she never discredited her, she just wanted respect for her generation and those before her, and nothing else.
A few matches later, Nikki Bella and Natalya aim to settle their differences in their contest. Bella comes out to a roaring crowd in her home state of Arizona, and a bitter Neidhart rips a fan’s sign out of their hands during her entrance. Yikes. The match then begins and we get a very aggressive alteration from the beginning. With a ton of holds and heavy shoves into the ground, it’s clear that we’re in for a good one. Natalya lets her bitterness show when she constantly screams about her hatred of Nikki to the crowd. And whilst she does this, Bella manages to lock in some impressive submissions and vicious moves. After getting out of a submission, Neidhart rolls outside of the ring, but then quickly gets kicked in the back. Aiming to recover from the move, Natalya gets up, but is unfortunately hit with an impressive flying clothesline by Nikki. The home-state crowd is then immediately cheering for the ‘Total Bellas’ star.
Pretty soon we see Neidhart get to her feet, except this time round she asks for a time-out from her opponent. And although Nikki refuses to give it to her, Natalya takes ahold of the distraction and shoves her opponent into the ring post.
Back inside the ring, Natalya remains on the top of the match. And as she is beating down on Nikki, she waves at “Mama Bella” in the crowd, who doesn’t appear to be too pleased by the situation.
There are many times where feel as though either woman can win. Between Nikki’s Spinebuster, Natalya’s Sharpshooter and Bella’s Fearless Lock, it appears that neither woman wants to give up.
At one point, after escaping a Fearless Lock that looks as though it’s forced Neidhart to tap out, the Queen of Black Harts takes ahold the situation by shoving Nikki onto the mat outside ruthlessly. A brawl then follows that involves punches the face, a shove into the barricade and knees to the head. As the referee continues the count and is at a 9, Bella rushes to the ring. However, Natalya grabs her opponent and tosses her into the barricade, forcing the official to complete his 10-count.
Back inside the ring, the ladies quarrel about the unfinished ending to the match. Neidhart, sensing an opportunity, knocks Nikki to the ground with a forearm, and then smugly walks away. However, unfortunately for the Queen of Black Harts, Nikki gets up and catches up with her enemy in time to viciously spear her into the ground. Natalya does manage to get away after the attack however, and a held back Nikki is far from pleased.
Following the match, Nikki expresses how sick she is of Natalya to Renee Young. But before she can get into it, Natalya knocks her from behind and a brawl follows through. The two really go at it, and at one point we see Bella shoved into Maryse, with baby powder going everywhere. Looks like the ‘Mania rumors could be true after all…
And then, before the Elimination Chamber match itself takes place, the SmackDown Women’s championship is put on the line! Naomi goes straight at Alexa with a few offensive attacks, utilizing the turnbuckles and her fists. At one point she attempts a springboard attack, but Bliss shoves her down, back first into the ring mat. Alexa’s aggression then shows as she punches the challenger in the face again and again, following it with a desperate 2-count pin. Bliss continues to take control and even pulls on Naomi’s hair, damaging her scalp. Following this, the two then quickly trade turns with the control of the match. Alexa inserts an impressive pin attempt that starts from the top rope, whilst Naomi wows the audience with a strong kick to the champion’s head.
An aggressive Bliss soon runs up on Naomi but receives a thunderous Rear View in return. Unfortunately for the challenger however, the champ kicks out of the pin attempt that follows. As if she is returning the favour, Naomi manages to kick out of Alexa’s pin that follows a DDT, and thus evens the playing field.
The Glowtastic one manages to knock her opponent to the ground, but mistakenly misses a springboard attempt that Alexa moves away from. This allows the champ to insert a pin, but the referee notices that she has her feet on the rope and calls her out on it. A stressed out Bliss then complains – the way we all love – and moves forward with aggressive kicks and punches to her laid out opponent. Alexa then inserts a Twisted Bliss from the top ropes but lands nastily on Naomi’s knees. She then rolls weakly to the corner and falls victim to Naomi’s Springboard Split-Legged Moonsault, and also the 1. 2. 3.
Yes. This really happened.
As soon as Naomi gets the three count and uproar in cheers from the audience explodes around the arena. Fans are on their feet an a victorious Naomi raises her arm – and her new title – in the air.
Renee Young then comes out to congratulate the new champion, and a “you deserve it!” chant then takes over the arena, causing the new champion to tear up. She says that Alexa was a challenging opponent, but she managed to “snatch” the title from her and will be taking it to her hometown of Orlando, Florida at Wrestlemania.
Once backstage, Naomi celebrates her victory with husband Jimmy Uso and she is looking more than perfect with her shiny new belt!
On Talking Smack, Alexa claims that the sun had drained her and that she was too sick and tired to fight properly. She insists that Naomi will walk into Wrestlemania in her hometown as champion “over [her] dead body” as over the next seven weeks, the rematch will allow Bliss to retain her belt.
When Naomi joins the post-show panel, Bryan says that she earned the opportunity. But he also makes sure to credit the hard push that the fans have been giving her. Naomi is then told of Alexa’s excuses and announces that she will help Alexa get the sleep and food she needs, as she will prove that tonight was not just a fluke. Before the show ends, the new SmackDown Women’s champion thanks the Universe for their support, and appears to be more than grateful for the opportunity.
Throughout the night we check in on Carmellsworth in their skybox after each women’s match. Carmella doesn’t seem too bothered by any of the matches, and it appears that Ellsworth wants to impress her so much he repeats every statement she makes!
Thoughts: This is probably the greatest one-brand-only pay-per-view since the brand-split – and probably the best pay-per-view altogether. From start to finish we see some fantastic contests, and the women truly proved why they are some of the best WWE has seen in a long time. This is truly a fantastic division, and Elimination Chamber is all the proof you need.
From the first match we see a veteran take on one of the best of today. The job that these two had was to not only extend their feud, but to kickoff the entire show. The momentum from this match would bounce onto the rest, so there was some pressure there. Fortunately, as some of the best talent either women’s division has seen, there were few errors in tonight’s performance.
James made Lynch out to be a tough opponent with her great selling of Becky’s tough moves. And on the flip side, James made herself out to be pretty great also with some impressive offense attacks.
Both Lynch and James had a lot to lose and a lot to gain from here. Fans have been criticizing Lynch’s matches with Bliss, whilst James has yet to really grasp the attention from the crowd since her return. However, this match proved that Becky is still a brilliant fighter whilst Mickie managed to get some heat throughout the contest.
It’s clear that with the roll-up victory – and James’ bitter words on Talking Smack – that this feud isn’t over. And with the ex-champ sitting right next to Mickie and she went on about her forgotten legacy, I doubt it’ll be a one-on-one match when the two reunite.
The show stealer (if we ignore the main event) is definitely Nikki Bella vs Natalya. Throughout their feud we’ve seen some awkward yelling, repetitive fights and some negativity from fans. However this match blew us all away with its phenomenal storytelling and impressive fighting. Bella and Neidhart never really get given credit for having great matches. We do hear of Natalya’s matches with Charlotte, but besides that, their best gets pushed aside a lot. This match refuses to do that.
From the very beginning we see both woman eager to knock the other down. Natalya’s vicious bitterness shines through with her hateful comments towards the crowd whilst Nikki’s fighting spirit comes out during her impressive offense. Between the flying clothesline, Fearless Lock, Sharpshooter and use of the barricade, it’s clear that neither woman wants to give up. They both push through with aggressive attacks, and there are points where we’re made to think the contest will come to a close – yet it doesn’t. This is the type of match that the women need to tell a story. It’s clear that Natalya is the bitter veteran whilst Nikki is her empowering, accomplished ex-best friend. Nikki remains focused on winning the match as she inserts enticing attacks and refuses to lay down. And on the other hand Natalya stays focused on the crowd, allowing her emotions to get the better of her by lashing out on them. This match is one that I know that I’ll want to watch again and again. And I’m so glad that neither woman comes out on top, ‘cos I haven’t had enough!
If the two are to feud for a while, I can see it ending at Wrestlemania. With Nikki’s time potentially running out, a Loser Leaves WWE stipulation could benefit both of them. Nikki would be able to retire with her best friend in the business whilst Natalya will be able to garner heat from a win at such a big stage.
But it appears that with that shove to Maryse – as well as the fact that John Cena pinned The Miz, we may see the mixed tag match after all… Maryse and Miz will bitterly target Cena and the Fearless One from here on out, and the blood will be settled at ‘Mania.
And now onto the title match. What a moment this is for Naomi! For so long she’s gone on about how it is her time to shine, and she’s finally gotten it.
The great part about this win is that I didn’t think it would happen now. With the high momentum that Naomi has gotten prior to the match, it tends to be traditional for someone with this build to lose. With Bliss looking so incredibly weak over the past fortnight or so, I really didn’t see it coming. Naomi’s hometown is where Mania will be, and her first title win could have found its home in such an iconic place. But then again, all of that would have made a Bliss win tonight ever so predictable.
The match itself is a great one. It wasn’t exactly a “mat classic” but it was good. It sold both women as viable competitors and they both played their respective roles perfectly.
Naomi’s gimmick is that she shines more and more each time she succeeds. And with the amount of success she’s received recently, it only makes sense for her to outdo the newer talent here. It proves that “feeling the glow” is more than just a catchphrase, and that her underdog gimmick is one to watch.
The match also makes Alexa a little more interesting. With her height taken into account, and the fact that she hasn’t been around long enough, a long-term and athletic talent like Naomi was practically guaranteed the win. And with Bliss taking this loss, it can only make her become more frustrated, angry and scary. These consecutive losses are embarrassing. And for them to happen to a woman with so much pride, it must be taking its toll on her. So what I’m expecting is for this to quickly build up into an even angrier Bliss, except this time she becomes more dominant as well. Over the next seven weeks, Bliss will likely become more and more aggressive, as Naomi’s glow will be rubbed in her face. And come ‘Mania, she’ll most likely get her revenge on Naomi, and steal the glow in Orlando, Florida, positioning herself as the top female heel.
How did you find this PPV? Are you happy about the title change? How do you see the side feuds going on from this point? Let us know your views in the comments below!