Part 5 of our look into time-strapped lockdown suitable matches takes us to the women’s division in WWE.
For too long the “Divas” were seen as an afterthought and only eye-candy, but nowadays you could not imagine a card or show without multiple main event level matches throughout the night. Given their rightly deserved push in the mid-2010s, the competitors in the women’s division have grown to be showcased alongside their male counterparts with their own Royal Rumble, Money in the Bank matches and WrestleMania main events.
Don’t get me wrong, it was not just WWE’s choice to push the division that put them in the spotlight – the hard work and dedication of the multi-talented roster just showed the world what we had been missing for years on end. Name after name being brought through the ranks of the WWE Performance Centre keeps the division fresh and exciting with the bar being raised over and over again.
The talent themselves have taken the ball and ran with it and made it the monster it is today. But obviously don’t forget to give Stephanie McMahon credit for creating the whole thing in the first place…
So here is a look at five memorable matches from WWE’s women’s division throughout the years that even though went under five minutes long, just shows you what talent they had/have at their disposal.
Aja Kong vs Chaparita Asari – Monday Night RAW, 11th December 1995 (4 minutes, 4 seconds)
Ok now I will admit, I might have made it sound like this would be five modern matches from the WWE women’s division, but I couldn’t help but overlook this era and some of the stars that participated. Bull Nakano, Alundra Blayze and Aja Kong lit up the mid-90s with a strong and athletic style we had never seen in the division until then.
This New Generation match is a great opener and deserves a mention in our list. Kong’s size and strength advantage were too much for Asari in the end, but the smaller more agile Asari had Kong rocking from the opening bell. Two backflip handspring dropkicks had Kong shaken but it wasn’t long before the tide turned in the legend’s favour.
Kong soon took control and could have won the match three times before she eventually did. A vertical suplex, package piledriver and a big splash had her opponent finished off each time but the cocky Kong lifted her opponent off the mat before the referee could count her out. Asari missed a corkscrew splash from the top so Kong finished her off with a brutal spinning back fist to put an end to this impressive display.
Ember Moon vs Billie Kay – NXT Takeover Brooklyn II, 20th August 2016 (4 minutes, 34 seconds)
Ember Moon’s NXT debut was one to remember. Not only we saw one of the most exciting members of the women’s evolution for the first time, but we also saw the debut her incredible finisher: the Eclipse.
Now, of course, this match was set up to showcase Moon and plant her firmly in the conversation for NXT women’s title contenders, but Billie Kay showed she was no pushover here. The future iconic women’s tag team champion caught Moon with an Eat Defeat, a Widow’s Peak backbreaker and a Gory Special to show her worth in the division too.
But it was Moon who had the hot Takeover crowd oohing and ahhing as she cartwheeled and flipped out of Kay’s early offence and landed a middle rope springboard crossbody. As her comeback roared on, she squashed Kay with a front flip clothesline in the corner that set Kay up perfectly for our first glimpse at the Eclipse. Moon climbed the ropes, jumped, forward rolled in mid-air, caught Kay as she came down and connected with a perfectly timed stunner. We had one of the now-famous NXT “wow”s from the crowd as one-by-one they got to their feet and began applauding even before the referee counted the eventual three count.
Shayna Baszler vs Candice LeRae – Mae Young Classic 2017 quarterfinals, 4th September 2017 (3 minutes, 12 seconds)
This was the perfect example of how to get over and stay strong even in a losing effort. The big vs small story was played out perfectly here. Candice had Shayna rocked from the early going and was impressive, coming so close to pulling off the upset, only for the stronger Baszler to transition her deadly submission out of nowhere to pick up the win.
Baszler did not mess around. In her first move, she knocked LeRae to the mat with a jumping knee to the face but seconds later LeRae got Shayna on the outside, dove through the ropes and hit an excellently smooth tornado DDT. Back inside LeRae locked in an octopus submission and fluidly transitioned into a Gargano escape.
The Queen of Spades was shaken and tried to scratch and claw her way to the ropes, only for LeRae to push off with her feet, gain some separation and keep the hold locked in for a few more seconds. But the tide eventually turned. Baszler powered up and broke the submission with a side-slam. Candice went up top and looked to hit her Wild Ride from the top rope, but Baszler showed her ring IQ and locked in the Kirifuda clutch mid-move in MID-AIR and gave LeRae no choice but to tap out once they both crashed to the mat.
One of the shorter matches in this whole series, but just perfect storytelling.
Deonna Purrazzo vs Priscilla Kelly – Mae Young Classic 2018 first round, 12th September 2018 (4 minutes, 29 seconds)
It is such a shame that Deonna Purrazzo was recently released from her WWE contract. She is very impressive and has a lot to give, and this was on show in bucket loads here in the short time this match was given. Impact has really got a great addition to their roster and hopefully, she can show everyone what she wasn’t able to in her time with NXT.
However back in this opening round match in the 2018 Mae Young Classic against Priscilla Kelly, Kelly rejected the handshake by slapping Deonna’s hand away and that certainly set the tone for her game plan. We were told Purrazzo was a mat technician and had also wrestled three 60 minute iron man matches in her career and it showed, as Kelly had to switch to stiff kicks and strikes to gain any momentum.
Purrazzo showed her amazing athleticism too though as she backflipped into a dropkick then rolled through a side Russian leg sweep into a Fujiwara armbar to pick up the submission win and advance in the tournament. She would later succumb to eventual finalist Io Shirai in the quarter-finals, but not before putting away Xia Li, again by submission, in another great effort.
Io Shirai vs Xia Brookside – Mae Young Classic 2018 first round, 26th September 2018 (3 minutes, 15 seconds)
Another Mae Young entry from 2018 here as we close with a great demonstration of explosiveness from both sides. Robbie Brookside and Kairi Sane were both in the crowd to cheer on the respective competitors but they both showed their mutual appreciation by the time this one was over.
Brookside came flying out the blocks, but as quick as she was, Io matched her all the way. Brookside went for a tilt-a-whirl head scissors but Shirai flipped and landed on her feet. A huge double knees to the chest in the corner nearly had the match over quicker than it was, but Brookside dug deep and kicked out. However, she was floored moments later when Shirai hit a knee to the side of the head.
Xia fired up once more and had the crowd on her side but a big uppercut floored the Brit again. Shirai then took off and hit a brutal looking running Meteora in the corner followed by a low trajectory top rope moonsault that won Shirai the match and set her off on her WWE journey.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @oli_iai