Charlotte Flair returns to SmackDown. IMPACT Wrestling gears up for Hard To Kill. Saraya speaks on Sasha Banks amid rumors of her possible debut in AEW. Erica Leigh speaks with WrestleZone, and more! Let’s break it down in this week’s edition of Women’s Wrestling Wrap-Up!
SmackDown Women’s Championship On The Line: Rousey (c) vs Rodriguez
Last Friday on the blue brand, Ronda Rousey put the SmackDown Women’s Championship on the line against Raquel Rodriguez. Despite a previous arm injury, Rodriguez powered through an intense gauntlet match to earn the title shot against Rousey.
With Rodriguez’s arm tapped up, she put up a valiant effort against “The Baddest Woman On The Planet.” In the end, though, Rodriguez mounted Rousey on the top rope, which proved to be her downfall. From the top turnbuckle, Rousey locked in her signature armbar on Rodriguez, before sending them crashing down to the mat. Rousey kept the submission cinched in, forcing Rodriguez to tap out. Therefore, Ronda Rousey retains the title….for now.
.@RaquelWWE just slammed the champ onto the ring apron ?#SmackDown pic.twitter.com/KpDPDrU4Xn
— WWE (@WWE) December 31, 2022
A brief recap of the match conclusion can be read below, courtesy of our live coverage page.
Rodriguez tries her powerbomb but Rousey counters with an armbar while on her shoulders. Rodriguez and Rousey fall out of the ring. Rousey tries to escape, but Rodriguez holds on. Rodriguez powerbombs Rousey on the apron. After the break, Rodriguez tries another powerbomb. Rousey reverses it into a sleeper. Rodriguez drives Rousey into the top turnbuckle to break the hold. Big boot by Rodriguez.
Rodriguez knocks Baszler off the apron. Spinning elbow by Rodriguez. Baszler puts Rousey’s foot on the rope in full view of the referee. Rodriguez sits Rousey on the top rope. Rousey turns that into an armbar on the top. Rodriguez screams in pain. Rousey and Rodriguez fall off the top. Rousey holds on, and Rodriguez taps out immediately.
Winner and STILL SmackDown Women’s Champion, Ronda Rousey!
Charlotte Flair Returns
“The Queen” has returned to reclaim her throne.
Before Rousey could celebrate her successful title defense, she soon met a familiar face. After 7 months away, Charlotte Flair made her grand return, shocking her former foe, Ronda Rousey.
Wasting little time, Flair issued a challenge to Rousey: a match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship. Though Rousey’s ally Shayna Baszler expressed her apprehension, Rousey ultimately agreed, laying the title on the line. Flair quickly landed a big boot on her opponent, but Rousey managed to power out, leading Flair to attempt a spear instead. Rousey would counter it into an armbar submission, but Flair shifted her momentum into a roll-up to gain the pinfall on Rousey.
With this win, Charlotte Flair becomes the new SmackDown Women’s Champion, and a 14-time World Champion overall. In addition, this win marked her tenth consecutive calendar year of holding a women’s championship, as she headed into 2023 with the title.
Upon her explosive victory, Flair vowed to give her “blood, sweat & tears” in a “new era” with “new victims,” via a post on her InstagramAssuming Flair holds onto the title leading into the Royal Rumble on January 28, this will also mark back-to-back years she’s entered the Big Four pay-per-view with championship gold.
WHAT IS GOING ON?!?!@MsCharlotteWWE IS BACK AND JUST WON THE #SMACKDOWN WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP!!!#SmackDown pic.twitter.com/Rl3nSKyiZb
— WWE (@WWE) December 31, 2022
RELATED: Charlotte Flair Comments On WWE SmackDown Women’s Title Win
IMPACT Knockouts Poised To Be Hard To Kill
IMPACT Wrestling will host its 2023 Hard To Kill pay-per-view next weekend, with two huge Knockouts matches on the card so far.
As previously announced, Mickie James will vie for the Knockouts Championship against the reigning titleholder, Jordynne Grace. If James loses, her “Last Rodeo” will come to an end. If she wins, though, she soon has a hungry number one contender waiting in the wings.
In addition to the Knockouts Championship match, three of IMPACT’s top Knockouts will compete for the title of number one contender. There, Masha Slamovich, Deonna Purrazzo, and Taylor Wilde will do battle in a triple threat match. Following her back-to-back losses against Grace, Slamovich looks to regroup and re-enter the title picture. “The Virtuosa” Deonna Purrazzo will aim to add another title reign to her books. Taylor Wilde, on the other hand, looks to carve a new legacy, as she recently introduced a new character into her work, the “Wilde Witch.”
The winner of this triple threat match will secure a future title shot against the woman who walks out of Hard To Kill as Knockouts Champion, whether that be Mickie James or Jordynne Grace.
BREAKING: @mashaslamovich, @DeonnaPurrazzo and @RealTaylorWilde will face off in a Number One Contenders Match on Friday, January 13th at #HardToKill from Center Stage in Atlanta, GA!
Get tickets HERE: https://t.co/E2zAXA5lOP pic.twitter.com/wtVza63yiP
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) December 30, 2022
The updated card for IMPACT Hard To Kill, as of January 3rd, is as follows:
Full Metal Mayhem Match for the IMPACT World Championship
Josh Alexander (c) vs. Bully Ray
Title vs. Career Match for the IMPACT Knockouts World Championship
Jordynne Grace (c) vs. Mickie James
IMPACT World Tag Team Championship
Motor City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley) vs. Major Players (Matt Cardona & Brian Myers) vs. Heath & Rhino vs. Bullet Club (Ace Austin & Chris Bey)
IMPACT X-Division Championship
Trey Miguel (c) vs. Black Taurus
#1 Contender’s Match
Deonna Purrazzo vs. Masha Slamovich vs. Taylor Wilde
Jonathan Gresham vs. Eddie Edwards
“The Glampire” Praises “The Boss”
With Sasha Banks’ debut in New Japan Pro Wrestling coming up, former rival Saraya recently weighed in on Banks’ impressive moves in professional wrestling.
“I love the fact that she took her career into her own hands,” Saraya told Alistair McGeorge of Metro, “and she knows her worth and she knows she wants to be treated a certain way, and she deserves to be treated that way because she’s done a lot for the wrestling business.”
‘She’s one of the girls that puts butts in seats,” she continued, “and you want to see wrestle and you wanna see main event. She deserves all those things.”
In addition to Banks arriving for a series of dates with NJPW, rumors have swirled of her potentially joining All Elite Wrestling as well. ‘Wherever she ends up, I’m gonna be happy for her,” Saraya said, “and anyone that gets her is gonna be very, very lucky. I just selfishly hope that I get to wrestle her one day.”
Though nothing is confirmed at this point, Saraya does have a mystery partner teaming with her on January 11 against Britt Baker and AEW Women’s Champion Jamie Hayter, which many believe could be Sasha Banks herself — either under her real name of Mercedes Varnado or her newly trademarked name of Mone’ Banks.
READ MORE: Saraya On Sasha Banks: She Puts Butts In Seats, I Selfishly Hope I Get To Wrestle Her One Day
2022 ECWA Women’s Super 8 winner Erica Leigh spoke with WrestleZone’s own Ella Jay about making history in ECWA, pushing through injuries over the last year, her unique approach to character work, her vast success throughout the pandemic, and much more.
AAA Reina De Reinas Champion Taya Valkyrie appeared on the Retro Chat Podcast to discuss the IMPACT Knockouts division, her future plans in wrestling, returning to the United Kingdom, and more.
IMPACT Wrestling Knockout Gisele Shaw joined the Excuse Me: The Vickie Guerrero Show to discuss wrestling, Tik Tok, skydiving with Vickie, her journey as an actress and stunt woman, working with IMPACT, and more.
WWE Superstar Emma appeared on Out of Character with Ryan Satin to talk about her return to WWE, her NXT stint, training to wrestle at 13 years old, traveling the world, and more!