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Women’s Wrestling Wrap-Up: Royal Rumble Preview, Saraya & Toni Storm Turn Heel, Kaia McKenna Interview

The 2023 Royal Rumble continues to take shape. Saraya and Toni Storm turn heel on AEW Dynamite. “Poison” comes back to bite Mickie James. Kaia McKenna speaks with WrestleZone and more! Let’s break it down in this week’s edition of Women’s Wrestling Wrap-Up!

Royal Rumble Preview

The 2023 WWE Royal Rumble is just a few days away, with the annual Royal Rumble matches continuing to take shape. Just four days away, though, the respective women’s iteration appears to be more surprised-filled than ever before.

As of this writing, only seven women have been confirmed for the big contest, leaving 23 spots available for the traditional 30-woman match.

Former SmackDown Women’s Champion Liv Morgan was the first to declare herself for the Royal Rumble on the January 6 edition of the blue brand. “The Royal Rumble. 30 women fighting for the same spot, sounds like complete chaos,” Morgan said in a backstage promo. “But luckily for me, I live for chaos. Entering the Royal Rumble last, that would be the easy thing to do, right? But if I had it my way, I’d enter the ring first and beat the crap out of every single superstar that came down there after me. So, if anyone else in the locker room still thinks that they could come out on top and move on to WrestleMania, watch me.”

The following Monday on RAW, two more women joined the field. “The Poison Pixie” Candice LeRae announced her entrance into the match, before being interrupted by Rhea Ripley shortly afterward. “The Nightmare” then proclaimed she would win the Rumble herself.

The next four entrants in the women’s Rumble match stemmed from the SmackDown brand. Raquel Rodriguez, Shayna Baszler, and Zelina Vega all officially declared themselves, while Emma was added to the match graphic last night on RAW during the Royal Rumble card rundown.

Also on the card, Bianca Belair will defend her RAW Women’s Championship against Alexa Bliss.

The two have had quite the tension in recent weeks following Bliss’ attack on Belair after their initial title match earlier this month. Last night on RAW, Belair defeated Sonya Deville but quickly pivoted her attention to Bliss.

“The EST” said Bliss can bring anyone she wants to their match on Saturday — whether it be Bray Wyatt or Uncle Howdy — but it won’t matter, as Belair intends to retain her title. Soon after, Alexa Bliss appeared on the Titantron, reminding Belair that “I am your only obstacle.”

As the camera turned to reveal Bliss was speaking into a mirror, Bliss issued a warning: “I don’t need anyone to tear your face open with bare own hands, But don’t worry, I’ll spare your eyes so you can watch me walk out of Royal Rumble with the RAW Women’s Championship.”

The 2023 Royal Rumble will air this Saturday, January 28 from San Antonio, Texas.

RELATED: WWE Raw Results (1/23/23)

Saraya & Toni Storm Turn Heel

Following their loss to Jamie Hayter and Britt Baker on January 11, Saraya was not happy with Hikaru Shida for accidentally costing herself and Toni Storm the matchup. As a result, Saraya demanded that Shida stray away from ringside during Storm’s match with Willow Nightingale on the January 18 edition of AEW Dynamite.

Furthermore, Saraya made a bold point. “These AEW homegrown girls, they’ve just been in this bubble and they’ve never done anything else. They don’t know what we know,” she said. 

Although Saraya barred her from ringside, Shida showed up anyways, with a kendo stick in hand. Toward the conclusion of the match, Saraya stepped up to the apron to distract the referee and Willow Nightingale. This gave way for Toni Storm to surprise Nightingale with a roll-up, and a handful full of tights, to gain the victory.

Following Storm’s win, she, along with Saraya, stomped down Nightingale, unleashing a post-match assault. Luckily for Nightingale, though, the attack didn’t last long, as Ruby Soho rushed down to save her and force Saraya and Storm to leave the ring. Meanwhile, Hikaru Shida intently watched from ringside, with no inclination towards either side.

Mickie James Meets Her Poison

Following Mickie James‘ successful victory, and subsequent title win, at Hard To Kill, she quickly drew a target on her back.

On the January 19 edition of IMPACT Wrestling, Bully Ray confronted the new Knockouts Champion. When James refused to leave the ring, Tasha Steelz and Savannah Evans emerged in support of Bully. Eventually, Jordynne Grace and Frankie Kazarian rushed out to save James from a beatdown, leading to a mixed tag team match.

A recap of the six-person tag team match can be read below, courtesy of our live coverage page.

Tasha and Jordynne start the action with strikes. Grace slams Tasha before tagging in Evans. Grace powerslams Evans and summons Bully to come in. Evans attacks Grace from behind. Mickie comes in and takes Evans to the corner for kicks. Evans comes back and boots Mickie. Evans connects with a float over suplex to take the champ down. Mickie spikes Evans with a takedown, followed by Thezs press. Bully pulls Mickie down by her hair before commercial.

After the break, Bully slams Mickie and trash talks in her face on the mat. Evans comes in to pick Mickie apart further. Steelz locks Mickie in a camel clutch. Micki breaks free but eats a pump kick, nearfall. Jordynne tags in to wipe out both Evans and Steelz. Jordynne lifts up Bully, but he gets out and chops her. Kazarian makes the save. Evans punches Frankie but Mickie comes in and tackles Steelz to get the three.

Winners: Mickie James, Jordynne Grace & Frankie Kazarian

Before James could relish in her team’s victory, though, number one contender Masha Slamovich came out to deliver a message to the champion. “The Russian Dynamite” then issued a death warrant to Mickie James. In response, James shoved it right back at her.

“You picked your poison Mickie. What happens when it comes back and poisons you?” Slamovich wrote via Twitter, referencing the history between the two. In October 2021, James hand-selected Slamovich to represent her in a “Pick Your Poison” matchup against former foe Deonna Purrazzo. With her impressive performance in the matchup at Knockouts Knockdown, Slamovich was offered a contract, and eventually signed to IMPACT Wrestling.

Shortly after the encounter, IMPACT announced that the two will officially lock up for the first time next month at No Surrender for the Knockouts Championship. Now on February 24th, Mickie James will come face-to-face with the “poison” she let into the door at IMPACT.


“The Conduit of Karma” Kaia McKenna speaks with WrestleZone’s own Ella Jay about working at a skateboard shop, how to create one’s own magic, reinjuring her shoulder at AAW, the physical and mental struggles of recovery, and much more.

“Top Tier” Jazmin Allure appeared on Instinct Culture with Denise Salcedo to discuss her outings on AEW Dark, competing on WWE Main Event, signing with Women of Wrestling (WOW) and more.

7-time IMPACT Knockouts Champion Gail Kim spoke with Women’s Wrestling Talk about potentially facing Mickie James, IMPACT Hard To Kill, moments with Don West, and more.

“The Majesty Of Pain” KiLynn King chatted with Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful about returning to AEW, her work in the National Wrestling Alliance, her journey in free agency Mickie James, and more.


Read More: Mickie James Shares What She’s Learned From Nick Aldis About The Wrestling Business