Tessa Blanchard and Serpiente on WOW

Serpentine stuns in her terrific WOW “debut”

WOW – Women of Wrestling kept its second season rolling with a cracking main event title match between Tessa Blanchard and Serpentine. Serpentine previously competed on the first season of WOW under her Lucha Underground moniker “Kobra Moon” and is also known as Thunder Rosa on the independent circuit. She is set to make her MMA debut later this year.

This week’s episode opened with the World Champion drinking by an open fireplace. Evil telenovela lawyer Sophia Lopez, who managed Kobra Moon last season, arrived abruptly to hand Tessa a briefcase full of money.

In the ring, Lana Star appeared with her protege the Beverly Hills Babe to announce she had decided to enter the WOW Tag Team Championship Series. McLane et al. have yet to explain the structure of the tournament, even though we’re two rounds in by the end of the episode. Lana built up to the reveal of her partner: not the Beverly Hills Babe, but Faith the Lionness. Lana gave the Babe one last chance to prove her worthiness by defeating the Lionness.

The Beverly Hills Babe ran roughshod over Faith the Lionness throughout the match, to the extent I can only remember one thing the Lioness did the entire time. Unfortunately, that one thing was roll the Babe up for a sneaky pin after she spent too long taunting Lana at ringside. If the point of the match was to put over the Babe as an in-ring threat, well, I’m sold. If the point was to build Lana Star and Faith the Lionness as a formidable tag team, well, I wouldn’t be putting bets on them lifting the titles anytime soon.

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In a backstage segment, Abilene Maverick ran into Stephy Slays, who insists she’s still owed a rematch from last season, but the Governor’s Daughter shut her down. Maverick is up against a debuting Adrenaline (aka Diamante), who dominated Maverick with her strength and technical ability. Maverick found her sole brief window of advantage by begging Adrenaline for mercy, then striking when her opponent hesitated, but it didn’t last long. Adrenaline put Maverick away with a destroyer and immediately established herself as a contender to the world title. It’s all powerhouses crowding round the title at the moment, and while one of Jungle Grrrl, The Beast and Havok will probably get the next title shot, it’s performers like Adrenaline I’d be watching when it comes to long-term prospects of unseating the champ.

Holidead and Siren the Voodoo Doll cut a brief video promo about entering the Tag Team Series, just before a longer package about their opponents, the Bully Busters. Stephy Slays and Keta Rush were both victims of bullying—Rush was beaten into hospital as a teen—and now they fight together against bullies to inspire young kids. It was a lovely package, its message somewhat undercut by the backstage segment immediately after. Slays noticed Maverick licking her wounds after her match and leaned in through the locker room door to ask her how it feels to be a loser, complete with her finger and her thumb in the shape of an L on the forehead. Folks, she was looking kinda dumb.

The second match of the Tag Team Series was a bit of a mess. It started with some nice spots in stereo, but something just didn’t click once it kicked off in earnest. Siren kind of disappeared for a lot of it, and while Holidead kept the pace at a decent clip, it just made me wonder why she wasn’t enjoying a singles run. But the worst part was an apparent referee error, mistaking Holidead for the legal competitor instead of Siren and counting both a pin attempt on Holidead from Stephy Slays as well as Holidead’s winning pin on Slays. Or, at least that’s what David McLane insisted on commentary, assuring viewers the ref’s decision would be reviewed. It’s a dumb angle to pursue at this point, adding another layer of complication to the Tag Team Series when the rules remain unclear. If it was McLane improvising based on a real referee error during the tapings, I wish he hadn’t. Just ADR in the ref shouting “tag” when Siren is driven into the corner and rerecord the commentary.

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Backstage, in the actual best anti-bullying segment of the episode, Jessie Jones, of all people, found a crying Beverly Hills Babe and gave her a pep talk. She remembers the real Amber O’Neal. Not the Beverly Hills Babe. The Bullet Babe. And she doesn’t need Lana Star or anyone else to validate her! I’m surprised by this humanizing moment from Ms. Make Wrasslin Great Again, but it’s somehow more sincerely uplifting than the Bully Busters. I’m also intrigued by the possibility of a new tag team whose members seem like friends, which we’ve sorely lacked thusfar.

The main event paid off on Sophia Lopez’s briefcase of money with the reveal of Serpentine, who was immediately identified as the former Kobra Moon by Stephen Dickey on commentary. Dickey said he thought Kobra Moon was no longer competing for WOW. McLane explained that, according to Lopez’s airtight contract for the match, Serpentine was competing, not Kobra Moon. I assume this is a reference to some behind-the-scenes squabble between WOW and Lucha Underground, but it didn’t translate to the screen at all.

The match itself was excellent, beginning with an odd, erratic pace where Tessa would pummel Serpiente, and then Serpentine would just get up and do a weird dance. The champ was running away with the win at first, but she just couldn’t put Serpentine away. Suddenly, it transformed a foregone conclusion to one of those matches where a little part of you believes an upset is possible. Tessa laid Serpentine out with lariats, but Serpentine cut Tessa down with clothelines, and she just wouldn’t stop kicking out.

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Tessa began to scream with frustration and tried to superplex Serpentine over the rope onto the ringside barrier, but Serpentine overpowered her and suplexed Tessa into the ring. Every kickout—Serpentine’s or her own—made Tessa more and more furious. She went into the match expecting no real threat but Serpentine pushed her to the limit, making her earn every cent of Sophia Lopez’s dirty money. Eventually, a superkick and a hammerlock DDT secured the win for the champ, but both wrestlers came out of what was supposed to be a kind of inconsequential match looking really great, especially Serpentine.

Unfortunately, rather than take even a second to ruminate on the match or give literally any attention to Serpentine after the bell rang, Tessa’s rivals appeared to glare at her: Jungle Grrrl and The Beast alone, Havok accompanied by Hazard. WOW is leaning hard on this four-way feud as the show’s through line for the moment, but two episodes into this season, none seem like the most exciting opponent for the champ. Hopefully, it either heats up or wraps up very soon.

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