WOW soars with the help of a hot crowd

WOW began this week’s episode by recapping the title storyline: the Beast and Jungle Grrrl are at each other’s throats and Tessa Blanchard has apparently allied herself with evil telenovela lawyer Sophia Lopez to avoid giving the Beast a title shot. It’s not at all clear how Lopez helps Tessa achieve this, since WOW‘s matchmaker is David McLane, the very man explaining her trickery. Is Lopez bribing McLane? Contract storylines are pretty much never good, but this one is so vague it’s impossible to understand or care.

Luckily, this storyline took up a negligible amount of screen time as the show proper opened with Lana Star and the Lioness (she’s dropped “Faith” it seems) coming to the ring for a promo. Star justified replacing Amber O’Neal (fka the Beverly Hills Babe) with the Lionness and claimed their loss to O’Neal and Jessie Jones two weeks ago was illegal as Lana did not tag in voluntarily. O’Neal and Jones showed up to make Lana put her money where her mouth is with a Tag Team Championship series rematch.

O’Neal and especially Jones absolutely ran away with the match, which mainly consisted of them taking turns kicking the stuffing out of the Lioness while Lana refused to tag in, even when O’Neal dragged the Lioness to the corner, grabbed her hand and held it out to Lana. The crowd was very vocal right from the top of the show, booing everyone except Amber, and Jessie Jones most of all, who they greeted with “you suck” chants. However, during a particularly great sequence of Jones working the Lioness’s arm, the crowd actually began to cheer her. Jones has really grown on me as a wrestler this season, a kind of hybrid of Shayna Baszler and Lacey Evans, but with Evans’ conservative gimmick played far more explicit. I’m not sure how exactly you’d turn her face without taking away the core nastiness that makes her so compelling, but given the crowd’s moment of warmth, the potential is there.

The Lioness and Jessie Jones in WOW - Women of Wrestling

The Lioness gained a momentary advantage by knocking Jones down with a spinning heel kick and tagged Lana in for the pin, but Jones kicked out and tagged O’Neal. Her opportunity for vengeance finally at hand, O’Neal made quick work of Lana and doubled up her and Jones’ claim to the tag titles. Despite linger confusion over the structure of the tournament, the tag title series is a consistently entertaining part of every episode and I’d be happy to see several teams win, including O’Neal and Jones, the Psycho Sisters or Sassy Massy and Chantilly Chella.

Next up, a video package recapping Princess Aussie’s feud with Siren the Voodoo Doll and Holidead. We haven’t seen Aussie since her foes kidnapped her and the last hint of her was a video package two weeks ago in which Siren burned Aussie’s bamboo staff. McLane and Dickey raise questions about whether Aussie has been brought under Siren’s control in some way or had her in-ring abilities affected, but she doesn’t look any different when she enters and none of the insinuations are borne out in the match.

She faced Fury of the Psycho Sisters in the episode’s second bout and while it started off merely fine, it gradually turned into a regular barn burner through the simplest of tools: escalation. Fury dominated for most of the match thanks to her tag team partners, who distracted the ref and interfered to rob Aussie of any momentum she gained. But, despite a few opportunities, neither can put the other away and each kick out just raises the tension. The crowd was hot for Aussie, who nearly finished Fury off with some lovely DDTs as the audience broke out in a “fight forever” chant. We almost saw a double countout but both wrestlers just about made it to their feet. Razor and Mezmeriah got a hold of Aussie in the corner while the ref checked on Fury, but she managed to fight them off. Unfortunately, she stumbled right into Fury, who ended the match with an awesome sitout hammerlock spinebuster (similar to Lana’s, but she holds the lock).

Fury and Princess Aussie in WOW - Women of Wrestling

Holidead and Siren showed up to stare down both the Psycho Sisters and Aussie, but we get no real development on what happened to Aussie. We don’t even know how she got away from her kidnappers. I’ll also note at this point that we’ve yet to see Mezmeriah in a match six weeks into the second season and I’m sure I’m not the only person getting antsy to see whether she lives up to the hype. Hopefully her in-ring debut isn’t too far off.

The show continued with another video package, about the newly-formed team of Fire and Adrenaline. They debuted as a team in another another tag title series match, opposite the Temptress and the Dagger. The crowd was virtually volcanic for Fire, and Adrenaline was hardly less beloved. It’s wonderful to see not just two very deserving queer wrestlers, but a real-life queer couple, get over so organically as both individuals and a team. They ruled in their first outing as a team, even as their opponents towered over them. There were some mildly wonky storytelling choices here and there—Dagger refuses to tag in against Fire, even though Fire doesn’t have a particularly intimidating win-loss record—but overall it’s a solid tag match elevated by a super invested crowd.

Adrenaline spent the most time in the ring for her team and shone all the brighter for it, showing off her athleticism with a beautiful headscissors takedown. Temptress and Dagger took turns tagging in and out to torture her and taunt Fire for a long section of the match and when she finally landed a stunner on Temptress to break free, the crowd popped the roof off for the hot tag to Fire. Things descended pretty quickly into a down and dirty brawl with Fire and Temptress at ringside while Dagger nearly stole the match with a sunset flip. But Fire managed to get back in the ring to assist Adrenaline with an absolutely cracking asai DDT that put Dagger away. Shaul asked Fire afterwards what it meant for them to advance and Fire said it was everything she ever wanted and that it was lit in here. The crowd responded with the loudest chant of this or any episode: “Let’s go, Fire!” Adrenaline added that they planned to go all the way in the tag series and it’s at that point I became suspicious.

Fire and Adrenaline take down Dagger in WOW - Women of Wrestling

Fire and Adrenaline are not a couple in kayfabe—at least not yet—but there have been some double entendres to that affect, mainly from Adrenaline. She asked Fire if she wanted to “make this official” when they announced their team, a phrase repeated over and over on commentary. This week, she repeated the phrase “go all the way”. Fire and Adrenaline hadn’t announced their relationship when these episodes were taped, but it’s hard not to wonder if WOW isn’t laying the groundwork for an out queer couple as the new WOW Tag Team Champions. I have to say I’d be very pleased to see that, on top of simply backing Fire and Adrenaline for their in-ring prowess. This team is by far the most over in the entire roster and they’d make fantastic underdog champs in a division where they’re handily outmatched for size by their rivals, not least of all the Monsters of Madness.

Before the main event, we got another recap on the title scene: the Beast brought Tessa a contract for a title match and told her to sign it. McLane wondered whether she’s signed or if Sophia Lopez has figured out a legal workaround. Again, it’s not clear what Lopez could do or would need to do. Tessa can just not sign. Nevertheless, we got a ton of buildup for the revelation of her brilliant strategy of simply not signing. Lopez brought Nikki Krampus to the ring instead for a textbook powerhouse vs powerhouse match with the Beast. They flung their entire bodies at each other for all of four minutes before the Beast put Nikki away with a devastating spear. The Beast called out Tessa and Tessa arrived at ringside to say the Beast couldn’t have a match. Jungle Grrrl emerged to beat the Beast down again with a steel chair and the episode wrapped up with no more clarity on who will face Tessa for the world title next.

Overall, it was a strong episode buoyed by a red hot crowd. The three-way feud over the title remains the weak link in terms of storytelling despite the considerable talents of the Beast, Jungle Grrrl and Tessa. The tag title series grows from strength to strength each week, but the show is withholding too much information from the audience. How many first rounds are there? Who’s gonna face who in the next round? Maybe it’s an attempt to build suspense, but, if so, it’s backfiring. It just gives viewers at home one less thing to talk about between episodes, and WOW deserves to have people talking about it. We can only hope for future clarity to give it a much-needed narrative kick. In the meantime, at least the matches rock.

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