The Nightmare Sisters took on Penelope Ford and Mel in the quarterfinals of the AEW Women's Tag Team Cup Tournament
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The AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup tournament began Monday night.

To say that the women’s division is something of a fixer-upper is an understatement. In AEW’s young life, the women have suffered from brief matches and short-sighted booking.

But the summer tournament may be the women’s time to shine. AEW managed to spin gold with its weekly YouTube series, AEW Dark.

Here’s hoping the AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup can bring a much-needed jolt to a stalling division.

Hall of Famer Madusa introduced the AEW Women's Tag Team Cup Tournament

Pageantry

Tony Schiavone calls the action of the AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup Tournament alongside Veda Scott. Okay, that’s a very AEW choice. Scott has a lot of cred having been with both ROH and Shimmer. Indie credibility, but not so indie that she’s a nobody.

They bring out WWE Hall of Famer Madusa to introduce the cup. I dunno, maybe it’s the elderly, 80s/90s mark in me. But I always preferred her as Alundra Blayze.

Also, AEW has some stones, letting Madusa stand that close to a receptacle. Hopefully somebody has eyes on the AEW Women’s Championship.

So the AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup at least gives the women’s division the illusion of credibility.

The Nightmare Sisters double-team Mel in the AEW Women's Tag Team Cup Tournament

The Nightmare Sisters (W/ QT Marshall & Dustin Rhodes) Vs. Penelope Ford And Mel (W/ Kip Sabian)

Hey, I remember Mel. You know, the Nightmare Collective? Awesome Kong and Brandi shaving peoples’ heads ‘n stuff? Anybody? Is this thing on?

Oh, wait. Tony actually acknowledged that Brandi brought Mel into AEW. Sorry. I know it’s been 15 months, but I’m still not used to announcers who pay attention.

Ford and Allie start this AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup quarterfinal match. Ford goes for a kick to the gut to start into a side headlock. Allie fights out only to end up back in the headlock. Now Allie fights out for real, but she wastes time preening and gets rolled up for two.

I like that just because the AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup is a limited series, they’re still keeping Allie completely in character. Allie comes back with a running knee that missed by, well, a little bit, for two.

Brandi tags in, and they bounce Ford off the rope, but Mel makes a blind tag and goes right after Brandi. Mel slams Brandi’s face into the mat for a couple minutes. And the announcers continue to reference the history. With Mel in the corner, Brandi hits a running elbow before tagging in Allie, who hits a running dropkick for two.

Allie nails a standing back elbow into a neckbreaker for a two-count. She goes for another pin and gets another two-count. Mel gets to her feet and pushes Allie into the heels’ corner. Ford tags back in and rakes Allie’s eyes across the ropes. She goes for a big swing, but Allie ducks and hits a forearm. Allie goes for a running attack, but Kip pulls Ford out of the ring.

QT and Kip jaw at each other. Allie hits another forearm and throws Ford back into the ring, but Mel comes out of nowhere with a big boot. Mel throws Allie back inside, and Ford hits a fireman’s carry into knees to Allie’s chest for two. Ford tries to choke Allie out with her boot in the corner. She pulls Allie back into the heels’ corner, and Mel tags in. Mel commences with the beatdown and slams her head into the mat. Allie crawls toward her corner, but Mel puts her down with a double ax-handle to the back. She drags Allie back to the corner, where Ford tags back in.

Ford goes for a suplex, but Allie reverses into a cradle for two. A running clothesine puts Allie on the mat, but it only gets two. Allie fights her way back up, but Ford hits a club to the back. But Allie hits a jawbreaker to put some space between them only to eat a Stunner. Mel tags back in and heads up top, but Allie dodges.

Brandi tags in and hits a couple lariats, but Mel won’t go down. Mel dodges a third, but Brandi hits a big boot followed by a superkick. A sling blade makes way for a pinfall attempt, but Ford runs in to break it up. With the referee distracted by Ford and Allie brawling in the corner, Mel hits a spinebuster. The referee finally makes it over, and Mel only gets two. The referee gets distracted again with QT and Kip brawling outside, allowing Allie to attack Mel. Brandi takes advantage and hits a spear for the win.

This was pretty solid. And it would’ve been a pretty good AEW: Dynamite match. Long enough to tell a story but not long enough to expose any weaknesses. To be fair, though, Brandi’s getting better in the ring, and Ford hasn’t let up since she emerged as a top star in the division at Double Or Nothing. A solid first outing in the AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup.

Winners: Nightmare Sisters

Match Rating:  ** 3/4

Nyla Rose clotheslines Anna Jay in the AEW Women's Tag Team Cup Tournament

Nyla Rose & Ariane Andrew (W/ Vicki Guererro) Vs. Anna Jay & Tay Conti

The AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup Tournament rolls on. We get a flashback to last week’s AEW: Dynamite where Nyla and Ariane drew each other as partners. I’m embarrassed to say I’m not super familiar with Ariane. She was Cameron in WWE during my “dark phase.” Where I couldn’t stand to watch WWE. At all.

Wait.

Anyway. Back to present day, Anna Jay refuses to take questions about the Dark Order. Conti’s also a former NXT star but without as long a track record as Ariane. So I don’t feel as bad about not being able to remember her. Hopefully the AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup gives them both a chance to shine.

The Dark Order comes out with Anna Jay and immediately heads to the back.

Ariane and Anna Jay starts, and Anna refuses a handshake. She gets shoulder-tackled for her troubles. But she follows with a drop toehold into a side headlock. Ariane counters with a headlock of her own before throwing Anna to the mat. A running stomp follows, but it only gets two. Ariane goes to tag Nyla in, but Nyla refuses, allowing Anna to get a near fall. Conti tags in, and they double-team Ariane. That brings Nyla into the match, and she hits a double chokeslam. Now Nyla tags in legally. She immediately goes to rush Conti in the corner, but Conti dodges. Conti throws everything she has, but Nyla shrugs her off and grabs her by the hair.

Then Conti goes for a Black Widow, which puts Nyla on the mat. A kick to the face gets two for Conti. She tags Anna back in, who hits a dropkick for two. Anna goes for it again, but Nyla picks her up and hits a powerslam for two. You know, when I first saw that Vicki was back at Fight For The Fallen, I missed her shrill screaming. That moment has now passed.

Nyla commences to murdering Anna in the corner. She hits a running lariat on Anna for two. Nyla tags Arine back in. She whips Anna into the corner and hits a Stinger Splash followed by an inverted bulldog for two. Ariane goes for another two covers and gets another pair of two-counts.

She chokes Anna with her boot in the corner. Nyla tags back in and chucks Anna across the ring into the opposite corner. Anna comes out with a kick to the face. She hits a chop block to take Nyla down for two. Anna keeps attacking the knee before tagging Conti back in.

Conti immediately goes for a roll-up but only gets one. She kicks at Nyla while the Native Beast is down, stomping the bad knee on the bottom rope. Conti goes for a leglock, using the bottom rope as leverage before slamming the knee into the apron. She goes for a cover but only gets two. Anna comes back in and immediately drops an elbow on the knee. She goes for a leglock submission hold of her own, but Nyla punches her way out of it. Conti comes back in but gets hit with a crucifix slam. But the knee gives out, and Nyla can’t capitalize.

She hobbles to the corner and tags in Ariane. Ariane goes on the attack with a pair of lariats followed by a rana takedown into a Stunner. She follows that up with a DDT, but Anna Jay runs in to break up the count. Annaa nd Conti go for a double suplex. Nyla runs in and botches the save a little bit but recovers to hit a double clothesline. The Native Beast rolls to the outside for a breather. Ariane hits a snap suplex on Conti but not before Anna makes a blind tag. Conti goes down to a standing split legdrop, but Anna comes from behind with a flipping neckbreaker.

Anna makes the cover and picks up the win to advance in the AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup Tournament. That was pretty good. Really good ring psychology, as they didn’t overdo the emphasis on Nyla’s bum knee. It was a little more crisp and felt better thought-out than the opener. Plus, this felt like a couple of legit random pairings.

After the match, Nyla consoles her partner. And of course, she flips Ariane the bird and flattens her with a clothesline.

Winners: Anna Jay & Tay Conti

Match Rating:  ***

Anna Jay and Tay Conti move on in the AEW Women's Tag Team Cup Tournament

Wrap-Up

After the AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup Tournament action, Alex Marvez catches up with the winners backstage.

He interviews the Nightmare Sisters, and Brandi can’t stop talking about how the win reaffirmed to her that she was a huge star. Allie’s eye-rolls and facial expressions are gold. I like how they’re flipping it back and forth between which sister is the weak link in the team. Allie interjects that she didn’t do too shabby herself. But Brandi goes right back to talking about herself. “Did you know I’m the first AEW woman with an action figure?”

Allie came into the storyline as the Yoko Ono figure. And now we have Brandi back to her smarmy, heelish awesomeness, gloating about how great she is.

Next he talks to Anna Jay and Tay Conti. Alex wants to know about the Dark Order, but Anna doesn’t wanna talk about it. Not bad.

The Breakdown

I didn’t have high hopes for the AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup going in. But now? I’m ready to see more.

If AEW booked the women’s matches on AEW: Dynamite like this? They wouldn’t need this tournament to get more of their women over.

Logical booking, solid action, and everyone playing their character to perfection.

New episodes of the AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup drop on the official AEW YouTube channel every Monday at 7 PM/ET.

All images provided by All Elite Wrestling.

AEW Women's Tag Team Cup - Week One

6.9

In-Ring Action

6.5/10

Promos

6.8/10

Storytelling

7.3/10

Entertainment Value

7.1/10

Pros

  • Continuing the Nightmare Sisters story in a "bottle show"
  • Continuity with Mel and Brandi's story
  • They're making Anna Jay her own thing while maintaining the Dark Order intrigue
  • Solid AEW debuts for Ariane Andrew and Tay Conti

Cons

  • My only complaint is that we don't get more women's segments like this on 'AEW: Dynamite'
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