ST. LOUIS — Naomi is still the SmackDown Women’s Champion. Barely.
Lana took Naomi to the absolute limit in what was, in increasing order of remarkableness, 1) her first match as a SmackDown LIVE Superstar, 2) her first title challenge as a blue brand Superstar, 3) her first title opportunity of any kind, and 4) her first singles match of any kind. Given that SmackDown LIVE Commissioner Shane McMahon sanctioned the championship match Naomi's request, it’s safe to say the champion thought The Ravishing Russian wouldn’t pose that much of a threat. She was wrong. And that’s before we even get into what happened with Carmella.
Naomi did, indeed, run roughshod over her No. 1 contender in the early goings of the match, but Lana came more prepared than anybody likely thought. Lana trapped Naomi’s knee in the ropes to weaken it, then kicked the champion square in the face, putting Naomi in a predicament from which she almost didn’t recover. The Ravishing Russian’s assault on her opponent’s knee was relentless, so Naomi was forced to go to her hands to rally. She locked Lana in an armbar when The Ravishing Russian took the match to the mat and administered the Rear View, but Lana countered with a Sit-out Spinebuster. And then Carmella’s music hit.
The Princess of Staten Island and newly-minted Ms. Money in the Bank skipped down to the ring and teased a cash-in for what felt like an eternity, but pulled back at the last second. The Ravishing Russian went to hit a second Sit-out Spinebuster, but Naomi countered, sunset-flipping her way into her signature hold, the FTG (that's Feel the Glow, as she explained on Talking Smack), and submitted Lana to retain the title.
Carmella once again looked ready to cash in, but she decided against it, though The Princess of Staten Island made it clear to Naomi that the second she was ready, she’d come calling again. Naomi, for her part, told her to bring it. Having survived a challenger nobody saw coming, the champion is clearly ready for anything.