SmackDown Redux (December 18th, 2009) – Rise of the Phoenix

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It’s been the biggest week of Maria‘s career with appearances on all three brands but it ended on a sour note on SmackDown, with Beth Phoenix not only defeating her but stealing the show. Things have progressed at rapid speed for the WWE Divas over the past week; this time last week, we were talking about Michelle McCool vs Mickie James at TLC — a match that has now passed and since then, all the talk has been about Maria’s Diva of the Year win at the Slammys and now we see the rise of the Phoenix, Beth Phoenix that is.

The Glamazon was the one constant for the Divas this week on SmackDown, appearing in all three Divas segments and receiving some much needed character progression. One thing was clear from the moment Beth began speaking though — this was not the Beth Phoenix of yore. It seems as though that face turn many of our readers have been hoping for may just happen as Beth came across as more of a tweener than the big bad heel we’re used to seeing her as. Watch a more docile Beth with Maria and Mickie below:

The segment starts with Maria and Mickie playing the latest SmackDown vs Raw game, complete with silly commentary. I loved Maria’s, “We got ‘em both. Got ‘em both!” Perhaps my heart is beginning to thaw this yuletide but Maria’s slapstick is beginning to grow on me. In comes Beth as the ‘mom’, rather than act like the brash heel we’re used to seeing her as, it was clear that this was a different Beth. A Beth that was less threatening and more nurturing. It reminds me of that rant on America’s Next Top Model when Tyra yelled at that chick. “I was rooting for you, we were all rooting for you.” Rather than get in her former rivals’ faces, she comes across as more of a ‘disappointed friend’. A clear sign that this is a new, tweener Beth. I really liked this segment, I have to say. Beth to me, came across as the voice of the people — the voice of the Diva fan. Sure it’s scripted but the way they’re scripting Beth is what the fans want and it shows that they aren’t out of touch with what the fans want because they have Beth here pretty much saying what’s on our mind. Again Maria cuts in with her humour, and again I’m amused. Damn you, Kanellis! The little ‘congratulations’ and ‘thank you’ between Maria and Mickie was cute too.

Next up, it’s time for ‘Beth goes roaming part two’ as this time she bumps into Layla and Michelle McCool.

Michelle tries to gain Beth’s favour by saying she hopes she and Layla didn’t rub her the wrong way upon her arrival to SmackDown. This then descends into another excuse for WWE to take jibes at Mickie James. Michelle shows some improvement here and there’s more inflection in her voice than ever before, she’s definitely working on adding more personality to her promos. I was quite tickled by Michelle calling Maria ‘underfed’, oh the irony. The “She ain’t getting no food” was just lame. Michelle’s ‘huge proportions’ line was well delivered but outdone by Layla, who was quite funny in her delivery. Anyway, the camera cuts to Beth Phoenix who realises that all the things they’re saying about Mickie could apply to her too and she speaks up. I’m glad they did this because it’s that old age movie convention — bullies never prosper. It puts all the weeks of ‘Piggie James’ crap into context in that eventually, Michelle and Layla will get what they deserve although it seems, not at the hands of Mickie, but rather at the hands of Beth. It definitely seems like this sets the stage for WWE turning Beth and having her feud with Michelle. And as face turns go, I think this is a very logical way to do it. The sensitive subject of a woman’s weight that WWE is exploiting on national television is disgusting and I think that many of the audience members will be waiting to see Michelle & Layla get their just desserts. Having Beth’s turn face coincide with that could be a genius move, because as a result of serving said just desserts, the crowd will be behind Beth and that will give her momentum. But while Michelle and Layla’s characters may have to pay penance for their actions, the WWE higher ups who are pretty much ‘script-bullying’ Mickie, will likely never get their just desserts. But I digress, that’s a story for another day.

Next we have the Maria vs Beth match:

Damn you, Kanellis some more because after last week’s monstrosity of attire choice, I’m feeling this week’s outfit a little more. The top can go, but the pants and the jacket are cute. It’s a little more understated than her usual attire and thus looks better. Maria most certainly looks better when she tones it down.

Anyway, it’s now time for Beth to pretty much beat the crap out of Maria for three minutes. I haven’t been a fan of their past matches on Raw, in fact I try to forget them so I can’t say I was looking forward to this one. Beth shoves Maria to the mat and then shoves her around some more and elbows her. Beth throws Maria into the opposing turnbuckle and charges at her, Maria manages to use the corner to kick Beth. She goes for a crossbody from the middle rope but is caught by Beth who hoists her over her shoulders. Maria whines and hits a few dodgy elbows to Beth’s head. Beth slams her down on the mat rather forcefully.

Fast forward a little bit, Maria goes for a small package but Beth kicks out. Maria hits a knee to the face and then spazzily jumps atop of Beth. Err, this is where the compliments end, Kanellis. Maria tries slapping Beth wildly and it all comes across silly and flat. I don’t think it was for comedic effect but I laughed. Maria manages to get on Beth’s shoulders, I’m guessing for a victory roll but instead Beth drops her right on her behind — ouch. I wonder if she’s got hers insured like J.Lo? Beth hits the Glam Slam and it’s all over.

Notice how after defeating Maria, Beth shakes her head a few times while looking down at the fallen Maria. It suggests that this wasn’t the straight heel-face match but rather, Beth wanted to teach Maria a lesson. She wanted Maria to fight and be worthy of her Diva of the Year award [as mentioned earlier in the show]. It was more of a disappointed look than anything else.

I love how WWE accomplished so much with Beth in just one episode. Going into the show, you wouldn’t expect to feel completely differently about Beth but I do now coming out of it. I think they’re handling a Beth tweener/face turn perfectly and we have an interesting set-up between her and the the babyfaces [through her disappointment in them] and the heels [a tease that she will shut them up]. I can only hope that WWE continue this next week with the same effort they’ve put in here. Going into 2010, the prospects for Beth look increasingly promising and the SmackDown division has a lot of interesting dynamics within it that have been set up. I hope they keep it up because the way they’ve started is gold and if they can continue on in the same direction leading to an eventual Beth-McCool match — WWE could have an epic feud on their hands.

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  • afca

    woow, i actually found all the girls to be golden this time backstage, i really loved the way WWE used the humour in both segments… i really can not wait what 2010 will bring for smackdown!

  • Mikas

    Good promos, even Michelle was good this time. It almost looks like she learned how to use her voice better, it’s less monotone than usual.

  • http://www.my-obsessions.org Rebecca

    Great show. Some great writing for Beth.

    I’ve not watched any of the Mickie James hating segments before and even i thought that this week was lame and over done. There’s no need for it.

  • ebmich

    Maria worked it in her role.
    Beth worked it in her role.
    Layla worked it in her role.

    Michelle still ruins it for me though. You can’t grow or learn a personality or charisma. Either you haves it or you don’t. They tried having her be a stoic heel, but she even failed at that. I wish whoever was booking her would learn that!

  • trishstratusfan4ever

    wow.beth is not playin anymore huh.i see her turnin face in 2010

  • MarBu13

    Even for such anti-Mickie hate spewing out of her mouth, I’m really growing into a fan of Michelle McCool’s lately.

    On a totally different note – I know Linda McMahon has resigned from WWE and is trying to cut her association with them during her run for the Senate seat, but you can’t help but think these type of negative views and scripting on women, will come back to bite. I mean, they coin the term ” smart, sexy & powerful ” and yet they still pull this type of shit. Someone is gonna have to pay for it in the long run.

  • nicorette

    i liked everyones roles this week. its unfortunate the match was short but id rather there be character development and storyline development first, then if the audience invests in the characters the matches will hopefully be longer. beth was great.

  • mpezza

    McCool and Layla bounced off one another so well in that promo with Beth. All of the girls were great in their backstage roles this week, actually. The match wasn’t the worst, but then it wasn’t exactly good either. Maria was looking pretty good. :)

  • redsoul

    great promos backstage and a good match!
    i agree at 100% with what Melanie has said.a complete unexpected behviour/atittude from Beth.when Maria and Mickie bragged aboiut the Slammy,the normal Glamazon would be irate and grab both by the neck andbreaking the trophy.
    this really brings good expectations,i hope the WWE doesn´t drop the ball this time,this story is PURE GOLD!!!

  • xxChristinaxx

    I love Layla and Michelle I think they’re so funny( well just Layla). But I do think when they said Maria “ain’t getting no food” was so funny I watched that part like 6 times already.

  • xxChristinaxx

    lol @ big bone.

  • Implant DDT

    I like Beth like this. I really hope she turns face…for some reason im sensing next week a segment where Michelle and Layla take the Mick out of Mickie and Beth pops up in Mickies defence! then later in the show thier is a tag team match!!! Mickie and Beth vs Layla and Michelle!!

    probably wont happen but heres hoping lol

    I am not happy with the way Mickie is being treated but i hope that all of this poor storyline actually has a bright ending to it with Mickie remaining in WWE!!

  • RKOyou

    Beth is playing the tweener role but shes leaning towards the face side more,I feel so sad for mickie and maria,Beth unplugged there game and I think Maria was winning lol XD

    Michelle should just never talk,she ruins every promo

    the match was okay,maria was good but to much screaming form her for my taste

  • Mikas

    RKOyou wrote:
    “Michelle should just never talk,she ruins every promo”

    Serious dude.. do you have to look for something negative to write in every WWE-related topic? Michelle did fine in this promo (and i usually hate her promos).

  • ChrissyL

    Haha. The match sucked but I loved the backstage segments. It’s been everything I’ve been waiting for the wwe to do since the last trade. I’ve never laughed out loud so much for a divas segment. Sooo excited for the Beth face turn. I love Michelle McCool beyond rational reasoning, but I really want to see Beth kick her ass.

    The best line was “You know what, Beth? Don’t be jealous because you don’t know how to play the game.” Haha.

    And I love how Maria actually seemed like a real person here and not the ditsy, feel-sorry-for-me character they always make her play.

  • Implant DDT

    any one notice this?

    Mickie and Maria were playing SVR10 they mention Layla.
    Rumour has it Layla is in a DLC Package…does this make it kinda official that layla is in DLC?

    Im not convinced shes Created neither….

    Just pointing this out for any Smackdown Vs Raw divas fans (like myself) :P

  • ChrissyL

    Hahaha. I just love how after Beth threatens them and leaves, Michelle turns to Layla and says, “…Did you say something?”

  • chrisP

    That skit right before the match was incredibly grating. You have to be very careful doing that because there’s a fine between being a heel and annoying viewers into muting the TV or changing the channel.

  • THETommyTommy

    I think this shows us all what we were expecting when Beth was moved to Smackdown, a face turn and a feud with McCool for the championship. I doubt that Mickie will win the championship again any time soon as I’m seeing Beth come out on top possibly at the Royal Rumble or Elimination Chamber and then have her hold the title for a decent amount of time and eventually lose it to Natalya. :) Just speculation.

  • TrishMelinaFan

    Is this real?Do my eyes decieve me??!!Finally,what I’ve dreamt would happen is going to happen,my Bethy is oing to turn face!YESSSSSSSS!

    The “She ain’t gettin’ no food!” line was hilarious!I re-watched it tons of times.The match was ok,and I agree,damn you,Kanellis!She’s starting to infect me with her slapstick comedy and I actually LIKED er outfit for the ring this week!I tink the Divas division MIGHT just be shifting again.

  • TrishMelinaFan

    Oh,and am I the only one who wants to punch Matt Striker in the face?!!

  • Tunccy

    Smackdown was great this week!
    MichelleMcCool & Layla are so funny together loving them.

  • LisaJane_Ox

    This Weeks Diva Smackdown Seg Was Good, Did U See Beth’s Face Wen Michelle Started Too Bash Mickie? Michelle Once Agen Ruins A Great Promo. Beth I Thinks She Gonna Turn Face.

  • ebmich

    “TrishMelinaFan on Dec 18, 2009, 9:53 pm:

    Oh,and am I the only one who wants to punch Matt Striker in the face?!!”

    No. I mute EVERY show he announces. He reminds me of EVERY person on the internet who thinks they know everything and it comes off as condescending. It doesn’t help he fails at trying to hide the fact he has no personality with facts about who created the body slame in 4,000 B.C.

  • MickieJamesFan07

    I was very glad to see Beth on tv!! The match was short, it was ok IMO. As for the segments, the first one was good, the second one not so much thanks to Michelle. I am getting really sick of the Piggy James comments its so stupid and unnessesary. As for the “underfed redhead” remark, that just screamed hypocritical to me since a couple years ago there were reports that Michelle had an eating disorder.