Tuesday, June 22, 2021

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Royal Rumble in Review: Sweet Revenge & A Rumble Match Treat

Week after week, we have witnessed Michelle McCool and Layla crack about 10,000 jokes, all with the same punchline: Mickie is fat. As lamented as this “Piggie James” storyline has been here at Diva Dirt, with its fat jokes and barnyard humor, it has been given one of the biggest buildups in recent Diva memory, and it was reasonable to think that they would cap off this pretty silly storyline with a decent enough match, at least to make the juvenile booking somewhat worth it. After all, their match at TLC was pretty damn good. Let’s see if Mickie and Michelle were able to transcend the “Mean Girls” cliches and mature a bit:

Michelle comes out to the ring, microphone in hand, and explains to the crowd that Mickie was a no-show tonight. “Where oh where has my piggie gone?”, she laments. She figures Mickie is forfeiting. Layla shows up in her fat suit, doing the same Mickie impression she did last Friday. She doesn’t get very far, though, before the real Mickie emerges and attacks her. She tosses FatSuitLayla into the barricade, as Michelle looks horrified. Did she really think Mickie was a no-show? Would that be why they left her off SmackDown last week–to fool Michelle into thinking Mickie went into hiding? That’s the only reason I can think of why Layla would come prancing down to the ring in a fat suit not once, but twice, and not even watch her back.

Mickie gets into the ring, and the match starts. FatSuitLayla isn’t quite done sticking her plastic pig nose into Mickie’s business, though, and climbs up the apron to distract her. It works for a split second, and Michelle charges with her boot but Mickie dodges, replaying a similar collision from TLC: Michelle accidentally delivers a big boot to Layla and lays out her backup. Michelle turns around right into a kick from Mickie, who plants her with the Mickie T. One 3-count later, and we have a new Women’s Champion!

FatSuitLayla comes into to check on her fallen friend, and Mickie hits her with a kick that lands her smack dab on top of Michelle. Meanwhile, several babyface Divas (Maria, Gail, Kelly, Eve, and the Bellas) come to the ring with a rather large cake in tow. Similar to what Laycool and Beth did to Mickie a week before, the Divas prop up Michelle and Layla as Mickie plants the giant cake in both their faces, the other Divas smearing it in. Michelle and Layla do a good job of acting horrified and look pretty damn hilarious blinded by yellow cake and icing while pitching a fit. Mickie celebrates with her newly-won title and smears some more icing in their faces, tasting it for good measure. All the good girls make their exit as the bad girls wallow in their “just desserts” (it’s okay, you can boo.. it was a pretty awful joke).

I would have much preferred an actual match to cap off their feud (as I assume this has.. I don’t know how else this could continue), or at least one with more than one move. Still, I suppose this feud was designed to end in an epic display of revenge. With weeks of humiliation at Mickie’s expense, it was only natural for this to end with Michelle and Layla getting their due, and it doesn’t get much more humiliating than losing your title in one move and being covered in cake by a host of Divas who are laughing in your face. Still, I would have loved to see a blow-off match that actually highlighted the wrestling side of this feud, if there ever was one. Michelle and Mickie are great wrestlers and have worked well together in the past, and it almost seems like a waste to end the feud without so much as a real match. Still, what we got tonight fits pretty well into the scheme of things–it isn’t epic storytelling, but it’s high school revenge in response to high school bullying. Hopefully Mickie’s next feud can graduate to college-level, at least.

Speaking of that, I wonder where this leaves Michelle. As mentioned, she’s had one of the longest title reigns in recent Diva history and has been in the forefront of SmackDown’s Diva division for what seems like forever. Will she fall off the radar for the time being and work on healing her knee? I assume the reason she hasn’t wrestled consistently is to protect her knee, and a bit of a break could do wonders for it. But with Michelle gone, who can take her place? Beth Phoenix? It sounds reasonable, but I have a feeling she has other things on her mind tonight..

Yep, I was right. Tonight, Beth became the 2nd woman ever to compete in the Royal Rumble match, with rumors circulating just hours before showtime and coming to fruition when it came time for the Rumble’s 6th entrant to reveal itself:

[ skip to 3:20 ]

With the Great Khali and CM Punk in the ring, Beth charges valiantly towards the ring, standing toe-to-toe with Khali and looking positively puny. Beth shows no fear, and Khali plucks her up to eliminate her, but she fights back. He places her over the ropes and on the apron, telling her to leave. Instead, Beth grabs him and kisses him, a la Anne Hathaway in “Get Smart” (Khali being on the receiving end there as well), pulling him over the ropes in the process and eliminating him.

As Beth celebrates CM Punk comes charging at her, but she plants him with a clothesline. She kicks and punches him, eventually getting him up on her shoulders. He wriggles free, though, and hits Beth with the Go to Sleep, easily tossing her from the ring and eliminating her.

It was awesome to see Beth compete in the Rumble. I’ll admit that when I heard the rumor Sunday afternoon I was skeptical that it would even happen, but if there’s any Diva fit to compete in that testosterone fest, it’d be Beth. I remember loving to see Chyna compete with the men in the Rumble and this, however short it was, brought back those memories. Eliminating Khali, however the means, is an impressive feat, and beating the tar out of CM Punk is nothing to sneeze at. For something no one saw coming (before Sunday, at least), Beth’s appearance in the Rumble was a pleasant surprise and a nice treat for us Diva fans. I wouldn’t object to seeing her do some more gender line-bending in the future, but I have a sneaking suspicion that she might be knocking on Mickie’s door quite soon instead..

Michelle vs. Mickie Rating: 3/5 — Sweet revenge, and satisfying in a storyline sense. A little more wrestling wouldn’t have hurt, though.

Beth in the Rumble Rating: 4/5 — I would have loved to see her go toe-to-toe with more men, but beating on CM Punk is good enough. I think lesser men would have objected.

Food for thought: Do you think Beth is Mickie’s next foe?

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