Last week’s Raw brought a level of disappointment that made me vow to never again underestimate the WWE’s ability to undervalue the Divas. So, maybe that’s why I’m not as disappointed by Raw as I normally would be. Sure, the match this week was based on a lame and degrading idea, but at this point I’m not expecting anything better.
I’m sure most of you have heard the saying “all dressed up and nowhere to go”, which means, in a fashion, that you’re prepared for something that’s not going to happen. This applies pretty well in this case, as Diva fans, the gluttons for punishment that they are, are continuously hoping for the best. They’re prepared for something interesting, exciting, or at the very least respectable. But if you look at the last few months of booking for the Raw Divas, you would know that it’s not going to happen–at least not anytime soon. Unless they take a hard left turn, it’ll be a while until we’re treated to something that demonstrates that the Raw bookers have an ounce of respect for the Divas. Until then, we’ll be treated to matches like the one that took place tonight. Don’t get me wrong–it wasn’t a trainwreck, but the whole idea of it speaks volumes about the respect (or lack thereof) that the Divas receive. It was close to being a perfectly acceptable match, but one addition, one finishing touch, threw it out of whack. That “touch” was totally unnecessary, and served to pretty much ruin the match for me.
The match in question was a “Dressed to Impress” battle royal, in which the winner would earn a shot at Maryse‘s Divas Championship. That’s a great idea, because we all know that the only thing that could top the awkwardness of a battle royal is a battle royal where the competitors have to wear dresses. Why were they wearing dresses! Why, to fit in with this week’s GM of course! Who is he? I don’t know, but who gives a shit, right? I say bring on the hot mess!
We’re joined at ringside by Maryse, who takes her spot at the commentary table. Surprisingly, each Diva gets her own entrance, which I assume is an effort to show off their fancy dresses. I can’t say I like any of them very much, but I don’t blame them for not pulling out the good duds–you wouldn’t want to risk ruining them when you’re tossed over the top rope. Anywho, we’re joined by Kelly Kelly, Alicia Fox, Gail Kim, Rosa Mendes, Jillian, Katie Lea Burchill, Brie and Nikki Bella, and Eve Torres. Maryse trashes all of their looks, but puts special effort into dogging Eve. It’s not secret that she’s going to win this match; she gets the last entrance, a stare down with Maryse, and special emphasis on commentary. If that doesn’t allow you to telegraph Eve’s win from a mile away, you’re just not paying close enough attention.
The match starts and the Divas break off into pairs, all except Rosa, who charges at the Bellas and pretty much jumps out of the ring. It’s a messy exchange, but the Bellas eventually complete what’s left of her journey and heave her over the ropes and out of the ring. Rosa is eliminated. Soon after, Brie and Nikki are eliminated, with Katie Lea and Alicia doing the honors. Brie & Nikki Bella are eliminated.
Katie Lea whips Gail into a corner and Gail performs her sneaky slip-through-the-ropes move, all the more impressive in a floor-length dress. She battles Katie Lea on the apron, hitting her sit-down attack on the back of Katie’s neck and trading blows until Kelly comes out of nowhere and dropkicks the both of them off the apron. Gail Kim & Katie Lea are eliminated.
Alicia attacks Kelly from behind, and the two battle, Kelly hitting her whirlybird headscissors and sending Alicia flying. I’ve gotta say that it’s impressive that the girls are able to do most of their regular moves in such awkward clothing–it’s not a pretty sight, but it’s still impressive. But hey, they’re working with what they’ve got, right? Kelly celebrates, and Jillian simply walks up to her, hoisting her into a fireman’s carry and walking to the ropes, tossing her out of the ring. Now there’s a “no frills” approach. Kelly Kelly is eliminated.
Alicia and Jillian proceed to double team Eve, bashing her against the turnbuckle. They hit a double suplex, irish-whipping her hard into the corner. Continuing the teamwork, Jillian whips Alicia into Eve, but Eve moves, leaving Alicia to hit the steel pole shoulder-first. Eve pushes her the rest of the way out of the ring. Alicia Fox is eliminated.
Jillian attacks Eve and goes for her handspring elbow, but Eve telegraphs it and hoists herself up, latching Jillian into a headscissors and sitting on her shoulders as Jillian wanders around the ring. She leans against the ropes and Alicia pops up, trying to pull Eve backwards over the ropes. She does, but Eve hangs on, staying on the turnbuckle. Jillian thinks she’s won, but turns around to see Eve still in the game. She charges, and Eve pulls down the second rope, giving her a clear shot to soar out of the ring. She does just that, and leaves Eve alone, giving her the victory. Jillian is eliminated.
Eve celebrates, and Maryse immediately starts with the trash talking, in a sense reiterating her usual spiel: “I’m sexy and she’s not.”. They have a stare down, and Eve departs.
The match, as far as Diva battle royals go, wasn’t bad at all. It definitely wasn’t a clusterfuck, like I had feared. It was awkward, sure, but most matches like these are. I think this proves, more than anything, that the problem with the Raw Divas division lies in their booking, not in the Divas themselves. They’re either given laughably little time to wrestle or told to wrestle in dresses, but they try to make the best of it, and it shows. Most everyone put in decent effort into this match, but it was completely overshadowed by the mere fact that they were wearing dresses. I mean, was that necessary? I know this NXT rookie’s gimmick is that he’s “A-List”, but who even cares or knows that? This was just an excuse to get the Divas to wrestle in dresses and flash a few upskirts to the crowd. I suppose that was enough to convince them to give the Divas more than the requisite 3 minutes of screen time.
The match’s real purpose–crowning a #1 contender–was entirely overshadowed by that, but it’s not like there was any suspense in that either. We all (or most of us, anyways) knew that Eve was going to end up facing Maryse. They’ve been hinting at that for a while, even before the WWE decided to go inter-brand in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania. So, it was no surprise to see Eve win, but that’s another thing to blame on the bookers. There’s literally nothing compelling about the Divas on Raw. The most compelling they get is hoping that their screen time breaks the 3-minute mark. Shockingly, it did this week, but I have a feeling that the dress wrestling was a significant driving force in that. I just wish they could have had a normal battle royal, because then we would be talking about Eve vs. Maryse, not how ridiculous they looked wrestling barefoot. But their priorities are obviously out of whack, and I’m guessing this is the best we could have possibly gotten at this point.
As for the actual story development, we only moved forward about an inch, but it still counts as forward momentum, yes? Maryse’s commentary was entertaining, and shows that she can be an entertaining heel capable of more than just hitting a DDT and sneaking out a win in match after match. That doesn’t mean next week’s title match will be great–Eve is still pretty limited in the ring and Maryse hasn’t wrestled fully since her return–but I’m just glad we have we have an actual title match to look forward to. Now, I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that they’ll get decent ring time, but I’m willing to let myself hope that the girls will do their best, that it will break the 1-minute mark, and that they will be dressed in regular ring gear while doing so. See people? That’s how you keep your expectations low. Now, the only way I could be disappointed next week is if they have a pudding match and Hornswoggle runs in in a bikini and steals the title. Oh shit, did I just jinx it?