Women’s Champion, Michelle McCool and her now former rival, Mickie James dusted off their heated feud for one more outing this week on an edition of SmackDown from London. And the result was perhaps one of the best Divas matches on TV so far this year. It’s no secret that Michelle has rarely wrestled a singles match on SmackDown in the past few months but I guess an international TV taping is a good a reason as any. Watch below:
So, Mickie is back from her little hiatus due to injury and she’s back in the ring with the woman who took the Women’s Championship from her back in February. Despite having surgery and everything, Mickie was on fine form as she skipped and hopped to the ring for her match followed by McCool with Layla and Vickie Guerrero in tow.
The former Women’s Champion gives McCool a little sly wink as she steps onto the ring apron for her signature pose, suggesting that she has not forgotten any of the animosity between them. As the bell rings and the match begins, the two Divas lock up but it’s Michelle who gets the better of the exchange, using her leverage to hit sort of an overhead throw on her. The arrogant champion then segues into press ups which become one-legged press ups, as Layla and Vickie cheer her on. Much to her surprise though, Mickie drops down opposite her and struts her stuff too leading to a nice showdown. Michelle looks surprised and confused as she says, “I didn’t know she could do that” to the crowd. Best to keep your eyes on your opponent Michelle, as James hit a great low dropkick on the champ and goes for the pin but no three count. Mickie goes for another pin attempt, this time sweeping the legs and jumping into a bridge but Michelle kicks out yet again.
The two Divas get to their feet, Michelle kicks Mickie in the midsection and attempts to whip her into the corner, Mickie counters and hits McCool with an elbow. Mickie grabs Michelle by the hair, moving into the corner going for a Tornado DDT but instead, Michelle blocks it and throws Mickie over the top rope to the apron outside. Mickie fights back with a forearm but gets caught with a knee to the stomach instead. Michelle then directs James into the middle turnbuckle, dazing the five-time Women’s Champ. McCool admires her handiwork with some added cheers from Layla on the outside. But Michelle rightfully cuts the celebration short and re-diverts her attention to her opponent, dragging James back into the ring by her hair and slamming her hard against the canvas before repeatedly bashing her head against it. The referee breaks things up and McCool begins arguing with him, meanwhile she uses her leg to choke Mickie in true heel fashion. She then goes for the pin but no three count.
Michelle now applies a submission move, wrapping her legs around Mickie’s neck in a headscissors. Michelle lifts herself up off the canvas, which according to Matt Striker ‘intensifies the pressure’. She then turns over and uses her legs to slam Mickie against the canvas. Hmm, I recall seeing a similar move used by Madison Rayne against Tara last week. I’ll let you speculate as you will… Anyhoo, Michelle strengthens the lock, using the ropes to her advantage as some sweet little fans in the front row will Mickie to fight out of it.
Michelle breaks the hold, gets to her feet and slaps her hands together signalling the end but as she turns around, here comes Mickie fighting back with forearms but McCool hits her with a knee strike to the stomach. She then follows through with huge knee strikes to the head before shoving Mickie down to the canvas. As a dazed Mickie holds onto the middle rope trying to regain composure, Michelle runs at her with her devastating patented knee strike, taking Mickie out before taunting her a little bit. Mickie begins fighting back now with a kick to the stomach and a back elbow before using the corner to hit her own patented move, the hurricanrana which is sold beautifully by Michelle. Michelle then walks into a clothesline and another elbow before rolling out of the ring as if she’s had enough.
Mickie chases Michelle out of the ring, grabbing her from behind and throwing her into the barricade. Then, in a highly unusual spot for a Divas match, she steps up onto the barricade and hits a Thesz Press on McCool which gets a big pop. Layla then runs at Mickie but gets a smaller-sized Thesz Press for her troubles. Mickie then spots Vickie, the woman who cost her the Women’s Championship but rather than be distracted, she turns around and takes control of her opponent who is now on her feet.
Mickie rolls Michelle into the ring and irish whips herself off the aprons, McCool gets to her feet and tries to clothesline her mid-flow but Mickie ducks and counters it into a neckbreaker. Mickie then goes for the pin, seemingly having Michelle down for three, but Layla is now on the apron screaming at Mickie. James kicks her and Layla stumbles into the ring. Meanwhile, Michelle is now back on her feet and as Mickie turns around, she walks into a huge big boot from Michelle, which she sells to perfection. McCool covers her and wins.
After the match, Michelle is seemingly not finished with James, kicking her around and smashing her head into the canvas. Michelle screams at Mickie to get up but is shoved by Mickie instead. Just then, the Glamazon Beth Phoenix hits the ring and grabs Michelle’s leg as Layla and Vickie try to pull her out of the ring. Simply Flawless hightail it over the announcers’ table and into the crowd to get away from Beth. We then get an awesome, awesome shot of Beth just standing on the barricade towering over her nemesis. Meanwhile, Michelle and Layla taunt Beth calling her a man.
Beth then gets back in the ring and has a little friendly exchange with Mickie, with the two now seemingly seeing eye to eye.
This match was just fantastic and really seemed like a pay per view quality bout. The timing of the match worked out perfectly for it to develop and tell a story. You also had some spots that you don’t necessarily see in a Divas match, with Mickie Thesz Pressing Michelle by jumping off the barricade. Considering that Maria just revealed to us that Michelle and Melina were told off for being ‘too devastating’ during their Night of Champions match last year, I was surprised to see the Divas allowed to go for a spot like that on the outside. This was definitely a real treat for the British fans who only get TV tapings like twice a year, it’s great to see that added effort go into the Divas match.
It’s becoming rare to see Michelle McCool in singles action on SmackDown but when she does, boy is it worth it. I always enjoy seeing Michelle in the ring, she has developed into an amazingly consistent, high quality worker that can go with just about anyone. I thoroughly look forward to seeing her against Beth Phoenix in the future, I feel that match could perhaps be something really special. Looking back at their one match in October 2008, when Michelle was the babyface Divas Champ and Beth was the heel Women’s Champ, McCool’s transformation and growth as a wrestler since that time has been a great one. What I like about McCool is that you can see the growth and changes in her moveset as she has gone from happy, smiley babyface to conniving, vindictive heel. The spot such as aggressively smashing her opponents head against the canvas is just one example. I don’t often see that change in style and tone from other Divas or Knockouts when they switch from babyface to heel or vice versa, so I think it’s well worth pointing that out and complimenting McCool on that.
And also kudos to Mickie, who had surgery just under two months ago and is back in the ring, fighting fit and delivering matches like this. Looking back at her match with Michelle at TLC in December, I get the feeling that Mickie is challenged by Michelle as a performer and in turn, ups her own game. Her matches with Michelle [barring the Royal Rumble] have been consistently great. There was a lot of worry that Mickie had become complacent on Raw, but I definitely feel like Mickie and Michelle provide a challenge to each other which reads on screen and leads to an awesome match.
The one disappointment I have is the ball-dropping of Mickie and Vickie. You would think that Mickie would be furious and want to get her hands on Vickie, the woman who cheated her out of the Women’s Title. Instead, she returns from her injury to little fanfare [thanks to WrestleMania] and what could have been an awesome comeback has been lost. I would have loved to see Mickie kept off TV after losing the title and then reappearing out of nowhere one week and attacking Vickie Guerrero. That in itself should have been a secondary storyline to accompany Beth and Michelle. I feel that potential has been wasted and now Mickie, I guess, will play second string to Beth.
Speaking of the Glamazon, what a unique ending to this segment with Simply Flawless escaping through the crowd and as I mentioned, I absolutely loved the shot with Beth just standing on the barricade looking so powerful and statuesque towering above Michelle and company. That was a really imaginative new way to do things rather than the usual escape up the ramp. Pretty creative.
All in all, this was a great week for the Divas of SmackDown and I think we may finally get that Beth/Mickie vs Lay-Cool match we’ve been waiting for next week!