Thursday, June 24, 2021

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Tribute to the Troops in Review: The Divas Battle in a Free-for-All

G’day all, and welcome to your one stop shop for all things Tribute to the Troops 2013 Diva edition. It is I, Bobby, back from the redux hibernation dungeon that I’ve been peacefully located in since we last chatted about the Total Divas finale and that episode of SmackDown which saw a cameraman snub Tamina‘s jacket throw almost worse than the Emmy’s do my beloved Amy Poehler. I’m here because, well, battle royals — especially ones where we get actual entrances and not just returning from a break to see 3000 women (and no I’m not talking about solely the NXT Diva roster) standing in the ring giving each other various forms of stank eye and glares of doom — are my specialty. I love them for some unknown reason, and so I wanted to be here to provide a shoulder to cry on should your favorite be thrown out or act as a celebration partner should they win.

We’ve got a plethora of Divas to run down as participants in this match, including Brie Bella, Nikki Bella, Rosa Mendes, Natalya, Eva Marie, Aksana, AJ Lee, Alicia Fox, JoJo, Kaitlyn, Naomi and Cameron. This, of course, means that somewhere backstage, Tamina has Summer Rae, Vickie Guerrero and Renee Young trapped in a storage room, beating on the door with her jacket and throwing Santa hats to strike fear in them that they better not dare try and escape her clutches or else bad things will happen. What could these bad things be though?

My guess is that for Summer, Tamina vowed she would hijack her role as Fandango’s dancer for the night and impress so much that she and Summer’s baby boopsie would become the next version of Glamarella. (That, or she just continuosly taunted her by calling her Rosa Mendes over and over.)

For Vickie, I’m assuming Raquel Diaz came into play because Vickie is a GM warrior who fears no one without having good reason to. If I had to pick, I’d say Tamina vowed to steal Raquel’s entire look and character, thus reinventing herself, but prohibiting Diaz from making it to the main roster since there would already be a Diva who had her style and flare.

When it comes to Renee, we have to dig a little deeper into our thinking process since she has no on screen dance persona or daughter in developmental. I think that with this, Tamina told Renee if she didn’t obey her command, Snuka would go to Vince McMahon himself and demand a match against her in which the only way to win is by stiff jaw-decapitating super kick of doom, and that if Renee refused, she would receive a ticket for a $5000 dollar fine to be paid out of her salary. It would be called the first ever “Kick it or Ticket” match, and since Vince obviously does exactly what the Divas want in terms of storylines and ring action, it would be on like Donkey Kong. Now unless Renee has been taking superkicking classes and we just aren’t aware, I’m guessing she saw fit to follow Tamina’s orders after seeing what happened to Nikki Bella two weeks ago.

If you guys are still with me after all that, first of all congratulations and I commend you, and secondly, let’s get underway with this battle royal!

Since we actually get entrances, I will proceed to separate each by the lyrics and/or beats of their theme song and give my snappy judgements. Ahem…

“You can look but you can’t touccchhhh…”

Up first are my beloved Bella Twins, rocking their separate gears like they’re finally allowed to do. Somewhere, in an alternate timeline universe, I like to assume this crowd full of troops is the actual legit version of the Bella Army and that this is a fan created BellaMania arena in WWE 2K14.

“Duh duh… duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh, duh duh duh…”

No words, just fainting in disbelief at the sight of an actual Rosa Mendes entrance. It’s been too long without one I need to catch my footing.

“Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh duh duh duh duh duh…”

I like Natalya’s crowd points, but I miss her coat. Nevertheless, she looks great and it seems like Rosa has some competition for the most excited looking Diva to be there.

“Cause now I’m back back back on top of the world…”

Photoshop the back of my head on Layla and the front of Eva’s on Vanessa Hudgens and you’ve got my “I’m not worthy” reaction down pat.

“Duh duh duh duhhhhhhhhh duh duh duh duhhhh duhhhh…”

Aksana looks nice and I like her theme music even though it’s basically impossible for my “duh, duh”-ing to proudly do it justice.

“Let’s Light it up!”

Hip hip hooray! The crowd loves AJ in all her skipping glory as do I. It does look strange seeing her without Tamina or the Divas Championship though.

“Pa-pa-pa-partaayyyyy…”

I need to know if Alicia Fox has some sort of sailor collection at home because I feel like this is the 20th time I’ve seen her look like one. Don’t get me wrong, she looks incredible and I’m still hoping for her being added to Total Divas season 2, but I really do think she could make a whole closet filled with the sailor type things she’s worn on TV. Now I kind of want to go on a cruise ship with her, not only because of the sailor stuff but because she seems like one of the most fun Divas to hang out with. Okay, this has gone on way too long.

“Cause now I’m back back back on top of the world…”

Whaaaat?! It’s the rare sighting of a wild JoJo! Can this be the match she finally gets to bust out her JoJo Mysterio moveset? Pleeaaase WWE? It’s all I have been asking of you for a month and a half.

“When you look into your mind ask yourself what’s true…”

You guys are fortunate I spared you from having to endure me rapping along to that theme much like I do in day to day life. On the flip side, I like Kaitlyn’s brunette hair, but I’m not going to lie I kind of miss the two tone. Oh wait a second, hang on, those crowd members dancing along are pretty much mirror images of how I react when this theme is on too (Let that be an indication of how lucky you are I didn’t keep singing along with the theme.)

“Funk is on a roll *Insert Kanye West style HEH*”

The true saviors to my life getting the final entrance! Can this be an indication they will last long in the match? Naomi does have a good history with December battle royals after all, and I would definitely not be opposed to experiencing another dose of those intense feelings of pure joy and serenity like at last years TLC.

With that, every Diva participating is now in the ring and if you’re still here after all of my ridiculous snap judgements as well as JBL beating that “Funkadactyls look a lot better since they lost 1200 pounds” “What do you mean 1200 pounds” “Brodus and Tensai… Tons of Funk!!!!” joke into the ground and stomping on it repeatedly, I can’t even thank you enough because I know this has been difficult to endure. The bell now sounds and we’re finally underway as the Divas begin attacking each other. The first thing I notice is JoJo and Eva going at it, which is kind of surprising. It also appears to be Cameron, Rosa, Kaitlyn and Natalya targeting AJ, with Brie opting for Aksana, as well as Nikki and Alicia trying to take down Cameron. Suddenly, Eva Marie then decides that she will be the one true newbie of the ring and throws JoJo out like a sack of potatoes.

JoJo has been eliminated.

While I love and support Eva Marie in all things, this gets my first “Girl Bye” of the night. Here I was thinking we could finally see MysteriJo run wild and she barely lasts twenty-five seconds. One day I will get my wish… I will not lose faith in you JoJo. Everyone is going after each other again and I’m trying to keep up, but now what I see is Eva Marie’s red hair flying as Natalya spins her around so much I feel nauseous. She tries to toss her fellow Total Diva out, but Rosa Mendes of all people comes charging and screaming as she saves Eva. The two now target Natalya, but Nattie stays in and we get a reference to the infamous Rosa/Summer mix up from last weeks Raw. Double N (Naomi and Natalya) toss MendesMania into the ropes as the flying Funkadactyl plants her with the Rear View which sends her rolling to the outside.

Rosa Mendes has been eliminated.

Kaitlyn now charges Eva Marie, throws her into the ropes and drills her with a spear! She then gets up and plants Alicia Fox with one too! Now Aksana! Kaitlyn is running wild, and suddenly turns around into AJ like this is some sort of self dream sequence to make up for my favorite feud ending so abruptly. AJ tries to run out, but Kaitlyn grabs her by the jean-shorts and holds on for dear life! Suddenly, AJ gives her a drop toe hold into the ropes and tosses her to the outside. But that’s okay, because at least I got my stare off. That feud isn’t over yet, I can feel it.

Kaitlyn has been eliminated.

I don’t know why all the Total Divas are going after each other (I mean I know it’s a battle royal and all, but you’d think they’d team up until the final few), but Naomi and Cameron and going for the Bellas. They hit a pair of suplexes at the same time, followed up by a simultaneous pair of rump shakes and split leg drops! The funky duo try to toss them out, but the Bellas hang on and throw the Funkadactyls out! Well, one of them!

Cameron has been eliminated.

Naomi tries to fight it with a sick kick to Brie, but you do not mess with a Bella sister as the other is standing by watching apparently, because Naomi just met Nikki’s boots in a dropkick that sends her flying as well.

Naomi has been eliminated.

It appears we are down to Brie, Nikki, AJ, Eva Marie, Natalya, Alicia Fox and Aksana… until Alicia goes for her split sunset flip on Natalya that Nattie counters by pushing Foxy over the top and to the outside.

Alicia Fox has been eliminated.

Oh my… Eva Marie has just run up and spanked Natalya on the butt. This cannot bode well for my esteemed redhead, and what can go even less well for her is that she just slapped Nattie in the face (Note: Her slaps have gotten way better since those Jerry Lawler days)! Nattie gives it right back to her and looks for a bodyslam, but Eva escapes out the back! The sound of a thousand Internet fans screams of horror now begin to fill my ears as Eva Marie kicks Natalya straight out of the ring to eliminate her!

Natalya has been eliminated.

I know many of you are pissed, and I’m sure Tyson Kidd is sitting backstage fearing for his life that the woman Natalya thought was coming after her man just came after her and sent her packing from the battle royal, but dammit, I’m like a proud parent over here. Okay, I’m not happy it was at Natalya’s expense because I love the queen of harts too, but get it Eva.

Eva turns back around and goes after Nikki Bella alongside Aksana, but Nikki B fends them off and throws my All Red Everything right out of the match.

Eva Marie has been eliminated.

Our final four are now Brie Bella, AJ Lee, Nikki Bella… and Aksana. Because why not! Aksana goes for Nikki, but AJ Lee runs over and tosses both of them out!

Nikki Bella has been eliminated.

Aksana has been eliminated.

We’re down to our Divas Champion and one of our Divas of the Year! Lee looks amused as she skips around Brie with glee, until the fiesty Bella gets up and hits a dropkick. She begins to enter Brie Mode with a clothesline, then heading up to the top with a missile dropkick! Brie tries to lift the dead weight of our champ, but AJ counters with a kick and goes to throw her out! Brie counters though and sends AJ flying, but AJ hangs on… until Brie nails one final dropkick to attain the victory!

AJ Lee has been eliminated as Brie Bella emerges victorious in the battle royal!

Nikki Bella returns to celebrate as Michael Cole and JBL continue to try and throw sly digs at the match in between reusing thirty five jokes per minute.

Uh oh… Summer Rae has escaped Tamina’s clutches and made her way to ringside for Fandango’s match against R-Truth. The good part though? She looks probably the best I have ever seen her look and she never has a day that she doesn’t look incredible. The bad? Get ready for Glamarella 2.0 as Tamina Snuka and Fandango will be making their way to a TV near you come 2014. Maybe Summer can try and become AJ Lee’s bodyguard?

In addition, in the video below we see Vickie Guerrero walk out and make a match between The Wyatt Family and Daniel Bryan/CM Punk. Tamina Diaz will also soon be the top Diva in the WWE, so there’s that to look forward to as well.

And in case you want to see what Renee looks like before her upcoming “Kick It or Ticket” match, here’s an interview with Chris Daughtry from American Idol:

Finally, enjoy the following video of all the Superstars and Divas celebrating the happy holiday with the troops:

Thoughts: I actually really enjoyed that battle royal a lot, and I think it heavily benefited from being a WWE.COM exclusive because we probably would’ve got the usual “return to the ring and see the roster there” shtick had it been televised. None of the eliminations really felt rushed besides JoJo and everything flowed pretty well. The only point of confusion I had was why basically every Total Diva sans the Bellas were eliminated by other Total Divas since they have been built up as this big unit for so many months. I know that on holiday shows, storylines are typically thrown out the window, but that was the only thing that struck me a little odd.

I would probably give MVP of the match to Natalya because I think she really helped keep the match going in parts where it could’ve lagged. Many of the early spots that got the focus of the camera were because of her when everyone else was just beating one another down in the corner or something, and not to mention I think she helped Eva Marie look the best in the ring she’s looked so far. Speaking of Eva, the next two paragraphs are going to basically be my reasoning behind why I like her. It’s not trying to change any of your opinions, just stating mine so if that interests you, read on! If not, I won’t be offended if you guys want to skip on.

Alright I want to take a moment out to discuss Eva Marie, and specifically why I like her when so many others do not take to her. First of all, I get everyone has the right to an opinion on her and I’m in no way trying to persuade any of you to change yours. All I’m doing is presenting reasons for mine, so let me begin by saying yes, I know basically everyone dislikes her for the obvious reasons. She isn’t a five star athlete at the moment, and she can’t cut “pipebombshells” of her own just yet, but I can’t help but love an underdog. Not everyone picks things up immediately, and while it has worked out for JoJo so far, Eva is still learning and I assume getting even less time at NXT than JoJo. She’s only been exposed to this for under a year still, and she is showing signs of improvement which is all I can ask of someone who is thrust onto TV at management’s request. Kaitlyn went through the same thing on NXT, as did Cameron after Tough Enough, and both of those women’s pasts are basically forgotten about now when it comes to how fans view them. Yeah, Cameron gets the occasional Melina/Alicia Fox joke, but it’s nothing to how it was at first. And I hardly ever see Kaitlyn’s match with Maxine from NXT season three brought up at all anymore. If it’s promos or personality that’s the issue, I can admit that AJ Lee (as much as I love her) was not very good at cutting promos when she first started in FCW years ago, but now look at her. My point is that while some of these women might not be ready for the spotlight as quickly as they get brought into it, they do grow to become better over time and I’ve learned to be patient and give them the time benefit before I judge them.

Who’s to say in two or three years we will even think much about Eva’s first set of appearances? It seems strange to think that now, but like I mentioned above, did many people think Kaitlyn would attain the fanbase, skill, and high profile feud she’s gotten this year in her NXT season three days? Or Cameron after getting hired following that Tough Enough appearance? Things can change, and I’m excited to see what Eva Marie is capable of a few years down the road should she still be here. It may not work out, in which you can point and laugh at me all you want, but I want to give her time to learn and grow. Hell, she could easily just walk away right now and quit with all the backlash she’s gotten. We’ve seen Divas leave on their own terms before their contract is up so it’s not ironclad and unbreakable. But instead, she goes out there in front of millions of people whenever she’s called on to and delivers what she can knowing full well she will be scrutinized, picked apart, critiqued and made fun of by a large mass of people. To me, that doesn’t seem like an easy thing to do, but I stuck by Kaitlyn in NXT and Cameron in Tough Enough so hopefully I get three for three on these things haha. Whatever the case may be though, that’s my Eva essay. Read it or skip it, the choice is yours!

Now, onto some of my favorite moments from the match, which would first have to be Kaitlyn’s spears followed up by the AJ stare down. I loved that feud so much and I hate how it was scrapped without ever seeing Kaitlyn get some sort of revenge. It didn’t even have to be the title, but I would’ve liked to have seen her get the pin over AJ in the mixed tag at Summerslam because I feel like she needed it way more than Dolph did over Big E. Their feud could’ve continued beyond Summerslam for Dolph to do that, but Kaitlyn and AJ’s had been going on for some time and needed that big blow off that it never got. Granted, this moment in the battle royal didn’t really do much for Kaitlyn either, but the way the two women sold it got me hyped that they really can resurrect it at any point. Of course, it’s going to take a long time to get the fans behind Kaitlyn as much as they were during the peak of that feud considering she spent months upon months not being seen anywhere at all, but it can be done with the right momentum behind her. It may not be anytime soon we see it, but I’m fine with these little teases along the way. More please!

Another would be Naomi and Cameron’s double suplex into a split leg drop. I love that they changed it up a little this time and suplexed the twins in opposite directions as opposed to doing a double suplex on one of them and hitting the legdrop together. It was a nice variation and the fans really did pop for it. I also thought it was fun to see Aksana last to the final four, even if she’s not really one of my favorite Divas. I like surprises, and heck, part of me was even rooting for her (I really am a sucker for an underdog), but fortunately while I didn’t get the underdog win, I did get a victory for a Diva I root for all the time in Brie Bella. I’ll spare you my essay on why I think so highly of her since you guys were troopers and sat though everything mentioned at the start of this redux as well as my essay on Eva Marie, so next time guys… next time!

If that last sentence hasn’t already left you saying there won’t be a next time in which you check out my redux, then thank you! I think I’m kind of a random acquired taste when it comes to writing these, but if you get me and like what I have to say, I appreciate it. To those who don’t want to continue on with me though, all I have to say to you is that I’m the future, you’re the past, your light is fading like super fast, fifteen minutes here and gone, oops think your career is overdrawn (in all seriousness though, if you don’t like my reduxes, I understand and don’t really think your career is overdrawn.)

Until next time,

Bobby

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