There’s no intro that can even remotely do justice to tonight’s bountiful episode of Monday Night Raw so I’m not even going to try coming up with something. Just know tonight was everything and I want you all to join me in a ceremonious cheer that after year upon year of struggling segments, cut matches and rushed (if any) entrances, we have reached the promise land as Diva fans. We have risen to our greater being and we are here to show the world that this division we have defended 24/7 from the people who claim it serves no purpose to a promotion or show, can not only lift itself up to the days of the “Golden Era”, but damn it, it can potentially surpass them.
Am I overreacting? Perhaps. But I don’t care because tonight was pretty dang amazing… no, not even “pretty dang”… it was flat out amazing.
Let’s get underway with our first story of the evening! Ahem…
Background Info – Before tonights episode of Raw began, during the WWE Preshow, it was announced that Nikki Bella would be facing Eva Marie, Rosa Mendes, Cameron and Alicia Fox in another of Stephanie McMahon‘s punishments towards her for the actions of her sister, Brie. Nikki, however, when interviewed by Renee Young, let everyone know that tonight would be a little different on account of she had a surprise up her invisible sleeve.
We head to the arena as PA-PA-PA-PARTAYY strikes and out walks the quartet comprised of Alicia Fox, Cameron, Eva Marie and Rosa Mendes. These four badasses strut out with nothing to fear against their single opponent, as we get another replay of Brie Bella‘s Payback smack across the face to Stephanie McMahon. Back in the arena, Nikki walks out to a nice pop from the crowd! She heads down the ramp and to the ring, but… BRIE! She spots Brie sitting ringside behind the barrier and runs over to give her a hug before stepping inside the ring. Unfortunately for the twins though, Stephanie McMahon walks out with a mic in hand before things can get started.
Stephanie notices Brie ringside and points everyone’s attention to “The Quitter”. She heads down the ramp and over to Brie, claiming how ironic it is to see her amongst the audience considering she went from being a world famous Diva to nothing more than a face in the crowd. But why is Brie in this position? Stephanie would like to remind us that Brie chose Daniel Bryan over her own sister, and not only that, but it ended up being a decision that didn’t even matter because he had to leave anyways and strip his championship. Truthfully though, Steph says she’s so glad to see Brie in the front row tonight because it just means she can watch firsthand as Nikki gets annihilated by Foxy, Cameron, Eva and Rosa. And not only that, but it will also serve as a reminder that Nikki’s weekly beatings are all at the hands of the one and only… Brie Bella.
Steph begins to walk off as Brie yells that she’s pathetic… but the insults don’t stop there. With no mic in hand, our own Earth loving, organic feasting Brianna Bella screams out that her ex-boss, Stephanie McMahon, is a bitch(!~) and the crowd pops huge! Stephanie forms the BEST shocked facial expression and slowly turns around, asking if Brie wants to rethink what she just said. Miss McMahon immediately calls security over, however Brie has one-upped that decision and pulls out a ticket to reveal that she’s simply a paying fan and there’s nothing Stephanie can do about it. Stephanie laughs it off and instead goes to say that Brie standing up like this and causing a scene is blocking the view of the other paying customers. She orders Brie to pop a squat, but Brie is not having any of this. She snatches that microphone out of Stephanie’s grasp in a similar fashion as I when finding out I’ve ended up planning a shopping trip right as a fresh batch of Deli-Made Chicken was set out for the public to consume, and lets Stephanie know that she’s onto her tactics. To Brie, Stephanie is only doing this out of spite because she left her handprint tattooed on that billion-dollar face.
“What kind of human being are you, huh? I’ll tell you who you are. You are a vindictive BITCH!”
I need a moment. Because that delivery. I love you Brie Bella.
The crowd explodes and Stephanie pops her right in the face! Brie Bella is clawing over that barricade but before she can lay a hand on Steph, security drags her through the crowd and I am not okay right now in the very least bit.
Stephanie wants that to be a lesson to every WWE Universe member, as she then orders the bell to be rung and Nikki gets jumped by the four fellow Divas in the ring. Steph glances on at ringside while Cameron hoists Nikki up and Alicia runs off with the Axe Kick! One… Two… Three! The match is over and the four winners celebrate their extremely challenging and difficult victory. Now they roll Nikki to the outside as Stephanie walks over and lets her know that sooner or later she will be doing exactly what Brie did… QUIT.
With that, Steph struts off to the back and this segment comes to a close.
Following a live performance by Flo Rida (that was guest emcee’d by Stephanie herself) a confrontation begins ringside with a bunch of random men. It looks kind of confusing but guys in suits are trying to stop Stephanie from leaving the area and are now showing badges… RUH ROH.
She wants to take this matter to the back, but they refuse to let her exit the scene and are reading her her Miranda rights! They ask if she understands, which she reluctantly agrees with and then follows it up by immediately claiming she also understands this is her building and her show. The cops order her ringside agent to step back and the crowd is going psychotic! Stephanie looks extremely alarmed as they begin asking if she knows a one… Brie… Bella. And yep, I am dead.
She agrees that she knows of Brie, and one of the cops lets her know that there is an allegation she struck Brie, who is not a contracted employee, but merely a ringside fan this evening and it looks like charges are being pressed! Stephanie tries to allude them back to Payback, but the difference there is that Brie was an employed competitor at the time. Stephanie attempts to say that her slap to Brie was only done as a means of defense from the time Brie did so at Payback, but the cops of Florida don’t let that crap fly. Under the state, this is known as battery which is a means for ARREST. They then turn Stephanie around and place handcuffs on her wrists and the crowd is loving everything they’re being served, as am I.
As Stephanie stands back up, she turns right around into the one and only Brie Bella! The two stare each other down as Stephanie becomes UNDONE with rage at the fact Brie is having her arrested, but Brie fires right back saying Stephanie deserves this for all of the torment she has put not only herself, but her sister and her husband through just the same. Security holds Brie back as the cops escort Stephanie through the arena and to the back and she looks 100% publicly humiliated, screaming that she’s not going to jail!
“YOU’RE gonna pay for this! I’ll have your badge… BOTH your badges! They’re mine! Do you have any idea how much power I have in this city?”
Dead and Gone.
Oh, but wait, that’s not all! Now we’re in a hallway as Stephanie walks through the backstage area in cuffs, this time with Triple H freaking out by her side. They’re trying to contact WWE’s lawyer, but he can’t get there soon enough as the cops order Triple H to step back and continue escorting Miss McMahon to their car. As she continues to walk by, I seem to spot a few familiar Diva faces off to the side, but I can’t even focus on that because Stephanie McMahon is an absolute uncontrollable mess. She’s screaming out that she blames Brie Bella, but the cops place her in the back of their car and drag her off to prison!
Note: Later on in the show, Renee Young revealed that Stephanie was charged with battery and possibly resisting arrest as well. Plus, Triple H was seen being very peculiar about how fast he was going to rush off to save her, including trying to gain time by reassuring himself courtesy of Joey Mercury that she’d have to be processed and all that jazz, which when questioned upon by Renee, got quite a death-stare her way courtesy of him.
I LOVE IT.
Background Info – Before the commercial break, we see Paige and AJ Lee walking to the ring backstage as they prepare for Divas tag action! Their opponents are unknown as of this time, so it’s time to head to the arena and find out what’s going to go down.
We get a rewind of Paige and AJ’s title match at Battleground, which concluded with AJ nailing the Shining Wizard for the win. From there, we head inside the arena and get greeted by the screeching entrance of Paige! And her embroidered logo jacket! And now it’s AJ! AJ skips out from the back and poses with her title, sliding into the ring as they get set to face the team of Emma and Natalya! Paige sets her sights on the title, with AJ choosing to start the match off with Emma. The two lock up and AJ applies a wristlock. Emma counters and hits a nice leg sweep before rolling through with an equally as nice pin attempt. Both women get up and Lee now scores with a wheelbarrow victory roll, but only gains a two count.
Lee with an elbow, then skipping around the ring and tagging in Paige, who goes to town on Emma with a huge headbutt. She mocks Emma’s dance, but pays for it as Emma applies the DilEMMA! She rolls into a tag to Nattie, running in with a dropkick and a jacknife pin attempt! They roll through and Paige shoves Natalya into Emma, knocking her to the outside. Oh wow, Nattie hits a nice German Suplex! She goes to apply the Sharpshooter and locks it in… ruh roh. Paige inches closer and closer to the ropes, tagging into AJ who charges forward and nails the Shining Wizard WHILE Nattie still had the Sharpshooter applied. Jesus. From there, she hooks the leg and applies the Black Widow! Nattie tries to fight, but ultimately has to submit which puts an end to our quickish but extremely solid match.
Afterwards, Paige stays in the ring smiling as AJ heads outside and skips around the ring with her title… but, what’s this? Paige invites AJ back inside the ring and swings her around in a huge team hug. She raises AJ’s hand in victory, posing for each side of the ring before ultimately letting go. Lee tries to exit to the back, but GASP. Paige drops her like nobody’s business! #HeelPaige! Paige nails that bitchface expression and starts pounding away at Lee with vicious headbutts, drawing huge heat and bringing such a smile to my face (not that AJ is in pain, but that the crowd is being vocal about it). She lets out a shriek and throws AJ to the outside, smashing her into the barricade and throwing her face first into the ring post!
“I told you this was my house!”
Paige lifts the downed body of our fallen champion up and heaves her over the announce table. Rise Anti Diva Rise! Paige continues to scream at AJ, tormenting her as she climbs onto the desk before getting told by a child at ringside to use her indoor voice and I am absolutely done and retired. Paige smirks at the travesty she’s caused her fallen frEnemy, as the fans boo and she skips up the ramp after getting in that last laugh to go with the destruction. Following a replay of what just went down, she then screeches out that she wants to be champion and skips backstage, looking pleased with what she’s done.
And in other Diva sightings, Lana makes her controversial presence felt this week as she manages Rusev against The Great Khali:
Now let’s get into this weeks dissection…
Brie/Stephanie/Handicap/Wonderfulness – I absolutely cannot. It’s hard to even come up with the words to how good this segment was because I know I have to also come up with equally great things to say about so much else. 100% I have to give it up to Brie Bella right off the bat though, because while I have always been a big fan, a few months ago in the days of those horror movie-esque segments, I really felt uncomfortable with her acting abilities. I’m not sure if during this break from TV she’s done anything to help herself out, but tonight she was on absolute fire. The delivery… the mannerisms… the expressions, she had it all down and nobody was going to throw her off her game. Stephanie was at her absolute finest as well, serving a reminder to everyone what Brie did ended up being for nothing as Daniel had to leave anyways, but what it did do was show Nikki that Brie essentially chose him over her (in Stephanie’s mindset at least). I have no idea if this could lead to a Nikki heel turn (I kind of don’t want it now because she’s really starting to get over with the fans so we’ll see how it could play off), but either way, I’m loving the fact that this angle between Stephanie and Brie has managed to find a way to involve five other Divas, all gaining exposure and all continuing to get reactions off of it. I honestly am running out of things to say because I don’t want to just erupt in a fit of “GAWD THIS WAS AMAZING” over and over… but gawd this was amazing. And I live anytime Brie Bella gets to scream “Bitch” at Stephanie. And Alicia Fox continues winning! 2014 what are you doing to me?!
Divas Tag & Heel Turn – Yesss! Okay, let me get to the match first. Honestly, when we saw Paige and AJ heading to the ring I assumed it would be Slayla… err, the SLayers that they’d face so I love that we got a fun surprise in Emma and Natalya. It was completely fresh, and while it was pretty obvious AJ and Paige would win, I legitimately thought Nattie had it with that Sharpshooter and they would play off AJ just standing there reaching for a tag as Paige tapped out. The action was VERY solid for what we got to see with the time given and I’m not gonna lie, I kind of like Emma and Nattie as a team. They have similar looks and both are kind of the only two Divas not involved with something on the main roster, so why not try it out some? Speaking of Emma though, I do have to say that I was a big supporter of the dancing gimmick, but I honestly think it’s time to move away from it. It wasn’t really handled properly in my opinion, but that’s okay because there’s so many Diva things going on right now that it’s easy to fit in somewhere and transition out of it. To me, it just comes off kind of clunky anymore because Santino isn’t there and I don’t think the main roster fans quite have a grasp on her enough to fully go with it. But that’s just me so now let’s get to that post match greatness!
The heel turn! Truthfully, I so didn’t see it happening tonight (even when they were teasing Paige hugging her, I’ve just been burned so many times of thinking something big will happen and then they cut to the next segment), but I’m SO glad it did. Not only was this a great crowd to do it in front of, but it doesn’t feel like Brie and Stephanie overshadowed their feud, rather BOTH feuds had huge progression tonight that is equally as enjoyable as each other. It’s no secret Paige absolutely needs to be a heel and tonight proved that with how she went from getting almost no reaction as a babyface (unfortunately) to instant boos and a lot of heat as she ambushed Lee from behind. She’s like Cameron to me in that they just scream heel and it freakin’ excites me that WWE pulled the trigger on turning both of them. I honestly feel like just about every Diva is in the disposition they need to be and that can attribute to why the reactions for each girl have been improving ten-fold since WWE took it upon themselves to put forth so many Diva storylines and segments. Now that we’ve reached the turning point in this story, I am legitimately salivating at the thought of what these two can do together, especially seeing how much WWE is giving the women right now. It feels so weird to say that so I’ll probably end up repeating it 500 more times before I finish the redux, but whoever is responsible for this, please let the entire Diva fanbase buy you a house. You deserve it for getting done what we’ve wished would happen so long and almost never thought possible.
Oh and before I forget… A+ for skipping post-beatdown Paige, A+.
Stephanie Gets Arrested – Good lord, again, I have no words. Stephanie was in PRIME Stephanie mode here and it made for such an amazing surprise that I didn’t see coming. When she stood in the ring to announce Flo-Rida, I was honestly kind of confused because she just did this whole segment with Brie earlier and now she’s out all smiling and cheery, but seeing that aftermath put everything into perspective and served as a “holy shit” type of moment. Getting their first segment together was enough to justify this as a great Raw… but getting ANOTHER big spot on the show (not to mention all of those recaps and constantly being discussed during mens matches for a change…)? Historic. Plus with their past role in valeting celebrity visitors during each episode of Raw, how great was it seeing a guest host used in a segment that ended up furthering something they were involved in? Ladies and Gents, The Bella Twins have officially come full circle.
The Crowd – I LOVE YOU MIAMI. Thank you so much for giving such great reactions to every one of those Diva segments. Part of what is going to make them all so memorable is seeing how invested the fans in the arena were for them and ugh, I just want to buy you all chocolate for doing my state proud.
I feel bad saying nothing was good (because it was all great), so EVERYTHING was good!
Wait wait, let’s do this…
Summer and Layla – Okay, Zack Ryder isn’t my first choice for them to be with, but it looks like they’re just flipping things up each week depending on Fandango’s opponent so it worked for me. I don’t need EVERY Diva to be in a wrestling feud as long as they have a weekly spot on TV, which is where Summer and Layla work so well for me. I love seeing them just constantly one up Fandango now after he did it to them for so long, and the duo continues to get great reactions from the crowds when they walk out so it’s a win-win. Obviously I couldn’t put this in the great section with how many big things happened, but it worked for what it was and I appreciate that the duo has something going on with how many big profile feuds exist in the division itself right now. Plus I kind of like the spin on PMS by having a different guy to their dirty work each week until maybe finding someone permanently. It’s like they’re holding tryouts so to speak and I’m definitely interested to see where it goes. SLAYERS 4 LIFE.
The Somewhat Good:
Again, it all varied from good to great so… everything!
Wait, again um…
Lana – She was on screen and after Battleground I wasn’t expecting her to be so points there. But her promo time was cut so this just fits in the middle of the pack.
The Not-So Good:
Lack of Naomi – I’m not going to be picky after a night like this but I had to put something as I couldn’t say everything was not-so good. At least she was shown hugging Flo Rida! And who knows? Maybe this lack of follow up is leading to her getting frustrated and joining that stable Xavier Woods is building? (PLEASE god because I would legitimately throw my hands up and weep with joy). All I know is I cant be negative tonight. Please forgive me.
This was just incredible. I’ve been preaching week after week how much better the division has gotten this year, but tonight was just insane. And my favorite part is that it feels so different right now than it ever has before when we’ve had hope. Normally our hope lies in one feud (Kaitlyn/AJ) while the rest of the Divas continue doing nothing but being used to elevate whoever’s in the spotlight. Right now though, 90% of the roster is being utilized week to week and we have feuds and all of that stuff I talk about 24/7 that I’m going to try not to repeat. It just feels so weird to see all of this happening because I know personally, I’ve been wanting the division to become this for almost ten years now. The women have all had the talent and capabilities, but WWE just always saw them as side dishes to serve the main feast. Right now though, they are the main feast. They’re the ones getting talked about during mens matches and they’re the ones getting spotlighted. I honestly never thought I was going to see the day where they got so much unless it involved me playing a video game, but I never want it to end.
Part of why I’m pouring so much into these Reduxes is because I very well know it could end. Things obviously change minute to minute in the WWE and as we’ve seen before, getting amazing segments like a contract signing or an incredible promo don’t automatically mean they will continue making something feel important for a long period of time. I just want to enjoy this while we’ve got it going on and continue praying it stays this way for a long time. The Divas are all getting over, the ring work is improving, the promos are getting greater and greater. We have so much going on right now that I’m honestly going to say this is the closest we’ve gotten to golden era status since it ended. WWE is finally investing in nearly the entire roster as opposed to just one or two girls, and you know what? It’s working. Stephanie and AJ Lee were the two Divas who were hugely over before this movement started, and now we’ve got The Bellas getting over. Paige showed tonight she’s getting over. Naomi and Cameron are both getting over. Alicia Fox is getting over. It’s like a chain and they’ve finally realized that when you have one or two girls who can elicit such response from crowds, putting them with others in actual storylines gets others over just as much.
Tonight was beautiful. I don’t want to ever see the WWE go back to the way things have been for majority of the past ten years, but even if it unfortunately has to happen, I’m so glad that in the year 2014, we’ve had so many big Diva segments that I’m honestly going to remember for years and years. Between AJ and Paige to The Bellas and Stephanie, these ring promos have given me everything I’ve needed and it feels amazing to have a consistent hope in the Division that hasn’t been lit for this long a time span since 2004. The storylines are here, the Divas themselves are here, and after tonight, we took a big step forward in the crowds being here.
So please keep it up. You’ve got me by my hair WWE… I’m begging you to not let it go and send me back to the land of desperation where Santina Marella greets me at the door and Natalya farts in my face as Hornswoggle runs around making out with female employees left and right. I’ve now seen the light as to what you’re capable of achieving these past few months that I really don’t know if I can survive going back.
That’s it for this week so let me now sign off and go rewatch Brie Bella utter the word “Bitch” on loop for the next seven days.