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Night of Champions 2009 Review: Women’s Division Has Bipolar Tendencies

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WWE’s Night of Champions 2009 is in the books and with the dust settled, we have a new Divas Champion but the same Women’s Champion. Mickie James defeated Maryse to become the third title holder of the Divas title, while Michelle McCool retained over Melina.

SmackDown columnist, Erin looks back at the Women’s Championship bout:

With barely a mention going into the PPV, I didn’t have much hope for Melina and Michelle’s match to really deliver. It’s not that I don’t have faith in either woman to pull off a good match, it’s just that the buildup sucked. Will they exceed expectations? Let us see:

Just as Melina goes to make her signature entrance, Michelle baseball slides into her, knocking her off the apron. Melina takes a sick spill, and the match is off to an interesting start. It certainly got the crowd’s attention. I like that Michelle was the aggressor, instead of playing the cowardly heel they seem intent on portraying her as. Granted, attacking Melina when she’s so vulnerable isn’t exactly a brave move, but it still showed plenty of fire. Once she finally makes it to the ring, Melina tackles Michelle, pummeling her for a bit before letting up. Michelle tries to strike back, but Melina does the Ma-Trish move (Ma-Lina move?) to avert the blow, taking Michelle down with an arm drag and then holding her in an arm bar. She doesn’t settle for a rest hold, elbowing Michelle in the face and irish-whipping her into the corner. Melina runs up to the corner, jumping onto the second rope and doing her reverse kicks, nailing Michelle in her face and stomach. She covers a lot of area before relenting, adding one more frontal kick for good measure before Michelle bails out of the ring.

But Melina won’t have any of that, grabbing Michelle by the hair and dragging her back in. I’ve mentioned this plenty of times before, but I love it when babyfaces aren’t passive and go after their opponent as fiercely as the heels do. Apparently, Michelle feels like playing keep-away, shoving Melina and making another break for it. Melina runs after her again, this time keeping her in the ring. Michelle pulls the classic heel move of calling time out, begging for a break. Melina seems to honor this for a moment, that is before dropkicking Michelle in the face. So much for good sportsmanship, eh? Melina keeps her momentum, bouncing off the ropes and performing a modified hurricanrana, landing on her feet instead and kicking Michelle in the gut. JR calls her “agile and hostile”, which is a pretty accurate description, I’d say.

Michelle ends up on the ropes in what I call the “taking the 619” position. Melina looks to knee her in the back of the head, but Michelle ducks out of the way, letting Melina’s own momentum send her flying through the ropes and out of the ring. Now she’s the aggressor, following Melina to the outside and pounding her against the barricade. She tosses Melina back into the ring, trying for a pin twice in a row (what, maybe 2nd time’s the charm?), but only getting near falls. Frustrated, she latches onto Melina’s leg, twisting her into a modified Boston Crab. Melina’s extreme flexibility and pained screams help sell the move, and she really an truly looks like she’s in agony. She almost looks like she’s going to pass out, half-heartedly reaching for the ropes that are a mile away. Michael Cole is so impressed by this that he diverts into the requisite “Michelle was a school teacher” mention. I wonder if there’s a single person left on Earth that doesn’t know her former line of work. I think the Divas need to fill out bio sheets, just so the announcers have some new things to talk about..

Anywho, back to the match. Melina advances towards the ropes, letting out an ear-piercing scream. Michelle lounges back before finally letting go, kicking the rope out of Melina’s grasp. She bends a standing Melina between the top and second ropes, pulling her back, pendulum-style, and letting her snap forward, smacking into the top rope. It seems like Michelle and Melina really collaborated on this match, coming up with unique ways to use Melina’s flexibility to their advantage. It adds another level to the match, and allows Michelle to look like a ring technician who truly deserves the belt she holds. Melina eventually falls off the apron, once again on the outside. Melina takes refuge on the barricade, and Michelle looks to duplicate her attacks earlier in the match, coming at her with a kick. Melina moves, and Michelle’s suddenly straddling the barricade. The fans let out a massive “ohhhhhh!”, as the move looks pretty damn painful.

Melina joins Michelle on the security wall, climbing onto it and nailing Michelle in the head. She advances to her feet, pulling Michelle up with her. The two fight for momentum, looking shaky, before Michelle latches onto Melina and performs a modified DDT, pounding her head into the barricade and landing on her feet. Melina’s out cold on the outside as Michelle gets back into the ring, stopping the referee’s count. (Was he even counting? They were out a helluva lot longer than 10 seconds.) The camera pans in for a fantastically evil closeup on Michelle’s face. Her crouched pose looks a bit Undertaker-esque, no? Sorry, didn’t mean to open that cans of worms..

Melina stirs on the outside, climbing back onto the apron. Michelle looks to use the baseball slide trick again to knock Melina off, but she telegraphs it, hoisting herself up by the ropes and letting Michelle taste the ringside mat this time. Melina sells her exhaustion, taking the moment to lay back on the apron. In a match with this much physicality, it’s so important for the girls to sell the damage they’ve received and keep continuity, and Michelle and Melina are doing this to a T. Michelle gets back up, back on the attack, but Melina catches her head with her legs, holding Michelle captive and pounding her head onto the apron. That’s certainly an inventive counter if I’ve ever seen one. She keeps Michelle contained for a few more moments before sending her back to the floor, kicking her in the gut. As Michelle gets back to her feet, so does Melina, and she comes flying at Michelle, screaming like a wild animal and doing a modified version of her spinning facebuster, both women landing on the hard mat outside.

The crowd seems pretty into this, what with all the out-of-the-ring action and amped up physicality. I have to say, if this doesn’t get them interested in a Divas match, I don’t know what will. The ladies are putting out all the stops, and it’s great to see the fans appreciating it to a degree. Melina is slow to her feet, but eventually grabs Michelle and sends her back into the ring. Michelle kicks Melina, sending her flying before she can continue her attack. Both women lethargically move about the ring, the physicality of the match taking its toll. Michelle takes her time going after Melina and pays for it, a scissors take down sending her into the ropes like before. Melina bounces of the ropes and knees her in the back of the head, performing the move successfully this time. She gores Michelle into the corner a few times as JR dubs the match “as physically intense as any Divas contest we’ve seen in a long time.” Took the words right out of my mouth.. er, fingers.

Melina sets Michelle into the corner, laying her across the second rope and jumping up, kneeing her in the stomach. The crowd is really reacting to these moves, and seem to be as into this match as any Divas match we’ve seen recently. Kind of ironic for a match with little-to-no buildup. Melina nails Michelle with a reverse spin kick, going for a pin but only getting a 2-count. Melina shows her frustration, looking to irish-whip Michelle into the corner, but Michelle reverses it, latching Melina into a belly-to-belly hold, finishing with a suplex. She gets a near fall, and spears Melina into the corner, turning away for a moment and paying for it, as Melina latches into her with her legs, chopping her in the head. She stays on the turnbuckle, hitting Michelle with a flying take down into a pin. Michelle reverses the pin into one of her own, bending Melina seemingly in half as the referee makes the three count. And with that, the match is over.

Melina looks on in disbelief, and Michelle looks like she can’t quite believe it herself. Both are absolutely wiped, looking like they just completed a marathon. The match, though clocking in at around 7 minutes, certainly felt like a marathon. The girls gave it their all, demonstrating that the Divas can put out all the stops at a PPV just like the guys. The fans were all the way into it, reacting to the big moves and moving with the emotions and tide of the match. This is everything a Diva fan wants – big moves, intense physicality, telling a story with the match, and great fan reactions. The end may seem like a cop out to some, but it just adds to the unpredictability to the match – no one thought the match would end so quickly, and it’s great to keep the fans guessing. It also adds to Michelle’s heel persona, almost as if she cheated the fans out of a spectacular climax. I loved it, personally, but to each their own.

As Michelle left the ring, Melina gave her a look that tells us that this feud is far from over, and I can’t help but love it. These girls have showed with this match that even though they’ve been feuding for quite some time, there’s no burn-out in sight. If they can keep delivering this type of intensity, I don’t care if this feud goes well into Christmas. A long-burning feud has shades of old school wrestling to it, and I don’t see problem with taking a cue from the ladies of the past and extending a feud as long as it’s still hot. And hell, if you don’t think this feud’s hot, you need to check your mental thermometer or something..

Melanie’s review of the Divas Championship match after the cut:

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Following the SmackDown match, it was always going to be an uphill battle for the Raw Divas to try and top their counterparts. That hill gets even steeper factoring in one of our challengers in this match isn’t as experienced as the 3 other ladies on the card. The result was a bloated, disappointing match although fans were given a kodak moment at the end, with the crowning of a new Divas Champion in fan favourite, Mickie James.

When you are watching a pay per view live, the atmosphere is very different to rewatching it the next day. From the live point of view last night, the atmosphere was less than pleasant regarding this match. Having rewatched it for review purposes, it still wasn’t a great match, it wasn’t even a good match or an average match — it charted below average at best. Yet I felt some salvation near the end. Mickie’s title win and the nice, definitive finish perhaps brought this match up a little more, though not enough to speak more highly of it.

Having said that, this was an incredibly bloated match, I felt there was no game plan or strategy going into it. It definitely looked as though the two Divas were beginning to lose their way as the match continued. Now I’m sure they worked with one of the producers to choreograph the match so I don’t know where it all fell apart, it just seemed as though they went out there and freestyled the match and it didn’t work. It’s not as though the two Divas don’t have any in-ring chemistry, we saw a decent match between them post-Draft in April but there was something off in this match that probably won’t be explained to us. Maybe they forgot their routine, or they didn’t plan enough prior to the match or the match ran longer than it was meant to.

I would say the latter could be true, though we’ll never know, perhaps they were told they’d have to go for a couple of extra minutes just before they went out to the ring? I don’t know. Either way, they could have easily shaved off a couple of minutes from this match, that was spent stalling and in rest holds and tacked it onto the Women’s Championship match, earlier in the evening. The SmackDown Divas could have utilised the extra couple of minutes to work out a less rushed ending.

The match begins with some good taunting from Maryse, throwing her ring jacket in Mickie’s face. Mickie throughout the match, looked very focussed and had the right mentality — she was just not playing, she was there to kick Maryse’s ass. I definitely appreciate the extra mile Mickie put into her character last night. After the ring bell, we get even more taunting and stalling but honestly, it wasn’t working — no one in the audience was amused and I certainly wasn’t either, just to get to the damn wrestling.

We begin with a lockup and a few exchanges, nothing too exciting before Maryse retreats to the ring ropes. Mickie continues to carry her intensity, I like this side of her, I hope we see it more often. Mickie goes for a nice arched rollup but Maryse kicks out and then begins to get some moves in on Mickie. Mickie then picks up the pace, with a snapmare followed by an awkward looking front dropkick. Things begin to pick up here, as Mickie goes for her legscissors but Maryse throws her over the top rope and then kicks her with a nice stiff kick which lands Mickie on the outside. Some shades of Michelle-Melina there.

But honestly, that was one of the only highlights this match had to offer. Afterwards, Maryse begins to find a short stride locking in the first of two camel clutches before going to the outside to get her can of spray. Mickie kicks it out of Maryse’s hand and attempts to use it herself but the referee stops it. Honestly, this should have been the cut off point for the match. That foreign object should have signalled the end because from here on out, it just fell apart and the match lost it’s flow.

Maryse goes for her second camel clutch, as fatigue begins to set in for both Divas — and the audience too. A couple of more exchanges prolonging a long-winded match, before we get a decent finish with Mickie countering the French Kiss in a beautiful Tornado DDT for the win. Executed and sold perfectly.

A very, very up and down match, and that’s being kind. Maryse is not cut out for long matches and the repetitiveness of moves shows that. Taken out of her usual short matches or tag matches, Maryse’s flaws are as transparent as water. Mickie had a nice intensity in this match that I think is a welcome change from the smiley, jumpy Mickie we usually see. But to be honest, the damage was done way before the end and what I thought was a nice finish will likely be overlooked in history.

I like both Divas but this was not their night, nor am I checking for a rematch. I think they need to insert Beth Phoenix or Gail Kim here and make it a triple threat feud to ensure some good in-ring work if they make it to PPV again.

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