Thursday, September 16, 2021

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Night of Champions in Review: Kelly Kelly’s Cinderella Story Continues…

Looks like Diva of Doom Beth Phoenix has a little egg pumpkin on her face. The Glamazon told the WWE Universe confidently on Friday Night SmackDown that the clock was about to run out on Kelly Kelly‘s Divas Championship run, yet the clock struck midnight and Kelly is still your Divas Champion.

In front of her hometown crowd of Buffalo, New York, Beth challenged Kelly in a second consecutive pay per view match at Night of Champions. Let’s see how it all went down, shall we?

Out first is the Divas Champ in a bright turquoise ring attire. Loving this color choice. Kelly’s BFF Eve has returned also, accompanying the champion. Michael Cole mentions that we are in Beth’s hometown, and of course, Jerry Lawler chimes in saying that he’s in Kelly’s corner.

As Kelly’s music dies down, it’s time to welcome back the hometown hero. As soon as Beth’s music hits, we hear a huge cheer from the crowd. As Justin Roberts announces her hometown, there’s an even bigger reception. Pan to the crowd: “If Beth loses we riot” sign. Hmm…

Beth makes her way down the ramp looking super charged-up thanks to the rapturous applause. Really liking this black variation of her new Pin-Up Suits, though I still miss the Glamasuits. Cute hairdo too. In Beth’s corner is her BFF — looking gorgeous in a super cute black dress — Natalya.

As Beth gets in the ring, she takes to the turnbuckle for her signature pose, looking ecstatic at the reception from her fellow Buffalo residents. Beth is certainly all fired up! Meanwhile, Kelly seems a little nervous after seeing this new passion in Beth.

The bell finally sounds and the two Divas lock up as Beth backs K2 into the ropes and the referee breaks things up. Kelly launches at Beth, applying a side headlock but the Glamazon quickly powers out of the hold. Beth with a shoulder tackle taking Kelly down next. She goes for an elbow drop but Kelly moves out of the way. Kelly off the ropes as Beth tries to go for a hip toss but Kelly manages to use gymnastic ability to land on her feet, surprising the Glamazon. Kelly uses this to her advantage and quickly cuts Beth down at to her knees with a kick. Meanwhile, rather unusually for the Divas Champion, she gets a big “Kelly sucks” chant. Never thought I’d hear that from a WWE crowd!

Kelly climbs the turnbuckles and jumps up on Beth’s shoulders for a hurricanrana into a pin attempt but Beth kicks out. Kelly with a drop toe hold onto the middle rope. Kelly then jumps up on Beth’s shoulders again, this time for a tarantula maneuver, choking Beth out from the other side of the ropes. Kelly then climbs up top and goes for a crossbody only to be caught by the bigger, stronger Glamazon.

Beth brings Kelly down over her knee and begins spanking her, humiliating the Divas Champ and perhaps mocking her for using the stinkface. Beth then follows up with a hard kick to the stomach which sends Kelly reeling across the ring. Beth then drives her foot into Kelly’s neck, using the ropes for leverage. Pin attempt by Beth but the champion kicks out.

Beth now chokes Kelly over the middle rope before the referee breaks it up. The Glamazon then guillotines Kelly into the bottom rope, doing a number on Kelly’s windpipe. Good spot. Another pin attempt by Beth, but no three count.

Kelly rises to her feet, fighting back with forearms but Beth overpowers her with a knee to the stomach and then whips her into the ropes, picking her up for a sideslam, however Kelly manages to free herself and hits Beth with a bulldog.

Like a good BFF, Natalya pulls Beth out of the ring to regroup before Kelly can pin her, but Eve sees this and is hot on Natalya’s trail. Eve with a clothesline on Natalya followed by several forearm shots. However, Beth then rises to her feet and slams Eve against the floor by the hair. Ouch!

Back in the ring, Kelly is still on the mat as Beth re-enters. Kelly, however, senses Beth coming and goes for a quick small package but Beth kicks out. Next, Kelly goes for a crucifix into another roll-up attempt but again Beth is not going down for the count.

Both Divas rise to their feet as Beth launches Kelly into the corner. Beth goes for a splash but K2 moves out of the way as the Glamazon eats turnbuckle. Kelly with a kick and a Kelly Killer attempt but Beth manages to counter and hits Kelly with a hard clothesline.

Beth looks around at her hometown crowd who are cheering her on. It looks like Beth is ready to put away the champion. Beth picks up Kelly and props her up on the turnbuckles. Beth climbs the turnbuckles too and sets up Kelly for a superplex. As Beth hits the move, the crowd and announcers react in unison. That’s what creates a great moment. The crowd participation and the announcers really getting behind it, selling it as a big move. Both ladies are on the mat, having had a lot taken out of them. Meanwhile on the outside Natalya’s express is priceless! We catch a replay of the superplex once again, which is a nice touch, again putting the move over as a big moment.

Both women are still down on the mat as the referee begins counting them out. Beth somehow manages to crawl on top of Kelly for a pin but Kelly manages to roll away before Beth gets the three count.

Beth rises to her feet and picks Kelly up by the hair. Beth picks her up for a powerbomb, it seems, but Kelly manages to roll through Beth’s legs and rolls her up for the 1, 2, 3.

K2 leaps out of the ring almost instantly, just as she did at SummerSlam, as Beth is overcome with disbelief at losing in her hometown of Buffalo, New York. “I think Beth choked!” cries Michael Cole.

Kelly celebrates, emotionally, as she retreats up the ramp hoisting the Divas Championship above her after a valiant title defense.

So Kelly is still the Divas Champion and Beth Phoenix walks away empty handed for the second match in a row.

Let’s start with talking about this match. I really enjoyed Beth and Kelly’s work together at SummerSlam, but I much preferred this match. First of all, the crowd investment in this match really added to it. Perhaps we need to have all Divas matches in someone’s hometown? Beth really came out there looking like a hometown hero and had the crowd rooting for her, and even chanting “Kelly sucks!” which is no easy feat. The passion from the crowd got me into this match that much more.

As for the bout itself, I enjoyed the story they told with Kelly going for quick roll-ups trying to score the victory, as she can’t overpower the Glamazon. I thought Beth and Kelly worked really well together and both came off looking good in the ring. The superplex from the top turnbuckle has to be the highlight of the match. Sure, we’ve seen superplexes in the past from the Divas, but not in recent memory. The way that WWE has stripped back its division and made it less hard hitting, it makes spots like this that much more exciting when we do get to see them as they’re a rarity nowadays. That superplex spot felt special and like something we will remember because we don’t see it every week. I also liked the fact that the announcers played it up as something special as well. The stars aligned here — it was executed well, the crowd was into it, and the announcers did their job right.

Now what everyone wants to read about: The finish. People have thrown their remotes at the TV, typed furious messages on Twitter (including some extremely inappropriate stuff to Kelly) and threatened to not watch WWE ever again. I say, if you take it that seriously, you really need to get your priorities sorted.

I had no problem with the finish. Sure, it would have been great to see Beth walk away as champion in her hometown but A) WWE has a history of having wrestlers lose in their hometowns and B) she is a heel, so it would make more sense to have her lose in her hometown. I think the victory here did wonders for Kelly and made her look like a great champion. I really think she’s had a good run as champion and has been well booked in terms of credibility as champ, picking up numerous pay per view victories. In the fickle days of Divas Champions losing their title after a couple of months in a very nonchalant way on Raw, Kelly has been built up well and has had a good run. Regardless of how you feel about her, having a good run as champion helps the belt as a whole and I think it increases anticipation for when Beth eventually does win the Divas Championship. WWE fans, it seems, are so accustomed to instant gratification and complain when a belt isn’t switched in the first title match (i.e. SummerSlam). Good for Kelly, I say, and good for the belt. I really thought she came out of this match looking like a stronger champion than she did going in and that’s a good thing for everyone. Fans may not like Kelly because she’s a “model” and has “no place in the WWE ring”, but WWE is always going to have Divas like Kelly. Even if Kelly wasn’t in WWE, there’d be someone else with a similar background in her place and in this match. Get used to it. It’s what WWE does with those girls that is make or break, and I think they’ve done a good job with Kelly as champion in the long-term. The Divas division will never be perfect with silly matches on Raw etc., but where it counts — the feuds/pay per view matches — I think Kelly has been a successful Divas Champ.

As for her in ring performance, yes, Kelly is not as experienced as Beth but that is why putting experienced workers versus less experienced workers works. Kelly is able to learn and get better by working with Beth, and I think she held her own. I really don’t care what the Kelly detractors may say, she took her licks in this match and I was impressed. She’s no ring master by any means, but I feel I’ve seen a growth in-ring and in confidence in her as champion and she’s really grown on me. I’m liking what I’m seeing so far. Bear in mind, Trish Stratus wasn’t so crisp and clean during her first title run. Not saying that Trish is the best wrestler in the world ever, but by her seventh Women’s Championship run, the WWE fans were behind her as a credible competitor. Kelly has a long way to go, but she’s also very young. If she chooses to stick with WWE, she can only continue to improve. If you think Kelly’s job is easy, please take that superplex from Beth and get back to me.

I was really impressed with both Divas — and the crowd. Good stuff at Night of Champions. I hope if they do get a threequel at Hell in a Cell, it’ll be just as good, if not better.

Kudos to both ladies.

Match Rating: 4/5

Tell us what you thought of Night of Champions in the comments…

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