Thursday, September 23, 2021

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Payback in Review: High Stakes, Bold Actions

Hello, Diva fans! Last night at Payback, we witnessed some major Diva goings-on: Daniel Bryan’s big Brie Bella decision and a Divas Title match.

First up was Daniel Bryan’s choice: his championship or Brie’s career? Stephanie McMahon comes down to the ring, ready to reap what she’s sown:

When Stephanie’s done insulting Brie, Daniel, their hypothetical bearded babies and even CM Punk, she prompts Daniel to make his decision. It’s then that Brie takes the microphone, calling Stephanie a bitch.

When Daniel looks ready to hand over his title, she stops him, telling Stephanie that she refuses to be a powerless victim. She quits! When Stephanie laughs in her face, Brie slaps her.

In shock, Stephanie leaves the ring, eventually breaking into a run. Meanwhile, Brie and Daniel celebrate her new unemployment with some “Yes!” chants.

The second major Diva moment was, of course, the Divas Championship match, in which Paige put her title on the line against the unpredictable (*cough*) Alicia Fox:

They start with a rough tie-up, Paige tossing Alicia down. Alicia returns the favor, sending her out of the ring. Paige climbs to the apron and slips under the bottom rope, taking Alicia down and dragging her to the apron, draping her over the middle rope and kneeing her in the face. She sends her back into the ring with a duplex over the top rope, flipping over to cover her for the pin. Alicia kicks out.

Paige sends Alicia into the corner, elbowing her repeatedly. Alicia exits the ring for a breather and looks to be… crying? Paige follows her and walks right into the trap: Alicia sweeps her legs out from under her and sends her to the floor.

Alicia walks around the ring a bit, stewing and hitting a clown. Paige tries to drag her back to the ring, standing atop the steep steps, but Alicia whips her off, sending her roughly to the floor. She screams at Paige for pulling on her hair. Damn, imagine what she’d do if Paige yanked out an extension…

She drives Paige into the barricade before tossing her into the ring, going for a cover. Paige kicks out at two, and Alicia yells out in frustration, “She wants to ruin my face!” You can really argue against that, given Paige’s penchant for knees to the face. She slams Paige face-first onto the mat, trying to do some damage to Paige’s mug. She hits a northern lights suplex for another near fall.

Propping Paige up, Alicia wraps her up in a submission, bridging Paige up. She breaks the hold and steps over Paige, taunting the fans before hitting the champ with a backbreaker. She bends Paige over her knee and stretches her, going for another close pin. Another backbreaker, another near fall by the soon to be ex-Mrs. JBL.

Alicia looks to be setting up Paige for a third backbreaker, but she simply carries her to the ropes and dumps her to the outside. When Paige is back in the ring, she takes advantage of Alicia’s fan-enabled distraction and goes on a streak of offense, rallying with clotheslines. Alicia tries to stop this, kneeing her in the corner, but Paige fights back, dragging her off the top turnbuckle and into the middle of the ring. She traps Alicia in the PTO, and it’s all over but the tapping. Alicia taps out, and Paige retains the Divas Title!

Post-match, Alicia tries to calm herself, breathing heavily. She looks to have gained control of herself until she leaves the ring, yelling at the crowd for silence. Then she fully breaks, screaming and running from ringside, pulling a Stephanie McMahon and hauling ass.

Thoughts: The Brie/Daniel/Stephanie affair played off almost identically to how Chris or Jake (I can’t remember which!) predicted it would on Diva Dirt Weekly. Personally, I was too focused on the fact that Daniel even considered holding onto the title to even consider that Brie could take the power into her own hands, but it was great to see her turn the tables on Stephanie, and even better to see her slap her. Have the seeds been planted for a Brie/Stephanie feud? I hope so! I’m not saying Brie will be raising hell and trespassing at WWE events like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, but I fully expect her to test the boundaries of her new status as an ex-Diva.

As for the Divas Title match, it was a short but sweet thing, allowing Paige to be the rallying babyface and for Alicia to soak in some more notoriety. I like how physical she was in this match, easily matching Paige’s roughneck style in all the action that took place outside the ring. The snapmare off the steel steps was particularly cool. They didn’t have to climb the barricade a la Melina and Michelle McCool for the intensity to be felt. I do wonder how much further they could have taken it if the match was given more time.

The focus on Alicia and the meltdown post-match makes me wonder if this feud isn’t over quite yet. IF that’s the case, I’m glad, because I really want to see what these Divas can do with some extra time and – dare I say it? – a stipulation. Both of them can deliver some painful looking punishment, and this match practically begs for the stakes to be raised. Of course, that’s up to the powers that be, and we’ve been disappointed before. I will say, though, that I don’t think it’s time to pen up the Fox just yet.

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