Sunday, September 19, 2021

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Raw Redux (February 23rd, 2015): #GiveDivasAChance

If you thought Lilian Garcia‘s WWE Fastlane botches were bad (“Here are your winners, and STILL the NEW WWE Tag Team Champions!”) well they are nothing on the atrocious booking of the WWE Divas during last night’s Monday Night Raw. And then there was the horrid match length. And then there was the abysmal commentary. At least Stephanie McMahon is back this week, that’s going to be a saving grace, right? Oh no wait, she got in Seth Rollins‘ face and acted totally hypocritical regarding sexism sexism. The only sexists are WWE management. Oh I went there.

Thankfully, not every aspect of Raw was atrocious for the Divas. To summarise last night’s appearances, we were treated (and I use the term loosely) to sightings of Brie Bella, Emma, Lana, Naomi, Natalya, Nikki Bella, Paige and Stephanie McMahon. Following the pretty good WWE Divas Championship match between Nikki and Paige at WWE Fastlane (with the exception of the botches tight-pulling), expectations were positive going into last night as the Road to WrestleMania faces no more PPV roadblocks. Unfortunately though, roadblocks are still in place in the form of Vince McMahon, Kevin Dunn, Stephanie McMahon, Triple H and whichever morons write the scripts. I’ll throw Michael Hayes and Mark Carrano in there too. Yeah, let’s blame them as well.

Starting off the show was a returning Stephanie McMahon, who was absent from last week’s show. Despite being a fantastic female character, it appears that she likes to be the only one! She interrupts Randy Orton alongside HHH and the tag team of ‘We Should Be Retired’. Stephanie tells Randy that the fire and passion he showed last night were traits they wanted him to possess back when he was squabbling with The Authority back in 2014. Randy says that he would rather kick some ass than kiss some ass, which received a nice reaction.

Big Show then speaks and immediately skip forward in the video until Stephanie is once again owning the mic. Steph says Randy has never been a good guy who does things to get the crowd on his side. He does what he wants and reaps the rewards. Steph says she won’t force his hand yet all of the vile actions he has shown over the years totally outweigh what happened to him last year. Randy says he’ll speak to The Authority in a business meeting backstage. This won’t end well!

That aforementioned business meeting is our next segment of interest. It’s a really weird business meeting as everyone is just stood up in a really weird, hunched up line backstage. What happened to a table, chairs and maybe a Powerpoint presentation? Stephanie tries to start off the proceedings before Seth Rollins undermines Stephanie by asking an annoyed, mute HHH that he surely can’t allow Randy Orton back into the fold. Stephanie gets in Rollins’ face, telling him to stop thinking of himself for once. Stephanie scolds the “disrespectful” Rollins, asking if he has a problem with her because she’s a woman. He is normally quite nice to women *coughleakedphotoscough*.

Stephanie rallies the troops by trying to get them on the same page. She hypes them all up, referring to ‘We Should Be Retired’ as “the most dominant monsters in all of the WWE”. Erm Stephanie, Tamina with her red jeans is more of a dominant monster… The Authority agree to coexist, for now.

Divas are in managerial roles next as a rematch for the WWE Tag Team Championships is to take place. We see Lilian Garcia announcing the match, and she looks amazing. And she doesn’t botch – woo! I love Naomi with The Usos. The Divas have real potential to add to this tag team feud. Natalya makes her entrance next with the new champions, Cesaro and Tyson Kidd before the match gets underway. Nattie is looking super-hot, super-toned… and super-happy! Has Tyson stopped being a douche or is Tal becoming one as well now?

The Divas only get involved at the end of the match as the action is incredibly fast-paced and exciting. Naomi knocks Tyson’s cheating legs off the ropes and then Natalya shoves Naomi to the ground. This distraction costs Tyson as he turns into a brutal superkick from Jey Uso. Just as Jey is going for the top rope splash for the win, Natalya gets onto the apron and blatantly yanks him from the top rope, cementing her heel turn and causing an instant disqualification.

Naomi isn’t done and she pulls Nattie from the apron, injuring her shin in the process. Although The Usos won, they don’t get the gold!

Crappy Commentary Alert: The commentary was diabolical in some parts here. Firstly, none of the announcers spotted Tyson’s blind tag. Major fail. Secondly, I love Booker T, yet after the match, he totally made me roll my eyes. “The Usos will go to the back of the line after that loss.” They didn’t lose. Such a mess.

Following that commentary shambles, it’s Lana time! John Cena challenges Rusev to a United States Title rematch at WrestleMania, a scenario I predicted and one that no doubt Cena will win. Whilst Rusev got a major rub at WWE Fastlane, of course, the biggest spotlight of the year will be where Cena ends Rusev’s undefeated streak. Boring!

Lana serves up realism on a king-sized platter for Cena. She says that he failed on Sunday and let everyone down. Lana tells Cena that he gave up, much like the rest of America. He was humbled by the “superior athlete, superior champion and superior human being, Rusev!” Anything else Lana? I honestly though she was going to say “superior lover”. Let’s be real, they probably saw 50 Shades of Grey this past week!

Next up, it is match time! I’m not sure why I used an exclamation mark as there is clearly nothing to get excited about. Paige makes her entrance before we head to a commercial break. At least her brilliant theme song was playing and she looked awesome. I’m trying to pluck some positives here. Help.

Even though Paige is clearly stood in the ring waiting to wrestle, instead of heading straight to the match after the advertisements, WWE then airs a more-or-less five-minute promo on Sting and has the announcers introduce it to camera. PAIGE IS STOOD IN THE RING! HOW AWKWARD WILL THIS BE FOR THE FANS IN THE ARENA?! Such a weird decision to leave Paige just standing there. Least she will have got a good view of the Sting clip on the tron. Again, I’m clutching at straws here. And that was a positive for her, we didn’t even see it!

Following the video package, we see that Emma is also in the ring with Paige, and the bubbly Aussie got a jobber entrance. So Emma was also probably stood awkwardly dancing for about 5 minutes. I’m sure the crowd and Emma have completely dead arms after all that dancing.

The Bellas make their entrance next and HOLY BANANA, that yellow is certainly not mellow. They actually look pretty good though. Well, when does Nikki not? Points for effort go to Brie for nearly getting a perfect colour match on that plaid shirt. Nice try.

The match starts with Brie and Emma ready to lock horns. Paige moves away from the tag rope and shouts at Nikki for cheating last night, despite her not actually cheating at all as she botched grabbing Paige’s tights. LOL. Brie shuts Paige up by knocking her to the arena floor. Emma sticks her head out of the ring to check on Paige before turning round into a kick to the gut and a Bella Buster. As quickly as the match started, it was over.

What a joke.

After the match, Paige rushes into the ring and kicks Brie in the face before Nikki gets the upper hand, telling Paige not to touch her sister. The Bellas leave following the lacklustre beatdown and that concludes our outstandingly thrilling segment. I hope you can sense the obvious sarcasm.

Crappy Commentary Alert: I understand the announcers have barely anything to go off relating to a 15 second match, yet JBL couldn’t have sounded any less bothered. “The Bellas are the best. You gotta love ’em!” Generic, bland and uninteresting, just like the majority of WWE’s representation of women.

Thoughts: As always, let’s start with the highlights from last night’s show. There were some definite positives to take away from the three minutes that the Divas featured in during a 3 HOUR program.

I loved Natalya and Naomi’s involvement in the tag team championship picture and I loved that Natalya has finally turned heel. Her character is so prudish and despite her heel turn, I still think we’ll see her and Tyson have a dysfunctional relationship, yet now, Nattie will be give Tyson as good he gets in the douchebag stakes.

At first, I thought it would have been better for Natalya to pull Jey Uso down from the top rope behind the referee’s back and showcase a crafty and cowardly character, yet on reflection, the way she turned was perfect. She took the bull by the horns and outlandishly yanked Jey off the turnbuckle without a care in the world. She confidently did what she had to do and her blatant cheating is a positive in my book. She shocked the commentators and was deliciously heelish. Naomi hurting Nattie at the end was spot on too. It shows that Natalya is stupidly blinded by love, and is now willing to risk injury for her man. Solid segment and a great match!

So, who’s with me in that this should lead to an intergender six person tag match at WrestleMania? I’d love to see this talented hexagon have a Ladder match (we won’t get that obviously) and throwback to The Hardys and Lita, E&C and Dudley Boyz matches of yesteryear. Alternatively, stick them in a No DQ Tornado Tag as this would mean that we could still intergender action as opposed to a mixed tag, yet action could happen all around the ring, meaning male vs female action could be limited, as we know WWE aren’t exactly the biggest advocates. I would settle for a plain old six-person tag, yet this feud deserves more as the talent involved are phenomenal and could pull of a WrestleMania classic!

Stephanie and Lana’s performances were the middle of the pack this week. Lana was solid yet I’m still waiting for her to get physical, or perhaps cut a promo in an unusual setting instead of just on the stage or in the ring. And Stephanie’s words this week. This is where the blood starts boiling. Stephanie’s words were so hypocritical in the grand scheme of things regarding sexism. Looking at who Seth’s bosses are, he probably is sexist. Hell, some of the Divas division have probably been brainwashed into thinking they don’t deserve any more than 20 seconds per match. Stephanie performed well, yet the fact her character preached about sexism, only for the Divas to be treated disgracefully via the booking of their match was downright rude.

Onto the horrendous ‘match’, that none of the girls can be blamed for. The booking here was simply deplorable. Brie winning made little sense, as a face turn from her wasn’t anywhere near to being referenced. Nikki should have won to cement her title win and to prove she can win without cheating. The bookers probably chose Brie to win as the Bella Buster is quicker to pull off than the Rack Attack. The post-match attack was pointless too, yet the girls did what they could with the split seconds they were given.

Segments like last night’s are why I applaud the likes of Gail Kim and Maxine for quitting WWE. Yes, they now don’t have as many eyes watching their work on TNA and Lucha Undergound, yet they are clearly enjoying what they do now way more. They still get to indulge in amazing experiences, earn good enough pay and mix with talented rosters of men and women, and it is without as much bullshit. Gail is still wrestling phenomenal matches and Karlee is involved in incredibly well-shot storylines and has one of the most intriguing personas in all of professional wrestling. Good on them for standing up and having the balls to give up their initial dream and forge a new one.

I understand why the girls stick around, as WWE enables them to enjoy the best lifestyle possible. Yet surely, they are compromising their love and their passion a little by waiting it out. If I was Emma, I’d do a Gail Kim and head somewhere where she will be appreciated instead of hoping she is permanently moved back to NXT to prove her worth. The fact developmental are treated so well compared to main roster astounds me. NXT should be amazing, yet WWE main roster shows should be just as good, if not better. What is the point of a developmental system when these wrestlers are developing their craft, only for their skills to become ignored, misused and underutilised on the main roster. It’s pathetic.

I’ve said all I can be bothered to say on the matter as WWE don’t deserve my time. Let’s hope the #GiveDivasAChance opened a few eyes last night. I highly doubt it, but here’s hoping. WWE head honchos needs to get it into their thick heads that the Divas have a massive fan base, one that should be respected. Hell, if we look at it in ruthless terms, it is a fan base that can be exploited for financial gain. Despite WWE treating their Divas matches like piss breaks, a website dedicated to women’s wrestling has the most followers on Twitter for any wrestling news source at over 100,000. I’m talking about Diva Dirt by the way. That’s a lot of us with full bladders.

Thanks to those who support the site, and those who may not, for taking a stand with us last night. It shouldn’t take someone kicking the bucket for a change to be made. Fingers crossed a step was taken last night.

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