The final Monday Night Raw of January concluded the month in style, producing two solid Divas matches that set tongues wagging and hearts beating with excitement. Firstly, Sasha Banks clashed with Becky Lynch in a match that saw Divas Champion Charlotte make her presence felt. The cast of Total Divas were also in the spotlight, and a longer lasting spotlight it was this week!
It is Queen Stephanie that opens the show, and she is so excited to celebrate her man’s Royal Rumble victory.
She, Vinnie Mac and new WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H gloat at their position on top, laughing at Roman Reigns‘ misfortune. They announce that they will evaluate all matches tonight, and will select participants for the main event match at Fastlane. The winner of that match will face HHH at WrestleMania.
To save the trouble of going over this tidbit later, Steph is seen at the climax of the show too. She and her clan announce that Roman Reigns will face Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar in the Fastlane main event!
Our first match of the night is our next relevant port of call. Two of NXT’s shining stars of 2015 – Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks go head-to-head following their minor conflict after Becky’s Royal Rumble match.
Sasha’s new titantron is amazing. Interesting to note that she has been distanced from Team B.A.D, but her team affiliation was referenced on her nameplate!
Sasha pushes and pulls at Becky to open the proceedings, but a pissed off Lynch hits back, tackling Sasha to the ground and pummelling her with a flurry of fists. Becky hits her springboard kick but her momentum is stopped shortly after when Sasha drapes her over the top rope. Banks blasts Becky with some stomps and forearms before hitting a wicked running slap. After a cover, she cranks Becky’s head at such a harsh looking angle, hoping to make the Lass Kicker submit.
JBL then makes himself look like a total douchebag, comparing Becky and Sasha to The Muppets because their hair color. News flash JBL, the only muppets are you and Michael Cole. Both of you are totally nauseating. Bradshaw even had the audacity to call Chris Jericho “flabby” earlier in the night. This is coming from the wrestler with the biggest man boobs I’ve ever seen. So rude!
Becky fights back from her despairing position, hammering Sasha with European uppercuts. Clotheslines, calf kicks and brilliant “hyyyuuuuaaaaahh” shouting from Becky follows, as do a running forearm and an exploder suplex. Sasha kicks out after that devastating array of moves, and she dishes out her own arsenal to Becky. SHe sends Becky’s face crashing into the second turnbuckle and delivers her double knees to sweeten the moment for her. It definitely wasn’t sweet for Bex however!
What was sweet for the Irish lass however was an armbreaker, the move she applies next after countering a suplex attempt. Sasha is quick to get of out the submission predicament, hitting the Bank Statement as a fantastic rebuttal. Just when it looks like the match might be over, Charlotte charges to the ring and attacks, leaving her fellow NXT call-ups to waste. Woolotte big boots Becky and drops her with a t-bone suplex before hitting the Natural Selection on Sasha. Whilst I don’t like the idea of Charlotte winning matches with that move, she executed it perfectly here and it was nice to see it again, especially performed in a running fashion!
Lana makes her return to Raw next, and she is greeted by none other than The Rock!
Her and Dwayne flirt, and we learn that they got up-close and personal after they clashed in Brooklyn, which I believe was the last time Rocky was on Raw. This is a pretty funny segment, and it was nice to see Lana again. It was definitely an ‘awkward turtle’ moment however when Rusev walked into the scene!
Our final match of the night is our final segment of the evening too, as the Total Divas girls are in the limelight. Sadly, that exposure didn’t stretch to televising their entrances, but what with The Rock’s an hour and a half segment, it is nice to see them featured at all. Good job WWE!
Paige is back from injury, but it is Natalya who starts out the match for her team. Paige fans like me will have to wait a little longer to see her in the ring. I prefer to think of myself as a ‘fran’ anyway (in between the fan zone and friend zone obviously) but I digress.
Alicia and Nattie kicks things off, twisting each others wrists and flipping around like gymnasts! Alicia hits a stunning backward roll headscissor, which leads to a dominating Brie Bella entering the fray. Despite her jobber status nowadays, Brie has Tal rolling, the Dungeon Diva can’t get on the offensive! Brie hits a clothesline and a basic armtrap chinlock before thrusting Nattie’s head to the mat. Brie decks Ms Neidhart with “Shades of Her Busband” next. Whilst Brie’s matches are very, very samey at the moment, those kicks always look on point – they looked brutal!
Tal avoids Brie’s running knee, which allows her to tag into everyone’s favourite Enchanting Raven Haired Lady, Paige! I now miss William Regal on commentary. Anywho, Paige blasts Brie with a thrust kick, running knee and punt kick, a brilliant set of strikes that although good, aren’t enough to get the win. Paige locks the PTO in next, only to get clouted in the face by Foxy. Although Paige should have disposed of Alicia before she got her face booted in, it doesn’t end up costing her. Natalya darts into the ring and tackles out Alicia, allowing Paige to hit the RamPaige for the win!
Thoughts: I love a good triple threat feud so I am so, so glad that it looks to be the case that a complex, history-filled triple threat match looks set to take place at Fastlane. So far this year, WWE seems to have for once had an idea of what they are doing and where they are going with a Divas storyline, and these three will surely tear the house down at the next pay-per-view. I could see Charlotte vs Sasha be the Fastlane match also, leading to Becky’s inclusion at WrestleMania, but I hope that Becky isn’t left out in the cold at all. Every time she has faced Charlotte, she has been cheated out of the championship, and whilst it looked bad for her last night, she didn’t tap out or lose, so she still has a solid reason to be included.
The booking behind this match was excellent. We have seen Sasha vs Becky a few times on the main roster, and although slightly shorter, this delivered just as nicely. Their chemistry is absolute dynamite and the No Contest finish made it unique from their previous matches.
Speaking of that no contest, it was a great booking decision. Sasha was robbed of a potential win, Becky was saved from a potential loss, both Becky and Sasha were attacked, meaning Sasha is still undefeated on the main roster in singles action since her debut. Both girls are still in title contention, which is great news.
On top of all of those points which could get the fans behind the combatants, keep their title hopes alive and/or keep their impressive win/loss records in check, Charlotte looked superb here. Charlotte ending the match will get her over as a heel more, considering she halted what was a fantastic match. Robbing the fans of that will garner some more boos for sure. Seeing more of her vicious side was a treat also. Charlotte has been all about hiding behind her Dad recently, but this week, she attacked when none of the girls saw it coming. Even after Sasha tried to fight back, our Champion roughed her up, dropping her with the Natural Selection. Charlotte was presented as a dominating champion here.
As for the Total Divas showcase, it was a damn sight better than last week’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affair. Brie’s kicks were on point, and I really liked Alicia and Natalya’s chemistry. Those two haven’t had a lengthy match in forever, so I’d like to see them tussle on Superstars or Main Event where they can get tons of time. It’s been too long and I think we deserve it!
Onto Lana now, and it is clear WWE hasn’t got a clue what to do with her. With so many more-or-less equal players in the League of Nations who all want to and need to speak for themselves, there isn’t a place for Lana, rendering her useless. I say to let her re-ignite her feud with Summer and get in the ring, sharing the occasional segment with Rusev like she did tonight.
It is safe to say that I am super impressed with the title feud that seems to be brewing on the road to Fastlane. I haven’t a clue how it will shape up for WrestleMania, and I can see WWE holding off until then to have the triple threat. but we’ll have to wait and see. The obvious occurrence of having Becky and Sasha face off once more for a #1 Contender’s match, only for Charlotte to end it again seems like the logical step here. It’s WWE, and they always retread old ground. It seems too easy to pull that off here, having Charlotte think interfering will lead to her having no opponent, when she will in fact end up with two. Will WWE throw a curveball and have me shocked? They did it at Royal Rumble quite a few times, so maybe they’ll do it again? I won’t count those chickens before they hatch though.