Thursday, September 23, 2021

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Raw Redux (January 5th, 2015): Stephanie Showcases Her Reinstated Authority

Happy New Year everyone!

The first Raw of 2015 has in fact made me happy – who would of thought it?!

Although The Ascension were utterly dreadful, the rest of Raw was pretty outstanding, and unlike last week, the women are included in the high points! This week, we were treated to a one-on-one match with ringside mania, an intergender six person tag, a pre-recorded vignette, a backstage catfight and the return of the Messiah, Stephanie McMahon. Sadistic, sarcastic Steph is once again in power and I’m here for every second of that!

With that introduction over, it’s time to get our first slice of Steph, who opened the show looking so pleased with herself. The ring and ringside areas were filled with the entire roster and even the heels looked absolutely fuming to see Triple H and Stephanie’s delicious heel selves back on their rightful thrones. Steph and Trips get the comedy going, cracking jokes about how they vans we’re clearly secretly begging for the Authority’s return. I certainly wasn’t keeping it a secret!

Stephanie starts gagging at how bad Ho Ho Hogan was, which I found absolutely hilarious (Steph’s faux-vomiting that is, not Hogan in a ill-fitting Santa outfit) and then the powerful pair cut the comedy short to introduce their man, Seth Rollins. In front of the entire roster, HHH makes a shocking announcement. As a reward for getting John Cena to reinstate the Authority, the Money in the Bank winner will be added to the WWE Title match at the Royal Rumble, making it a triple threat. An unexpected yet excellent move by WWE. A nice interjection of unpredictability to save me from Cena vs Lesnar for a third, boring time. In addition to that announcement, it is also confirmed that tonight is John Cena ‘Appreciation’ Night. The Authority are so bloody generous!

We next check in with Renee Young, who is interviewing the Ovary Exploder himself, Roman Reigns. Most girls are into him, right? Renee is looking good as she interviews the former Shield member. Not going to lie, my focus was well and truly on her and not Roman talking about The Bore Show Big Show.

Our next sighting of the night is the pre-recorded vignette that I alluded to in the introduction. However, it played after The Ascension’s squash match, so apologies for showing you the remains of that dross. Lana and Rusev are seen in a mystery location (perhaps Vladimir Putin’s rectum?) and Lana sends a message to the fans regarding Russia’s upcoming Christmas. Her and Rusev tell America to stop trying to police the world. There is more than the American way of doing things, and if any one man is to lead the world, it is good ol’ Vlad. Considering they are about to celebrate Christmas, they didn’t look very festive. GOD GUYS, IT’S YOUR CHRISTMAS EVE EVE! Where was the tinsel Lana?!

It’s time for the first match of the night next as we see Nikki Bella posing in the ring with her belt. Natalya is her opponent in a rematch from last week. After Tyson‘s shenanigans last week, Nattie has asked that she tackle this one alone tonight. Unluckily for her, Paige didn’t get the memo and she’s made her way out to ringside to accompany her drug-addicted pal. Oh no wait, Natalya isn’t a stoner. My mistake. She wasn’t half knocking back those space cakes on Total Divas!

The bell sounds and Natalya treats Nikki like a back alley dumpster, charging right at her. Tal is not scared of bending her fender! Nikki blasts back in impressive fashion, hitting an elbow strike, headscissor takeover and clothesline combination. Following a one count for the champion, Natalya slaps her way into a comeback before hitting a Russian leg sweep. Lana and Rusev are proud somewhere, most likely in their sweet spot up Putin’s jacksy.

All of a sudden, Natalya is ready to hit the Sharpshooter and for a short moment I thought she had it. Nikki manages to break out with a kick, which she then follows up with her signature forearm shot. It looks Nikki is closing in for the win, yet Brie and Paige begin to scrap on the outside. Paige throws her leather jacket at Brie, giving me major Tamina vibes (we miss you Tameezus) before throwing Brie and her flannel into the barricade. This distracts Nikki, who gets rolled up by Natalya for the three count! Nikki’s hopes of winning quickly got flushed down the proverbial toilet like Nattie’s brownies.

After the match, a frustrated Nikki beats on Natalya, until a tweener-ific Paige makes the save. She kicks Nikki square in the face before letting us all know that this is her house! Whilst I haven’t got a clue what is going on with Paige’s character, I loved this post-match interaction! It made no sense yet it was entertaining and triple threat rules will make things more refreshing at the Rumble!

Later in the night, it is announced that six person mixed tag team action is still to come as Naomi and The Usos will take on The Miz, Damien Mizdow and Alicia Fox as a result of a backstage altercation earlier in the day. We next see Naomi in the locker room and Alicia Fox pops up. The bipolar beauty Foxy says that although her and Naomi are on opposite sides of the match, there is no hard feelings between them.

Having said that however, Alicia immediately changes her demeanour. Fox starts rubbing in the fact that she is now on Total Divas and Naomi was booted off the show. Naomi says that she is doing just fine, she can concentrate on her career a little more now. Alicia says sorry as she wasn’t trying to hurt Naomi’s feelings, she was trying to hurt HER!

BOOM!

Out of nowhere, Alicia whacks Naomi in the stomach before throwing her into a table. Talcum powder seems to appear out of nowhere and Alicia screams like a possessed madwoman. Cameron, Emma and Summer Rae arrive on the scene, with Emma telling Alicia to back off. Summer checks on Naomi acting all concerned as Cameron is seen kneeling on the ground pouting randomly.

Well, that was absolutely weird…

It is time for our second and final match of the night to feature the Divas and both look amazing in their joint entrances with their respective male tag team partners. Foxy’s entrance I especially loved. Her join twirl with Miz and Mizdow was awesome!

The Divas did not do a lot in the match yet they impressed. Naomi straight up beat on Alicia in the early going, and then Naomi took Alicia out later in the match with a stunning hurricanrana when Alicia provided an in-ring distraction. Naomi was involved in the finish too, when her husband nearly hit her on the apron, resulting in Miz getting the win via pulling the tights.

We’re back to Stephanie in the main event segment as her and HHH celebrate John Cena and punish his Survivor Series team mates. Stephanie channels her dad as she declares that Ryback, Dolph Ziggler and Erick Rowan are ALL fired. Like we believe WWE would get rid of their most talented in-ring performer, a powerhouse who sells tons of merchandise and… actually, I can see them firing Erick Rowan! #SorryNotSorry

Thoughts: Let’s address this week’s happenings in a chronological format. New Year, New Me and all that jazz

The opening, in my opinion, was spot on. It perfectly put over the importance of Stephanie McMahon and the severity of John Cena’s actions. Whilst it would have had a better pay off if the Authority were gone for longer, this is what it is. The timing is right, the Road to WrestleMania has begun and WWE need to shake up the storylines.

People have a tendency to whine and get sick of long promos starting out episodes of Raw, yet if they are of that standard and are used to reveal blockbuster announcements like in this instance, then I’m all for them! Stephanie mocked John Cena fantastically and the comedy element was pretty good. How her and Hunter summed up the majority of the IWC’s annoyance towards the anonymous RAW GM was fantastic. Ironic though considering that The Authority orchestrated the WWE debut of Grumpy Cat. Just saying.

The Lana and Rusev segment was another different approach to Lana’s promo formula. They have berated the crowd in the ring, mixed it up with Chris Jericho, Roddy Piper and The Rock and now they are trying a new way to freshen up their usual political tirades. I definitely appreciate that. The lack of mentioning Ryback was weird, as although he got fired later in the show, Lana and Rusev wouldn’t be aware of this information. Stephanie and the “stuck up Russian twit” don’t get on if you remember!

Natalya vs Nikki was still way too short for my liking, yet sometimes, a screwy finish like the one that ended this match can take away from a really good back and forth match, so perhaps it was for the best to save showing what these two can do for a PPV. I’ve been loving the more aggressive side to Natalya as of late, and I’m referring to in the ring, not behind the wheel!

Whilst I absolutely love Paige and am so glad to see her involved in the title picture again, the way she was brought into the picture was a little forced. Her prank on Nattie that took place around something like five months ago is something normal people would have gotten over by now, despite being reminded of it on a TV show. Also, Paige is a heel and Natalya is a face. They shouldn’t be interacting and hugging or looking out for each other. Paige is a little nuts on WWE TV, but still, her character should be knocking the stuffing out of the Bellas and Natalya. Paige is a lone predator scavenging for the spotlight and championship; she needs no allies!

So Alicia Fox is a heel yet again. Good. Quite frankly, WWE should never had turned her face, nor should she be a tweener. Characters can still be fully heel, despite being bipolar. She could be a bipolar face too actually, yet WWE decided not to explore that. And although Alicia flip-flops as much as Kane or Big Show, at least this turn was randomly explained instead of us just seeing her job to Emma on an episode of Superstars or something.

Speaking of Emma, whilst her involvement in comforting Naomi was completely warranted and was a performance I really enjoyed, what the hell were Cameron and Summer doing? These two are total heels. Cameron tried to sell the fact she didn’t care that Naomi was hurt, yet still, why are sat on the floor looking at her then? And why is Summer touching Naomi and looking concerned? Where is Layla? Why was Emma talking to/stood with Cameron and Summer Rae anyway? Whilst the encounter between Alicia and Naomi was enjoyable, the aftermath was a total mess. Hilariously random and totally stupid. I loved it and hated it at the same time!

Alicia and Naomi were absolutely fantastic in the mixed tag team match. Alicia’s antics made me so, so, so happy that she is once again a heel. She was yelling, screaming and kicking up a fuss. I particularly liked when she tried to hit Naomi repeatedly, Naomi moved, and then Alicia carried on hitting thin air anyway! Alicia’s channeling of her character and her selling were both top notch. As for Naomi, she can go in the ring. She is just amazing. I have every part of my body crossed for this to evolve into a fully-fledged side feud between the two.

“YOU’RE FIRED!!!!!” Although Steph doesn’t have quite the knack for firing as her Dad, it was awesome to hear those words again from a McMahon. Could we see a match at the Royal Rumble now with the reinstating of Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan on the line? That would be cool. I imagine Sting will get involved (I’m surprised he didn’t show up last night) and I’d love to see him interact with Steph.

Well, 2015 started off reasonably well for the Divas division. More or less the entire roster were involved in one role or another, which is a major positive to be taken from this week’s episode. We have what on paper could be a fantastic match set-up for the Royal Rumble and the continued screen presence for Naomi has continued, with an added Foxy touch. Will this develop into a full-blown side feud? Here’s hoping!

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