Thursday, July 29, 2021

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RAW Redux (Jul 3rd, 2017): The Boss defies the odds!

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Goodness gracious, Great Balls of Fire! We’re a couple days away from WWE’s newest event and despite what you think of the name, last week’s RAW Main event saw Sasha Banks being crowned as the #1 Contender for Alexa Bliss’ RAW Women’s Championship. Who would make an impression heading into this encounter, which has been brewing since their brief encounters in NXT! It’s time for the RAW Redux!

Our first match of the night sees the super popular babyface team of Bayley and Sasha Banks take on the allies… frenemies… team of Nia Jax and RAW Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss! The faces are particularly perky with an entrance that would reminded me of Mickie James and Melina leap frogging down to the ring in 2008. Meanwhile, the heel team are set for revenge after coming out on the short side last week.

Bayley and Nia start off the match and it’s your usual combination of Bayley trying to outspeed the bigger competitor, but not being able to bring her down to the mat. She tags in Sasha who also does the same routine, but manages to dropkick Nia out of the ring. Upon re-entering the ring, Nia pushes Bayley off the apron and into the ring barricade! She finishes Bayley off with one dangerous running knee into the barricade, which causes the referee to intervene as we head to a commercial break.

When we come back from the break, we see that Bayley has been taken to the back to seek more medical advice. In the ring, Sasha is mixing it up with Alexa in what has now become a handicap match. Generally, Sasha seems to have the better of Alexa until she tags in Nia, who is quick to turn the tide of the match.

Towards the end of the match, the numbers game is clearly in favour of the heels. That’s until Alexa misses her knee drop, which gives time for Sasha to hit a variant of Shining Wizard. There’s a little sloppy exchange by the corner, but Sasha hits her crossed-arm neckbreaker and kicks Nia out of the ring. Alexa clubs her from behind and attempts to go for her DDT, but Sasha swings around and locks in the Banks Statement! Alexa Bliss taps out in defeat, Sasha rolls out the ring to celebrate, while the heels bicker in the ring. Sasha has managed to defeat the numbers game and get the edge over the Champion moving into the big one!

Post-match, Sasha talks to WWE.com to show that she’s ready to prove how much of a coward Champion Alexa is and win back her RAW Women’s Championship!

Later on in the night, Charly Caruso catches Alexa backstage to ask her how she feels going into Great Balls of Fire with a loss. Alexa is quick to dismiss her, saying that she let Sasha win and that her opinion doesn’t matter because she’s holding a Championship title and Charly is just holding a microphone. Burn.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the card we saw the lovely return of Alicia Fox! Since appearing to suffer an injury at Extreme Rules, Alicia’s boyfriend Noam Dar has run into troubles with old enemy and Alicia’s ex Cedric Alexander. Unfortunately, despite being at her man’s side, Noam came up short and the problems are still not over between this trio!

Thoughts: In short, good move for speed booking – but forgettable overall. It’s clear to me that this Alexa VS Sasha feud has been rushed as some sort of panic Plan B ahead of this PPV. We have seen the booking of the entire division as a chaotic mess, only to see them go for their biggest and most popular face to take the safest option. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, it’s not a bad move because Sasha isn’t doing anything and the Alexa/Bayley feud was a dud… but we are in this situation of a two-tiered division.

The reason why RAW got real boring, real fast last year, was because the division revolved around 4 women. Months later and it’s still the same case, but with Alexa in there instead of Charlotte. What’s worse about now is the completely inconsistent booking – it wasn’t long ago when we had Sasha teasing a heel turn against Bayley. Don’t even get me started on the Alexa/Nia partnership, one minute they’re mates, the next Nia wants to rip Alexa’s head off. It’s disengaged me, put them together or don’t, you can’t just switch between the two. Also, what happened to the other 3 women? Why can’t they be players in the bigger picture?

That brings me onto my point to address some comments I saw last week, where people say that DD are just pushing a pro-SmackDown agenda… because we aren’t. Each writer has their own opinions and gets to write about out it, simple as that. SmackDown managed to actively delegate time to push 7 women. In that same amount of time, RAW has managed to push 4 and bury 3. MITB was a fun match that showcased all the women, while the gauntlet was 20 minutes of Nia Jax running into people – and if you read my reduxes, you will know that I have ranted about her lack of moves for the past year. Sure it was a different match and I appreciated the storytelling slower approach, but that’s like comparing a good main course at your favourite restaurant to a 4* Michelin 3 course meal.

However, I do have to also acknowledge that this week Nia DIDN’T DO HER RUNNING AVALANCHE! For the first time since her debut, I’m pretty sure this is the first time we haven’t seen Nia run into someone to switch the dynamic of the match. Sure that may have happened on the commercial break, but I didn’t see it and it made a difference! There’s other ways for her to shrug off her smaller opponents instead of just running into them!

Overall, it bugs me that they have a situation of a two-tiered division. Even after Great Balls of Fire, I can only see the main 4 players getting involved in the title scene since they keep teasing Alexa VS Nia. It’s almost too late now for any of the other women to legitimately look like a threat and it says a lot about how terrible their booking has been, they’ve literally crushed all of Emma’s momentum in 4 weeks… but I’ll save that for another time.

Moving forward, I really hope that Sasha and Alexa can pull it out the bag this weekend. It’s a combination that we haven’t seen since their brief days in NXT, but Alexa has evolved so much since then. It’s just annoying that this was a bit rushed, because there was so much more potential to make this feud bigger and better. But who knows, this may the first match of a good lengthy program? Everyone will definitely have their eyes on Alexa as she gets another chance to prove the nay-sayers wrong in single competition. I’m not on the edge of my seat, but I’m curious about how this match will turn out.

Also, Happy 4th July to all our American readers!

Are you looking forward to Great Balls Of Fire? Do you think this match will be the end or the start of this feud? Do you think Bayley is being written out of the show for awhile? You know what to do in the comments!

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