Sunday, September 26, 2021

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Raw Redux (March 16th, 2015): The Bellas Brutalize Pai-J

Why hello everybody!

WrestleMania 31 is just 12 days and I am majorly excited for the ‘Show of Shows’ to arrive. Thankfully, the Road to WrestleMania is pretty swell too, as can be seen after watching last night’s episode of Monday Night Raw. We were treated to a lengthy singles match between Nikki Bella and AJ Lee, whilst we also got a glimpse of Brie Bella, Natalya, Paige and Stephanie McMahon.

The first Divas on screen tonight are AJ Lee and Paige, who are seen walking backstage as they prepare for AJ’s match against the WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella in non-title action. For once, WWE are making us wait for a slice of Stephanie!

Out in the arena and AJ and Paige are first to step out from behind the curtain as we get set for our only Divas match of the night. Commentary chaos ensues after Michael Cole gets the WrestleMania start time wrong, and the announce team miss promoting the WrestleMania match. They promote the match really well as the match goes on so I’ll let the three of them off. Their banter was pretty funny anyway.

Brie and Nikki Bella are next to make their presence felt. Both are looking pretty amazing in the baby blue. And yes, I am being nice to Brie! As they make their entrance, a pre-recorded promo is shown in the corner of the screen, and The Bellas say to forget #GiveDivasAChance. It is more like “give us a break!”

This promo was actually pretty good stuff from both of them. More compliments for Brie. I know, I’m shocked too. Whilst I will be forever annoyed at WWE for dropping Brie’s face run, I’ve gotten over it and will judge Brie now as a full-fledged heel. I thought she would turn back yet that clearly doesn’t look to be the case. If she’s speaking well and looking good, I’ll be sure to be fair and compliment her from now on.

A lock-up kicks off the match, and Nikki showcases her strength as she gets the upper hand with a shoulder tackle. Nikki then hoists AJ from off of the floor and into the air by her throat, a display of power she follows up with a throw into the corner and a series of shoulder strikes to the gut. Nikki’s ego takes centre stage next as she demonstrates some press-ups (without breaking a sweat, she did about 3 more than I can do before I’m a heap on the floor) yet this costs her as AJ had time to regroup.

The three-time Divas Champion knees Nikki in the face and proceeds to do more damage to the champion’s face with a running elbow attack. AJ then rolls Nikki up for a rough-looking wheelbarrow pin attempt yet Nikki powers out. AJ continues her offence with an armdrag and submission, yet Nikki utilises a fireman’s carry takeover to fight back. Nikki wraps AJ in an armdrag of her own, a move signifying the beginning of a targeted attack. We don’t know it just yet. Except that I just told you. Spoiler!

The competitive nature of the match rolls on as AJ breaks free and this time puts Nikki in a wristlock. AJ isn’t in the driver’s seat for long though as she is taken down with a clothesline. Nikki also isn’t in control long as AJ hits back with a spinning kick to the temple, a move that nets her a near fall. A slight timing issue occurs as AJ reverses a side slam into a hurricanrana, yet I’m just glad that AJ wasn’t trying to lock in the Black Widow – the match has been decent so far! AJ is in trouble shortly after though as both girls continue to match one another. Nikki drapes AJ’s arm over the top rope and the two-time champion then begins to work on that weak spot.

After the commercial break, we see AJ in a world of pain as Nikki has a submission clamping AJ’s left arm. It looks like AJ may mount a comeback, yet Nikki shuts her down with a stiff elbow to the face. After a jumping armbreaker, Nikki puts AJ’s arm in a hammerlock and sends her sharply into the middle turnbuckle as all hell breaks loose on commentary! Booker T gives Sharmell a shout-out (woo!) yet he also says all women naturally hate one another.

*in my finest Booker T voice* OOOOHHHHH MY GOODNESS, WHAT A GENERALISATION DAWG!

As the announcers “try and get [Booker] out of hot water”, AJ is definitely suffering the same fate physically in the ring. Nikki applies a modified armbar for a lengthy period, yet eventually, Cray-J dishes some pain back to Nikki with a Dragon Sleeper hold, which garners a nice reaction from the crowd. Nikki shrugs AJ off temporarily, yet AJ refuses to go down.

AJ hits a Lou Thesz Press, corner splash and neckbreaker combination as the crowd begin to come alive once again. AJ hits a spin kick before tripping Nikki to the floor and then levelling her with a top-rope crossbody that bags AJ a two-count. Nikki is not going down without a fight, and she sends AJ’s face straight into her knee with an incredibly blunt move. AJ kicks out yet she is then sent outside by Nikki.

Brie and Paige lock eye outside the ring as AJ gets the best of Nikki. Brie however then shows her badass side, completely woman handling Paige by sending her crashing into the ring post. This distracts AJ, allowing Nikki to hit her patented forearm strike to knock AJ out. Nikki then hits the Rack Attack for the win, sending a major message!

We next see Natalya at ringside supporting her hus-douche Tyson Kidd and his Tag Team Champion partner, Cesaro. Nattie is looking super hot in her leather. Hopefully she can incorporate this look into her ring attire some more. They defeat The New Day in tag team action and it is announced that they will team up in a Six Being Tag Team match on SmackDown against Los Matadores and El Torito. What is it with Natalya and her facing off against animals?! Can’t they get El Torito to face “MACHIVELLLLIIII”?

Finally, we had to wait till the end of the third hour, yet we are treated to several sightings of the milf-tastic Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie firstly tells Seth Rollins to man up in a backstage segment (which I unfortunately cannot find a clip of) before appearing again in the arena shortly after. At ringside, the entire Authority storm the area as they look to engage in a six-on-one beatdown of Randy Orton. Suddenly, the lights turn to black and a crow’s call can be heard! The thorn in The Authority’s side, Sting appears and he and Randy Orton clean house to an electric response.

Thoughts: As you maybe have been able to tell from my Redux this week, I am pretty impressed with what we were given on last night’s episode of Raw! As a diehard Paige fan, I should be annoyed that she barely did anything, yet her being beat down by a badass Brie Bella was really refreshing, and it will certainly light a massive fire under ‘Hell in Boots’ herself. I’d not want to be The Bellas – a mighty banshee scream followed by a serious pummelling is on the cards!

But back to my main point, instead of Brie and Nikki just talking the talk, they definitely walked the walk too last night. They put everyone on notice, kicked some ass and they both looked pretty darn good doing it. Both physically performed well, were strong in their promo and looking like they did was the icing on the cake. Very happy to see that the Bellas made up some lost ground. Pai-J or Legion of Womb – as they have called themselves on Twitter – were already a mentally unstable unit, now they’ll be an incredibly PO’d, mentally unstable unit. And I’m definitely all for that.

What with the outside shenanigans that occurred tonight, potentially dirty tactics behind a referee’s back come Mania and the volatile personalities of the girls involved, will rules be able to confine these four? I would love to see a NO DQ stipulation thrown in here to give the upcoming tag bout more of a ‘big match’ feel.

As for the match itself, whilst there were still too many rest holds for my personal taste, I really appreciate that the Divas are still being given a chance to have a length match on Raw. The ending sequence was pretty exciting and other than some timing issues, the match was far from being unentertaining. I just wish the submissions used by both Divas were a little more exciting. Also, with Nikki utilising an armbar submission in some recent matches as a signature move, it seems strange for her not to lock it in at some point during this match.

Shout-out to JBL too. Whilst he was annoying ranting and raving when Cole and Booker T were mincing their words, he did hype the WrestleMania match incredibly well. I guess WWE have told the announcers to highlight more facts relating to the Divas and to give more praise. I’ve certainly been noticing more of both anyway. Good stuff.

The Divas being the first match of the night was also pretty cool. A small happening to pick up and you may think it is insignificant, yet WWE trusted the girls to go out their first and keep the crowd hot. They definitely did as the crowd were firmly into the match. Maybe WWE are finally starting to understand that fans will care about the girls if they give them a reason to. Thankfully, that reason is slowly but surely becoming more apparent!

As for the rest of the show, the lack of Lana was disappointing, yet understandable as she is off filming a new WWE movie. I hope she returns in-time for Mania though. I’d hate for her to not get a WrestleMania moment. I want to see her get her attitude adjusted physically!

I am still majorly confused about what is going on with Natalya and Tyson Kidd. A Nattie heel turn was practically confirmed three weeks back and then tension between her and Tyson was teased the last two weeks. This week, we got no reference to any tension whatsoever. With that being said, I am looking forward to Natalya facing yet another animal on SmackDown. Tal is like a zoo keeper, not the Dungeon Diva! Let’s hope WWE make her into their female answer to Steve Irwin; I don’t want to see Natalya wrestling Hornswoggle dressed as Slater Gator’s alligator!

Finally, I would just like to thank the Diva Dirt readers for browsing my Redux content and providing comments each and every instalment. Diva Dirt turned seven years old yesterday, and we would not have been able to achieve such longevity without your support. I for one, love reading all of your comments – good and bad – so please keep it up! Thank you all once again.

Until next time!

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